The Best Books to Read on the Presidency of John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

With the exception of Lincoln and Washington, more pages have been written about John F. Kennedy than any other president. Kennedy was the 35th president, and perhaps the most charismatic political leaders in modern history. In addition to biographies, authors have zoomed in on almost everything about Kennedy, from his famed Anglophilia to his influence on the Vietnam war.

For those who are looking to quench their thirst for knowledge on this remarkable former president of the United States, here are the top 5 books on John F. Kenney.

1.     An Unfinished Life by Robert Dallek

Robert Dallek’s book “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963” rewrites the story of John F. Kennedy. In this book, you learn more about Kennedy’s love affairs, ill health, and family dynamics than you’ve ever learned elsewhere. Most historians and critics consider this book, which was published in 2003, to be an essential Kennedy biography.

2.     Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy

Published in 1955, Profiles in Courage is a book by John F. Kennedy himself. It was written when he was recovering from surgery after one of his many illnesses. The book profiled 8 senators in U.S. history who had courageously taken the unpopular stand against issues that threatened democracy. Some of those named are John Quincy Adams (known for his political independence, patriotism, and brilliant mind), and Robert A. Taft. This book, which was co-authored with Ted Sorensen, won a Pulitzer Prize.

3.     A Thousand Days by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

“A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House” is a book that looks at Kennedy the president from the point of view of his friends. Released in 1965, this book speaks volumes about John Kennedy. It provides an insightful analysis of his political career, right from the campaigns all the way to his funeral. Although it’s been critiqued as a friendlier biography (the author had relations with the subject), it provides valuable knowledge on how Kennedy would have wanted to be seen.

4.     The Death of a President by William Manchester

William Manchester’s book “The Death of a President: November 20 – November 25, 1963” is an account of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Manchester reportedly started working on this book at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy. But when the book was done, Jackie Kennedy and her brother in law, Robert F. Kennedy were not happy with the work and requested further changes. Although a bestseller back then, the book later faded into obscurity, before it became popular again with its 50th-anniversary edition. It’s still an important text for anyone who’s looking to learn more about Kennedy.

5.     Case Closed by Gerald Posner

The assassination of J. F. Kennedy has attracted more conspiracy theories than any other political tragedy in our times. With his book “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK”, Gerald Posner aims to dig deeper and unearth facts that are otherwise easy to miss. He examines all available evidence and arrives at only one reasonable conclusion – Lee Oswald (the gunman who shot Kennedy) acted alone.

If you still have some spare time after reading these books, others that you should look at are:

  • Nigel Hamilton’s JFK: Reckless Youth
  • Richard Reeves’ President Kennedy: Profile of Power
  • Herbert Parmet’s Jack: The Struggles of John F Kennedy
  • Michael O’Brien’s John F. Kennedy: A Biography

John F. Kennedy Children

The Children of John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy brought a new kind of glamour to the White House. In the 1960s, the President Kennedy and his wife were admired both nationally and internationally. Their style, youth, and glamour made the couple iconic. One thing historians have agreed on though is that both John and Jackie were quite private in one particular area – their children.

On August of 1956 (before Kennedy was elected president), Jackie, unfortunately, gave birth to a stillborn infant – named Arabella Kennedy. At the specific time when this occurred, Senator Kennedy was on a yacht in the Mediterranean with friends.

In November of 1957, Jackie Kennedy gave birth to a lovely little girl – Caroline. John F. Kennedy was very fond of his daughter, and many have said that the new-found bond steered him on a path towards maturity as a husband and father.

In November 1960, Jackie Kennedy gave birth again to a bouncing baby boy at Georgetown hospital. It turned out that initial reports of good health were misleading, and that the baby was actually born prematurely (3 weeks early). The infant – John Kennedy Jr. – had respiratory issues at birth, and did not squall when the doctor slapped him on the buttocks. It took the quick thinking of a pediatric resident – who inserted a tube into the baby’s trachea and blew air into his lungs – for the little Kennedy to respond.

On August of 1963, when John Kennedy was in office as president, Jackie went into about five weeks earlier. She was transported by helicopter to Otis Air Force Base where she gave birth to a Patrick. The newborn, born way too early, was suffering from a hyaline membrane and struggled to breathe. Despite the Boston Globe popularly declaring “He’s a Kennedy – He’ll Make It”, Patrick lost the battle 39 hours later. The loss was one of the hardest moments for the president and the first lady. However tragic, the loss appeared to bring them closer to each other.

