John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1917, which was within circumference of the city of Boston, which houses a notable Irish-American diaspora. Kennedy himself can trace his ancestry back to the House Fitzgerald, who were a prominent royal family in Ireland. His ancestry, both Kennedies and Fitzgeralds, had emigrated to America during An Gorta Mor. Then, the sons of those immigrants, Patrick Joseph Kennedy and John Fitzgerald, would become a state senator and a Congressman respectively. Thus, the Kennedies and the Fitzgeralds would rise from working as peddlers, coopers, and laborers to political dynasties.
After graduating from Harvard University in 1940, he enlisted in the navy. After his PT boat got rammed by a Japanese destroyer, he led survivors through waters to safety.
After returning to the United States, he would become a politician under the Democratic Party’s banner int he Boston area. After an unsuccessful bid to become vice-president in 1956, he became a presidential candidate in 1960. He competed against Republican Richard Nixon, until Kennedy won by a slim margin.
On January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the first Irish Catholic American to become President of the United States of America.
He made it his goal as president to ensure that America became a country of equal opportunity, which ensured that he cooperate with the Civil Rights movement. Kennedy was responsible for implementing anti-discrimination laws, making it legally possible for minorities to sue any company that willfully discriminates; more specifically because of race, gender, nationality, and creed.
Although Kennedy himself was a man of his own time, since he did win over the Southern Democratic voters. He did not want to lose the votes that granted him the presidency in the first place, especially since his Catholicism was a major point of controversy during his campaign run. As such, he tried to distance himself from the Civil Rights movement in order to continue holding on to his Southern Democratic voters, though he still managed to provide a legal framework for protection for those seeking public housing or employment from discrimination.
He was also responsible for ensuring that the Soviet Union did not encroach further, either in Germany or in Cuba. As such, he was responsible for a failed coup of the government of Fidel Castro. Then, the Soviet Union military sent nuclear weapons to Cuba in order to arm it against the United States. Upon hearing this, Kennedy imposed a quarantine upon Cuba, in order to ensure that the nuclear weapons do not arrive. Eventually, the Soviet Union decided to decline sending the weapons to Cuba.
Russia also wanted to invade West Berlin, which prompted Kennedy to install troops to man the Berlin border. This eventually led to the creation of the Berlin Wall. After which point, the Soviet Union decided to back away from central Europe.
In order to stop the escalation into nuclear war, Kennedy offered a treaty to the Soviet Union on behalf of the United States, that would ensure that neither side would accelerate the production of nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, his presidency was cut short, less than 1000 days in office, when he went on tour in Texas. He was assassinated in 1963. To this day, there is a lot of questions about who really assassinated John F. Kennedy. What is generally agreed upon was that Lee Harvey Oswald was present and that he was suspected of the assassination. I don’t want to proceed further into the conspiratorial rabbit-hole about who Lee Harvey Oswald may have been working for, or whether he himself pulled the trigger.
However, shortly before his assassination, Kennedy made a trip to Ireland, specifically from the very locations where his ancestors originated from such as County Wexford.
He still made an impact on America democracy, for he was president during a time when the United States and Russia nearly went to war over Cuba. At that point, the world had waited in horror whether nuclear war would be commenced. However, the hype died down and Kennedy managed to bring a somewhat conciliatory resolution in the form of the Test Ban Treaty.
Although he still supported the Civil Rights movement, he had difficulty passing any additional Civil Rights and anti-poverty legislation. That legacy would continue when his vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson became president and instituted his Great Society program.
- “50 years after win, Kennedy’s legacy endures”. USA Today. September 26, 2010.
- Carty, Thomas J. (2004). A Catholic in the White House? Religion, Politics, and John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Campaign. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan.
- CR’s Video Vault. John F. Kennedy’s tour of Ireland 1963. YouTube.
- Bryant, Nick. “Black Man Who Was Crazy Enough to Apply to Ole Miss”. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (53): 31, 60–71. 2006.
- John F. Kennedy Biography. White House.
- John F. Kennedy & Ireland. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- “November 22, 1963: Death of the President”. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- “The Equal Pay Act Turns 40”. Archive.eeoc.gov. Archived from the original on June 26, 2012.
- Useful Charts. FitzGerald Family Tree | Irish Genealogy. YouTube. 2019.
- Useful Charts. Kennedy Family Tree. YouTube. 2020.