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The Kennedys | Timeline

Generations of the Kennedy Family

Joe and Rose Kennedy. Library of Congress.

September 6, 1888
Joseph Patrick Kennedy is born in Boston to former stevedore, saloon owner, and local politician Patrick Joseph Kennedy and his wife Mary Augusta Hickey, daughter of an affluent family from suburban Brockton, Massachusetts.

July 22, 1890
Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald is born in Boston to local politician John F. Fitzgerald and Mary Josephine Hannon.

P. J. Kennedy helps to organize the Columbia Trust Company, Boston's only Irish-owned bank.

Joe Kennedy graduates from Boston Latin School and enters Harvard College as a member of the class of 1912.

June 1910
Rose Fitzgerald graduates from Manhattanville Sacred Heart School in New York.

July 1912
Joe begins his banking career as a clerk for Columbia Trust Company; two years later he will organize resistance to a takeover bid, and become president of the bank at age 25.

October 7, 1914
Joe Kennedy marries Rose Fitzgerald. They settle in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Nine months later they start their family when Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. is born on July 25, 1915. He will be known as Joe Jr.

May 29, 1917
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, known as Jack, is born.

October 1917
Joe Sr. opposes World War I. He becomes assistant general manager of Bethlehem Shipbuilding's Fore River Plant in Quincy, Massachusetts, and is able to avoid active military service.

September 13, 1918
Daughter Rosemary Kennedy is born. Within her first year, it is apparent that she has serious learning disabilities.

June 1919
Joe Sr. joins the Hayden, Stone and Co. brokerage firm in the heyday of the unregulated stock market. He will open his own stock trading business four years later.

February 1920
Kathleen Kennedy, known as Kick, is born. Jack, not yet three years old, nearly dies of scarlet fever.

July 10, 1921
Joe and Rose Kennedy's third daughter, Eunice Kennedy, is born.

May 6, 1924
A fourth daughter, Patricia Kennedy, is born.

November 20, 1925
A third son, Robert Kennedy, is born.

February 1926
Joe Sr. enters the movie business as a producer.

September 1927
The Kennedy family moves to Riverdale, New York. They will continue to live in the New York area, summering at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and maintaining a residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

February 20, 1928
Joe and Rose's fifth and youngest daughter, Jean Ann Kennedy, is born.

October 29, 1929
The New York stock market crashes. Anticipating problems, Joe Sr. has already liquidated his substantial long-term investments. Joe will later deny, then admit, that he continued to make money in the stock market by selling short while the market fell.

Joe Sr. energetically backs Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s successful bid for the presidency.

February 22, 1932
Edward Moore Kennedy is born. He will be the last of Joe and Rose Kennedy’s nine children; oldest brother Joe is nearly seventeen years old.

Anticipating the repeal of Prohibition, Joe Sr. capitalizes on his relationship with President Roosevelt by securing lucrative liquor distribution licenses in Great Britain.

July 2, 1934
FDR appoints Joe Sr. chairman of the new Securities and Exchange Commission, charged with regulating the manipulation of stock prices that Kennedy had mastered decades earlier. “The appointment is appalling,” says one editor. “Kennedy is that worst of economic parasites, a Wall Street operator.” Yet after 14 months of service, even critics will concede that he has served well.

September 1934
After a year spent studying in London, Joe Jr. enrolls as a freshman at Harvard.

October 1935
Jack enrolls at Princeton, having withdrawn from the London School of Economics and Political Science with an attack of jaundice. He will leave after one semester due to ill health.

Joe Sr. joins Roosevelt's presidential re-election campaign. With help from New York Timesjournalist Arthur Krock, Kennedy publishes I'm for Roosevelt, a book that explains how Roosevelt helps capitalists.

September 1936
Jack enters Harvard College as a freshman.

April 1937
Joe Sr. is appointed head of the newly-established U.S. Maritime Commission. He publicizes his achievements successfully enough to be featured on the cover of Fortune magazine.

