One of America’s best-loved presidents, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is born into a politically and socially prominent family in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. He was the first American president to be born and then serve in the 20th century.
In 1935, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard University and received a degree in international affairs with honors in 1940. While there, he suffered a debilitating back injury that would have life-long repercussions. After college, Kennedy served on a Navy PT boat in World War II. In 1952, he won a seat in the House of Representatives and then served in the Senate for seven years, beginning in 1953. Also in 1953, he married Jacqueline Bouvier. In subsequent years, Kennedy underwent several dangerous spinal operations; it was during his recuperation from one such operation that he wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning history Profiles in Courage. Unfortunately, the operations never succeeded in curing his persistent back pain and, for the rest of his life, Kennedy took a powerful combination of pain killers, muscle relaxants and sleeping pills, a fact he successfully hid from the public. The pain, however, did not prevent him from becoming a rising Democratic star in the Senate; he ran for the presidency in 1960.
READ MORE: How JFK Earned Two Medals in World War II
Kennedy’s support for liberal economic and social policies, such as civil rights and increased funding for education and public housing, in addition to his strong anti-communist stance, appealed to a broad cross-section of Americans during the presidential campaign. In addition to his political philosophy, Kennedy capitalized on his handsome features and charismatic personality to beat Republican candidate Richard Nixon to become the nation’s 35th president. In a televised debate, the well-groomed and relaxed Kennedy had appeared more presidential than a haggard-looking, unshaven, visibly nervous Nixon. Many observers believed this debate was critical to his success.
President Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected to the office. His youth, intelligence and worldliness—along with his beautiful, stylish and much-admired wife–charmed Americans and Europeans alike. His children, Caroline and John Jr., were often photographed cavorting around the White House grounds with their pets or playing under their father’s desk in the Oval Office. Kennedy’s brother, Bobby, also young and enthusiastic, served as his attorney general and closest advisor. The American public increasingly saw the Kennedy family as a kind of American royalty and the press portrayed Kennedy’s administration as a sort of modern-day Camelot, with the president himself as King Arthur presiding over an ideal society.
READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About John F. Kennedy
As president, Kennedy combined a fervent stance against communism with a liberal domestic agenda. He was a strong proponent of civil rights as well as a Cold War hawk. He authorized covert operations to remove Fidel Castro from power and, in 1962, challenged the Soviet Union to remove nuclear missiles installed on Cuba. The resulting Cuban Missile Crisis was a frighteningly tense showdown between JFK and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that brought the two nuclear superpowers to the brink of war. JFK also sought peaceful means of fighting communism—he established the Peace Corps and funded scientific research programs to fight poverty and illness and provide aid to developing nations. By encouraging American youth to donate their time and energy to international aid, JFK hoped to provide positive democratic role models to developing nations. In a 1961 speech, Kennedy advocated for a vigorous U.S. space program and vowed to send an American to the moon by the close of the 1960s.
In 1963, Kennedy was assassinated while driving through Dallas, Texas, in a convertible. Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy in the head from the sixth floor of a book depository. Texas Governor John Connally and Jackie Kennedy were also in the car. Connally was hit in the back, chest, wrist and thigh, but eventually made a full recovery. Jackie was uninjured.
A bystander named Abraham Zapruder happened to capture the shooting on his 8mm home-movie camera. Zapruder’s film provided graphic visuals of JFK’s death and has been endlessly analyzed for evidence of a potential conspiracy. In 1964, the federally appointed Warren Commission investigated the assassination and concluded that Oswald acted alone. Some scholars, investigators and amateur sleuths, however, still insist Kennedy’s death was a coup d’etat committed by hard-line U.S. anti-communists who feared Kennedy would pull out the U.S. advisors he had sent to Vietnam in 1962 and act soft on the communist threat from the USSR. Another conspiracy theory involves a concerted effort by organized crime, the Pentagon, and the CIA to murder the president; this view was adapted by Oliver Stone into the 1991 film JFK.
Kennedy is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, where an eternal flame burns in his memory.
READ MORE: Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Future President John F. Kennedy is born - HISTORY
“Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe….”
