The Kennedy Legacy

Not just politics as usual

Posts tagged Joseph Kennedy

12 notes &

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged this country to be better, kinder and stronger. He understood the tremendous capacity in each of us and knew that the content of this nation’s character is defined less by moments of individual action than by those fateful times when our experiences collide; where our stories meet.

He was a poet and an orator who knew that words without an audience were only words – no matter how poignant. The dream he so powerfully outlined on that hot August day in 1963 would have mattered little had it not been for the hundreds of thousands of brave believers in the crowd, ready to take his message back home to the streets of their cities and towns, where it mattered most.

Today we swear in a great President who embodies the future Dr. King envisioned. In a day that unites our past and future in a poignant, present moment, we pledge to work together and do better by the legacy they share.”

Congressman Joe Kennedy III

Filed under Kennedy Obama Joe Kennedy Barack Obama Joseph Kennedy III Joseph Kennedy Joseph P. Kennedy III Barack Martin Luther King Lincoln

42 notes &

"We were incredibly close, all of us, through all our younger years and after. The Cape house was our base. Our whole lives were centered in this one place. It was all here — all the playing, all the enjoyment, all the fun. For me it still is. And always shall be."

— Senator Edward Kennedy in his memoir, True Compass

History of the Kennedy Cape House in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

When Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy purchased the home at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port on October 31, 1928, they could not have known the important place it would hold both to their family and to American history.

Few families have impacted American life in such far-reaching ways as the Kennedy family, and it all begins with nine siblings and two amazing parents. The home in Hyannis Port, described by Senator Kennedy as “the base,” is the place where values were taught, lessons were learned, characters were built, and history-making events took shape.

It is the place from which three United States Senators grew up, one of whom became President. It was home to the Kennedy sisters, who dedicated their lives to people with intellectual disabilities by founding the Special Olympics and the Very Special Arts. Their contributions through numerous charitable works have touched the lives of millions of Americans.

The Kennedy Compound

The history of the house dates back to 1904. Beulah A.B. Malcom had a 15-room, white clapboard house built at 50 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port, Mass. The site was about two and a half acres, with a lawn running down to Nantucket Sound.

The Kennedys rented the house for the summer for several years before purchasing it themselves. At time of the purchase the house, the family included seven of the Kennedys’ eventual nine children. Over the next two decades the house was remodeled and expanded to accommodate the growing family.

John F. Kennedy purchased a nearby home in 1956, and shortly thereafter his brother Robert also purchased a neighboring house. For a time Jean Kennedy Smith and her husband Stephen E. Smith owned a home in the neighborhood as well. This cluster of family residences became known as “The Kennedy Compound.” Eunice and Sargent Shriver owned a home nearby as well.

The Kennedy family became an integral part of the local community. They considered this area their home. In 1957, to honor eldest son Joseph P. Kennedy, killed in World War II, Mr. Kennedy donated $150,000 toward the construction of a skating center in Hyannis because, as he said in the letter dedicating the center, “Here, in this lovely and friendly area our son Joe and his brothers and sisters lived and laughed and grew through many sunny and happy days.” (The Fruitful Bough, 1965)

Growing Up

"One of the first things that I remember on arriving at your home was the regular noontime swims with you and Mr. Kennedy and all the children down at the Taggart’s pier. The children all looked forward to being with you and displaying their swimming and diving ability and how they improved. It was great fun when you and Mr. Kennedy would form a big circle with the older children and then Teddy, Jean and Bobby would swim first to the nearest them and gradually work up to the farthest away."

—Elizabeth Dunn Anderson, a governess writing a recollection about Mrs. Rose Kennedy in Grace Above Gold (1997)

As the children grew, they spent the summers learning to sail and swim in the waters of Hyannis Port. The competitive touch football games, made so famous in iconic family photos, were also a regular occurrence on the large lawn adjacent to the house.

