John F. Kennedy

35th President

The Election

Date: 1960

Party: Democrat

Competitor: Richard Nixon (Republican)

  • One of the closest elections in American history
  • First leader to be born in the 20th century
  • Kennedy was catholic, and no catholic had been elected at the time
  • Kennedy won 49.7% of the popular vote and Nixon won 49.5% of the popular vote
  • Kennedy had 303 electoral votes and Nixon had 219 electoral votes
  • Campaign Issues/Topics: Communism and Separation of Church & State

The New Frontier

What was the "New Frontier"?

- Campaign program advocated by Kennedy in the 1960 election

- Promised to revitalize the stagnant economy and enact reform legislation in education, health care, and civil rights


  • Kennedy inspired high expectations, especially among the young
  • His challenge of a New Frontier quickened patriotic pulses
  • The New Frontier did not expand quickly... medical and educational bills remained stalled in Congress
  • Helped negotiate a noninflationary wage agreement in the steel industry of 1962
  • Wanted to aid America in its economic losses due to Eisenhower's years
  • Kennedy promoted a multibillion-dollar project to land an American on the moon
  • "Ask what not your country can do for you: ask what you can do for your country"

The Cold War

Flexible Response (ID)
  • A buildup of conventional troops and weapons to allow a nation to fight a limited war without using nuclear weapons
  • Defense strategy implemented by Kennedy in 1961
  • Address the Kennedy administration's skepticism of Dwight Eisenhower's New Look and its policy of Massive Retaliation


  • Kennedy was a fervent believer in containing communism
  • Made it clear that he would follow the former policy of Eisenhower and support the government of Diem in South Vietnam
  • Supported the "Domino Theory"
  • Convinced that if South Vietnam fell to communism, other states would also as a consequence


Cuban Missile Crisis (ID):
-October 1962 - American U-2 spy plan photographed Soviet nuclear missiles being built on Cuba

-Kennedy didn't want Soviet Union and Cuba to know he discovered them
-Met in secret with advisors
-Decided to place a naval blockade (ring of ships) around cuba
-"Quarantine" to prevent Soviets from bringing in more supplies
-Incident where Soviet missiles were

Bay of Pigs (ID):
-American attempt to overthrow the newly established communist government in Cuba by training and sending cuban rebels
-Ended in a disaster due to the lack of support by Americans
-Embarrassment for US and led to Castro pleading for Soviet aid

The Cold War: Construction of the Berlin Wall

  • Made of concrete and barbed wire
  • Prevent East Germans from escaping to West Berlin
  • One of the most visible signs of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain
  • Berlin wall was constructed as a barrier during the 1961 Berlin Crisis
  • Berlin Crisis of 1961 was the last major politico-military European incident of the Cold War about Berlin
  • JFK and Kruschev met in the Vienna summit on June 4th, 1961
  • Kennedy conveyed US acceptance to the permanent division of berlin

Civil Rights

  • JFK gained the black population's vote when he promised to pass civil rights legislation
  • in 1960, groups of Freedom Riders spread out across the South to end segregation
  • Kennedy family and Martin Luther King Jr. (ID) had a good relationship
  • SNCC & other civil rights groups inaugurated a Voter Education Project to register the South's historically disfranchised blacks

Civil Rights Act of 1964 (ID)

- Outlawed segregation of public accommodations

- Established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the law
- Made the federal government responsible for finding instances of discrimination
- Made illegal discrimination based on race, religion, ethnic origin, or gender
- Did not effectively address problems with voting rights

His Assassination


  • Dealy Plaza, Dallas, Texas
  • Shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor Connally, and Connally's wife Nellie
  • Assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald (ID), acting alone
  • Jack Ruby killed Oswald before he could stand trial
JFK's Assassination