Of the four pregnancies, only Caroline and John Jr. made it to adulthood.

John F. Kennedy Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr. was the second born child of Jackie and John Kennedy. He was 3 days shy of his third birthday when his father was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Just a small innocent child, little John won the hearts of Americans when he was photographed saluting his late father’s casket. Despite being protected by his mother, little John was in the media spotlight all his life.

John F. Kennedy Jr. briefly tried acting at a career level before he graduated from Brown University and later the New York University with a law degree. He abandoned the legal field to try his luck in journalism and business. In 1995, he launched a political magazine named George. Despite being a likely candidate for politics, he never really tried. Instead, he chose to dedicate his life to public service and publishing.

In 1988, John F. Kennedy Jr. was named the “sexiest man alive” by People Magazine. He was linked with numerous celebrities, from Madonna to Sarah Jessica and Julia Roberts. In 1996, Kenney married Carolyn Bessette, a long-time girlfriend. They settled at an apartment in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City, where he could often be seen biking and rollerblading.

John F. Kennedy Jr. tragically died on July 16th, 1999 when the light aircraft he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic ocean. In the same aircraft were his wife Carolyn, and her sister Lauren, who also perished. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the accident was as a result of spatial disorientation. This happens when the pilot is unable to determine his body position in space, usually due to loss of a reference point (e.g. the horizon).

Caroline Kennedy

The only surviving child of Jackie and John F. Kennedy, Caroline is a writer, lawyer, and diplomat. Caroline was 5 days shy of her 6th birthday when her father was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. After the assassination, her mother moved her two children (Caroline and Little John) to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where she studied. Caroline graduated from the Radcliffe College, before starting work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. She was married by Edwin Schlossberg, in 1946. She later entered the Columbia Law School and graduated in 1988. In her professional life, she either authored or helped in the creation of various books or works of art. In 2013, Caroline was appointed the U.S. ambassador to Japan by President Obama.

The Life and Times of John F. Kennedy

JFK Biography

John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th President of the United States in November 8, 1960. At the age of 43, he was the youngest ever elected U.S. president. Before he was assassinated in 1963, Kennedy negotiated the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, established the Alliance for Progress, initiated important reforms, and supported civil rights for African Americans.

Who was John Fitzgerald Kennedy?

John F. Kennedy was born on 29th of May 1917 in Massachusetts. In 1941, he joined the U.S Naval Reserve and served in combat as the commander of a Motor Torpedo Boat. This boat would eventually be damaged by a Japanese warship, but Kennedy managed to lead his surviving crew members to safety. For this accomplishment, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, which is the highest non-combat decoration for heroism by the U.S Navy. John F. Kennedy would then go to serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate before being elected as president. During his dramatically short stint at the Presidency, Mr. Kennedy had to address a number of serious foreign crisis (such as the Soviet Missile Crisis, and the Berlin Crisis). Kennedy was killed on November 22nd of 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

The Early Life of John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline (a town in Massachusetts) to wealthy Irish Catholic families. His paternal grandad, P.J. Kennedy, was a very wealthy liquor businessman and banker. His maternal grandad, John E. Fitzgerald (also known as Honey Fitz) was a seasoned politician who had served in Congress, and as the Boston city mayor. Rose Fitzgerald, John F. Kennedy’s mother, was an upper-class young woman in Boston. His father, Joe Kennedy Sr., was a very prosperous banker who had made his fortune in the stock markets after the first world war. He was later appointed a chairman of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), then ambassador to Great Britain.

The 2nd oldest of 9 remarkable siblings, John F. Kennedy was nicknamed “Jack”. His siblings included Robert Kennedy, a former Attorney General, Eunice Kennedy, who founded the Special Olympics, and Ted Kennedy, a powerful senator.

Their parents, Joe and Rose Kennedy, to a large extent, rejected the Boston socialites world in which they’ve been born so that they could focus on their children’s education. Joseph Kennedy specifically took charge over almost every detail in his children’s lives. This was extraordinary and not common with fathers of the time. Joseph Kennedy Sr. developed a unique interest in his kids and worked to instill a competitive fire in them. He enrolled his kids in sailing and swimming competitions and taught them to accept nothing but the first place.

