John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on the 29th May 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, United States to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, a businessman, and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy. John was the 2nd born of 9 children and spent his childhood years all over the United States including Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. He suffered from ill-health which prevented him from taking various opportunities including studying at the London School of Economics and studying at Princeton University.
After he recovered from the illnesses that plagued much of his youth, John F. Kennedy enrolled in Harvard College located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During his College years, he travelled all over Europe and was in London, England on the 1st September 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland sparked the Second World War. His family made speeches in the House of Commons supporting the decision the United Kingdom made to declare war on Nazi Germany – Joseph Kennedy Sr., John’s father, was the US Ambassador to the UK at the time. JFK graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts in Government, concentrating on international affairs, in 1940. He spent much of 1941 travelling through South America.
Despite originally being medically rejected from the Officer Cadet School due to his chronic back pains, Kennedy joined the United States Naval Reserve in September 1941. Following training, he was eventually promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and spent the final years of the war deployed in Panama and the Pacific theatre commanding patrol torpedo boats. He retired from the Naval Reserve at the beginning of March 1945 as a result of his back pain.
JFK became a congressman in the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts in the mid-term elections in 1946 defeating the Republican candidate with 73% of the vote. He served in the House of Representatives for 6 years until 1953 when he joined the Senate representing Massachusetts. He defeated Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., a member of the once famous Lodge Family, who had held the seat since 1940.
On the 12th September 1953, a year into his term as Senator for Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island, after meeting at a dinner party in May 1952. Their wedding was attended by 700 guests at the ceremony and 1200 at the reception.
Kennedy was re-elected to the Senate in 1958, holding onto his seat by a margin of over 870,000 votes against Republican candidate Vincent Celeste; this is the largest margin in Massachusetts election history.
In January 1960, John F. Kennedy announced that he would be a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination for the 1960 Presidential Election. He defeated fellow democrats Pat Brown, George H. McLain, Hubert Humphrey, George Smathers and Michael DiSalle, at the Presidential primaries that took place from 8th March to 7th June. Kennedy announced that Lyndon B. Johnson would be his running mate at the Democratic Nation Convention on the 14 July 1960. They won a closely contested Presidential election against Republican candidate Richard Nixon and his running mate Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., who Kennedy had defeated previously in 1953 for a seat representing Massachusetts in the Senate. He got 303 electoral votes but won in less states than Nixon. The popular vote was narrowly won by Kennedy receiving 49.72% of the vote (34,220,984 votes) and Nixon receiving 49.55% (34,108,157 votes).
John F. Kennedy almost 3 years as President before coming to an abrupt end on the 22nd November 1963 in Dallas, Texas. He was shot in the back which exited via his throat and then again in the head while traveling in a motorcade with his wife Jacqueline, John Connally (Governor of Texas who was also wounded during the assassination) and the Governor’s wife Neillie. JFK was pronounced dead within 30 minutes of arriving at Parkland Hospital.
Vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States on Air Force One 2 hours after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Judge Sarah T. Hughes, who served on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, swore in Johnson with Jacqueline Kennedy looking on.
Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine who lived in the Soviet Union before returning to the United States in 1962, was charged with the assassination of John F. Kennedy but denied shooting anyone. Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner from Chicago, shot and killed Oswald on the 24th November 1963 while he was in custody at the Dallas Municipal Building.