John F Kennedy Quotes

60+ John F. Kennedy Quotes On Politics and Freedom

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States from 1961-1963. He was the youngest man elected to office and the youngest president in history to die while in office. As a representative of the Democratic party, JFK was an advocate for the nation’s people. He was beloved and admired by (most of) the American people. Here are some of the best John F. Kennedy quotes to show what kind of political leader he was:

JFK’s Political Career

Born in 1914 in Massachusetts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy grew up in a competitive and religious family. He served in the navy and had plans to pursue a career in journalism or academia. However, when his brother died in the war, his father put political pressure on him.

JFK then ran for Congress in 1946, and in the Democratic primary, he received nearly double the votes of his Republican opponent. He served three terms in the House of Representatives (1947-1953) as a liberal. During this time, he advocated for better working conditions, higher wages, cheaper rent, and more social security for the elderly.

President Kennedy was a supporter of the Cold War policies, the Truman Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan. He was an advocate for labor reform, foreign aid in Africa and Asia, the electoral college abolishment, and the Civil Rights legislation. He struggled with foreign affairs, specifically with both the Soviet Union and the Cuban missile crisis with Fidel Castro. JFK wanted to stop the spread of communism, but, unfortunately, this caused an escalation in the Vietnam War.

When he grew tired of “playing it safe” in the House of Representatives, he ran for the U.S. Senate. He had many people campaigning for him, and his electoral appeal enhanced when he married the beautiful and beloved Jackie Lee Bouvier. In 1961, JFK became the youngest and the first Roman Catholic ever elected as president. He was a well-liked man and was looked at as one of the country’s best political figures, with his legendary wife, Jackie Kennedy. It wasn’t until after his death that his two major projects were passed: the income tax cuts and the civil rights pursuit.

JFK: The Infamous End

President Kennedy fought a lot of physical pain in his life. Along with suffering from Addison Disease, he also suffered a back injury in the war when a Japanese destroyer sank his torpedo boat. He brought this pain with amphetamines, and he quickly became dependent on them.

Then, on November 22, 1963, he and his wife Jackie were in an open limo riding through downtown Dallas. It was then that a 24-year-old named Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President Kennedy. His assassination sparked a lot of controversies, speculation, and theories even still to this day.

After her husband’s death, Jackie Kennedy sought to change things around the White House. She wanted to preserve the decorative arts, make the rooms reflect the architectural history, and transform it into a showcase for cultural achievements.

President Kennedy was a beloved man. He has gone down in history not only for the event of his assassination but also for his actions as president. Here are some words of wisdom from John F. Kennedy himself:

john f kennedy quotes
Public domain – Wikipedia

John F. Kennedy Quotes on Politics and Leadership

“If by a Liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a Liberal, then I’m proud to say I’m a Liberal.” -John F. Kennedy

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” -John F. Kennedy

“There is nothing in the record of the past two years when both Houses of Congress have been controlled by the Republican Party which can lead any person to believe that those promises will be fulfilled in the future. They follow the Hitler line – no matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough, and the masses will regard it as truth.” -John F. Kennedy

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.” -John F. Kennedy

“There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” -John F. Kennedy

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” -John F. Kennedy

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” -John F. Kennedy

“For the problems are not all solved, and the battles are not all won—and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier–the frontier of the 1960s–a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils– a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises—it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them.” -John F. Kennedy

“I’m an idealist without illusions.” -John F. Kennedy

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” -John F. Kennedy

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” -John F. Kennedy

“If not us, who? If not now, when?” -John F. Kennedy

“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or make it the last.” -John F. Kennedy

person standing on stage

John F. Kennedy Quotes On War and Peace

“World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor – it requires only that they live together with mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.” -John F. Kennedy

“Mankind must put an end to war – or war will put an end to mankind.” -John F. Kennedy

“It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.” -John F. Kennedy

“My fellow Americans, let us take that first step. Let us…step back from the shadow of war and seek out the way of peace. And if that journey is a thousand miles, or even more, let history record that we, in this land, at this time, took the first step.” -John F. Kennedy

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” -John F. Kennedy

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” -John F. Kennedy

“There is always inequality in life. Some men are killed in a war, and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country. Life is unfair.” -John F. Kennedy

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” -John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy Quotes on Freedom and Equality

“One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.” -John F. Kennedy

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.” -John F. Kennedy

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” -John F. Kennedy

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” -John F. Kennedy

“This nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equal. And that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” -John F. Kennedy

man in black and white crew neck t-shirt holding black and white quote board

Quotes by President John F. Kennedy on Knowledge and Education 

“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.” -John F. Kennedy

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope or dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our Nation.” -John F. Kennedy

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” -John F. Kennedy

“When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence.” -John F. Kennedy

“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” -John F. Kennedy

“A child miseducated is a child lost.” -John F. Kennedy

“The greater our knowledge increases, the more our ignorance unfolds.” -John F. Kennedy

“Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” -John F. Kennedy

“Too often, we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” -John F. Kennedy

“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.” -John F. Kennedy

“If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.” -John F. Kennedy

“But Goethe tells us in his greatest poem that Faust lost the liberty of his soul when he said to the passing moment: “Stay, thou art so fair.” And our liberty, too, is endangered if we pause for the passing moment, if we rest on our achievements if we resist the pace of progress. For time and the world do not stand still.” -John F. Kennedy

photo of library interior

John F. Kennedy Quotes on Life and Humanity

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” -John F. Kennedy

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” -John F. Kennedy

“Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.” -John F. Kennedy

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” -John F. Kennedy

“If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” -John F. Kennedy

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” -John F. Kennedy

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” -John F. Kennedy

“There are three things which are real; God, Human Folly, and Laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third.” -John F. Kennedy

“The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of this planet.” -John F. Kennedy

planet earth close-up photography

John F. Kennedy Quotes on Hardships and Happiness

“Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men.” -John F. Kennedy

“Life is never easy. There is work to be done and obligations to be met—obligations to truth, to justice, and to liberty.” -John F. Kennedy

“Our problems are man-made; therefore, they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” -John F. Kennedy

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” -John F. Kennedy

“Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.” -John F. Kennedy

“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.” -John F. Kennedy

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John F. Kennedy

“Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” -John F. Kennedy

people in conference

John F. Kennedy Quotes on Courage, Success, Overcoming Challenges, and Change

“The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment, but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.” -John F. Kennedy

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” -John F. Kennedy

“The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is unchangeable or certain.” -John F. Kennedy

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” -John F. Kennedy

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” -John F. Kennedy

“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.” -John F. Kennedy

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” -John F. Kennedy

“A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” -John F. Kennedy

President John F. KennedyOther John F. Kennedy Quotes

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came.” -John F. Kennedy

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” -John F. Kennedy

Read JFK’s full Inaugural Address speech here.

More Quotes:

About the author
January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University. Read more articles from January on Thought Catalog.

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