John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of Essay

This essay has a total of 1933 words and 8 pages.


John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, the youngest person
ever to be elected President, the first Roman Catholic and the first 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 the United States from
entering into another world war. Kennedy was especially admired by the younger people and
he was perhaps the most popular president in history. Kennedy expressed the values of
20th century America and his presidency had an importance beyond its political
achievements. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts where he was
one of nine children. The Kennedy family was very wealthy and provided means for the
Kennedy children to pursue whatever they chose and John F. Kennedy chose politics.

John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1942 and as a new member Kennedy supported
legislation that would serve the interests of his elements. Kennedy usually backed bills
sponsored by his party but would sometimes show independence by voting with the
Republicans. He also joined with the Republicans in criticizing the Truman
administration’s handling of China. In China, the Nationalist government of Chiang
Kai-shek, which had been supported by the United States, was unable to withstand the
advance of Communist forces under Mao Zedong. By the end of 1949 government troops had
been overwhelmingly defeated, and Chiang led his forces into exile on Taiwan. The
triumphant Mao formed the People’s Republic of China. Truman’s critics, including
Kennedy, charged that the administration had failed to support Chiang Kai-shek against
the Communists.

Despite Kennedy’s wavering within his own party platform, John F. Kennedy easily won
reelection to Congress in 1948 and 1950. In 1952 he decided to run against functioning
Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Kennedy was little known outside his
congressional district therefore he began his campaign two years before the election,
meeting with hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts. "Kennedy defeated Lodge by
70,000"1 votes despite the fact that Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Presidential
candidate, carried the state by just over 200,000 votes.

As a candidate for the Senate, Kennedy promised the voters that he would do more for
Massachusetts than Lodge had ever done. During his first two years as senator he backed
legislation beneficial to the Massachusetts textile, fishing, watch, and transportation
industries. In 1953, however, he defied regional interests and supported the Saint
Lawrence Seaway project and later in 1955 he was the only New England senator to support
renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act that gave the President the power to lower
U. S. tariffs, or taxes on import goods, in exchange for similar concessions from other

In 1957 Kennedy became a member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he
later won a place on the Senate Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor Management
Field. In 1958 he spent many of his weekends campaigning for reelection in Massachusetts
senatorial contest. Kennedy wanted the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, and
almost as soon as the 1956 election was over, he began working toward it.

Kennedy announced his candidacy early in 1960 and by the time the Democratic National
Convention opened in July, he had won seven primary victories. 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 and 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., 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. The two candidates faced each other in four nationally televised
debates. Kennedy’s manner, especially in the first debate, seemed to eliminate the charge
that he was too young and inexperienced to serve as president, and many believe these
debates gave Kennedy the edge he needed for victory.

The election drew a record 69 million voters to the polls, but Kennedy won by only 113,000
votes which made it the closest popular vote in 72 years. Because Kennedy won most of the
larger states in the Northeastern United States, he received 303 electoral votes to
Nixon’s 219. Kennedy was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address he
emphasized America’s revolutionary heritage, "The same beliefs for which our forebears
fought are still at issue around the globe,"2 Kennedy said. "Let the word go forth from
this time and place to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new
generations of Americans."3 Kennedy called for "a new world of law, where the strong are
just and the weak secure and the peace preserved."4

Kennedy’s first year in office brought him considerable success in enacting new
legislation. Congress passed a major housing bill, a law increasing minimum wage, and a
bill granting federal aid to economically depressed areas of the United States. Kennedy
put legislation through Congress which was a bill creating the Peace Corps, an agency that
trained American volunteers to perform social and humanitarian service oversees and
promote world peace, which was important at the time because of unsettling foreign

In 1959, after several attempts, a revolution led by Fidel Castro finally overthrew the
Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar. During the next two years, Castro would
become increasingly hostile to the United States. When Castro began to proclaim his
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