President Kennedy, 1961 Inaugural Address
Where China and Russia are currently leading a new paradigm of cooperation and development, it is too easily forgotten that America itself had once embodied this anti-colonial spirit under the foreign policy vision of John F. Kennedy. Even though the young leader died in office before the full effect of his grand vision could take hold, it is worth revisiting his fight and stated intention for a post-colonial world governed by win-win cooperation. This exercise is especially important now that we are coming to the anniversary of the murder of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
FDR’s Death and the Emergence of the New Rome
America didn’t become an imperial “dumb giant” after WWII without a major fight.
With FDR’s death, the USA began acting more and more like an empire abroad and a racist police state under McCarthyism within its own borders. During this time, those allies of FDR who were committed to Roosevelt’s anti colonial post war vision, rallied around former Vice President Henry Wallace’s 1948 Presidential bid with the Progressive Party of America. When this effort failed, an outright police state took over and those same fascists who had sponsored WWII took control of the reins of power.
These “economic royalists” enjoyed full control as puppet President Harry S. Truman giggled as he dropped bombs on a defeated Japan and happily supported America’s new role as the re-conquistador of nations who sought independence after WWII. While it can’t be argued that the politically naïve President Eisenhower had some redeeming qualities, for the most part, his 8 year administration was run by the Dulles brothers and Wall Street, and it was only on January 17, 1961 that he made any serious effort to speak openly about the military industrial complex that had grown like a cancer under his watch.
A New Hope Emerges in 1961
It was no secret who the outgoing President was warning. Three days after his address, a young John F. Kennedy was inaugurated 35 th president of the United States to the great hope of many anti-fascists in America and abroad.
It is too often overlooked today, but JFK’s anti-colonial position was not a secret during his decade as a Senator and Congressman. Even though his family pedigree was stained with mafia and JP Morgan ties to his treacherous father “Papa Joe”, John Kennedy was made of sturdier stuff.
Touring Asia and the Middle East in the 1950s, a young Senator Kennedy expressed his sensitivity to the plight of the Arab world and problem of US imperialism when he said: “Our intervention in behalf of England’s oil investments in Iran, directed more at the preservation of interests outside Iran than at Iran’s own development…. Our failure to deal effectively after three years with the terrible human tragedy of the more than 700,000 Arab refugees [Palestinians], these are things that have failed to sit well with Arab desires and make empty the promises of the Voice of America….”
Later, speaking in a 1960 speech regarding ending colonialism in Africa, JFK expressed his understanding of Africa’s demand for genuine independence saying: “Call it nationalism, call it anti-colonialism, Africa is going through a revolution…. Africans want a higher standard of living. Seventy-five percent of the population now lives by subsistence agriculture. They want an opportunity to manage and benefit directly from the resources in, on, and under their land…. The African peoples believe that the science, technology, and education available in the modern world can overcome their struggle for existence, that their poverty, squalor, ignorance, and disease can be conquered…. [The] balance of power is shifting … into the hands of the two-thirds of the world’s people who want to share what the one-third has already taken for granted….”
JFK Battles the Deep State
Wall Street’s Dulles Brothers who together ran the CIA and the State Department had made several major efforts to sabotage Kennedy’s “new frontiers” initiative that gripped the imaginations of young and old alike. Kennedy’s program was driven by large scale infrastructure at home and advanced scientific and technological progress in the Developing sector abroad. Attempting to break that trajectory, Allen Dulles had prepared the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba months before Kennedy entered the scene which was a near disaster for the world. Just days before Kennedy’s inauguration, Allan Dulles ensured that a pro-Kennedy ally who had just recently gained power in the Congo named Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in cold blood knowing that JFK would be blamed, and every effort was made to back up the French fascists trying to stop the Algerian independence movement behind JFK’s back. Both the Cuban invasion and the assassination of Lumumba have been blamed on Kennedy to this day.
In response to this treachery, JFK made the bold move of firing CIA director Allan Dulles, and two Wall Street-connected CIA directors on November 29, 1961 saying that he would soon “splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
Recognizing the insanity of the zero sum Cold Warriors who could only look at the world through the perversity of a Hobbesian lens of “each against all”, JFK not only stood alone against the entire array of war-hungry Joint Chiefs calling for war with Russia during the infamous “13 day showdown” (and parodied by Kubrick’s brilliant Dr. Strangelove), but also took the advice of Generals MacArthur, and Charles de Gaulle who warned him to avoid all entrapments of a “land war in Vietnam”. On this point, JFK introduced NSAM 263 in October 1963 to begin a full withdrawal from Southeast Asia.
