Assassination of jfk Essay

This essay has a total of 2949 words and 14 pages.

assassination of jfk

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
Protestant 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 outstanding 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.

At a meeting with the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR), Nikita Khrushchev, Kennedy asked the name of a medal
Khrushchev was wearing. When the premier identified it as the Lenin
Peace Medal, Kennedy remarked, 6"I hope you keep it." On another
occasion he told a group of Republican business leaders, 7"It would be
premature to ask for your support in the next election and inaccurate
to thank you for it in the past." Even in great crises, Kennedy
retained his sense of humor.

Kennedy's first year in office brought him considerable success in
enacting new legislation. Congress passed a major housing bill, a law
increasing the minimum wage, and a bill granting federal aid to
economically depressed areas of the United States. The most original
piece of legislation Kennedy put through Congress was the bill
creating the Peace Corps, an agency that trained American volunteers
to perform social and humanitarian service overseas. The program's
goal was to promote world peace and friendship with developing
nations. The idea of American volunteers helping people in foreign
lands touched the idealism of many citizens. Within two years, Peace
Corps volunteers were working in Asia, Africa, and Latin America,
living with the people and working on education, public health, and
agricultural projects.

However, after his initial success with Congress, Kennedy found it
increasingly difficult to get his programs enacted into law. Although
the Democrats held a majority in both houses, Southern Democrats
joined with conservative Republicans to stop legislation they
disliked. The Medicare bill, a bill to make medical care for the aged
a national benefit, was defeated. A civil rights bill and a bill to
cut taxes were debated, and compromises were agreed to, but even the
compromises were delayed. A bill to create a Cabinet-level Department
of Urban Affairs was soundly defeated, partly because Kennedy wanted
the economist Robert C. Weaver, a black man, to be the new secretary.
Southern Congressmen united with representatives from mostly rural
areas to defeat the bill.

Kennedy did win approval of a bill to lower tariffs and thus allow
more competitive American trade abroad. Congress also authorized the
purchase of $100 million in United Nations bonds, and the money
enabled the international organization to survive a financial crisis.
Further, Congress appropriated more than $1 billion to finance sending
a man to the moon by 1970 which was accomplished in 1969.
The major American legal and moral conflict during Kennedy's three
years in office was in the area of civil rights. Black agitation
against discrimination had become widespread and well organized.
Although Kennedy was in no way responsible for the growth of the civil
rights movement, he attempted to aid the black cause by enforcing
existing laws. Kennedy particularly wanted to end discrimination in
federally financed projects or in companies that were doing business
with the government.

In September 1962 Governor Ross R. Barnett of Mississippi ignored a
court order and prevented James H. Meredith, a black man, from
enrolling at the state university. On the night of September 29, even
as the president went on national television to appeal to the people
of Mississippi to obey the law, rioting began on the campus. After 15
hours of rioting and two deaths, Kennedy sent in troops to restore
order. Meredith was admitted to the university, and troops and federal
marshals remained on the campus to insure his safety.
In June 1963, when Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama prevented two
blacks from enrolling at the University of Alabama, Kennedy
federalized the Alabama National Guard to enforce the law. The
students were enrolled at the university. Three months later, Kennedy
again used the National Guard to prevent Wallace from interfering with
integration in the public schools of Birmingham, Tuskegee, and Mobile.
Kennedy also asked Congress to pass a civil rights bill that would
guarantee blacks the right to vote, to attend public school, to have
equal access to jobs, and to have access to public accommodations.
Kennedy told the American people, 8"Now the time has come for this
nation to fulfill its promises … to act, to make a commitment it has
not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no
place in American life or law."

Public opinion polls showed that Kennedy was losing popularity because
of his advocacy of civil rights. Privately, he began to assume that
the South would oppose him in the next election, but he continued to
speak out against segregation, the practice of separating people of
different races. To a group of students in Nashville, Tennessee, he
said, 9 "No one can deny the complexity of the problem involved in
assuring all of our citizens their full rights as Americans. But no
one can gainsay the fact that the determination to secure those rights
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