John F. Kennedy Education

John Kennedy attended a Connecticut Catholic boys’ school  –  the Canterbury – where he was a poor student. When he decided to focus on something, he was however very brilliant. Notwithstanding his poor performance, Kennedy managed to continue to Choate – an established preparatory school in Connecticut. He was a typically mischievous boy who preferred girls, sports, and jokes over coursework. Kennedy was very bookish during his school days, only that he didn’t read the texts assigned by his teachers. He also often suffering from the flu, severe colds, scarlet fever, and even undiagnosed illnesses that made him miss school for months.

After Choate, Kennedy spent a semester at Princeton, before transferring to Harvard in 1936. He continued with his mediocre academic pattern here and only excelled in those classes he liked. His diversion of women and sports usually contributed to his bein*8g an average student. During his Harvard days, Kennedy was extraordinarily popular with his classmates. He was charming, handsome, and had this radiant smile. According to one of his old friends, Lem Billings, “Jack was more fun than anyone I have ever known…” Kennedy was also a womanizer.

Eventually, Kennedy became serious with his schoolwork and started to acknowledge his potential. By this time, his father was now the Ambassador to Great Britain. It is during a prolonged visit there (in 1939) that he decided to write a thesis on why the UK was unprepared to face Germany in a second world war. The paper was so popular that it was published as a book called Why England Slept after his graduation in 1940. It sold over 80,000 copies, which was incredible by all means.

Joining the U.S. Navy

John F. Kennedy enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Harvard. He was assigned commander in PT-109, a torpedo boat in the Southern Pacific. On 2nd August of 1943, his boat was hit by a Japanese destroyer chopped into two. Two sailors lost their lives, and Kennedy was seriously injured in the back. Nonetheless, he managed to lead the 10 surviving sailors to a nearby island, hauling one by his life vest strap. They were later rescued after 6 days. For his heroic conduct to save his crew members, he was granted the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. For injuries suffered, Kennedy was awarded the Purple Heart.

Kennedy’s older brother had also enlisted in the Navy as a pilot. Unfortunately, he died after his plane exploded on the August of 1944. This was a major setback for the family. Joseph Kennedy Sr. had always thought that his first-born son – Joseph Kenney Jr. – would one day be the president of the U.S. He was intelligent, athletic, handsome, and ambitious. John F. Kennedy took upon himself his family’s hopes for his older brother.

John F. Kennedy’s Political Journey

Upon exit from Naval service, John Kennedy did a brief stint as a reporter for the Hearst Newspapers. In 1946, he ran for office in the House of Representatives. He was 29 years old. Boosted by his war-hero status, his father’s money and his family connections, Kennedy won quite easily. He served 2 three-year terms between 1946 and 1952. Given that he had just served in the Navy, Kennedy found his Congress work incredibly dull.

In 1952, he decided to seek greater influence by challenging incumbent Republican senator Henry Cabot for his Senate seat. Kennedy was again propelled by his father’s immense financial resources. He hired his younger sibling Robert to be his campaign manager, who pieced together a scientific, methodical, and thoroughly detailed state-wide campaign. John F. Kennedy won by a narrow majority. His personality was a major contributing factor. John F. Kennedy was seen as a dignified, well-educated, gentlemanly and intelligent figure – just what voters were looking for.

Shortly after being elected in the Senate, Kennedy met Jacqueline at a dinner party. On September 12 of 1953, they got married. They had three kids together – Caroline, John Kennedy Jr., and Patrick.

During his political career in the U.S. Senate, John Kennedy continued suffering from frequent illnesses. When he was recovering from a surgery, he co-authored a book titled ‘Profiles in Courage’. It highlighted 8 senators who took courageous yet unpopular stances. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957. To this date, Kennedy has been the only U.S. president to ever win a Pulitzer.

