- Kennedy, Joseph Patrick
- (1888-1969)The father of future president John F. Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy was educated at the Boston Latin School and Harvard University. In 1912, he began working as a state bank examiner and by 1914 had become president of a bank founded by his father. In 1914, he married Rose Fitzgerald, daughter of one of the first Irish Catholic Americans to be mayor of Boston. In 1917, Kennedy became assistant general manager of the Bethlehem Steel shipyards in Quincy, Massachusetts, and after the war he became manager of an investment banking company. From 1926 until 1930, he was part of a syndicate that bought a chain of movie theaters in the northeast and was also involved in the merger that created RKO Pictures. By the 1930s, he was a multimillionaire. Kennedy made significant financial contributions to the election campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt and held a number of positions under the New Deal. From 1934 to 1935, he was chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and in 1937 chair of the U.S. Maritime Commission. In 1936, he published I’m for Roosevelt, spelling out why businessmen should support Roosevelt. Kennedy was appointed ambassador to Great Britain in 1938 but increasingly seemed to support appeasement and seemed openly anti-Semitic. He also suggested that democracy would disappear in Great Britain, and he returned home in 1940. In the 1950s, Kennedy was a supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy and other conservatives. He transferred his political ambitions to his sons, and when Joseph Sr. was killed during World War II, the focus passed to John. While his great wealth helped secure the election of John F. Kennedy as president in 1960, his previous support for right-wingers was something of a handicap. Nonetheless, he will be remembered for creating a political dynasty.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.