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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher - Biography 2

Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher

The aesthetic is very much an important element in the philosophy of Confucius. The aesthetic is beautiful and good and as poetry can yield such manner so should man’s comportment. What by some interpretations may seem as mere etiquette is much more deeply an issue of aesthetic gratitude and respect. It is one of the key elements to his idea of a harmonious order. Such an order included a special relationship to and serving of the spirits. He maintained that he had a special relationship to Tian, the Zhou deity referring to sky or heaven. He acknowledged its changing status and relationship over time, pre-dating the Zhou, and acknowledged the ‘existential’ dilemma in such change, yet maintained a balanced interpretation in which man is subject to the parameters set forth by the Tian though is a free agent within those parameters and responsible for his actions. Therefore, there is an aesthetic, moral and social co-mingling order that ensures the highest order of harmony, which can be effected through li (ritual propriety). One must learn and perform properly and at the proper time for the greater good.
Through li one can cultivate and master the idea of ren (compassion, or the loving of others), a core component of his thinking. Together this involves deprecating oneself as opposed to being artificial in making the appearance of a better impression: to be true and sincere to oneself is to take care of the other as well; to master self-discipline not as a form or self-repression but as a way to accommodate both the self and the other. Such is enacted in the performance of li, and not as mere obligation, but precisely as sincere devotion: “look at nothing in defiance of ritual, listen to nothing in defiance of ritual, speak of nothing in defiance or ritual, never stir hand or foot in defiance of ritual.”
The importance of such comportment is as well, and clearly as could be no other way, integral to the operations of political life. While he deemed that the elders and the learned are to be respected and honored, that in fact the best practice of ren is through the devotion and respect of one’s elders, he was keen to make aware that such filial propriety is not to be abused. There is no ruler who is essentially “better” than a peasant, and the former should never take for granted the latter. As is true for the social is true for governance—self-discipline through compassion and the love of others.
Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher

One who rules by moral force may be compared to the North Star – it occupies its place and all the stars pay homage to it.
As well, the system of governance should follow a hierarchy, as does the notion of li in a familial setting such that a legitimate and honorable hierarchy is established and respected as it (when it) collectively adheres to the harmonic order of li and ren. This theory takes on the name of zhengming, in which the principle forms of government have their appropriate names and corresponding behaviors. “Good government consists in the ruler being a ruler, the minister being a minister, the father being a father, and the son being a son.” This notion of adjudication is considered essential, as the devolution of governance is believed by Confucius to take place in the devolution of one’s place and the attributes and performance of one’s position.
Proper, ideal governance is, above all else, dependent upon de, or virtue. It is a moral force that incorporates the performance of li and the presence of ren. The ceremonial, in this context, is far from pomp and circumstance, but rather a sincere activation of virtue, which has the effect of performing governance. Confucius spoke of such in defiance of acts of aggressive force or imposition of law and law enforcement, which would be antithetical to the force of morality. As he states: “If the people be led by laws, and uniformity among them be sought by punishments, they will try to escape punishment and have no sense of shame. If they are led by virtue, and uniformity sought among them through the practice of ritual propriety, they will possess a sense of shame and come to you of their own accord.” Virtue, metaphorically, leads on its own accord.
Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher

Confucius, himself, did not become officially involved in politics until the age of fifty. Under Duke Ding of the state of Lu, Confucius was first appointed Minister of Public Works, which was then followed by the position as Minister of Crime. Apparently, he was forced to leave his position in the ministry of the Duke due to conflicting desires of the nobility of Lu or perhaps the Duke himself—the exact reasons are not clear. He did take leave, or some have said in exile, and traveled with some of his disciples through the other neighboring states of Cai, Chen, Chu, Song and Wei. He apparently sought positions in the ministries of these states yet was unsuccessful. In 484 BCE he returned to his home state of Lu and devoted the rest of his life to teaching.
The Analects give us most of what we know about Confucius and while Confucius claimed to be a mere transmitter, scholars agree that he in fact did much more than transmit and in fact it is his interpretations, expansions and departures that honored him with such a lasting reputation. His teachings were evolutionary, radical and enlightening. His legacy has had long lasting and far-reaching impact in both the eastern and western traditions. He is an amazing figure in history and in legend as the two can never be separated and it speaks to his almost magical presence in the history of Chinese thought. His age of death, seventy-two, was itself a magic number and again leaves open the uncertainty of what is true and what is retrospective mythologizing. It has been convened that the thinker was under recognized in his time yet his legend, and more importantly his teachings, lived on. At the end of the 4th century, Mencius was to say of Confucius, “ever since man came into this world, there has never been one greater than Confucius.”

Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher - Biography 1

Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher

 or as literally translated, Master Kong (K'ung-fu-tzu or Kongfuzi), lived and worked during what is known as the Chinese Spring and Autumn Period (770-481 BCE), and is by tradition said to have been born on the 28th of September in 551 BCE in the state of Lu located on the Shandong peninsula in northeastern China and died in 479 BCE. It is said, “by tradition” because it is difficult to distinguish much of Confucius’ life between the factual and the legendary. Confucius was an infamous Chinese thinker and educator, comparable to Socrates in the West, who developed a social and political philosophy that is often considered to be the foundation of subsequent Chinese thought. He was the founder of the Ru School of Chinese thought and the philosophical school of thought that has come to bear his name, Confucianism, comes from his tradition and the fragments that were recorded in the text called Analects (Lunyu). One of his most renowned concepts is summed up in the often translated and transmitted phrase:
Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself
As mentioned, it is difficult to trace the historical Confucius as his myth and legend have far surpassed the mere factual coordinates of his life. One legend has it that Confucius was born in answer to his parents prayers they made at a sacred hill (qui) called Ni and hence his names attest as such: Kong equates to the thanking of prayers answered, his forbidden name was Qui and his public name was Zhongni. Fact or fiction, the majority of what we know about Confucius comes from the Analects and other transcriptions and records of his thoughts and goings-on that were mostly transcribed during the Warring States Period (403-221 BCE) in which there was an ongoing struggle among the small states in China to regain the primacy and power of the Zhou. As well, the well-known text, Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji), written by Sima Qian (145-c.85 BCE), who was court historian to the Han dynasty, includes many accounts of the life and teachings of Confucius. The latter identifies Confucius as a descendent of the Royal State of Song yet grew up in the small state of Lu due to his grandfather’s having to flee the turmoil that besieged that of the state of Song. His life in Lu was said to have begun in poverty as accounts have stated that his father died when he was just three and he was raised by his mother in which he soon had to take various odd jobs once he came of age. He apparently wed a young girl named, Qi Guan, who bore him a son, Kong Li.
Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher

His educational background is unclear except that tradition claims him to have studied with Lao Dan, the Daoist Master, as well as with Chang Hong and Xiang in music and lute respectively. What is clear is that education or study was extremely important to Confucius in which one must be dependent and independent; he is recorded in the Analects as saying: “He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” The Analects, recorded during the Warring States era, are said to reveal the dialogues between Confucius and his pupils in which he transmits, and perhaps expands, on the ideas, or the way (Dao) of the ancient Zhou. He was known to say that he was a transmitter and not a maker, and he had a passion for the wisdom of the Zhou sages upon which his teachings were based, or transmitted from. It is worth noting that it was in the fall of the Zhou Empire that the various small states began to vie for power and such a unified loss was a probable influence on Confucius.
Confucius gathered a following or a group of disciples, the number of which has been overly exaggerated according to scholars. There are claims that he had as many as three thousand, though more accurate accounts put that number at seventy-two (though this number is also suspicious as it is a magic number and purportedly the age of his death). Regardless, Confucius was open to teaching all, no matter their class, through his interpretation of his study and centered that espousal on the edifice of learning as well. His method was never to teach in a preacher-like manner, but rather in a motivational one (so-to-speak), such that the pupil must answer for himself: “I only instruct the eager and enlighten the fervent. If I hold up one corner and a student cannot come back to me with the other three, I do not go on with the lesson.”
Confucius -Great Chinese Philosopher

His teachings, as did his own learning, emphasized morality, government, speech and language and the arts. As well he focused on what was referred to as the Six Arts: archery, calligraphy, chariot, computation, music and ritual. Of the various subjects though, it was morality that was considered of utmost importance above all else. Through a proper understanding and practice of morality all else could be derived, harmonized and rectified. This is revealed in a famous lesson in which a student asks if there is one word that could guide a person through life, the master’s answer is “reciprocity” (shu), and the ‘answer’ is a suggestion, followed by the exemplifying phrase, “never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” A moral education, ideally, provides one with the building blocks for self-cultivation, harmony and ethical action, which can maintain and restore value and meaning for society (something which he considered lost in the loss of the Zhou reign). And for Confucius, it was in the Book of Songs, through its poetry, where one could find the epitome of such imperative study in morality.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mark Zuckerberg founder the social-networking website Facebook 2

