President Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, Texas. According to the Warren Commission established to investigate the assassination, a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, killed the president, but there has been consistent speculation ever since that Kennedy’s death was the result of a conspiracy.
He was born John Fitzgerald Kennedy on 29 May 1917 in Massachusetts, into a wealthy and political Irish-American family. Educated at Harvard University, he graduated in 1940. Following naval service in the Pacific in World War Two, he entered politics in 1946, spurred on by his ambitious father Joseph, and won election as a Democrat to the US House of Representatives. In 1952, he was elected to the Senate.
Kennedy’s years in power were marked in foreign affairs by Cold War tension, together with a rhetorical commitment to introducing domestic reforms – most of all to expanding the civil rights of African Americans.
He inherited a plan that was devised under the preceding Eisenhower presidency for anti-communist Cuban exiles in the US to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro’s government. In April 1961, the ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion ended in failure. According to some historians, this led the Soviet Union to conclude that Kennedy was a weak leader, and that they could get away with installing nuclear weapons on Cuba in 1962. The Cuban missile crisis ensued. After a thirteen-day stand-off that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev withdrew the weapons and Kennedy’s reputation was restored.