JFK’s June 10, 1963 speech What Kind of Peace Do We Seek? Showcased his resistance to the imperialists in America.
What was especially intolerable was that JFK began challenging the fixed rules of the zero sum Cold War game itself when he announced a new mission to put a man on the moon “within the decade”. This would have been tolerable if the effort was kept within a geopolitical ideology of “competition against the evil commies”. But JFK knew better and called for a US-Russia partnership to jointly develop advanced technologies together making the space program a project for human peace. This little known strategic vision, announced in a September 20, 1963 UN speech, shows how an arms race in space, which today threatens the earth, could have been avoided and the Cold War itself done away with decades before the Soviet Union collapsed:
JFK’s efforts to build bridges with Russia were of vital importance as they resulted in the passage of the test ban treaty on August 5, 1963, and hopes were awoken for an early end to the Cold War though the mutual development of the poorest parts of the world. This was “International New Deal” strategy which patriots like Henry Wallace and Paul Robeson had fought for from 1946-1959.
Across Africa, Asia and other former colonies, JFK had worked hard to build relationships with Pan African leaders Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, as well as Egypt’s Gamal Nasser, India’s Jawaharlal Nehru and South Vietnamese President Diem to provide American assistance for the construction of great infrastructure projects like the Akosombo Dam in Ghana, nuclear power in Egypt and Vietnam and steel industries in India. Today the Akosombo Dam stands with a plaque dedicated to the “martyred John F. Kennedy”. As historian Anton Chaitkin proves in his incredible 2013 opus “JFK vs the Empire”, this didn’t happen without a major fight with the JP Morgan controlled steel barons who artificially raised the price of steel in order to make these projects financially impossible.
How would these projects be funded? Certainly, Kennedy’s industrial tax credit was a major help, but when it became clear that Wall Street banks, and the Federal Reserve were obstructing the flow of credit for long term development, JFK introduced Bill 11110 to begin issuing silver-backed currency through the Treasury rather than the private central banking system on June 4, 1963 which would have liberated America from private central banking for the first time since 1913.
The Plot to Kill Kennedy
New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison famously played by Kevin Costner in Oliver Stone’s 1992 JFK did more than many people today realize in exposing the networks that ran JFK’s murder and subsequent cover-up. Without going into detail of the multiple bullets that killed Kennedy from several directions (especially the lethal head shot which obviously struck him FROM THE FRONT as showcased in the Zapruder film which had been suppressed for several years), let’s look at some lesser known evidence discovered by Garrison.
In his 1991 book “On the Trail of the Assassins”, Garrison wrote of an international assassination bureau named Permindex and the World Trade Organization on whose boards sat CIA asset Clay Shaw (the figure played by Tommy Lee Jones in the Stone biopic). Garrison wrote: “The CIA- which apparently had been conducting its own foreign policy for some time- had begun a project in Italy as far back as the early 1950s. The organization, named the Centro Mondiale Commerciale had initially been formed in Montreal, then moved to Rome in 1961. Among the members of its board of directors, we learned, was one Clay Shaw from New Orleans”. Garrison cited French researcher Paris Flammonde when he described it as “a shell of superficiality… composed of channels through which money flowed back and forth without anyone knowing the sources or the destination of these liquid assets.”
Garrison pointed out that Permindex had been kicked out of Italy, Switzerland and France for good reasons: “As for Permindex… it had, among other things, secretly financed the opposition of the French Secret Army Organization (OAS) to President de Gaulle’s support for independence for Algeria, including its reputed assassination attempts on de Gaulle.”
After naming the other pro-fascist members- many of whom were connected to European royal families and banks, Garrison then pointed to the WTC owner “One of the major stockholders of the Centro was a Major Louis M. Bloomfield, a Montreal resident… and former agent with the Office of Strategic Services, out of which the United States had formed the CIA.”
