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John Fitzgerald Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on 29 May 1917.

After graduating from Harvard in 1940, John F. Kennedy entered the Navy. After World War II, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, and advanced to the Senate in 1953. The same year, he married Jacqueline Bouvier. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.

In 1960, Kennedy won the general elections and was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States on 20 January 1961.

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Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues

A year after his inauguration, President Kennedy faced a nuclear stand-off with the Soviet Union over the potential deployment of Soviet intermediate-range missiles on Cuban soil. The geographical proximity of Cuba to US mainland made such a deployment unacceptable to the Kennedy administration. For 13 tense days, a fragile peace hung by only a thread as the US instituted a naval blockade of Cuba to turn back Soviet ships. The crisis was ended when the Soviet Union agreed in a secret negotiation to remove its nuclear weapons from Cuba in exchange for a US agreement to remove its nuclear weapons from Turkey six months later. The time lag was insisted upon by the US so that it would not look to the world like the US had engaged in a quid pro quo regarding the missiles in Cuba. The crisis resulted in the creation of a Hotline Agreement between the US and Soviet Union that would allow for instantaneous communications between the leaders of the two countries.

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy contended that slowing the arms race and putting a halt to arms proliferation was in the security interests of both the United States and Soviet Union. In 1963, negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons testing on the ground, in the atmosphere or underwater resulted in the adoption of the Partial Test Ban Treaty, initially signed by Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, Texas.