As per our current Database, John F. Kennedy died on Nov 22, 1963 (age 46).
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Also known as JFK, John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, serving in office from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. During his presidency, there were a number of historical events, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs, and the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
|#1||Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.||Brother||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#2||Robert F. Kennedy||Brother||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||42||Politician|
|#3||Ted Kennedy||Brother||$100 Million||N/A||77||Politician|
|#4||Caroline Kennedy||Daughter||$250 million (2015)||N/A||63||Politician|
|#5||Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.||Father||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||81||Entrepreneur|
|#8||John Schlossberg||Grandson||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||27||Family Member|
|#9||Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.||Nephew||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#10||Maria Shriver||Niece||$100 Million||N/A||65||TV Show Host|
|#11||Rose Kennedy||Parents||$500 Million||N/A||104||Politician|
|#13||Jean Kennedy Smith||Sister||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#14||Patrick Bouvier Kennedy||Son||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||1||Miscellaneous|
|#15||John F. Kennedy Jr.||Son||$50 Million||N/A||38||Entrepreneur|
|#16||Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis||Spouse||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||64||Political Wife|
|#17||Kara Kennedy||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||51||Family Member|
|#18||Rory Kennedy||$10 Million||N/A||52||Director|
|#19||Kyra Kennedy||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||25||Family Member|
|#20||Ethel Kennedy||$50 Million||N/A||92||Political Wife|
|#21||Conor Kennedy||$10 Million||N/A||26||Family Member|
|#22||Jackie Kennedy||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||64||Miscellaneous|
|#23||John Kennedy Jr.||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||38||Actor|
|#24||Robert Kennedy Jr.||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||66||Unclassified|
|#25||Patricia Kennedy||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||82||Family Member|
|#26||Jacqueline Kennedy||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||64||Political Wife|
|#27||Joan Bennett Kennedy||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||84||Family Member|
|#28||Robert F Kennedy Jr.||$50 Million||N/A||66||Lawyer|
|#29||Robert F. Kennedy Jr.||$50 million (2019)||N/A||66||President|
|#30||Christopher G. Kennedy||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||57||Family Member|
|#31||Michael Lemoyne Kennedy||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||62||Family Member|
|#32||Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy||$3 Million (Approx.)||N/A||33||Entrepreneur|
|#33||Kathleen Kennedy Townsend||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||69||Politician|
|#34||Patrick J Kennedy||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||53||Politician|
|#35||Mark Kennedy||$7 Million (Approx.)||N/A||63||Politician|
John F. Kennedy produced and published a best-selling thesis paper, Appeasement in Munich, while a student at Harvard.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born outside Boston in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29, 1917, at 83 Beals Street, to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., a businessman and politician, and Rose Kennedy (née Fitzgerald), a philanthropist and socialite. His paternal grandfather, P. J. Kennedy, served as a Massachusetts state legislator. Kennedy's maternal grandfather and namesake, John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, served as a U.S. Congressman and was elected to two terms as Mayor of Boston. All four of his grandparents were children of Irish immigrants. Kennedy had an elder brother, Joseph Jr., and seven younger siblings: Rosemary, Kathleen ("Kick"), Eunice, Patricia, Robert ("Bobby"), Jean, and Edward ("Ted").
Kennedy lived in Brookline for the first ten years of his life. He attended the local St. Aidan's Church, where he was baptized on June 19, 1917. He was educated through the 4th grade at the Edward Devotion School, the Noble and Greenough Lower School, and the Dexter School; all located in the Boston area. JFK's earliest memories involved accompanying his grandfather Fitzgerald on walking tours of historic sites in Boston and discussions at the family dinner table about politics, sparking his interest in history and public service. His father's business had kept him away from the family for long stretches of time, and his ventures were concentrated on Wall Street and Hollywood. In 1927, the Dexter School announced it would not reopen before October after an outbreak of polio in Massachusetts. In September, the family decided to move from Boston by "private railway car" to the Riverdale neighborhood of New York City. Several years later, his brother Robert told Look magazine that his father had left Boston because of signs that read: "No Irish Need Apply." The family spent summers and early autumns at their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a village on Cape Cod, where they enjoyed swimming, sailing, and touch football. Christmas and Easter holidays were spent at their winter retreat in Palm Beach, Florida. Young John attended the Riverdale Country School−a private school for boys−from 5th to 7th grade, and was a member of Boy Scout Troop 2 in Bronxville, New York. In September 1930, Kennedy, then 13 years old, attended the Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, for 8th grade. In April 1931, he had an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home.
Despite a privileged youth, Kennedy was plagued by a series of childhood diseases including whooping cough, chicken pox, measles, and ear infections. These ailments compelled JFK to spend a considerable amount of time in bed (or at least indoors) convalescing. Three months prior to his third birthday, in 1920, Kennedy came down with scarlet fever, a highly contagious and life-threatening disease, and was admitted to Boston City Hospital.
In September 1931, Kennedy started attending Choate, a prestigious boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut, for 9th through 12th grade. His older brother Joe Jr. had already been at Choate for two years and was a football player and leading student. He spent his first years at Choate in his older brother's shadow and compensated with rebellious behavior that attracted a coterie. Their most notorious stunt was exploding a toilet seat with a powerful firecracker. In the next chapel assembly, the strict headmaster, George St. John, brandished the toilet seat and spoke of certain "muckers" who would "spit in our sea". Defiantly Kennedy took a cue and named his group "The Muckers Club", which included roommate and lifelong friend Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings.
During his years at Choate, Kennedy was beset by health problems that culminated with his emergency hospitalization in 1934 at Yale New Haven Hospital, where doctors suspected leukemia. In June 1934, he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; the ultimate diagnosis there was colitis. Kennedy graduated from Choate in June of the following year, finishing 64th in a class of 112 students. He had been the business manager of the school yearbook and was voted the "most likely to succeed".
In September 1935, Kennedy made his first trip abroad when he traveled to London with his parents and his sister Kathleen. He intended to study under Harold Laski at the London School of Economics (LSE), as his older brother had done. Ill-health forced his return to the United States in October of that year, when he enrolled late and attended Princeton University but had to leave after two months due to a gastrointestinal illness. He was then hospitalized for observation at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He convalesced further at the family winter home in Palm Beach, then spent the spring of 1936 working as a ranch hand on the 40,000-acre (16,000-hectare) Jay Six cattle ranch outside Benson, Arizona. It is reported that ranchman Jack Speiden worked both brothers "very hard".
In September 1936, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard College, and his application essay stated: "The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a 'Harvard man' is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain." He produced that year's annual "Freshman Smoker", called by a reviewer "an elaborate entertainment, which included in its cast outstanding personalities of the radio, screen and sports world".
He tried out for the football, golf, and swimming teams and earned a spot on the varsity swimming team. Kennedy also sailed in the Star class and won the 1936 Nantucket Sound Star Championship. In July 1937, Kennedy sailed to France—taking his convertible—and spent ten weeks driving through Europe with Billings. In June 1938, Kennedy sailed overseas with his father and older brother to work at the American embassy in London, where his father was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's.
