The Kennedy Legacy

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John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy letters to be auctioned

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By Matt Viser

WASHINGTON — A 16-year-old Bobby Kennedy, with all four front teeth chipped from playing football, was planning to head home from Milton Academy for the weekend. Writing before the Kennedy family experienced a series of tragic deaths, there was a fatalistic side to his thoughts.

“I’m going home this weekend to see my brother Jack who is now going into PT boats,” Kennedy wrote to one of his friends, “so I’m getting out to see him because he might be killed any minute.”

The letter is part of two separate batches of newly revealed correspondence — one series written by Robert F. Kennedy, the other by John F. Kennedy — that are being made public for the first time and are set to be auctioned next month at the Omni Parker House in Boston. RR Auction said it has authenticated the letters using in-house experts and outside consultants.

The two collections reveal a family in the middle of World War II, just before two members were killed in airplane accidents, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. in 1944 and Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy in 1948

The letters from John F. Kennedy were sent to the family of Harold W. Marney, one of two crew members killed when the PT-109 boat that he commanded was destroyed by a Japanese ship. A 26-year-old Kennedy wrote condolences to a family whose son had died.

“This letter is to offer my deepest sympathy to you for the loss of your son,” he wrote shortly after the August 1943 accident. “I realize that there is nothing that I can say can make your sorrow less; particularly as I know him; and I know what a great loss he must be to you and your family.”

Marney had joined the boat a week earlier to serve as engineer, Kennedy wrote, and he did his job “with great cheerfulness — an invaluable quality out here.”

 “I am truly sorry that I cannot offer you hope that he survived that night,” he wrote. “You do have the consolation of knowing that your son died in the service of his country.”

Several months later, Kennedy wrote another letter, in response to one he had received from the Marneys asking for more information about their son. The telegram they received from the Navy said little more than that their son “is missing following action in the performance of his duty.”

Kennedy again wrote his condolences, and said that all the information he had was included in the previous letter. After the Japanese destroyer hit their ship, they never saw Marney again.

After the crew reunited on a floating bow, Kennedy wrote, “we could find no trace of him, although every effort was made to find him.”

Kennedy’s heroism during the accident, in which two were killed but all the others managed to get to land and were eventually rescued, later helped lay the foundation for his rise as a national politician.

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The Marney family also wrote Kennedy after his older brother, Joe, died in a plane crash. This time the roles were reversed as they offered condolences to him.

“Boys like Harold and my brother Joe can never be replaced,” Kennedy responded in a letter with a Hyannis Port letterhead and postmarked Sept. 1, 1944. “But there is some consolation in knowing that they were doing what they wanted to do — and were doing it well.”

The items being auctioned also include the telegram that the Marneys received informing them that their son was missing, as well as the Purple Heart he was awarded.

The 18 letters to be auctioned that Robert Kennedy wrote between 1941 and 1945 were to a close friend, Peter MacLellan, whom he befriended at the Portsmouth Priory School in Rhode Island. The batch also includes nine letters from Robert’s sister Jean, whom MacLellan dated at one point.

They show Bobby as an adolescent, discussing sports, school, and girls as he mourns that he seemed to lack the charming ways of his brother.

“I am now chasing women madly but it looks as if I lack the Kennedy charm as I have yet to find a girl who likes me but then I don’t quit easily so I’m still in there struggling,” Robert Kennedy wrote to MacLellan in a letter postmarked July 3, 1944. “How’s that love life of yours?”

Kennedy showed a jovial side and a fair amount of teenage braggadocio. He signed one letter, “from your mental & physical superior and your better in football, hockey and baseball, Robert Francis Kennedy.” In another he noted, “I’m still healthy, strong . . . and good looking as ever.”

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But Kennedy also lacked some of the athletic prowess that his family was known for.

“Baseball has started and I decided to go out for it and of course got cut but I expected it so it doesn’t much matter,” he wrote in a letter postmarked March 13, 1943.

At another point, he refers to his younger brother, Teddy, and his football abilities.

“Football is going stinky due to the fact there’s a guy on 2nd team ahead of me who can play ball as well as Teddy my brother and the coach thinks he’s better than me. I guess no one appreciates my true qualities . . . The whole thing can go to Hell.”

