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Fifty Years Ago: The Food of the Kennedy White House

Fifty Years Ago: The Food of the Kennedy White House

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This past week, history has taken a center stage, as newspapers, online publications and television programs mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Jr. In that spirit, this week, Hungry History is taking a special look back at the food of the Kennedy White House. For as JFK’s presidency marked great progress in the worlds of space exploration, civil rights, and arts advancement, it also marked a watershed moment in the way Americans eat.

Before President and Mrs. Kennedy moved in, White House meals were a rather dull affair. None of the recent occupants had been what could be considered gourmands: Calvin Coolidge inexplicably referred to any and all meals as “supper,” even if it were breakfast time; the Roosevelts famously served hot dogs to the king and queen of England; and a menu for the state dinner for the crowned heads of Greece given by the Eisenhower administration reads as depressing as any unemployment figures: toasted Triscuits, fish in cheese sauce, sliced “lemmon.”

The Kennedys changed all that. Or rather, Jacqueline Kennedy, who had a strong appreciation for the finer things in life—especially those of the French variety–that she’d picked up during years of study abroad at the Sorbonne. Not long after the inauguration, Mrs. Kennedy hired a French chef, Rene Verdon. Quickly, the White House menus changed from featuring saltines and beef stew to more sophisticated fare, like sole Veronique and strawberries Romanoff. Verdon’s influence was felt throughout the country, as magazine and newspaper articles went crazy for all things Kennedy. Julia Child’s celebrated public television program The French Chef began about this time, too, so more and more Americans became interested in dining a la Francaise.

But perhaps the people who benefitted most from the sea change in White House food were the Washington politicians and insiders who regularly attended events there. It was obvious from the first official reception, given nine days after the inauguration, that change was coming. The Kennedys installed a bar in the State Dining Room, complete with butlers to shake and pour martinis and bourbon. Instead of the usual five to six courses for dinner, Jackie streamlined meals, including only four courses to leave enough time for post-dinner entertainment and conversation. And men and women mingled freely after Kennedy dinner, whereas in previous years men had repaired to one room for cigars and women to a separate salon for coffee.

Perhaps the most celebrated White House dinner of the Kennedy years was held at President Washington’s grand house, Mount Vernon, in honor of the president of Pakistan. Guests were transported down the Potomac on yachts, with dance music played and champagne freely poured. The French meal was prepared in the White House kitchen, and trucked the 15 miles to Mount Vernon in specially modified military vehicles. Guests were treated to a crabmeat and avocado mimosa, poulet chasseur and fresh local raspberries with whipped cream. To cap off the evening, the National Symphony Orchestra gave a concert featuring–what else?–a rendition of George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”

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Kennedy Compound

The Kennedy Compound consists of three houses on six acres (24,000 m²) of waterfront property on Cape Cod along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, in the United States. It was once the home of Joseph P. Kennedy, an American businessman, investor, politician, and U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom his wife, Rose and their children, including U.S. President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy. As an adult, the youngest son, Edward, lived in his parents' house, and it was his primary residence from 1982 until he died of brain cancer at the compound, in August 2009. [2]

John F. Kennedy used the compound as a base for his successful 1960 U.S. presidential campaign and later as a summer White House and presidential retreat, until his assassination, in November 1963. In 2012, the main house was donated to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. [3] As of 2020, Robert Kennedy's widow Ethel lives in their home adjacent to the main house.

Mellon wrote that President Kennedy became interested in revamping the Rose Garden after returning from a trip to Europe.

"The President had noted that the White House had no garden equal in quality or attractiveness to the gardens that he had seen and in which he had been entertained in Europe," she wrote for the White House Historical Association. "There he had recognized the importance of gardens surrounding an official residence and their appeal to the sensibilities of all people."

Question Who "invented" the TV dinner?

Convenience foods. Warren K. Leffler, photographer, 1965. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Like many creations, the story of the development of the TV dinner is not straightforward. Many people and companies played a role in the development of the concept of a complete meal that needed only to be reheated before eating. The invention of the TV dinner has been attributed to at least three different sources, primarily Gerry Thomas, the Swanson Brothers, and Maxson Food Systems, Inc.

An opened, uncooked TV Dinner. External link Sir Beluga, photographer, March, 2018. Wikimedia Commons.

Maxson Food Systems, Inc. manufactured the earliest complete frozen meal in 1945. Maxson manufactured “Strato-Plates” – complete meals that were reheated on the plane for military and civilian airplane passengers. The meals consisted of a basic three-part equation of meat, vegetable and potato, each housed in its own separate compartment on a plastic plate. However, due to financial reasons and the death of their founder, Maxson frozen meals never went to the retail market. Some feel that Maxson’s product does not qualify as a true TV dinner, since it was consumed on an airplane rather than in the consumer’s home.

Following in the footsteps of Maxson Foods Systems was Jack Fisher’s FridgiDinners. In the late 1940’s FridgiDinners sold frozen dinners to bars and taverns. Frozen dinners did not take off, however, until the Bernstein brothers came on the scene.

In 1949, Albert and Meyer Bernstein organized Frozen Dinners, Inc., which packaged frozen dinners on aluminum trays with three compartments. They sold them under the One-Eyed Eskimo label, and only to markets in the Pittsburgh area. By 1950, the company had produced over 400,000 frozen dinners. Demand continued to grow, and in 1952 the Bernstein brothers formed the Quaker State Food Corporation. They expanded distribution to markets east of the Mississippi. By 1954, Quaker State Foods had produced and sold over 2,500,000 frozen dinners!

The concept really took hold in 1954 when Swanson’s frozen meals appeared. Swanson was a well-known brand that consumers recognized, and Swanson launched a massive advertising campaign for their product. They also coined the phrase TV Dinner, which helped to transform their frozen meals into a cultural icon.

The Reagans eating on TV trays in the White House residence, November, 1981. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives and Records Administration.

But this is where different stories begin to emerge. Until recently, the most widely credited individual inventor of the TV dinner was Gerry Thomas, a salesman for C.A. Swanson & Son in 1953. For example, the American Frozen Food Institute honored him in their “Frozen Food Hall of Fame” as the inventor of the TV dinner. However, his role as the inventor is now being disputed.

