John F. Kennedy
In November 1960, at the age of 43, John F. Kennedy became the youngest man ever elected president of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt had become president at 42 when President William McKinley was assassinated, but he was not elected at that age. On Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, Tex., the fourth United States president to die by an assassin's bullet.
Kennedy was the nation's first Roman Catholic president. He was inaugurated in January 1961, succeeding Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He defeated the Republican candidate, Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, by little more than 100,000 votes. It was one of the closest elections in the nation's history. Although Kennedy and his vice- presidential running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson, got less than half of the more than 68 million votes cast, they won the Electoral College vote. Kennedy thus became the 14th minority president.
Because of the close vote, election results were challenged in many states. The official electoral vote was Kennedy 303, Nixon 219, and Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia 15.
President Kennedy's great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1858. They settled in Boston, Mass. His grandfathers, Patrick J. Kennedy and John F. ("Honey Fitz") Fitzgerald, were born there. Both men became influential in state politics. "Honey Fitz" served several terms as Boston's mayor and as a member of the United States House of Representatives. Patrick Kennedy was a powerful ward boss and served in both houses of the Massachusetts legislature.
Patrick's son, Joseph, was a brilliant mathematician. At the age of 25 he became the youngest bank president in the United States. His fortune continued to grow, and he was one of the few financiers to sense the stock market crash of 1929. He made hundreds of millions of dollars.
Joseph married Rose Fitzgerald, daughter of Honey Fitz, on Oct. 7, 1914. Their first child, Joseph, Jr., was born in 1915. John was born on May 29, 1917. Seven other children followed: Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Edward (called Teddy). All were born in Brookline, Mass., a suburb of Boston.
Training Pays Off
Joseph Kennedy, Sr., set up a million-dollar trust fund for each of his children. This freed them from future financial worry and allowed them to devote their lives to public good, if they desired. As the children grew, their parents stressed the importance of competitive spirit. One of their father's favorite mottoes was: "Second place is a loser." The drive to win was deeply embedded in the children, and they never did anything halfheartedly.
Their parents were careful to neglect neither the intellectual nor the physical development of the children. As they grew older, the children would eat their evening meals in two groups, divided by age. Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy ate at both meals. This allowed them to discuss subjects which were of interest to each group. All the...