🤩 Discover new information from across the web

John F. Kennedy

35th president of the United States (1917-1963)

Top 10 John F. Kennedy related articles

John F. Kennedy
Oval Office portrait, 1963
35th President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
Vice PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byDwight D. Eisenhower
Succeeded byLyndon B. Johnson
United States Senator
from Massachusetts
In office
January 3, 1953 – December 22, 1960
Preceded byHenry Cabot Lodge Jr.
Succeeded byBenjamin A. Smith II
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 11th district
In office
January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1953
Preceded byJames Michael Curley
Succeeded byTip O'Neill
Personal details
Born
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

(1917-05-29)May 29, 1917
Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedNovember 22, 1963(1963-11-22) (aged 46)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Cause of deathAssassination
(gunshot wound to the head)
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
(m. 1953)
Children
Parents
RelativesKennedy family
EducationHarvard University (AB)
Occupation
  • Politician
  • journalist
Signature
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Navy
Years of service1941–1945
Rank Lieutenant
Unit
Battles/wars
Awards

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination. Kennedy served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his work as president concerned relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba. A Democrat, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in both houses of the U.S. Congress prior to becoming president.

Kennedy was born into a wealthy, political family in Brookline, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1940, before joining the U.S. Naval Reserve the following year. During World War II, he commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service. After a brief stint in journalism, Kennedy represented a working-class Boston district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953. He was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior senator for Massachusetts from 1953 to 1960. While in the Senate, Kennedy published his book, Profiles in Courage, which won a Pulitzer Prize. In the 1960 presidential election, he narrowly defeated Republican opponent Richard Nixon, who was the incumbent vice president. Kennedy's humor, charm, and youth in addition to his father's money and contacts were great assets in the campaign. Kennedy's campaign gained momentum after the first televised presidential debates in American history. Kennedy was the first Catholic elected president.

Kennedy's administration included high tensions with communist states in the Cold War. As a result, he increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam. The Strategic Hamlet Program began in Vietnam during his presidency. In April 1961, he authorized an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.[2] Kennedy authorized the Cuban Project in November 1961. He rejected Operation Northwoods (plans for false flag attacks to gain approval for a war against Cuba) in March 1962. However, his administration continued to plan for an invasion of Cuba in the summer of 1962.[3] The following October, U.S. spy planes discovered Soviet missile bases had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of tensions, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, nearly resulted in the breakout of a global thermonuclear conflict. He also signed the first nuclear weapons treaty in October 1963. Kennedy presided over the establishment of the Peace Corps, Alliance for Progress with Latin America, and the continuation of the Apollo space program with the goal of landing a man on the Moon. He also supported the civil rights movement, but was only somewhat successful in passing his New Frontier domestic policies.

On November 22, 1963, he was assassinated in Dallas. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the presidency upon Kennedy's death. Marxist and former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the state crime, but he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby two days later. The FBI and the Warren Commission both concluded Oswald had acted alone in the assassination, but various groups contested the Warren Report and believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. After Kennedy's death, Congress enacted many of his proposals, including the Civil Rights Act and the Revenue Act of 1964. Despite his truncated presidency, Kennedy ranks highly in polls of U.S. presidents with historians and the general public. His personal life has also been the focus of considerable sustained interest following public revelations in the 1970s of his chronic health ailments and extramarital affairs. Kennedy was the most recent U.S. president to have been assassinated as well as the most recent U.S. president to die in office.

John F. Kennedy Intro articles: 48

Early life and education

Kennedy's birthplace in Brookline, Massachusetts

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born outside Boston in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29, 1917, at 83 Beals Street,[4] to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., a businessman and politician, and Rose Kennedy (née Fitzgerald), a philanthropist and socialite. His paternal grandfather, P. J. Kennedy, served as a Massachusetts state legislator. Kennedy's maternal grandfather and namesake, John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, served as a U.S. Congressman and was elected to two terms as Mayor of Boston. All four of his grandparents were children of Irish immigrants.[1] Kennedy had an elder brother, Joseph Jr., and seven younger siblings: Rosemary, Kathleen ("Kick"), Eunice, Patricia, Robert ("Bobby"), Jean, and Edward ("Ted").