The Rise of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook 2


In 2005, Zuckerberg's enterprise received a huge boost from the venture capital firm Accel Partners. Accel invested $12.7 million into the network, which at the time was open only to ivy league students. Zuckerberg's company then granted access to other colleges, high school and international schools, pushing the site's membership to more than 5.5 million users by December 2005. The site then began attracting the interest of other companies, who wanted to advertize with the popular social hub. Not wanting to sell out, Zuckerberg turned down offers from companies such as Yahoo! and MTV Networks. Instead, he focused on expanding the site, opening up his project to outside developers and adding more features.
Zuckerberg seemed to be going nowhere but up, however in 2006, the business mogul faced his first big hurdle. The creators of Harvard Connection claimed that Zuckerberg stole their idea, and insisted the software developer needed to pay for their business losses. Zuckerberg maintained that the ideas were based on two very different types of social networks but, after lawyers searched Zuckerberg's records, incriminating Instant Messages revealed that Zuckerberg may have intentionally stolen the intellectual property of Harvard Connection and offered Facebook users' private information to his friends.
Zuckerberg later apologized for the incriminating messages, saying he regretted them. "If you're going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right?" he said in an interview with The New Yorker. "I think I've grown and learned a lot."
Although an initial settlement of $65 million was reached between the two parties, the legal dispute over the matter continued well into 2011, after Narendra and the Winklevosses claimed they were misled in regards to the value of their stock.
Zuckerberg faced yet another personal challenge when the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires, by writer Ben Mezrich, hit stores. Mezrich was heavily criticized for his re-telling of Zuckerberg's story, which used invented scenes, re-imagined dialogue and fictional characters. Regardless of how true-to-life the story was, Mezrich managed to sell the rights of the tale to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and the critically acclaimed film The Social Network received eight Academy Award nominations.
 Zuckerberg objected strongly to the film's narrative, and later told a reporter at The New Yorker that many of the details in the film were inaccurate. For example, Zuckerberg has been dating longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan, a Chinese-American medical student he met at Harvard, since 2003. He also said he never had interest in joining any of the final clubs. "It's interesting what stuff they focused on getting right; like,
every single shirt and fleece that I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own," Zuckerberg told a reporter at a start-up conference in 2010. "So there's all this stuff that they got wrong and a bunch of random details that they got right."
Yet Zuckerberg and Facebook continued to succeed, in spite of the criticism. Time magazine named him Person of the Year in 2010, and Vanity Fair placed him at the top of their New Establishment list. Forbes also ranked Zuckerberg at No. 35—beating out Apple CEO Steve Jobs—on its "400" list, estimating his net worth to be $6.9 billion.

Philanthropic Causes

Since amassing his sizeable fortune, Zuckerberg has used his millions to fund a variety of philanthropic causes. The most notable examples came in 2010. In September of that year, he donated $100 million to save the failing Newark Public Schools system in New Jersey. Then, in December 2010, Zuckerberg signed the "Giving Pledge", promising to donate at least 50 percent of his wealth to charity over the course of his lifetime. Other Giving Pledge members include Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and George Lucas. After his donation, Zuckerberg called on other young, wealthy entrepreneurs to follow suit. "With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts," he said.

Going Public

Zuckerberg made two major life changes in May 2012. Facebook had its initial public offering, which raised $16 billion, making it the biggest internet IPO in history. How Zuckerberg's company will handle this influx of cash remains to be seen. But Zuckerberg may be looking at more acquisitions. He personally negotiated the company deal to buy Instragram the previous month.
After the initial success of the IPO, the Facebook stock price dropped somewhat in the early days of trading. But Zuckerberg is expected to weather any ups and downs in his company's market performance. He holds more than a quarter of its stock and retains 57 percent control of the voting shares.
On May 19, 2012—a day after the IPO—Zuckerberg wed his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan. About 100 people gathered at the couple's Palo Alto, California home. The guests thought they were there to celebrate Chan's graduation from medical school, but instead they witnessed Zuckerberg and Chan exchange vows.
In May 2013, Facebook made the Fortune 500 list for the first time—making Zuckerberg, at the age of 28, the youngest CEO on the list.