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Suddenly, everything that had been a liability before—your hair, that you spoke French, you didn’t just adore to campaign… When we got in the White House, all the things that I had always done suddenly became wonderful… and I was so happy for Jack… Because you know, it made him so happy—it made me so happy. So those were our happiest years.
Jacqueline Kennedy on captivating the world


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"Jack Kennedy was more the politician, saying things publicly that he privately scoffed at. Robert Kennedy was more himself. Jack gave the impression of decisive leadership, the man with all the answers. Robert seemed more hesitant, less sure he was right, more tentative, more questioning, and completely honest about it. Leadership he showed; but it had a different quality, an off-trail unorthodox quality, to some extent a quality of searching for answers to hard questions in company with his bewildered audience, trying to work things out with their help."

- Robert Kennedy: His Life, by Evan Thomas

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"My father was spectacular at making up stories. And he used to tell me about a purple shark. He said there was a purple shark that used to follow the Honey Fitz [the small presidential yacht]. It liked to eat socks. My father would make people throw their socks overboard, and they’d disappear. He’d say, “See? See? Did you see the purple shark? He ate the socks!” And I’d go [gasps like a child], “I don’t really see him. Oh, oh, I think I see him! Look, the socks are gone, so it must have been the shark that ate the socks!” Those stories were fantastic.”

- Caroline Kennedy remembers her father, JFK

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Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was a very disciplined and organized woman, made the following entry on a notecard, when her second child was born:

John Fitzgerald Kennedy 
Born Brookline, Mass. (83 Beals Street) May 29, 1917 

In all, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy would have nine children, four boys and five girls. She kept notecards for each of them in a small wooden file box and made a point of writing down everything from a doctor’s visit to the shoe size they had at a particular age. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was named in honor of Rose’s father, John Francis Fitzgerald, the Boston Mayor popularly known as Honey Fitz. Before long, family and friends called this small blue-eyed baby, Jack. 

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Jackie Kennedy’s Notes Reveal JFK’s second Term Plans

By Carl Anthony

There were minor matters to be resolved and legislative agendas to be initiated. There were new directions she intended to take and a progression of efforts he had already begun. Whether President John F. Kennedy  or First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy or both of them would have done all or part of what many journalists, colleagues, staff aides, policy experts and historians presumed or insisted they would have in a second Kennedy Administration, is ultimately a futile matter of regret, hindsight, and speculation. It always proves moot because of his assassination fifty years ago. Killed during what was then only the first preliminary political trip of JFK’s as-yet unannounced 1964 presidential re-election campaign for an intended second term, such assumptions are based on the premise that he would have won. 

In no private memorandum or recorded conversations, did JFK document his intended agenda for a second term, which would have begun on January 20, 1965 and ended on January 20, 1969.

Jacqueline Kennedy, however, did.

Jackie’s Notes
If was not a diary or memoir but it was in handwritten form (some of which she had transcribed onto typed light blue pages), in responding to my questions, and then as clarifications, corrections, edits and insertions she made in 1989 and 1990 in both margin notes and the various drafts of what became my book First Ladies: The Saga of the Presidents’ Wives & Their Power, Volume 2.

About seven years later, in my role as a contributing editor to George Magazine, I mentioned some of this to her son, the magazine co-founder and editor-in-chief. He wasn’t surprised, he cracked, that she thought that far ahead. A glimpse of some of these intentions and forecasts follow below.

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Plans
While the book’s topic naturally meant the focus was on the work she intended to purse during the rest of the Kennedy Administration, she also addressed what her late husband had planned to do had his presidency continued beyond November 22, 1963, in regard to domestic legislation and foreign relations.

In fact, she addressed not only JFK’s long-range intentions but what he had planned to do later that very day.

Although she did not specify whether he would do so on Air Force One after they left Dallas or when they arrived in Austin and he had private time to work as an overnight guest at Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ranch, President Kennedy was scheduled to authorize the appointment of his aide Richard Goodwin to a cabinet-level post for the arts and humanities.