Road to the Presidency

Kennedy’s 8-year career in the Senate was quite undistinguished. In 1956, he was ALMOST chosen as the running mate to the Democratic candidate– Adlai Stevenson. Four years later, on January 2nd, 1960, he announced his own candidature for the office of president of the United States. He managed to defeat his main challenger in the democratic primaries – Hubert Humphrey – and selected Lyndon Johnson – the Senate majority and senator from Texas – to be his running mate. The presidential race was an uphill battle against his republic rival – Richard Nixon. Mr. Nixon had been the vice-president for two terms under the well-approved leadership of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

John F. Kennedy offered voters with a young and energetic replacement to Richard Nixon. He benefited greatly from the first ever TV-aired presidential debate in history. In the November election, he won by a small margin, becoming the first-ever Roman Catholic and the youngest man to be duly elected president of the U.S.

Accompanied by his beautiful wife Jacqueline and their two children (Caroline and John Jr.), Kennedy brought a distinctive glamour and youthfulness to the White House. He challenged Americans to team up in their pursuit of progress. The closing words in his inaugural speech have been famous ever since – “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

John F. Kennedy Presidency and Leadership

Kennedy oversaw the launching of the Peace Corps within his first year in office. This essentially allowed young volunteers from the U.S. to travel to underdeveloped countries worldwide.

During his political career, Kennedy was not able to achieve much with two of his biggest priorities – income tax cuts and the civil rights bill. He was quite slow to commit himself to the civil rights cause, but eventually took action when he sent federal troops to support desegregation at the University of Mississippi. In the following summer, he also announced his plan to create a comprehensive civil rights bill. Kennedy also endorsed the huge March on Washington that was led by Martin Luther King Jr.

John F. Kennedy Major Foreign Policy Challenges and Victories

In April of 1961, John Kennedy approved a plan to move over 1400 Cuban refugees (who were apparently trained by the CIA) to the Bay of Pigs. The plan was to have them trigger a rebellion in the communist country, and overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist leadership. The entire mission failed terribly, with almost all the exiles killed or captured.

In the June of 1961, Kennedy sat down with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, to discuss the situation in Berlin. The city had was literary divided into two following World War II. Two months after the Vienna meeting, troops from East Germany started building a wall dividing the city. President Kennedy sent a military convoy to inspirit West Berliners that they had his nation’s support, and later delivered a famous speech in West Berlin.

Kennedy would crash with Khrushchev again in October of 1962. The U.S. learned the Soviets were building nuclear missile installations in Cuba that posed a direct threat to the U.S. Kennedy immediately announced a blockade of Cuba by the navy. This tense standoff lasted almost two weeks. Eventually, Khrushchev dismantled the missile installations in Cuba, in exchange for the U.S. agreeing not attacking Cuba, and removing its missiles in Turkey.

In July of 1963, John F. Kennedy secured his biggest foreign policy victory yet when he convinced Khrushchev and the Prime Minister of Britain to sign a nuclear tests ban treaty.

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

On 22nd November 1963, John Kennedy and the first lady landed in Dallas, Texas. A day earlier, he had addressed crowds in Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. Kennedy’s motorcade left the airfield and traveled to Dallas Trade Mart, where he was scheduled to speak next.

A few minutes after 12:30 in the afternoon, Kennedy’s motorcade was moving by downtown Dallas when shots rang out. Kennedy was hit in the neck and the head and pronounced dead at a close-by hospital. Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year old who was a communist sympathizer, was apprehended for the assassination. He was shot days later by a nightclub operator while he was being taken to jail. Conspiracy theories of the Kennedy assassination sprung up almost immediately. These were fueled by the Mafia, the KGB, and the military-industrial complex, and other entities. A commission of inquiry led by Earl Warren (the Chief Justice) however concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

New Information on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

On 26th October 2017, the Donald Trump administration authorized the release of over 2800 records on the John Kennedy assassination. This came after a 25-year wait duration signed into law back in 1992. It allowed declassification of documents just provided doing so wouldn’t hurt military operations, intelligence, or foreign relations.

John F. Kennedy as a Supply Side Economics Person

John F Kennedy on Tax Cuts

President John F. Kennedy believed that Congress needed to lower taxes in order for the economy to expand and generate more jobs. Kennedy was of the view that when people had more money, they spent it, which generated more economic activity and thus tax receipts. Income tax cuts were indeed one of the biggest priorities for his presidency. And even though he pushed for it throughout his short time as president, the first round of his proposed tax breaks was not passed till February 1964, 3 months after his death.