Mark Zuckerberg founder the social-networking website Facebook 1

Born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York, Mark Zuckerberg co-founded the social-networking website Facebook out of his college dorm room. He left Harvard after his sophomore year to concentrate on the site, the user base of which has grown to more than 250 million people, making Zuckerberg a billionaire. The birth of Facebook was recently portrayed in the film The Social Network.
Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook

Early Life

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York, into a comfortable, well-educated family, and raised in the nearby village of Dobbs Ferry. His father, Edward Zuckerberg, ran a dental practice attached to the family's home. His mother, Karen, worked as a psychiatrist before the birth of the couple's four children—Mark, Randi, Donna and Arielle.
Zuckerberg developed an interest in computers at an early age; when he was about 12, he used Atari BASIC to create a messaging program he named "Zucknet." His father used the program in his dental office, so that the receptionist could inform him of a new patient without yelling across the room. The family also used Zucknet to communicate within the house. Together with his friends, he also created computer games just for fun. "I had a bunch of friends who were artists," he said. "They'd come over, draw stuff, and I'd build a game out of it."
To keep up with Mark's burgeoning interest in computers, his parents hired private computer tutor David Newman to come to the house once a week and work with Mark. Newman later told reporters that it was hard to stay ahead of the prodigy, who began taking graduate courses at nearby Mercy College around this same time.
Zuckerberg later studied at Phillips Exeter Academy, an exclusive preparatory school in New Hampshire. There he showed talent in fencing, becoming the captain of the school's team. He also excelled in literature, earning a diploma in classics. Yet Zuckerberg remained fascinated by computers, and continued to work on developing new programs. While still in high school, he created an early version of the music software Pandora, which he called Synapse. Several companies—including AOL and Microsoft—expressed an interest in buying the software, and hiring the teenager before graduation. He declined the offers.

Time at Harvard

After graduating from Exeter in 2002, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University. By his sophomore year at the ivy league institution, he had developed a reputation as the go-to software developer on campus. It was at that time that he built a program called CourseMatch, which helped students choose their classes based on the course selections of other users. He also invented Facemash, which compared the pictures of two students on campus and allowed users to vote on which one was more attractive. The program became wildly popular, but was later shut down by the school administration after it was deemed inappropriate.
Based on the buzz of his previous projects, three of his fellow students—Divya Narendra, and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss—sought him out to work on an idea for a social networking site they called Harvard Connection. 

This site was designed to use information from Harvard's student networks in order to create a dating site for the Harvard elite. Zuckerberg agreed to help with the project, but soon dropped out to work on his own social networking site with friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin.
Zuckerberg and his friends created a site that allowed users to create their own profiles, upload photos, and communicate with other users. The group ran the site—first called The Facebook—out of a dorm room at Harvard until June 2004. After his sophomore year, Zuckerberg dropped out of college to devote himself to Facebook full time, moving the company to Palo Alto, California. By the end of 2004, Facebook had 1 million users.

Monday, November 25, 2013

John F. Kennedy Biography

John F. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth president of the United States. He was the first president to reach for the moon, through the nation's space programs. He also was the first president since Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) with whom youth could identify. He made the nation see itself with new eyes. His assassination shocked the world.

Early life and family

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. He was the second son of nine children born to the multimillionaire business executive and financier Joseph P. Kennedy (1888–1969) and his wife, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890–1995). Joseph's father had served in the Massachusetts Legislature and in elective offices in Boston, Massachusetts. Rose's father, John Francis Fitzgerald (1863–1950), had been a state legislator, the mayor of Boston, and a U.S. congressman. Joseph himself had served as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, chairman of the U.S. Maritime Commission, and ambassador to Great Britain (1937–40). Thus, the Kennedys were a wealthy family with a history of political and public service.

Education and the military

Kennedy attended the Canterbury parochial school (1930–31) and the Choate School (1931–35). One of his teachers later said that people in school liked him more for his personality than for his accomplishments. He was often ill during his childhood and spent much of this time reading. Kennedy enrolled at Princeton University in 1935 but illness soon forced him to withdraw. Upon recovery he went to Harvard University, where he majored in government and international relations. During his junior year at Harvard, he traveled in Europe and observed the events that were leading to World War II (1939–45; a war in which the Allies—France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and from 1941 the United States—fought against the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan). He used his observations for his senior paper, which later became the bestselling book Why England Slept (1940).
After graduating from Harvard with honors in 1940, Kennedy went to Stanford University for graduate studies. In April 1941 he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army but was rejected for physical reasons (a back injury received while playing football). Months later, after his back strengthened through a regimen of exercises, the U.S. Navy accepted him. He then became an intelligence officer in Washington, D.C. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Navy base in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, the United States entered World War II. Kennedy requested active duty at sea and was given this assignment in late 1942.

