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 administrationís 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 Peopleís Republic of China. Trumanís critics, including Kennedy, charged that the administration had failed to support Chiang Kai-shek against the Communists.
Despite Kennedyís 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 countries.
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 Kennedyís 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. Kennedyís 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