This Thanksgiving season marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most shocking days in U.S. history: the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The killing of a U.S. president had a profound effect on the mood of the nation, which lived under a nuclear threat while locked in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Warren Commission, after a 10-month investigation, concluded the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, acted alone, but conspiracy theories immediately emerged. Information gathered during the investigation continues to be released today, and polls have consistently shown most Americans believe there was a larger plot to kill the president.
The JFK assassination was the first of four that shook the country during the politically tumultuous 1960s. Also killed were Muslim minister and activist Malcolm X (1965), civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (1968), and JFK’s brother, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy (1968).
Kennedy was, and remains, a popular president. In the 1960 presidential race, he narrowly defeated incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon, aided greatly in the South by his running mate, Texan Lyndon B. Johnson. Kennedy easily won Georgia with 62.5% of the vote; the last non-southern Democrat to win the state for 60 years. In 2023, a Gallup poll found 90% of U.S. adults approved of Kennedy’s job performance, 21 points higher than second-place Ronald Reagan.