Bloomfield & the Royal Birth of the Anti-Growth Movement
Since both the World Trade Center and Permindex were owned by Bloomfield, his role in this story cannot be overlooked and takes us straight to the heart of the agenda to kill Kennedy.
Not only did Bloomfield play a key role working alongside Rhodes Scholars in Canada such as Justice Minister Davie Fulton in order to stop continental water projects advocated by JFK and Canadian pro-development leaders like John Diefenbaker, Premier Daniel Johnson and BC Premier WAC Bennett, but he also played a leading role as a founding member of the 1001 Club alongside other upper level managers of the oligarchy like Maurice Strong, Peter Munk (of Barrick Gold), and media Mogul Conrad Black. For those who may not be aware, the 1001 Club was a special Trust set up under Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Prince Philip Mountbatten to finance the new ecology movement as the foundation for a new global imperialism today being pushed under the framework of Cop 25 and the Green New Deal.
Philp and Bernhard were not only co-founders of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961, but were supporters of the anti-technological growth Morges Manifesto which the WWF credits as the start of the modern green movement. Bloomfield served as Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund while Prince Philip was President, and later gave the baton over to Maurice Strong. The Morges Manifesto was the first attempt to place the blame for humanity’s ills on the yearning for scientific and technological progress itself rather than the imperial traditions of inbred oligarchs.
A co-author of the Morges Manifesto and co-founder of the WWF was Sir Julian Huxley. Huxley was a leading eugenicist who laid out the intention for the new imperial movement that JFK rebelled valiantly against in his 1946 UNESCO founding manifesto when he said “even though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care, and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable.” The fact that dark skinned people are the most ruthlessly affected by de-carbonization schemes and “appropriate technologies” like expensively inefficient windmills and solar panels today is not a coincidence.
Open vs. Closed System Paradigms
So WHY would those founders of the ecology movement, which is today pushing a global green one world government, have wished to see President Kennedy murdered?
If I said it was because they want depopulation or world government, it would be too simple.
It were better said that JFK was self-consciously unleashing the innate powers of creative reason as a governing principle of political economy. He believed in an anti-oligarchical view of humanity as made in the living image of God and said as much repeatedly. He believed that the human mind could conquer all challenges that both nature, vice and ignorance can throw at us. JFK didn’t see the world through a zero sum lens, nor did he believe in the Malthusian “limits to growth” paradigm which his killers promulgated after his death. In fact JFK argued against Malthusianism by name.
Today, those Green New Dealing technocratic zombies pervasive across the western deep state are horrified to witness the reawakening of JFK’s spirit in the leadership of powerful statesmen like China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin who have created a new paradigm of cooperation, war avoidance, and infrastructure projects under the growing New Silk Road as well as ambitious space projects which are quickly bringing the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies into the sphere of our economic activity.
It should also be noted that for all of his problems, President Trump has become the first American president since JFK to seriously challenge the Deep State, fire a leading FBI director, call out the military industrial complex and push for friendship with Russia and China. Kennedy’s revenge can best be achieved if the American people do everything possible to support the fight against this Malthusian cancer and push for America’s participation in that new paradigm before an economic meltdown throws America into a new Dark Age.
John F. Kennedy: Impact and Legacy
John F. Kennedy had promised much but never had the opportunity to see his program through. It was, in the words of one notable biographer, “an unfinished life.” For that reason, assessments of the Kennedy presidency remain mixed.
Kennedy played a role in revolutionizing American politics. Television began to have a real impact on voters and long, drawn-out election campaigns became the norm. Style became an essential complement to substance.
Before winning the presidency, Kennedy had lived a life of privilege and comfort, and his relatively short congressional career had been unremarkable. Many voters yearned for the dynamism that Kennedy's youth and politics implied, but others worried that Kennedy's inexperience made him a poor choice to lead the nation during such a challenging time.
Early errors in judgment, particularly in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, seemingly confirmed these fears. By the summer of 1962, the administration was in trouble. A particularly difficult Cold War climate abroad, an antagonistic Congress at home, increasingly bold activist groups agitating for change, and a discouraging economic outlook all contributed to an increasingly negative view of the Kennedy White House.
