John Fitzgerald Kennedy Biography

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29th 1917 at Brookline (Massachusetts). His father Joseph Kennedy was an ambitious politician, who became from son of a pubkeeper to a millionaire. He married the daughter of the mayor of Boston, Rose Fitzgerald. John F. was their second son. During World War II their oldest son lost his life, when his airplane exploded above the Canal.

Kennedy studied at Harvard and after he had finished, he also had to serve in the war. As lieutenant of the PT 109 he once was shipwrecked, but he survived and because of his heroism he saved the lives of his crew.

In 1952 he became senator of Massachusetts. In 1956 he almost became running mate of Adlai Stevenson, but lost to Estes Kefauver of Tennessee: anyway, they lost the elections. In 1958 he won reelection in Massachusetts by 875,000 votes, the largest majority in the state's history. He was elected for president in November 1960, after a less than easy election contest. He defeated Richard Nixon and became the youngest (43) to be elected to the White House in American history 'till then. In contrast to Al Smith in 1928 (first Catholic presidential candidate) Kennedy was elected despite of being Catholic.

The 35th, first Catholic, president ended his inaugural address on January 20th in 1961 with the following words: "My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man".


During his presidency he passed two crises which had to do with Cuba. The first in April 1961, at the Bay of Pigs, was an assault on Cuba. It was a plan developed by the CIA under the Eisenhower Administration. Castro's troops quickly defeated the landing attempt. It was a failure for the Kennedy Administration, which can be explained by poor advice he had received from the military, the CIA, and from many liberals.

The Cuba crisis in 1962 is a much more complicated crisis, caused by placing of intermediate range missiles in Cuba by the Russians. When Kennedy found out, the world was close to nuclear war in October 1962, because Kennedy's military consultants recommended an immediate air strike. But Kennedy's brother, the military and attorney general Robert Kennedy disagreed, because the US would act like Japan with Pearl Harbor and loose its faith. The president instituted a naval blockade against Russian ships and demanded removal of the missiles. After about a week the Russians agreed and Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba.


In 1961 Kennedy passed the Berlin Crisis. The problem of West and East Berlin was not solved and it became even worse in August 1961 because of the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Detente (relief)

The Cold War had its downs when Kennedy was president, but also its ups. A 'hotline' insured instantaneous communication between the Kremlin and White House for times of crisis threatening the peace. Both governments became more peaceful and in 1963 they signed the Test Ban Treaty, which outlawed atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

Civil Rights

During his presidency the internal policy existed for an important part of policy for equal rights for all citizens. Kennedy had to deal with a lot of resistance and most of his bills were rejected. He had plans to improve the social policy, but only under his successor Johnson most of Kennedy's ideas were accepted by Congress.

22 November 1963

On 22 November 1963 Kennedy visited Dallas with his wife Jackie. He was shot during a riding tour in an open limousine and died after about half an hour. According to the official Warren-report, Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president, but there is serious doubt about this because of many strange things. For example the dying of many witnesses, the killing of Oswald and the problem of how one bullet could have killed the president and also hit the Governor of Texas: the problem of the miracle bullet.

The sad fact is that John F. Kennedy was just forty six years old and left a wife and two children. Camelot had fallen again.