Kennedy in a football uniform at Dexter School (Massachusetts), 1926

Kennedy lived in Brookline for the first ten years of his life. He attended the local St. Aidan's Church, where he was baptized on June 19, 1917.[5][6] He was educated through the 4th grade at the Edward Devotion School, the Noble and Greenough Lower School, and the Dexter School; all located in the Boston area. JFK's earliest memories involved accompanying his grandfather Fitzgerald on walking tours of historic sites in Boston and discussions at the family dinner table about politics, sparking his interest in history and public service.[7][8][9] His father's business had kept him away from the family for long stretches of time, and his ventures were concentrated on Wall Street and Hollywood. In 1927, the Dexter School announced it would not reopen before October after an outbreak of polio in Massachusetts.[10] In September, the family decided to move from Boston by "private railway car" to the Riverdale neighborhood of New York City.[11][12] Several years later, his brother Robert told Look magazine that his father had left Boston because of signs that read: "No Irish Need Apply."[13] The family spent summers and early autumns at their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a village on Cape Cod, where they enjoyed swimming, sailing, and touch football.[14] Christmas and Easter holidays were spent at their winter retreat in Palm Beach, Florida.[15][16] Young John attended the Riverdale Country School – a private school for boys – from 5th to 7th grade, and was a member of Boy Scout Troop 2 in Bronxville, New York.[1][17] In September 1930, Kennedy, then 13 years old, was shipped off to the Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, for 8th grade. In April 1931, he had an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home.[18]

In September 1931, Kennedy started attending Choate, a prestigious boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut, for 9th through 12th grade. His older brother Joe Jr. had already been at Choate for two years and was a football player and leading student. He spent his first years at Choate in his older brother's shadow and compensated with rebellious behavior that attracted a coterie. Their most notorious stunt was exploding a toilet seat with a powerful firecracker. In the next chapel assembly, the strict headmaster, George St. John, brandished the toilet seat and spoke of certain "muckers" who would "spit in our sea". Defiantly Kennedy took a cue and named his group "The Muckers Club", which included roommate and lifelong friend Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings.[19]

The Kennedy family in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, with JFK at top left in the white shirt, 1931

During his years at Choate, Kennedy was beset by health problems that culminated with his emergency hospitalization in 1934 at Yale New Haven Hospital, where doctors suspected leukemia.[20] In June 1934, he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; the ultimate diagnosis there was colitis.[20] Kennedy graduated from Choate in June of the following year, finishing 64th in a class of 112 students.[12] He had been the business manager of the school yearbook and was voted the "most likely to succeed".[19]

In September 1935, Kennedy made his first trip abroad when he traveled to London with his parents and his sister Kathleen. He intended to study under Harold Laski at the London School of Economics (LSE), as his older brother had done. Ill-health forced his return to the United States in October of that year, when he enrolled late and attended Princeton University but had to leave after two months due to a gastrointestinal illness.[21] He was then hospitalized for observation at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He convalesced further at the family winter home in Palm Beach, then spent the spring of 1936 working as a ranch hand on the 40,000-acre (16,000-hectare) Jay Six cattle ranch outside Benson, Arizona.[22] It is reported that ranchman Jack Speiden worked both brothers "very hard".[23][24]

In September 1936, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard College, and his application essay stated: "The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a 'Harvard man' is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain."[25] He produced that year's annual "Freshman Smoker", called by a reviewer "an elaborate entertainment, which included in its cast outstanding personalities of the radio, screen and sports world".[26]

He tried out for the football, golf, and swimming teams and earned a spot on the varsity swimming team.[27] Kennedy also sailed in the Star class and won the 1936 Nantucket Sound Star Championship.[28] In July 1937, Kennedy sailed to France—taking his convertible—and spent ten weeks driving through Europe with Billings.[29] In June 1938, Kennedy sailed overseas with his father and older brother to work at the American embassy in London, where his father was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's.[30]

In 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East in preparation for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He then went to Berlin, where the U.S. diplomatic representative gave him a secret message about war breaking out soon to pass on to his father, and to Czechoslovakia before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day that Germany invaded Poland to mark the beginning of World War II.[31] Two days later, the family was in the House of Commons for speeches endorsing the United Kingdom's declaration of war on Germany. Kennedy was sent as his father's representative to help with arrangements for American survivors of SS Athenia before flying back to the U.S. from Foynes, Ireland, on his first transatlantic flight.