In 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East in preparation for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He then went to Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day that Germany invaded Poland to mark the beginning of World War II. Two days later, the family was in the House of Commons for speeches endorsing the United Kingdom's declaration of war on Germany. Kennedy was sent as his father's representative to help with arrangements for American survivors of the SS Athenia before flying back to the U.S. from Foynes, Ireland, on his first transatlantic flight.
When Kennedy was an upperclassman at Harvard, he began to take his studies more seriously and developed an interest in political philosophy. He made the dean's list in his junior year. In 1940 Kennedy completed his thesis, "Appeasement in Munich", about British negotiations during the Munich Agreement. The thesis eventually became a bestseller under the title Why England Slept. In addition to addressing Britain's unwillingness to strengthen its military in the lead-up to World War II, the book also called for an Anglo-American alliance against the rising totalitarian powers. Kennedy became increasingly supportive of U.S. intervention in World War II, and his father's isolationist beliefs resulted in the latter's dismissal as ambassador to the United Kingdom. This created a split between the Kennedy and Roosevelt families.
In 1940, Kennedy graduated cum laude from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts in government, concentrating on international affairs. That fall, he enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and audited classes there. In early 1941, Kennedy left and helped his father write a memoir of his time as an American ambassador. He then traveled throughout South America; his itinerary included Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
In 1940, Kennedy attempted to enter the army's Officer Candidate School. Despite months of training, he was medically disqualified due to his chronic lower back problems. On September 24, 1941, Kennedy, with the help of then director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and former naval attaché to Joseph Kennedy Alan Kirk, joined the United States Naval Reserve. He was commissioned an ensign on October 26, 1941, and joined the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.
The assassination had an effect on many people, not only in the United States but around the world. Many vividly remember where they were when they first learned the news that Kennedy was assassinated, as with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, before it and the September 11 attacks after it. UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson II said of the assassination: "All of us. ... . will bear the grief of his death until the day of ours." Many people have also spoken of the shocking news, compounded by the pall of uncertainty about the identity of the assassin(s), the possible instigators, and the causes of the killing, as an end to innocence, and in retrospect it has been coalesced with other changes of the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, especially the Vietnam War.
In January 1942, Kennedy was assigned to the ONI field office at Headquarters, Sixth Naval District, in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended the Naval Reserve Officer Training School at Northwestern University in Chicago from July 27 to September 27 and then voluntarily entered the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center in Melville, Rhode Island. On October 10, he was promoted to lieutenant junior grade. In early November, Kennedy was still mourning the death of his close, childhood friend, Marine Corps Second Lieutenant George Houk Mead Jr., who had been killed in action at Guadalcanal that August and awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery. Accompanied by a female acquaintance from a wealthy Newport family, the couple had stopped in Middletown, Rhode Island at the cemetery where the decorated, naval spy, Commander Hugo W. Koehler, USN, had been buried the previous year. Ambling around the plots near the tiny St. Columba's chapel, Kennedy paused over Koehler's white granite cross grave marker and pondered his own mortality, hoping out loud that when his time came, he would not have to die without religion. "But these things can't be faked," he added. "There's no bluffing." Two decades later, Kennedy and Koehler's stepson, U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell had become good friends and political allies, although they had been acquaintances since the mid-1930s during their "salad days" on the same Newport debutante party "circuit" and when Pell had dated Kathleen ("Kick") Kennedy. Kennedy completed his training on December 2 and was assigned to Motor Torpedo Squadron FOUR.
In April 1943, Kennedy was assigned to Motor Torpedo Squadron TWO, and on April 24 he took command of PT-109, which was based at the time on Tulagi Island in the Solomons. On the night of August 1–2, in support of the New Georgia campaign, PT-109 was on its 31st mission with fourteen other PTs ordered to block or repel four Japanese destroyers and floatplanes carrying food, supplies, and 900 Japanese soldiers to the Vila Plantation garrison on the southern tip of the Solomon's Kolombangara Island. Intelligence had been sent to Kennedy's Commander Thomas G. Warfield expecting the arrival of the large Japanese naval force that would pass on the evening of August 1. Of the 24 torpedoes fired that night by eight of the American PT's, not one hit the Japanese convoy. On that dark and moonless night, Kennedy spotted a Japanese destroyer heading north on its return from the base of Kolombangara around 2:00 a.m., and attempted to turn to attack, when PT-109 was rammed suddenly at an angle and cut in half by the destroyer Amagiri（captain:Kohei Hanami [ja]）, killing two PT-109 crew members.
On August 4, 1943, he and Lenny Thom assisted his injured and hungry crew on a demanding swim 3.75 miles (6.04 km) southeast to Olasana Island, which was visible to the crew from their desolate home on Plum Pudding Island. They swam against a strong current, and once again Kennedy towed the badly burned motor machinist "Pappy" MacMahon by his life vest. The somewhat larger Olasana Island had ripe coconut trees, but still no fresh water. On the following day, August 5, Kennedy and Ensign George Ross made the one hour swim to Naru Island, an additional distance of about .5 miles (0.80 km) southwest, in search of help and food. Kennedy and Ross found a small canoe, packages of crackers, candy and a fifty-gallon drum of drinkable water left by the Japanese, which Kennedy paddled another half mile back to Olasana in the acquired canoe to provide his hungry crew. Lieutenant "Bud" Liebenow, a friend and former tentmate of Kennedy's, rescued Kennedy and his crew on Olasana Island on August 8, 1943 aboard his boat, PT-157, with the help of coast watcher Lieutenant Reginald Evans and several native coast watchers, particularly Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana.
It only took Kennedy a month to recover and return to duty, commanding the PT-59. He first had the torpedo tubes and depth charges removed and then refitted the boat in one month into a heavily armed gunboat mounting two automatic 40mm guns and ten .50 caliber Browning machine guns. The plan involved attaching a gunboat to each PT boat section adding gun range and defensive power against barges and shore batteries which the 59 went on to encounter on several occasions from mid-October to mid-November. On October 8, 1943, Kennedy was promoted to full lieutenant. On November 2, Kennedy's PT-59 took part with two other PTs in the successful rescue of 40–50 marines. The 59 acted as a shield from shore fire and protected them as they escaped on two rescue landing craft at the base of the Warrior River at Choiseul Island, taking ten marines aboard and delivering them to safety. Under doctor's orders, Kennedy was relieved of his command of PT-59 on November 18, and sent to the hospital on Tulagi. From there he returned to the United States in early January 1944. After receiving treatment for his back injury, he was released from active duty in late 1944.
Kennedy was hospitalized at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts from May to December 1944. On June 12, he was presented the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroic actions on August 1–2, 1943, and the Purple Heart Medal for his back injury while on PT-109. Beginning in January 1945, Kennedy spent three more months recovering from his back injury at Castle Hot Springs, a resort and temporary military hospital in Arizona. After the war, Kennedy felt that the medal he had received for heroism was not a combat award and asked that he be reconsidered for the Silver Star Medal for which he had been recommended initially. Kennedy's father also requested that his son receive the Silver Star, which is awarded for gallantry in action.
On August 12, 1944, Kennedy's older brother, Joe Jr., a navy pilot, was killed while on a special and hazardous air mission for which he had volunteered. His explosive-laden plane blew up when the plane's bombs detonated prematurely while the aircraft was flying over the English Channel.
