The most notorious political murder in recent American history occurred this day in 1963, when John F. Kennedy, the 35th U.S. president (1961–63), was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas, while riding in an open car.
President Kennedy believed that his Republican opponent in 1964 would be Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. He was convinced that he could bury Goldwater under an avalanche of votes, thus receiving a mandate for major legislative reforms. One obstacle to his plan was a feud in Vice President Johnson’s home state of Texas between Governor John B. Connally, Jr., and Senator Ralph Yarborough, both Democrats. To present a show of unity, the president decided to tour the state with both men.
On Friday, November 22, 1963, he and Jacqueline Kennedy were in an open limousine riding slowly in a motorcade through downtown Dallas. At 12:30 PM the president was struck by two rifle bullets, one at the base of his neck and one in the head.
He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Governor Connally, though also gravely wounded, recovered. Vice President Johnson took the oath as president at 2:38 PM. Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old Dallas citizen, was accused of the slaying.