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Diagram of bullet's path from HSCA report

The Assassination of JFK

  • Dallas Trip
    Question:  Why was Kennedy in Dallas, and what events took place on 22 November 1963?

President Kennedy was in Dallas gathering funds and support for the coming election. That day, at 11.37a.m. Kennedy arrived at Lovefield airport with his wife, Vice President Lyndon, the Texas Governor and his wife. At 11.55a.m. Oswald was spotted on the sixth floor of the school book depository. At 12.30p.m. The limousine moved through Dealy Plaza. Three shots were fired and they hit President Kennedy and John Connolly, the Governor of Texas. The motorcade sped away to Parkland Memorial Hospital. At 1p.m. President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead by the Parkland doctors. At 1.12p.m. three used bullet cartridges and a bag were found on the 6th floor of the book depository. At 1.18p.m. Patrolman J.D. Tippit was shot and killed. At 1.22 p.m. a rifle was found by the staircase in the depository building. At 1.50p.m. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested a few streets away from Dealy Plaza in a movie theatre


  •  JFK's enemies
    Question:  What groups would want to kill JFK, and what are their motives?

Although he has become a legend, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was hardly the most popular president in history when he was gunned down in November, 1963. In the previous six months alone, the Secret Service had reviewed over 400 threats to his life. Three of these were serious enough to entail changes in his security routine.

He was loathed by anti-Castro exiles, other right-wingers, the Mafia and even some of his own government agencies. In attempting to figure out who murdered him, it is important to understand who hated him, and why.

 The stolen election

The seeds of that hatred were planted in the 1960 election that brought Kennedy to the presidency. The Democrats stole that election from Republican candidate Richard Nixon by tampering with the vote in two states. In Illinois, Mafia boss Sam Giancana arranged for 10,000 votes to be cast for John F. Kennedy "from the graveyard." In Texas, the political machine of Kennedy's running mate, Lyndon Johnson, arbitrarily disqualified about 100,000 votes.

As a result, 51 electoral votes that should have gone to Nixon went to Kennedy. Had they been added to Nixon's total, he would have squeezed into the presidency by one electoral vote.

Yet JFK quickly forgot his debts to Giancana and Johnson. Early in his presidency, he and his brother Robert established a special Justice Department strike force aimed at eradicating organized crime in the US. By the summer of 1963, JFK seemed ready to dump Johnson from his 1964 reelection ticket because Johnson's long-time personal secretary, Bobby Baker, had been implicated in a scandal involving federal farm subsidies.

 The Bay of Pigs

Soon after the 1960 election, JFK made new enemies. In 1960, President Eisenhower's last year in office, a force of 1400 anti-Communist Cuban exiles was assembled to overthrow Fidel Castro. JFK allowed this force to invade Cuba in April 1961. But when it landed at the Bay of Pigs, it found it had underestimated the extent of Castro's support.

Pinned down on the beach, the invaders appealed to Kennedy for US air and naval support. He refused, leaving them to be taken prisoner by Castro's forces. This embittered all those involved in the anti-Castro cause, including the Mafia, which wanted its Cuban casinos back.

Kennedy then retaliated against those in the CIA he felt had misled him about the strength of anti-Castro sympathy in Cuba. He told a high official that he would "splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." His purge removed CIA Director Allen Dulles, Deputy Director General Charles Cabell (the brother of the mayor of Dallas) and Deputy Director of Plans Richard Bissell.

Kennedy went on to ransom the Bay of Pigs prisoners for tractors, and promised them another try at overthrowing Castro. Then, in October 1962, he surrounded Cuba with a naval blockade and forced Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to remove his missiles. After the Missile Crisis (as it was called), JFK abandoned the anti-Castro movement altogether. He closed its training bases in Florida and Louisiana, promised the USSR he would respect Cuba's sovereignty and began to negotiate for improved relations with Castro himself.


Needless to say, JFK's handling of the Cuban situation did nothing to win over the right wing, nor Kennedy's critics in the military. He further alienated them in his relations with the USSR.

Khrushchev's reading of the Bay of Pigs "fiasco" (as it came to be called) was that JFK was an ineffectual leader who could easily be pushed around. This point of view was reinforced by JFK's failure to react when, in 1961, the Soviet Union built a wall across Berlin, dividing the city, and threatened to attack the Western allies if they stayed there.

JFK did "stand up to the Russians" during the Missile Crisis but then, less than a year later, he signed a limited nuclear test-ban treaty with Moscow, which made the right wing think that he accepted Communist control over Eastern Europe and the Baltic States and was surrendering in the Cold War.

 The Vietnam War

Even worse, by the fall of 1963, JFK was ready to cut his losses and pull out of Vietnam. Since South Vietnam's government was so unpopular, Kennedy saw no chance of a US victory without an impossibly large commitment of resources. He sent a high-level fact-finding mission to Vietnam, and it proposed the withdrawal of 1000 US troops by the end of the year and the phase-out of US military forces by the end of 1965.

Kennedy's critics believed that his endorsement of this proposal virtually guaranteed that the whole of Southeast Asia would fall to the Communists.

 The civil rights movement

For all these reasons, Kennedy had infuriated the right throughout the country. But what particularly galled those in the South was his encouragement of the civil rights movement.

In October 1962, JFK sent federal marshals and troops to force the integration of the University of Mississippi. In the summer of 1963, he supported a bill that would guarantee the right to vote and access to all public accommodations for every citizen, regardless of color-the most aggressive legislative attack on segregation since the Civil War.

  • Lee Harvey Oswald
    Question:  Who was he, and why is it likely that he's the gunman?



Question:   What happened to Oswald?  Who is Jack Ruby?




Question:  Basically, what is the theory, and what are problems with it?





  • Questions:  What was the official commission set up to investigate, and what are some reasons to believe it is/isnít a conspiracy?


  • Questions:  Did Oswald have a connection to Ruby?  What was it?


  • If you have time, read the psychological evaluation of the investigation, and why we are all nuts.



Now that you have finished JFK (well, we don't really know who finished him), get started on the outline/hand written
essay for his presidency.


Maintained by: Travis Greil
Last Updated: Thursday, November 01, 2012

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Thomas W. Johansen, Principal
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