The Kennedy family is an American political family that has long been prominent in American politics, public service, entertainment and business. The first Kennedy elected to public office was Patrick Joseph “P. J.” Kennedy in 1884, 35 years after the family’s arrival from Ireland. He served in the Massachusetts state legislature from 1884 to 1895. At least one Kennedy family member served in federal elective office in every year from 1947, when P.J. Kennedy’s grandson, John F. Kennedy, became a member of Congress from Massachusetts; to 2011, when P.J. Kennedy’s great-grandson, Patrick J. Kennedy, retired as a member of Congress from Rhode Island, a span of 64 years.
The descendants of P.J.’s son, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy include a president of the United States (who had also served in both houses of Congress), a U.S. attorney general (who later served in the U.S. Senate), four other members of the United States House of Representatives or Senate, and two U.S. ambassadors, a lieutenant governor, three state legislators (one of whom went on to the U.S. House of Representatives), and one mayor.
In addition, Joseph Sr. and Rose’s daughter, Eunice, founded the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (a part of the National Institutes of Health), and founded the Special Olympics. Eunice’s daughter Maria Shriver served as First Lady of California. Other descendants of Joseph and Rose Kennedy have been active as lawyers, authors, and activists on behalf of those with physical and intellectual challenges.
Kennedy in-laws who have served in public office include Sargent Shriver (married to Eunice Kennedy), United States Ambassador to France from 1968–1970 and Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1972; Arnold Schwarzenegger (married to Maria Shriver), who served two terms as Governor of California; and Andrew Cuomo (married to Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy), United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration and 56th Governor of New York.
According to genealogist Brian Kennedy in his work JFK’s Irish O’Kennedy Ancestors, the Kennedys who would go on to play a significant role in the United States of America originated from the Ó Cinnéide Fionn (one of the three Irish Gaelic Ó Cinnéide clans who ruled the kingdom of Ormond, along with the Ó Cinnéide Donn and Ó Cinnéide Ruadh). Their progenitor, Diarmaid Ó Cinnéide Fionn, held Knight Castle close to what is today Puckane, County Tipperary in 1546. From there, having lost out to the New English order in the Kingdom of Ireland, they ended up in Dunganstown, New Ross, County Wexford by 1740. Patrick Kennedy was born there in 1823.
The first Kennedys to reside in the United States were Patrick Kennedy (1823–1858) and Bridget Murphy (1824–1888), who sailed from Ireland to East Boston in 1849; Patrick worked in East Boston as a barrel maker, or cooper. Patrick and Bridget had five children: their youngest, Patrick Joseph “P. J.” Kennedy, went into business and served in the state Legislature from 1884–1895.
P.J. and Mary Augusta Hickey were the parents of four children. Their oldest was Joseph Patrick “Joe” Kennedy Sr., who amassed a fortune in banking and securities trading, which he further expanded by investing in other growing industries. Joseph Sr. was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, chairman of the Maritime Commission, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom in the lead-up to World War II. He served on The Hoover Commission, officially named the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, from 1947–1949; the commission was appointed by President Harry Truman to recommend administrative changes in the federal government.
Joseph Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, were the parents of nine children: Joseph Jr., John, Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Ted. John served as the 35th President of the United States, while Robert and Ted both became prominent senators. Every Kennedy elected to public office has served as a Democrat, while other members of the family have worked for the Democratic Party or held Cabinet posts in Democratic administrations. Many have attended Harvard University, and the family has contributed greatly to that university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Joseph Sr. expected his eldest son, Joseph Jr., to go into politics and to ultimately be elected president. Joseph Jr. was elected as a delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention, and enlisted in the Navy after the U.S. entered World War II. Joseph Jr. was killed in 1944 when the bomber he was piloting exploded in flight. It then fell upon John, who had considered a career as a journalist — he had authored a book and did some reporting for Hearst Newspapers — to fulfill his father’s desire to see the family involved in politics and government. After returning from Navy service, John served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953, and then as U.S. Senator until his election as President in 1960.
During John’s administration, Robert served as attorney general; his brother-in-law Sargent Shriver served as director of the new Peace Corps, and Ted was elected to the Senate. Among the Kennedy administration’s accomplishments: the Alliance for Progress, the Peace Corps, peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, the 24th Amendment ending the poll tax, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The family was the subject of intense media coverage during and after the Kennedy presidency, often emphasizing their relative youth, allure, education, and future in politics. Ted served in the Senate with his brother Robert, and was serving in the Senate when his nephew, Joseph P. II, and son, Patrick J., served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In November 2012, Joseph P. Kennedy III, son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District.
