John F. Kennedy Biography- A Kennedy quote, ‘Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray to be a strong man’, summarizing his life philosophy perfectly. A man with a vision of the future, John Fitzgerald Kennedy served as the 35th President of the United States. (John F. Kennedy Bio)

Born into an aristocratic, politically involved Catholic family in Boston, Kennedy was elected as president at the age of 43. Before assuming the office of president, Kennedy served in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. He defeated Richard Nixon, the Vice President and Republican candidate, to become President of the United States. (John F. Kennedy Biography)

He was the youngest president ever elected and the first Roman Catholic to hold the prestigious office. Kennedy is known for his influential role in revolutionizing American politics. Although the early days of his presidency led to a negative image of the Kennedy-ruled White House, the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the hostile Cold War, it was because of his skillful statesmanship and confident outlook that he earned the title of a compelling, charismatic leader.

John F. Kennedy Biography

Childhood and Early life

  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the second of four children of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald. While his father was a banker, later serving as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and ambassador to Great Britain, his mother was a debutante.
  • Born in Brookline, young Kennedy completed his early education from various schools before the family relocated to New York. Mischievous and playful, he excelled in English and history – subjects he had a keen interest in, but remained a mediocre student overall. (John F. Kennedy Biography
  • Following his older brother, Kennedy attended The Chaote School for his higher education. He graduated from the same in 1935 and wanted to enroll himself in the London School of Economics. But his continued poor health forced him to return to the US where he sought admission at Princeton University.
  • His academic life at Harvard was a replica of his earlier years – he excelled in the subjects he loved but remained an average student overall due to his diverse interests. (John F. Kennedy Bio)

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  • Over time, Kennedy developed an interest in political philosophy which made him serious about education. He completed his thesis in 1940 on ‘The Appeasement of Munich’, which was so well received that it was turned into a book under the title ‘Why England Sleep’. The book became a bestseller. In the same year, Kennedy graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor of Science cum laude in International Affairs.

Years at Military

  • Although Kennedy wanted to join the military, his chronic lower back problem made him medically unfit for the same, which led to Kennedy finding himself in the US Navy. (John F. Kennedy Bio)
  • After attending training sessions at the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center, Kennedy was deployed to Panama and later to the Pacific Theater.
  • In 1943, Kennedy’s boat was hit by a Japanese warship. Reluctant to surrender, he showed utmost courage and bravery and rescued his crew members to a nearby island, from where they were rescued six days later. This effort earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for ‘extremely heroic conduct’ and the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained. (John F. Kennedy Biography)
  • In the same year (1943), Kennedy commanded a gunboat that took part in a sea rescue on Choisul Island. The following year, he returned to the US where he sought medical treatment and relieved himself of duty.

John F. Kennedy Biography

Political Motive

  • In 1945, he took up the position of a special correspondent for the Hearst newspaper. The job not only exposed him to journalism as a potential career option, but also brought him into the public domain.
  • Meanwhile, the death of his older brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., casts a shadow of despair in the Kennedy family, especially for their father who envisioned his son taking over the chair of US President. Kennedy took it upon himself to fulfill his family’s hopes and aspirations and became the family’s political leader.
  • In 1946, Kennedy filled the post for James Michael Curley in the US House of Representatives, defeating the Republican nominee by a wide margin—his war hero status and a wealthy background that aided him in the process. (John F. Kennedy Biography)
  • Kennedy served as a member of Congress for six years. However, he was disappointed with the job. This was because unlike the profiles they already had, the work was dull and boring and young, inexperienced representatives like them were bogged down with rules and procedures.
  • As such, in an effort to seek more influential work and make a ‘real’ contribution, Kennedy contested for a US Senate seat. The votes were higher for Kennedy than for his Republican opponent, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., thus helping Kennedy reach a better position and a bigger stage. (John F. Kennedy Bio)
  • It was not easy for Kennedy to fill the Senate seat as he was suffering from major health problems. He was seriously ill most of the time, which explained his absence from the Senate.

