He was the first American President to be born in the twenty-first century. He became the first American President of Roman Catholic religion. At the age of 43, he was the youngest man ever to assume the seat of the chief executive of the United States of America. He was also the youngest ever president to die while his term as president has not yet ended. On the afternoon of the 22nd day of November 1963, an assassin bullet killed the then President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (Rabe 63). It marked the end of his young life as well as his term in office which he was only able to serve for two years and ten months.
The rest of the world mourned his sudden death. Members of royalty, premiers, and presidents attended his funeral. The then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the presidency following his assassination (Barnes 8). It was his New Frontier program that earned him the edge to ultimately succeed in the presidential race (Schlesinger). Kennedy represented the Democratic Party. The then Vice President Richard M. Nixon of the Republican Party was his opponent (Scott 290). Kennedy earned international respect as the leader of the Free World (Barnes 60).
By the year 1962, Kennedy significantly augmented the country’s prestige the moment he prevented a nuclear war from happening. This move forced the Soviets to pull out missiles from Communist Cuba (Rabe 4). It also signed the start of the period of “thaw” during the Cold War while relationships between the country and the Soviet Union grew friendlier. During the year 1963, a treaty prohibiting underwater and or above the ground nuclear weapons testing was signed by the both countries counting as well over a hundred other nations. On the domestic scene however, the country enjoyed the highest peak of its wealth during this point in time.
The demands of the people of color for civil rights produced major domestic crises. However, the people of color were able to achieve more significant developments in their pursuit for equal rights than ever before since the Civil War. The first manned space expedition by Americans happened during President Kennedy’s term of office. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also geared up to send astronauts to the moon during this time (Schlesinger 920). Kennedy’s Political Career Several Democratic leaders believed that Kennedy possessed quite a lot of weaknesses as a presidential aspirant.
According to them, one of Kennedy’s major disadvantages as a presidential candidate was his faith. Among the other potential weaknesses include the presidential aspirant’s relative inadequate experience in dealing with international affairs, the Kennedy family’s wealth, as well as John F. Kennedy’s youth. Some members of the Democratic Party opposed Kennedy for the reason that they deemed that the presidential aspirant is too conservative. The presidential campaign of 1960 was quite a hard-fought battle. Kennedy and his opponent, Nixon were both spirited and young campaigners.
Initially, most experts assumed that Kennedy’s opponent would be held victor of the election (Barnes 69). Nixon earned the advantage of serving as Eisenhower’s Vice President (Barnes 33). It is important to take into consideration that Eisenhower was an extraordinarily popular President. Nonetheless, John F. Kennedy was not as anonymous as some people consider him to be. His beautiful wife, Jackie, his affluence, and his good looks caused him to become a popular subject of magazine and broadsheet articles. His exposures in television have also been of great help to his political career.
His four debates opposite Vice President Nixon were aired on television during that time (Barnes 75). The debates they had signaled the start of presidential aspirants arguing about campaign issues confronting each other (Author #). The debates Kennedy and Nixon had helped the former in gaining nationwide recognition. Kennedy’s self-confidence aided in his response to criticisms that he lacked the maturity required for assuming the chief executive position in the country. Kennedy as President He was inaugurated to the highest seat in government on the 20th day of January 1961 (Schlesinger 120).
When Kennedy assumed the responsibility of the federal government, he was confronted by internal problems which include a slow-moving economy, unemployment, and augmented racial tensions. Moreover, in terms of international relations, Kennedy dealt with the ongoing spread of Communist influence as well as the threat of nuclear warfare (Barnes 105). His program called the New Frontier went on a slow start. However, the 87th Congress eventually started passing actions supported by the Kennedy government (Schlesinger 1081). The Congress endorsed the aid to economically depressed areas in April of 1961.
In the following month, they allowed an increase in the minimum wage per hour from a dollar to a dollar and twenty five cents. They approved Kennedy’s Trade Expansion Act in September of 1962. It gave Kennedy extensive authority to reduce tariffs in order for the country to engage in a free trade with the European Common Market (Schlesinger 844). The United States Peace Corps was one of the most successful programs of his administration (Rabe 5). The corps deployed thousands of Americans overseas to aid the citizens in developing countries to improve their standards of living.
The President restructured the country’s defense strategies by increasing standard military hardware. Kennedy sought to be equipped for non-nuclear warfare as well as to exert all possible efforts to prevent the use of nuclear weapons of destruction (Schlesinger 825). One of the chief domestic concerns during his term as president was the demands of the people of color for equal rights. With the intention to meet the rising demands of the people of color, the President called on the Congress to ratify a legislation which would require restaurants, motels, and hotels to admit customers regardless of race (Spencer 29).
Furthermore, Kennedy likewise called on the Congress to give the authority to the attorney general to start court suits to desegregate academic institutions on behalf of private citizens who were not able to begin taking legal actions on their own (Spencer 30). His Assassination and his Legacy On the fateful day of November 22, 1963, while their motorcade traveled along the streets of Dallas, the President was assassinated through a series of fatal gun shots which took his life (Spencer 5). The President arrived at Dallas along with the First Lady, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mrs. Johnson.
The primary goal of their visit was to settle the tension in the Texas Democratic Party prior to the 1964 Presidential campaign wherein the President considered running for a second term. The group passed through the streets of Dallas in Texas in a motorcade as they head to the Dallas Trade Mart. The motorcade approached an expressway at the final leg of the trip at around 12. 30 in the afternoon (Barnes 136). All of a sudden, three gun shots were heard as President Kennedy fell down after the bullets stroke his neck and head. The doctors who attended on the wounded President did their best in a desperate attempt to save his life.
