Thursday, May 27, 2010


The Kennedy family attracted America because of their glamour and youth. Although JFK didn't accomplish too much in office and made a fool of himself during the Bay of Pigs, he and his family are still remembered favorably-because of their youth and power.
They brought a Hollywood-like feel to the White House, which Jackie made the center of elegance and fashion. JFK was the first young, handsome president, a huge contrast to the typical American president before. Also, JFK's victory as president was significant because he was the first Roman Catholic to be president. JFK's win allowed for more of a variety of presidents to be ushered in.
The Kennedy family is still considered one of America's most powerful and influential families, but they were always trailed by the Kennedy Curse. It's odd that such a successful family loses so many members in freak accidents, but it adds to the interest.

Historical Influence

The Kennedy family has impacted America's history because of their prominent governmental positions. For over six decades, a member of the Kennedy family has held a position in the government. With JFK's presidency and numerous other family achievements, the Kennedy family has been one of the most powerful families in America's history.
Joseph Kennedy Sr., while he worked as an ambassador, tried to arrange meeting with Hitler. He also supported appeasement to Hitler, which lead to World War II.
John Kennedy impacted America during his presidential term by avoiding war with the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962. The nation had heard rumors that the Soviet Union had placed missiles in Cuba, their ally country. Kennedy demanded the missiles be removed or the US would invade Cuba. The country was expecting war, but at the last moment, the Soviets decided to remove their missiles if the US promised not to invade and agreed to take American missiles out of Turkey. This incident caused a jump in JFK's popularity, because he avoided what seemed like an inevitable war.
In office, Kennedy helped contruct the Berlin Wall in 1961. He sent troops to Berlin to insure that no one could cross. The Berlin Wall became a symbol of the Cold War.
Kennedy was sympathetic towards the Civil Rights Movement and was a close friend to Martin Luther King Jr. He appointed African Americans to government positions (like Thurgood Marshall). However, Kennedy did not accomplish has much as he had promised; Congress stalled his health care and education bills, and he never was able to increase minimum wage.
Robert Kennedy, the Democratic Senator of New York and Attorney General, waged a war against the Mafia and other organized crime. He also worked for Civil Rights. In 1962, as Attorney General, he sent US Marshals to Mississppi force the University of Mississppi to admit their first African American student, James Meredith. Robert Kennedy worked on the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with JFK and Johnson, which ended the Jim Crow Laws. While he was Senator, he worked to end poverty and helped miniority groups.
Edward Kennedy, Senator of Massasschuets, had 300 of his bills passed into law. Focused on the domestic front, he was instrumental in passing many health care bills. He became a symbol for America progressivism.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics in 1968. In 1962, she founded Camp Shriver. She supported the pro-life movement, and spoke out publically about her beliefs.
Jean Kennedy Smith founded the Very Special Arts, which features the artwork of mentally disabled children. As an ambassador to Ireland, she helped bring peace to the area.

How JFK and Jackie Reflected American Society

The Kennedys were the 'average' American family, albeit their celebrity status. Younger citizens, especially those with young families could connect with JFK and Jackie because of their youth and their growing children. They reflected the more youthful, athletic side of America, a great contrast to the former President Eisenhower.
John Kennedy participated in sports like sailing and swimming. He also played football. Kennedy was portrayed as an active, engaged president who took interest in normal American activities.
Jackie Kennedy also was known as the "Minister of Culture", because she excelled in planning social events, like many other mothers did along with raising their children.
The Kennedys reflected the materialistic side of society as well. JFK won the T.V. debates against Nixon during the Election of 1960 because of his looks. Jackie was favorably looked upon because of her beauty, fashion, and foriegn connections. JFK and Jackie were popular largely based on their family background and looks, not on their ideas for America or what needed to be done.
Click here to watch a video of the Election of 1960 TV debates.

