5 things to understand JFK’s tenure

5 things to understand JFK’s tenure

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “JFK”, was the 35thth President of the United States of America, who held this office from January 1961 until his death in November 1963. At a time when “JFK’s” nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr., is poised to stand for election in 2024, a look back at five key elements that defined “JFK’s” mandate.

Democratic Party member John Fitzgerald Kennedy defeated incumbent Republican Vice President Richard Nixon in the 1960 election. JFK’s presidency then began on January 20, 1961, the date of his inauguration as 35th President of the United States. His tenure ended with his assassination on November 22, 1963 while visiting Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald is named as the sole culprit. After his death he was succeeded by his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. JFK’s tenure was marked by significant events such as the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis, the space race, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the New Frontier.

The Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis

JFK faced the threat of nuclear war during his tenure due to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which raged for two weeks in October 1962. The crisis began on October 14, 1962, when Soviet missile pads were sighted by American planes over Cuba, causing great concern among Americans. JFK ordered a naval blockade around Cuba to prevent the Soviets from delivering more missiles. This led to a dangerous standoff between the two superpowers, which was resolved on October 28, 1962, when the Soviet Union, through Khrushev, agreed to withdraw the missiles from Cuba in exchange for a United States promise not to attack the island.

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The Space Race –

In the conquest of space, a major Cold War issue, the Soviets and the Americans faced each other in a space race. For this reason, during his tenure, JFK started the NASA initiative (established on July 29, 1958) to send a man to the moon. On May 25, 1961, Kennedy told Congress that before the decade was out, the United States would send a man to the moon and bring him back safely. This initiative was started in response to Soviet Union achievements in space, such as the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 in 1957 and the first manned space flight with Yuri Gagarin in 1961. The NASA-led Apollo 11 mission successfully landed in 1969 on the moon and achieved the goal set by JFK.

The Civil Rights Movement –

JFK’s tenure was shaped by the civil rights movement for equal rights for African Americans in the United States. JFK delivered a speech on June 11, 1963 calling for an end to racial discrimination and introduced a bill to protect civil rights. However, his tragic death in 1963 delayed the passage of the law, which finally saw the light of day in 1964: It will be the Civil Rights Acta law enacted under President Lyndon B. Johnson prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Vietnam War –

JFK’s tenure was also marked by US involvement in the Vietnam War. The Americans initially wanted to limit themselves to the role of military advisor to the Vietnamese army, which was supposed to be the instrument of a strong government. This role was assigned to special forces nicknamed “Green Berets,” jungle combat specialists originally dispatched by the Kennedy administration. Although JFK did not decide to send troops to Vietnam, he did authorize secret operations in the country to fight the Viet Cong. In the summer of 1963, Kennedy gave the green light for the South Vietnamese generals to overthrow the dictatorship of the brothers Ngo Dinh Diem and Ngo Dinh Nhu. And when, on 1IsNovember 1963, Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated, victim of a military coup (JFK is assassinated three weeks later), the United States becomes more involved. The war escalated under President Johnson, who eventually sent troops to fight in Vietnam. The war proved a disaster for the United States, with significant loss of life and a moral and political crisis in the country.

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The new frontier

It is a phrase taken from the nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic Party convention that JFK delivered on July 15, 1960:

« we are facing a new frontier […], Whether we like it or not. Beyond that boundary lie the uncharted realms of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, pockets of ignorance and prejudice unresolved, and the unanswered questions: poverty and excess »

JFK launched the New Frontier Initiative to spur economic growth and promote social advancement. He proposed a series of reforms to improve education, health care, social security and poverty reduction. The New Frontier also aimed to spur economic growth by increasing federal spending on scientific research and technology and cutting taxes to encourage private investment. Among the advances made with New Frontier is the Peace Corps (The Peace Corps) created by JFK on 1Is March 1961. The challenge: to serve the cause of peace by going to developing countries. And by 1965, 10,000 volunteers were working on a voluntary basis in third world countries. It will also be the Alliance for Progress, also founded by JFK in 1961 to strengthen cooperation between North America and South America, with the goal of economic and social development in Latin America.

JFK was a charismatic leader who inspired Americans to dream of a better future, but his tragic death in 1963 ended his tenure prematurely. However, his legacy and vision for the future have continued to inspire succeeding generations, and he remains one of the most popular and respected presidents in American history.

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Also read: 1963-2023: 5 elements to understand…the assassination of JFK