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9 Important Members of the Kennedy Family

The Kennedys were probably the closest thing we ever got to royalty, with their well-established wealth and powerful connections. After leaving Ireland, their homeland, in the 1840s, as they meant to escape the potato hunger, the Kennedys managed to build their own “kingdom” from the ground.

The family was known to be extremely involved in the Democratic Party in Boston, starting with Boston-born Patrick Joseph “P.J.” Kennedy (1858-1929). A couple of generations later, the name would succeed in expanding its political reach to both national and international stages.

The Kennedy family had a U.S. attorney general, a U.S. President, four members of the U.S. House and Senate, and many other publicly appointed government officials. However, what no one would have ever guessed is that their incredible ascent to power was directly linked to some of the biggest tragedies a family can ever bear. Here are some of the most notable members of this family, and how they shaped the political landscape in America.

Kennedy Curse
Photograph by Richard Sears in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.

He was the patriarch of the Kennedy political dynasty, but also a great American businessman, and a prominent Irish-Catholic Democrat. His far-reaching political ambitions were ultimately passed to his own sons, John F Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy.

Besides the fact that he was a wealthy investor in three prosperous businesses (real estate, alcohol, and entertainment), he also served for a little while as a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, but also as an American ambassador to the United Kingdom.

It’s true that he also left quite a controversial legacy behind, as he had deep anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi preferences, but alongside his wife Rose and his dear children, he managed to become a testament to public service.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy 

Rose was a faithful Catholic, growing up in an extremely wealthy and politically Irish-American household. Her father, John F. Fitzgerald, was the mayor of Boston. After meeting Joseph Kennedy Sr., she went through quite a lengthy courtship, mostly because her father completely hated her choice.

Eventually, she married him in 1914 and the couple had nine children. Before she passed away at 104 years old, Pope Pius XII gave her the honorable distinction of Papal Countess, after being religious for her entire life.

John F. Kennedy

After the heartbreaking death of his older brother Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., John F. Kennedy decided to be the next Kennedy that would embrace a political career. After graduating from Harvard, he later became a decorated Naval officer in World War II.

He served as a House member and Senator of Massachusetts, reaching the highest office of the land in 1961. At only 43 years old, Kennedy managed to become America’s youngest elected president.

He launched his own administration at the most crucial moment of the Cold War. He also was the one to authorize the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, but also the one who took the country through the well-known Cuban Missile Crisis, which almost brought us and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline was the wife of John F. Kennedy and the youngest first lady America ever had. She soon became known as an important fashion icon, mostly due to her impeccable taste and her diverse restoration projects at the White House.

Onassis met Kennedy in 1952 when he was still a Congressman, and the two of them got married the next year. The Kennedys has four children, out of which only two survived. When her husband was assassinated in Dallas, Jackie’s blood-stained pink dress and pillbox hat instantly became a symbol of the terrible tragedy.

She was famously known for her love for arts and culture, as she helped shape the “Camelot Era” mythology. After the assassination, she moved on with her life, deciding to marry the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and became a book editor in New York City.

Photo by Keepsmiling4u from Shutterstock

Robert F. Kennedy

Robert was the seventh child of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy, and everything he did was meant to follow his big brother’s footsteps, as he served in the Navy and graduated from Harvard, too. He managed to get his law degree from the prestigious University of Virginia and started working at the Justice Department.

However, it didn’t last too long, as he soon had to leave to help his brother win a Senate seat back in 1952. Under his brother’s administration, he became the 64th United States Attorney General. He managed to build a strong reputation for fighting diverse cases of organized crime, advocating for civil rights, and even polishing U.S.-CUBA foreign policy.

After John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Robert managed to become U.S. Senator in 1964, and then ran as a presidential candidate in 1968. Unfortunately, as he was campaigning in California in ’68, he was shot dead by a young Palestinian man. The killer went on to say that Kennedy was a supporter of Israel, and that’s why he shot him.

Ted Kennedy

Ted was the ninth and last child of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy. Edward “Ted” Kennedy probably had a biggest influence on American politics than any other sibling before him. He had the same Ivy League education as his fellow brothers, and he was fully prepared to live up to his family’s prestige.

He filled the vacant Senate seat left by his older brother John. However, his political path was in a lot of danger after the well-known Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, which resulted in the accidental drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne.

After he unsuccessfully candidates for the Presidential elections in 1980, Kennedy went on with his life in the public service sector. Everybody knew him as “The Lion of the Senate”, becoming a symbol of American liberalism and one of the most successful senators in American history.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice was the fifth child of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy. She was extremely affected by her sister, Rosemary, who had to undergo a terrible lobotomy for intellectual disability in a psychiatric institution.

She graduated from Stanford University in sociology and worked for a while at the U.S. State Department. Then, she moved on to the U.S. Department of Justice, and later to Chicago, deciding to focus on social work.

She founded the Special Olympics and later hosted the First International Special Olympics in Chicago. It was all meant to offer children that suffered from physical and intellectual disabilities a chance to compete in various athletic fields. In 1984, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her outstanding work.

Photo by Joseph Sohm from Shutterstock

Caroline Kennedy

Caroline is the daughter of John F. and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. She only knows how to live a life under the radar, due to the scrutiny and fame that’s surrounding her name. She went to Harvard as an undergraduate and eventually graduated from Columbia Law School.

John F. Kennedy Jr. 

John F. is the three-year-old child who famously saluted his fallen father’s casket back in 1963. Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to stay away from the family curse, like his older sister Caroline. He decided to try something different from his family members and attended Brown University as an undergraduate.

After he earned his law degree at the New York University School of Law, he served for a little while as a Manhattan assistant district attorney, before deciding to co-found “George”, a magazine made to fusion the worlds of politics and entertainment. Unfortunately, his life was cut short only three years after founding the magazine, after he accidentally flew his plane into the Atlantic.

Did you enjoy reading this? If so, we have something else you might like: The Amazing History of Thanksgiving: What Happened on This Day?


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