John F. Kennedy
— 35th President of the United States —
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
TERM: January 20, 1961 to November 22, 1963
BORN: May 29, 1917
BIRTHPLACE: Brookline, Massachusetts
DIED: November 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas
Buried in Arlington, Virginia
OCCUPATION: Congressman, senator
MARRIED: Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, 1953
CHILDREN: Caroline, John F. Jr.
Although historians can't agree on the effectiveness of
Kennedy's presidency, no one can dispute that his death created
one of the greatest controversies of the 20th century.
On November 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade in Dallas,
Texas, Kennedy was slain by an assassin. Arrested and charged
with the murder was Lee Harvey Oswald, who himself was shot a
few days later while in police custody.
Critics charge that Oswald alone could not possibly have fired
the shots that killed Kennedy. Although a federal commission
ruled that Oswald probably did fire the shots, a recent movie
stirred up the controversy all over again.
No matter how the murder was accomplished, the death of Kennedy
sent shock waves across the country and the world.
Kennedy grew up in a wealthy family and split his time between
the family's homes in Massachusetts and Florida. He was ill as a
child and endured many ailments.
When he became 21, Kennedy was given a $1 million trust fund
established by his father.
At a preparatory school, his headmaster noted that Kennedy was
extremely clever. "When he learns the right place for humour and
learns to use his individual way of looking at things as an
asset instead of a handicap, his natural gift of an individual
outlook and witty expression are going to help him," the
Kennedy served as skipper of a P.T. boat in World War II. While
on patrol one day, his boat was rammed by an enemy destroyer.
Two men were killed, and Kennedy and the rest of the crew were
thrown into the flaming waters. Kennedy managed to swim four
hours to safety while towing an injured crewman. This experience
was the subject of a book and the movie "PT 109."
Kennedy was later discharged and hospitalized because his
injuries left him with a chronic bad back.
His first elected office was that of U.S. representative in
1947. He became a U.S. senator in 1953 and went on to win the
Democratic presidential nomination in 1960 over Hubert Humphrey.
His race for the presidency against Richard Nixon was very
close, but Kennedy used the power of television. In debates,
most agree that the two tied on content, but Nixon did not
appear as attractive to the American voter. In the one of the
closest elections in history, Kennedy won the popular vote by a
49.7 to 49.5 percent margin. He received 303 electoral votes to
In his short time as president, Kennedy established the Peace
Corps, an agency that enlisted volunteers to go to
underdeveloped countries to provide technical support and
Kennedy also presided over the most tense time after World War
II, the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. After he received
information that the Soviet Union was establishing missile bases
in Cuba, just 90 miles off the Florida coast, Kennedy ordered a
blockade of Cuba by Navy vessels. Eventually the Soviet Union
backed down and removed the missile sites.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) served in both houses of
Congress before becoming the thirty-fifth president of the
United States. His assassination shocked the world.
John F. Kennedy once summed up his time as "very dangerous,
untidy." He was the child of two world wars, of the Great
Depression, and of the nuclear age. "Life is unfair," he
remarked. And so it was to Kennedy, heaping him with glory,
burdening him with tragedy. Yet, he never lost his grace, his
sense of balance, or his indomitable gaiety.
Kennedy was born in Brookline, Mass., on May 29, 1917. He was
the second son of business executive and financier Joseph P.
Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. His great-grandfather had
emigrated in 1850 from Ireland to Boston, where he worked as a
cooper. His paternal grandfather had served in the Massachusetts
Legislature and in elective offices in Boston. Kennedy's
maternal grandfather, John Francis Fitzgerald, had been a state
legislator, mayor of Boston, and U.S. congressman. Kennedy's
father served as ambassador to Great Britain (1937-1940), having
been chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and of
the U.S. Maritime Commission. Thus Kennedy was born into a
wealthy family oriented toward politics and public service.
Education and Youth
Kennedy attended the Canterbury parochial school (1930-1931),
completing his preparatory education at the Choate School
(1931-1935). He enrolled at Princeton University in 1935, but
illness soon forced him to withdraw. Upon recovery he went to
Harvard University. During his junior year he travelled in
Europe, observing the political tensions that were leading to
World War II. He was gathering materials for his senior thesis,
which, reflecting some of the isolationist views of his father,
later became the bestselling book Why England Slept (1940).