January 5, 1938
After intense lobbying, FDR nominates Joe Sr. ambassador to Great Britain. Two months later, Joe Sr. will arrive in London, followed soon after by Rose, Kick and the four youngest Kennedys.

June 1938
Joe Jr. graduates from Harvard College. Joe Sr.'s pique at not being offered an honorary degree from the university prevents him from attending his son's graduation.

October 19, 1938
Ambassador Kennedy argues for co-existence with dictatorships in a speech at the Trafalgar Day dinner of the Navy League.

March 13, 1939
The Kennedy family attends the coronation of Pope Pius XII. Jack travels through Germany, Poland and Russia on the eve of World War II, reporting to his father on the imminence of war.

August 23, 1939
Germany and the Soviet Union sign a ten-year non-aggression pact.

June 1940
Jack graduates from Harvard College. With Arthur Krock, he reworks his senior thesis, "Appeasement at Munich," into a book published as Why England Slept. It receives positive reviews and becomes a bestseller.

June 14, 1940
Paris falls to the German army.

September 7, 1940
Germany begins the Blitz: nightly bombings on the city of London.

October 1940
Joe Sr. returns to the United States, asking to be relieved of his ambassadorial post.

November 5, 1940
Rossevelt is elected to a third term.

November 8, 1940
In an interview with The Boston Globe, Joe Sr. reiterates his views on staying out of the war for an American audience.

December 12, 1940
Joe Sr. officially resigns as ambassador to England.

Joe Jr. and Jack both enlist in the Navy. Joe Jr. is sent to flight school; Jack is commissioned as an ensign, joining the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Kathleen joins the Washington Times-Herald.

Without consulting Rose, Joe Sr. arranges for Rosemary to have a frontal lobotomy. The operation leaves their daughter in worse condition, and she will be institutionalized for the rest of her life.

Jack begins an affair with Inga Arvad, a married Dane falsely suspected of being a Nazi spy. The FBI monitors the relationship.

January 1942
Jack is transferred from Naval Intelligence to the Navy shipyard at Charleston, South Carolina. Within the year he graduates from Officer Training at Northwestern University and Torpedo Boat School as a PT boat skipper.

May 6, 1942
Joe Jr. receives his naval wings -- with his father in attendance.

June 1943
Kathleen begins working for the Red Cross.

August 2, 1943
A Japanese destroyer rams PT 109 off the Solomon Islands; skipper Jack Kennedy loses two men immediately. Despite being stranded in the middle of the Pacific, he manages to save the rest of his crew. His valor will earn him Navy and Marine Corps medals.

October 5, 1943
Just shy of his eighteenth birthday, Robert Kennedy enlists in the Naval Reserve.

May 6, 1944
Kathleen marries a British lord, William Cavendish.

August 12, 1944
Joe Jr. dies on a secret mission flying over the English Channel. The Naval Cross will be awarded posthumously. Joe Sr. begins to transfer his political ambitions to his second son.

September 9, 1944
William Cavendish is killed in battle against the Germans. Kathleen Kennedy is widowed after only four months of marriage.

November 1944
Robert Kennedy enrolls in Harvard College.

Out of the military, Jack begins a career as a journalist, reporting on the charter for the new United Nations in San Francisco and on the British Parliament.

November 1945
Joe Sr. buys Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, the largest privately-owned building in the world.

February 1946
Robert F. Kennedy begins a tour of duty aboard the U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

April 1946
Jack announces that he will run for Massachusetts' 11th Congressional district seat, left vacant by once-again-mayor James Michael Curley. His grandfather, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, who held the seat a half-century earlier, campaigns with him. Once Kennedy wins the primary, he is a shoo-in for the seat in Democratic Boston. He will represent his district for the next six years.

May 13, 1947
Kathleen is killed in a plane crash over southern France.

Fall 1947
Jack becomes ill in London. He is diagnosed with Addison's disease, a hormonal disorder that causes fatigue and compromises the immune system.