In written response to a question I initially posed, Mrs. Onassis said that “JFK was going to sign a paper naming Richard Goodwin to the first Cabinet Post for the Arts.”

When I later incorporated her quote into my manuscript and she later edited it, the former First Lady inserted the words, “on November 22nd,” extending her quotation.

In her earlier declarations to me she explained how she envisioned the role of the federal governments and the widest purview of just what a Cultural Department at the Cabinet level would entail. In a secondary response, she added, “In a way, the NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) and NEH [National Endowment of the Humanities] have achieved all this.”

New role
The Texas trip marked the initial domestic travel with a political agenda which Jacqueline Kennedy made as First Lady, with or without the President. It was the beginning of an entirely new role she now intended to assume. She said it was only the first of many such trips she would make. In fact, the morning of November 22, she agreed to join the President on a campaign fundraising trip to California scheduled for early December, 1963.

She also planned to begin making joint public appearances with him on day trips from Washington, beginning with the army-navy football game on December 1, in Philadelphia. Despite the one-month mourning period following the President’s death, Jacqueline Kennedy asked that the game be played in his honor and it was, postponed just one week.

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Foreign trips
Scheduled for the winter of 1964, the President and Mrs. Kennedy were to make a tour of nations of the Far East, including Japan and the Philippines. In an early draft of the First Ladies manuscript, Mrs. Onassis added that “[B]oth looked forward” to that trip and were “even thinking of moving the date up, leaving right after New Year’s.” 

Interestingly, despite the great success of her 1962 foreign trips to India, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a goodwill ambassador but official representative of the United States government  on her own, Jacqueline Kennedy had no foreseeable intention of making overseas trips without the President.

She was eager to return to India and Pakistan, but this time with JFK.

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Scheduled for the summer of 1964, as President Kennedy would have been pursing the formal nomination for another term and seeking to broaden his appeal, was a vacation trip not to his extended family’s Hyannis Port, Massachusetts compound but, as she sparsely phrased it in an early draft, the “Montana mountains.” This might well suggest what JFK anticipated would be a characterization of him by a Republican presidential opponent as an eastern Establishment elitist.

However, the most startling revelation she made in terms of JFK’s vision for his international politics agenda in a second term involved the People’s Republic of China.

On a later manuscript page, she inserted a lengthy statement to this effect: “The President realized that relations with China would eventually have to be re-established and was considering a trip there in his second term.”

In scrutinizing the manuscript, she removed from it information she documented to be untrue and expounded on what she confirmed was true regarding her own future plans as First Lady.

Historical landmarks
The most startling of all her intentions for a second term was to go public in her lobbying of federal legislation protecting historical landmarks across the country as she had done privately on behalf of the White House and Lafayette Square.

She also wanted to build a far more substantial collection of historical furnishings for the White House so the point could be reached where it would no longer use loaned items for the state rooms: her misgivings were based on the fact that many collectors who loaned important historical objects would soon enough ask that these be returned and then sell them at public auction, fetching higher prices because these items been displayed in the White House.

Once a greater collection had been built, Jacqueline Kennedy was eager to then “cataloging the entire White House collection.”

Vietnam
Of all her later recollections about what President Kennedy intended to do, the most upsetting to her was what she curiously characterized as a “secret meeting,” with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge.

Her account suggests that he went into uncharacteristic detail with her about the reasons for this, briefing her fully on the current and unfolding situation.

He would have had two strong reasons for doing this.

First, he was meeting with the Ambassador not at the White House but at their private weekend home “Wexford,” thus intruding on what was supposed to be set aside as time alone with her and their children.

Second, since the time they had first begun dating, while he was a freshman U.S. Senator and she was a newspaper columnist and photographer, he had known of her particular depth of knowledge and nuanced understanding of the delicate situation in Vietnam which, along with Laos and Cambodia, formed the former French colony of “Indochina.” She had begun studying the situation since 1949 while enrolled at the Sorbonne and she also translated French military policy reports for him on the matter in 1953.

It is unclear why the account provided by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1990 contradicts the later publicly reported claim that the meeting was to take place at Camp David.