Kennedy’s fiscal policy views proved that he was an avid strategist. Lower tax rates actually lead to increased tax revenues. In 1961, the collective tax revenue was $94 billion. By 1968, it had shot up to $153 billion. And that wasn’t all. Lower tax rates contributed to a reducing unemployment rate, mostly due to increased consumer spending and businesses that were spending the money they saved to hire works and invest.

In 1964, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) grew at a rate of 5.8%. The following year, it went up to 6.5%, and then 6.6% the year after that. People had increased confidence they would find jobs, and there was a general optimism that the economy would continue to do better.

According to Ira Stoll, editor of JFK, Conservative, President John F. Kennedy wanted to effect tax cuts because doing so would improve incentives to work, save, and invest. He simply understood that people responded to incentives, and planned to continue with a systematic series of future tax cuts throughout his presidency.

Kennedy, unfortunately, didn’t live to see his tax plan executed. We never will know how far these cuts would’ve gone under his presidency. But we know that future presidents, including Ronald Reagan and then George W. Bush, implemented the same policy on tax reforms, and obtained remarkable results. One sure thing Kennedy did while in office was promoting sensible policies that were hard-geared to turn the economy around.

6 Things You Might Not Know about John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy is a household name when you’re talking about previous American presidents. There are many reasons why his legacy has persisted in modern-day America. The specifics depend on who you ask. All the same, though, his life as president was characterized by dramatic occasions, before he was finally assassinated while riding in an open presidential limousine. Below are 6 interesting facts about John Kennedy that you might not have known.

I.                    He Had Four Children with Jackie

John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie had four children. Most Americans tend to think that President Kennedy had two children ever, Caroline and John, Jr. In 1956, Jackie gave birth to a stillborn girl that the couple decided to name Arabella. In 1963, another child, named Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, was born five and a half weeks earlier. The newborn baby weighed less than five pounds. He died after two days following a pulmonary disease. The bodies of these two children were taken to Arlington National Cemetery to be next to their father in 1963 after he was assassinated.

II.                  He Was Medically Disqualified from the Army

Just before the United States plunged into World War II, Kennedy tried to enlist in the military. His intestinal and back problems wouldn’t let him, though. He failed physical examinations for both the Navy and Army officer candidate schools. However, through his father’s connections, Kennedy was finally admitted to the Navy in 1941 (October). He was a commanding officer of PT-109, where he became a war hero after helping his team members survive the gunboat’s sinking in 1943.

III.                John F. Kennedy Won a Pulitzer Prize

Kennedy wrote his first book, titled ‘Why England Slept’, at the age of 22. In 1945, he served as a newspaper correspondent covering the UN conference in San Francisco, and the aftermath of the War in Europe. The 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography went to Kennedy due to his work ‘Profiles in Courage’.

IV.                He Suffered from Constant Poor Health

Kennedy suffered from poor health throughout his life. In fact, this situation was so bad that he received last rites three times before his presidency started. When traveling to England in 1947, Kennedy fell ill after a diagnosis of Addison’s disease. This is a rare condition that affects the adrenal glands. Doctors gave him just a year to live. On his way back to America, Kennedy’s situation got so bad that a pastor administered last rites. This happened again in 1951 after he caught an extremely high fever on his way to Asia. In 1954, he went into a comma following a surgical procedure to relieve his back problems.

V.                  He Went to Princeton

John F. Kennedy attended Princeton – briefly. He left Princeton after just two months, due to a gastrointestinal illness. Later, he transferred to Harvard.

VI.                He Donated his Salaries

Kennedy’s congressional and presidential salary went to Charity. Of course, his father had built a family fortune, and the young Kennedy earned already earned a lot from trusts by the time he joined congress in 1947. When he was sworn into the White House, he became the richest man ever to take the oath of office.

Interesting? These are just a few of the key facts that outline the life of one of the most historical presidents in America!

5 Key Facts about the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy is one of the most historic tragedies in the last 200 years of American politics. This year will mark 53 years since President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Whether you were alive during that period of time, or just read about it, you probably know that the killer’s name was Lee Harvey Oswald. Most people are also stunned by the number of conspiracy theories surrounding this particular assassination. Some theorists have argued there was a foreign power involved, and others have suggested aspects of betrayal in the killing. All the same, though, this post highlights 5 solid facts about the assassination of the 35th President of the United States.

