John Fitzgerald Kennedy Essay, Research Paper
A. Family and Educational Background
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born of May 29, 1917 and was the second son of nine children of
Joseph Patrick Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. The ancestors before him were of
Wexford County in Ireland. John F. Kennedy’s father served as first chairman of the
Securities and Exchange Commission and a US ambassador to Great Britain during Franklin D.
Roosevelts administration. His mother was the daughter of John F. Fitzgerald who was also
a political figure.
John F. Kennedy attended elementary schools in Brookline and Riverdale,
Massachusetts until the age of thirteen. After that, he was sent to the Canterbury School
in New Milford, Connecticut. Later, he transferred to the Choate Academy in Wallingford,
Connecticut and graduated at eighteen. For a short period of time, he attended he
attended college at Princeton but left because he had developed a case of jaundice. In
1936, he enrolled in Harvard and majored in international relations and in government.
After graduating in 1940, he enrolled in the Stanford University graduate business school
and dropped out six months later. Soon after, he joined the navy.
B. Political Background
Kennedy ran for the US House of Representatives in 1946 and took his seat in
Congress in 1947 and was reelected two more times in 1948 and in 1950. In 1952, with help
from his family, Kennedy campaigned for the Senate and won. In June of 1956, Kennedy ran
for Vice President only to lose to Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. After his loss, Kennedy
began a new campaign for the Presidency.
C. Presidential Elections
Kennedy’s running mates for the Presidency in 1960 were Richard Nixon and Harry Byrd.
One of the major issues being debated at the time was the Cold War with The Soviet Union.
Kennedy’s good looks, wealth, and his public debates on television helped him to win over
Nixon and Byrd. Kennedy had captured 303 electoral votes over Nixon who had 219 votes and
Byrd who had 15 votes. He also had 114, 673 more popular votes than Nixon.
D. The Presidency
One of the major problems happening in the US during Kennedy’s administration was
the demand for equal rights for blacks. In 1961, a group of blacks and whites went to
Montgomery, Alabama to test segregation laws. After riots broke out, US Marshals were
sent in to set things back in order. A year later, James Meridith enrolled at the
University of Mississippi and became the first black to study there. Soon after his
enrollment, riots broke out and President Kennedy ordered three-thousand federal troops to
restore order. Two people were killed during the riots. In 1963, more riots and protests
broke out in different areas of the country. Kennedy asked Congress to pass legislation
for civil rights laws.
Two major foreign problems were the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile
crisis. In 1961, Cuban exiles invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. They were promised
military aid from the US by President Kennedy refused to give them any. Fidel Castro’s
forces stopped the invasion easily and captured the exiles. Most of them were later
exchanged for US nonmilitary supplies.
The Cuban missile crisis happened in 1962. Cuban leaders were afraid that the US
would attack so they asked the USSR for more military aid. They responded by sending
nuclear missiles and the materials necessary to build launch sites. When the US found out
about the missiles, President Kennedy responded by ordering a naval blockade to stop
further shipments. President demanded that the USSR take all their missiles and equipment
off the island. For a time, we were at the brink of nuclear exchange. They agreed to
remove everything if the US promised not to attack Cuba. President Kennedy agreed to the
terms and the USSR took out all their weapons.
In 1963, Kennedy began his reelection campaign, visiting different parts of the
country. While riding in an open limousine through Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was shot in the
head and the neck at 12:30 PM on November, 22. Efforts to revive him failed as they
brought him to Parkland Memorial Hospital. The assassin was captured hours after the
assassination in theater nearby; his name was Lee Harvey Oswald, a former US Marine. He
was then later killed by a nightclub owner, Jack Ruby. John F. Kennedy was buried in
Arlington National Cemetery.
F. Presidential Rating
John F. Kennedy would probably be considered a near great President. He was a well
liked President and almost everyone loved him. He handled some foreign affairs well like
the Cuban missile crisis but also messed up some others like the Bay of Pigs invasion. He
also began to get Congress to pass civil rights laws for blacks. John F. Kennedy was one
of out greater Presidents.