John F. Kennedy

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Subject Profile

(May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, also known as “JFK,” served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1947-1953) and the U.S. Senate (1953-1961) prior to becoming the 35th President of the United States of America (1961-1963). He is also the fourth president to be assassinated while in office.

John F. Kennedy was born in 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, to a family of Irish, Catholic descent. As the second son of prominent businessman and politician Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., JFK grew up in affluent surroundings and spent his formative years attending prestigious private schools. After graduating from the Choate School in 1935, Kennedy travelled to England to study under Professor Harold Laski at the London School of Economics. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving in London, Kennedy was hospitalized with jaundice and was forced to return home for recovery. After overcoming further medical issues, Kennedy enrolled into Harvard College and graduated cum laude in 1940 with a degree in international affairs.

Although his medical history prevented him from enlisting into the U.S. Army, Kennedy was eventually accepted into the U.S. Navy in 1941 with the help of his father’s influence. During his time in service, Kennedy proved himself a true leader as the heroic Commanding Officer of the USS PT-09 during World War II. At the war’s end, however, his aspirations turned to politics. From 1947 to 1961, Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1947-1953) and the U.S. Senate (1953-1961), and in 1960, he successfully defeated Republican candidate Richard Nixon for the presidential seat. Aside from being the first Roman Catholic U.S. president and the only American leader to win a Pulitzer Prize (1957), Kennedy made history in various other ways. After all, it was during the Kennedy administration that some of the most significant moments in American history took place: the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the space race, the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Unfortunately, President Kennedy would not live to see the end of his one and only term. While on a political trip through Texas, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas at 12:30 p.m., by Lee Harvey Oswald. He was pronounced dead at 1:00 p.m. at the mere age of 46; he was survived by his wife Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and his two young children. To this day, his assassination continues to be a widely debated subject, generating several conspiracy theories and alternative scenarios.