Why was Ted Kennedy never elected president?
The beginnings in Boston
Power, intrigue, affairs and drama are seldom so close together as in the family that produced the 35th President of the United States. But the roots of the Kennedys, who made history as the most famous political dynasty in the United States, do not lie in the country where they became a myth.
Patrick Kennedy was 26 years old when he set off on the long journey from southern Ireland to North America in the mid-19th century. Like many of his compatriots, he hopes for a better life. So is Bridget Murphy, who is on the same emigrant ship to Boston.
The two met on the long crossing and married in September 1849 in their new home in East Boston. They have five children, one of the sons dies at the age of two. Patrick Kennedy also dies nine years after his arrival in America.
Bridget has to support her family on her own. She manages to buy the haberdashery store where she previously worked as a saleswoman. With the money she earns, she later supports her son Patrick Joseph, called "P.J." (Peejay) when he went into business for himself with a bar.
More bars as well as wholesalers and retailers are added quickly. The foundation stone for the Kennedy fortune has been laid. But P.J. is not only successful as a businessman, he also gets into politics.
In 1886 P.J. first time as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. A year later he married Mary Augusta Hickey, the daughter of a successful businessman. The two have three children. As P.J. Dies in 1929, the family belongs to the Boston middle class. She is wealthy and owns blocks of shares as well as company interests.
Better known as P.J. Kennedy is a successful politician named John F. Fitzgerald, also known as "Honey Fitz". The son of a businessman dropped out of medical school at Harvard Medical School because he wanted to look after his younger brothers after the death of his father. In 1892 John F. Fitzgerald, editor of a local newspaper, was elected to the Massachusetts Senate. He later becomes Mayor of Boston.
Rose and Joe - the founders of the clan
The children of the two powerful Boston men are considered to be the founders of the actual Kennedy clan. Rose, the daughter of "Honey Fitz", and Joseph Patrick Kennedy, the son of P.J., are married in October 1914. Rose, who was raised in Europe, meets her future husband while on vacation in the US state of Maine.
Joe, who studied at Harvard University, among other things, is considered extremely self-confident and aims high. His pronounced ambition is due not least to the fact that, as the son of an Irish family of emigrants, he is denied social recognition. This is exactly what he wants to fight for now. At least financially, it works.
By the time Joe Kennedy was in his 30s, he made a fortune on the stock market and is a multimillionaire. He is known for his reckless business conduct, and he is said to have had contacts with the Mafia. For the long-established Bostonians, this is not the only reason why he remains a newly rich upstart.
In 1926 the Kennedy family moved to New York and Joe entered the film business. He grows his net worth and begins a relationship with the famous silent movie star Gloria Swanson. His wife Rose tacitly endures these and other affairs. It is only important to her that the appearance of an intact family is preserved.
In 1932, the Kennedys' ninth and last child is born. The four boys and five girls learn from their father at an early age what is important in life: his children should be winners. And so sporting competitions are part of everyday life. Only Rosemary, who has had an intellectual disability since birth, can't keep up.
Joe Kennedy pays special attention to his eldest sons, Josephjr. and John F. Kennedy, called Jack. The firstborn Josephjr. is traded as the first "Irish" President of the United States during his youth. There is a marked rivalry between the two brothers.
While Rose is often out and about in Europe, Joe Kennedy tries his luck in politics. With his money and his connections he supports the democratic candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the presidential election campaign, not least because he expects a high political office from it. But when Roosevelt actually became president in 1933, Kennedy received nothing and did not get any of the coveted cabinet positions.
Joe becomes an ambassador
In order to fulfill his obligations to Kennedy, Roosevelt appointed Joe Kennedy as American ambassador to Great Britain in 1937. His new career in London begins with a drastic miscalculation: In his opinion, the National Socialist dictatorship in Germany does not pose a major threat. For this reason, he also considers American military interference to be unnecessary.
Kennedy, who is also said to have anti-Semitic tendencies, supports the "appeasement policy", that is, the appeasement course of the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. In 1940, shortly after the start of World War II, Joe Kennedy returned to America. His political career is over.
From now on he devotes himself to the advancement of his eldest sons. Both Josephjr. and John joined the army in 1941. The older of the two becomes an aviator in the Navy; John becomes a lieutenant at sea and commands torpedo patrol boats.
When the Pacific War broke out in 1942, he volunteered and returned as a hero because he had saved one of his comrades. His brother Joseph did not survive the war; he had an accident in a plane crash in 1944 after reporting on a dangerous mission. Four years later, Kathleen, the eldest of the Kennedy sisters, also dies in a plane crash.
The Kennedys in the White House
In the mid-1940s, John F. Kennedy made his first political appearances. With the help of his father and siblings, "JFK" became a Senator from Massachusetts in 1952.
On January 20, 1961, the family finally achieved their goal: John F. Kennedy becomes President of the United States of America. He moves into the White House with his wife Jacqueline and their two children. He embodies a new type of politician who stands for the optimism of the early 1960s. But his era lasts less than three years.
About 1000 days after his inauguration, Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The background to the attack remains unclear to this day. The alleged shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, can be found immediately after the murder.
But the investigators now assume that Oswald acted on behalf of another person or organization. There is, among other things, the theory that the Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro is said to have initiated the murder.
Robert Kennedy, JFK's younger brother, also becomes a politician. He is attorney general in John's cabinet and retains the post under Lyndon B. Johnson. One of its main political concerns is the abolition of racial segregation. He too has the presidency in his sights.
But despite a promising election campaign, it did not get that far when Robert Kennedy was shot in a hotel in Los Angeles in 1968. He leaves eleven children.
Edward Kennedy, called Ted, the youngest son of Rose and Joe, also goes into politics. Like his brothers, he wants to be president. That fails because of ever new scandals, including numerous excesses of alcohol and a momentous car accident in which his passenger dies. Nevertheless, Ted made a career, he became a senator and one of the leading liberal politicians in the United States.
There are also scandals and accidents in the next generation. In 1999 the whole of America suffered when the "Crown Prince" John Junior, the son of JFK, was killed in an airplane accident. The inexperienced aviator crashes with his wife Carolyn Bessette and their sister on the way to the wedding of his cousin on the holiday island of Martha's Vineyard.
With the death of John Jr., the Kennedy clan's last hopes of ever having a president again die.
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