When remembering his brother Joe Kennedy, John F. Kennedy wrote, “We would spend long hours throwing football with Bobby, swimming with Teddy, and teaching the younger girls how to sail.” Younger brother Teddy had his own memory of his big brother, when Joe threw him into the cold water during a sailing race. “I was scared to death practully. I then heard a splash and I felt his hand grab my shirt and then he lifted me into the boat. We continued the race and came in second.” (As We Remember Joe, 1945, with young Teddy’s uncorrected spelling.)

Their time learning these skills impacted them throughout their lives. Senator Edward Kennedy attributed to those swimming lessons his brother John’s survival in the water for days when his PT boat sunk during World War II. The competitive streaks that became ingrained in the family were evident during political fights in the years to come.

Growing up at the house, the children were also exposed to various leaders and dignitaries who came to visit Joseph Kennedy, who joined the Roosevelt Administration, first as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934 and then as head of the Maritime Commission in 1937. Prominent visitors joined the children’s friends as guests for dinner, and one frequent presence was Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston.

Political Life at the Cape

The house was also the site of major political decisions. In August 1945, John F. Kennedy, decided to run for the House of Representatives in 1946, the first of his six winning elections. In the spring of 1952, the family house was the site of meetings to plan JFK’s successful campaign for the Senate that year against the Republican incumbent, Henry Cabot Lodge. Political aides of JFK, like Larry O’Brien and Kenny O’Donnell were frequent guests. And in November 1956, John F. Kennedy, in consultation with his family, decided that he would seek the Presidency in 1960.

On Election Night 1960 and the day after, many members of the family stayed at the house as they gathered to follow returns and then celebrate JFK’s victory. The well-known post victory family photo, with President-elect and Mrs. Kennedy, his parents, siblings, and their spouses, was taken in the living room of the house.

Throughout the summer in 1961, on weekends, JFK’s helicopter would land on the lawn after he flew in to nearby Otis Air Force base. That summer he stayed at his own house, and met with Administration officials there. But in 1962 and 1963, seeking greater privacy, JFK rented homes on Squaw Island, a half mile away, where his youngest brother, Edward M. Kennedy, had a home. Visitors like Averell Harriman came to report on negotiations that produced the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The National Security Council met at Squaw Island in 1963.

In July 1982, the house became the main residence of Senator Edward Kennedy. A few months later, he gathered ten family members, including nieces, nephews, and his own three children, for a meeting to talk about whether he should run for President again in 1984. They held the meeting on the day after Thanksgiving next door at President Kennedy’s old house, and he was persuaded not to run, but rather to make the Senate his life. His children were the most decisive voice. In December 1985, he decided not to run in 1988 and assembled staffers and associates at the house to tell them and to make arrangements to tell the country.

He still used the house in connection with his Senate duties, making it a command center in the summer of 1987 as he prepared for hearings on the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and in the summer of 2005 as he prepared for hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But it was largely a place of respite, where he sailed, relaxed, and entertained, delighting in showing visitors the historic pictures that crowd the walls, and the theater from which, as a boy, he was ushered off to bed when the movie action turned romantic. Governors, Senators, President Clinton, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and a series of Irish Prime ministers were among his guests. Some came for events, but many came just to talk in the morning and sail in the afternoon. Members of the extended Kennedy family returned every Thanksgiving.

In a rare formal function at the house, on September 23, 2008, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile presented Senator Kennedy with her nation’s Order of Merit, a human rights award for his support of democracy in Chile.

Dark Days on the Cape

Sadly, the Kennedy family has weathered tragedies both public and private. It was September 1939 when the war changed the Kennedys’ lives dramatically. Joseph P. Kennedy was serving as ambassador in London, doubtful about Britain’s chances, when war broke out. He promptly sent his wife and children home, to the house on the Cape and their other homes in Bronxville and Palm Beach. Then on Sunday afternoon, August 13, 1944, two priests came to the Cape house to tell Joe and Rose that their eldest son, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., a Navy pilot, had been killed in action.

Their second son, John F. Kennedy was on hand, recuperating after heroism in the Pacific. To cheer the other children up, he took them out sailing that afternoon. Nearly four years later, most of the family gathered again at the house after receiving the news that Kathleen Kennedy Hartington, the Kennedys’ fourth child, had died in a plane crash in France.

