The following is a timeline of the Presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, also known as the Kennedy Administration, which took place from his inauguration on January 20, 1961, to his assassination on November 22, 1963 - a span of 1,036 days. The timeline also includes major events preceding and succeeding his presidency.
The timeline begins on January 2, 1960, just over a year before Kennedy's inauguration on January 20, 1961, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy first announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, and concludes on November 25, 1963, just three days after his assassination in Dallas, Texas abruptly ended his Presidency, when the slain President Kennedy's funeral was held, attended by representatives from over 90 countries.
After Kennedy's assassination, in accordance with Constitutional procedure in the case of the death of the President, his Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson, succeeded to the Office of the Presidency and took the oath of office of the President of the United States aboard Air Force One less than an hour after Kennedy died. Johnson served out the remainder of Kennedy's term, and was elected to the Presidency in his own right in a landslide in the 1964 presidential election, setting an electoral victory result which has not been exceeded by a Democratic presidential nominee since.
Kennedy was the first Catholic President, the youngest elected President (Theodore Roosevelt, who succeeded to the Presidency after William McKinley's assassination, was younger), and the fourth President to be assassinated.
Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon participate in the first television presidential debate
- September 12 - Senator Kennedy delivers a campaign speech in which he strongly reaffirms his support for separation of church and state, which successfully cooled tensions surrounding his Catholicism. When inaugurated, he became the first Catholic President in American history.
- September 26 - Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon participate in the first televised presidential debate.
- October 7 - Kennedy and Nixon participate in the second presidential debate, held in Washington, D.C.; NBC journalist Frank McGee moderates.
- October 13 - Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon debate each other for the third time; former Face the Nation anchor Bill Shadel moderates. Kennedy participates from a New York studio, while Nixon participates from a Los Angeles studio.
- October 21 - Kennedy and Nixon participate in the fourth and final presidential debate in New York; ABC News journalist Quincy Howe moderates.
- November 8 - The 1960 presidential election is held, the first to have both candidates born in the 20th century, and the first in which the two most recently admitted states, Alaska (January 3, 1959) and Hawaii (August 21, 1959), participated.
- November 9 - Current Vice President and Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon concedes the presidency to Kennedy. Kennedy's official popular vote margin is 0.1% (112,827 votes) and his electoral margin is 84 electoral votes. Nixon won more states, 26 to 22. The electoral result proves to be the closest since the 1916 presidential election. The election of Kennedy and Johnson as President and Vice President was the last time until the 2008 election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden that two sitting senators were elected on the same ticket.
- December 6: President-elect Kennedy meets with President Eisenhower.
The Cabinet is sworn in by Chief Justice Earl Warren
President Kennedy holds the first regular live televised press conference in the State Department Auditorium.
- January 20 - Kennedy's presidency begins with his inauguration at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Kennedy is sworn in by Chief Justice Earl Warren and delivers a widely praised inaugural address, asking Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" and for the people of the world to "ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man". He is congratulated by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Kennedy also formally nominates his cabinet and attends the inaugural balls.
- January 21 - Kennedy meets with former President Harry S. Truman and issues Executive Order 10914 directing a doubling of the quantity of surplus food distributed to needy families. Kennedy also attends a meeting at the Democratic National Committee and hosts the swearing-in of his cabinet.
- January 22 - Kennedy meets with the poet Robert Frost. President Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and Paul B. Fay attend mass at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. Kennedy establishes the three-member Government Ethics Committee. Kennedy appoints Hickman Price, Jr. and Roland Burnstan as Assistant Commerce Secretaries.
- January 23 - Kennedy meets with several defense, foreign policy, and intelligence advisers, including Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Lyman Lemnitzer. Kennedy nominates Frank Burton Ellis for a federal judgeship on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
- January 24 - Kennedy meets with then-former Congressman (later Senator) George McGovern of South Dakota. He also meets with Democratic legislative leaders, and receives a tour of the shelter areas of the White House from Naval Aide, Cmdr. Tazewell Shepard. He is presented plans for what would become the Food for Peace program and designates McGovern Director.
- January 25 - Kennedy holds his first regular live televised press conference in the State Department Auditorium. He announces the release of two surviving USAF crewman by the Soviet Union after being captured when their RB-47 Stratojet was shot down on July 1, 1960.
- January 30 - Kennedy delivers his first State of the Union address.
- April 1 - Kennedy meets with Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Kennedy also declares parts of eastern Iowa flooded by the Cedar River to be a major disaster area.
- April 2 - Kennedy meets with journalists Albert Merriman Smith and Marvin Arrowsmith. The First Family view the film All in a Night's Work.
- April 12 - The Soviet Union's launch of Yuri Gagarin into low Earth orbit aboard Vostok 1 marks the first time a human being is launched into outer space. Kennedy messages Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, congratulating him on the successful launch of Vostok 1.
- April 17 - Continuing a concept originating in the administration of his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kennedy orders the invasion of Cuba in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the communist regime.
- April 19 - The invasion of Cuba fails and results in a Cuban revolutionary victory. Kennedy's administration is severely embarrassed, so much so that Kennedy stated he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the wind".
Kennedy sets out the goal to "land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth".
President Kennedy meets with Alan Shepard at the White House.
- May 2 - The Freedom 7 spacecraft is readied for a launch attempt which would have resulted in the first American human spaceflight; it is canceled due to poor weather and rescheduled for May 5.
