Research Papers on the Kennedy Assassination
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Several hours before, thousands of people were gathered to see the Kennedys leave the Fort Worth Texas hotel that had been staying at the previous evening. President Kennedy took the opportunity to address the people outside the hotel and spoke of some of his initiates including travel to space, national defense, and economic growth. He later spoke to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce before heading to the airport by motorcade to fly to Dallas.
When they arrived in Dallas a crowd was gathered at the airport. The President and First Lady left the airport in a convertible limousine. Sharing the convertible with the couple was the Governor John Connally and his wife. The Vice President and his wife were in another vehicle following behind the President.
After leaving the airport, the motorcade traveled tell miles though downtown Dallas. The final destination was set to be the Dallas Trade Mart. As in Fort Worth, crowds of people had gathered to see the President and First Lady. As the car made its way on to Main Street at Dealey Plaza shots were fired. It was immediately evident that Kennedy had been hit. President Kennedy was struck in the neck and head with Governor Connally was hit in the chest.
The President was immediately rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital but there was not anything that could be done.
- A priest was called in to give Kennedy his last rights and he was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm.
- At 2:38, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in to be the country’s next President.
- Shortly after authorities arrested Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination of the President.
- Two days later, as Oswald was being transferred, Jack Ruby shot Oswald. He died two hours later.
- One November 25, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.
In terms of sheer volume of support, those who maintain that the assassination involved more than a single, unstable gunman would seem to have the clear upper hand. Although some of the thousands of works on the assassination do support the official theory that Oswald acted alone and on his own motivations, and although a rare few may take a neutral stance in the debate, the overwhelming majority have sought to advance one conspiracy theory or another. Moreover, a Gallup poll from the early 1990s indicated that some 75 percent of all Americans believe that a conspiracy was involved in President Kennedy’s death. However, such numerical predominance does not mean that the conspiracy side of the debate is the more powerful or convincing one. In fact, during the early-to-mid 1990s there appeared to be “a resurgence of support for the Oswald theory,” at least in the popular media, perhaps reflecting the impact of Posner’s 1993 book Case Closed, which many regarded as an especially convincing study in support of the lone gunman position.
Unfortunately, there is little to indicate that the intense, longstanding controversies over the assassination will be resolved at any time in the near future. In fact, the ongoing debates appear to be marked by biased assimilation, a phenomenon in which evidence is assessed differentially by those on opposing sides of an issue. Biased assimilation means that evidence that appears to support one’s position is accepted uncritically, even as evidence to the contrary is subjected to intense scrutiny and selectively discredited. Moreover, under such circumstances, the presentation of a mixed body of evidence actually causes a polarization of attitudes. Instead of moderating or adjusting their viewpoints in response to the mixed evidence, individuals actually become even more supportive of their original positions. Marked as it is by biased assimilation and attitude polarization, the debate over the assassination assumes many characteristics of the seemingly intractable debates about such issues as abortion and capital punishment. However, the fact remains that while the contests over issues such as abortion and capital punishment are driven in large part by competing moral assumptions, the debate over the assassination involves matters that are either correct or incorrect: Oswald either acted alone or with collaborators and/or backers. Nevertheless, barring the release of some incontrovertible new evidence in the case, it seems likely that the assassination debate will persist without end. After all, both positions now seem rather resilient to the passage of time and to repeated arguments on either side of the debate. Thus, the lone gunman theory resists reinterpretations because it represents, in essence, the official government conclusion, while the conspiracy theories is resilient in large part because of their masses of support and the ardency of many of their proponents. From an unbiased perspective, one should note that none of these underlying factors offer a sound reason for resisting evidence and arguments that might challenge one’s position—or for persisting in contests that show no sign of ever abating.