On November 22, 1963, Senator Edward Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, flew up to Hyannis Port from Washington to tell their father that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas.

Several years later at the house, on November 16, 1969, Joseph P. Kennedy, 81, died. His beloved wife Rose lived to be 104, passing away also in the home on January 22, 1995.

On May 17, 2008, Senator Kennedy was in his beloved Cape house when he felt the effects of what would be later diagnosed as a malignant brain tumor. On June 2 he underwent surgery at the Duke University Medical Center and returned home to the Cape to recuperate. Later that summer he worked at the house on the speech he would deliver at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, saying Barack Obama as President “will close the book on the old politics” and lead a “renewal for our nation.”

On August 25, 2009, in the home where it all began, Senator Kennedy died at the age of 77.

Future Generations

"There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again."

—Margaret Elizabeth Sangster (American poet and editor)

The Kennedy family has been coming home to Hyannis Port since the early 1920’s and continues to, to this day. The house on 50 Marchant Avenue has been the site of numerous family weddings, baptisms, and other celebrations. Most recently, Senator Kennedy’s son, Patrick was married in the summer of 2011 at the house.

In fulfilling his mother’s wishes that the home be preserved and open to the public in some way, Senator Kennedy made preparations for the donation of the house to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. His widow Vicki Kennedy gifted the home to the Institute in December 2011.

Filed under Edward M. Kennedy Hyannis Port JFK Joe Kennedy John F. Kennedy Joseph Kennedy Joseph P. Kennedy Kennedy Kennedys Patrick Kennedy Rose Kennedy Ted Kennedy Ted Kennedy Jr Vicki Kennedy Rose Kennedy

2 notes &

America’s Next Top Kennedy

Could this man revive Camelot?

By David S. Bernstein, January 18, 2011

We are all mere mortals, Massachusetts pols like to say, and they are Kennedys. That reality helps explain the constant stream of political speculation surrounding members of that clan in the two and a half years since the death of Senator Edward Kennedy in 2009.

Many — myself included — were convinced that the widow Vicki Kennedy would run for his seat in the Senate. Others insisted that his nephew, former congressman Joe Kennedy II, would take on that challenge. After Ted Kennedy Jr. delivered an engaging and emotional eulogy for his father, rumors ran rampant that he would move back from Connecticut to run for office. Caroline Kennedy, who took a high-profile whiff at winning a Senate appointment in New York to succeed Hillary Clinton, was similarly rumored to be considering a Bay State return. And Joe’s twin sons, Joe Kennedy III and Matthew Kennedy, were floated for any number of races, including the congressional district containing the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, which Bill Delahunt vacated in 2010; and the special election for State Senate, just won by William Brownsberger earlier this month.

Finally, we have more than rumor and speculation. Joe III has opened an exploratory committee in preparation for a campaign in the state’s Fourth Congressional District, to succeed Barney Frank.

It’s hard to overstate the level of interest Kennedy’s announcement engenders in this state. It is the first political run by a Kennedy since Ted’s death. Ted’s son Patrick Kennedy chose not to run for re-election to Congress in Rhode Island in 2010, leaving Washington without an elected member of the storied family for the first time in more than a half-century.

Perhaps even more important, 31-year-old Joe is the first of the so-called fifth-generation Kennedys to seek office. He and Matt are among the oldest of some six dozen (and counting) members of that cohort, which includes Cuomos, Lawfords, Schlossbergs, Schwarzeneggers, Shrivers, and Townsends.

Perhaps if the first of that crop came from one of those branches, with a different last name — or in another state, or while there were still members of the older generations in office — it could be just a slight novelty.

But the first campaign of this generation comes here in Massachusetts, in the form of a handsome young man who, but for the startling red hair, looks like he belongs right in those old photos of the young JFK, Teddy, and his grandfather Bobby.

There is no escaping it: Kennedy will be scrutinized not merely as a potential representative of the fourth district, but as The One, the next great Kennedy, the liberal hope — the man who could bring the revival of Camelot.