1.      Oswald Wasn’t Arrested for Killing John Kennedy

The alleged killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, wasn’t actually captured for killing the president. He was arrested for shooting (fatally) a Dallas police officer, about 45 minutes after the Kennedy assassination. Mr. Oswald denied killing anyone. He was transferred to a county jail where two days later he was fatally shot by a Dallas nightclub operator going by the name Jack Ruby.

2.      The Assassination Was Not a Federal Crime

In 1963, the assassination of Kenned wasn’t considered a federal crime. This only changed in 1965. That’s an interesting piece of data especially considered that before Kennedy, three other presidents had been killed (Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley).

3.      Only Time a Woman Swore In a President

A few hours after John Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson (then Vice President), was sworn in as president while aboard Air Force One. Jackie Kennedy was standing by his side. The oath was administered by a federal judge named Sarah Hughes. This is the only time a woman ever did so.

4.      No TV Shows for 4 Days

After Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, CBS showed the first bulletin of the killing. NBC and BBC joined in after that, interrupting their broadcast for a record 4 days. Before September 11, the J. F. Kennedy assassination was the biggest uninterrupted news event on TV.

5.      Oswald Had Earlier Tried to Assassinate General Edwin Walker

8 months before he shot Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald had tried to assassinate Edwin Walker, a former general in the U.S army. Gen. Edwin was an outstanding anti-communist who resigned from his military career in 1961. Walker turned out to be a high-profile critic of the President Kennedy’s administration, taking a stand against the government’s intent to racially integrate schools. The commission set up to investigate the Kennedy shooting established that Oswald had tried to kill Walker while the general was spending time at home. This attempt was unsuccessful, with Walker just suffering minor bullet fragment injuries.

There are lots of other loads of facts surrounding the Kennedy shooting, most of which are made up. These five straight facts describe the events that immediately related to this historical tragedy.

5 Stunning Photos That Chronicle John Kennedy’s Presidency and Assassination

35th President of the United States

John Fitzgerald Kennedy giving the Inaugural Address, as the 35th president of the United States, in Washington, DC on 20th January 1961. He had earlier gained the Democratic Party nomination for President. Kennedy won by a small margin in the November 1960 elections, becoming the youngest man and first-ever Roman Catholic to become president of the country.

Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. Washington, DC  20 January 1961. Please credit "U. S. Army Signal Corps photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston".
Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. Washington, DC 20 January 1961. Please credit “U. S. Army Signal Corps photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston”.

Meeting with Martin Luther King, Civil Rights

Kennedy supported civil rights. But it was only after his death that meaningful legislation on the same was passed. In this file photo, he meets with prominent civil rights activist, including the iconic Martin Luther King, Jr.

August 1963, White House, Washington, D.C., USA --- Civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., meet with President John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office about the March on Washington. --- Image by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS
August 1963, White House, Washington, D.C., USA — Civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., meet with President John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office about the March on Washington. — Image by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS

Cuban Missile Crisis

President Kennedy personally telling the American people that soviet missile stations in Cuba were being ‘destroyed’. He said the country’s aerial surveillance team would continue till effective international inspections had been arranged.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy reports to the nation on the Cuban missile crisis from the White House in Washington, Nov. 2, 1962. The president told radio and television listeners that Soviet missile bases "are being destroyed" and that U.S. air surveillance would continue until effective international inspection was arranged. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NY326
U.S. President John F. Kennedy reports to the nation on the Cuban missile crisis from the White House in Washington, Nov. 2, 1962. The president told radio and television listeners that Soviet missile bases “are being destroyed” and that U.S. air surveillance would continue until effective international inspection was arranged. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NY326

Announcing Space Effort

On September 12, 1962. President Kennedy delivers a speech at Rice University. He detailed the nation’s objective to land a man on the moon within the decade. The president announced that he would continue supporting increased space expenditure. NASA eventually landed a man on the moon in 1969.

President John F. Kennedy Address at Rice University in Houston on the Nation's Space Effort.  Please credit "Robert Knudsen, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston"
President John F. Kennedy Address at Rice University in Houston on the Nation’s Space Effort. Please credit “Robert Knudsen, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston”

Assassination Day

Kennedy was riding in a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible codenamed X-100. Following the shooting, the presidential limousine was examined for evidence of the Dallas shooting, overhauled, then cleaned and recommissioned for service in mid-1964. The limo continued to carry presidents till 1977. It’s currently on display in Dearborn, Michigan, at the Henry Ford Museum.

