The sudden tragic death of a prime minister, president, or world leader sends a nation to deep resonating grief.

While every country has its mechanism to allow for a smooth transition of power and swift transfer of authority without much of a fuss, the event may deliver enough of a shocking blow to the point where the disturbances that follow shake the very foundation of the government.

There have been plenty of presidential assassination attempts and plots in the United States alone since the mid-1800s.

After the killing of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, security details surrounding every president after him saw some intense improvements, but some assassins still succeeded. 

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was also forced to end his tenure in a tragic death.

During his term (1961 – 1963), he faced several foreign crises but secured important achievements such as Alliance for Progress and Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

President Kennedy was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963, while riding a motorcade in Dallas. Many agree that the tragedy changed the course of history.

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10 /10 Texas School Book Depository

The planned route for the motorcade required the president to travel through the Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas.

Someone fired off multiple shots as the president’s convertible passed the Texas School Book Depository at around 12:30 p.m. President Kennedy took two bullets, one of them in the head.

History records that Lee Harvey Oswald was the accused assassin, armed with a Mannlicher–Carcano rifle fitted with a scope.

Interviews with witnesses put him on the depository’s sixth floor, reportedly where the shots came from.

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9 /10 Parkland Memorial Hospital

One bullet pierced President Kennedy at the base of his neck, exiting through the throat.

The subsequent investigation suggested that the same bullet was powerful enough to strike Texas Governor John B. Connally – who was driving the convertible – in the shoulder and wrist before resting in his thigh.

Another bullet hit the president in the back of the head. Immediately the president was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital nearby.

About 30 minutes after the shooting, President John F. Kenney was pronounced dead. The nation learned about the incident over the next hour.

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8 /10 Another Murder

While the motorcade, the hospital, motorcade spectators, and the nation at large were all in a frenzy of uncertainty, Lee Harvey Oswald took a bus and a taxi from the depository building to his rooming house, then left again.

Just about a mile away from home, he was stopped by Patrolman J.D. Tippit, who believed that Oswald resembled the description of a wanted murderer broadc ast on the police radio.

Oswald killed the patrolman with his mail-order revolver at around 1:15 p.m. The killer ended up hiding in Texas Theatre, where he was eventually apprehended following a suspect report.

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7 /10 The Killing Of Oswald

Oswald was formally prosecuted for the murder of President Kennedy on November 23.

The following day the suspect was transferred from a jail cell at the Dallas City Hall (Dallas Police Department headquarters) to county jail for interrogation.

Before any formal interrogation began, Oswald was shot and killed by a nightclub owner named Jack Ruby.

On March 14, 1964, Jack Ruby was found guilty of the murder of Oswald and sentenced to death. The Texas appeals court reversed the conviction two years later, but Ruby died of a blood clot and cancer before the new trial.

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6 /10 Transfer Of Executive Authority

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed that the assassination could be part of a significant effort by the Soviets (or other enemies of the United States) to undermine the American government.

Subsequently, Johnson sought a quick transition of power. He left Dallas on Air Force One and didn’t have to wait until it landed in Washington to be sworn in.

Lyndon Johnson took an oath of office on the plane before taking off, with Kennedy’s corpse abroad. Jacqueline Kennedy stood at Johnson’s side, still wearing her blood-spattered clothes.

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5 /10 Warren Commission

Despite the concern of a communist plot, President Johnson had no intention to rush into taking action against the Soviet Union or possibly Cuba.

On the other hand, the public’s suspicion of a conspiracy-laden assassination grew only more robust.

On November 29, 1963, President Johnson took the more subtle approach with creating the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, more commonly known as the Warren Commission.

The job was a fact-finding evaluation about the assassination of President Kennedy and the death of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Library of Congress

4 /10 Warren Report

For the evaluation, the commission revisited a lengthy FBI report, eyewitness accounts, autopsy reports, expert testimonies, physical evidence, and reenactments of the assassination.

Multiple video recordings of the motorcade around the time of the shooting were extensively analyzed.

There were closed-door hearings about the incidents as well. It took the commission about ten months of investigation before sending a report to President Johnson.

The 888-page Warren Report concluded that Oswald, who acted alone, fired three shots; two of them hit the target, and another was a miss.

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3 /10 No Conspiracy

A lot of people disagreed with the findings. They argued there were at least two shooters in Dealey Plaza, and not without reason.

Some witnesses thought they had heard shots coming from a railroad yard, not from the depository building.

Despite the doubts and lingering questions from the public, Warren Commission maintained that there had been no conspiracy.

Those who opposed the report began to build their theories over the years. Many of them spawned into books and movies.

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2 /10 Well-Developed Theory

One of the most lingering alternative series of events was proposed by Jim Garrison, the district attorney of New Orleans from 1962–1973.

Garrison asserted that anti-Castro elements within the CIA were the mastermind of a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, involving Oswald and a fanatic group of anticommunists from New Orleans, including David Ferrie (Oswald’s colleague in a Civil Air Patrol Squadron in the 1950s), former FBI agent Guy Banister, and businessman Clay Shaw.

The district attorney brought Shaw to trial, but the defendant was found not guilty in 1969.

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1 /10 Zapruder Film

Still, frames from the video recorded by Abraham Zapruder with a Bell & Howell home-movie camera became the most heavily publicized evidence of the shooting.

It was first published in November 1963, but it had not drawn much attention until 1975 when Good Night America broadcasted the video on TV.

In a segment of the video, President Kennedy’s head appeared to have jerked backward, suggesting a bullet trajectory from the front, in the opposing direction from where Oswald was in the depository building, so there probably were two shooters indeed.

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