By Paul Zaidins

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  • Democrat John F Kennedy versus Republican Richard Nixon
  • Vice president was Lyndon B Johnson
  • Seen as too young
  • Nation weary of a Catholic president
  • Was not very critical of McCarthy
  • Had little experience in internal affairs
  • Took advantage of new media more than Nixon
  • Television appearances helped push him above Nixon in the vote

Cold War

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  • Authorized the Berlin Airdrop when the Soviet's cut off Berlin from the west
  • USSR began construction of Berlin Wall in August 1961
  • Authorized the Trade Expansion Act and the Kennedy Round tariff negotiations to help the new Common Market (now European Union)
  • Charles de Gaule of France was suspicious of US and built up independent nuclear arsenal and vetoed British addition to Common Market
  • Advocated for diversified military or flexible response against any level of Soviet threat in response to brushfire wars
  • Kennedy ordered additional "military advisors" (troops) into Vietnam, but also sponsored coup against autocratic Diem government
  • Attempted to preserve pro-American governments in South America with the Alliance for Progress
  • Sent armed Cuban exhales back to Cuba to over throw Castro, but the forced were overwhelmed at the Bay of Pigs with out direct US help
  • Bay of Pigs survivors eventually ransomed for humanitarian supplies
  • Khrushchev began to send nuclear warheads to cuba has a deterrent to US missiles in Europe, especially Turkey
  • US would blockade Cuba in response
  • Soviet ships were sent to continue sending warheads into Cuba creating a possibility for war and the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Both parties would eventually give in to each others demands and remove warheads near each others' borders
  • Anti-nuclear testing pact signed by US and USSR in late 1963
  • Kennedy then began the policy of detente or relaxation in the Cold War

Civil Rights

  • Mocked for reluctance to fulfill campaign promises for Civil Rights
  • Freedom Riders formed from sit-in movement to end segregation on inter-state buses
  • Joined with Martin Luther King Jr, but weary of his radical (communist) associates
  • Helped to bring vote to the blacks through SNCC and Voter Education Project
  • When James Meredith attempted to go to the University of Mississippi, Kennedy had to send 3,400 armed men to prevent violence
  • Kennedy called for equal rights legislation, but would be assassinated before his bill passed


  • November 22, 1963
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Shot in head while riding in open-air limousine by Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Oswald later killed on television by Jack Ruby
  • Gigantic investigation headed on the matter by Chief Justice Warren
  • Lyndon B Johnson sworn in as president
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