JFK's elder brother Joe had been the family's political standard-bearer and had been tapped by their father to seek the Presidency. Joe's death during the war in 1944 changed that course and the assignment fell to JFK as the second eldest of the Kennedy siblings.
Kennedy and his family have experienced a number of personal tragedies. His older brother Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was killed in action in 1944 at age 29, when his plane exploded over the English Channel during a first attack execution of Operation Aphrodite during World War II. Kennedy's younger sister Rose Marie "Rosemary" Kennedy was born in 1918 with intellectual disabilities and underwent a prefrontal lobotomy at age 23, leaving her incapacitated for the rest of her life, until her death in 2005. His younger sister Kathleen Agnes "Kick" Kennedy died in a plane crash en route to France in 1948. His wife Jacqueline Kennedy suffered a miscarriage in 1955 and a stillbirth in 1956: a daughter informally named Arabella. A son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died two days after birth in August 1963.
On March 1, 1945, Kennedy retired from the Navy Reserve on physical disability and was honorably discharged with the full rank of lieutenant. When later asked how he became a war hero, Kennedy joked: "It was easy. They cut my PT boat in half."
In April 1945, Kennedy's father, who was a friend of William Randolph Hearst, arranged a position for his son as a special correspondent for Hearst Newspapers; the assignment kept Kennedy's name in the public eye and "expose[d] him to journalism as a possible career". He worked as a correspondent that May, covering the Potsdam Conference and other events.
At the urging of Kennedy's father, U.S. Representative James Michael Curley vacated his seat in the strongly Democratic 11th congressional district of Massachusetts to become mayor of Boston in 1946. Kennedy established his residency at an apartment building on 122 Bowdoin Street across from the Massachusetts State House. With his father financing and running his campaign under the slogan "THE NEW GENERATION OFFERS A LEADER", Kennedy won the Democratic primary with 42 percent of the vote, defeating ten other candidates. His father joked after the campaign, "With the money I spent, I could have elected my chauffeur." Campaigning around Boston, Kennedy called for better housing for veterans, better health care for all, and support for organized labor's campaign for reasonable work hours, a healthy workplace, and the right to organize, bargain, and strike. In addition, he campaigned for peace through the United Nations and strong opposition to the Soviet Union. Though Republicans took control of the House in the 1946 elections, Kennedy defeated his Republican opponent in the general election, taking 73 percent of the vote. Along with Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, Kennedy was one of several World War II veterans elected to Congress that year.
Years after Kennedy's death, it was revealed that in September 1947, while Kennedy was 30 and in his first term in Congress, he was diagnosed by Sir Daniel Davis at The London Clinic with Addison's disease, a rare endocrine disorder. Davis estimated that Kennedy would not live for another year, while Kennedy himself hoped he could live for an additional ten. In 1966, Dr. Travell revealed that Kennedy also had hypothyroidism. The presence of two endocrine diseases raises the possibility that Kennedy had autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2 (APS 2).
In 1950, the Department of the Navy offered Kennedy a Bronze Star Medal in recognition of his meritorious service, which he declined. Kennedy's two original medals are currently on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
As a U.S. Congressman in 1951, Kennedy became fascinated with Vietnam after visiting the area as part of a big fact-finding mission to Asia and the Middle East, even stressing in a subsequent radio address that he strongly favored “check[ing] the southern drive of communism.” As a U.S. Senator in 1956, Kennedy publicly advocated for greater U.S. involvement in Vietnam. When briefing Kennedy, Eisenhower emphasized that the communist threat in Southeast Asia required priority; Eisenhower considered Laos to be "the cork in the bottle" regarding the regional threat. In March 1961, Kennedy voiced a change in policy from supporting a "free" Laos to a "neutral" Laos, indicating privately that Vietnam, and not Laos, should be deemed America's tripwire for communism's spread in the area. In May, he dispatched Lyndon Johnson to meet with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. Johnson assured Diem more aid to mold a fighting force that could resist the communists. Kennedy announced a change of policy from support to partnership with Diem to defeat of communism in South Vietnam.
The Kennedy family is one of the most established political families in the United States, having produced a president, three senators, three ambassadors, and multiple other representatives and politicians, both at the federal and state level. While a Congressman, Kennedy embarked on a seven-week trip to India, Japan, Vietnam, and Israel in 1951, at which point he became close with his then 25-year-old brother Bobby, as well as his 27-year-old sister Pat. Because they were several years apart in age, the brothers had previously seen little of each other. This 25,000-mile (40,000 km) trip was the first extended time they had spent together and resulted in their becoming best friends. Bobby would eventually play a major role in his brother's career, serving as his brother's Attorney General and presidential advisor. Bobby would later run for president in 1968 before his assassination, while another Kennedy brother, Ted, ran for president in 1980.
As early as 1949, Kennedy began preparing to run for the Senate in 1952 against Republican three-term incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. with the campaign slogan "KENNEDY WILL DO MORE FOR MASSACHUSETTS". Joseph Kennedy again financed his son's candidacy, while John Kennedy's younger brother Robert F. Kennedy emerged as an important member of the campaign as manager. The campaign hosted a series of "teas" (sponsored by Kennedy's mother and sisters) at hotels and parlors across Massachusetts to reach out to women voters. In the presidential election, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower carried Massachusetts by a margin of 208,000 votes, but Kennedy defeated Lodge by 70,000 votes for the Senate seat. The following year, he married Jacqueline Bouvier.
Kennedy met his future wife, Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Bouvier (1929–1994), when he was a congressman. Charles L. Bartlett, a journalist, introduced the pair at a dinner party. They were married a year after he was elected senator, on September 12, 1953. After suffering a miscarriage in 1955 and a stillbirth in 1956 (their daughter Arabella), their daughter Caroline was born in 1957 and is the only surviving member of JFK's immediate family. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr., nicknamed "John-John" by the press as a child, was born in late November 1960, 17 days after his father was elected. John Jr., a graduate of Brown University, died in 1999 when the small plane he was piloting crashed en route to Martha's Vineyard. In 1963, months before JFK's assassination, Jackie gave birth to a son, Patrick. However, he died after 2 days due to complications from birth.
At the start of his first term, Kennedy focused on Massachusetts-specific issues by sponsoring bills to help the fishing, textile manufacturing, and watchmaking industries. In 1954, Senator Kennedy voted in favor of the Saint Lawrence Seaway which would connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, despite opposition from Massachusetts politicians who argued that the project would cripple New England's shipping industry, including the Port of Boston. Three years later, Kennedy chaired a special committee to select the five greatest U.S. Senators in history so their portraits could decorate the Senate Reception Room. That same year, Kennedy joined the Senate Labor Rackets Committee with his brother Robert (who was chief counsel) to investigate crime infiltration of labor unions. In 1958, Kennedy introduced a bill (S. 3974) which became the first major labor relations bill to pass either house since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. The bill dealt largely with the control of union abuses exposed by the McClellan committee but did not incorporate tough Taft-Hartley amendments requested by President Eisenhower. It survived Senate floor attempts to include Taft-Hartley amendments and gained passage but was rejected by the House.
