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1960: Narrow victory for John F Kennedy

Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy has emerged as the new president of the United States beating Vice-President Richard Nixon by a slim margin.

Senator Kennedy, aged 43, is a Harvard graduate and war hero. He will be the youngest elected president in US history and the first Roman Catholic.

In his victory speech at Hyannis, Massachusetts, he urged all Americans to help him "move this country safely through the 1960s".

He added: "I can assure you that every degree of mind and spirit that I possess will be devoted to the long-range interests of the United States and to the cause of freedom around the world."

Night of doubt

Then turning to his wife, Jacqueline, who is due to give birth to their second child in three weeks' time, he said they would now prepare for "a new administration and a new baby".

Also standing next to Senator Kennedy during his speech was his father Joseph, once US Ambassador to London. And close by was his brother and campaign manager Robert Kennedy.

After a whole night of doubt as to who was the victor of the great American prize of president, Mr Nixon hinted at defeat at 0315 local time at Republican headquarters in Los Angeles.

As supporters chanted: "We want Nixon!" he told the nation to back their new leader.

"I want Senator Kennedy to know - I want you all to know - that if this trend continues and he does become president, he will have my whole-hearted support," he said.

He did not officially concede victory until some six hours later in a congratulatory telegram to the president-elect.

It has been a heated and exciting election campaign in which television has played an important role for the first time in US election history. Last month millions of viewers watched the pair battle it out in a series of television debates.

With two states still to file a final verdict and Mississippi "unpledged" due to disapproval of both parties' commitments to civil rights, the results so far are:

President Eisenhower is reported to be unhappy with the Democrat victory.

But he sent his congratulations to the president-elect and called a cabinet meeting to arrange the transition of government ahead of Senator Kennedy's inauguration in January.

In Context
The final result showed JFK won with an even narrower margin than first announced - 34,227,096 popular votes to Richard Nixon's 34,107,646.

His term ran for just two years before he was assassinated in Dallas on 22 November 1963, an event that left the nation totally stunned.

This short time was marked by major events such as the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, the Cuban missile crisis a year later and the first - limited - nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union in August 1963.

As part of a general anti-communist policy, he increased US military support for South Vietnam and pledged to defend West Berlin and access to it.

At home, while federal troops were sent to quell anti-black riots in the south, his proposals for civil rights reforms in Congress foundered.

His opponent in the 1960 election, Richard Nixon, won the presidential vote in 1968.


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