That impression began to change in the fall of 1962. Skillful statesmanship—and some luck—led to notable success in the showdown over Cuba. The economic situation improved. Long-running, difficult negotiations finally resulted in a partial nuclear test ban treaty. And the work of civil rights activists and the occasional limited intervention of the federal government were slowly, but nevertheless steadily, wearing down the power of Southern segregationists.
But serious issues remained. Throughout the summer and fall of 1963, the situation in South Vietnam deteriorated by the end of Kennedy's presidency, 16,000 US military “advisers” had been dispatched to the country. More importantly, the administration apparently had no realistic plan to resolve the conflict. In the area of civil rights, some progress had been achieved, but these successes had come mostly in spite of—not because of—the White House. Bloody conflict was becoming more prevalent on America's streets, and racial injustice remained rampant.
Assessments of Kennedy's presidency have spanned a wide spectrum. Early studies, the most influential of which were written by New Frontiersmen close to Kennedy, were openly admiring. They built upon on the collective grief from Kennedy's public slaying—the quintessential national trauma. Later, many historians focused on the seedier side of Kennedy family dealings and John Kennedy's questionable personal morals. More recent works have tried to find a middle ground.
In nation's popular memory, Kennedy still commands fascination as a compelling, charismatic leader during a period of immense challenge to the American body politic.
"But Goethe tells us in his greatest poem that Faust lost the liberty of his soul when he said to the passing moment: "Stay, thou art so fair." And our liberty, too, is endangered if we pause for the passing moment, if we rest on our achievements, if we resist the pace of progress. For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future." --"Address in the Assembly Hall at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt (266)," June 25, 1963, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963.
"Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future." --"Re: United States Committee for UNICEF July 25, 1963." Papers of John F. Kennedy. Presidential Papers. White House Central Files. Chronological File. Series 1. President's Outgoing Executive Correspondence, Box 11, Folder: "July 1963: 16-31," JFKL.
"We can say with some assurance that, although children may be the victims of fate, they will not be the victims of our neglect." --"Remarks upon signing the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Bill (434)," October 24, 1963, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963.
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Presidential Candidate and Presidency
Kennedy&aposs eight-year Senate career was relatively undistinguished. Bored by the Massachusetts-specific issues on which he had to spend much of his time, Kennedy was more drawn to the international challenges posed by the Soviet Union&aposs growing nuclear arsenal and the Cold War battle for the hearts and minds of Third World nations. In 1956, Kennedy was very nearly selected as Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson&aposs running mate, but was ultimately passed over for Estes Kefauver from Tennessee. Four years later, Kennedy decided to run for president.
In the 1960 Democratic primaries, Kennedy outmaneuvered his main opponent, Hubert Humphrey, with superior organization and financial resources. Selecting Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate, Kennedy faced Vice President Richard Nixon in the general election. The election turned largely on a series of televised national debates in which Kennedy bested Nixon, an experienced and skilled debater, by appearing relaxed, healthy and vigorous in contrast to his pallid and tense opponent. On November 8, 1960, Kennedy defeated Nixon by a razor-thin margin to become the 35th president of the United States of America.
Kennedy&aposs election was historic in several respects. At the age of 43, he was the second youngest American president in history, second only to Theodore Roosevelt, who assumed the office at 42. He was also the first Catholic president and the first president born in the 20th century. Delivering his legendary inaugural address on January 20, 1961, Kennedy sought to inspire all Americans to more active citizenship. "Ask not what your country can do for you," he said. "Ask what you can do for your country."
Kennedy&aposs greatest accomplishments during his brief tenure as president came in the arena of foreign affairs. Capitalizing on the spirit of activism he had helped to ignite, Kennedy created the Peace Corps by executive order in 1961. By the end of the century, over 170,000 Peace Corps volunteers would serve in 135 countries. Also in 1961, Kennedy created the Alliance for Progress to foster greater economic ties with Latin America, in hopes of alleviating poverty and thwarting the spread of communism in the region.
Kennedy also presided over a series of international crises. On April 15, 1961, he authorized a covert mission to overthrow leftist Cuban leader Fidel Castro with a group of 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban refugees. Known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the mission proved an unmitigated failure, causing Kennedy great embarrassment.