War hero

Following Kennedy's training with the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron, he was shipped to the South Pacific to fight in the war against Japan. In March 1943 he was given command of a patrol torpedo (PT) boat, a small, fast boat armed with weapons, including torpedoes. In August his boat was sliced in two by a Japanese destroyer and two of his crew were killed. Kennedy and four others clung to the half of the PT boat that remained afloat. Six other men survived in the nearby water, two wounded. In a three-hour struggle Kennedy got the wounded crewmen to the floating wreck. When it capsized, he ordered his men to swim to a small island about three miles away. He towed one man to shore in a heroic five-hour struggle. Several days later, having displayed great courage, leadership, and endurance, Kennedy succeeded in having his men rescued.

House of Representatives

Returning to civilian life, Kennedy did newspaper work for several months, covering a United Nations conference, the Potsdam Conference, and the British elections of 1945. However, coming from a family devoted to
John F. Kennedy.
John F. Kennedy. Courtesy of the
Library of Congress
public service, Kennedy desired a career in politics. In 1946 he became a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the Massachusetts eleventh congressional district. Kennedy built a large personal organization for his campaign. On whirlwind tours he met as many voters as possible. He talked to the people in a direct, informal style about the topics that they were concerned with. In this campaign and in all the others, his brothers, sisters, and mother supported him. His brothers, Robert (1925–1968) and Edward (also called Ted; 1932–), acted as his managers, while his sisters and mother held social events to raise money for his campaigns. Kennedy won the primary, the fall election, and reelection to the House in 1948 and again in 1950. He worked for better social welfare programs, particularly in the area of low-cost public housing (or affordable places for people to live). In 1949 he became a member of the Joint Committee on Labor-Management Relations. In this capacity, Kennedy was a strong supporter of labor, working for higher wages and better working conditions.
Kennedy supported the domestic programs of President Harry Truman (1884–1972), including social welfare programs, progressive taxation, and regulation of business. However, he did not follow Truman's policies in foreign relations. For example, he was against the fighting in Korea "or any other place in Asia where [the United States] cannot hold our defenses."

The Senate

In April 1952 Kennedy ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate against Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1902–1985), a Republican liberal. Kennedy won by over seventy thousand votes. Lodge reeled under the impact. He had not run against a man, but a whole family. The Kennedy women alone had acted as hostesses to at least seventy thousand Massachusetts housewives. In 1958 Kennedy was reelected to the Senate.
Kennedy's political success was soon followed by high points in his personal life. On September 12, 1953, Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier (1929–1994), daughter of a New York City financier, at Newport, Rhode Island. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917–) noted that "under a veil of lovely inconsequence" Mrs. Kennedy possessed "an all-seeing eye and ruthless judgement." John and Jacqueline Kennedy had three children: Caroline Bouvier (1957–), John Fitzgerald (1960–1999), Patrick Bouvier (who lived only a few days after his birth in 1963); another child was stillborn in 1956.
Taking his Senate seat in January 1953, Kennedy continued to support key labor, economic, and foreign relations issues. He served on the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, the Government Operations Committee, the Select Committee on Labor-Management Relations, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee. He also worked to pass several bills to aid the Massachusetts fishing and textile industries and to improve New England's economy.
A recurrence of his old back injuries forced Kennedy to use crutches during 1954. An operation in October 1954 was followed by another in February 1955. He spent his months of illness and recovery writing biographies of Americans who had shown moral courage at difficult points in their lives. These biographies became the best-selling book Profiles in Courage (1956), which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957.
Kennedy's back operations were not completely successful, and he was never again entirely free from pain. After recovering from his operations, he returned to his Senate seat in May 1955. He became a strong supporter of civil rights and social welfare legislation. The Kennedy-Douglas-Ives Bill (1957) required an accounting of all employee pension and welfare funds. Kennedy also sponsored bills for providing federal financial aid to education and for relaxing U.S. immigration laws.

