The purpose of this paper is to expose the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy and to reveal the contributions which he made to society.
Thesis: The purpose of this paper is to expose the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy and to reveal the contributions which he made to society.
Obviously, John F. Kennedy was a very powerful, influential, and infamous man who indeed impacted our world in many ways. Furthermore, we will discuss how Kennedy became such a revered figure by the American public and what circumstances in his life prepared him for the role of President of the United States.
There are many interesting facts which will be revealed including a timeline of major events which transpired throughout the course of Kennedy’s presidency. This timeline reveals some of Kennedy’s political and societal contributions which may be less known to the general public. In fact, during his time in office Kennedy actually was responsible for signing into law many diverse and important rulings which to this day continue to affect our society and our own personal lives to an enormous extent.
There is no denying that Kennedy was a charismatic figure and both his personal life and his presidency reflected this charisma. While Kennedy continues to be revered and admired for his many contributions his life and death are also surrounded by a great deal of mystery and intrigue as well.
Furthermore, included is an interesting photograph of Kennedy from his college days, which is very striking when one realizes that this young college boy would one day go on to be president of the United States. In this way, this picture reveals an often-overlooked side of Kennedy which was that of the “ordinary” person. Despite his famous family and political goals, often Kennedy longed for anonymity, which is something that eluded him his entire life. Along with that anonymity, he sacrificed personal freedom.
Milestones in the Presidency of John F. Kennedy
- 11/08/1960 - Senator John F. Kennedy is elected 35th President of the United States.
- 1/20/1961 - John F. Kennedy is inaugurated President. The following quote was part of his inaugural address and became very famous: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
- 1/30/1961 - President asks Congress to include health insurance in Social Security Program.
- 2/02/1961 - President asks Congress for program to help end recession, including food stamps, extended benefits for unemployed workers and welfare payments for their children.
- 3/01/1961 - President initiates Peace Corps to carry American skills and idealism to new and developing countries.
- 3/28/1961 - President initiates the largest and most rapid defense buildup in United States' peacetime history, doubling Polaris missile program, increasing armed bomber and other missile programs, adding five combat ready divisions and quadrupling anti-guerilla forces.
- 4/20/1961 - President assumes responsibility for failed Bay of Pigs invasion, says policies and procedures will be changed.
- 5/25/1961 - President proposes an American space effort greater than all previous efforts combined, and designed to put an American space team on the moon within the decade.
- 6/30/1961 - President signs bill extending Social Security benefits to five million people and permitting people to retire with benefits at age 62.
- 9/03/1961 - President signs $1.25 Minimum Wage Bill, expanding coverage by several million for the first time since original passage.
- 9/26/1961 - President signs bill establishing the first full-scale, full-time Disarmament Agency in the world.
- 12/15/1961 - President renews American commitment to preserve independence of Vietnam.
- 7/26/1962 - President signs the most far-reaching revision of public welfare legislation since enactment in 1935, emphasizing family rehabilitation and training instead of dependency.
- 10/10/1962 - President signs first major improvement in Food and Drug laws since 1938, protecting families against untested and ineffective drugs.
- 10/22/1962 - President announces naval quarantine to halt Soviet missile buildup in Cuba--Khrushchev subsequently withdraws missiles under United States inspection.
- 11/20/1962 - President signs Executive Order to prevent racial discrimination in Federal housing.
- 1/14/1963 - President calls for massive tax reduction and tax reform, accurately predicting longest, strongest economic expansion in American peace-time history to that time.
- 6/22/1963 - President proposes most sweeping Civil Rights legislation in history to give all Americans equal opportunity in education, employment, public accommodations, voting and access to Federal programs.
- 9/20/1963 - President, in address to the United Nations General Assembly, proposes additional cooperation with Soviet Union, including outer space exploration--United States and Soviet Union subsequently agree on outer space disarmament move.
This is a preview of the whole essay
John F. Kennedy – The Early Years
John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. Interestingly, John Kennedy was born the second of nine children to a father who was a bank president and a mother who stayed home to raise her children. Kennedy did however feel like his entire life was in the shadow of his older brother, Joseph. That aside, Kennedy’s childhood was fun, happy, and filled with warm memories which he would always cherish. He loved to play sports and played them relatively well. He was voted by his high school classmates however, as most likely to succeed.
While at Harvard Kennedy took two different trips to Europe. His father was at the time serving as ambassador to Britain and this enabled John to be exposed to many influential people, including diplomats, reporters and the like. These trips had a big impact on Kennedy who internalized those experiences for later reference.
He graduated from Harvard in 1940 and then entered the navy where he had a heroic and impressive career. While in the navy in 1943, his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety. Kennedy ended up being discharged from the war due to getting Malaria as well as requiring surgery on his back. He did however, leave the navy with the Purple Heart and the Navy Marine Corps Medal – both of which are very distinguished honors.