Kennedy's father was a strong supporter and friend of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Additionally, Bobby Kennedy worked for McCarthy's subcommittee, and McCarthy dated Kennedy's sister Patricia. Kennedy told historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., "Hell, half my voters [particularly Catholics] in Massachusetts look on McCarthy as a hero." In 1954, the Senate voted to censure McCarthy, and Kennedy drafted a speech supporting the censure. However, it was not delivered because Kennedy was hospitalized at the time. The speech put Kennedy in the apparent position of participating by "pairing" his vote against that of another senator and opposing the censure. Although Kennedy never indicated how he would have voted, the episode damaged his support among members of the liberal community, including Eleanor Roosevelt, in the 1956 and 1960 elections.
The turbulent end of state-sanctioned racial discrimination was one of the most pressing domestic issues of the 1960s. Jim Crow segregation was the established law in the Deep South. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Many schools, especially those in southern states, did not obey the Supreme Court's decision. The Court also prohibited segregation at other public facilities (such as buses, restaurants, theaters, courtrooms, bathrooms, and beaches) but it continued nonetheless.
Kennedy underwent several spinal operations over the next two years. Often absent from the Senate, he was at times critically ill and received Catholic last rites. During his convalescence in 1956, he published Profiles in Courage, a book about U.S. senators who risked their careers for their personal beliefs, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957. Rumors that this work was co-written by his close adviser and speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, were confirmed in Sorensen's 2008 autobiography.
At the 1956 Democratic National Convention, Kennedy gave the nominating speech for the party's presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson II. Stevenson let the convention select the Vice Presidential nominee. Kennedy finished second in the balloting, losing to Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee but receiving national exposure as a result.
A matter demanding Kennedy's attention in the Senate was President Eisenhower's bill for the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Kennedy cast a procedural vote against it and this was considered by some to be an appeasement of Southern Democratic opponents of the bill. Kennedy did vote for Title III of the act, which would have given the Attorney General powers to enjoin, but Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson agreed to let the provision die as a compromise measure. Kennedy also voted for Title IV, termed the "Jury Trial Amendment". Many civil rights advocates at the time criticized that vote as one which would weaken the act. A final compromise bill, which Kennedy supported, was passed in September 1957. He proposed July 2, 1957 that the U.S. support Algeria's effort to gain independence from France. The following year, Kennedy authored A Nation of Immigrants (later published in 1964), which analyzed the importance of immigration in the country's history as well as proposals to re-evaluate immigration law.
In 1958, Kennedy was re-elected to a second term in the Senate, defeating Republican opponent, Boston lawyer Vincent J. Celeste, by a margin of 874,608 votes, the largest margin in the history of Massachusetts politics. It was during his re-election campaign that Kennedy's press secretary at the time, Robert E. Thompson, put together a film entitled The U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy Story, which exhibited a day in the life of the Senator and showcased his family life as well as the inner workings of his office to solve Massachusetts-related issues. It was the most comprehensive film produced about Kennedy up to that time. In the aftermath of his re-election, Kennedy began preparing to run for president by traveling throughout the U.S. with the aim of building his candidacy for 1960.
More than a third of U.S. National Security Council (NSC) members favored an unannounced air assault on the missile sites, but for some of them this conjured up an image of "Pearl Harbor in reverse". There was also some concern from the international community (asked in confidence), that the assault plan was an overreaction in light of the fact that Eisenhower had placed PGM-19 Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey in 1958. It also could not be assured that the assault would be 100% effective. In concurrence with a majority-vote of the NSC, Kennedy decided on a naval quarantine. On October 22, he dispatched a message to Khrushchev and announced the decision on TV.
Relations between the United States and Iraq became strained following the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy on July 14, 1958, which resulted in the declaration of a republican government led by Brigadier Abd al-Karim Qasim. On June 25, 1961, Qasim mobilized troops along the border between Iraq and Kuwait, declaring the latter nation "an indivisible part of Iraq" and causing a short-lived "Kuwait Crisis". The United Kingdom—which had just granted Kuwait independence on June 19, and whose economy was dependent on Kuwaiti oil—responded on July 1 by dispatching 5,000 troops to the country to deter an Iraqi invasion. At the same time, Kennedy dispatched a U.S. Navy task force to Bahrain, and the UK, at the urging of the Kennedy administration, brought the dispute to United Nations Security Council, where the proposed resolution was vetoed by the Soviet Union. The situation was resolved in October, when the British troops were withdrawn and replaced by a 4,000-strong Arab League force, which acted as a barrier against the Iraqi threat.
When it came to conservation, Kennedy, a Massachusetts Audubon Society supporter, wanted to make sure that the shorelines of Cape Cod remained unsullied by future industrialization. On September 3, 1959, Kennedy cosponsored the Cape Cod National Seashore bill with his Republican colleague Senator Leverett Saltonstall.
On December 17, 1959, a letter from Kennedy's staff which was to be sent to "active and influential Democrats" was leaked stating that he would announce his presidential campaign on January 2, 1960. On January 2, 1960, Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Though some questioned Kennedy's age and experience, his charisma and eloquence earned him numerous supporters. Many Americans held anti-Catholic attitudes, but Kennedy's vocal support of the separation of church and state helped defuse the situation. His religion also helped him win a devoted following among many Catholic voters. Kennedy faced several potential challengers for the Democratic nomination, including Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, Adlai Stevenson II, and Senator Hubert Humphrey.
Kennedy gave a speech at Saint Anselm College on May 5, 1960, regarding America's conduct in the emerging Cold War. His address detailed how he felt American foreign policy should be conducted towards African nations, noting a hint of support for modern African nationalism by saying, "For we, too, founded a new nation on revolt from colonial rule."
In 1960, Kennedy stated, "Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom."
As a result of this newly created security alliance, Kennedy also encountered tensions with the Israeli government over the production of nuclear materials in Dimona, which he believed could instigate a nuclear arms-race in the Middle East. After the existence of a nuclear plant was initially denied by the Israeli government, David Ben-Gurion stated in a speech to the Israeli Knesset on December 21, 1960, that the purpose of the nuclear plant at Beersheba was for "research in problems of arid zones and desert flora and fauna". When Ben-Gurion met with Kennedy in New York, he claimed that Dimona was being developed to provide nuclear power for desalinization and other peaceful purposes "for the time being".
Attorney General Robert Kennedy took the position that steel executives had illegally colluded to fix prices. He stated, "We're going for broke. [...] their expense accounts, where they've been and what they've been doing. [...] the FBI is to interview them all. [...] we can't lose this." The administration's actions influenced U.S. Steel to rescind the price increase. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the administration had acted "by naked power, by threats, [and] by agents of the state security police". Yale law professor Charles Reich opined in The New Republic that the administration had violated civil liberties by calling a grand jury to indict U.S. Steel for collusion so quickly. An editorial in The New York Times praised Kennedy's actions and said that the steel industry's price increase "imperil[ed] the economic welfare of the country by inviting a tidal wave of inflation". Nevertheless, the administration's Bureau of Budget reported the price increase would have caused a net gain for the GDP as well as a net budget surplus. The stock market, which had steadily declined since Kennedy's election in 1960, dropped 10% shortly after the administration's action on the steel industry took place.
