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John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th president of the United States, the youngest person ever to be elected president. He was also the first Roman Catholic president and the first president 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 war. Young people especially liked him. No other president was so popular. He brought to the presidency an awareness of the cultural and historical traditions of the United States. Because Kennedy expressed the values of 20th-century America, his presidency was important beyond its political achievements. John Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was the second of nine children.

Kennedy announced his candidacy early in 1960. By the time the Democratic National Convention opened in July, he had won seven primary victories. His most important had been in West Virginia, where he proved that a Roman Catholic could win in a predominantly Protestant state.

When the convention opened, it appeared that Kennedy's 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. 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., who was ambassador to the United Nations and whom Kennedy had defeated for the Senate in 1952, 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.

Another important element of the campaign was the support Kennedy received from blacks in important Northern states, especially Illinois and Pennsylvania. They supported him in part because he and Robert Kennedy had tried to get the release of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. King, who had been jailed for taking part in a civil rights demonstration in Georgia, was released soon afterward.

The election drew a record 69 million voters to the polls, but Kennedy won by only 113,000 votes. Kennedy was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address he emphasized America's revolutionary heritage. 2"The same ... beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe," Kennedy said.

3"Let the word go forth from this time and place to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans-born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage-and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."

Kennedy challenged Americans to assume the burden of "defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger." The words of his address were, 4"Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country."

Kennedy sought with considerable success to attract brilliant young people to government service. His hope was to bring new ideas and new methods into the executive branch. As a result many of his advisers were teachers and scholars. Among them were McGeorge Bundy and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., both graduates of Harvard.

Kennedy's most influential adviser was Theodore C. Sorenson, a member of Kennedy's staff since his days in the Senate. Sorenson wrote many of Kennedy's speeches and exerted a strong influence on Kennedy's development as a political liberal, 5 a person who believes that the government should directly help people to overcome poverty or social discrimination.

The president and Mrs. Kennedy attempted to make the White House the cultural center of the nation. Writers, artists, poets, scientists, and musicians were frequent dinner guests. On one occasion the Kennedy's held a reception for all the American winners of the Nobel Prize, people who made outstanding contributions to their field during the past year. At the party the president suggested that more talent and genius was at the White House that night than there had been since Thomas Jefferson had last dined there alone.

At a meeting with the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Nikita Khrushchev, Kennedy asked the name of a medal Khrushchev was wearing. When the premier identified it as the Lenin Peace Medal, Kennedy remarked, 6"I hope you keep it." On another occasion he told a group of Republican business leaders, 7"It would be premature to ask for your support in the next election and inaccurate to thank you for it in the past." Even in great crises, Kennedy retained his sense of humor.

Kennedy's first year in office brought him considerable success in enacting new legislation. Congress passed a major housing bill, a law increasing the minimum wage, and a bill granting federal aid to economically depressed areas of the United States. The most original piece of legislation Kennedy put through Congress was the bill creating the Peace Corps, an agency that trained American volunteers to perform social and humanitarian service overseas. The program's goal was to promote world peace and friendship with developing nations. The idea of American volunteers helping people in foreign lands touched the idealism of many citizens. Within two years, Peace Corps volunteers were working in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, living with the people and working on education, public health, and agricultural projects.

However, after his initial success with Congress, Kennedy found it increasingly difficult to get his programs enacted into law. Although the Democrats held a majority in both houses, Southern Democrats joined with conservative Republicans to stop legislation they disliked. The Medicare bill, a bill to make medical care for the aged a national benefit, was defeated. A civil rights bill and a bill to cut taxes were debated, and compromises were agreed to, but even the compromises were delayed. A bill to create a Cabinet-level Department of Urban Affairs was soundly defeated, partly because Kennedy wanted the economist Robert C. Weaver, a black man, to be the new secretary. Southern Congressmen united with representatives from mostly rural areas to defeat the bill.

Kennedy did win approval of a bill to lower tariffs and thus allow more competitive American trade abroad. Congress also authorized the purchase of $100 million in United Nations bonds, and the money enabled the international organization to survive a financial crisis. Further, Congress appropriated more than $1 billion to finance sending a man to the moon by 1970 which was accomplished in 1969.

The major American legal and moral conflict during Kennedy's three years in office was in the area of civil rights. Black agitation against discrimination had become widespread and well organized. Although Kennedy was in no way responsible for the growth of the civil rights movement, he attempted to aid the black cause by enforcing existing laws. Kennedy particularly wanted to end discrimination in federally financed projects or in companies that were doing business with the government.

In September 1962 Governor Ross R. Barnett of Mississippi ignored a court order and prevented James H. Meredith, a black man, from enrolling at the state university. On the night of September 29, even as the president went on national television to appeal to the people of Mississippi to obey the law, rioting began on the campus. After 15 hours of rioting and two deaths, Kennedy sent in troops to restore order. Meredith was admitted to the university, and troops and federal marshals remained on the campus to insure his safety.

In June 1963, when Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama prevented two blacks from enrolling at the University of Alabama, Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard to enforce the law. The students were enrolled at the university. Three months later, Kennedy again used the National Guard to prevent Wallace from interfering with integration in the public schools of Birmingham, Tuskegee, and Mobile.

Kennedy also asked Congress to pass a civil rights bill that would guarantee blacks the right to vote, to attend public school, to have equal access to jobs, and to have access to public accommodations. Kennedy ...

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