When he was elected the nation's thirty-fifth President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic elected to the Oval Office. Some Americans had opposed his candidacy because they feared that his religion would influence his decisions as President. Yet fascination with his personality, style, intelligence, wit, and character overshadowed these fears for many people. Articulate and forward looking, but with a great sense of the past, Kennedy was the only U.S. President to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize in biography. He won the prize in 1957 for Profiles in Courage (1956), a book about several Americans who had made courageous decisions. Kennedy wrote the book while recuperating from surgery to repair a spinal injury. Born in Brookline, Massuchusetts, to a wealthy and politically ambitious father, Kennedy received a Harvard education. In 1940, while acting as secretary to his ambassador father in London, he wrote Why England Slept, an interpretation of England's failure to recognize the danger of the Nazi menace. As a PT-boat commander in World War II, he was seriously injured when his boat was cut in half and sunk. After the war, in 1946, he was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he served three terms in the House of Representatives before election to the Senate in 1952 and again in 1958. Elected President in 1960 in a close victory over Richard Nixon, Kennedy hoped to move the nation to a "New Frontier." He urged legislative programs to spur the economy, expand federal aid to education, renew blighted urban areas, eliminate racial segregation in public places, and institute medical care for the aged. But most of Kennedy's programs were stalled in Congress when he was assassinated in November 1963. It was left to Lyndon B. Johnson - Kennedy's successor in the presidency - to get Congress to enact the New Frontier legislation. In foreign affairs, Kennedy did not fare well in the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, but he acted strongly in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, averting a military confrontation with the Soviet Union. His call to commitment in his inaugural speech - "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" - inspired many young people in developing nations, and other areas of government service. Kennedy's presidency was cut short on November 22, 1963, when he was shot to death while riding in an open car during a political visit to Dallas, Texas. A shocked nation watched as he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Robert "Bobby" Kennedy was the seventh of nine children in the wealthy Kennedy family of Massachusetts. When his elder brother John F. Kennedy became President in 1961, Robert was named Attorney General. The brothers had worked together during the campaign, with Robert serving as his brother's campaign manager. Robert Kennedy had been educated at Harvard University, served in the Navy during World War II, and received his law degree from Virginia Law School in 1951. Then he worked in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in 1951 and 1952, where he helped prosecute corruption and income-tax invasion cases. In the following years he served as congressional investigator for committees on Un-American Activities and on Improper Activities in Labor and Management. In 1961 Kennedy became Attorney General under President John F. Kennedy, and stayed on under President Lyndon B. Johnson. In that position he actively promoted civil rights by prosecuting people who violated the civil rights of minorities. He continued his pursuit of civil rights when he became Senator from New York in 1964. He also worked for antipoverty programs, medicare, and other social programs, and spoke out strongly against escalating involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy set out to campaign for the Democratic nomination for President in the 1968 election. He won five of the six primaries he entered and was becoming a formidable challenger, when Sirhan Sirhan, an Arab immigrant, shot him fatally on June 5, 1968.
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was born in New York City on born November 27, 1957 to John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. She received an A.B. from Radcliffe College in 1979 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1988. She is the author and editor of several books on constitutional law, American history, politics, and poetry including In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action, The Right to Privacy, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Profiles in Courage for Our Time, A Patriot's Handbook, A Family Christmas, and She Walks in Beauty - A Woman's Journey through Poems. She has also compiled the interview tapes and written the forward for Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.