American Presidents





John F. Kennedy American Presidents Teacher Guide

Biographical Vignette on John F. Kennedy
Party Affiliation and Political Groups
Nov 1 - 6. 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level



Before Viewing American Presidents
Part 1
Ask students: To what groups do you belong? Consider family, personal interest, and school affiliations. In what ways do you draw strength, knowledge and skills from being a part of these groups? How do the groups benefit from your participation? In what ways may having many group affiliations be a benefit to a rising politician?

Identify some of the groups that are powerful in the American political arena today. Identify at least one example from the following list. In which ways are each of the groups powerful? How do they wield their power?

  • Family
  • Political group
  • Religion
  • Occupation
  • Region
  • Ideology
  • Part 2
    Prepare students to view C-SPAN's American Presidents: Life Portrait featuring John F. Kennedy and study the ways President Kennedy's group affiliations affected his life.

    While Viewing American Presidents
    Directions: Take notes on the ways each of the groups John F. Kennedy was affiliated with lent him strength at various times in his life. Consider also, what he contributed to the image, power or position of the group within the larger society.


    What John F. Kennedy drew from the group? What John F. Kennedy contributed to the group
    1. Family


    2. Harvard


    3. The navy


    4. Democratic party


    5. The U.S. House


    6. The U.S. Senate


    7. Marriage


    8. The presidency (group: United States)

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    After Viewing American Presidents
    Identify two to three major successes as well as two to three failures of John F. Kennedy's life. What were the causes of each? How much of his success or failure came from his own personal strengths or weaknesses? How much of it drew from his associations with various groups?

    Review the current (or a recent) presidential race. Which candidates are succeeding? How are their group associations contributing to their success? Which candidates are less successful? Is it possible for a candidate without strong groups associations to run a successful campaign?


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