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John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was the 32nd President of the United States of America. He pushed America forward in the space race and negotiated with the Soviet Union to avoid a nuclear crisis. Kennedy's presidency was made brief when he was assassinated in 1963. Let's look at what he was able to accomplish during his short time in office.

John F. Kennedy Biography

John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts. His father, Joseph Kennedy, was a millionaire and ambassador to Great Britain. Kennedy was a prankster in high school and was almost expelled until his father stepped in. While playing football, he injured his back and would never truly recover from it.

Young Kennedy went on to graduate from Harvard and write Why England Slept. The political book dissected why England wasn't prepared for WWII. Kennedy used information provided by his father to write the book. The following year, America joined the war and Kennedy wanted to enlist.

John F Kennedy JFK StudySmarterFig. 1 - John F. Kennedy

He was denied entry because of his back injury, so his father paid for the navy to overlook it. Kennedy was an avid swimmer his entire life, which really became useful when his boat, the PT-109, sank. Kennedy swam some of his comrades to safety and risked his life trying to save as many people as possible. He was awarded the Navy and Marine medal for his heroic actions.

Joseph Kennedy wanted John Kennedy to become president and used his fortune to propel John's career. John Kennedy's siblings worked on his campaigns. By the time he was in his thirties, John Kennedy had worked his way from a representative to a senator.

In 1953, Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier. Bouvier was a writer for the Washington Times. Like Kennedy, she was from a rich family who wanted her to become the first wife. She was intelligent, well-spoken, and prepared to assist Kennedy when he became president.

John F. Kennedy Jacqueline and John Kennedys Wedding StudysmarterFig. 2 - Jacqueline and John Kennedy's Wedding

Kennedy had to have another back surgery, and while in recovery he wrote his second book. Profiles of Courage was released in 1955. It told the heroic deeds of eight different United States politicians, from John Quincy Adams to Robert Taft. This book won Kennedy the Pulitzer Price.

President John F Kennedy

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,"

-John F. Kennedy

John F Kennedy was sworn in as president in 1961. During his inauguration speech, he made the above iconic quote.

Kennedy instantly inherited the political nightmare that was the Bay of Pigs. Already in motion, Kennedy continued the plan.

The United States of America funded Cuban rebels who returned to Cuba to overthrow the communist government. The plan could only work if the Cuban people and some Cuban military supported the rebels, they didn't. It was an early failure of Kennedy's presidency.

Fidel Castro, the communist dictator of Cuba, had American prisoners of war. Kennedy entered negotiations for the return of the prisoners. America sent fifty-three million dollars' worth of baby food and medicine to Cuba in exchange for the prisoners.

John F Kennedy President JFK StudySmarterFig. 3 - President John F. Kennedy

John F Kennedy Cold War

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and America affected Kennedy's presidency. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a prime example of it. For two weeks in October 1962, the Soviet Union and America were in a nuclear crisis that could end the entire world. Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union was secretly building nuclear launch pads in Cuba. The nuclear missiles could hit any US major city in less than five minutes from launch.

For two weeks, Kennedy negotiated with Khrushchev. He was careful not to misstep and give the Soviet Union a reason to launch the missiles. After two weeks, Kennedy was able to reach an agreement with Khrushchev and the nuclear project in Cuba was dismantled. Kennedy remembered World War II and didn't want America to enter another war.

John F Kennedy Space Center

In 1961, the Soviet Union sent a man in space who orbited the earth. John F. Kennedy asked for seven to nine billion dollars to be invested into the space program. His goal was to get an American on the moon before the Soviet Union sent someone, preferably by the end of the decade.

The Space Race

The Soviet Union was winning the space race; by 1961, it had sent men into space and had a man orbit the Earth. By the end of 1961, America had sent two men into space. The race ended when America sent Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969.

Investing in the space program raised American morale. John F. Kennedy cared deeply for Americans and wanted them to be happy. There are stories about Kennedy crying when he heard about Americans dying. While Kennedy died in 1963, his dream for America in space continued after him. The John F. Kennedy Space Center was renamed after Kennedy by Lyndon B. Johnson the same year.

Lyndon B. Johnson was Kennedy's Vice President. When a president dies or is removed from office, the vice president becomes president.

John F Kennedy Assassination

John F. Kennedy was in a parade with his wife in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald was waiting in the Texas School Book Disposition and when Kennedy's car passed by, he shot into it three times. One bullet pierced Kennedy's neck and the second his head. He died instantly.

His vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, was sworn in immediately. Oswald was declared the assassin and killed three days later. The Warren Commission was created to investigate the death and determined that Oswald was a lone gunman. There are many conspiracy theories about the death of President John F. Kennedy, but the official report was that Oswald was the only person involved in the murder.

John F Kennedy John F Kennedy on the day that he died StudySmarterFig. 4 - John F. Kennedy on the day that he died

John F Kennedy Accomplishments

John F. Kennedy didn't complete his first term as president. He was one of the youngest American presidents and the youngest person to die in office. The John F. Kennedy Space Center was named in his honor because of his contributions to America's space goals. Kennedy's promotion of America's space programs propelled America into the space race.

Kennedy didn't want America to go to war because he remembered the time he spent as a soldier in World War II. When negotiating with Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev, Kennedy was calm and reasonable as he avoided global catastrophe.

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”

-John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy - Key Takeaways

  • John F. Kennedy was a marine during World War II
    • This shaped his view on war
  • John F. Kennedy was the 32nd President
  • The Bay of Pigs was a failure
  • Kennedy avoided the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Kennedy propelled America during the space race
  • Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963

Frequently Asked Questions about John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy prevented the Cuban Missile Crisis and contributed to the space race. He was, unfortunately, assassinated in 1962. 

John F. Kennedy fought in World War II for the American Navy. He was awarded the Navy and Marine medal for his heroic actions. 

One of JFK's most famous speeches was his inauguration speech where he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country".

John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 during a parade. He was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald. 

After John F. Kennedy died, his wife, Jacqueline, created the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum to honor him. She remarried in 1965, but her second husband died in 1975. She spent the rest of her life working as an editor. 

Final John F. Kennedy Quiz

Question

Which war shaped John F. Kennedy's view on war?

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Answer

World War II

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Question

What was John F. Kennedy's first book?

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Answer

Why England Slept 

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Question

What early failure marked John F. Kennedy's presidency?

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Answer

Bay of Pigs

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Question

Who did Kennedy negotiate with during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

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Answer

Premier Nikita Khrushchev

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Question

Kennedy was calm and patient during the Cuban Missile Crisis because he didn't want America to go to war.

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Answer

True

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Question

Which two countries was the space race between?

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Answer

United States and the Soviet Union

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Question

____ was the first man on the moon, which is why America won the space race.

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Answer

Neil Armstrong 

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Question

Who assassinated Kennedy?

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Answer

Lee Harvey Oswald

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Question

Which commission investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy? 

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Answer

Warren Commission 

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Question

Who became president when Kennedy was assassinated?

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Answer

Lyndon B. Johnson

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