On This Day

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White House Press Office

On This Day: President Kennedy Assassinated

November 22, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

The JFK Assassination

John F. Kennedy, visiting Texas as part of campaign for re-election in 1964, was scheduled to speak at a luncheon in Dallas on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963. He and his wife Jacqueline were to taken from Love Field airport to the luncheon in a convertible alongside Texas Gov. John B. Connally and his wife.

Crowds cheered the presidential motorcade as it passed through downtown Dallas. At about 12:30, as Kennedy’s convertible drove west down Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, shots were fired.

Kennedy was struck; he lurched forward and appeared to be grabbing his throat. Connally was also hit in the back. Seconds later, another shot struck Kennedy, blowing a hole in the right side of the head. Kennedy was raced to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:00.

About an hour later, Kennedy’s body was transferred from the hospital to Love Field and loaded onto Air Force One. With Mrs. Kennedy standing by his side, Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was riding in a different car in the motorcade, was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One just 99 minutes after the president’s death.

The assassination of President Kennedy stunned and horrified the nation. James Reston wrote for The New York Times, “America wept tonight, not alone for its dead young President, but for itself. The grief was general, for somehow the worst in the nation had prevailed over the best. The indictment extended beyond the assassin, for something in the nation itself, some strain of madness and violence, had destroyed the highest symbol of law and order.”

Arrest and Murder of Lee Harvey Oswald

Police searched the area, and soon discovered a rifle and bullet cartridges on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository, located along Elm Street, behind the convertible. At 1:50, they arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old former Marine who had lived in the Soviet Union. Oswald had also murdered a police officer as he was fleeing the scene.

During interrogation, Oswald did not admit to killing the president. Two days later, while being transferred to county jail, Oswald was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who claimed to be distraught over the president’s death. Oswald’s murder, broadcast live on national television, added to the shock and confusion of Kennedy assassination.

The Warren Commission and Conspiracy Theories

Following the Kennedy assassination, President Johnson ordered an investigation headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren to determine how the president was killed and who was responsible for it. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald and Ruby acted alone, and that the president was struck by two bullets, one of which struck him and Connally.

The Warren Commission had several significant limitations, however, and failed to properly investigate many aspects of the assassination. Many who have studied the assassination argue that it may have been part of a conspiracy and that a second shooter located ahead of the president may have been involved. There continues to be a strenuous debate on how the assassination was carried out.

Reference: Assassination Analysis

Marquette professor John C. McAdams’ site sets out to debunk many conspiracy theories and provides and explanation for the assassination that is generally consistent with the Warren Commission.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation critiques the Warren Commission and other government investigation through a large collection of evidence gathered by Dallas secretary Mary Ferrell.

University of Rhode Island professor Kenneth Rahm’s site features a large archive of articles and investigations authored by researchers on all sides of the issue. 

JFK Lancer is a site dedicated to advancing assassination conspiracy theories.

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