When Kennedy was an upperclassman at Harvard, he began to take his studies more seriously and developed an interest in political philosophy. He made the dean's list in his junior year.[32] In 1940 Kennedy completed his thesis, "Appeasement in Munich", about British negotiations during the Munich Agreement. The thesis eventually became a bestseller under the title Why England Slept.[33] In addition to addressing Britain's unwillingness to strengthen its military in the lead-up to World War II, the book also called for an Anglo-American alliance against the rising totalitarian powers. Kennedy became increasingly supportive of U.S. intervention in World War II, and his father's isolationist beliefs resulted in the latter's dismissal as ambassador to the United Kingdom. This created a split between the Kennedy and Roosevelt families.[34]

In 1940, Kennedy graduated cum laude from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts in government, concentrating on international affairs. That fall, he enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and audited classes there.[35] In early 1941, Kennedy left and helped his father write a memoir of his time as an American ambassador. He then traveled throughout South America; his itinerary included Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.[36][37]

John F. Kennedy Early life and education articles: 67

U.S. Naval Reserve (1941–1945)

Kennedy planned to attend Yale Law School after auditing courses on business law at Stanford, but canceled when American entry into World War II seemed imminent.[38] In 1940, Kennedy attempted to enter the army's Officer Candidate School. Despite months of training, he was medically disqualified due to his chronic lower back problems. On September 24, 1941, Kennedy, with the help of then director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and the former naval attaché to Joseph Kennedy, Alan Kirk, joined the United States Naval Reserve. He was commissioned an ensign on October 26, 1941,[39] and joined the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.[40][41][42]

Lieutenant (junior grade) Kennedy (standing at right) with his PT-109 crew, 1943

In January 1942, Kennedy was assigned to the ONI field office at Headquarters, Sixth Naval District, in Charleston, South Carolina.[41] He attended the Naval Reserve Officer Training School at Northwestern University in Chicago from July 27 to September 27[40] and then voluntarily entered the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center in Melville, Rhode Island.[41][43] On October 10, he was promoted to lieutenant junior grade.[41] In early November, Kennedy was still mourning the death of his close, childhood friend, Marine Corps Second Lieutenant George Houk Mead Jr., who had been killed in action at Guadalcanal that August and awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery. Accompanied by a female acquaintance from a wealthy Newport family, the couple had stopped in Middletown, Rhode Island at the cemetery where the decorated, naval spy, Commander Hugo W. Koehler, USN, had been buried the previous year. Ambling around the plots near the tiny St. Columba's chapel, Kennedy paused over Koehler's white granite cross grave marker and pondered his own mortality, hoping out loud that when his time came, he would not have to die without religion. "But these things can't be faked," he added. "There's no bluffing."[44] Two decades later, Kennedy and Koehler's stepson, U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell had become good friends and political allies, although they had been acquaintances since the mid-1930s during their "salad days" on the same Newport debutante party "circuit" and when Pell had dated Kathleen ("Kick") Kennedy.[45] Kennedy completed his training on December 2 and was assigned to Motor Torpedo Squadron FOUR.[40]

His first command was PT-101 from December 7, 1942, until February 23, 1943:[41] It was a patrol torpedo (PT) boat used for training while Kennedy was an instructor at Melville.[46] He then led three Huckins PT boats—PT-98, PT-99, and PT-101, which were being relocated from MTBRON 4 in Melville, Rhode Island, back to Jacksonville, Florida, and the new MTBRON 14 (formed February 17, 1943). During the trip south, he was hospitalized briefly in Jacksonville after diving into the cold water to unfoul a propeller. Thereafter, Kennedy was assigned duty in Panama and later in the Pacific theater, where he eventually commanded two more PT boats.[47]

Commanding PT-109

Kennedy on his navy patrol boat, the PT-109, 1943

In April 1943, Kennedy was assigned to Motor Torpedo Squadron TWO,[40] and on April 24 he took command of PT-109,[48] which was based at the time on Tulagi Island in the Solomons.[41] On the night of August 1–2, in support of the New Georgia campaign, PT-109 was on its 31st mission with fourteen other PTs ordered to block or repel four Japanese destroyers and floatplanes carrying food, supplies, and 900 Japanese soldiers to the Vila Plantation garrison on the southern tip of the Solomon's Kolombangara Island. Intelligence had been sent to Kennedy's Commander Thomas G. Warfield expecting the arrival of the large Japanese naval force that would pass on the evening of August 1. Of the 24 torpedoes fired that night by eight of the American PTs, not one hit the Japanese convoy.[49] On that dark and moonless night, Kennedy spotted a Japanese destroyer heading north on its return from the base of Kolombangara around 2:00 a.m., and attempted to turn to attack, when PT-109 was rammed suddenly at an angle and cut in half by the destroyer Amagiri, killing two PT-109 crew members.[50][51][41][a]

