Fifty years ago today, on Nov. 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th president of the United States.
At 43 years old, Kennedy was the youngest person elected to the office (still true today). He defeated Richard Nixon in one of the closest national elections ever. Kennedy won the popular vote by two-tenths of one percent (49.7% to 49.5%), while taking the Electoral College 303 votes to Nixon's 219.
The following pictures come from LIFE photographers who documented his energetic campaign and election triumph, both public appearances and quieter moments JFK spent alone. These rare, never-seen-before photos were published for the first time today by LIFE.com to commemorate the election anniversary.
Be sure to check out the amazing full gallery from LIFE.com.
Photos courtesy of LIFE.com.