As the former First Lady specifically amplified my original manuscript account:

“He [JFK] was searching for a way to relieve the ambassador of his duties and to gradually diminish the U.S. presence in Vietnam. JFK had scheduled a White House meeting on this subject for Monday morning, November 25.”

This particular intention of JFK’s, “haunted for years” Jacqueline Kennedy (as her friend, the JFK-LBJ Defense Secretary Robert McNamara put it in our taped interview) because instead of beginning perhaps “to gradually diminish the U.S. presence in Vietnam” on Monday, November 25, 1963, the President was instead being buried at Arlington National Cemetery that day.

(Source: carlanthonyonline.com)

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John F. Kennedy’s granddaughter pays respects at memorial ceremony in Britain

Caroline Kennedy’s daughter, Tatiana Schlossberg, represented the family at a memorial site in Runnymede Meadow, Berkshire. Friday is the 50th anniversary of her grandfather’s assassination in Dallas.

John F. Kennedy’s granddaughter honored his memory during an intimate ceremony in Britain on Friday.

Caroline Kennedy’s daughter, 23-year-old Tatiana Schlossberg, spoke solemnly about the popular president’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

She also revealed how she stayed close to the grandfather she never knew.

"For me, my grandfather lives in my imagination, in his words, and in the lessons he has left us," Schlossberg said. "Throughout my life, I have been able to connect with him through the study of history."

But 50 years after his death, the woman is beginning to realize that her grandfather’s story is beginning “to belong more and more to history.”

"Today is a difficult day because it is a reminder of a moment of profound sadness for my family, for America, and for the world," Schlossberg said.

She was the only representative from the Kennedy clan to make a pilgrimage to the memorial site in Runnymede Meadow, Berkshire. But she’s following in the footsteps of her grandmother, Jacqueline Kennedy, who made the same trek in 1965 with her two little children, Caroline and John F. Kennedy, Jr. The trio met Queen Elizabeth at the site and unveiled a stone tablet and garden dedicated to the president. The British people, through public subscription, had donated one acre of land around the site to the people of the United States. It is the only plot of American soil in the United Kingdom, according to local paper Get Surrey. 

On Friday, Schlossberg laid a wreath at the foot of that same stone memorial. The woman, who has inherited Jacqueline Kennedy’s dark brown locks, paused for a moment to read the engraving.

It was a quote from her grandfather’s inaugural address.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” the stone reads.

Matthew Barzun, the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., and Lord Jonathan Hill, the leader of Britain’s House of Lords, were also present at the ceremony.

"I can think of no better place to honor him to tell and remember his story," Schlossberg said. "And to look again, as he would have wanted us to, towards the future."

Schlossberg  is the middle granddaughter. She graduated from Yale University and has been working as a journalist at The Record, a local paper in New Jersey.

Older sister Rose Schlossberg is a Harvard grad who is working as an artist and videographer in New York, according to Ridgewood Patch. 

While Rose has stayed out of the spotlight, younger brother Jack traveled with his great aunt Ethel Kennedy to the Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old Yale student joined Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to pay respects at Kennedy’s eternal flame at Arlington Cemetery. 

Mom Caroline Kennedy has been absent from the 50th anniversary memorials. Obama recently appointed her as America’s ambassador to Japan.

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The contact sheet from Jacque Lowe’s first shoot with John Kennedy at their home in Hyannis Port, Mass, 1958: ‘He was reserved but when my dad asked if Caroline and Jackie could be involved, he became more at ease, providing a more intimate shot.’ Thomasina Lowe is the daughter of the late Jacques Lowe, a photographer who met Kennedy in 1958. Lowe’s intimate access to the Kennedys created some of the most iconic images of JFK’s presidential and family life. Photograph: Estate of Jacques Lowe.

The contact sheet from Jacque Lowe’s first shoot with John Kennedy at their home in Hyannis Port, Mass, 1958: ‘He was reserved but when my dad asked if Caroline and Jackie could be involved, he became more at ease, providing a more intimate shot.’ Thomasina Lowe is the daughter of the late Jacques Lowe, a photographer who met Kennedy in 1958. Lowe’s intimate access to the Kennedys created some of the most iconic images of JFK’s presidential and family life. Photograph: Estate of Jacques Lowe.

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