Kennedy gathered around the wreckage his surviving ten crew members to vote on whether to "fight or surrender". Kennedy stated: "There's nothing in the book about a situation like this. A lot of you men have families and some of you have children. What do you want to do? I have nothing to lose." Shunning surrender, around 2:00 p.m. on August 2, the men swam towards Plum Pudding Island 3.5 miles (5.6 km) southwest of the remains of PT-109.[41][53] Despite re-injuring his back in the collision, Kennedy towed a badly burned crewman through the water to the island with a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth.[54] Kennedy made an additional two-mile swim the night of August 2, 1943, to Ferguson Passage to attempt to hail a passing American PT boat to expedite his crew's rescue and attempted to make the trip on a subsequent night, in a damaged canoe found on Naru Island where he had swum with Ensign George Ross to look for food.[55]

On August 4, 1943, he and his executive officer, Ensign Lenny Thom, assisted his injured and hungry crew on a demanding swim 3.75 miles (6.04 km) southeast to Olasana Island, which was visible to the crew from their desolate home on Plum Pudding Island. They swam against a strong current, and once again Kennedy towed the badly burned motor machinist "Pappy" MacMahon by his life vest. The somewhat larger Olasana Island had ripe coconut trees, but still no fresh water.[56] On the following day, August 5, Kennedy and Ensign George Ross made the one-hour swim to Naru Island, an additional distance of about .5 miles (0.80 km) southwest, in search of help and food. Kennedy and Ross found a small canoe, packages of crackers, candy and a fifty-gallon drum of drinkable water left by the Japanese, which Kennedy paddled another half mile back to Olasana in the acquired canoe to provide his hungry crew. Native coast watchers Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana first discovered the 109 crew on Olasana Island and paddled their messages to Ben Kevu, a Senior Scout who sent them on to coast watcher Lieutenant Reginald Evans. On the morning of August 7, Evans radioed the PT base on Rendova. Lieutenant "Bud" Liebenow, a friend and former tentmate of Kennedy's, rescued Kennedy and his crew on Olasana Island on August 8, 1943 aboard his boat, PT-157.[57][58][59][60]

Commanding PT-59

It only took Kennedy a month to recover and return to duty, commanding the PT-59. He and his crew removed the original torpedo tubes and depth charges and refitted the vessel into a heavily armed gunboat, mounting two automatic 40mm guns and ten .50 caliber Browning machine guns. The new plan involved attaching a gunboat to each PT boat section adding gun range and defensive power against barges and shore batteries which the 59 went on to encounter on several occasions from mid-October to mid-November.[61] On October 8, 1943, Kennedy was promoted to full lieutenant.[62] On November 2, Kennedy's PT-59 took part with two other PTs in the successful rescue of 40–50 marines. The 59 acted as a shield from shore fire and protected them as they escaped on two rescue landing craft at the base of the Warrior River at Choiseul Island, taking ten marines aboard and delivering them to safety.[63][64] Under doctor's orders, Kennedy was relieved of his command of PT-59 on November 18, and sent to the hospital on Tulagi.[65] From there he returned to the United States in early January 1944. After receiving treatment for his back injury, he was released from active duty in late 1944.[66]

Kennedy was hospitalized at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts from May to December 1944.[40] On June 12, he was presented the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroic actions on August 1–2, 1943, and the Purple Heart Medal for his back injury while on PT-109.[67] Beginning in January 1945, Kennedy spent three more months recovering from his back injury at Castle Hot Springs, a resort and temporary military hospital in Arizona.[68][69] After the war, Kennedy felt that the medal he had received for heroism was not a combat award and asked that he be reconsidered for the Silver Star Medal for which he had been recommended initially. Kennedy's father also requested that his son receive the Silver Star, which is awarded for gallantry in action.

