John F. Kennedy: His Life in Pictures | History Hit

John F. Kennedy: His Life in Pictures

Teet Ottin

19 Aug 2022
Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; History Hit

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, is remembered for his glamour and style, while capturing the public’s imagination with his scandals and affairs. Born on 29 May 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, he was part of a large and wealthy Roman Catholic family who were active in the Democratic Party. Following his education at Harvard University he served in the US Navy during the Second World War, participating in the Pacific Theatre of the conflict from 1943 onwards. He did not plan on having a career in politics, instead hoping to pursue an academic or journalistic route. With the death of his older brother, much of the family’s political hopes fell onto him, steering his path towards public office. 

In 1946 he ran for US Congress, beating his opponent in a massive landslide. His rise in politics was astounding – he was aged only 29 at the time of his first victory and never lost any election until his death. Following three terms in the House of Representatives he ran for US senate in 1952, beating the popular Republican candidate Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. JFK’s marriage to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier the following year would further boost his popularity with voters. As a US senator he was campaigning to abolish the electoral college system and implement labour reform, while becoming increasingly committed to civil rights legislation

By the mid 1950s John F. Kennedy became one of the most well known figures in US politics. His 1960 US Presidential campaign would result in him winning the highest office, though with a very narrow margin. His term was marked by many challenges, most famously the Cuban Missile Crisis, which almost triggered a war between the US and the Soviet Union. He also famously promised to send a man on the moon by the end of the decade. On 22 November 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas, during the President’s tour of the state. 

Here, we look back at the life of one of the most influential and best known figures of the 20th century, from his childhood until his tragic death.

John F. Kennedy in his Dexter Academy football uniform, 1926

Image Credit: Kennedy Family Photographs Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

The second child out of eight, John F. Kennedy was encouraged by his parents to engage in intense academic and athletic competition with his siblings. Touch football was especially popular with the Kennedy family.

The Kennedy Family at Hyannis Port, 04 September 1931. L-R: Robert Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy, Jean Kennedy (on lap of) Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (behind) Patricia Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (behind) Rosemary Kennedy

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

The Kennedy’s were of Irish decent, with JFK’s father Joseph Patrick Kennedy amassing a sizeable fortune in banking and playing the stock market. The family funds granted the future US President financial security for the rest of his life.

John F. Kennedy sits and studies at his desk at Harvard

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

In 1936 John F. Kennedy started his studies at Harvard University.

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., and John F. Kennedy arriving at Southampton, England. 02 July 1938

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

During 1938 JFK worked for six months as a secretary for his father who became the US Ambassador to Great Britain.

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy, and John F. Kennedy, sons and daughter of United States Ambassador to England Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., arrive at the House of Parliament in London to hear Prime Minister Chamberlain’s announcement that a state of war existed between England and Germany

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Kennedy toured across Europe (the Balkans and the Soviet Union) and the Middle East in 1939. When visiting Berlin, he received a secret message informing him about the upcoming war. JFK returned to London on 1 September 1939.

John F. Kennedy graduates from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 1940

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

His senior thesis was about the Great Britain’s unreadiness for war. It was turned into the best-selling book ‘Why England Slept’ in 1940.

John F. Kennedy in 1942

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

In 1941 he joined the US Navy, taking on an active role in the war. JFK narrowly avoided death when his patrol torpedo was shot down by a Japanese destroyer. He managed to bring his men safely back behind allied lines, receiving the US Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism.

Lieutenant John F. Kennedy sitting in the cockpit of World War II Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 (left); John F. Kennedy and Paul “Red” Fay during World War II at Tulagi, Solomon Islands, 1943 (right)

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

The injury he received during the war on his back never fully healed, causing life long displeasure. He also suffered from the rare Addison disease, which also caused intense physical pain.

The Wedding Party of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in Newport, RI. 12 September 1953

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier were introduced to each other by a common friend in 1952. Their engagement was announced on 25 June 1954, he was 36, she 24. The wedding took place in September the same year. 

During a campaign trip Senator John F. Kennedy greets a roadside crowd in Indiana, 1960

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

During his Presidential campaign in 1960, JFK had to fight against the notion that a Catholic candidate could never win the office. He managed to charm the country with his looks, elegance and wealth. His election slogan was ‘Let’s get this country moving again’.

Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. Washington, D.C. 20 January 1961

Image Credit: Public Domain, Army Signal Corps, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Kennedy narrowly won the election against Republican incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon. He became the youngest US President in history.

President John F. Kennedy and astronaut Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn, Jr. look inside space capsule Friendship 7 following the presentation ceremony of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 23 February 1962

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

His time as President of the United States saw major developments in the Cold War, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis and his speech in West Berlin where he announced: ‘Ich bin ein (I am a) Berliner.’

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy sit with their children, John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Caroline Kennedy, on the stairs inside the Auchincloss home at Hammersmith Farm, Newport, Rhode Island. 29 September 1961

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

The Kennedy’s seemed like the perfect upper class American family, with his two children becoming widely known across the country. Behind the scenes JFK had multiple affairs, including with Marilyn Monroe, Ellen Rometsch and Mary Pinchot Meyer.

Monroe with U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy at the birthday celebration

Image Credit: Cecil W. Stoughton, official White House photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1962 Marilyn Monroe famously sang a sultry version of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the President to which he jokingly replied, ‘I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.’

President John F. Kennedy visits with Sister Domenica, of Stafford, England (native of County Galway, Ireland), and an unidentified boy in the Oval Office. White House, Washington, D.C. 06 November 1963

Image Credit: Public Domain, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

JFK stayed very popular both in the USA and abroad. He is credited for increasing morale during very turbulent times in the country’s history.

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at Love Field, Dallas, Texas. 22 November 1963

Image Credit: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on 22 November 1963 during his visit to Dallas, Texas. He and Jackie were driving in an open limousine before two bullets hit JFK at 12:30PM.

Arrival of President John F. Kennedy’s casket at the White House. 23 November 1963

Image Credit: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

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Teet Ottin

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