Robert Kennedy graduates from Harvard College and enters law school at the University of Virginia.

John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald dies.

Robert Kennedy marries Ethel Skakel.

Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy enters Harvard College.

May 1951
Ted is caught cheating on an exam and is expelled from Harvard. He enlists in the Army and will serve for the next 16 months.

July 4, 1951
Kathleen Hartington Kennedy is born to Robert and Ethel. She is Joe and Rose's first grandchild. Robert and Ethel will have 10 more children.

Jack wins a place in the United States Senate, unseating the descendant of a Boston Brahmin family, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Jack’s brother Robert manages the campaign.

January 1953
Robert Kennedy becomes assistant counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Joseph McCarthy.

May 23, 1953
Eunice Kennedy marries Robert Sargent Shriver Jr.

September 12, 1953
Jack marries Jacqueline Bouvier.

April 24, 1954
Patricia Kennedy marries Peter Lawford.

October 21, 1954
Jack nearly dies during a major spinal operation. A second operation, four months later, will also have complications. During his convalescence, he will write Profiles in Courage, published in 1956.

May 19, 1956
Jean Ann Kennedy marries Stephen Edward Smith.

June 1956
Ted graduates from Harvard and enrolls in the University of Virginia Law School.

August 1956
Adlai Stevenson throws the choice of a running mate to the Democratic convention. Senator Kennedy is a candidate, but Estes Kefauver is chosen.

August 23, 1956
Jacqueline Kennedy gives birth prematurely to a stillborn daughter. Jack is in France.

Profiles in Courage wins the Pulitzer Prize for biography.

The Senate Rackets Committee investigates organized labor. Jack Kennedy is a member; Robert Kennedy is the chief counsel.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jack Kennedy argues for the independence of Algeria from France.

November 11, 1957
Daughter Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is born to Jacqueline and Jack Kennedy.

November 4, 1958
Jack is re-elected to the Senate.

January 1960
Jack announces his candidacy for the presidency. The viability of a Catholic candidate is tested in state primaries throughout the year.

July 1960
Jack Kennedy wins the nomination for president at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

September 26, 1960
Kennedy debates Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the first of four televised meetings.

November 8, 1960
John F. Kennedy is elected the 35th president of the U.S. He is the youngest president ever to be elected -- and the first Roman Catholic.

November 25, 1960
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. is born to Jacqueline and Jack Kennedy.

January 1961
Joe Kennedy insists that Robert F. Kennedy be given a cabinet appointment; Robert is named attorney general.In his inaugural address, Jack Kennedy urges Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

At a time of deep Cold War fears, Jack is counseled on a counterinsurgency plan against Fidel Castro’s Communist government in Cuba.

March 1961
President Kennedy signs into law the creation of the Peace Corps.

April 16-18, 1961
The U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba is a failure.

May 25, 1961
President Kennedy announces his goal to land a man on the moon and return him to earth before the end of the decade, and before the Soviets do.

May 29, 1961
President Kennedy meets Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. The meeting ends badly.

August 1961
The Soviets build a dividing wall in the German city of Berlin.

December 19, 1961
Joe Sr. suffers a stroke. He is paralyzed and will remain unable to speak for the last eight years of his life.

March 1962
Ted resigns as assistant district attorney in Suffolk County and announces his candidacy for his brother Jack's unexpired Senate seat.

May 19, 1962
At President Kennedy's 45th birthday party at Madison Square Garden, Marilyn Monroe sings a breathless "Happy Birthday" to the president.

September 1962
James Meredith, the first black student to enroll, arrives at the University of Mississippi. Local protesters stridently oppose school desegregation. On orders of attorney general Robert Kennedy, three hundred federal marshals accompany Meredith; a deadly riot breaks out.

October 1962
The discovery of Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba engulfs the presidency in crisis. After numerous rounds of public and private diplomacy, the Cuban Missile Crisis is resolved. The Soviets will remove their missiles, and the United States will remove similar missiles from Turkey in the near future.

