Explore the enigmatic facets of one of America’s most iconic figures with our compilation of 10 Fascinating Facts About JFK You Never Heard Before. While John F. Kennedy is widely known for his charismatic leadership as the 35th President of the United States, this collection delves into lesser-known aspects of his life, revealing a more intimate portrait of the man behind the political legend. From his hidden talents and personal struggles to surprising connections and unique experiences, these intriguing facts shed light on the multifaceted nature of JFK, inviting readers to discover a fresh perspective on this captivating historical figure.
The List of 10 Fascinating Facts About JFK You Never Heard Before
1. John F. Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize
Kennedy’s journey as an author began during his college years when, as a young man, he penned a historical novel for his thesis. This work would later be published when he was just 22 years old, showcasing the early signs of his talent and literary promise. His enduring passion for writing culminated in the publication of “Profiles in Courage” in 1956. The book, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1957, delves into the lives of eight United States Senators who displayed political courage by taking principled stands despite potential backlash.
2. JFK Loved Cuban Cigars
The Cuban Revolution in 1959, which led to Fidel Castro assuming power, marked the beginning of a tumultuous relationship between the US and Cuba. As tensions escalated, the United States, under Kennedy’s administration, implemented the Cuba Embargo in 1962, an economic and trade blockade intended to isolate Cuba. JFK was a fan of cigars and secured over a thousand cigars right before signing the Cuba Embargo. The irony of JFK’s fondness for Cuban cigars becomes particularly pronounced when considering the broader context of the Cold War and the strained relations between the United States and Cuba.
3. Kennedy Donated his Presidential Salary to Charity
In 1961, when Kennedy assumed the presidency, the annual salary for the position was $100,000. Rather than retaining this income for personal use, Kennedy made the conscious decision to redirect the funds towards charitable endeavors. This choice resonated with his values and the spirit of public service that defined his political career. John F. Kennedy’s decision to donate his entire presidential salary to charity exemplifies his commitment to public service and philanthropy.
4. JFK is the Only President to Receive a Purple Heart
During World War II, Kennedy served as a naval officer in the Pacific theater. On the night of August 1-2, 1943, Kennedy’s patrol torpedo boat, PT-109, was struck by a Japanese destroyer. resulting in the sinking of the boat and the death of two crew members. Despite suffering injuries himself, Kennedy demonstrated remarkable leadership and resilience in leading the surviving crew members to safety and rescue, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart. The Purple Heart is a prestigious military decoration awarded to members of the armed forces who are wounded or killed in action, highlighting Kennedy’s personal sacrifice and dedication to his country.
5. He Had Lifelong Health Problems
John F. Kennedy’s outward charisma and youthful image as the 35th President of the United States often masked the persistent health challenges he faced throughout his life. One of the prominent health issues Kennedy dealt with was Addison’s disease, a rare disorder affecting the adrenal glands. In addition to Addison’s disease, Kennedy also battled hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, affecting metabolism and energy levels. He also suffered from severe back pain stemming from an injury sustained during World War II. These underlying health concerns created a backdrop of chronic discomfort for the president, requiring constant medical attention and medication.
6. He was an Avid Drawer
John F. Kennedy’s creative talents extended beyond the realm of writing; he was also an avid and expressive drawer. Despite the demands of his political career and the weight of his responsibilities, Kennedy found solace and joy in the act of doodling. He doodled every time he had the chance to; from boats to staircases and other sketches, the former president enjoyed filling the margins of his notes with small drawings. This lesser-known aspect of his personality reveals a more intimate and artistic side to the man who would become the 35th President of the United States.
7. He Was Rejected From The Military
One of the most unique aspects of John F. Kennedy’s early military career is the fact that he was initially rejected for service. His health, particularly his back condition, presented a significant obstacle, rendering him unfit for frontline combat. However, his fervent desire to serve in the armed forces led him to explore alternative avenues to fulfill his patriotic duty. Kennedy turned to his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who had considerable influence and connections. With the assistance of his father’s political and social network, John F. Kennedy secured a spot in the United States Navy.
8. Kennedy had a White House Secret Tape System
Did you ever hear about the intriguing connection between Nixon and the Watergate scandal, allegedly uncovered by Kennedy? The surprising twist lies in the fact that Kennedy, long before Nixon’s presidency, had a secret tape system installed in the White House office. This took place well before Nixon assumed office. The motivation behind Kennedy’s installation of the tape system was reportedly to record White House meetings for the purpose of using them as source material for his biography.
9. He was a Good Football Player
Despite facing health challenges and contending with various illnesses throughout his life, Kennedy not only developed a love for American football but also demonstrated skill and talent on the field. Kennedy’s engagement with football at Harvard showcased his determination to lead a well-rounded and active life, transcending the constraints imposed by his health conditions. His involvement in the sport is a testament to his competitive spirit and the ability to find a sense of belonging within the team dynamics of football.
10. Kennedy Attended Princeton University
Prior to his enrollment at Harvard University, the future president in 1935 began his undergraduate career at another Ivy League institution, Princeton University. His stint there was brief. A gastrointestinal illness forced him to leave Princeton after only two months, and after convalescing he transferred to Harvard. The move to Harvard proved to be a pivotal one for him, as he went on to complete his studies and establish connections that would shape his future. At Harvard, Kennedy became immersed in the academic environment and social circles, further honing the skills and perspectives that would later contribute to his political career.
As we conclude this exploration into the lesser-known facets of John F. Kennedy’s life, it becomes evident that the narrative of this charismatic leader extends far beyond his political persona. These ten fascinating facts offer a glimpse into the private world of JFK, showcasing his resilience, creativity, and the complexities that defined his character. From his unexpected talents and personal struggles to the surprising connections that shaped his journey, these revelations paint a more nuanced portrait of a man whose impact transcended the political arena. By uncovering these lesser-known aspects, we not only enrich our understanding of JFK but also highlight the depth of his legacy, leaving us with a profound appreciation for the intricate tapestry of his life beyond the public spotlight.