President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, riding in the Lincoln Continental moments before the assassination.
President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, riding in the Lincoln Continental moments before the assassination.

Why John F. Kennedy Wasn’t One of Our Greatest Presidents

Or was he? Depends on who you ask. Generally, though, John F. Kennedy is popularly known as one of the most charismatic presidents ever. He embodied hope, energy and promise, especially at a time when the country needed those qualities. When the name ‘John Kennedy’ fills the room, most people will think of his assassination and the major accomplishments that he made. But few people dig through the web of compliments to identify some of his greatest flows. The merits are clear, yes, but his demerits are just as outstanding. Based on information collected from various historical sources and news publishing websites, here are some of the reasons why John Kennedy probably wasn’t one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.

He Caused the Cuban Missile Crisis

Different historians have different opinions regarding what happened in October 1962 when the Cuban Missile Crisis almost resulted in a nuclear exchange. Basic interpretational however suggests that had the Eastern Seaboard been wiped out that year, it’d have been due to Kennedy’s fecklessness. It appears that the Soviet Union was installing missiles in Cuba as an attempt to stir another American invasion of the country. A year earlier, Kennedy had invited Cuba. But instead of seeing this the way it really was, Kennedy fumbled and mis-reacted before finally agreeing to a deal that included promising not to attack Cuba again. Kennedy simply took many actions that increased risk of war.

He Caused the Bay of Pigs Invasion

This is probably intertwined with the Cuban missile crisis. Essentially, it triggered the crisis that almost culminated in nuclear war. The Bay of Pigs Invasion led to hundreds and thousands of injuries and damaged the reputation of America worldwide. It also solidified Cuba’s firm stand as a communist state, which is only loosening nowadays following major efforts made by the Obama administration. Although this particular escalation happened when Kennedy was still very new in the oval office, it was his fault. Despite having multiple opportunities to reverse course, Kennedy went through with the plans.

He Escalated Vietnam

Many post-war revisionists have said that Kennedy somehow failed to save the nation from an escalation in Vietnam. Although there’s little material evidence on this, it seems to hold some water. His lifetime comments during the war failed to account for a North Vietnamese escalation. In 1964, his brother, Robert Kennedy, said that the president never even considered withdrawing. It’s a complicated debate, but the general line of thinking here is that it could have been done better.

He Was a Little Slow on Civil Rights

Make no mistake, John F. Kennedy made a lot happen when it comes to civil rights. But he needed a little ‘prodding’ to take action. Many have argued that he was initially a bystander, not willing to take the firm action that he later took in 963 by calling for a real Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow civil rights advocates went through a lot just to make Kennedy act. At the time of his death even, Kennedy just had a small record of civil rights accomplishment. He obviously did a lot of good things, including sending troops to protect students at the universities of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as banning racial discrimination in public accommodations. The point is – he could have done a lot more!

Kennedy did a lot of great things during his tenure as president. Like most other presidents, though, he just wasn’t perfect.

The 11 Most Powerful Quotes by President John F. Kennedy

If John F. Kennedy was alive today, he would be 99 years old. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States, and indeed a historic figure. In his short life, he managed to accomplish many feats. For instance, he won the Pulitzer Price, created the international and federal volunteer program Peace Corps, and strongly promoted art. Kennedy and his beautiful wife (Jackie) perhaps embodied charisma, youth, promise and vitality in a reshaping America. In honor of his successes, this article highlights the some of his most powerful quotes that are still widely in use today.

  1. “The human mind is our fundamental resource.” 
  1. “And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights – the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation – the right to breathe air as nature provided it – the right of future generations to a healthy existence?” 
  1. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” 
  1. “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” 
  1. “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask “why not?” 
  1. “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” 
  1. “For a city or a people to be truly free they must have the secure right, without economic, political or police pressure, to make their own choice and to live their own lives.” 
  1. “Our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” 
  1. “Partnership is not a posture but a process – a continuous process that grows stronger each year as we devote ourselves to common tasks.” 
  1. “For a city or a people to be truly free they must have the secure right, without economic, political or police pressure, to make their own choice and to live their own lives.” 
  1. “We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”