After graduating from Harvard cum laude with a bachelor of
science degree in 1940, Kennedy enrolled at Stanford University
for graduate studies. In April 1941 he tried to enlist in the
U.S. Army but was rejected for physical reasons (a back injury
received while playing football). Months later, his back
strengthened through a regimen of exercises, the Navy accepted
him. He became an intelligence officer with the rank of
lieutenant junior grade in Washington, D.C. After the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbour he requested active duty at sea; this
assignment was not granted until late in 1942.
Following his training with the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron,
Kennedy was shipped to the South Pacific into the war against
Japan. In March 1943 he received command of a PT boat. That
August, when his boat was sliced in two by a Japanese destroyer,
two of his crew were killed, while Kennedy and four others clung
to the half of the PT boat that remained afloat. Six other men
survived in the nearby water, two wounded. In a 3-hour struggle
Kennedy got the wounded crewmen to the floating hulk. When it
capsized, he ordered his men to swim to a small island about 3
miles away, while he towed one man to shore in a heroic 5-hour
struggle. Several days later, having displayed exceptional
qualities of courage, leadership, and endurance, Kennedy
succeeded in having his men rescued.
Kennedy did not see further action, for he suffered an attack of
malaria and aggravation of his back injury. In December he
returned to the United States. After a hospital stay he became a
PT instructor in Florida, until he was hospitalized again. He
was retired from the service in the rank of full lieutenant in
March 1945, having undergone a disk operation. Returning to
civilian life, Kennedy did newspaper work for several months,
covering the United Nations Conference on International
Organization in San Francisco, the Potsdam Conference, and the
British elections of 1945.
House of Representatives
However, Kennedy desired a political career. In 1946 he became a
candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the
Massachusetts eleventh congressional district. Realizing that,
despite his family's background in Democratic politics, he was
unknown to the district's electorate, Kennedy built a large
personal organization for his campaign. On whirlwind tours he
met as many voters as possible, addressing them in a direct,
informal style on timely topics. In this campaign, as in all the
others, his brothers, sisters, and mother supported him. His
brothers, Robert and Ted, acted as his managers, while his
sisters and mother held social events.
Kennedy was a driven man. "The Kennedys were all puppets in the
hands of the old man," Washington newspaperman Arthur Krock once
observed. "I got Jack into politics," his father said, although
he admitted that neither he nor his wife could picture their son
as a politician. "I told him Joe [the oldest brother, who died a
hero in World War II] was dead … and I told him he had to."
Kennedy fell heir to the political know-how of his grandfather,
the legendary "Honey Fitz," who had charmed and utilized the
tough Boston Irish electorate. Meanwhile, Kennedy climbed more
stairs and shook more hands and worked harder than the 10 other
contenders for the candidacy combined.
Kennedy won the primary, the fall election, and re-election to
the House in 1948 and in 1950. He kept his campaign pledges to
work for broader social welfare programs, particularly in the
area of low-cost public housing. Kennedy was a staunch friend of
labour. In 1949 he became a member of the Joint Committee on
Labour-Management Relations. He battled unsuccessfully against
the Taft-Hartley Bill and later supported bills that sought to
modify its restrictive provisions. Although Kennedy supported
President Harry Truman's social welfare programs, progressive
taxation, and regulation of business, he did not follow
administration policies in foreign relations. He opposed the
fighting in Korea "or any other place in Asia where we cannot
hold our defenses."
In 1951 Kennedy spent 6 weeks travelling in Great Britain,
France, Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia, and West Germany. On his
return he advised the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that
he believed defending Western Europe was strategically important
to the United States but that he felt Western Europeans should
do more on their own behalf and not rely so strongly on the
United States. That autumn he travelled around the world. His
visits to the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Indochina, Malaya,
and Korea caused him to reverse a previous position and support
Point Four aid for the Middle East. He also urged that France
get out of Algeria.
In April 1952 Kennedy announced his candidacy for the U.S.
