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Joseph Patrick Kennedy

Kennedy, Joseph Patrick, 1888–1969, U.S. ambassador to Great Britain (1937–40), b. Boston, grad. Harvard, 1912. The founder of an American dynasty, he was the father of nine children, including John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He engaged in banking, shipbuilding, investment banking, real estate, liquor distribution, and motion picture production and distribution before he served (1934–35) as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was (1936–37) head of the U.S. Maritime Commission until his appointment as ambassador. In London he supported the overtures of the Chamberlain government to Hitler and was generally noninterventionist. He resigned as ambassador in Nov., 1940, remaining aggressively isolationist in his views. In his later years he continued to be successful in business (notably real estate) and devoted considerable time to philanthropic activities, especially the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Memorial Foundation, dedicated to his eldest son, who died in World War II. He wrote I'm for Roosevelt (1936).

Kennedy's wife, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1890–1995, was the daughter of U.S. congressman and Boston mayor John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald.

See A. Smith, ed., Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy (2000); biographies by R. J. Whalen (1964), D. E. Koskoff (1974), and D. Nasaw (2012); C. Beauchamp, Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years (2009); J. F. Dinneen, The Kennedy Family (1960), and D. K. Goodwin, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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