Fitzgerald Kennedy .........................................
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in
Brookline, Mass., on May 29, 1917. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was Ambassador
to Great Britain from 1937 to 1940.
Kennedy was graduated from Harvard
University in 1940 and joined the Navy the next year. He became skipper of a PT
boat that was sunk in the Pacific by a Japanese destroyer. Although given up for
lost, he swam to a safe island, towing an injured enlisted man.
After recovering from a war-aggravated
spinal injury, Kennedy entered politics in 1946 and was elected to Congress. In
1952, he ran against Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts, and won.
Kennedy was married on Sept. 12, 1953, to
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, by whom he had three children: Caroline, John
Fitzgerald, Jr., and Patrick Bouvier (died in infancy).
In 1957 Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize
for a book he had written earlier, Profiles in Courage.
After strenuous primary battles, Kennedy
won the Democratic presidential nomination on the first ballot at the 1960 Los
Angeles convention. With a plurality of only 118,574 votes, he carried the
election over Vice President Richard M. Nixon and became the first Roman
Kennedy brought to the White House the
dynamic idea of a New Frontier approach in dealing with problems at home,
abroad, and in the dimensions of space. Out of his leadership in his first few
months in office came the 10-year Alliance for Progress to aid Latin America,
the Peace Corps, and accelerated programs that brought the first Americans into
orbit in the race in space.
Failure of the U.S.-supported Cuban
invasion in April 1961 led to the entrenchment of the Communist-backed Castro
regime, only 90 miles from United States soil. When it became known that Soviet
offensive missiles were being installed in Cuba in 1962, Kennedy ordered a naval
quarantine of the island and moved troops into position to eliminate this threat
to U.S. security. The world seemed on the brink of a nuclear war until Soviet
Premier Khrushchev ordered the removal of the missiles.
A sudden thaw, or the appearance of one,
in the cold war came with the agreement with the Soviet Union on a limited
test-ban treaty signed in Moscow on Aug. 6, 1963.
In his domestic policies, Kennedy's
proposals for medical care for the aged, expanded area redevelopment, and aid to
education were defeated, but on minimum wage, trade legislation, and other
measures he won important victories.
Widespread racial disorders and
demonstrations led to Kennedy's proposing sweeping civil rights legislation. As
his third year in office drew to a close, he also recommended an $11-billion tax
cut to bolster the economy. Both measures were pending in Congress when Kennedy,
looking forward to a second term, journeyed to Texas for a series of speeches.
While riding in a procession in Dallas on
Nov. 22, 1963, he was shot to death by an assassin firing from an upper floor of
a building. The alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed two days later
in the Dallas city jail by Jack Ruby, owner of a strip-tease place.
At 46 years of age, Kennedy became the
fourth president to be assassinated and the eighth to die in office
Abraham Lincoln .........................................
Birthplace: Larue County, Ky.
Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin (now Larue) County, Ky., on Feb. 12, 1809.
His family moved to Indiana and then to Illinois, and Lincoln gained what
education he could along the way. While reading law, he worked in a store,
managed a mill, surveyed, and split rails. In 1834, he went to the Illinois
legislature as a Whig and became the party's floor leader. For the next 20 years
he practiced law in Springfield, except for a single term (1847-49) in Congress,
where he denounced the Mexican War. In 1855, he was a candidate for senator and
the next year he joined the new Republican Party.
A leading but unsuccessful candidate for the vice-presidential nomination with
Frémont, Lincoln gained national attention in 1858 when, as Republican
candidate for senator from Illinois, he engaged in a series of debates with
Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic candidate. He lost the election, but
continued to prepare the way for the 1860 Republican convention and was rewarded
with the presidential nomination on the third ballot. He won the election over
From the start, Lincoln made clear that, unlike Buchanan, he believed the
national government had the power to crush the rebellion. Not an abolitionist,
he held the slavery issue subordinate to that of preserving the Union, but soon
perceived that the war could not be brought to a successful conclusion without
freeing the slaves. His administration was hampered by the incompetence of many
Union generals, the inexperience of the troops, and the harassing political
tactics both of the Republican Radicals, who favored a hard policy toward the
South, and the Democratic Copperheads, who desired a negotiated peace. The
Gettysburg Address of Nov. 19, 1863, marks the high point in the record of
American eloquence. Lincoln's long search for a winning combination finally
brought Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman to the top; and their
series of victories in 1864 dispelled the mutterings from both Radicals and
Peace Democrats that at one time seemed to threaten Lincoln's re-election. He
was re-elected in 1864, defeating Gen. George B. McClellan, the Democratic
candidate. His inaugural address urged leniency toward the South: With malice
toward none, with charity for all . . . let us strive on to finish the work we
are in; to bind up the nation's wounds . . . This policy aroused growing
opposition on the part of the Republican Radicals, but before the matter could
be put to the test, Lincoln was shot by the actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford's
Theater, Washington, on April 14, 1865. He died the next morning.
Lincoln's marriage to Mary Todd in 1842 was often unhappy and turbulent, in part
because of his wife's pronounced instability.