Senate, running against the strongly entrenched Henry Cabot
Lodge, Jr., a Republican liberal. Kennedy won by over 70,000
votes. Lodge reeled under the impact: "those damned
tea-parties," he said. He had not run against a man, but a
family - the Kennedy women having acted as hostesses to at least
70,000 Massachusetts housewives. In 1958 Kennedy was re-elected.
On Sept. 12, 1953, Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier,
daughter of a New York City financier, at Newport, R. I. Arthur
M. Schlesinger, Jr., noted of Mrs. Kennedy that "under a veil of
lovely inconsequence" she possessed "an all-seeing eye and
ruthless judgment." Four children were born, of whom two
survived infancy: Caroline Bouvier and John Fitzgerald.
Taking his seat in the Senate in January 1953, Kennedy served on
the Labour and Public Welfare Committee, the Government
Operations Committee, the Select Committee on Labour-Management
Relations, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Joint
Economic Committee. He secured passage of several bills to aid
the Massachusetts fishing and textile industries and fought to
ameliorate New England's economic problems. In 1954 he voted to
extend the president's powers under the reciprocal trade
A recurrence of his old back injuries forced Kennedy to use
crutches during 1954. An operation in October was followed by
another in February 1955. He spent his months of illness and
recuperation writing biographical profiles of Americans who had
exercised moral courage at crisis points in their lives.
Profiles in Courage (1956), a best seller, won the Pulitzer
Prize for biography in 1957.
Kennedy's back operations were not completely successful, and he
was never again entirely free from pain. He resumed his
senatorial duties in May 1955. During the next years he opposed
reform in the electoral college, favored American aid to help
India stabilize its economy, and became a strong advocate of
civil rights legislation. Social welfare legislation was of
primary concern. The Kennedy-Douglas-Ives Bill (1957) required
full disclosure and accounting of all employee pension and
welfare funds. The Kennedy-Byrd-Payne Bill was a budgeting and
accounting bill that placed the financial structure of the
government on an annual accrued expenditure basis. Kennedy also
sponsored bills for providing Federal financial aid to education
and for relaxing United States immigration laws.
Campaign for the Presidency
Kennedy's record in Congress, together with his thoughtful books
and articles, had attracted national attention. At the
Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1956, when
presidential nominee Adlai E. Stevenson left the choice of his
running mate open, Kennedy was narrowly defeated by Estes
Kefauver. From then on, however, Kennedy was running for the
presidency. He began building a personal national organization.
Formally announcing his candidacy in January 1960, Kennedy made
whirlwind tours and won the Democratic primaries in New
Hampshire, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Maryland, and
Nebraska, plus an upset victory over Hubert Humphrey in West
Virginia. On July 13, 1960, Kennedy was nominated on the first
ballot, with Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate.
"Jack In Walk" shouted the Boston Globe after Kennedy gained the
nomination. But it would be no walk to the White House against
the Republican candidate, Richard Nixon. Kennedy's candidacy was
controversial because he was a Roman Catholic; religious
prejudice probably cost him a million votes in Illinois alone.
But his "Houston speech" on Sept. 11, 1960, met the religious
issue head on. He believed in the absolute separation of church
and state, he said, in which no priest could tell a president
what to do and in which no Protestant clergyman could tell his
parishioners how to vote.
A series of televised debates with Nixon was crucial. Kennedy
"clobbered" the Republican leader with his "style." Skeptical
and laconic, careless and purposeful, Kennedy displayed wit,
love of language, and a sense of the past. On November 9 Kennedy
became the youngest man in American history to win the
presidency and the only Roman Catholic to do so. The election
was one of the closest in the nation's history; his popular
margin was only 119,450 votes. On December 19 the electoral
college cast 303 votes for Kennedy and 219 for Nixon.
The inauguration on Jan. 20, 1960, of the first president born
in the 20th century had a quality of pageant, as the old poet
Robert Frost, the old priest Cardinal Richard Cushing, and the
old president Dwight Eisenhower watched the torch being passed
to a new generation. Then the challenge of Kennedy's inaugural
address rang out: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but
rather what you can do for your country." The new "First Family"
quickly captured the public imagination: Jacqueline, with her
cameo beauty and her passion for excellence; 3-year-old
Caroline; and newborn John.