On August 12, 1944, Kennedy's older brother, Joe Jr., a navy pilot, was killed while on a special and hazardous air mission for which he had volunteered. His explosive-laden plane blew up when the plane's bombs detonated prematurely while the aircraft was flying over the English Channel.[70]

On March 1, 1945, Kennedy retired from the Navy Reserve on physical disability and was honorably discharged with the full rank of lieutenant.[67] When later asked how he became a war hero, Kennedy joked: "It was easy. They cut my PT boat in half."[71]

In 1950, the Department of the Navy offered Kennedy a Bronze Star Medal in recognition of his meritorious service, which he declined.[72] Kennedy's two original medals are currently on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.[73]

Military awards

In addition to the various campaign medals received for his war service, Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his conduct during and after the loss of PT-109, as well as the Purple Heart for being wounded.[1]

Navy and Marine Corps Medal Purple Heart American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
with three stars
World War II Victory Medal

Navy and Marine Corps Medal citation

For extremely heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 109 following the collision and sinking of that vessel in the Pacific War area on August 1–2, 1943. Unmindful of personal danger, Lieutenant (then Lieutenant, Junior Grade) Kennedy unhesitatingly braved the difficulties and hazards of darkness to direct rescue operations, swimming many hours to secure aid and food after he had succeeded in getting his crew ashore. His outstanding courage, endurance and leadership contributed to the saving of several lives and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

— James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy[74]

John F. Kennedy U.S. Naval Reserve (1941–1945) articles: 59

Journalism

In April 1945, Kennedy's father, who was a friend of William Randolph Hearst, arranged a position for his son as a special correspondent for Hearst Newspapers; the assignment kept Kennedy's name in the public eye and "expose[d] him to journalism as a possible career".[75] He worked as a correspondent that May and went to Berlin for a second time,[31] covering the Potsdam Conference and other events.[76]

John F. Kennedy Journalism articles: 3

Congressional career (1947–1960)

JFK's elder brother Joe had been the family's political standard-bearer and had been tapped by their father to seek the presidency. Joe's death during the war in 1944 changed that course and the assignment fell to JFK as the second eldest of the Kennedy siblings.[77]

House of Representatives (1947–1953)

At the urging of Kennedy's father, U.S. Representative James Michael Curley vacated his seat in the strongly Democratic 11th congressional district of Massachusetts to become mayor of Boston in 1946. Kennedy established his residency at an apartment building on 122 Bowdoin Street across from the Massachusetts State House.[78] With his father financing and running his campaign under the slogan "THE NEW GENERATION OFFERS A LEADER",[79] Kennedy won the Democratic primary with 42 percent of the vote, defeating ten other candidates.[80] His father joked after the campaign, "With the money I spent, I could have elected my chauffeur."[81] Campaigning around Boston, Kennedy called for better housing for veterans, better health care for all, and support for organized labor's campaign for reasonable work hours, a healthy workplace, and the right to organize, bargain, and strike. In addition, he campaigned for peace through the United Nations and strong opposition to the Soviet Union.[82] Though Republicans took control of the House in the 1946 elections, Kennedy defeated his Republican opponent in the general election, taking 73 percent of the vote. Along with Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, Kennedy was one of several World War II veterans elected to Congress that year.[83]

He served in the House for six years, joining the influential Education and Labor Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee. He concentrated his attention on international affairs, supporting the Truman Doctrine as the appropriate response to the emerging Cold War. He also supported public housing and opposed the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, which restricted the power of labor unions. Though not as vocal an anti-communist as McCarthy, Kennedy supported the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which required Communists to register with the government, and he deplored the "loss of China".[84]

Having served as a boy scout during his childhood, Kennedy was active in the Boston Council from 1946 to 1955: as district vice chairman, member of the Executive Board, vice-president, as well as a National Council Representative.[85][86] Almost every weekend that Congress was in session, Kennedy would fly back to Massachusetts to give speeches to veteran, fraternal, and civic groups, while maintaining an index card file on individuals who might be helpful for a future campaign for state-wide office.[87] JFK set a goal of speaking in every city and town in Massachusetts prior to 1952.[82]

Senate (1953–1960)

As early as 1949, Kennedy began preparing to run for the Senate in 1952 against Republican three-term incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. with the campaign slogan "KENNEDY WILL DO MORE FOR MASSACHUSETTS".[88] Joseph Kennedy again financed his son's candidacy, while John Kennedy's younger brother Robert F. Kennedy emerged as an important member of the campaign as manager.[89] The campaign hosted a series of "teas" (sponsored by Kennedy's mother and sisters) at hotels and parlors across Massachusetts to reach out to women voters.[90][91] In the presidential election, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower carried Massachusetts by a margin of 208,000 votes, but Kennedy defeated Lodge by 70,000 votes for the Senate seat.[92] The following year, he married Jacqueline Bouvier.[93]