- May 5 - Alan Shepard is launched on Freedom 7 on a sub-orbital spaceflight aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket, and becomes the first American in outer space. The flight lasts 15 minutes 22 seconds, and reaches an apogee of 187.42 kilometres (116.46 mi), and a maximum speed of 8,277 kilometres per hour (5,143 mph) (Mach 6.94).
- May 6 - Kennedy meets with Alan Shepard at the White House, to congratulate him on becoming the first American in space. He awards him the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in a ceremony on the White House lawn. The six other Mercury Seven astronauts attends the ceremony, the next of which, Gus Grissom, would launch into space less than three months later.
- May 25 - In an address to a Joint session of the United States Congress, Kennedy announces full presidential support for the goal to "commit...before this decade is out, to landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" and urges Congress to appropriate the necessary funds, eventually consuming the largest financial expenditure of any nation in peacetime. Though Kennedy had initially been convinced that NASA should attempt a manned mission to Mars, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Seamans spent three days and nights working, ultimately successfully, to convince him otherwise.
- September 25 - Address before the United Nations General Assembly (JFK's first of two) announcing the US intention to "challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race".
February 20: John Glenn
is launched into space on Friendship 7
and becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.
- March 22 - Kennedy signs into law HR5143 (PL87-423), abolishing the mandatory death penalty for first degree murder in the District of Columbia, the only remaining jurisdiction in the United States with a mandatory death sentence for first degree murder, replacing it with life imprisonment with parole if the jury could not decide between life imprisonment and the death penalty, or if the jury chose life imprisonment by a unanimous vote. The death penalty in the District of Columbia has not been applied since 1957, and has now been abolished.
President Kennedy declares "we choose to go to the Moon in this decade" during a speech on the nation's space program at Rice University
Works related to We choose to go to the Moon
President Kennedy visits Rice University to deliver a speech on the nation's space program.
- September 12 - Kennedy delivers a speech at Rice University on the subject of the nation's plans to land humans on the Moon. Kennedy announces his continued support for increased space expenditures, saying "we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
- October 22 - In a televised address, Kennedy announces the October 14 discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba, making public the Cuban missile crisis. Kennedy also announces a naval "quarantine on all offensive military equipment" to that country.
- November 6 - The 1962 elections are held. The Democrats lose seats in the House to Republicans, but maintain their majority; they increase their majority in the Senate. Kennedy's brother Ted wins a special election in Massachusetts to represent the state as junior senator, in the seat his brother formerly held and was at the time occupied by Benjamin A. Smith II who had been appointed to the seat upon President-elect Kennedy's victory.
President Kennedy delivers his third and final State of the Union address.
- September 20 - Address before the United Nations General Assembly (JFK's second) stating various specific recommendations to "move the world to a just and lasting peace".
Kennedy and his son John, Jr. walk at the White House, October 1963.
- November 21 - On the final full day of the Kennedy administration, the President asks his economic advisers to prepare the War on Poverty for 1964. Less than two months after the President's assassination, President Johnson introduces the legislation in his first State of the Union address on January 8, 1964, and two of the major pieces of related legislation – the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and the Social Security Act of 1965 – are signed into law on August 20, 1964 and July 30, 1965, respectively.
- November 22 - Kennedy's administration abruptly ends when he is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested and charged with the murder. Oswald is shot and killed two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
Kennedy lies in repose in the East Room
of the White House.
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in aboard Air Force One as the nation's 36th President hours after the Kennedy assassination.
- ^ a b "December 1960 Chronology - Eisenhower Presidential Papers - Eisenhower Memorial Commission". Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. February 1, 2006. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- ^ Whealan, Ronald E. (October 30, 2005). "January 21, 1961". John F. Kennedy Library. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- ^ "NASA Langley Research Center's Contributions to the Apollo Program". Langley Research Center. November 21, 2004. Retrieved January 10, 2010. "Answering President Kennedy's challenge and landing men on the moon by 1969 required the most sudden burst of technological creativity, and the largest commitment of resources ($24 billion), ever made by any nation in peacetime. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 Americans and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities."
- ^ "Robert C. Seamans Jr.". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. June 10, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2010. "President Kennedy had been convinced that America needed to send a man to Mars and back before the decade was out. Bob [Seamans] told me the story of working three days and nights trying to put together, clearly and succinctly, the case for the President that we cannot hit that goal, we need to go to the Moon."
- ^ Riechmann, Deb (2008-07-29). "Bush: Former Army cook's crimes warrant execution". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- ^ Whealan, Ronald E. (2005-12-05). "March 22, 1962 - The White House Diary". John F. Kennedy Library. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- ^ Whealan, Ronald E. (2006-01-19). "Kennedy Legislative Record, Page 2 - Summary of the Three Year Kennedy Record (Legislation)". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- ^ "Norton Letter to U.S. Attorney Says Death Penalty Trial That Begins Today Part of Troubling and Futile Pattern". Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- ^ J. F. Kennedy (February 20, 1963). "Victor Harry Feguer -- Petition for Commutation of Death Sentence". The Smoking Gun. Archived from the original on January 9, 2010. Retrieved January 9, 2010. "I have reviewed your letter of January 21 regarding the application for clemency in behalf of Mr. Feguer. Taking all factors into account, it is my decision that the petition should be and is hereby denied."
This article incorporates public domain material from the National Archives and Records Administration document "The White House Diary".