Conversely, Betty Cronin, a bacteriologist who was also working for the Swanson brothers at that time, asserts that it was the Swanson brothers themselves, Gilbert and Clarke Swanson, who came up with the concept of the TV dinner, while their marketing and advertising teams developed the name and design of the product. Cronin also worked on the project, taking on the technical challenge of composing a dinner in which all the ingredients took the same amount of time to cook, also called synchronization.

So who really invented the TV dinner? It depends on your definition. One thing is for sure, though: the first company to use the name and successfully market the TV Dinner was Swanson.

Published: 11/19/2019. Author: Science Reference Section, Library of Congress

History in photos: The Kennedy assassination, 55 years ago

On Nov. 22, 1963, the United States was jolted by one of the most shocking, transformative events in its history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade rode through the streets of Dallas. Two days later, the nation was further jarred when accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was himself slain by nightclub owner Jack Ruby while in the custody of Dallas police. The assassination of the nation’s youthful leader was the first presidential murder in more than 60 years and sparked decades of conspiracy theories, making it undoubtedly the most investigated and more debated criminal act in American history.

President John F. Kennedy applauds Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Nov. 22, 1963. After the breakfast, they headed to Dallas for the next stage of what was supposed to be a fence-mending Texas presidential trip.

President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, are greeted by an enthusiastic crowd upon their arrival at Love Field in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

The Kennedys embark from Love Field with Texas Gov. John Connally on Nov. 22, 1963. Connally would be seriously wounded in the attack the Warren Commission would later go to great lengths to demonstrate that Connally and Kennedy were struck by the same bullet.

About a minute after this photo was taken, President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot.

Panic ensues in the seconds after President John F. Kennedy was mortally wounded in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

President John F. Kennedy slumps down in the back seat of the presidential limousine as it speeds off toward Parkland Memorial Hospital on Nov. 22, 1963. Jacqueline Kennedy leans over the president as Secret Service agent Clinton Hill rides on the back of the car.

A U.S. flag flies at half-staff in front of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas where President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead Nov. 22, 1963.

Still in shock, Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in aboard the presidential plane as Jacqueline Kennedy stands at his side Nov. 22,1963. Judge Sarah T. Hughes administers the oath.

White House, Cecil Stoughton/AP Photo

Her stockings and dress covered in blood, Jacqueline Kennedy reaches for the door of the ambulance carrying the body of her slain husband at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Nov. 22, 1963. Robert F. Kennedy is next to her.

Newly sworn in as president, Lyndon B. Johnson speaks at Andrews Air Force Base upon his return to Washington from Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in this movie theater Nov. 22, 1963, a little more than an hour after the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. Oswald had entered the theater after the fatal shooting of police officer J.D. Tippit and was subsequently charged in the death of the president as well as in Tippit’s death.

Police Lt. J.C. Day holds aloft the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle recovered from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository after the assassination Nov. 22, 1963. The Italian-made rifle would be at the heart of many of the disputes over the assassination.

Suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is seen at police headquarters in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Oswald was a former Marine who had once defected to the Soviet Union — and then defected back.

Paraded before newsmen after his arrest, Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 23, 1963, tells reporters that he did not shoot President John F. Kennedy. Oswald himself would be shot to death the next day.

Nightclub owner Jack Ruby is led through the Dallas city jail on his way to his arraignment Nov. 24, 1963. A regular visitor to police headquarters, Ruby had gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald as police were leading the accused assassin through the basement.

Jacqueline Kennedy kneels by the casket of her slain husband, John F. Kennedy, in the rotunda of the Capitol on Nov. 24, 1963. Their daughter, Caroline, kneels beside her.

The Kennedys exit St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington after funeral Mass for the slain president, Nov. 25, 1963.

On Nov. 25, 1963, a sailor weeps as the caisson bearing the body of President John F. Kennedy travels past him and other mourners in Arlington National Cemetery.

50 Years Ago: The World in 1963

A half century ago, much of the news in the United States was dominated by the actions of civil rights activists and those who opposed them. Our role in Vietnam was steadily growing, along with the costs of that involvement. It was the year Beatlemania began, and the year President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin and delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Push-button telephones were introduced, 1st class postage cost 5 cents, and the population of the world was 3.2 billion, less than half of what it is today. The final months of 1963 were punctuated by one of the most tragic events in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at the world as it was in 1963.

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, District of Columbia, during the "March on Washington," on August 28, 1963. King said the march was "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States." #

A Helmeted U.S. Helicopter Crewchief watches ground movements of Vietnamese troops from above during a strike against Viet Cong Guerrillas in the Mekong Delta Area, on January 2, 1963. The communist Viet Cong claimed victory in the continuing struggle in Vietnam after they shot down five U.S. helicopters. An American officer was killed and three other American servicemen were injured in the action. By 1963, nearly 16,000 American military personnel were deployed in South Vietnam. #

French Singer Yves Montand performs at a fund-raising evening of entertainment in Washington, District of Columbia, to celebrate the second anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration, on January 18, 1963. #

Ronny Howard, center, who plays Opie on "The Andy Griffith Show," is joined by his real-life father Rance Howard and little brother Clint in an episode of the show, marking the first time that all three Howards had worked in a TV show together, in 1963. #

A motorist's view of a street in Baghdad, Iraq, on February 12, 1963, where tanks stand by to prevent further outbreaks of fighting which followed a military coup and overthrow of Premier Abdel Karim Kassem's five-year-old regime by elements of the Ba'ath Party. #

The use of small, portable TV sets in the U.S. had not quite caught on in 1963, but in Japan, where they were first developed, viewers were hooked on the miniaturized video machine. Owners of the sets, such as this patient in a Tokyo hospital, took them with them wherever they went. #

Napalm air strikes raise clouds of smoke into gray monsoon skies as houseboats glide down the Perfume River toward Hue in Vietnam, on February 28, 1963, where the battle for control of the old Imperial City has ended with a Communist defeat. Firebombs were directed against a village on the outskirts of Hue. #

Sixty five drivers run for their cars at start of International 12-hour endurance race at Sebring, Florida, on March 23, 1963. #

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy ride in a parade in Washington, District of Columbia, on March 27, 1963. #