During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy proposed an overhaul of American immigration and naturalization laws to ban discrimination based on national origin. He saw this proposal as an extension of his planned civil rights agenda as president. These reforms later became law through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which dramatically shifted the source of immigration from Northern and Western European countries towards immigration from Latin America and Asia. The policy change also shifted the emphasis in the selection of immigrants in favor of family reunification. The late-president's brother, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts helped steer the legislation through the Senate.
The Apollo program was conceived early in 1960, during the Eisenhower administration, as a follow-up to Project Mercury, to be used as a shuttle to an Earth-orbital space station, flights around the Moon, or landing on it. While NASA went ahead with planning for Apollo, funding for the program was far from certain, given Eisenhower's ambivalent attitude to manned spaceflight. As senator, Kennedy had been opposed to the space program and wanted to terminate it.
John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president at noon on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address, he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens, famously saying, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." He asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the "common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself". He added:
President Kennedy's foreign policy was dominated by American confrontations with the Soviet Union, manifested by proxy contests in the early stage of the Cold War. In 1961 he anxiously anticipated a summit with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. He started off on the wrong foot by reacting aggressively to a routine Khrushchev speech on Cold War confrontation in early-1961. The speech was intended for domestic audiences in the Soviet Union, but Kennedy interpreted it as a personal challenge. His mistake helped raise tensions going into the Vienna summit of June 1961.
On June 4, 1961, the president met with Khrushchev in Vienna and left the meetings angry and disappointed that he had allowed the premier to bully him, despite the warnings he had received. Khrushchev, for his part, was impressed with the president's intelligence, but thought him weak. Kennedy did succeed in conveying the bottom line to Khrushchev on the most sensitive issue before them, a proposed treaty between Moscow and East Berlin. He made it clear that any treaty interfering with U.S. access rights in West Berlin would be regarded as an act of war.
The Eisenhower administration had created a plan to overthrow Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba. Led by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), with help from the U.S. military, the plan was for an invasion of Cuba by a counter-revolutionary insurgency composed of U.S.-trained, anti-Castro Cuban exiles led by CIA paramilitary officers. The intention was to invade Cuba and instigate an uprising among the Cuban people, hoping to remove Castro from power. Kennedy approved the final invasion plan on April 4, 1961.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion began on April 17, 1961. Fifteen hundred U.S.-trained Cubans, dubbed Brigade 2506, landed on the island. No U.S. air support was provided. CIA director Allen Dulles later stated that they thought the president would authorize any action that was needed for success once the troops were on the ground.
The Eisenhower administration, through the CIA, had begun formulating plans to assassinate Castro in Cuba and Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. When President Kennedy took office, he privately instructed the CIA that any plan must include plausible deniability by the U.S. His public position was in opposition. In June 1961, the Dominican Republic's leader was assassinated; in the days following, Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles led a cautious reaction by the nation. Robert Kennedy, who saw an opportunity for the U.S., called Bowles "a gutless bastard" to his face.
In late 1961, the Viet Cong began assuming a predominant presence, initially seizing the provincial capital of Phuoc Vinh. Kennedy increased the number of military advisers and special forces in the area, from 11,000 in 1962 to 16,000 by late 1963, but he was reluctant to order a full-scale deployment of troops. However, Kennedy, who was wary about the region's successful war of independence against France, was also eager to not give the impression to the Vietnamese people that the United States was acting as the region's new colonizer, even stating in his journal at one point that the United States was “more and more becoming colonists in the minds of the people.” A year and three months later on March 8, 1965, his successor, President Lyndon Johnson, committed the first combat troops to Vietnam and greatly escalated U.S. involvement, with forces reaching 184,000 that year and 536,000 in 1968.
In late 1961, President Kennedy sent Roger Hilsman, then director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to assess the situation in Vietnam. There, Hilsman met Sir Robert Grainger Ker Thompson, head of the British Advisory Mission to South Vietnam, and the Strategic Hamlet Program was formed. It was approved by Kennedy and South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem. It was implemented in early 1962 and involved some forced relocation, village internment, and segregation of rural South Vietnamese into new communities where the peasantry would be isolated from Communist insurgents. It was hoped that these new communities would provide security for the peasants and strengthen the tie between them and the central government. By November 1963, the program waned and officially ended in 1964.
In December 1961, Qasim's government passed Public Law 80, which restricted the partially American-controlled Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC)'s concessionary holding to those areas in which oil was actually being produced, effectively expropriating 99.5% of the IPC concession. U.S. officials were alarmed by the expropriation as well as the recent Soviet veto of an Egyptian-sponsored UN resolution requesting the admittance of Kuwait as UN member state, which they believed were connected. Senior National Security Council adviser Robert Komer worried that if the IPC ceased production in response, Qasim might "grab Kuwait" (thus achieving a "stranglehold" on Middle Eastern oil production) or "throw himself into Russian arms". Komer also made note of widespread rumors that a nationalist coup against Qasim could be imminent, and had the potential to "get Iraq back on [a] more neutral keel".
Troubled by the long-term dangers of radioactive contamination and nuclear weapons proliferation, Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty, originally conceived in Adlai Stevenson's 1956 presidential campaign. In their Vienna summit meeting in June 1961, Khrushchev and Kennedy both reached an informal understanding against nuclear testing, but the Soviet Union began testing nuclear weapons that September. In response, the United States conducted tests five days later. Shortly afterwards, new U.S. satellites began delivering images which made it clear that the Soviets were substantially behind the U.S. in the arms race. Nevertheless, the greater nuclear strength of the U.S. was of little value as long as the U.S.S.R. perceived itself to be at parity.
Kennedy verbally supported racial integration and civil rights; during his 1960 presidential campaign, he telephoned Coretta Scott King, wife of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who had been jailed while trying to integrate a department store lunch counter. Robert Kennedy called Georgia governor Ernest Vandiver and obtained King's release from prison, which drew additional black support to his brother's candidacy. Upon taking office in 1961, Kennedy postponed promised civil rights legislation he made while campaigning in 1960, recognizing that conservative Southern Democrats controlled congressional legislation. Historian Carl M. Brauer concluded that passing any civil rights legislation in 1961 would have been futile. During his first year in office, Kennedy appointed many blacks to office including his May appointment of civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall to the federal bench.
In his first State of the Union Address in January 1961, President Kennedy said, "The denial of constitutional rights to some of our fellow Americans on account of race—at the ballot box and elsewhere—disturbs the national conscience, and subjects us to the charge of world opinion that our democracy is not equal to the high promise of our heritage." Kennedy believed the grassroots movement for civil rights would anger many Southern whites and make it more difficult to pass civil rights laws in Congress, including anti-poverty legislation, and he distanced himself from it.
On March 6, 1961, Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925, which required government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin". It established the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Displeased with Kennedy's pace addressing the issue of segregation, Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates produced a document in 1962 calling on the president to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and use an Executive Order to deliver a blow for Civil Rights as a kind of Second Emancipation Proclamation. Kennedy did not execute the order.
