John F. Kennedy, full name John Fitzgerald Kennedy, by name JFK, was born May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts. He died November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy served as the 35th President of the United States from 1961 to 1963. During that time, he confronted a number of diplomatic crises, notably in Cuba and Berlin. Still, he was able to win landmark agreements such as the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Alliance for Progress. Unfortunately, Kennedy was killed in Dallas while traveling in a motorcade.
The second of nine children, JFK was raised in a family that encouraged intense physical and intellectual competition among the siblings; the family’s touch football games at their Hyannis Port retreat later became legendary. Kennedy was also educated in both Roman Catholic religious teachings and Democratic Party political principles.
Joseph Patrick Kennedy, his father, had amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune through banking, bootlegging, shipbuilding, the film business and as a brilliant stock market trader. His mother, Rose, was the daughter of former Boston mayor John F. (“Honey Fitz”) Fitzgerald. Together, they created trust funds for their children, ensuring their financial independence for the rest of their lives.
Joseph Kennedy became the US ambassador to the United Kingdom after serving as the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman. In that position, John Kennedy served as his secretary for six months in 1938. He used his experience to write his senior thesis at Harvard University (B.S., 1940) on Great Britain’s military unpreparedness. He went on to write Why England Slept, a best-selling book based on his theory (1940).
John F. Kennedy declared his presidential candidacy in January 1960. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota and Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas were his primary opponents.
By defeating Humphrey in the Protestant West Virginia primary, Kennedy broke the taboo against Roman Catholics, and Humphrey dropped out of the race. In a videotaped speech to a gathering of Protestant ministers, Kennedy addressed the Catholic problem once more, affirming his conviction in separating religion and state. He was nominated on the first ballot. Kennedy then chose Johnson as his running partner to balance the Democratic ticket.