November 22, 1963: John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

Sixty-two years after the assassination of William McKinley, President John F. Kennedy became, at the age of forty-six, the fourth president to be assassinated in American history. He had arrived in Dallas the same day he was assassinated, on tour campaigning for the 1964 election. Prior to his arrival, he had been warned against visiting the city by many, including Adlai Stevenson, who had himself faced jeers and threats of violence when he visited the city a month earlier. Kennedy decided to go anyway; he and Jacqueline arrived in Dallas at around noon and stepped into a presidential limousine headed for the Dallas Trade Mart, where Kennedy would have spoken at a luncheon. 

Kennedy was travelling in a motorcade that took him along a ten-mile route through Dallas, allowing him to greet the crowds of excited people who packed the streets. The Kennedys were joined in their limousine by the governor of Texas and the governor’s wife, who reportedly spoke the last words Kennedy heard before being shot: 

Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.

As the limousine turned and entered Dealey Plaza (passing in front of the Texas School Book Depository, a bullet struck the president, and then, as a Secret Service agent rushed to his aid, another hit him, this time straight in the head. Jacqueline Kennedy climbed onto the back of the limousine and screamed “I have his brains in my hand!” The limo then sped off to the hospital, but little more could be done. John F. Kennedy was declared dead half an hour later. Fifteen minutes later, Lee Harvey Oswald shot a Dallas police officer on the side of a road. He was soon found in a theater, where he was arrested. Controversy still surrounds the assassination, especially regarding Oswald, his guilt, and his involvement in a possible conspiracy orchestrated by several different parties (the KGB, the CIA, the mafia, even then-Vice President Johnson). The Warren Commission, which was established a week after Kennedy’s assassination, found nothing of note, but the commission’s findings did nothing to quell controversy; in fact, it probably exacerbated it. 

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