35th President of the United States of America (1961-63)
born May 29, 1917, Brookline, Mass., U.S.
died Nov. 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas
"John Kennedy, who faced a number of foreign crises, especially in Cuba and Berlin, but managed to secure such achievements as the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the Alliance for rogress. He was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.
In January 1960 John F. Kennedy formally announced his presidential candidacy. His chief rivals were the senators Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota and Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. Kennedy knocked Humphrey out of the campaign and dealt the religious taboo against Roman Catholics a blow by winning the primary in Protestant West Virginia. He tackled the Catholic issue again, by avowing his belief in the separation of church and state in a televised speech before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston, Texas. Nominated on the first ballot, he balanced the Democratic ticket by choosing Johnson as his running mate. In his acceptance speech Kennedy declared, "We stand on the edge of a New Frontier." Thereafter the phrase New Frontier was associated with his presidential programs.
Another phrasethe Kennedy styleencapsulated the candidate's emerging identity. It was glamorous and elitist, an amalgam of his father's wealth, John Kennedy's charisma and easy wit, Jacqueline Kennedy's beauty and fashion sense (the suits and pillbox hats she wore became widely popular), the charm of their children and relatives, and the erudition of the Harvard advisers who surrounded him (called the best and brightest by author David Halberstam).
Kennedy won the general election, narrowly defeating the Republican candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, by a margin of 118,550 out of some 70 million votes cast. Many observers, then and since, believed vote fraud contributed to Kennedy's victory, especially in the critical state of Illinois, where Joe Kennedy enlisted the help of the ever-powerful Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago. Nixon had defended the Eisenhower record; Kennedy, whose slogan had been "Let's get this country moving again," had deplored unemployment, the sluggish economy, the so-called missile gap (a presumed Soviet superiority over the United States in the number of nuclear-armed missiles), and the new communist government in Havana. A major factor in the campaign was a unique series of four televised debates between the two men; an estimated 85 million120 million Americans watched one or more of the debates. Both men showed a firm grasp of the issues, but Kennedy's poise in front of the camera, his tony Harvard accent, and good looks (in contrast to Nixon's five o'clock shadow) convinced many viewers that he had won the debate. As president, Kennedy continued to exploit the new medium, sparkling in precedent-setting televised weekly press conferences.
He was the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic ever elected to the presidency of the United States. His administration lasted 1,037 days. From the onset he was concerned with foreign affairs. In his memorable inaugural address he called upon Americans "to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."
"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted
the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.
I do not shrink from this responsibilityI welcome it . . .
The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor
will light our country and all who serve it
and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans:
ask not what your country can do for you
ask what you can do for your country. "
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