Politics from Camelot to Watergate

56d. Kennedy Assassination

Presidential motorcade
November 22, 1963, was a sunny day in Dallas, Texas, and for this reason the convertible Presidential limousine went through the afternoon parade with the top down. The President and his wife are seated in the back of the car, while Texas governor John Connally is seated directly in front of the President.

Ask any American who was over the age of 8 in 1963 the question: "Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?" and a complete detailed story is likely to follow.

On November 22, 1963, a wave of shock and grief swept the United States. While visiting Dallas, President Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullet. Millions of Americans had indelible images burned into their memories. The bloodstained dress of Jacqueline Kennedy, a mournful Vice-President Johnson swearing the Presidential oath of office, and dozens and dozens of unanswered questions.

Dealey Plaza
Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, was the site of the assassination. The large brick building directly in the center of this photo is the Texas School Book Depository, from where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot President Kennedy. To the left is the "grassy knoll" where many conspiracy theorists believe a different gunman assassinated Kennedy.

President Kennedy was scheduled to speak at a luncheon in Dallas on November 22. The weather was bright and clear, and the President wished to wave to the crowds as his motorcade moved from the airport through the city. A protective covering was not placed over his convertible limousine.

As the procession moved through Dealey Plaza, gunshots tore through the midday air. Within minutes President Kennedy was dead, and John Connally, the Texas governor was badly wounded. Kennedy was rushed to the hospital, but to no avail. The news rang out through the nation. Businesses and schools closed so grief-stricken Americans could watch the unfolding events.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder. Oswald was an avowed communist who spent three years living in the Soviet Union. He allegedly shot the President from a window in the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza. Two days later, while Oswald was being transferred between prison facilities, a nightclub owner named Jack Ruby stepped out of the crowd and fired a bullet into Oswald at point blank range killing the prisoner. Oswald's murder was captured on live television.

Johnson takes the Oath of Office
Following John F. Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the Presidency of the United States. With the slain President's wife Jaqueline looking on mournfully, Johnson took the Oath of Office while on board the Presidential airplane, Air Force One.
Oswald's death left many unanswered, searing questions. Among them, "Did Oswald actually assassinate Kennedy?" "Did he act alone?"

A committee headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren studied the events surrounding the assassination and declared that Oswald was Kennedy's killer — and that he acted alone.

Critics of the Warren Commission cited irregularities in the findings. Questions surrounded the ability of any sharpshooter to fire the number of bullets Oswald supposedly fired, from such a great distance, with any degree of accuracy. Witnesses testified that shots were fired from another direction at the President — the infamous grassy knoll — suggesting the presence of a second shooter.

One theory suggests the possibility of a killer firing from a sewer grate along the road. Conspiracy talk flourished — and continues to flourish. Groups as diverse as the Cubans, the Russians, the CIA, and organized crime have been rumored Oswald cohorts.

Flaws in Kennedy's autopsy report suggest the possibility of a cover-up. The President's brain, a very important piece of forensic evidence, simply disappeared.

After years of study, no conclusive evidence has been presented to disprove the findings of the Warren Commission, but the same questions remain.

  • Did Oswald kill Kennedy?
  • Did he act alone?

On the Web
Basic Evidence of Conspiracy
Real History Archives, a warehouse of conspiracy theories, presents evidence of conspiracy in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, including statements given by six witnesses on 22 November that suggest multiple gunmen were involved. The "single-bullet theory", is a favorite target of conspiracy theorists, but have you heard the equally suspicious story of how this magic bullet was found? Get it here.
House Select Committee on Assassinations: Conclusions
The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported its findings on the assassination of JFK in 1979. Though the committee recognized a probable conspiracy in the crime, it raised more questions than answers. See who the committee implicated in the assassination, and how the Warren Commission was criticized at this page of HSCA conclusions.
J.F.K. Assassination: Questions and Answers
Grover B. Proctor, Jr., regarded as an expert on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, answers 11 excellent questions from students who are beginning their inquiry into the confusing, complex, and controversial crime. While you will find extremists on both sides of this issue, Proctor's answers are grounded in evidence rather than reckless speculation.
The Anti-Conspiracy Site
The assassination of John F. Kennedy has created a conspiracy industry that has produced hundreds of books and few answers. This amateur mega-site attempts to undermine every JFK conspiracy theory known to man, proving that you can find "evidence" for almost any theory you want to believe. Be sure to visit "Bogus Evidence" for a collection of conspiracy hoaxes, including an explanation of the "mysterious" deaths of witnesses. Includes gallery, articles, and links.
In 1999, Abraham Zapruder's 8mm footage of JFK's assassination was judged to be worth 16 million dollars. That comes to $615,384 per second!
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Within a year and a half of JFK's assassination, 18 material witnesses died under suspicious circumstances.
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