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Why was President Kennedy such a famous and controversial figure in history?

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HISTORY GCSE COURSEWORK - PRESIDENT JOHN F KENNEDY Q1) Why was President Kennedy such a famous and controversial figure in history? A) Although he was one of the most famous American Presidents in history, Kennedy was also one of the most controversial. He was famous for being the youngest American President ever to be elected into office, beginning his term at the age of only 44. His youth and character gave him the image of vigour and charisma which helped him to win the election against Nixon. However, his youth also made him controversial and many Americans worried about his lack of experience; especially when it came to leading America during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Many felt that he wasn't wily enough to play the Soviets at their own game. He was also famous for being the first Roman Catholic President ever elected. But this also made him controversial as many Protestants (who held the majority in America) questioned whether he would draw his authority from Rome or from Capitol Hill in Washington. Although Kennedy said that he felt religion and politics should be kept separate many American Protestants especially in the Deep South or the "Bible Belt" of America were suspicious that he would only look out for Catholics. ...read more.


The Democrats only held a small majority in Congress and many southern Democrats were suspicious of him. His most famous domestic reform was to try to improve civil rights for America's black community by opening predominantly white universities to them, opening election registrars to them and ending general discrimination by enforcing existing civil rights' laws. This was a very controversial issue in America especially in the Deep South e.g. Alabama, where racism was prevalent and white racists were afraid that blacks would outbreed them and destroy their way of life. This resulted in a white anti-Kennedy backlash in the south and even the state governors and judges who had been appointed by a Republican President were against Kennedy and civil rights. His proposed increase in the minimum wage was passed but it too was controversial among Conservatives. His proposed drop in taxes was also controversial with the senate. Kennedy also became controversial, especially among liberals (some of his main supporters) by failing to take a strong position against McCarthyism. He was in the hospital, suffering from a recurrence of his old back ailment, when the Senate voted on December 2, 1954, to reprimand its Wisconsin Republican member, Joseph R. ...read more.


But this move only inflamed the situation in South Vietnam. He also attempted the controversial state-sponsored assassination of Fidel Castro after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. There were several rumours that Kennedy approached his old mafia contacts asking them to kill Castro and he almost certainly authorised the CIA to attempt Castro's assassination who tried almost every trick in the book, including sending Castro an exploding cigar. This open, state sponsored assassination made Kennedy very controversial as the President was meant to be the face of the Free World and a man that you could trust. But what Kennedy arguably became most famous for was ironically out of his control - his assassination in Dallas on the 22nd of November 1963 while he was riding in an open top limousine on a tour of Texas. His would-be assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald (a former US marine) who had visited the Soviet Union was later shot while in custody by Jack Ruby - a Dallas Nightclub owner. JFK's assassination was one of the most controversial events in history and there are hundreds of conspiracy theories as to who shot him, including that it was the work of disgruntled Cuban exiles or that he was assassinated by white racists who opposed his civil rights bill. By Andrew Kirke 5S - 1 - ...read more.

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