Kennedy, currently a prosecutor in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, is not yet speaking with the press. He is, however, rapidly assembling a campaign team that is said to include Nick Clemons, Doug Rubin, Tom Kiley, Brian O’Connor, and his brother Matt.

Unlike his father, who had to best 10 Democratic opponents in his first congressional campaign, in 1986 — to succeed Tip O’Neill for the seat once held by JFK — it appears that Kennedy may face a relatively small field. Several people eying the race have backed down since Kennedy revealed his plans. Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter quickly announced his intention to run in the new ninth district instead. Brookline Selectman Jesse Mermell bowed out. Businesswoman and former lieutenant-governor candidate Deborah Goldberg tells me she is “not running for this seat at this time” (wording that potentially leaves the door open if Kennedy flops). Former Senate candidate Alan Khazei and State Senator Cynthia Creem are both said to be unlikely to run now.

It’s not surprising. Not only will Kennedy have plenty of funding and institutional support, the family name is gold these days, particularly in that district. That wasn’t entirely true for his father in 1986, six years after Ted’s unsuccessful presidential campaign. But a recent poll (not commissioned for Kennedy) showed sky-high favorable attitudes toward Joe III — which, given how little people know about him, is probably a reflection of the Kennedy brand.

"We’ve moved to the Kennedy nostalgia phase," says one Democratic operative in Boston. "We want another one."

The field has not been entirely cleared, however. The most prominent Democrat remaining is Boston city councilor and Newton native Michael Ross, who previously opened his own exploratory committee. Ross appears to be moving ahead with his efforts, but many insiders say he will find his support — including funding — deserting him for Kennedy.

On the GOP side, the front-runner is Sean Bielat, who gave a strong challenge to Barney Frank in 2010. Bielat proved adept at raising money nationally off of conservatives’ animus toward Frank, and may be able to do the same if he faces a Kennedy.

Kennedy’s family name will, after all, energize opposition as well as support. And even among Democrats, some voters will undoubtedly be turned off by his apparent bigfooting of the race.

But in conversations with Massachusetts Democratic insiders, I could find no hint yet of a Kennedy backlash.

While reserving judgment about how he will prove as a campaigner, let alone a congressman, people almost universally describe him as smart, warm, down-to-earth, and serious about the family legacy.

Voters, says someone who knows the family, “will see a thoughtful, hard-working young man, who believes deeply in public service.”


He is, they say, a good vessel to handle the pressure and scrutiny of being the first post-Ted Kennedy to seek office.

"He’s a very grounded person," says Scott Ferson, consultant with Liberty Square Group and Ted Kennedy’s former press secretary.

Joe and Matt, people say, are very much their mother’s sons. Sheila Brewster Rauch, who went through a very public and contentious divorce from Joe II when the boys were 10, raised them in Cambridge and sent them to Buckingham Browne & Nichols. Joe opted to head west to Stanford for college, much as his father attended the University of California–Berkeley. He got his law degree from Harvard, spent two years in the Dominican Republican with the Peace Corps (and is said to speak fluent Spanish), and has worked in two district attorneys’ offices.

His political “coming out” came a year ago, when he delivered a well-received speech to the Massachusetts legislature after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.

Matt has often been considered the more political-minded of the two; since the two co-chaired Ted’s 2006 re-election campaign he has been more active in that realm, working for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in New Hampshire, and working for a stint in the White House.

More than one person I spoke with couldn’t help comparing the two to Jack and Bobby, with Joe, like Jack, the charming, affable candidate, and Matt, like Bobby, the savvy operator.

That comparison is not the kind of pressure Democrats want to place on Joe. Insiders expect him to run a low-key campaign of neighborhood hand-shaking appearances, to replace broad Kennedy stereotypes with personal contact.

"He’s going to define himself by virtue of running," says political consultant Mary Anne Marsh, of Dewey Square Group. "He’s going to travel around that district, and people are either going to like him or not."

He is also going to begin defining the next generation of the Kennedy family — whether he intends to or not. It was Ted himself who, in his surprise appearance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, called again for “the torch to be passed again to a new generation of Americans.” He meant Obama, but in Massachusetts we will always look to apply it to the Kennedys.