The Kennedy's Impact on Society

The Kennedys became iconic American figures, and were known as "America's Royal Family." JFK and Jackie greatly influenced the youth in America, although they were generally admired by all. The youth connected with them on a social level because they were in the same stages of life and gave off a Hollywood glamour. The youth in society responded to Kennedy's call for service. Many joined the Peace Corps (formed by JFK), and helped other needy nations, creating world wide impact. JFK did not have an outstanding political record (he did not accomplish nearly as much as he had promised), but remained popular. His biggest political impacts on society were the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was ridiculed for the failure of the invasion on Cuba, but when he took full responsibility for the incident, gained admiration from the public. JFK's biggest accomplishment was the Cuban Missile Crisis. On October 1962, the US learned that the Soviets had stored missiles in Cuba. Washington demanded the missiles be removed, but the Soviets refused. The world was on the brink of a nuclear war. However, the Soviets backed out and agreed to removed the missiles if the US didn't invade and removed their own missiles in Turkey. JFK refused, then agreed. The Crisis made JFK very popular. American Society felt superiority over the Soviets. JFK postivtely impacted society through both these incidents.
JFK impacted the attitudes of Americans. His charismatic demeanor and speech skills intrigued them and created interest in the White House like never before. Interest was added because of his youth, growing family, and beautiful young wife.
Jacqueline Kennedy, considered one of the most beautiful women of the time, heavily influenced fashion. She introduced a new, classy look that consisted of blouses, fitted jackets, pencil skirts, and few accessories. Her wardrobe was created by a French designer named Oleg Cassini. She always wore a 'pillbox' hat, high heels, pearls, and long evening gloves. Women worldwide began to mimic her elegant style, including her bouffant hair. Jackie Kennedy brought beauty and youth to the White House. She gave the White House a sense of Hollywood glamour. Click here for more information about Jackie's fashion influence.
Jackie is known for more than her stylish apparel; she also is known for her work to preserve art and history. Jackie also restored the White House, a debated decision. A tour of the new White House was televised, and declared a success. However, Jackie's popularity and stardom detracted from negative views about JFK's presidency, even negative opinons by foriegn ambassadors. Jackie was known for her hostess and entertaining abililties; she was highly respected worldwide. She was called the US's 'unoffical ambassador'.
Jackie also impacted society through her reaction to JFK's assassination. She refused to wash her blood-stained clothes after the assassination, and refused to allow anyone else to arrange the funeral. Her strength and courage in the face of JFK's assassination became the symbol of America's grief over the loss of JFK; she lead the mourning process and helped the nation heal. Click here to watch a clip of the Kennedy Wedding.

The Kennedy Family

The Kennedy family is renown for their wealth, power, and good looks. Their beginnings of power can be traced back to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr (1888-1969). Joseph Kennedy was an important businessman and political figure. He lead the Irish Catholic community, (which was discriminated against) was a leading member of the Democratic party, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, leader of Maritime Commission, and was the US ambassador to Great Britian during the beginning of World War II. He married Rose Fitzgerald, the daughter of the Mayor of Boston. Jospeh Kennedy made a fortune from the real estate stock market, becoming one of the richest persons in the US at the time. He was also involved in film production. It is also rumored that he made a great deal of money from illegal bootlegging during Prohibition. Jospeh was a close friend to Roosevelt and Senator Joseph McCarthy, who fueled the fire in the Red Scare. Joseph dreamed of becoming president; to him, the position was the 'ultimate prize'. He was very careful about creating a perfect "Kennedy Family Public Image", saying "Image is Reality." From their childhoods, the Kennedy children had been put into a powerful position.
His children became very successful. JFK became president in 1960. Robert Kennedy was Attorney General. Edward Kennedy became a US Senator. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was a naval officer. Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics. Jean Kennedy Smith was the US ambassador to Ireland.
Known for their good looks, intelligence, Roman Catholic background and power, at least one member of the Kennedy family has been in been in an elected office for 64 years.
The family, however, had been plagued by the "Kennedy Curse"- there have been a series of tragedies in the family. John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated, John in 1963 and Robert in 1968. JFK's older brother Patrick was killed in 1944 in World War II in a plane accident. JFK's son, John Jr. was killed in an airplane crash in 1999 along with his wife and sister in law. Edward Kennedy was also involved in a plane crash but survived. Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge in 1969, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne (Ted Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, but it became a national scandal). Another incidents include a freak skiing accident, death by drug overdose, another car crash, cancer, two more deaths caused by plane crashes, and a stillborn birth. Click here for more information and a list events of the Kennedy Curse.

Time Period

When John F. Kennedy became president, there was rising unemployment and inflation in the US. Also, steel company executives raised prices for steel, which many manufactors used (and then therefore had to raise their own prices, hurting consumers).
Media, specifically television, was also creating a huge impact. For example, when JFK and Nixon hosted T.V. debates, Kennedy was the decided winner because of his wardrobe and looks compared to Nixon's. A new era of technological influence had begun.
The US was still in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. In 1960, a US U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, increasing tensions. Later, when Cuba became allies with the Soviet Union, many Americans believed that war was ineviatable because of Cuba's proximity to the US. There was also a fierce competition between the Soviets and the Americans about the "Space Race." The Soviets sent the first man into space in 1961.
In 1959, Fidel Castro took over Cuba and established himself as dictator. He establised a communist-styled governmental system. The relation of Cuba to America made the US nervous; a communist nation so close frightenend them, bringing to mind the "Domino Theory".
The Civil Rights Movement was pushing forward. The March on Washington in 1963 was attended by thousands, concluding with Martin Luther King Jr's 'I Have a Dream' Speech. Click here to read Martin Luther King Jr's Speech.
The Vietnam War dramatically impacted the time period. The US supported the democratic Southern part of Vietnam. In 1961, President Kennedy increased the number of advisors to Vietnam to ease tensions and report back. Kennedy believed in the "Domino Theory"- if one country fell to communist control, then the rest of the world would follow.