Powered sledges break a trail through Maine's primitive Allagash Forest, on March 5, 1963. Twenty men, led by an expert on Arctic equipment, made an extended trip through the forest to test equipment. Robert Faylor, director of the Arctic Institute of North America, led the group. The sledges, called Polaris vehicles, are powered with engines about the size of an outboard motor and travel up to 8 or 10 miles an hour, depending on snow conditions. #

After the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali, on March 26, 1963, most of the cabins have been destroyed in this village. On March 17, the volcano erupted, sending debris into the air and generating massive pyroclastic flows. These flows devastated numerous villages, killing approximately 1,500 people. #

Diane Sawyer, 17, America's Junior Miss of 1963, takes a few snapshots of New York's skyline on March 18, 1963. #

Admiral Richard Byrd's "Little America III" station, built in Antarctic in 1940, was spotted by a Navy icebreaker sticking out of the side of this floating iceberg in the Antarctic's Ross Sea, on March 13, 1963. The old outpost was buried beneath 25 feet of snow, 300 miles away from its original location. A helicopter pilot flew in close and reported cans and supplies still stacked neatly on shelves. #

Riders read their morning newspapers on New York's subway en route to work, on April 1, 1963 after the end of the city's 114-day newspaper strike. #

Black college student Dorothy Bell, 19, of Birmingham, Alabama, waits at a downtown Birmingham lunch counter for service that never came, April 4, 1963. She was later arrested with 20 others in sit-in attempts. #

Rev. Ralph Abernathy, left, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., are removed by a policeman as they led a line of demonstrators into the business section of Birmingham, Alabama, on April 12, 1963. #

Bluebird, the 5,000 horsepower car in which Donald Campbell hopes to break the world land speed record, pictured during its first run, with Campbell at the controls, during preliminary tests on the specially prepared track at Lake Eyre, South Australia on May 2, 1963. Torrential rains flooded the lake, postponing his run until the following year, when he set a record of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h). #

The launch of the Mercury Atlas 9 rocket with astronaut Gordon Cooper on board from Launch Pad 14 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1963. Mercury Atlas 9 was the final manned space mission of the U.S. Mercury program, successfully completing 22 Earth orbits before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. #

A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator, defying an anti-parade ordinance in Birmingham, Alabama, is attacked by a police dog on May 3, 1963. On the afternoon of May 4, 1963, during a meeting at the White House with members of a political group, President Kennedy discussed this photo, which had appeared on the front page of that day's New York Times. #

A young black woman, soaked by a fireman's hose as an anti-segregation march is broken up by police, in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 8, 1963. In the background is a police riot wagon. #

French explorer and oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau near his "diving saucer" during an undersea exploration in the Red Sea, in June of 1963. Together with Jean Mollard, he created the SP-350, a two-man submarine that could reach a depth of 350 m below the ocean's surface. #

A cheering crowd, estimated by police at more than a quarter of a million, fills the area beneath the podium at West Berlin's City Hall, where U.S. President John F. Kennedy stands. His address to the City Hall crowd was one of the highlights of his career. #

A picketer in front of a Gadsden, Alabama, drugstore turns to answer a heckler during a demonstration, on June 10, 1963. About two dozen black youths picketed several stores and two theaters. There were no arrests and no violence. #

26-year-old Valentina Tereshkova, who became the first woman to travel in space, as seen in a television transmission from her spacecraft, Vostok 6, on June 16, 1963. #

Attorney General Robert Kennedy uses a bullhorn to address black demonstrators at the Justice Department, on June 14, 1963. The demonstrators marched to the White House, then to the District Building, and wound up at the Justice Department. #

Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, burns himself to death on a Saigon street to protest alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government, on June 11, 1963. #

Alabama's governor George Wallace (left) faces General Henry Graham, in Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama, on June 12, 1963. Wallace blocked the enrollment of two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Despite an order of the federal court, Governor George Wallace appointed himself the temporary University registrar and stood in the doorway of the administration building to prevent the students from registering. In response, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard. One hundred guardsman escorted the students to campus and their commander, General Henry Graham, ordered George Wallace to "step aside." Thus were the students registered. Kennedy addressed the public in a June 11 speech that cleared his position on civil rights. The bill that he submitted to Congress was ultimately passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. #

Mourners file past the open casket of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 15, 1963. On June 12, Evers was shot and killed outside his home by by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council. #

Dr. Michael Debakey installs an artificial pump to assist a patient's damaged heart in Houston, on July 19, 1963. #

Allison Turaj, 25, of Washington, District of Columbia, blood running down her cheek, was cut over her right eye by a thrown rock in a mass demonstration at a privately owned, segregated amusement park in suburban Woodlawn in Baltimore, on July 7, 1963. #

Robert Fahsenfeldt, owner of a segregated lunchroom in the racially tense Eastern Shore community of Cambridge, Maryland, douses a white integrationist with water, on July 8, 1963. The integrationist, Edward Dickerson, was among three white and eight African American protesters who knelt on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant to sing freedom songs. A raw egg, which Fahsenfeldt had broken over Dickerson's head moments earlier, still is visible on the back of Dickerson's head. The protesters were later arrested. #

Firefighters turn their hoses full force on civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 15, 1963. #

Mrs. Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, pushes a National Guardsman's bayonet aside as she moves among a crowd of African Americans to convince them to disperse, in Cambridge, Maryland, on July 21, 1963. #

Chicago police move in to knock down a burning cross in front of a home, after an African-American family moved into a previously all white neighborhood, on the 6th consecutive night of disturbances, on August 3, 1963. #

The statue of Abraham Lincoln is illuminated during a civil rights rally, on August 28, 1963 in Washington, District of Columbia, #

Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during a civil rights rally on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. #

White students in Birmingham, Alabama, drag an African American effigy past West End High School, on September 12, 1963. Two African American girls attended the desegregated school and a majority of the white students were staying away from classes. Police stopped this car in a segregationist caravan in front of the school to caution them about fast driving and blowing auto horns in front of a school. #

A civil defense worker and firemen walk through debris from an explosion which struck the 16th street Baptist Church, killing four girls and injuring 22 others, in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. The open doorway at right is where the girls are believed to have died. The horrific attack rallied public support to the cause of civil rights. Four men, members a Ku Klux Klan group, were responsible for planting a box of dynamite under the steps of the church. Three of the four were eventually tried and convicted. #