Kennedy becomes president

Kennedy's record in elected office and the books and articles that he had written attracted national attention. After he lost the vice presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1956, he decided to run for president. Formally announcing his candidacy in January 1960, Kennedy made whirlwind tours and won the Democratic primaries in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Oregon, Maryland, Nebraska, and West Virginia. On July 13, 1960, Kennedy was nominated for president, with Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) as his running mate.
"Jack in Walk" shouted the Boston Globe after Kennedy's nomination. But it would be no easy walk to win the White House against the Republican candidate, Vice President Richard Nixon (1913–1994). At that time, Kennedy was a controversial candidate because he was a Roman Catholic. Religious prejudice, or dislike of a person based solely upon his or her religion, probably cost him over a million votes in Illinois alone. Kennedy responded to the issue of religion in his "Houston speech" on September 11, 1960. He believed in the absolute separation of church and state (the belief that one body—church or government—would have no influence over the other). To him, this meant that no priest could tell a president what to do and no Protestant clergyman could tell his parishioners how to vote. In other words, Kennedy's religion would not affect the decisions he made as president.
A series of televised debates with Nixon was crucial to Kennedy's campaign. Many viewers believed Kennedy defeated Nixon with his style. Kennedy showed the American people that he had a sense of humor, a love of language, and a sense of the past. On November 9, 1960, John F. Kennedy became the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic in American history to win the presidency. The 1960 presidential election was one of the closest in the nation's history. Kennedy won the popular vote by only 119,450 votes. On December 19, 1960, the electoral college cast 303 votes for Kennedy and 219 for Nixon.
At the inauguration on January 20, 1960, the first U.S. president born in the twentieth century was sworn into office. Kennedy's inaugural address included the challenge: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Bay of Pigs

In his short time in office, Kennedy faced many crises. The first of which involved Cuba, a country about ninety miles south of Florida. On April 17, 1961, fourteen hundred Cuban exiles, supported by the United States, invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. On April 18 the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) sent a note to Kennedy stating that his government would help the Cuban government resist an attack. By April 20 the invasion had failed. Although the plan for training Cuban exiles had actually begun during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969), Kennedy took responsibility for it. He had first supported the plan but later refused to commit the necessary American troops. He was aware that if the Cuban people did not rise up and back the invaders, the United States could not force them to accept a new system of government. Although the Bay of Pigs invasion was a failure, it did prove Kennedy's ability to face a disaster.

Protecting civil rights

Kennedy continued to show skill and passion for issues at home, particularly civil rights. In 1961 the Congress of Racial Equality, a civil rights group, organized people to protest segregation, or the practice of separating people based solely on their race, on buses and trains. When the showdown came, "the Kennedys," as the president and his brother Robert, the attorney general, were known, sent six hundred Federal marshals to Alabama to protect these "Freedom Riders." In 1962 they sent hundreds of Federal marshals to protect the rights of the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi.

Cuban missile crisis

On October 22, 1962, Kennedy announced to the nation that the Soviet Union had sent nuclear missiles to Cuba. In response the United States had blocked all shipments of military equipment into Cuba. The United States would not allow Cuba to become a Soviet missile base, and it would regard any missile launched from Cuba "as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full [military] response."
For a week the details of the situation had been "the best kept secret in government history." Throughout the seven days, the Kennedy administration had maintained an outward appearance of normal social and political activity. Meanwhile, American military units throughout the world were alerted.
Messages were sent back and forth between Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Pope John XXIII (1881–1963), who was volunteering as a peacemaker. During this time Soviet ships were moving toward the area of the blockade in the Atlantic Ocean. They slowed, then stopped. On October 28, 1962, the Soviet Union said it would remove its missiles from Cuba.
One result of the crisis was the nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union, which Kennedy called "the first step down the path of peace." The treaty was signed on July 25, 1963. A "hot line" for emergency messages was also set up between Washington, D.C., and Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union.


Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia, took up more of Kennedy's time than any other problem. The Vietnam War (1955–1975) was a civil war in which anti-Communist forces in South Vietnam, supported by the United States, were fighting against a takeover by Communist forces in North Vietnam. In 1954 President Eisenhower had offered military aid to South Vietnam and funding, and advisors were sent to the country throughout the 1950s. Although Kennedy believed that a "full-scale war in Vietnam … was unthinkable," he tripled American forces in the country. Senator William Fulbright (1905–1995) suggested that Kennedy put troops in Vietnam to prove to Khrushchev that "he couldn't be intimidated."

The President's last day

Kennedy was well aware of the dangers of the presidency. "Who can tell who will be president a year from now?" he would ask. On the day of his arrival in Dallas, Texas, he said that if anyone wanted to kill a president he needed only a high building and a rifle with a telescopic lens.
That day—November 22, 1963—the president was assassinated. It is generally believed that Lee Harvey Oswald (1939–1963), using a rifle equipped with a telescopic lens, was the person who fired on the president's car. Others, however, believe more than one person was responsible. All of the United States—indeed, the world—was in mourning. In Indonesia, flags were lowered to half-mast. In New Delhi, India, crowds wept in the streets.