John F. Kennedy
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"And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country"- John F. Kennedy

Overview of Presidency
John F. Kennedy, born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, was the thirty-fifth president of the United States. Before running for president, Kennedy served in the army for two years (1943-1945), the House of Representatives for four years (1948-1952), and also the Senate from 1953 up to his presidential campaign in 1960. His slogan was "The New Frontier" to express the need for change in all parts of American life. Kennedy's running mate was Lyndon Baines Johnson, a senator from Texas. Although Johnson and Kennedy clashed on some points, Kennedy secured his vote in the South with Johnson because of his strong southern presence. Kennedy defeated Richard M. Nixon for the presidency, 303 votes to 219 respectively. He served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

Bay of Pigs
Kennedy's involvement in Cuba began with the Bay of Pigs in April of 1961. Prior to his presidency, Cuba had been a point of interest for Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States. During the 1960's, Communism was a big threat to the United States and the world. Cuba, a communist country, was seen as an even bigger threat because of it's close proximity to the U.S. Castro, Cuba's leader, was Eisenhower's target. "Originally, this operation was envisioned as constituting the covert landing of a small, highly-trained force that would engage in guerrilla activities in order to facilitate a popular uprising" (O'Shea). The CIA was going to send these men to Cuba, but by the time the plan had been formulated, Eisenhower's term was over. Unfortunately, the CIA wanted the plan to go through, so they urged JFK to approve the plan. Because JFK was new to the plan, he did not fully understand its significance and therefore some parts weren't thought through enough. The invasion turned out to be a failure, and the country turned to Kennedy to blame. Even so, "Kennedy so gracefully acknowledged his responsibility for the Bay of Pigs disaster that his approval rating in the Gallup Poll jumped to 83 percent. Feeling personally responsible for the fate of the Cuban Brigade, he had his brother Robert Kennedy negotiate an exchange of drugs and food for the release of the captured" (U.S. History Resource Center). Kennedy was able to take responsibility for the invasion, and gain America's trust.

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Cuban Missle Crisis
The rigorous role of being president didn't stop at the Bay of Pigs. In 1962, the Soviets started to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba, initiating the Cuban Missile Crisis, which escalated the Soviet-American controversy. The Soviets were a huge threat to America because of how close the missiles were, and Kennedy was forced to confront this problem. He decided to form a naval blockade between Cuba and the United States in order to take immediate action in case the Soviets decided to launch any missiles. Kennedy was also able to compromise with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader. Kennedy told Khruschchev that if Russia removed its missiles within 24 hours, America would remove its missiles from Turkey and Italy, thus removing the American threat from Russia. Thankfully, Khrushchev accepted the next day, and Kennedy was met with gratitude for his ability to compromise in a time of crisis.

During the 1960's, the U.S. was also involved in other issues with Russia, such as the space race. In 1957, Russia had launched the first satellite, Sputnik, into space. From hereon Kennedy was very dedicated to getting men into space, and he decided to appoint James Webb as the administrator of NASA, and boosted it's budget. In May of 1961, NASA launched the Mercury program which sent two men into space. Alan Shepard was in the first pilot-controlled space flight launched from the U.S. and Russia. Kennedy also created Project Apollo, whose goal was to have a man on the moon before the 1970's. Although Kennedy never saw Apollo land on the moon, it was one of the greatest space feats ever accomplished by NASA, all with the help of Kennedy.

One of Project Mercury's satellites
One of Project Mercury's satellites

Civil Rights
This issue was one of the toughest for Kennedy to overcome because neither the segregationists nor the people who believed in equality would give up their position. Although Kennedy wanted to help the blacks in the South, he didn't want to lose his support in the North. But, Kennedy didn't have a big presence in the South, so he wanted to make sure he appealed to them as well. Instead of trying to pass laws through Congress, Kennedy started to hire more African Americans for jobs in the government. Kennedy also created the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities,which enforced laws against discrimination. This would be fully established in 1965 as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kennedy was also faced with the "Freedom Riders" in the South, whom Martin Luther King Jr, was part of. Kennedy didn't uphold his promise to reform civil rights until the 1963 Civil Rights Bill which "guaranteed all citizens equal access to public accommodations, challenged (but did not outlaw) the denial of black voting rights, and gave the federal government authority in school desegregation matters" (History Resource Center). Kennedy wasn't sure if a stronger bill would pass in Congress, but it eventually did after Kennedy's death, and became the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which Lyndon B. Johnson signed into effect. In August of 1963, the March on Washington took place to shed some light on the civil rights cause. Kennedy was able to initiate America's fight against discrimination by using skillfull tactics and smart bills.

If there's one mystery that still remains about Kennedy, its the conspiracy theories surrounding his assassination. After LBJ was appointed president, he created the Warren Commission whose goal was to investigate the assassination of JFK. The known theory today by most people is that a man named Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy while he was riding in a car on November 22, 1963 through Dallas, Texas. Texas governor John Connally was also shot, who was riding in the front of the car. Investigators ran through many different theories like the "single bullet theory" which states that one bullet injured both the president and governor. Kennedy's funeral was viewed on 93% of the population's televisions. Whether or not these theories are true, "Every American who was alive at the time, it seems, knows where they were when Kennedy was shot. And that is because, in a sense, every American was there, in Dallas, with the President as he died" (History Resource Center). Kennedy's death was a terrible one, and will be remembered by America for decades to come.
"Kennedy was the first president to face a nuclear confrontation; the first to literally reach for the moon, through the nation's space programs; the first in half a century to call a White House conference on conservation; the first to give the arts a prominent place in American national councils; the first since Theodore Roosevelt with whom youth could identify. He made the nation see itself with new eyes" (Biography Resource Center).

Kennedy's Funeral
Kennedy's Funeral

Lincoln and Kennedy Coincidences

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846. John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860. John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters. Both were particularly concerned with civil rights. Both of their wives lost their children while living in the White House. Both Presidents were shot on a Friday. Both were shot in the head. Both were shot with one bullet.
Both were rumored to be killed in a conspiracy.Neither was confirmed to be a conspiracy. Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theater. Kennedy was shot in a card made by the Ford Motor Company (a Lincoln no less). Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy. Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln. Both were assassinated by Southerners. Both were succeeded by Southerners. Both successors were named Johnson. Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808. Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908. Their first names both contain six letters. John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839. Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939. Both assassins were known by their three names. Both names comprise fifteen letters. Both assassins were assassinated before their trials.

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future"- John F. Kennedy

"Bay of Pigs Invasion." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. 5 vols. St. James Press, 2000. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
Document Number: BT2419100099

"John Fitzgerald Kennedy." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998.
Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2010.
Document Number: K1631003572

"The John F. Kennedy Administration." Presidential Administration Profiles for Students. Online Edition. Gale Group, 2002. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
Document Number: BT2304200024

"Kennedy Assassination." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. 5 vols. St. James Press, 2000. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
Document Number: BT2419100669

"U.S. Space Program." History in Dispute, Vol. 2: American Social and Political Movements, 1945-2000. Robert J. Allison, ed. St. James Press, 1999. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
Document Number: BT2306200072


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