Writing a JFK Essay

Table of contents

Intro – Who was this man?

November 22, 1963. That date “lives” in history books like the one in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, one of three U.S. sitting presidents to be killed. 

Kennedy grew up in the “lap of luxury.” But, even at an early age, he felt a commitment to his country and served in World War II s a Navy Lieutenant. He entered politics at a relatively young age and was ultimately elected President in the November 1960 election, taking office in January 1961. His presidency was short-lived when he was assassinated in 1963. The official conclusion was that he was killed by a lone shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, who opposed Kennedy’s efforts to remove Fidel Castro, the Communist dictator of Cuba. But conspiracy theories about this assassination are “alive and well” today, and there is evidence to support some of those theories.

Writing an essay about JFK is a wide-ranging area, and, if you have been assigned such an essay, be prepared to do some research.

Sample JFK Essay

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Possible Essay Topics

An essay on JFK can be biographical or historical. It can relate to his life, his policy, and legislative initiatives during his short time as President, to his assassination, or to the impact that his assassination had on the political climate afterward.

Best JFK Essay topics:

  1. What were Kennedy’s initiatives on Civil Rights? What major events occurred relative to those initiatives during his presidency? After his death?
  2. What were successes and failures during the Kennedy presidency?
  3. How did the Bay of Pigs Invasion tarnish Kennedy’s presidency?
  4. What were Kennedy’s actions and responses during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
  5. Describe and analyze the relationship between Kennedy and FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover?
  6. How did Kennedy resolve the U.S. Steel crisis? Was this “over-reach” on the part of the Executive Branch of government?
  7. There are many conspiracy theories regarding Kennedy’s assassination. Research one, explain it and provide the evidence that is used.
  8. Describe the political aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination
  9. Given the Cold War of the early ’60s, what were Kennedy’s actions relative to the Vietnam War?
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Writing a Biographical or Historical Essay

You already know the basic structure of an essay – introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. This does not change when writing a biographical or historical essay. But there will certainly be research involved.

The key to an effective essay will be the development of a thesis statement. If, for example, you are writing a biographical essay about JFK, what overriding principles or values did he exhibit? One possibility might be this: “As an adult, JFK had an abiding passion for being of service to others.” Your body paragraphs, then, will provide examples that support that thesis statement. 

For example, he joined the Navy during World War II; he represented his Massachusetts district in the House of Representatives and then the entire state as a Senator. As President, he focused on civil rights, serving the interests of America in the Cold War, and reigning in corporate power over the “little guy.”

If you choose a more specific event, such as the assassination, and you choose to take an argumentative position on an alternate theory, then your thesis statement might read: “While the official version of the JFK assassination was that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, there is sufficient evidence to provide alternatives to this version.” 

Sample JFK Essays

A simple Google search will give you any number of sample JFK essays, both biographical and historical. These will give you some good ideas for resources and the thoughts of others on the topic you have chosen. Just be mindful that your essay must be an original, one that you have crafted after doing your research, developing your own opinions, and presenting those in your own style and voice.

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