- NAME: Ted Kennedy
- OCCUPATION: U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: February 22, 1932
- DEATH DATE: August 25, 2009
- EDUCATION: Milton Academy, Virginia Law School, International Law School (The Hague), Harvard University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Massachusetts
- PLACE OF DEATH: Hyannis Port, Unites States
- AKA: Edward M. Kennedy
- AKA: Edward Kennedy
- Full Name: Edward Moore Kennedy
- AKA: Ted Kennedy
- Nickname: Lion of the Senate
Best Known For
Known as the "Lion of the Senate," Democrat Ted Kennedy was a staunch liberal who was elected to Congress nine times, spearheading many legislative reforms.
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Born on February 22, 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy was the youngest brother of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. He was elected to the Senate when he was 30, and continued to work in Congress throughout his life. Though marked by scandal, Kennedy was viewed as an icon of political progressivism and liberal thought by the time of his death, on August 25, 2009.
"In short, I hope for an America where neither 'fundamentalist' nor 'humanist' will be a dirty word, but a fair description of the different ways in which people of good will look at life and into their own souls."
"The great adventures which our opponents offer is a voyage into the past. Progress is our heritage, not theirs."
[stated at 1980 Democratic National Convention.]
"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."
[excerpt from Ted Kennedy's eulogy to brother Robert Kennedy.]
"If I wanted to contribute something worthwhile to the conversation, I would have to talk about a book I was reading or an interesting place I had visited."
[on his time at the Kennedy dinner table.]
Ted Kennedy was born Edward Moore Kennedy in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 22, 1932—coincidentally the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth. The youngest of nine children, Ted grew up in a privileged, Irish Catholic family steeped in tradition. His mother, Rose Fitzgerald, was the daughter of Boston mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald. His father, millionaire businessman Joseph P. Kennedy, held many important posts in and out of government.
As a result, the family moved frequently to accommodate Joesph's various posts. The children also changed schools often; by the age of 11, young Ted had already transferred schools 10 times. Despite his busy job, Joseph was careful to put his family first, always writing letters and sending telegrams when he was away, and welcoming any interruptions to his work that had to do with matters involving his children.
Ted's mother, Rose, was the member of the family who enforced a high level of academic performance in her children. Both parents, however, discouraged idleness and emphasized the importance of healthy competition and success. Dinner was often the staging ground for various quizzes on politics, history, and literature. Discussion and debate were highly encouraged. This taught Ted at an early age to immerse himself in his education and worldly pursuits. "If I wanted to contribute something worthwhile to the conversation, I would have to talk about a book I was reading or an interesting place I had visited," he later said about his time at the Kennedy dinner table.
But Ted preferred sports to academics and lagged behind his brothers and sisters in school performance, so he learned other ways to hog the spotlight. He quickly became the family jester and an extrovert, always cracking jokes, planning family outings, and charming strangers with his friendly nature. As the baby he also developed a close emotional bond with both his parents. Their soft spot for their youngest child also took the pressure off of him to perform as rigorously as his elder siblings. This sense of lowered expectations would later haunt Kennedy as he tried to make his way into the professional world.
Tragedy would also mar Ted Kennedy's early life. In 1941, his father secretly had his older, developmentally delayed sister Rosemary lobotomized. The operation failed, and the family had her permanently institutionalized. Several years later, in 1944, brother Joe Jr. was killed when his plane was shot down during a Navy mission. In 1948, his sister, Kathleen, died in a private plane crash over the French Alps. These incidents, and the others to soon follow, would become part of what was later referred to as "The Kennedy Curse." Ted worked hard to cheer his grief-laden family.
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There's no such thing as royalty in the United States, but if anyone has ever come close to that level, it's the Kennedy family. For 64 years, Washington had at least one Kennedy in public office. Descended from Irish Catholics who fled the potato famine, the family has a strong tradition in the Democratic party, the most prominent member being President John F. Kennedy. In addition to fame and political power, the Kennedy clan has had more than its fair share of tragedy—several members of the family have died in accidents and assassinations, in what's been called the "Kennedy curse."
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