One trooper sprawls in the flooded swamp as other Vietnamese Government Soldiers walk through the water after landing from U.S. army Helicopters near CA Mau Peninsula in South Vietnam on September 15, 1963. The Soldiers were landed to pursue communist Viet Cong Guerrillas who had attacked a Vietnamese outpost. #

A young Swedish fan hugs George Harrison as The Beatles play at a pop festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 26, 1963. Paul McCartney, left, sings with Harrison. #

President John F. Kennedy greets a crowd at a political rally in Fort Worth, Texas in this November 22, 1963 photo by White House photographer Cecil Stoughton. #

At 12:30 pm, just seconds after President John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were shot in Dallas, Texas, the limousine carrying mortally wounded president races toward the hospital, on November 22, 1963. With secret service agent Clinton Hill riding on the back of the car, Mrs. John Connally, wife of the Texas governor, bends over her wounded husband, and Mrs. Kennedy leans over the president. #

Lee Harvey Oswald sits in police custody shortly after being arrested for the assassination President John F. Kennedy, and the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit, in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. #

Flanked by Jacqueline Kennedy (right) and his wife Lady Bird Johnson (2nd left), U.S Vice President Lyndon Johnson is administered the oath of office by Federal Judge Sarah Hughes, as he assumed the presidency of the United States, on November 22, 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas #

Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is placed on a stretcher after moments after being shot in the stomach in Dallas, Texas, on November 24, 1963. Nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald as the prisoner was being transferred through the underground garage of Dallas police headquarters. #

Jackie Kennedy kisses the casket of her late husband, President John F. Kennedy while her daughter Caroline touches it in rotunda of U.S> Capitol, on November 24, 1963. #

With the illuminated U.S. Capitol in the background, mourners form an endless line which lasted through the night, to pay their respects to the slain President John F. Kennedy, in Washington, District of Columbia, on November 24, 1963. #

Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father's casket in Washington in this November 25, 1963 photo, three days after the president was assassinated in Dallas. Widow Jacqueline Kennedy, center, and daughter Caroline Kennedy are accompanied by the late president's brothers Senator Edward Kennedy, left, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. #

Picture released on December 2, 1963 of the formation of Surtsey, a new volcanic island off the southern coast of Iceland forged from volcanic eruptions. #

New York's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, linking Brooklyn to Staten Island, under construction, on December 4, 1963. The bridge, with a span of 4,260 feet, opened to traffic on November 21, 1964. #

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Eight years after JFK’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy slipped into the White House for one last visit

It had been eight years since Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis left the White House, eight years since black bunting had hung from the East Room windows and her husband’s body rested on the same bier that had held Abraham Lincoln’s.

Much had changed since President John F. Kennedy had been shot to death beside her in Dallas in 1963 and she had returned to Washington in her bloodstained clothes.

Even so, “the thought of seeing the White House again” was painful, she wrote first lady Pat Nixon in January 1970. “I have returned to Washington only to visit Arlington,” the national cemetery where her husband was buried.

“I know that time will make things easier,” she wrote. “And that one day, when they and I are older, I must take Caroline and John back to the places where they lived with their father. But that won’t be for a while.”

A year later, however, she thought she was ready, and proposed a secret plan.

On Feb. 3, 1971 — 50 years ago — Jackie and the children slipped into the White House, almost unnoticed, for her first and only visit there after the assassination of her husband.

It was a day marked by grace and tenderness, as Jackie put it later, between two rival political families that seems unimaginable today.

And it is chronicled in a poignant exchange of the first ladies’ letters, which are held at the presidential libraries of Richard M. Nixon, in Yorba Linda, Calif., and of Kennedy, in Boston.

So much had changed in Washington between 1963 and 1971.

Two presidents had lived in the White House. Nixon, JFK’s defeated 1960 presidential adversary, occupied the executive mansion now — his political disgrace still in the future.

She was 41. Caroline Kennedy was 13, and John F. Kennedy Jr. was 10.

Still, she was fearful of returning. She had been invited by Pat Nixon to attend a small ceremony to mark the hanging of the formal White House portraits of JFK and Jackie, painted by the artist Aaron Shikler.

“As you know, the thought of returning to the White House is difficult for me,” she repeated in a handwritten letter to Pat Nixon on Jan. 27, 1971.

“I really do not have the courage to go through an official ceremony, and bring the children back to the only home they both knew with their father. … With all the press and everything, things I try to avoid in their little lives,” she wrote.

Caroline was 5 and John was 2 when their father was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963.

“I know the experience would be hard on them and not leave them with the memories of the White House I would like them to have,” she wrote, numbering the pages, on stationery of 1040 Fifth Avenue, the luxury Manhattan apartment building where she lived.

But Jackie suggested a less public plan — “an alternative solution,” she called it.

The portraits would go on view publicly. She would send Pat Nixon a statement of thanks.

Then, “perhaps any day before or after, at your convenience, could the children and I slip in unobtrusively to Washington, and come to pay our respects to you and to see the pictures privately?” she asked.

Pat Nixon wouldn’t have to hold a big ceremony, “and the children could see their father’s portrait in the rooms they used to know, in a quiet way,” she wrote.

The two women could not have been from more different backgrounds. Pat Nixon was born in a Nevada mining town and grew up on a farm outside Los Angeles, according to Nixon scholar Bob Bostock.

She took over household duties after her mother, an immigrant from Germany, died when Pat was 12.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born in exclusive Southampton, on Long Island, the daughter of a Wall Street stockbroker. She attended private schools, Vassar College and had studied in France.

But both had shared in the rising political fortunes of their husbands. And the two families had remained close despite Kennedy’s narrow victory in 1960, according to Bostock, who was an aide to Nixon in the last years of his life.

The former vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower, then living in New York City, had written to Jackie the day after the assassination:

“While the hand of fate made Jack and me political opponents I always cherished the fact that we were personal friends from the time we came to Congress together in 1947 … [and] you brought to the White House charm, beauty and elegance … and the mistique of the young at heart.”

She wrote back: “You two young men — colleagues in Congress — adversaries in 1960 — and now look what has happened — Whoever thought such a hideous thing could happen in this country. … We never value life enough when we have it.”