Earlier, Kennedy had signed the executive order creating the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women on December 14, 1961. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt led the commission. The Commission statistics revealed that women were also experiencing discrimination; its final report, documenting legal and cultural barriers, was issued in October 1963. Further, on June 10, 1963, Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act and abolished wage disparity based on sex.
However, this quickly changed on April 12, 1961, when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to fly in space, reinforcing American fears about being left behind in a technological competition with the Soviet Union. Kennedy now became eager for the U.S. to take the lead in the Space Race, for reasons of national security and prestige. On April 20, he sent a memo to Johnson, asking him to look into the status of America's space program, and into programs that could offer NASA the opportunity to catch up. After consulting with Wernher von Braun, Johnson responded approximately one week later, concluding that "we are neither making maximum effort nor achieving results necessary if this country is to reach a position of leadership". His memo concluded that a manned Moon landing was far enough in the future that it was likely the United States would achieve it first. Kennedy's advisor Ted Sorensen advised him to support the Moon landing, and on May 25, Kennedy announced the goal in a speech titled "Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs":
Kennedy and his wife were younger in comparison to the presidents and first ladies who preceded them, and both were popular in the media culture in ways more common to pop singers and movie stars than politicians, influencing fashion trends and becoming the subjects of numerous photo spreads in popular magazines. Although Eisenhower had allowed presidential press conferences to be filmed for television, Kennedy was the first president to ask for them to be broadcast live and made good use of the medium. In 1961 the Radio-Television News Directors Association presented Kennedy with its highest honor, the Paul White Award, in recognition of his open relationship with the media.
Into late 1961, disagreements existed among Kennedy's doctors concerning his proper balance of medication and exercise. The president preferred the former, because he was short on time and desired immediate relief. During that time, the president's physician, George Burkley, did set up some gym equipment in the White House basement, where Kennedy did stretching exercises for his back three times a week. Details of these and other medical problems were not publicly disclosed during Kennedy's lifetime. The President's primary White House physician, George Burkley, realized that treatments by Jacobson and Travell, including the excessive use of steroids and amphetamines, were medically inappropriate, and took effective action to remove the president from their care. Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, a physician who reviewed Kennedy's medical records in his presidential archives, has opined that Kennedy's leadership (e.g. the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis and other events during 1963) improved greatly once the treatments of Jacobson had been discontinued and been replaced by a medically appropriate regimen under Burkley. Ghaemi concluded there was a "correlation; it is not causation; but it may not be coincidence either".
The US Special Forces had a special bond with Kennedy. "It was President Kennedy who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Special Forces and giving us back our Green Beret," said Forrest Lindley, a writer for the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes who served with Special Forces in Vietnam. This bond was shown at Kennedy's funeral. At the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Kennedy's death, General Michael D. Healy, the last commander of Special Forces in Vietnam, spoke at Arlington Cemetery. Later, a wreath in the form of the Green Beret would be placed on the grave, continuing a tradition that began the day of his funeral when a sergeant in charge of a detail of Special Forces men guarding the grave placed his beret on the coffin. Kennedy was the first of six presidents to have served in the U.S. Navy, and one of the enduring legacies of his administration was the creation in 1961 of another special forces command, the Navy SEALs, which Kennedy enthusiastically supported.
In 1961, he was awarded the Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame, considered the most prestigious award for American Catholics. He was posthumously awarded the Pacem in Terris Award (Latin: Peace on Earth). It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of goodwill to secure peace among all nations. Kennedy also posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. As of 2019, he has been the only Catholic U.S. president.
On October 14, 1962, CIA U-2 spy planes took photographs of the Soviets' construction of intermediate-range ballistic missile sites in Cuba. The photos were shown to Kennedy on October 16; a consensus was reached that the missiles were offensive in nature and thus posed an immediate nuclear threat.
In early 1962, Kennedy formally authorized escalated involvement when he signed the National Security Action Memorandum – "Subversive Insurgency (War of Liberation)". "Operation Ranch Hand", a large-scale aerial defoliation effort, began on the roadsides of South Vietnam. Depending on which assessment Kennedy accepted (Department of Defense or State), there had been zero or modest progress in countering the increase in communist aggression in return for an expanded U.S. involvement.
Kennedy extended the first informal security guarantees to Israel in 1962 and, beginning in 1963, was the first US president to allow the sale to Israel of advanced US weaponry (the MIM-23 Hawk) as well as to provide diplomatic support for Israeli policies, which were opposed by Arab neighbors; those policies included Israel's water project on the Jordan River.
In April 1962, the State Department issued new guidelines on Iraq that were intended to increase American influence there. Meanwhile, Kennedy instructed the CIA—under the direction of Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt Jr.—to begin making preparations for a military coup against Qasim.
Kennedy called his domestic program the "New Frontier". It ambitiously promised federal funding for education, medical care for the elderly, economic aid to rural regions, and government intervention to halt the recession. He also promised an end to racial discrimination, although his agenda, which included the endorsement of the Voter Education Project (VEP) in 1962, produced little progress in areas such as Mississippi, where the "VEP concluded that discrimination was so entrenched".
Kennedy ended a period of tight fiscal policies, loosening monetary policy to keep interest rates down and to encourage growth of the economy. He presided over the first government budget to top the $100 billion mark, in 1962, and his first budget in 1961 resulted in the nation's first non-war, non-recession deficit. The economy, which had been through two recessions in three years and was in one when Kennedy took office, accelerated notably throughout his administration. Despite low inflation and interest rates, the GDP had grown by an average of only 2.2% per annum during the Eisenhower administration (scarcely more than population growth at the time), and it had declined by 1% during Eisenhower's last twelve months in office.
On March 22, 1962, Kennedy signed into law HR5143 (PL87-423), which abolished the mandatory death penalty for first degree murder suspects in the District of Columbia, the only remaining jurisdiction in the United States with such a penalty. The death penalty has not been applied in the District of Columbia since 1957 and has now been abolished.
In September 1962, James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi but was prevented from entering. In response to that, Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 127 U.S. Marshals and 316 U.S. Border Patrol and 97 Federal correctional officers who were deputized as marshals. The Ole Miss riot of 1962 left two civilians dead and 300 people injured, prompting President Kennedy to send in 3,000 troops to quell the riot. Meredith did finally enroll for class, and Kennedy regretted not sending in troops earlier. Kennedy began doubting as to whether the "evils of Reconstruction" of the 1860s and 1870s he had been taught or believed in were true. The instigating subculture during the Ole Miss riot, and many other racially ignited events, was the Ku Klux Klan. On November 20, 1962, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11063, which prohibited racial discrimination in federally supported housing or "related facilities".
In February 1962, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was suspicious of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and viewed him as an upstart troublemaker, presented the Kennedy Administration with allegations that some of King's close confidants and advisers were communists. Concerned by these allegations, the FBI deployed agents to monitor King in the following months. Robert Kennedy and the president also both warned King to discontinue the suspect associations. After the associations continued, Robert Kennedy issued a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King's civil rights organization, in October 1963.