In August 1961, to stem massive waves of emigration from Soviet-dominated East Germany to American ally West Germany via the divided city of Berlin, Nikita Khrushchev ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall, which became the foremost symbol of the Cold War.
However, the greatest crisis of the Kennedy administration was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. Discovering that the Soviet Union had sent ballistic nuclear missiles to Cuba, Kennedy blockaded the island and vowed to defend the United States at any cost. After several of the tensest days in history, during which the world seemed on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles in return for Kennedy&aposs promise not to invade Cuba and to remove American missiles from Turkey. Eight months later, in June 1963, Kennedy successfully negotiated the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty with Great Britain and the Soviet Union, helping to ease Cold War tensions. It was one of his proudest accomplishments.
President Kennedy&aposs record on domestic policy was rather mixed. Taking office in the midst of a recession, he proposed sweeping income tax cuts, raising the minimum wage and instituting new social programs to improve education, health care and mass transit. However, hampered by lukewarm relations with Congress, Kennedy only achieved part of his agenda: a modest increase in the minimum wage and watered down tax cuts.
The most contentious domestic issue of Kennedy&aposs presidency was civil rights. Constrained by Southern Democrats in Congress who remained stridently opposed to civil rights for Black citizens, Kennedy offered only tepid support for civil rights reforms early in his term.
Nevertheless, in September 1962 Kennedy sent his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to Mississippi to use the National Guard and federal marshals to escort and defend civil rights activist James Meredith as he became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962. Near the end of 1963, in the wake of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.&aposs "I Had a Dream" speech, Kennedy finally sent a civil rights bill to Congress. One of the last acts of his presidency and his life, Kennedy&aposs bill eventually passed as the landmark Civil Rights Act in 1964.
This Day in History: John F. Kennedy Was Born
Today in 1917, John F. Kennedy -- the 35th President of the United States, and the first to be born in the 20th century -- was born in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Of Irish descent, President Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected President, and was also the youngest to die.
Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety.
Having returned from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history. Read more about President Kennedy's life and legacy here.
Aaron Shikler's iconic 1971 portrait of President Kennedy in a contemplative pose hangs in the cross hall in the central corridor of the White House's State Floor.
Events and Accomplishments
Domestic policy: Kennedy had a tough time getting many of his domestic programs through Congress. However, he did get an increased minimum wage, better Social Security benefits, and an urban renewal package passed. He created the Peace Corps, and his goal to get to the moon by the end of the 1960s found overwhelming support.
On the Civil Rights front, Kennedy initially did not challenge Southern Democrats. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that only by breaking unjust laws and accepting the consequences could African-Americans show the true nature of their treatment. The press reported daily on the atrocities occurring due to nonviolent protest and civil disobedience. Kennedy used executive orders and personal appeals to aid the movement. His legislative programs, however, would not pass until after his death.
Foreign affairs: Kennedy's foreign policy began in failure with the Bay of Pigs debacle of 1961. A small force of Cuban exiles was to lead a revolt in Cuba but was captured instead. America's reputation was seriously harmed. Kennedy's confrontation with Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev in June 1961 led to the construction of the Berlin Wall. Further, Khrushchev began building nuclear missile bases in Cuba. Kennedy ordered a "quarantine" of Cuba in response. He warned that any attack from Cuba would be seen as an act of war by the USSR. This standoff led to the dismantling of the missile silos in exchange for promises that the U.S. would not invade Cuba. Kennedy also agreed to a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963 with Great Britain and the USSR.
Two other important events during his term were the Alliance for Progress (the U.S. provided aid to Latin America) and the problems in Southeast Asia. North Vietnam was sending troops through Laos to fight in South Vietnam. The South's leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, was ineffective. America increased its military advisers from 2,000 to 16,000 during this time. Diem was overthrown but new leadership was no better. When Kennedy was killed, Vietnam was approaching a boiling point.
John F. Kennedy: A look at the Irish American president's life
John FitzGerald Kennedy was born in Boston on May 29, 1917, the great-grandson of Irish Famine emigrants. Although his family arrived destitute like so many others, each generation did better than the one before, and baby Jack was born into an extremely wealthy family.
