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John F. Kennedy

People, Terms, and Events

Context

Timeline

People

Jacqueline Bouvier  -  JFK's wife, she became one of America's most beautiful and cultured First Ladies, and a bellwether of fashion.
Fidel Castro  -  A Cuban revolutionary, he became Cuba's dictator in 1959 and quickly led his country into an alliance with the U.S.S.R. Castro's ascendance brought socialist ideology troublingly close to the U.S., leading to the U.S. invasion of Cuba in the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Dwight Eisenhower  -  Became famous as a general during World War II, and was President of the Unites States from 1953 to 1961.
J. Edgar Hoover -  Head of the F.B.I. during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations.
Lyndon Baines Johnson  -  JFK's rival for the 1960 Democratic nomination, who subsequently became JFK's Vice-President. Upon JFK's assassination in 1963, Johnson became President of the Unites States, and remained in office until 1969.
Martin Luther King, Jr. -  A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and a powerful advocate for black Americans.
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy  -  JFK's daughter, born in 1957.
Edward Kennedy  -  Known as "Teddy," he was JFK's youngest brother and later a Senator from Massachusetts.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. -  JFK's son, born in 1960.
Joseph Kennedy, Sr.  -  JFK's father. An Irish Catholic from Boston, he made a fortune investing in the stock market and was appointed Ambassador to Great Britain, where he supported the British policy of appeasing Hitler in the years preceding World War II. Joseph Kennedy, Sr.'s own political ambitions were blunted, so he transferred them to his children, particularly JFK.
Joseph Kennedy, Jr.  -  JFK's older brother, who was always understood to be the favorite of Joe Sr. Joe Jr. was killed while still a young man, when his plane exploded during World War II.
Kathleen Kennedy  -  JFK's favorite sister.
Robert F. Kennedy  -  JFK's younger brother, he was named attorney general in the Kennedy administration.
Rose Kennedy -  Joseph Kennedy, Sr.'s wife, and JFK's mother.
Nikita Khrushchev -  Premier of the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, he was JFK's rival during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Joseph McCarthy  -  A Republican Senator from Wisconsin, he became famous in the early 1950s for his allegations that the U.S. government was infiltrated by Communists.
Marilyn Monroe -  A famous movie star with whom JFK had an affair.
Richard Nixon  -  A Republican congressman who became Eisenhower's Vice-President, and JFK's adversary in the 1960 presidential election.
Lee Harvey Oswald -  An unstable ex-Marine charged with assassinating JFK in November 1963.
Theodore Sorensen -  JFK's adviser and principal speechwriter. He did the bulk of the writing for Profiles in Courage, the 1956 book that won JFK the Pulitzer Prize.
Adlai Stevenson -  The failed Democratic candidate for president in 1952 and 1956. Under Kennedy, he was appointed ambassador to the United Nations.
Harry Truman  -  A Democrat, and the President of the United States from 1945 to 1953, while JFK was serving in the House of Representatives.

Terms

Addison's Disease -   · An often fatal condition that involves the impairment of the adrenal glands and the weakening of the immune system. JFK suffered from Addison's Disease throughout his political career, a fact that was kept secret from the general public.
Berlin  -   · The capital of Germany. It was divided into two zones during the Cold War–one affiliated with the West, and one Communist-ruled.
Choate -   · The prestigious Connecticut boarding school where JFK attended high school.
Communism  -   · The ideology of the Soviet Union, Communism predicted the overthrow of capitalism, the abolition of private property, and rule by the working class. U.S. fears about the spread of Communism drove the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Harvard -   · The prestigious New England university attended by JFK, as well as by his father and Joe Jr.
Peace Corps -   · A service organization founded by JFK in 1960. It sent American volunteers overseas to work in less-developed countries.
Profiles in Courage  -   · A book supposedly written by JFK while he was a senator, depicting various heroic political figures in U.S. history. Despite the fact that the book was largely written by Theodore Sorensen, JFK received a Pulitzer Prize for it in 1957.
U.S.S.R.  -   · The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics–the Russian-dominated state founded in 1918, and governed by the Communist Party. After World War II, the Soviet Union and the U.S. became rivals for global dominance, in a struggle termed the Cold War, since it never erupted in direct, or "hot," battles.
Vietnam -   · A former French colony in Southeast Asia that was threatened by the prospect of a Communist takeover. During JFK's presidency, the U.S. escalated its military involvement in the region.
Why England Slept  -   · The name given to JFK's senior thesis when it was published in the early 1940s. The book provided an analysis of English foreign policy leading up to World War II.

Events

Bay of Pigs -  The ill-fated attempt, in April of 1961, to overthrow Fidel Castro by means of an invasion of Cuban exiles. The invasion force was cut to pieces at the bay that gave the fiasco its name.
Cold War -  The struggle, commencing with the end of World War II, between the Soviet Union and the United States for world supremacy. It reached its point of highest tension in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cuban Missile Crisis  -  The two-week period of crisis in October 1962, which began with the Soviet Union's decision to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, just off the coast of the United States. During these two weeks, international tensions threatened to catapult the world into nuclear war, but JFK and Nikita Khrushchev were able to resolve the crisis peacefully.
World War II -  The conflict (1939-45) that pitted Nazi Germany and Japan against Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. It ended with the Nazis' defeat, and the emergence of the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. as the world's two "superpowers." See also the SparkNote on World War II.

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