The Kennedy family at Hyannisport

President Kennedy was handsome, youthful, and a decorated war hero. He was the first president to be born in the 20th century and, at 43, the youngest ever elected president. He was also a published author with an Ivy League education. His looks, wit, and intelligence appeared as a sharp contrast from the older and more staid presidential styles that preceded him.

Mrs. Kennedy on a trip to India
Photo: Cecil Stoughton, White House/John F. Kennedy Library

His equally attractive and elegant wife, Jacqueline, was just 31 when she came to the White House. Americans had been accustomed to First Ladies as remote figures remaining in the political background. Instead, Jackie became a trendsetter for style. She transformed the White House into a public showcase for culture, inviting artists, writers, poets, and musicians to perform. And she supervised a very public refurbishing of the Presidential residence, because she believed the White House should be a museum housing the best of American history and beauty.

President Kennedy, his children and a pony at a door to the Oval Office
Photo: Robert Knudsen, White House/John F. Kennedy Library

When the Kennedys moved into the White House, their two children were three years and two months old. The first time a baby occupied the White House since the turn of the century. The administration's openness combined with the growing influence of television allowed Americans to watch Caroline and John Jr. growing up. A tree house and pony riding were part of the White House grounds. Reporters and photographers produced images of a President clearly enjoying his young children, even in the Oval Office.