Filed under Joseph P. Kennedy III Joe Kennedy III Joseph Kennedy Joe Kennedy Kennedy Kennedys

15 notes &

Joseph P. Kennedy III engaged

Joseph P. Kennedy III, who is exploring a run for departing congressman Barney Frank’s seat, is engaged to longtime galpal Lauren Anne Birchfield, the bride-to-be’s parents announced today.

The couple, who met at Harvard Law School, have been dating for more than five years. She is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law. Joe is a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law. The future Mrs. Kennedy works in public service while Joe — the son of former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and his former wife, Sheila Rauch Kennedy — recently left his job as a prosecutor in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office to work on the congressional exploratory campaign.

The announcement came just two weeks after Joe’s twin brother, Matthew, announced his engagement to galpal, Katherine Lee Manning, a director of public affairs at The Glover Park Group in Washington, D.C. Matt is director of Strategic Partnerships at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce in D.C. They plan a summer wedding at the Kennedy Compound. Perhaps it will be a double ceremony

Announcement from The Rev. Dr. James T. and Marta M. Birchfield

The Rev. Dr. James T. and Marta M. Birchfield of Houston, TX are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Lauren Anne Birchfield to Joseph Patrick Kennedy III, the son of Joseph P. Kennedy II of Boston and Sheila Rauch Kennedy of Cambridge, MA. Lauren is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and Harvard Law School. Joe is a graduate of Stanford University and also has a degree from Harvard Law School. Both are involved in public service.

Filed under Joseph P. Kennedy III Joe Kennedy III Joe Kennedy Kennedy Joseph Kennedy Joseph P. Kennedy Lauren Birchfield

19 notes &

The family gathered ay Hyannis Port in 1944 with Jack’s navy buddies Jim Reed, Len Thom, Barney Ross and Red Fay (and their wives). One of the last pics of the family still intact. Joe Jr., incidently, is obscured by Red Fay’s hand at the left.

The family gathered ay Hyannis Port in 1944 with Jack’s navy buddies Jim Reed, Len Thom, Barney Ross and Red Fay (and their wives). One of the last pics of the family still intact. Joe Jr., incidently, is obscured by Red Fay’s hand at the left.

(Source: jackandjackie)

Filed under JFK john f kennedy John F. Kennedy john fitzgerald kennedy Joseph Kennedy Joe Kennedy Joe Jnr RFK Robert F. Kennedy robert kennedy bobby kennedy EMK Edward M. Kennedy Edward Kennedy Ted Kennedy Kathleen Kennedy Kick Patricia Kennedy Eunice Kennedy Jean Kennedy The Kennedys Hyannis Port

35 notes &

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr. July 25, 1915 - August 12, 1944“My brother Joe, sort of took me under his wing. He was 17 years older then I was. He’s still the earliest memory of sort of an older figure. He’d been a great hero of mine. He was the one that taught me how to swim. He was the one that taught me how to sail on Cape Cod. He loved the sea and he always seemed to be available to spend time with. He volunteered for the war December 8th. In this house I heard my brother Joe was lost. It was on a summer day, mid-August and I remember even though I was very young at that time. The priest came in, talked to my parents and they came down and visited with us. Devastating blow to both of my parents.”
~ Ted Kennedy about his eldest brother

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.

July 25, 1915 - August 12, 1944

“My brother Joe, sort of took me under his wing. He was 17 years older then I was. He’s still the earliest memory of sort of an older figure. He’d been a great hero of mine. He was the one that taught me how to swim. He was the one that taught me how to sail on Cape Cod. He loved the sea and he always seemed to be available to spend time with. He volunteered for the war December 8th. In this house I heard my brother Joe was lost. It was on a summer day, mid-August and I remember even though I was very young at that time. The priest came in, talked to my parents and they came down and visited with us. Devastating blow to both of my parents.”

~ Ted Kennedy about his eldest brother

(Source: jackandjackie)

Filed under article quote Joseph Kennedy Joe Kennedy Joe Jnr