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Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy John Fitzgerald 1917-63 35th President of the United States 1961-63 b Brookline Mass son of Joseph P Kennedy Early Life While an undergraduate at Harvard 1936-40 he served briefly in London as secretary to his father who was ambassador there His Harvard honors thesis on the British failure to judge the threat of Nazi Germany was published as Why England Slept 1940 Enlisting in the navy in Sept 1941 he became commander of a PT boat in the Pacific in World War II In action off the Solomon Islands Aug 1943 his boat was sunk and Kennedy was credited with saving the life of at least one of his crew Congressional Career As a Congressman from Massachusetts 1947-53 Jack Kennedy consistently supported the domestic programs of the Truman administration but criticized its China policy In 1952 despite the Eisenhower landslide he defeated Henry Cabot Lodge for a seat in the US Senate where he served on the Labor and Public Welfare and Foreign Relations committees In 1953 Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier see Onassis Jacqueline Kennedy While recuperating in 1955 from an operation to repair a spinal injury he wrote Profiles in Courage 1956 on American political leaders who defied public opinion to vote according to their consciences for this work later revealed to have been written in part by Theodore Sorensen and others he received the Pulitzer Prize Although Kennedy narrowly lost the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in 1956 his overwhelming reelection as Senator in 1958 helped him toward the goal of presidential candidacy Presidency In 1960 he entered and won seven presidential primaries and captured the Democratic nomination on the first ballot To balance the ticket he selected Lyndon B Johnson as his vice-presidential candidate In the campaign that followed Kennedy engaged in a series of televised debates with his Republican opponent Richard M Nixon Defeating Nixon by
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