John Fitzgerald Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th president of the United States, the
youngest person ever to be elected president. He was also the first
Roman Catholic president and the first president to be born in the
20th century. Kennedy was assassinated before he completed his third
year as president. Therefore his achievements were limited.
Nevertheless, his influence was worldwide, and his handling of the
Cuban Missile Crisis may have prevented war. Young people especially
liked him. No other president was so popular. He brought to the
presidency an awareness of the cultural and historical traditions of
the United States. Because Kennedy expressed the values of
20th-century America, his presidency was important beyond its
political achievements. John Kennedy was born in Brookline,
Massachusetts. He was the second of nine children.
Kennedy announced his candidacy early in 1960. By the time the
Democratic National Convention opened in July, he had won seven
primary victories. His most important had been in West Virginia, where
he proved that a Roman Catholic could win in a predominantly
Proteezt state.

When the convention opened, it appeared that Kennedy\'s only serious
challenge for the nomination would come from the Senate majority
leader, Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. However, Johnson was strong only
among Southern delegates. Kennedy won the nomination on the first
ballot and then persuaded Johnson to become his running mate.
Two weeks later the Republicans nominated Vice President Richard Nixon
for president and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., who was ambassador to the
United Nations and whom Kennedy had defeated for the Senate in 1952,
for vice president. In the fast-paced campaign that followed, Kennedy
made stops in 46 states and 273 cities and towns, while Nixon visited
every state and 170 urban areas.

Another important element of the campaign was the support Kennedy
received from blacks in important Northern states, especially Illinois
and Pennsylvania. They supported him in part because he and Robert
Kennedy had tried to get the release of the civil rights leader Martin
Luther King, Jr. King, who had been jailed for taking part in a civil
rights demonstration in Georgia, was released soon afterward.
The election drew a record 69 million voters to the polls, but Kennedy
won by only 113,000 votes. Kennedy was inaugurated on January 20,
1961. In his inaugural address he emphasized America\'s revolutionary
heritage. 2"The same … beliefs for which our forebears fought are
still at issue around the globe," Kennedy said. 3"Let the word go
forth from this time and place to friend and foe alike, that the torch
has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century,
tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our
ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing
of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed
and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."
Kennedy challenged Americans to assume the burden of "defending
freedom in its hour of maximum danger." The words of his address were,
4"Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for
your country."

Kennedy sought with considerable success to attract brilliant young
people to government service. His hope was to bring new ideas and new
methods into the executive branch. As a result many of his advisers
were teachers and scholars. Among them were McGeorge Bundy and Arthur
M. Schlesinger, Jr., both graduates of Harvard. Kennedy\'s most
influential adviser was Theodore C. Sorenson, a member of Kennedy\'s
staff since his days in the Senate. Sorenson wrote many of Kennedy\'s
speeches and exerted a strong influence on Kennedy\'s development as a
political liberal, 5 a person who believes that the government should
directly help people to overcome poverty or social discrimination.
The president and Mrs. Kennedy attempted to make the White House the
cultural center of the nation. Writers, artists, poets, scientists,
and musicians were frequent dinner guests. On one occasion the
Kennedy\'s held a reception for all the American winners of the Nobel
Prize, people who made outezding contributions to their field during
the past year. At the party the president suggested that more talent
and genius was at the White House that night than there had been since
Thomas Jefferson had last dined there alone.