The Presidential Election of 1960
The presidential election that took place in 1960 was an interesting one. Newcomer, John F. Kennedy verses the Vice President, Richard M. Nixon. It was experimental with its trail of televised debates. It also marked the second in which a catholic had run for president and more importantly the first in which a catholic attained victory.
John F. Kennedy, of Irish decent, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29,1917. He entered the Navy, after graduation from Harvard in 1940. In 1946, home from World War II, Kennedy became a Democratic Congressman and in 1953, he joined the Senate. A "privileged aristocrat," his father's wealth and influence contributed largely to Kennedy's political career. 1 John's father, Joseph Kennedy was a self-made millionaire. "In Joseph's political career, he accompanied President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, as the chairman of the new Securities and Exchange Commission. Joseph was also chairman of the Maritime Commission and from 1937- 1940, he was ambassador to Great Britain." 2 John's mother, Rose (Fitzgerald) Kennedy, was daughter to John F. Fitzgerald, Mayor of Boston. John's paternal grandfather, Patrick J. Kennedy, had served in the Massachusetts Senate.
Richard Milhouse Nixon was born of a Quaker family on January 9,1913 in Yorba Linda, California. He graduated second in his class from local Whittier College in 1934 and later graduated third in his class from Duke University Law School. From there Nixon joined a law firm, and then briefly worked for the tire-rationing section of the Office of Price Administration, in Washington, D.C. Eight months into World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and moved to the Pacific to become a supply officer. 3 Soon after his return home from World War II he entered politics as a Republican Anti-Communist. Nixon won the race for California Congressman over Democrat Jerry Voorhis. He became a junior member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In 1950, at the age of thirty-five, Nixon was a "national figure," and again experienced victory in his race for senator.4 After only a year and a half as Senator, he was selected by the Republican National Convention as vice presidential running mate to Eisenhower, and.served two terms as Vice President.
In the election of 1960, many Democratic leaders entered the race for their party, because of increased majorities in the Senate (64 Democratic seats to 32 Republican seats) and House (283 Democratic seats to 153 Republican seats). However, "John F. Kennedy's impressive performance and reelection as Senator of Massachusetts in 1958, made him the Democratic front-runner." 5 Other Democratic candidates were Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, Senator Stewart Symington of Missouri, Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, and Senate majority leader, Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy had faced obstacles in challenging his opponents, all of who were more powerful than he, and had...