Family incidents led Ted to question in a televised statement about the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, whether there was a “Kennedy curse.” In 1941, Rosemary underwent a lobotomy intended to curb behavioral and emotional issues, but the operation left her incapacitated; Joseph Jr. died in 1944 when the Navy bomber he was piloting during World War II exploded in flight; Kathleen died in a plane crash in France in 1948; and John and Robert were both assassinated in 1963 and 1968. In 1964, Ted was nearly killed in a plane crash in Southampton, Massachusetts Legislative aide Edward Moss and the pilot were killed. Ted was seriously injured and spent months in a hospital recovering from a severe back injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and internal bleeding. He suffered chronic back pain for the rest of his life as a result of the accident.
Of Joseph Sr. and Rose Kennedy’s grandchildren, David died of a drug overdose in 1984; Michael died from injuries sustained in a skiing accident in 1997; John Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999; and Kara and Christopher both died of heart attacks in 2011 and 2018.
La famille Kennedy
Le clan Kennedy est une famille américaine d’origine irlandaise, ayant donné aux États-Unis de nombreux politiciens issus du Parti démocrate tout au long du XXe siècle puis du XXIe siècle. Les Kennedy sont principalement implantés en Nouvelle-Angleterre, et particulièrement dans la région de Boston, dans le Massachusetts. Le membre le plus illustre de la famille est John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35e président des États-Unis, assassiné au cours de son mandat en 1963.
Les premiers membres connus sont issus du clan Kennedy vivant en Irlande, originaires du comté de Wexford. Il s’agit du fermier Thomas Kennedy (1703-1788) et Rose Elizabeth Davis (1706–1790) ; leur fils John Kennedy I (1738–1804) était aussi un fermier local qui épousa Bridget Shallow (1744–1814) en 1765 ; leur fils James Kennedy Sr. (1770–1840) était aussi un fermier local et épousa Maria Maiden (1779–1835) en 1798. Leur fils, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, né à Dunganstown en Irlande en 1823 et mort à Boston le 22 novembre 1858, est un fermier irlandais qui a émigré aux États-Unis en 1849. Leur fils, l’homme d’affaires Patrick Joseph Kennedy, épouse Mary Augusta Hickey (1857–1923).
Le « grand clan » Kennedy fut fondé à l’occasion de l’union de leur fils Joseph Patrick Kennedy avec Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald en 1914. Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald était la fille de John Francis Fitzgerald (1863–1950) et de Mary Josephine Hannon (1865-1964). Patrick Kennedy et John Fitzgerald étaient tous deux fils d’immigrés irlandais – les Fitzgerald des comtés de Limerick et de Cavan – et étaient devenus membres du Parti démocrate. À leur époque, ils étaient considérés comme les deux plus célèbres hommes politiques de la communauté irlandaise de Boston. En effet, Patrick Kennedy était membre de la Chambre des représentants et du Sénat du Massachusetts, tandis que John Fitzgerald était maire de la ville de Boston et membre du Congrès. Quant à Joseph Kennedy, il devint par la suite ambassadeur des États-Unis au Royaume-Uni, poste qu’il occupa de 1938 à 1940.
Joseph et Rose Kennedy élevèrent leurs quatre fils et leurs cinq filles dans la foi catholique. Après la mort de leur fils aîné Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. (25/07/1915 à Brookline – 12/08/1944) en 1944, ils fondèrent tous leurs espoirs sur son puiné, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Celui-ci devint le plus jeune président des États-Unis en 1961, et le premier (et unique jusqu’à présent) de confession catholique. Après son assassinat en 1963, son jeune frère Robert Francis Kennedy (dit « Bobby » ou « Bob » Kennedy) devint le chef de famille. Robert Kennedy, qui occupait le poste de procureur général sous le mandat de son frère et qui devint par la suite sénateur de l’État de New York, se présenta à l’élection présidentielle de 1968, mais il fut à son tour assassiné pendant la campagne.
D’autres membres de la famille s’illustrèrent également en politique, en diplomatie ou dans le droit. Jean Ann Kennedy, dernière fille de Joseph et Rose Kennedy, fut ambassadrice des États-Unis en Irlande de 1993 à 1998. Son frère, Edward Moore Kennedy (dit « Ted » Kennedy), fut sénateur de l’État du Massachusetts de 1962 à sa mort. Le fils de celui-ci, Patrick Joseph Kennedy II, a été représentant du Rhode Island de 1994 à 2011. Kathleen Hartington Kennedy, fille de Robert Kennedy, fut lieutenant-gouverneur du Maryland de 1995 à 2003. Et le frère de celle-ci, Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, fut représentant du Massachusetts de 1987 à 1999. Le fils de ce dernier, Joseph Patrick Kennedy III est représentant du Massachusetts depuis 2013.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr., fils du président John F. Kennedy, devint quant à lui procureur adjoint de l’État de New York et fut le fondateur du journal George.
Le Kennedy Compound est la résidence familiale de la famille Kennedy à Hyannisport (Massachusetts).