Now the Nixons sent a special jet to pick up Jackie and the children.

“My mother was determined that the visit be as private and as happy as possible,” Nixon daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower wrote in a biography of her mother, “Pat Nixon: The Untold Story.”

Only four members of the White House staff … [were] directly involved … and they were sworn to strict secrecy,” wrote Julie, who was 22 in 1971. “My mother, Tricia [elder Nixon daughter Patricia Nixon Cox] and I were waiting at the second floor elevator when the three visitors arrived.”

Jackie wore “a simple but elegant long sleeved black dress,” Julie remembered. “Her face with its large, wide-set eyes and pale skin framed by dark hair was exactly like the photographs.”

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Bill Clinton wasn't the only one to bungle handling the Kennedys - the book says Hillary Clinton managed to alienate Caroline by fobbing off a key request on staff instead of calling personally.

When a group of prominent New Yorkers headed to Iowa to campaign for Hillary Clinton, Caroline "dreaded" getting a call to join them because she "would have found it impossible to refuse," the book says.

When Hillary Clinton's staffer called, someone "who sounded awfully like" Caroline said she wasn't home.

Bill Clinton, whose stock with black voters was so high he used to be referred to as "America's First Black President," severely damaged his rep in his overheated drive to help elect his wife.


In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the official White House Christmas tree. She chose a “Nutcracker Suite” theme that featured ornamental toys, birds, and angels modeled after Pyotr Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" ballet. The ornaments were made by disabled volunteers and senior citizen craftspeople throughout the United States.

Robert Knudsen, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy reused many of the Nutcracker ornaments for her children's theme tree. Set up in the Entrance Hall, this festive tree featured brightly wrapped packages, candy canes, gingerbread cookies, and straw ornaments.

White House Historical Association

In both 1965 and 1966, First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson’s Blue Room Christmas trees were decorated with an early American theme. The 1966 tree (pictured above) featured thousands of small traditional ornaments, including nuts, fruit, popcorn, dried seedpods, gingerbread cookies, and wood roses from Hawaii. Paper-maché angels graced the tops both the trees. For the 1967 holiday season, Mrs. Johnson used Santa Claus cookies, soldiers, snowmen, dolls, tinsel, silver balls, silver stars and round mirrors. In 1968, traditional American ornaments were used, along with popcorn strings, children’s toys, gingerbread, seedpods, and others from previous years.

Kevin Smith, Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum/NARA

First Lady Patricia Nixon ‘s 1969 "American Flower Tree" stood in the North Entrance. Disabled workers in Florida made velvet and satin balls representing the fifty states and their respective flowers. For the 1970 Blue Room tree, the American Flower ornaments were used along with fifty-three "Monroe" gold foil lace fans—inspired by James and Elizabeth Monroe’s portraits in the Blue Room. In 1971, 144 gold foil angels joined these trimmings. First Lady Patricia Nixon’s 1972 Christmas theme drew upon two White House collection paintings by Severin Roesen: Still Life with Fruit and Nature's Bounty. The tree featured fifty velvet-covered state balls, 3,000 satin finish balls, and 150 gold Federal stars. A 1973 "gold" theme tree with gold bead strings and balls honored President James Monroe, who bought gilded tableware for the White House in 1817.

Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1975, First Lady Betty Ford selected the theme "An Old-Fashioned Christmas in America," also referred to as "A Williamsburg Children's Christmas" for the tree that year (pictured above). Colonial Williamsburg staff and volunteers contributed a majority of the nearly 3,000 ornaments that decorated the Douglas fir, using materials such as dried flowers and fruit, acorns, pinecones, straw, and yarn. The Museum of American Folk Art lent the White House ten antique portraits of children to place on the walls of the Blue Room, as well as an assortment of old toys, dolls, cradles, a train, rocking horse, and a wagon to place around the base of the tree. In 1976, the tree featured more than 2,500 handmade flowers, including the flowers of all fifty states.

White House Historical Association

First Lady Rosalynn Carter explored a variety of holiday themes during her time at the White House. Her 1977 Blue Room tree featured painted milkweed pods, nut pods, foil, and eggshell ornaments made by members of the National Association for Retarded Citizens.

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1978, First Lady Rosalynn Carter decorated an "antique toy" tree with Victorian dolls and miniature furniture lent by the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum. In 1979, she honored American Folk Art of the Colonial period with 500 handmade ornaments. She revived a Victorian theme in 1980 with dolls, dollhouses, parasols, nosegays, hats, fans, tapestries and laces, representing a turn-of-the-century American Christmas.

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

First Lady Nancy Reagan’s official 1981 Blue Room tree featured animal ornaments made of tin, fabric, and wood. The Museum of American Folk Art in New York provided many of the wooden ornaments for the tree. In 1982, First Lady Nancy Reagan arranged for groups of teenagers involved in Second Genesis, a drug treatment program in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, to make foil paper cones and metallic snowflakes for the tree.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1983, First Lady Nancy Reagan re-used the foil paper cones and metallic snowflakes on a tree featuring old-fashioned toys, dollhouses, and miniature furniture lent by the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum (pictured above). In 1984, volunteers from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, along with staff of the Brandywine River Museum, fashioned some 2,800 ornaments out of plant and natural materials. The 1985 tree featured 1,500 ornaments made by staff and Second Genesis volunteers out of Christmas cards sent to the Reagans in 1984.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1986, volunteers from Second Genesis made fifteen soft-sculpture nursery rhyme scenes and over 100 ornaments for a "Mother Goose" tree. For the 1987 "musical" tree, they decorated miniature instruments, notes, and sheet music. For First Lady Nancy Reagan’s 1988 “old–fashion” tree (pictured above), White House carpenters made 300 wooden candles, and hand-blown glass ornaments were reused from the Dwight Eisenhower administration and the Nixon state flower balls from 1969.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