Although happy that he could do something about "the problems
that bedevilled us," Kennedy was aware that his razor-thin
victory had narrowed his options. Congress was unyielding - it
had seen presidents come and go, and it distrusted Kennedy's
youth and wit and gaiety. Kennedy was never able to "escape the
congressional arithmetic." Unlike his successor, Lyndon B.
Johnson, Kennedy had no past political favours to draw upon.
Therefore, most of his program - tax reform, civil rights, a
Medicare system, and the establishment of a department of urban
affairs - bogged down in Congress. Ironically, his education
bill was defeated largely through the efforts of the Roman
The Cuban invasion burst over the Kennedy administration like a
bombshell in April 1961. On April 17 it became known that 1,400
exiled Cubans had invaded Cuba's Las Villas Province and had
penetrated 10 miles inland. On April 18 Soviet premier Nikita
Khrushchev sent a note to Kennedy stating that his government
was prepared to come to the aid of the Cuban government to help
it resist armed attack. By April 20 the invasion was clearly a
failure. Who was responsible for American involvement in this
shabby operation? Kennedy shouldered the responsibility for the
fiasco, but his biographers have since noted that "Operation
Pluto," committing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to
train Cuban guerrillas, was a project of Dwight D. Eisenhower's
administration. Kennedy, initially overawed by the CIA and the
joint chiefs of staff, in the end refused to commit the
necessary American troops. He was aware that if the Cuban people
did not rise up and back the invaders, the United States could
not impose a regime on them. Furthermore, he was apprehensive
that if America moved in Cuba the Soviet Union might move in
Berlin. The Bay of Pigs fiasco proved Kennedy's ability to face
disaster. When it was over, he was "effectively in control."
Kennedy rapidly learned the great limitations on a president's
ability to solve problems. He wanted the United States to
re-examine its attitude toward the Soviet Union, and he wanted
to act upon both nations' mutual "abhorrence of war." His
separate meetings with Gen. Charles De Gaulle, the president of
France, and Khrushchev in the spring of 1961 were social
triumphs but political defeats. Kennedy failed to dissuade De
Gaulle from pulling France out of the North Atlantic Treaty
Alliance, and he could reach no agreement with the Soviet chief
on the status of Berlin. He did voice to Khrushchev, however,
America's determination to stay in Berlin. Each threatened to
meet force with force. In August the Berlin crisis exploded. The
East Germans tightened border curbs and erected a wall of
concrete blocks along most of the 25-mile border between East
Berlin and West Berlin. Kennedy unequivocally stated that the
United States would not abandon West Berlin.
Kennedy's civil rights bills bogged down in Congress. Civil
rights was the President's foremost domestic concern. When the
showdown came, "the Kennedys," as the President and his brother
Robert, the attorney general, shamed southern governors. They
sent 600 Federal marshals to Alabama in 1961 to protect the
"Freedom Riders." In 1962 they forced Mississippi's governor,
Ross Barnett, to send his troopers back to the state university,
while dispatching hundreds of Federal marshals into an all-night
battle to protect the right of one African American student to
attend the university.
Kennedy appealed by television to the conscience of the nation.
"We are confronted with a moral issue. It is as old as the
Scriptures and it is as clear as the American Constitution." He
called upon the American people to exhibit a sense of fairness.
The political costs were high because Kennedy already had the
African American vote.
On Oct. 22, 1962, Kennedy addressed the nation on a grave
matter. The Soviet Union, he said, had deployed nuclear missiles
in Cuba, and the United States had declared a quarantine on all
shipments of offensive military equipment into Cuba. The United
States would not allow Cuba to become a Soviet missile base, and
it would regard any missile launched from Cuba "as an attack by
the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full
This direct confrontation was brinkmanship. For a week the
details had been "the best kept secret in government history."
Through 7 days of gripping tension and soul-searching, the
administration had maintained a facade of normal social and
political activities. Meanwhile, American military units
throughout the world were alerted.
As messages went back and forth between Kennedy, Khrushchev, and
Pope John, who volunteered his aid as peacemaker, Soviet ships
were moving toward Kennedy's invisible line in the Atlantic.
Would they stop? They slowed, then stopped, and on October 28
the news came that the Soviet Union would remove its missiles
from Cuba. For a time Kennedy seemed at least 10 feet tall, but
his own wry comment on the crisis was, "Nobody wants to go
through what we went through in Cuba very often."
