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Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. 1938.jpg
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
March 8, 1938 – October 22, 1940
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Robert Worth Bingham
Succeeded by John G. Winant
1st Chair of the U.S. Maritime Commission
In office
April 14, 1937 – February 19, 1938
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Emory S. Land
1st Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
In office
June 30, 1934 – September 23, 1935
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by James M. Landis
Personal details
Joseph Patrick Kennedy

(1888-09-06)September 6, 1888
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died November 18, 1969(1969-11-18) (aged 81)
Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, U.S.
Resting place Holyhood Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Rose Fitzgerald (m. 1914)
Parents P. J. Kennedy
Mary Augusta Hickey
Relatives See Kennedy family
Education Harvard University (BA)

Joseph Patrick Kennedy (September 6, 1888 – November 18, 1969) was an American businessman, investor, and politician known for his high-profile positions in United States politics. Kennedy was married to Rose Kennedy, and three of their nine children attained distinguished political positions: President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), Attorney General and Senator Robert F. Kennedy (1925–1968), and longtime Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy (1932–2009).

He was a leading member of the Democratic Party and of the Irish Catholic community. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Kennedy to be the first chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and he later directed the Maritime Commission. Kennedy served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1938 until late 1940, when he annoyed Roosevelt by his pessimism about Britain's survival.


Merchandise Mart - panoramio
The Merchandise Mart. When it opened in 1930 it was the largest building in the world. At a brief point, the building was so large, it had its own zip code

Kennedy was born to a political family in East Boston, Massachusetts. He embarked on a career in business and investing. He first made a large fortune as a stock market and commodity investor. Kennedy later rolled over his profits by investing in real estate and a wide range of business industries across the United States. During World War I, he was an assistant general manager of a Boston area Bethlehem Steel shipyard, through which he developed a friendship with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. In the 1920s, Kennedy made huge profits by reorganizing and refinancing several Hollywood studios.

Kennedy grew his fortune with distribution rights for Scotch whisky. His company, Somerset Importers, became the exclusive American agent for Gordon's Gin and Dewar's Scotch. He owned the largest office building in the country, Chicago's Merchandise Mart, which gave his family an important base in that city and an alliance with the Irish-American political leadership there.

Kennedy's term as ambassador and his political ambitions ended during the Battle of Britain in November 1940. In later years, he worked behind the scenes to continue building the financial and political fortunes of the Kennedy family. After a disabling stroke in 1961, during his son's presidency, Kennedy developed aphasia and lost all power of speech but remained mentally intact. He was confined to a wheelchair until his death in 1969.

Marriage and family

Joseph Kennedy and family celebrate his birthday in Hyannis Port 1963

On October 7, 1914, Kennedy married Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, the eldest daughter of Boston Mayor John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald (political rival of P. J.) and Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon. The marriage joined two of the city's most prominent political families.

The couple had nine children. As Kennedy's business success expanded, he and his family kept homes in the Boston area, suburban New York City, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach, Florida.

Name Birth Death Marriage and children
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy Jr. July 25, 1915 August 12, 1944 Never married and had no children, but was once engaged to Athalia Ponsell
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy May 29, 1917 November 22, 1963 Married in 1953, to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, had four children
Rose Marie "Rosemary" Kennedy September 13, 1918 January 7, 2005 Never married and had no children
Kathleen Agnes "Kick" Kennedy February 20, 1920 May 13, 1948 Married in 1944, to William Cavendish, never had children
Eunice Mary Kennedy July 10, 1921 August 11, 2009 Married in 1953, to Sargent Shriver, had five children
Patricia Helen "Pat" Kennedy May 6, 1924 September 17, 2006 Married in 1954, to English actor Peter Lawford, had four children; divorced in 1966
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy November 20, 1925 June 6, 1968 Married in 1950, to Ethel Skakel, had eleven children
Jean Ann Kennedy February 20, 1928 Married in 1956, to Steven Smith, had two sons and adopted two daughters
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy February 22, 1932 August 25, 2009 Married in 1958, to Joan Bennett, had three children; divorced in 1982. Remarried in 1992 to Victoria Reggie; had no children

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