November 6, 1962
The people of Massachusetts elect Ted Kennedy to the U.S. Senate.

June 1963
President Kennedy calls for a moratorium on nuclear weapons tests. Kennedy gives a national television address on civil rights.

August 8, 1963
A third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, is born to the President and First Lady; he will live only two days.

November 22, 1963
President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes the oath of office on Air Force One.

November 29, 1963
Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren chairs a commission established to investigate the death of President Kennedy.

June 1964
Senator Ted Kennedy's back is broken in a plane crash that kills his aide and the pilot.

August 22, 1964
Robert Kennedy declares his candidacy for a U.S. Senate seat for New York held by Republican Kenneth Keating. He will resign as attorney general weeks later.

September 24, 1964
The Warren Commission report concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy.

October 1964
Pursuit of Justice by Robert Kennedy is published.

November 3, 1964
Lyndon Johnson is elected president; Robert Kennedy is elected to the Senate.

February 1966
Patricia Kennedy divorces Peter Lawford.

June 1966
On one of his many foreign trips, Senator Robert Kennedy addresses students in racially segregated South Africa, and emphasizes "the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings."

December 8, 1966
Robert Kennedy announces the creation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a private-public partnership designed to address poverty in a Brooklyn, New York neighborhood.

April 1967
Traveling through the Mississippi delta, Robert Kennedy is confronted with extreme poverty in rural America.

March 1968
After much deliberation, Robert Kennedy announces his candidacy for the presidency. Although late to the race, he wins primaries in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

June 5, 1968
After winning the California primary, Robert Kennedy is shot in Los Angeles; he dies the next day. The Los Angeles Police Department determines that Sirhan Sirhan, a deranged Palestinian, acted on his own.

July 1968
Eunice Kennedy Shriver convenes the first Special Olympics for people with mental retardation in Chicago's Soldiers Field. The organization quickly expands and by 2003 will boast 1 million participants in more than 150 nations.

July 18, 1969
Following an appreciation party for volunteers on Robert Kennedy’s campaign, Senator Ted Kennedy drives his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts. Kennedy manages to escape; his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, does not. Kennedy will not report the accident for hours.

July 25, 1969
Ted Kennedy delivers a national television address to explain his actions at Chappaquiddick.

November 18, 1969
Joe Sr. dies. He is survived by five of his nine children and by his wife Rose.

November 3, 1970
Ted Kennedy is reelected to the Senate, but loses his post as Majority Whip. He chairs the Senate Health Committee.

November 1979
Ted Kennedy announces his candidacy for the 1980 presidential election.

January-August 1980
Ted Kennedy wins Democratic primaries in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, California, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and New Jersey. The rest go to the incumbent, President Jimmy Carter.

August 1980
In an emotional speech to the Democratic national convention, Ted withdraws his bid for the presidency.

December 1982
Ted Kennedy announces he will not run for president in 1984. After 24 years of marriage, he divorces his wife Joan.

December 1985
Ted Kennedy announces he will not be a candidate for President in 1988.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, son of Robert Kennedy, is elected to Congress from the 8th District of Massachusetts. He will serve until 1999, when he steps down to run the Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit organization negotiating affordable energy for the poor.

Ted Kennedy marries Victoria Reggie.

Ted Kennedy's son, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, is elected to Congress from Rhode Island's First District. His term ended in 2011.

January 18, 1995
Robert Kennedy's oldest child, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is sworn in as lieutenant governor of Maryland. Her bid to be Maryland's governor in 2002 will fail.

January 22, 1995
Family matriarch Rose Kennedy dies, just a few months short of her 105th birthday.

July 16, 1999
En route to the wedding of cousin Rory Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy die in an airplane accident off the coast of Massachusetts.

May 20, 2008
Teddy Kennedy is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He will survive over a year, passing at the family compound in Hyannis Port on August 25, 2009.

August 11, 2009
Eunice Kennedy Shriver dies at age 88.

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