However, the doctors said that the President had no chance of survival the moment he was brought to the hospital. The untimely demise of the spirited and youthful President stunned the rest of the world. The legacy of his short-lived term as chief executive of the county is one of hope instead of an enduring achievement. He assumed the highest position in the country at a time that is regarded to be one of the most dangerous periods in American history. Nonetheless, although he may have had a frequently turbulent term in office, it still remained vibrant. Ultimately, however, his legacy was one that is emotional.
Kennedy’s legacy is a nostalgic commemoration of his short term presidency at a time when a new generation was in control and the country had an utterly glamorous and a well-renowned head of state. Perhaps, it is America’s version of Camelot. Although it was not for real, it is enough to cling onto until the divisiveness and unattractiveness set in (Rabe 6). The debate over the legacy of Kennedy as a chief executive and as a person remains unabated. To most of his fellow men and women, particularly those who came of age during his term of office, a sense of lost idealism and nostalgia continues to linger upon him.
In recent times, however, revisionist historians have stressed his defects – the manner in which he and his brother, Robert bended the law while serving government positions by means of wiretapping and intimidating their political opponents, his numerous affairs and willingness to conceal the truth behind his health condition from his fellow men and women, the level to which his political career was sustained by his father’s wealth and influence, and his international relations policy errors in the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam (Schlesinger 293).
A fair evaluation of his presidency is supposed to acknowledge his shortcomings at the same time credit his unquestionable achievements. Kennedy may have made a huge mistake in the Bay of Pigs. Nonetheless, he was able to prevent a nuclear warfare happening between the Soviets and Communist Cuba and parlayed his detente into notable agreements like the nuclear test-ban treaty. Kennedy may have failed to meet expectations in terms of affording the same civil liberties enjoyed by whites.
Still, his instrumental support for the people of color was significant in their struggle in opposition to segregation. On one hand, there are those who claim that if the assassination of Kennedy had not taken place, he may have done the same mistakes in Vietnam which eventually pulled his successor down (Rabe 148). On the other hand, there are those who claim that Kennedy had an ability to rise to occasion in crucial moments, initially as a war hero and ultimately as the chief executive of the United States (Barnes 13).
Perhaps most notably, by means of his rhetoric to unify the nation as well as by mean of his programs such as the Peace Corps, Kennedy inspired a generation of Americans in a manner that very few chief executives who have ever served the country were able to do during their term of office (Rabe 5). Having done so, Kennedy very well deserves the respect and admiration afforded to him. Controversy as well as mystery lingers around his death.
There are those who regard his assassination as a horrible incident which signaled the end of the public innocence and marked the start of the social and political turmoil usually associated to the 1960s (Spencer 5). Even though Kennedy’s life and presidency ended all of a sudden, he was still able to leave behind a valuable political and personal legacy to his people and to the rest of the world. During his period, not everyone was enthusiastic about his actions as a President.
Kennedy was looking forward that his trip to Dallas would strengthen relations between his government and the powerful, mostly Republican traditionalists who reside there. Even though he was very much aware of the opposition many of the locals there have towards him, Kennedy still had faith in the power of connecting with and reaching out with the residents and the political figures of that particular city in Texas (Spencer 6). No one could have thought the President’s trip to the city would end in a tragic way. His death permanently changed the way in which succeeding presidents mingle with, and is protected from the public.
He was shot to death while he was sitting in a convertible car with the top down. From then on, no other chief executive of the nation sat in a vehicle which is not protected with a bulletproof shield (Spencer 6). The moment he was shot to death, presidential assassination is not considered to be a federal crime (Spencer 6). Thus, the police force of the city headed the investigation of the crime. Eventually, it was made clear that crimes of such magnitude could require the involvement of federal agents like those working for the Central Intelligence Agency as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Spencer 7).
Kennedy’s death likewise signaled significant technological as well as cultural changes in the country. News aired on television came of age reporting about his assassination as well as the events which followed thereafter. The arrest as well as the eventual murder of his suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald was also aired on television (Spencer 7). The eternal legacy of his death may be something that is not certain. Nonetheless, he embodied a youthful optimism and dynamism which inspired not only his fellow men and women but people from all around the world too. He has the power, the wealth, and the youth.
He kept his commitment to equality and freedom while serving his country and his people. As the chief executive, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was able to establish a public image greatly appealing to much of America. He inspired in many of his fellow men and women strong idealism and optimism, and he appeared prepared to carry the country out of one of the most challenging period in its history. Kennedy’s term as president and his young life may have been suddenly concluded by bullet shots from a gun, reducing not only his native country but the rest of the world as well in a period of great grief.
His death was definitely tragic. Even so, it generated the impact of amplifying as well as reinforcing his legacy. Although Kennedy’s moments of presidential brilliance were interrupted by occasions of uncertainty, he is nonetheless cherished and respected by most people. How much greater he could have achieved, how farther he could have reached had his life not ended in an untimely death are among the most provoking inquiries that can never be given definite answers.
Barnes, John A. John F. Kennedy on Leadership: The Lessons and Legacy of a President. New York: AMACOM Division of American Management Association, 2005. Rabe, Stephen G. The Most Dangerous Area in the World: John F. Kennedy Confronts Communist Revolution in Latin America. North Carolina: UNC Press, 1999. Schlesinger, Arthur Meier. A Thousand Days. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002. Scott, Peter Dale. Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. California: University of California Press, 1996. Spencer, Lauren. The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2002.
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