After Congress authorized the funding, Webb began reorganizing NASA, increasing its staffing level, and building two new centers: a Launch Operations Center for the large Moon rocket northwest of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and a Manned Spacecraft Center on land donated through Rice University in Houston. Kennedy took the latter occasion as an opportunity to deliver another speech at Rice to promote the space effort on September 12, 1962, in which he said:
On November 21, 1962, in a cabinet meeting with NASA administrator Webb and other officials, Kennedy explained that the Moon shot was important for reasons of international prestige, and that the expense was justified. Johnson assured him that lessons learned from the space program had military value as well. Costs for the Apollo program were expected to reach $40 billion (equivalent to $338.09 billion in 2019).
The president was closely tied to popular culture, emphasized by songs such as "Twisting at the White House". Vaughn Meader's First Family comedy album, which parodied the president, the first lady, their family, and the administration, sold about four million copies. On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" at a large party in Madison Square Garden, celebrating Kennedy's upcoming forty-fifth birthday.
The extent of Kennedy's relationship with Monroe is not fully known, although it has been reported that they spent a weekend together in March 1962 while he was staying at Bing Crosby's house. Furthermore, people at the White House switchboard noted that Monroe had called Kennedy during 1962. J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director, received reports about Kennedy's indiscretions.
In April 1963, Kennedy assessed the situation in Vietnam, saying, "We don't have a prayer of staying in Vietnam. Those people hate us. They are going to throw our asses out of there at any point. But I can't give up that territory to the communists and get the American people to re-elect me."
In October 1963, the president appointed Defense Secretary McNamara and General Maxwell D. Taylor to a Vietnamese mission in another effort to synchronize the information and formulation of policy. The objective of the McNamara Taylor mission "emphasized the importance of getting to the bottom of the differences in reporting from U.S. representatives in Vietnam". In meetings with McNamara, Taylor, and Lodge, Diem again refused to agree to governing measures, helping to dispel McNamara's previous optimism about Diem. Taylor and McNamara were enlightened by Vietnam's vice president, Nguyen Ngoc Tho (choice of many to succeed Diem), who in detailed terms obliterated Taylor's information that the military was succeeding in the countryside. At Kennedy's insistence, the mission report contained a recommended schedule for troop withdrawals: 1,000 by year's end and complete withdrawal in 1965, something the NSC considered to be a "strategic fantasy".
In late October, intelligence wires again reported that a coup against the Diem government was afoot. The source, Vietnamese General Duong Van Minh (also known as "Big Minh"), wanted to know the U.S. position. Kennedy instructed Lodge to offer covert assistance to the coup, excluding assassination. On November 1, 1963, South Vietnamese generals, led by "Big Minh", overthrew the Diem government, arresting and then killing Diem and Nhu. Kennedy was shocked by the deaths.
On June 10, 1963, Kennedy, at the high point of his rhetorical powers, delivered the commencement address at American University in Washington, D.C. Also known as "A Strategy of Peace", not only did the President outline a plan to curb nuclear arms, but he also "laid out a hopeful, yet realistic route for world peace at a time when the U.S. and Soviet Union faced the potential for an escalating nuclear arms race." The President wished:
In 1963, Germany was enduring a time of particular vulnerability due to Soviet aggression to the east as well as the impending retirement of West German Chancellor Adenauer. At the same time, French President Charles de Gaulle was trying to build a Franco-West German counterweight to the American and Soviet spheres of influence. To Kennedy's eyes, this Franco-German cooperation seemed directed against NATO's influence in Europe.
In 1963 the Kennedy administration was engaged in a now declassified diplomatic standoff with the Israel. In a May 1963 letter to Ben-Gurion, Kennedy wrote that he was skeptical and stated that American support to Israel could be in jeopardy if reliable information on the Israeli nuclear program was not forthcoming, Ben-Gurion repeated previous reassurances that Dimona was being developed for peaceful purposes. The Israeli government resisted American pressure to open its nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. In 1962 the US and Israeli governments had agreed to an annual inspection regime. A science attaché at the embassy in Tel Aviv concluded that parts of the Dimona facility had been shut down temporarily to mislead American scientists when they visited.
The anti-imperialist and anti-communist Iraqi Ba'ath Party overthrew and executed Qasim in a violent coup on February 8, 1963. While there have been persistent rumors that the CIA orchestrated the coup, declassified documents and the testimony of former CIA officers indicate that there was no direct American involvement, although the CIA was actively seeking a suitable replacement for Qasim within the Iraqi military and had been informed of an earlier Ba'athist coup plot. The Kennedy administration was pleased with the outcome and ultimately approved a $55-million arms deal for Iraq.
During his four-day visit to his ancestral home of Ireland in June 1963, Kennedy accepted a grant of armorial bearings from the Chief Herald of Ireland and received honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin. He visited the cottage at Dunganstown, near New Ross, County Wexford, where his ancestors had lived before emigrating to America.
In July 1963, Kennedy sent W. Averell Harriman to Moscow to negotiate a treaty with the Soviets. The introductory sessions included Khrushchev, who later delegated Soviet representation to Andrei Gromyko. It quickly became clear that a comprehensive test ban would not be implemented, due largely to the reluctance of the Soviets to allow inspections that would verify compliance.
Ultimately, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union were the initial signatories to a limited treaty, which prohibited atomic testing on the ground, in the atmosphere, or underwater, but not underground. The U.S. Senate ratified this and Kennedy signed it into law in October 1963. France was quick to declare that it was free to continue developing and testing its nuclear defenses.
In his 1963 State of the Union address, he proposed substantial tax reform and a reduction in income tax rates from the current range of 20–90% to a range of 14–65% as well as a reduction in the corporate tax rates from 52 to 47%. Kennedy added that the top rate should be set at 70% if certain deductions were not eliminated for high-income earners. Congress did not act until 1964, a year after his death, when the top individual rate was lowered to 70%, and the top corporate rate was set at 48%.
To the Economic Club of New York, he spoke in 1963 of "... the paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and revenues too low; and the soundest way to raise revenue in the long term is to lower rates now." Congress passed few of Kennedy's major programs during his lifetime, but did vote them through in 1964 and 1965 under his successor Johnson.
During his administration, Kennedy oversaw the last federal execution prior to Furman v. Georgia, a 1972 case that led to a moratorium on federal executions. Victor Feguer was sentenced to death by an Iowa federal court and was executed on March 15, 1963. Kennedy commuted a death sentence imposed by a military court on seaman Jimmie Henderson on February 12, 1962, changing the penalty to life in prison.
In early 1963, Kennedy related to Martin Luther King Jr. his thoughts on the prospects for civil rights legislation: "If we get into a long fight over this in Congress, it will bottleneck everything else, and we will still get no bill." Civil rights clashes were on the rise that year. His brother Robert and Ted Sorensen pressed Kennedy to take more initiative on the legislative front.
On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending. Wallace moved aside only after being confronted by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the Alabama U.S. National Guard, which had just been federalized by order of the president. That evening Kennedy gave his famous Report to the American People on Civil Rights on national television and radio, launching his initiative for civil rights legislation—to provide equal access to public schools and other facilities, and greater protection of voting rights.
