Celebrity Then And Now
John F Kennedy
Famous For: 35th President of the United States, being assassinated while in officeCurrently Known For: Former President of the United States
John F Kennedy
Famous For 35th President of the United States, being assassinated while in office
Currently Known For Former President of the United States

"And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." The United States of America had a lot of presidents during the 20th century, but perhaps none more popular than John F. Kennedy. The leader of the nation during the height of the Cold War, Kennedy was a charismatic politician that became the 35th President of the United States in 1961 after he defeated Richard Nixon in the 1960 election.

Growing up, Kennedy had attended several different schools, and then finally landed at Choate Rosemary Hall in his high school years. The boarding school is one of the finest in all of the northeast, and sets students up for college success. Kennedy wasn’t exactly the best student during his first couple of years there, and was more known as a troublemaker.

Eventually, Kennedy would start getting his act together and became a decent student. Out of 112 students, Kennedy ranked 64th and was voted as the most likely in his class to succeed. Some of that might have had to do with the fact that Kennedy’s family was quite well established in the political world and he was naturally charismatic. Also, 64th out of 112 might seem like a very low ranking, but this wasn’t some public school in the middle of nowhere that we’re talking about here.

Kennedy planned to continue his education after high school, intending to enroll at the London School of Economics, but had to come back to the United States after he had become ill. He then attended Princeton for a little over a month before becoming ill once again, and then enrolled at Harvard University. Just like in high school, there were some growing pains for Kennedy but he would eventually find his focus and become a fine student.

After graduating with cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in government, Kennedy then took himself out west where he went to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Kennedy wouldn’t finish his degree at Stanford, however, as he went abroad, worked with his father and then entered the military during World War II. In the military, Kennedy has a prestigious career that included a Purple Heart and a Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

It was actually supposed to be Kennedy’s older brother, Joe, that would represent the family going forward politically, but after he sadly passed away in World War II, John assumed the spot and ran for the House of Representatives. Kennedy would take office to represent Massachusetts in 1947, and became the state’s senator six years later.

In 1960, the election to determine who would become president between Kennedy and Richard Nixon was held, with Kennedy winning by an electoral vote of 303 to 219, narrowly winning the popular vote, as well. Kennedy was able to win over voters with his policies and tremendous public speaking abilities, which was a result of his intelligence.

Even if he wasn’t the hardest worker sometimes as a student, Kennedy was still a bright man that seemed to push all the right buttons with people. He never took an official IQ test, but Kennedy’s IQ was estimated by analysts to have been just under 150. This would make him incredibly gifted, and just outside of the top five presidents in terms of intelligence behind John Quincy Adams, Jimmy Carter, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

However, there have been some that said that Kennedy actually did take an IQ test that clocked him in at 119. This would still be well above the human average, but would rank him toward the bottom for United States presidents. It’s been a point of contention for many historians and analysts, as some believe his IQ was inflated to fall in line with other estimates that presidents have had.

Regardless, Kennedy was still a very intelligent man and a popular leader of the country. His public speaking abilities alone showed how sharp he was, and it helped him to become the youngest president ever elected in the United States (Theodore Roosevelt was younger, but not elected at first). Kennedy was a smart economic mind that helped get the country out of a tough recession, and he was instrumental during the Cold War while establishing the Peace Corps.

Sadly, Kennedy would only be in office for about two and a half years, as tragedy struck the nation on November 22, 1963. While in Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was shot, suspectedly by Lee Harvey Oswald, leading to one of the most infamous moments in American history. Following his death, Lyndon B. Johnson took over as the United States president, but Kennedy is still remembered fondly by many as a great leader.

His exact IQ will always be up for debate, but there’s little question that Kennedy was at least a man of high intelligence. Kennedy might not be as decorated in terms of degrees as some other presidents, but you have to remember that World War II, as well as his personal health, played a big role in that. The man who uttered quotes such as “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” and “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names” will always have a place in history.

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