Kennedy underwent several spinal operations over the next two years. Often absent from the Senate, he was at times critically ill and received Catholic last rites. During his convalescence in 1956, he published Profiles in Courage, a book about U.S. senators who risked their careers for their personal beliefs, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957.[94] Rumors that this work was co-written by his close adviser and speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, were confirmed in Sorensen's 2008 autobiography.[95]

At the start of his first term, Kennedy focused on Massachusetts-specific issues by sponsoring bills to help the fishing, textile manufacturing, and watchmaking industries.[96] In 1954, Senator Kennedy voted in favor of the Saint Lawrence Seaway which would connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, despite opposition from Massachusetts politicians who argued that the project would cripple New England's shipping industry, including the Port of Boston.[97] Three years later, Kennedy chaired a special committee to select the five greatest U.S. senators in history so their portraits could decorate the Senate Reception Room.[98] That same year, Kennedy joined the Senate Labor Rackets Committee with his brother Robert (who was chief counsel) to investigate crime infiltration of labor unions.[99] In 1958, Kennedy introduced a bill (S. 3974) which became the first major labor relations bill to pass either house since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. The bill dealt largely with the control of union abuses exposed by the McClellan committee but did not incorporate tough Taft-Hartley amendments requested by President Eisenhower. It survived Senate floor attempts to include Taft-Hartley amendments and gained passage but was rejected by the House.[100]

Kennedy endorsing Adlai Stevenson II for the presidential nomination at the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago

At the 1956 Democratic National Convention, Kennedy gave the nominating speech for the party's presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson II.[101] Stevenson let the convention select the vice presidential nominee. Kennedy finished second in the balloting, losing to Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee but receiving national exposure as a result.[102]

A matter demanding Kennedy's attention in the Senate was President Eisenhower's bill for the Civil Rights Act of 1957.[103] Kennedy cast a procedural vote against it and this was considered by some to be an appeasement of Southern Democratic opponents of the bill.[103] Kennedy did vote for Title III of the act, which would have given the Attorney General powers to enjoin, but Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson agreed to let the provision die as a compromise measure.[104] Kennedy also voted for Title IV, termed the "Jury Trial Amendment". Many civil rights advocates at the time criticized that vote as one which would weaken the act.[105] A final compromise bill, which Kennedy supported, was passed in September 1957.[106] He proposed on July 2, 1957, that the U.S. support Algeria's effort to gain independence from France.[107] The following year, Kennedy authored A Nation of Immigrants (later published in 1964), which analyzed the importance of immigration in the country's history as well as proposals to re-evaluate immigration law.[108]

Results of the 1958 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. Kennedy's margin of victory of 874,608 votes was the largest in Massachusetts political history.[109][110]

In 1958, Kennedy was re-elected to a second term in the Senate, defeating Republican opponent, Boston lawyer Vincent J. Celeste, by a margin of 874,608 votes, the largest margin in the history of Massachusetts politics.[92] It was during his re-election campaign that Kennedy's press secretary at the time, Robert E. Thompson, put together a film entitled The U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy Story, which exhibited a day in the life of the Senator and showcased his family life as well as the inner workings of his office to solve Massachusetts-related issues. It was the most comprehensive film produced about Kennedy up to that time.[111] In the aftermath of his re-election, Kennedy began preparing to run for president by traveling throughout the U.S. with the aim of building his candidacy for 1960.[112][99]

When it came to conservation, Kennedy, a Massachusetts Audubon Society supporter, wanted to make sure that the shorelines of Cape Cod remained unsullied by future industrialization. On September 3, 1959, Kennedy cosponsored the Cape Cod National Seashore bill with his Republican colleague Senator Leverett Saltonstall.[113]

Kennedy's father was a strong supporter and friend of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Additionally, Bobby Kennedy worked for McCarthy's subcommittee, and McCarthy dated Kennedy's sister Patricia. Kennedy told historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., "Hell, half my voters [particularly Catholics] in Massachusetts look on McCarthy as a hero."[114][115] In 1954, the Senate voted to censure McCarthy, and Kennedy drafted a speech supporting the censure. However, it was not delivered because Kennedy was hospitalized at the time. The speech put Kennedy in the apparent position of participating by "pairing" his vote against that of another senator and opposing the censure. Although Kennedy never indicated how he would have voted, the episode damaged his support among members of the liberal community, including Eleanor Roosevelt, in the 1956 and 1960 elections.[116]

John F. Kennedy Congressional career (1947–1960) articles: 47