John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917 - 1963

portrait of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
White House photo by Cecil Stoughton, 11 July 1963
John Fitzgerald Kennedy signature
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Born: 29 May 1917, Brookline, Massachusetts
Died: 22 November 1963, Dallas, Texas

The son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr, a prominent businessman, and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, daughter of Boston's mayor, "Jack" was educated mostly at private schools, notably Choate School at Wallingford, Connecticut. He spent a year in Europe, largely studying at the London School of Economics, then entered Princeton University. That was cut short when he fell ill and spent two months in hospital due to suspected leukemia. In 1936 he entered Harvard University, graduating cum laude with a degree in international affairs in 1940. His thesis on England's role in the Munich Agreement ending World War I was published as Why England Slept and became a bestseller. The next spring he volunteered for the Army but was rejected because of his history of back problems, that fall family connections got him into the Navy. After Pearl Harbor he was posted to the Pacific with command of a torpedo patrol boat, PT-109, which was sunk in a collision with a Japanese destroyer. His actions in rescuing shipmates (only two of thirteen men were lost) earned him a Purple Heart. In 1946 he was elected to the US House of Representatives, serving three terms before running for a Senate seat in 1952. In 1953 he married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. He underwent several spinal surgeries over the next two years, while recovering he wrote Profiles in Courage with his speech writer, Ted Sorensen (not credited at that time). He was second in balloting for the vice presidential slot at the 1956 Democratic Convention, sparing him the association with the loss to Eisenhower. He narrowly defeated Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 presidential election, the first presidential race to feature televised debates. (His campaign was managed by his brother Robert, western states were managed by his brother Ted.) Although his inaugural speech is widely praised and quoted, his actual presidency did not see great changes; most of his actual legislative goals weren't passed by Congress until after his death, although the economy boomed after the previous several years of stagnation. He did found the Peace Corps, start America on the race to the moon, and face down the Soviets over missiles in Cuba. While campaigning at Dallas, Texas, he was shot by a sniper in a motorcade and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Biography from Wikipedia and the White House

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