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  • It was during this time that Kennedy came up with the book, ‘Profile of Courage’, which detailed eight senators who took unpopular stances, despite the fact that it threatened their careers. The book was highly appreciated and won the Pulitzer Prize. (John F. Kennedy Biography)
  • Meanwhile, even the outline of the Senate failed to appease Kennedy, who was bored with resolving Massachusetts-specific issues and was interested in the bigger picture. He wanted to be a part of international challenges and solve problems related to the country and not those related to the state.
  • In 1956, Kennedy ran for vice president, but lost to Senator Estes Kefover of Tennessee. The failure did not inspire Kennedy, who believed that the opportunity provided him with a national exposure.
  • Two years later, Kennedy was re-elected to the Senate, defeating Republican rival Vincent J. Celeste, completing his second term. After this, Kennedy decided to run for the presidency.
  • In the 1960 Democratic primary election, Kennedy launched his presidential campaign. He overtook Senators Hubert Humphrey and Wayne Morse to face Senator Lyndon B. Johnson at the Los Angeles convention. Even defeating the latter, Kennedy was nominated by the Democratic Convention as its candidate. He chose Johnson as his vice presidential candidate. (John F. Kennedy Bio)
  • In the general election, Kennedy faced then-Vice President, Republican candidate Richard Nixon. He participated in the first televised US presidential debate in American history. While he appeared relaxed and confident, Nixon was tense and uncomfortable, which caused people to vote for Kennedy and prefer him as the winner. (John F. Kennedy Biography)
  • On November 8, 1960, Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States, defeating Nixon by a narrow margin. His appointment was historic as he became the second youngest US President, the first Catholic President, and the first President born in the 20th century. (John F. Kennedy Bio)

Awards and Achievements

  • The Chief Herald of Ireland presented Kennedy with a grant of arms in 1961. The design of arms was emblematic of those in the coats of the O’Kennedys of Ormonde and the Fitzgeralds of Desmond, from which the family descended. (John F. Kennedy Biography)
  • Posthumously, Kennedy was awarded the Paceum in Terris Award. Latin for ‘peace on earth’ – The prize was named after an encyclopedic letter written by Pope John XXIII in 1963, which calls on all peoples of goodwill to secure peace among all nations.

Personal life and Legacy

  • Kennedy met his future wife Jacqueline Bouvier at a dinner party. He was a Congressman then. A year later, after being elected as a senator, Kennedy walked down the aisle with Jacqueline on September 12, 1953.
  • The couple was blessed with four children – Arabella, Carolyn B, John F, Jr., and Patrick B, two of whom died in infancy. As of now, the only surviving member of Kennedy’s immediate family is Carolina.
  • Kennedy was involved in several extramarital affairs before and after his marriage to Jacqueline. Some of the women he was flirting with were Inga Arvad, Jean Tierney, Marilyn Monroe, Gunilla von Post, Judith Campbell, Marie Pinchot Meyer, Marlene Dietrich, Mimi Alford, and Pamela Turner.
  • Kennedy was on his political tour of Texas to facilitate relations between liberals and conservatives when he was shot and killed. He received three bullets, one in the neck, one in the upper back and one in the head.
  • Soon after, he was taken to Parkland Hospital, but did not survive. Lee Oswald, working with the Texas School Book Depository from where the shootings were suspected, was charged with murder. He is put to death by Jack Ruby, who is in turn arrested and sent to prison. (John F. Kennedy Bio)
  • Four days after his death, a Requiem Mass was held for Kennedy in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Thereafter, he was laid to rest on a small plot of land at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • In 1967, Kennedy’s body was moved to a permanent burial site and memorial at the cemetery. His grave lit up with an eternal flame. The 37th Cadet Class of the Irish Army served as the Honor Guard at the tomb of John Kennedy. (John F. Kennedy Biography)

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  • After his assassination, the Canadian government honored Kennedy by naming a mountain, Mount Kennedy. In 1965, Robert Kennedy climbed to the top of the mountain to place a banner of arms on the summit.
    Kennedy has several educational institutions named after him around the world, including the John F.
  • Kennedy School of Government and the John F. Kennedy University. Apart from this, there are more than hundreds of schools, colleges in England, Greece, Mauritius, Netherlands, California etc which were named in his honor. (John F. Kennedy Biography)
  • On 24 December 1963, New York International Airport was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport. In addition, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport in Ashland, Wisconsin is named after him. The NASA Launch Operations Center at Cape Canaveral was renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center.
  • Many buildings, roads and bridges around the world, including Asia, Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, are named after John F. Kennedy. (John F. Kennedy Biography)


  • Nicknamed JFK and Jack, he served as the 35th President of the United States.
  • He is the only US president to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for his work, Profile in Courage.
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