President John F. Kennedy: Early life and Career

About the early life and career of President of the United States John F. Kennedy.

BEFORE THE PRESIDENCY

Career: On both sides, Kennedy's grandfathers were leading Democratic ward bosses in an age when a handful of Irish "pols" ruled Boston. His father, however, sought power in a different way. By age 25, Joe Kennedy had gained control of a bank in East Boston, and with subsequent investments in real estate, Hollywood, and the stock market, he built a financial empire worth $250 million. Naturally, he sent his children to the best schools, and young "Jack," the 2nd oldest prepared for college at Choate School in Connecticut. Kennedy had a difficult time at prep school, and his housemaster wrote home: "He is casual and disorderly in almost all of his organization projects. Jack studies at the last minute, keeps appointments late, has little sense of material values, and can seldom locate his possessions." Though his popularity with his classmates won him election as "most likely to succeed," Kennedy graduated in the bottom half of his class. In the choice of a college, Jack was naturally anxious to avoid direct competition with his brilliantly successful older brother, Joe, Jr., so he steered clear of Harvard and enrolled instead at Princeton University. After 2 months, however, an attack of jaundice forced him to drop out of school and return home. By the time he was ready to start again the next year(1936), he had given in to the urgings of his family and agreed to join his brother at Harvard. As a student, Kennedy maintained a "C" average during his 1st 2 years, and devoted much of his time to athletics, until he seriously injured his back playing football. Jack took off the 2nd semester of his junior year to travel through Europe. His father was then serving as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain (a reward for his generous support of FDR), and so young Kennedy was admitted to high-level political and diplomatic circles. Back at Harvard, he used this experience in his senior thesis-a study of England's complacency on the eve of W.W.II. Not only did this thesis win a magna cum laude from the political science department, but rewritten and retitled Why England Slept, it was published and became a best seller. Though Kennedy began to lean toward a writing career, he studied briefly at Stanford's Graduate School of Business after his graduation from Harvard.

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