Over a hundred thousand, predominantly African Americans gathered in Washington for the civil rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Kennedy feared the March would have a negative effect on the prospects for the civil rights bills in Congress, and declined an invitation to speak. He turned over some of the details of the government's involvement to the Dept. of Justice, which channelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the six sponsors of the March, including the N.A.A.C.P. and Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
A Requiem Mass was celebrated for Kennedy at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on November 25, 1963. Afterwards, Kennedy was interred in a small plot, 20 by 30 ft., in Arlington National Cemetery. Over a period of three years (1964–1966), an estimated 16 million people visited his grave. On March 14, 1967, Kennedy's remains were disinterred and moved only a few feet away to a permanent burial plot and memorial. It was from this memorial that the graves of both Robert and Ted Kennedy were modeled.
Television was the primary source that kept people informed of the events that surrounded Kennedy's assassination. In fact, television started to come of age before the assassination. On September 2, 1963, Kennedy helped inaugurate network television's first half-hour nightly evening newscast according to an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite.
Historians disagree on whether the Vietnam War would have escalated if Kennedy had not been assassinated and had won re-election in 1964. Fueling the debate were statements made by Secretary of Defense McNamara in the film "The Fog of War" that Kennedy was strongly considering pulling the United States out of Vietnam after the 1964 election. The film also contains a tape recording of Lyndon Johnson stating that Kennedy was planning to withdraw, a position in which Johnson disagreed. Kennedy had signed National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 263, dated October 11, which ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 military personnel by year's end, and the bulk of them out by 1965. Such an action would have been a policy reversal, but Kennedy was publicly moving in a less hawkish direction since his speech on world peace at American University on June 10, 1963.
Kennedy's civil rights proposals led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy's successor, took up the mantle and pushed the landmark Civil Rights Act through a bitterly divided Congress by invoking the slain president's memory. President Johnson then signed the Act into law on July 2, 1964. This civil rights law ended what was known as the "Solid South" and certain provisions were modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1875, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.
Rodger Davies, the director of the State Department's Office of Near Eastern Affairs, concluded in March 1965 that Israel was developing nuclear weapons. He reported that Israel's target date for achieving nuclear capability was 1968–1969. On May 1, 1968, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach told President Johnson that Dimona was producing enough plutonium to produce two bombs a year. The State Department argued that if Israel wanted arms, it should accept international supervision of its nuclear program. Dimona was never placed under IAEA safeguards. Attempts to write Israeli adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) into contracts for the supply of U.S. weapons continued throughout 1968.
Kennedy was taken to Parkland Hospital for emergency medical treatment, where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. He was 46 years old and had been in office for 1,036 days. Lee Harvey Oswald, an order filler at the Texas School Book Depository from which the shots were fired, was arrested for the murder of police officer J. D. Tippit and was subsequently charged with Kennedy's assassination. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, and was shot dead by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be prosecuted. Ruby was arrested and convicted for the murder of Oswald. Ruby successfully appealed his conviction and death sentence but became ill and died of cancer on January 3, 1967, while the date for his new trial was being set.
Although Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so", Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of King's life they deemed worthy. The wiretapping continued through June 1966 and was revealed in 1968.
Jacqueline and their two deceased minor children were later interred in the same plot. Kennedy's brother Robert was buried nearby in June 1968. In August 2009, Ted was also buried near his two brothers. John F. Kennedy's grave is lit with an "Eternal Flame". Kennedy and William Howard Taft are the only two U.S. presidents buried at Arlington. According to the JFK Library, "I Have a Rendezvous with Death", by Alan Seeger "was one of John F. Kennedy's favorite poems and he often asked his wife to recite it".
In a September 1963 speech before the United Nations, Kennedy urged cooperation between the Soviets and Americans in space, specifically recommending that Apollo be switched to "a joint expedition to the Moon". Khrushchev again declined, and the Soviets did not commit to a manned Moon mission until 1964. On July 20, 1969, almost six years after Kennedy's death, Apollo 11 landed the first manned spacecraft on the Moon.
In 2002, Robert Dallek wrote an extensive history of Kennedy's health. Dallek was able to consult a collection of Kennedy-associated papers from the years 1955–1963, including X-rays and prescription records from the files of White House physician Dr. Janet Travell. According to Travell's records, during his presidential years Kennedy suffered from high fevers; stomach, colon, and prostate issues; abscesses; high cholesterol; and adrenal problems. Travell kept a "Medicine Administration Record," cataloguing Kennedy's medications: "injected and ingested corticosteroids for his adrenal insufficiency; procaine shots and ultrasound treatments and hot packs for his back; Lomotil, Metamucil, paregoric, phenobarbital, testosterone, and trasentine to control his diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and weight loss; penicillin and other antibiotics for his urinary-tract infections and an abscess; and Tuinal to help him sleep."
Kennedy also was the first foreign leader to address the Houses of the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament). On December 22, 2006, the Irish Department of Justice released declassified police documents indicating that security was heightened as Kennedy was the subject of three death threats during this visit.
At the time of Kennedy's death, no final policy decision was made to Vietnam. In 2008 Theodore Sorensen wrote, "I would like to believe that Kennedy would have found a way to withdraw all American instructors and advisors [from Vietnam]. But ... I do not believe he knew in his last weeks what he was going to do." Sorensen added that, in his opinion, Vietnam "was the only foreign policy problem handed off by JFK to his successor in no better, and possibly worse, shape than it was when he inherited it." U.S. involvement in the region escalated until his successor Lyndon Johnson directly deployed regular U.S. military forces for fighting the Vietnam War. After Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson signed NSAM 273 on November 26, 1963. It reversed Kennedy's decision to withdraw 1,000 troops, and reaffirmed the policy of assistance to the South Vietnamese.
President Johnson quickly issued an executive order to create the Warren Commission—chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren—to investigate the assassination. The commission concluded that Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and that Oswald was not part of any conspiracy. The results of this investigation are disputed by many. The assassination proved to be a pivotal moment in U.S. history because of its impact on the nation, and the ensuing political repercussions. A 2004 Fox News poll found that 66% of Americans thought there had been a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, while 74% thought that there had been a cover-up. A Gallup Poll in November 2013 showed 61% believed in a conspiracy, and only 30% thought that Oswald did it alone. In 1979 the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that it believed "that Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee was unable to identify the other gunmen or the extent of the conspiracy." In 2002 historian Carl M. Brauer concluded that the public's "fascination with the assassination may indicate a psychological denial of Kennedy's death, a mass wish ... to undo it".
Many of Kennedy's speeches (especially his inaugural address) are considered iconic; and despite his relatively short term in office, and the lack of major legislative changes coming to fruition during his term, Americans regularly vote him as one of the best presidents, in the same league as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Some excerpts of Kennedy's inaugural address are engraved on a plaque at his grave at Arlington. In 2018 The Times published an audio recreation of the "watchmen on the walls of world freedom" speech he was scheduled to deliver at the Dallas Trade Mart on November 22, 1963.
President John F. Kennedy born on this day 103 years ago
The late John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Opinion | On JFK’s 100th birthday, Trump repudiates his legacy
In both style and substance, the 45th president is the antithesis of the 35th — especially on trade.
Happy 98th Birthday John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Today is the 98th birthday of the 35th president: JFK. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left. NAME: John F. Kennedy OCCUPATION: Civil Rights A…