First Lady Barbara Bush chose a theme of "children’s literacy" for the Blue Room Christmas tree of 1989. She had the Executive Residence staff create 80 soft-sculpture characters from popular storybooks. Tiny books completed the motif, and below the tree’s branches were books wrapped with bows.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1990, First Lady Barbara Bush revived "The Nutcracker" with little porcelain dancers and ballet slippers. White House florists dressed the figurines, and a castle from the Land of Sweets was constructed by White House craftspeople. The Saintly Stitchers of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, assisted the staff with the "needle work" tree of 1991. They created a needlepoint village and 1,200 needlepoint ornaments, including the figures for a wooden Noah's Ark built by staff carpenters. For the 1992 tree theme of "Gift-Givers," White House florists fashioned 88 different "gift-giving" characters such as St. Nicholas, the Three Wise Men, and the Bishop of Myra.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1993, the theme was “Year of the American Craft.” The Clintons invited artisans to make original works of art and ornaments out of fiber, ceramics, glass, metal and wood. In 1994, the theme was “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Over 2,000 ornaments were made, each representing the whimsical gifts referenced in the popular holiday song. In 1995, Mrs. Clinton based the tree decorations after the popular nineteenth-century poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (pictured above). The Fraser fir featured nearly 3,500 handmade ornaments related to the poem, such as miniature houses, chimneys, rooftops, and shutters made by students from across the country. This photograph of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton posing in front of the Blue Room Christmas tree was taken on December 3, 1995.

William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 1996, Mrs. Clinton chose the popular “Nutcracker Suite” theme, decorating the tree with toy soldiers, sugar plum fairies, and mouse kings of various stripes. In 1997, the theme was “Santa’s Workshop” and featured miniature Santa Clauses, toys, sleighs, and reindeer ornaments. In 1998, the theme was “A Winter Wonderland,” and the tree featured painted wooden ornaments, knitted mittens and hats, and snowmen. In 1999, the Clintons chose “Holiday Treasures at the White House,” and the decorations represented significant historic landmarks, events, and people. For their last Christmas in the White House, Mrs. Clinton selected the nostalgic theme "Holiday Reflections" for the decorations. The Blue Room tree featured 900 of the Clintons' favorite ornaments from their previous seven Christmases in the White House. This photograph of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton posing in front of the Blue Room Christmas tree was taken on December 3, 2000.

William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

In 2001, First Lady Laura Bush chose "Home for the Holidays" as the White House Christmas tree theme. Artists from all fifty states and the District of Columbia designed model replicas of historic homes and houses of worship to hang as ornaments (pictured above). In 2002, Mrs. Bush adopted the theme "All Creatures Great and Small," which featured past presidential pets and other animals throughout the house the tree was decorated with bird ornaments. The 2003 theme, "A Season of Stories," featured ornaments first used by First Lady Barbara Bush in 1989 and loaned to the White House by the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. In 2004, First Lady Bush selected the theme "A Season of Merriment and Melody," which included a symphony of musical instruments hand-painted by members of the Society of Decorative Painters.

George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

The 2005 "All Things Bright and Beautiful" tree featured fresh white lilies, crystal garlands, and white lights (pictured above). In 2006, the Christmas tree sparkled with crystals and ornaments of iridescent glass to "Deck the Halls and Welcome All." During the 2007 "Holiday in the National Parks," artists decorated 347 ornaments representing national parks, memorials, seashores, historic sites, and monuments across the country. For her last Christmas in the White House, Mrs. Bush chose the patriotic theme, "A Red, White, and Blue Christmas," and trimmed the official Christmas tree with 369 ornaments designed by artists from around the country selected by members of Congress.

George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA

First Lady Michelle Obama began her White House Christmas planning with a very simple idea: to include as many people, in as many places, in as many ways as possible. In 2009, Mrs. Obama asked sixty local community groups from around the nation to "Reflect, Rejoice, Renew," and redecorate 800 ornaments from previous White House administrations. The ornaments paid tribute to favorite landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

In 2010, the White House celebrated "Simple Gifts." The Blue Room Christmas tree was themed, "Gift of the American Spirit," and it featured prize ribbons from state and county fairs from each state and territory (pictured above). First Lady Michelle Obama also added a "Military Appreciation Tree" to the White House in 2010. Located near the visitor’s entrance, the tree was decorated with glass bulb ornaments representing the five branches of the military and topped with a handmade dove. In 2011, the theme was “Shine, Give, Share” and the tree honored service members with holiday cards created by military families. In 2012, Mrs. Obama selected the theme “Joy to All,” and the Blue Room tree featured ornaments made by military children living on U.S. bases around the world as a way to honor of their parents’ commitment to serve.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

In 2013, First Lady Michelle Obama chose the theme "Gather Around: Stories of the Season" (pictured above). Military families created greeting cards in the shape of their home states for the official Blue Room Christmas tree. The Obama family pets have also helped to spread holiday spirit each year. In 2013, the White House displayed life sized, moving replicas of dogs Bo and Sunny made of 1,000 yards of satin ribbon. In 2014, the theme was “A Children’s Winter Wonderland” and the tree was decorated with “America the Brave” ribbons and banners, as well as ornaments made out of coloring book pages by children. In 2015, the theme was “A Timeless Tradition,” and the Blue Room tree was wrapped in ribbons with messages for service members and a gold star garland. For their last Christmas in the White House, the Obamas chose the theme “The Gift of the Holidays.” The Blue Room tree had ornaments with images of families, farmers, and service members, and the garland featured language from the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

In 2017, First Lady Melania Trump selected the theme “Time-Honored Traditions” and the Blue Room tree was decorated with glass ornaments depicting the seal of every state and territory. For their second holiday season in the White House, the Trumps chose the theme "American Treasures" for their decor. "American Treasures" was inspired by American heritage and patriotism, and featured iconic landscapes and cityscapes. There were also replicas of major monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol. In 2019, the theme was “The Spirit of America,” and the Blue Room tree was outfitted with handmade flower ornaments representing every state and territory.

Matthew D'Agostino for the White House Historical Association

President Calvin Coolidge was the first chief executive to preside over a public celebration of the Christmas holidays with the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in 1923. Today, the Christmas Pageant of Peace, a major event held annually on the Ellipse since 1954, includes the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. This celebration respects the holiday worship of all faiths and features the appearance of the first family to light the tree and host live musical and dance performances.