In total, there were nine Kennedy siblings – four boys and five girls – and in an age when women rarely ran for office the family’s ambitions centered on the four brothers. The oldest, Joe Jr, was hailed as a future President when born and his father Joseph Sr hoped the others would attain high office as well.
1937: Joseph Patrick Kennedy (right), his wife Rose Kennedy (second from right) and eight of their nine children, from left: Edward, Jeanne, Robert, Patricia, Eunice, Kathleen, Rosemary and John F Kennedy (Getty Images)
In 1938, JFK's father, Joe Sr, was made US Ambassador to Great Britain and Kennedy traveled with him for a time working as his secretary. His book, “Why England Slept,” was based on his Harvard University thesis and recounted the lead up to the Second World War and Britain’s inadequate preparations for the conflict. It became a bestseller, but the young JFK declined a career in journalism and joined the US Navy.
There, he served with distinction and was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his bravery in action off the Solomon Islands.
John F. Kennedy, circa 1940 (Getty Images)
Early Political Career
After a brief stint as a journalist in Europe, JFK threw himself into electoral politics, with all his father’s money and connections at his beck and call.
He was twice elected Congressman for Massachusetts's 11th district before winning a tight US Senate race in 1952.
Not long after his election, he proposed to 23-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier. She took a while to accept, but the pair declared their engagement in June 1953 and married that September in what was considered the wedding of the season. The couple went on to have four children together: Arabella, a stillborn, in 1956 Caroline in 1957 John, Jr in 1960 and Patrick, who died from complications two days after he was born, in 1963.
Jackie and President Kennedy on April 14, 1961. (Getty Images)
Road to the White House
In January 1960, Kennedy told the world he was running for president. Few who knew the handsome and ambitious 42-year-old were surprised but the race against the sitting Vice President Richard Nixon proved a tough one.
Kennedy charmed voters with his authority and calmness in the nation’s first Presidential debate but ultimately triumphed only by a wafer-thin 120,000 vote margin in the popular vote. He did, however, win a comfortable 303 vote slam dunk in the electoral college with huge support in the southern states thanks to his running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson.
JFK and LBJ at the White House on August 31, 1961 (Getty Images)
JFK set the bar high for oratory at all subsequent inaugurations. He exhorted his fellow citizens to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” and declared war on "common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."
John F. Kennedy's inauguration in Washington, DC on January 20, 1961 (Getty Images)
Kennedy's Domestic Policy
Kennedy appointed former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to head a Presidential Commission into the Status of Women – leading to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. He also cautiously advanced the cause of civil rights, issuing a number of executive orders to curb discrimination.
His ‘New Frontier’ policies saw an expansion in health care for the elderly, more federal money for education and he slashed taxes.
President Kennedy meets with civil rights leaders at the White House on August 28, 1963 (Getty Images)
Frustrated by Congress, JFK’s primary focus during his years in the White House was on the world beyond America’s shores.
In 1961, Kennedy ordered what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Revolution swept a young Fidel Castro to power.
The CIA hoped the invasion by young anti-Castro Cubans would topple Castro, depriving the Soviet Union of its greatest ally in the region.
But the invasion failed and Castro, more hostile to the US than ever, and the young dictator agreed to host Soviet intermediate ballistic missiles weapons on the island.
The Cuban Missile Crisis saw the world teeter on the edge of nuclear war until Soviet leader Khrushchev blinked and agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba. Kennedy had faced his biggest test as Commander in Chief and triumphed.
President Kennedy delivering a televised address about the strategic blockade of Cuba on October 22, 1962 (Getty Images)
John F Kennedy's assassination
Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963, in Dallas by Soviet sympathizer Leo Harvey Oswald. All Americans, and most other people around the world, remember where they were on that fateful day.
Vice President LBJ was sworn in on Air Force One that day with a stunned Jackie Kennedy at his side.
Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as president on Air Force One with Jackie Kennedy by his side (Getty Images)
President Kennedy's funeral was one of the greatest spectacles the world had ever seen, hundreds of dignitaries attended as the first Irish American Catholic President was laid to rest in Arlington, VA and an eternal flame was lit to burn forever in his memory.
