Joseph P. Kennedy


44th United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
1938 – 1940
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Robert Worth Bingham
Succeeded by John Gilbert Winant

1st Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
In office
1934 – 1935
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by James M. Landis

Born September 6, 1888
Boston, Massachusetts,
United States
Died November 18, 1969

Hyannis Port, Massachusetts,
United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
Children Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.,
John F. Kennedy,
Rosemary Kennedy,
Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish,
Eunice Kennedy Shriver,
Patricia Kennedy Lawford,
Robert F. Kennedy,
Jean Kennedy Smith,
Edward Kennedy
Alma mater Harvard College
Profession Businessman, Politician
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature

Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. was a prominent American businessman and political figure, and the father of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, United States Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and grandfather of US Representative Patrick Kennedy. He was a leading member of the Democratic Party and of the Irish Catholic community. He was the inaugural Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission , appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later directed the Maritime Commission. Kennedy served as the United States Ambassador to Great Britain from 1938 till late 1940, including the early part of World War II.

Born to a political family in Boston, Massachusetts, Joseph Kennedy was educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard University, and embarked on a career in finance, making a large fortune as a stock market and commodity investor and by investing in real estate and a wide range of industries. Allegedly these included bootlegging, the illegal importation of alcohol into the United States during Prohibition, though these allegations have never been proven.

During World War I, he was an assistant general-manager of Bethlehem Steel and developed a friendship with Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Kennedy made huge profits from reorganizing and refinancing several Hollywood studios, ultimately merging several acquisitions into Radio-Keith-Orpheum studios. After Prohibition ended in 1933, Kennedy consolidated an even larger fortune when 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, giving his family an important base in that city and an alliance with the Irish-American political leadership there.

His term as Ambassador and his political ambitions ended abruptly during the Battle of Britain in November 1940, with the publishing of his controversial remarks suggesting that "Democracy is finished in England. It may be here, ." In later years, Kennedy worked behind the scenes to continue building the financial and political fortunes of the Kennedy family. After a disabling stroke on December 19, 1961, at the age of 73, Kennedy lost all power of speech, and remained confined to a wheelchair, although mentally intact. He died on November 18, 1969, two months after his eighty-first birthday — just 4 days away from the sixth anniversary of the assassination of his son John F. Kennedy, and one and a half years after the assassination of his son Robert F. Kennedy.

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