Although previous presidential administrations displayed Christmas trees indoors throughout the State Floor, it was First Lady Mamie Eisenhower who consistently placed a tree in the Blue Room. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room in 1961. That year, the tree was decorated with ornamental toys, birds, angels and characters from the "Nutcracker Suite" ballet. The tradition of installing the official tree in the Blue Room was interrupted twice. In 1962, the tree was displayed in the Entrance Hall because of renovation work. In 1969, First Lady Patricia Nixon chose the Entrance Hall for the American Flowers Tree, which was decorated with velvet and satin balls made by disabled workers in Florida and featuring each state’s official flower.

Over her eight White House holiday seasons, First Lady Hillary Clinton showcased the talents of America's artistic communities. First Lady Laura Bush varied the decorations, including the themes of "All Creatures Grand and Small in 2002" highlighting her love of animals and the importance of pets to White House history and a patriotic "A Red, White and Blue Christmas" in 2008. The theme had been inspired by letters from Americans that began arriving after September 11th suggesting the White House have a red, white and blue Christmas. First Lady Michelle Obama announced the 2010 White House Christmas theme of "Simple Gifts." She explained, "The greatest blessings of all are the ones that don't cost a thing: the time that we spend with our loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and the joy we feel from reaching out to those in need."

50 Years Ago, Lyndon Johnson Delivered The Most Perfectly Radical Speech In Presidential History

Fifty years ago on Sunday, President Lyndon Johnson stood before a joint session of Congress and offered his response to the moral atrocity that occurred a week earlier, when civil rights marchers were savagely beaten by Alabama police on the road from Selma to Montgomery. &ldquoI speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy,&rdquo Johnson began in the speech that proposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to Congress. In a rhetorical flourish that moved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to tears, Johnson invoked the anthem of the civil rights movement itself &mdash twice speaking the words &ldquoWe Shall Overcome.&rdquo

The movie Selma, which documents the Alabama state troopers&rsquo terrorist attack on the voting rights marchers and the events that surrounded this attack, inspired a vigorous debate over whether Johnson was an eager ally of the marchers or, as the film depicts him, a much more reluctant supporter. Regardless of whether President Johnson leaped into the battle for voting rights or whether he was pushed, however, his speech firmly established him as American apartheid&rsquos most powerful enemy. It also stands out as one of the most radical &mdash if not the most radical &mdash speeches ever delivered by a president.

Johnson&rsquos speech described the sheer creativity of Jim Crow officials seeking to keep African Americans from casting a ballot. &ldquoEvery device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right,&rdquo Johnson explains, before laying out the impossible maze of hostile registrars, strategically closed offices and voting tests a black citizen must navigate to register to vote. &ldquo[T]he only way to pass these barriers,&rdquo Johnson explained, was &ldquoto show a white skin.&rdquo

Yet LBJ did far more than simply lay out his case for a Voting Rights Act. He presented the cause of the men and women who were beaten at Selma as part of a moral failing that indicts America&rsquos very soul. &ldquo[S]hould we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal&rdquo to the issue of equal rights for African Americans, &ldquothen we will have failed as a people and as a nation.&rdquo

Read that last line over again, then imagine what would have happened to President Obama if he&rsquod ever claimed that Congress must enact health reform or &ldquowe will have failed as a people and as a nation.&rdquo

Moreover, to understand how deeply radical Johnson&rsquos sentiment was, it&rsquos important to understand exactly when Johnson spoke these words. As I lay out in my book, Injustices: The Supreme Court&rsquos History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted, Johnson spoke at the apex of American optimism and American triumph. The nation&rsquos gross domestic product grew an astounding 5.8 percent the year before Johnson&rsquos &ldquoWe Shall Overcome&rdquo speech &mdash allowing the president to ride a wave of prosperity into a landslide election victory. After World War II, we&rsquod emerged as the wealthiest and most powerful on the planet. Children who grew up in abject poverty during the Great Depression now enjoyed a degree of affluence that would have been unimaginable to their parents. Three years earlier, John Glenn, an American astronaut, became the first human being to orbit the Earth.

So, when LBJ proclaimed that America would be a failed nation if it did not solve the problem of unequal rights, it was as if Caesar himself had stood up at the height of the Roman Empire, and declared that empire worthless because it did not afford full citizenship to the conquered peoples at the edges of its borders. No American &mdash indeed, quite possibly no human &mdash had ever lived in a society as affluent as the United States in the mid-1960s.

And yet, even in the midst of what was otherwise a golden age, the President of the United States warned that the essential promise of our nation was stillborn unless we rose to the cause of the Selma marchers. &ldquo[R]arely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. . . . For, with a country as with a person, &lsquowhat is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?&rsquo&rdquo

Johnson&rsquos speech was, in many ways, a test of just how completely he had vanquished his opponent in the 1964 presidential elections, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, and whether the ideology that drove Goldwater&rsquos campaign could finally be cast aside in America&rsquos golden age.

Goldwater, for reasons that I explain in more detail in Injustices, was a somewhat unlikely champion for white supremacists. He&rsquod supported weaker civil rights bills in 1957 and 1960. And he supported integrating the Arizona Air National Guard when he served as its chief of staff. Ultimately, however, the Barry Goldwater of 1964 cared more about a narrow, philosophical objection to government intervention than he did about the rights of African Americans struggling to break free from Jim Crow.

Less than a year before Selma, LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other things, banned race discrimination by employers and many businesses. Goldwater, however, denounced this law as a supposed violation of business owners&rsquo &ldquofreedom not to associate.&rdquo He also criticized the ban on whites-only lunch counters as a threat to states rights. In a speech on the Senate floor, Goldwater announced that he could find &ldquono constitutional basis for the exercise of Federal regulatory authority in either of these areas and I believe the attempted usurpation of such power to be a grave threat to the very essence of our basic system of government.&rdquo

Yet, while Goldwater feared governmental action, especially against private business, as an inherent threat to freedom, Johnson saw government as the agent of justice &mdash and it was the mission of the United States government to achieve this justice. To LBJ, the &ldquocries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people&rdquo that reached their climax at Selma were almost like a kind of prayer, and that prayer had &ldquosummoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government.&rdquo Once summoned, its mission was &ldquoat once the oldest and the most basic of this country &mdash to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.&rdquo

Five months later, Johnson would sign the Voting Rights Act into law, and America would soon see concrete proof of how effectively its national government could serve the cause of justice. Within just two years, black voter registration in the white supremacist stronghold of Mississippi increased nearly ninefold.