John F. Kennedy and His Political Career
Once Kennedy returned from the war, his political aspirations began to surface. Backed by Joseph Sr.'s immense financial and political clout, JFK was elected to the House of Representatives from Massachusetts in November 1946. He served in the House for six years, during which time the between the United States and the came to dominate world politics. At home, paranoia about enabled a maverick Senator from Wisconsin named to conduct witch hunts for Communists and Communist sympathizers, a practice that became known as "McCarthyism." JFK was frequently ill during these years. He was diagnosed with , a potentially fatal condition, in 1948, but cortisone treatments enabled him to fight the disease, and his condition was never revealed to the general public. In 1952, JFK ran successfully for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, in a year that saw elected president.
During this time, he also met and married Jacqueline Bouvier, who became important not only in his personal life but in his political life as well. In fact, many claim that much of his success as president was due, at least in part, to Jacqueline’s immense popularity. In 1955 Kennedy had back surgery which required a long recuperation period and, during that time, he wrote a book called “Profiles in Courage” which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.
The Presidency of John F. Kennedy
“In 1956 Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President” . His opponent in the Presidential race was Richard Nixon, and for the first time in history, their debates were televised. Kennedy won the vote but the margin was narrow. In addition to being the youngest man to hold the office of President, he was also the first Roman Catholic to take the job.
Kennedy actually served less than three years in office because he was assassinated before the end of his term. But during that short time, Kennedy actually accomplished a great many things. Among his contributions is the progress made in the cold war and in the area of nuclear testing, which Kennedy was adamantly against.
After taking office, Kennedy was able to quickly garner the support of most Americans, despite his narrow victory. It seemed like everyone admired Kennedy for his winning personality, his lively family, his intelligence, and his tireless energy, and they respected his courage in time of decision.
As president, Kennedy’s main goal was to get American’s involved with their country again. He wanted very much to renew patriotism and to empower people to give something back to their communities. Furthermore, his economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II.
Early in his presidency, JFK butted heads with the Soviet Union and its volatile leader, . After a U.S.-backed invasion of communist Cuba in April 1961 ended in disaster at the , Khrushchev concluded that JFK's administration was weak. In autumn 1962, the Soviet Union began shipping nuclear missiles to Cuba, where they could be aimed at the United States from just a few hundred miles away. When JFK found out about these missiles, he imposed a naval quarantine on Cuba and pondered an invasion. For two weeks, the world was on the edge of nuclear war, until Khrushchev finally agreed to remove the missiles, ending the crisis.
Within the larger context of the fight against Communism, which played such a large role in defining American rhetoric and policy throughout the 1950s and 1960's, JFK increasingly involved the U.S. in a struggle to defend democratic South Vietnam against Communist North Vietnam. This confrontation would eventually escalate into the , one of the least successful and most costly military campaigns in U.S. history.
On the domestic front, JFK founded the , a volunteer organization that sent young Americans overseas to work in Third World countries. He backed investment in Latin America through the "Alliance for Progress," and joined with Khrushchev to sign a treaty limiting nuclear testing. At home, many of his policy initiatives stalled in Congress, but he intervened quickly to prevent unfair business practices by the steel industry, and offered cautious support for the rising . Throughout his presidency, JFK managed to create a public image immensely attractive to much of America. He was the first "television President;" with his charm and good looks he took full advantage of that medium to capture and engage the hearts of Americans (indeed, the relationship JFK shared with America has often been referred to as a love affair). JFK inspired in many a powerful optimism and idealism, and he seemed poised to carry the U.S. out of trying times. His life and presidency were cut short, however, by an assassin's bullet on November 22, 1963, plunging the country into mourning. JFK's death was undeniably tragic, but it had the effect of cementing and amplifying his legacy. Though his moments of presidential brilliance were tempered by instances of uncertainty, particularly in reference to the Civil Rights Movement and the , JFK continues to be revered and loved. How much more he might have accomplished, in a United States that desperately needed unifying, is one of history's most tantalizing questions. His vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society.
The Death of Kennedy
His life and presidency were cut short, however, by an assassin's bullet on November 22, 1963, plunging the country into mourning. JFK's death was undeniably tragic, but it had the effect of cementing and amplifying his legacy. Though his moments of presidential brilliance were tempered by instances of uncertainty, particularly in reference to the Civil Rights Movement and the , JFK continues to be revered and loved. How much more he might have accomplished, in a United States that desperately needed unifying, is one of history's most tantalizing questions. Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected president, and he was also the youngest to die. The world literally mourned for him and dignitaries from the world over gathered at his funeral in Washington to pay him their last respects.
President Kennedy was indeed a very influential man and had an extraordinary presidency. He was able to win the hearts of the American public and upon his death, and then entire world grieved the loss. There is no question that although his life was short, it was filled with an intensity which apparent in all that he conquered. The life of John F. Kennedy will no doubt live on in infamy.
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