Out of this confrontation came the greatest single triumph of
the Kennedy administration: the nuclear testban treaty with the
Soviet Union. Kennedy called this treaty "the first step down
the path of peace." Before negotiations for the treaty were
completed, Khrushchev had defiantly reopened the nuclear race.
Kennedy, however, held firm, and the treaty was signed on July
25, 1963. "Yesterday a shaft of light cut into the darkness,"
Kennedy said. A "hot line" for emergency messages was also
established between Washington, D.C., and Moscow.
According to Kennedy's biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.,
Vietnam "was his great failure." Certainly it consumed more of
his time than any other problem. Kennedy had inherited the
commitment, but he stepped up the conflict, despite his
assertion that "full-scale war in Vietnam … was unthinkable."
Kennedy had opposed the French military operations in Algeria
and was aware of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's and Eisenhower's
warnings against a land war in Asia. Yet he tripled American
forces in Vietnam at a time when South Vietnamese troops greatly
outnumbered the enemy. Why? Senator William Fulbright has
suggested that Kennedy put troops in Vietnam to prove to
Khrushchev that "he couldn't be intimidated."
Kennedy was well aware of the dangers of the presidency. One of
his favorite poems was "I Have a Rendezvous with Death," and he
had always been haunted by the poignancy of those who die young.
"Who can tell who will be president a year from now?" he would
ask. On the fatal day of his arrival in Dallas, Tex., he
remarked that if anyone wanted to kill a president he needed
only a high building and a rifle with a telescopic lens.
That day - Nov. 22, 1963 - Kennedy was assassinated by a lone
sharpshooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, who fired on Kennedy's
motorcade with a rifle equipped with a telescopic lens. Within
hours, that "live, electric" figure was dead. Gone was all that
brilliance and wit and purpose. In Indonesia, flags were lowered
to half-mast; in New Delhi, India, crowds wept in the streets;
in Washington, D.C., "grief was an agony."
Kennedy was the first president to face a nuclear confrontation;
the first to literally reach for the moon, through the nation's
space programs; the first in half a century to call a White
House conference on conservation; the first to give the arts a
prominent place in American national councils; the first since
Theodore Roosevelt with whom youth could identify. He made the
nation see itself with new eyes.
Yet his most cherished dreams foundered without the influence of
his inspiration and guiding hand. The Alliance for Progress, his
program to revitalize life throughout the poor nations of South
America, disintegrated - Latin American leaders were simply not
committed to democratic change. The youthful idealism of the
Peace Corps eroded under the impact of disillusionment and
reality. The romantic "Green Berets" degenerated into a
What Kennedy accomplished was not as important as what he
symbolized. He enjoyed unique appeal for the emerging Third
World. As the African magazine Transition expressed it, murdered
with Kennedy was "the first real chance for an intelligent and
new leadership in the world. His death leaves us unprepared and
President of the United States 1961 – 1963, John F. Kennedy was
the son of Joseph Kennedy, the first chair of the Securities and
Exchange Commission and, later, an ambassador to London. He was
educated at the Choate School, the London School of Economics,
and Harvard. His undergraduate dissertation at Harvard, a study
of British appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s, was published as
a book entitled Why England Slept in 1944. In August 1943 the
loss of the his ship, PT 109, earned him a decoration for
bravery and a reputation as a war hero.
He entered the House of Representatives from the strongly Irish
American 11th Congressional District in 1947 and identified
himself with traditional Democratic issues such as trade union
matters and aid to cities but also spoke on defence and foreign
policy matters. In 1952 he defeated Henry Cabot Lodge for a seat
in the US Senate and a year later he married Jacqueline Bouvier.
Because of a major spinal operation he was absent when the
Senate censured Senator Joseph McCarthy in December 1954. In
1956 he failed to secure the nomination for Vice-President but,
by trying, ensured his re-election to the Senate in 1958. In
July 1960 after a hard fought primary election campaign to
nullify prejudice against his Catholicism, he took the
Democratic nomination and on 8 November 1960 was elected
Kennedy's presidency was marked by a succession of economic and
security crises. Black America demanded desegregation in its
search for education, prosperity, and equality of status. During
the 1960 campaign Kennedy had cultivated black leaders, but
after the election seemed reluctant to support black demands. He
appointed a black, Robert Weaver, to head the Housing and Home
Finance Agency and, using Executive Orders, he created the
President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity which
sought to end discrimination in government and, very
importantly, covert discrimination among government contractors.