Yet, despite this unambiguous demonstration of the federal government&rsquos power to make America a more just nation, the philosophical battle between Johnson and Goldwater has been refought over and over again in the last half century. The two constitutional advisers who helped convince Goldwater to oppose the Civil Rights Act were William Rehnquist and Robert Bork. President Ronald Reagan, of course, made Rehnquist Chief Justice of the United States, and he tried and failed to place Bork on the Supreme Court.

Rehnquist&rsquos successor and former law clerk, Chief Justice John Roberts, would go on to gut much of the Voting Rights Act, based on the notion that it authorized an &ldquoextraordinary&rdquo level of federal intrusion into state election law that could only be justified by extraordinary circumstances. Goldwater&rsquos case against the Civil Rights Act continues to inspire lawmakers, most famously Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who proclaimed in 2010 that permitting whites-only lunch counters is the &ldquohard part about believing in freedom.&rdquo

Johnson&rsquos radicalism, in other words, carried the day in 1965, but it is constantly under threat by another, even more radical vision of what America should be.


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 Knigh 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. [4] Patrick and Bridget had five children: their youngest, Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy, went into business and served in the Massachusetts state legislature from 1884 to 1895.

P. J. and Mary Augusta Hickey were the parents of four children. Their oldest was Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy Sr., [5] 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 to 1949 the commission was appointed by President Harry Truman to recommend administrative changes in the federal government.

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald were the parents of nine children: Joseph Jr., John, Rose Marie (called Rosemary), Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Edward (called 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 representing Massachusetts's 11th congressional district from 1947 to 1953, and then as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts 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 U.S. Senate, occupying his brother's former seat in Massachusetts until his death in 2009. 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. [6] 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 (1965–1968), and was serving in the Senate when his nephew, Joseph P. II (1987–1999), and son, Patrick J. (1995–2011), 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's 4th congressional district. In 2020, he lost the 2020 Senate primary election in Massachusetts to Ed Markey, the first Kennedy to ever lose an election in the state. [7] [8]

Family incidents led Senator Ted Kennedy to wonder, in a televised statement about the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, whether there really was a "Kennedy curse." Some of the events endured by the Kennedy clan include: in 1941, Rosemary underwent a non-consensual lobotomy intended to prevent her from embarrassing the family with her violent mood swings, convulsions, and intellectual disability. The operation left her incapacitated for the rest of her life. Joseph Jr. died in 1944 when the Navy bomber he was piloting exploded in mid-flight. Kathleen died in a plane crash in France in 1948. John and Robert were assassinated, in 1963 and 1968 respectively. In 1964, Ted was nearly killed when his plane crashed in an apple orchard near Southampton, Massachusetts. [9] [10] (Legislative aide Edward Moss and the pilot were killed in the crash.) [11] Ted was seriously injured and spent months in a hospital recovering from a severe back injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and internal bleeding. [12]

In later generations, Robert's son David died of a drug overdose in 1984 and son Michael died from injuries sustained in a skiing accident in 1997 John's son John Jr. died in a plane crash (along with his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren) off the coast of Martha's Vineyard in 1999 Kara Kennedy and Christopher Kennedy Lawford died of heart attacks, in 2011 and 2018 respectively and Saoirse Kennedy Hill died of a drug overdose in 2019. [13] [14]

In April 2020, Robert's granddaughter Maeve Kennedy McKean, a former official in the Obama Administration, and her eight-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, disappeared in Chesapeake Bay after embarking in a canoe to retrieve a ball. The rescue operation was suspended after 26 hours. [15] Maeve McKean's body was recovered several days later. [16]

  1. ^ Lundy, Darryl (May 10, 2003). "Patrick Kennedy". The Peerage. p. 6527 § 65269 . Retrieved October 21, 2014 . Patrick Kennedy M, b. circa 1823, d. 22 November 1858
  2. ^ The numbering of generations (in Roman numerals I–VI) is based on Patrick and Bridget being the first generation of Kennedys to reside in the United States.
  3. ^ Parents:
  4. Maier, Thomas (2003). The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings. Basic Books. p. [page needed] . ISBN978-0-465-04317-0 .
  5. ^ Marriage:
  6. Collier, P. Horowitz, D. (1984). The Kennedys - An American Drama. [full citation needed]
  7. ^ Parents:
  8. Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2001). The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. Simon and Schuster. pp. 88–89.
  9. ^ In generation VI, only family members with articles and their siblings are listed
    : Massachusetts state Representative 1884–1889 Massachusetts state Senator, 1889–1895.
      : Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 1934–1935 chairman of the United States Maritime Commission, 1936–1938 United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, 1938–1940.
        : United States Representative from Massachusetts, 1947–1953 United States Senator from Massachusetts, 1953–1960 President of the United States, 1961–1963
          : United States Ambassador to Japan, 2013–2017.
          : Santa Monica, California City Council member, 2004–2012 Mayor of Santa Monica, 2010. : Maryland state Delegate, 1995–2003.
          : Lieutenant governor of Maryland, 1995–2003. : United States Representative from Massachusetts, 1987–1999.
            : United States Representative from Massachusetts, 2013–2021.
            : Connecticut state Senator, 2015–2019. : Rhode Island state Representative, 1989–1993 United States Representative from Rhode Island, 1995–2011.

          There was a member of the Kennedy family in public office nearly continuously from 1946, when John F. Kennedy was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, until early 2011, when Patrick J. Kennedy left the House. The only exception in that time was the period between John F. Kennedy's resignation from the Senate on December 22, 1960 and his assumption of the office of President on January 20, 1961. In 2013 Joseph P. Kennedy III was elected U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and served until 2021.

          Congressional timeline Edit

          In 1961, John F. Kennedy was presented with a grant of arms for all the descendants of Patrick Kennedy (1823–1858) from the Chief Herald of Ireland. The design of the arms (three gold closed helmets on a black field) [17] strongly alludes to symbols in the coats of arms of the O'Kennedys of Ormonde and the FitzGeralds of Desmond, from whom the family is believed to be descended. The crest is an armored hand holding four arrows between two olive branches, elements taken from the coat of arms of the United States of America and also symbolic of Kennedy and his brothers. [18]

          Watch the video: Incorrect Things We Believed About Food 50 Years Ago (August 2022).