The funeral for President Kennedy in Washington, DC on November 22, 1963 (Getty Images)
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After challenging NASA to put a man on the moon, President Kennedy became concerned about the potential costs. As a result, he proposed a cooperative effort between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during a speech at the United Nations as a way to prevent a duplication of effort. Kennedy had opposed the space program as a U.S. senator.
In addition to ordering the failed Bay of Pigs attack against Cuba, Kennedy was able to avoid war with the Soviet Union and have nuclear missiles removed from Cuba. Before signing the long-running trade embargo against the communist-led island, Kennedy instructed his aides to purchase 1,200 of his favorite Cuban cigars. Under the relaxed trade rules enacted by President Obama, individuals can now purchase up to $100 worth of cigars per visit to Cuba.
Holy Cow! History: The Memorial Day weekend that began the healing of a future president
On Memorial Day weekend, 1955, a car pulled up outside a doctor&rsquos office at 9 West 16th Street in New York City and deposited a lean, gaunt young man on the sidewalk.
The woman watching from inside later remembered, &ldquoHe was on crutches. There were two steps from the street into my office and he could hardly navigate them &mldr He could walk on the level putting his weight on his right leg, but he couldn&rsquot step up or down a step with his left foot. We could hardly get him into the office.&rdquoDr
The woman was Dr. Janet Travell, a noted expert on pain caused by muscle irritation. The man she was about to see was 38-year-old Senator John F. Kennedy.
Travell had followed a fascinating career path to arrive at this moment. Earning her medical degree from Cornell in 1928, she did her two-year residency while also serving as an ambulance surgeon for New York&rsquos police department.
Working in a Big Apple hospital just before World War II, she grew intrigued by skeletal muscle pain and pioneered new ways to treat it. Many of her techniques are still used today, 80 years later.
The junior senator from Massachusetts suffered from a myriad of medical problems. He had a sickly childhood, was hospitalized multiple times, and was even incorrectly diagnosed with leukemia (it was actually an adrenal ailment).
A football injury to one knee, followed by a serious back injury sustained in the Second World War, kept Kennedy in chronic pain. There was surgery after surgery. In fact, he wrote his notes for the Pulitzer Prize-winning book &ldquoProfiles in Courage&rdquo in bed following a 1954 operation.
Travell quickly sized up her new patient. She discovered one of Kennedy&rsquos legs was shorter than the other. So, she had lifts made for all his left shoes, which reduced stress on the back.
She injected low doses of procaine into the lumbar muscles, which drastically reduced the pain. One recommendation even became an iconic part of JFK&rsquos public imagine: She suggested he sit in a rocking chair to keep pressure off his back.
The change was swift. Soon, Kennedy&rsquos crutches were put in a closet. In their place, Americans saw a robust, energetic candidate campaigning in the 1960 presidential race. Kennedy won it in a cliffhanger (it was the closest election in American history). Bobby Kennedy, the new president&rsquos brother, even said Dr. Travell&rsquos treatment had made the victory possible.
And so on January 26, 1961, Kennedy showed his appreciation by appointing her the first woman to ever serve as Physician to the President, an official White House position.
Today, with the first female vice president serving in office, a woman serving as the president&rsquos personal doctor may not sound like much. But it was groundbreaking in 1961.
Travell&rsquos appointment was met with much grumbling among the ranks of older male doctors. However, her sterling performance quickly quieted them.
Ironically, Dr. Travell also treated Senator Barry Goldwater, a founder of today&rsquos conservative movement. That made the Arizona Republican quip, &ldquoI may have to work out a back-door arrangement with the new president,&rdquo so he could continue seeing her.
Travell loved her White House job and stayed on following Kennedy&rsquos assassination. After stepping down in 1965, she taught at George Washington University. She kept on teaching and writing and sharing her remarkable knowledge until her death in 1997 at age 95.
Time magazine expressed what made Janet Travell special in its article on her precedent-shattering appointment: &ldquoA key ingredient in any Travell prescription is her personality. Forceful but warm, enthusiastic but eminently sane, she gives her patients some of her own confidence and that intangible touch of magic that is often better than any drug or needle.&rdquo