At the Justice Department Kennedy's brother, Attorney-General
Robert Kennedy, pressed desegregation at every legal
opportunity, sometimes with little help from the FBI. In the
autumn of 1962 there was a major crisis involving federal
marshals and a southern mob at the University of Mississippi. By
early 1963 Robert Kennedy was progressively strengthening a
draft bill, a weakened version of which became law after
From his inauguration Kennedy pressed Congress to adopt measures
to create jobs, alleviate family poverty, assist poor areas, and
improve job training opportunities. By late 1962 Congress had
appropriated $1.6 billion in a variety of aid programmes and the
Housing Act was helping create over 400,000 construction jobs.
The President used executive authority to speed federal agency
procurements, post office, and highway construction, liberalize
federal housing loans, and create a pilot Food Stamp programme.
Added to increased defence spending and tax relief for business
investment, these steps constituted a moderately successful
economic recovery programme which had the effect of sharply
increasing the growth rate by 1963. In crucial areas of
labour-management relations Kennedy was willing to denounce
union "featherbedding" and was unwilling to seek changes in the
unpopular *Taft-Hartley Act. In April 1962, however, he showed
himself equally ready to use publicity and Anti-Trust
legislation against steel companies which increased their prices
having had Kennedy's help to moderate union demands. All in all
Kennedy proved to be a conservative in words but an active state
interventionist in deeds. Blue-collar and black America had much
to thank him for.
Abroad the President faced the consequences of a "Communist"
Cuba and the threat of similar unwelcome regimes in Latin
America. Within days of being in office he had to decide not to
cancel an invasion of Cuba by exiles trained and financed in the
USA. The subsequent "Bay of Pigs" fiasco in April 1961 scarred
the President badly and led him to espouse the Alliance for
Progress aimed at economic aid to Latin America. Relations with
the USSR were, however, much more important and degenerated
after the Vienna Summit with Khrushchev in June 1961. Two months
later the building of the Berlin Wall symbolized a distinct
hardening of Soviet-American relations. By the spring of 1962
Kennedy had authorized the expansion of US military involvement
in South Vietnam, though commenting, "It is their war and they
must win it". Most seriously of all, in October 1962, the world
seemed on the brink of nuclear war when the USA quarantined Cuba
to prevent the arrival of Soviet nuclear missiles. A dangerous
impasse was broken only by a secret deal on US missiles in
Turkey — a deal which saved Russian face but led eventually to
the downfall of Khrushchev. The two powers hastily established a
"hot line" between them and in July of 1963 signed a Nuclear
Test Ban Treaty which opened the way to a massive sale of wheat
to the USSR. Having thus put Soviet-American relations on a
safer footing Kennedy was assassinated, ironically, on a visit
which was meant to end chronic feuding between factions of Texas
President Kennedy and his wife symbolized a new generation in
the White House — he was the first President to be born in the
twentieth century. As his inaugural showed he was very conscious
of speaking for a generation which had done the dying and not
the leading in the Second World War. He never lost a veteran's
attitude to "civilians" and was suitably sceptical of military
leadership and its received wisdom. He was genuinely
appreciative of intellectuals certainly when it came to using
them to frame policies, improve governance, and civilize public
service and public attitudes. If he did not share all his wife's
artistic tastes and connections few artists doubted their
welcome at the restored, period White House. The myth of
Camelot, though useful politically, was rooted in this
self-conscious civility and high aspiration. For Kennedy "the
business of America was not business".
It is true to say that, domestically, he would not rank as a
very successful President though a second term might well have
changed that judgement. Abroad he frightened an ageing Soviet
leadership but showed real statesmanship during the Cuban
crisis. It is very probable that he would have found it
difficult to withdraw from Vietnam and thus would have had to
endure the same agonies that he bequeathed to his successor.
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This web page was last updated on:
11 December, 2008