Out of the military, Jack begins a career as a journalist, reporting on the charter for the new United Nations in San Francisco and on the British Parliament.

November 1945: Highs and Lows

Joe Sr. buys Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, the largest privately-owned building in the world.

February 1946

Robert F. Kennedy begins a tour of duty aboard the U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

April 1946

Jack announces that he will run for Massachusetts' 11th Congressional district seat, left vacant by once-again-mayor James Michael Curley. His grandfather, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, who held the seat a half-century earlier, campaigns with him. Once Kennedy wins the primary, he is a shoo-in for the seat in Democratic Boston. He will represent his district for the next six years.

May 13, 1947

Kathleen is killed in a plane crash over southern France.

Fall 1947

Jack becomes ill in London. He is diagnosed with Addison's disease, a hormonal disorder that causes fatigue and compromises the immune system.


Robert Kennedy graduates from Harvard College and enters law school at the University of Virginia.


John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald dies.

Robert Kennedy marries Ethel Skakel.

Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy enters Harvard College.

May 1951

Ted is caught cheating on an exam and is expelled from Harvard. He enlists in the Army and will serve for the next 16 months.

July 4, 1951

Kathleen Hartington Kennedy is born to Robert and Ethel. She is Joe and Rose's first grandchild. Robert and Ethel will have 10 more children.

1952: Gaining Political Traction

Jack wins a place in the United States Senate, unseating the descendant of a Boston Brahmin family, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Jack’s brother Robert manages the campaign.

January 1953

Robert Kennedy becomes assistant counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Joseph McCarthy.

May 23, 1953

Eunice Kennedy marries Robert Sargent Shriver Jr.

Joseph Sr kisses Jackie, JFK

Joseph Sr kisses Jackie
September 12, 1953

Jack marries Jacqueline Bouvier.

April 24, 1954

Patricia Kennedy marries Peter Lawford.

October 21, 1954

Jack nearly dies during a major spinal operation. A second operation, four months later, will also have complications. During his convalescence, he will write Profiles in Courage, published in 1956.

May 19, 1956

Jean Ann Kennedy marries Stephen Edward Smith.

June 1956

Ted graduates from Harvard and enrolls in the University of Virginia Law School.

August 1956

Adlai Stevenson throws the choice of a running mate to the Democratic convention. Senator Kennedy is a candidate, but Estes Kefauver is chosen.

August 23, 1956

Jacqueline Kennedy gives birth prematurely to a stillborn daughter. Jack is in France.


Profiles in Courage wins the Pulitzer Prize for biography.

The Senate Rackets Committee investigates organized labor. Jack Kennedy is a member; Robert Kennedy is the chief counsel.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jack Kennedy argues for the independence of Algeria from France.

November 11, 1957

Daughter Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is born to Jacqueline and Jack Kennedy.

November 4, 1958

Jack is re-elected to the Senate.

January 1960: The Presidency

Jack announces his candidacy for the presidency. The viability of a Catholic candidate is tested in state primaries throughout the year.

July 1960

Jack Kennedy wins the nomination for president at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

September 26, 1960

Kennedy debates Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the first of four televised meetings.

November 8, 1960

John F. Kennedy is elected the 35th president of the U.S. He is the youngest president ever to be elected -- and the first Roman Catholic.

November 25, 1960

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. is born to Jacqueline and Jack Kennedy.

January 1961

Joe Kennedy insists that Robert F. Kennedy be given a cabinet appointment; Robert is named attorney general.In his inaugural address, Jack Kennedy urges Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

At a time of deep Cold War fears, Jack is counseled on a counterinsurgency plan against Fidel Castro’s Communist government in Cuba.

March 1961

President Kennedy signs into law the creation of the Peace Corps.

April 16-18, 1961: Cold War Tension

The U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba is a failure.

May 25, 1961

President Kennedy announces his goal to land a man on the moon and return him to earth before the end of the decade, and before the Soviets do.

May 29, 1961

President Kennedy meets Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. The meeting ends badly.

August 1961

The Soviets build a dividing wall in the German city of Berlin.

December 19, 1961

Joe Sr. suffers a stroke. He is paralyzed and will remain unable to speak for the last eight years of his life.

March 1962

Ted resigns as assistant district attorney in Suffolk County and announces his candidacy for his brother Jack's unexpired Senate seat.

May 19, 1962

At President Kennedy's 45th birthday party at Madison Square Garden, Marilyn Monroe sings a breathless "Happy Birthday" to the president.

September 1962

James Meredith, the first black student to enroll, arrives at the University of Mississippi. Local protesters stridently oppose school desegregation. On orders of attorney general Robert Kennedy, three hundred federal marshals accompany Meredith; a deadly riot breaks out.

John F. Kennedy addresses the nation on TV

JFK addresses the nation on TV
October 1962

The discovery of Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba engulfs the presidency in crisis. After numerous rounds of public and private diplomacy, the Cuban Missile Crisis is resolved. The Soviets will remove their missiles, and the United States will remove similar missiles from Turkey in the near future.

November 6, 1962

The people of Massachusetts elect Ted Kennedy to the U.S. Senate.

June 1963

President Kennedy calls for a moratorium on nuclear weapons tests. Kennedy gives a national television address on civil rights.

August 8, 1963

A third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, is born to the President and First Lady; he will live only two days.

President Kennedy's casket leaving the White House

Kennedy's casket leaving the White House
November 22, 1963: National Tragedy

President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes the oath of office on Air Force One.

November 29, 1963

Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren chairs a commission established to investigate the death of President Kennedy.

June 1964

Senator Ted Kennedy's back is broken in a plane crash that kills his aide and the pilot.

August 22, 1964

Robert Kennedy declares his candidacy for a U.S. Senate seat for New York held by Republican Kenneth Keating. He will resign as attorney general weeks later.

September 24, 1964

The Warren Commission report concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy.

October 1964

Pursuit of Justice by Robert Kennedy is published.

November 3, 1964

Lyndon Johnson is elected president; Robert Kennedy is elected to the Senate.

February 1966

Patricia Kennedy divorces Peter Lawford.

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

We invite you to tell us your own stories - whether you lived through a tumultuous time period or learned about it from a relative, a book or a movie.