Caroline Kennedy

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This article is about the daughter of U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. For the wife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., see Carolyn Jeanne Bessette.
Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy US State Dept photo.jpg
29th United States Ambassador to Japan
Assumed office
November 12, 2013 (2013-11-12)
President Barack Obama
Preceded by John Roos
Personal details
Born Caroline Bouvier Kennedy
(1957-11-27) November 27, 1957 (age 56)
New York City, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Edwin Arthur Schlossberg
(m. 1986–present)
Children Rose Kennedy Schlossberg
Tatiana Celia Kennedy Schlossberg
John Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg
Parents John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
Residence Park Avenue, New York
American Embassy Residence
Tokyo, Japan
Alma mater Harvard College (A.B.)
Columbia Law School (J.D.)
Occupation author, attorney, diplomat
Religion Catholicism[1]

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy[2][3] (born November 27, 1957)[4] is an American author, attorney, and diplomat who is the current United States Ambassador to Japan. She is a prominent member of the Kennedy family and the only surviving child of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. She is a niece of Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy.

At the time of her father's presidency, she was a young child; after his assassination in 1963, Kennedy's family settled in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where she attended school. Kennedy graduated from Radcliffe College and worked at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she met her future husband, exhibit designer Edwin Schlossberg. She went on to receive a J.D. degree from Columbia Law School. Kennedy's professional life has spanned law and politics as well as education and charitable work. She has also acted as a spokesperson for her family's legacy and co-authored two books on civil liberties with Ellen Alderman.

In the 2008 presidential election, Kennedy and her uncle Ted endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama for President early in the primary race; she later stumped for him in Florida, Indiana, and Ohio, served as co-chair of his Vice Presidential Search Committee, and addressed the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.[5] After Obama's selection of then-Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Kennedy expressed interest in being appointed to Clinton's vacant Senate seat from New York, but she later withdrew from consideration, citing "personal reasons".

Early life and childhood[edit]

Caroline with her father aboard the yacht Honey Fitz, off Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, in August 1963.

Caroline Kennedy was born at Cornell Medical Center in New York City, after her parents had a stillborn daughter named Arabella a year earlier. Caroline was named after her maternal aunt, Caroline Lee Bouvier, and her maternal great-great-grandmother, Caroline Maslin Ewing. Her younger brother, John, Jr., was born two days before her third birthday in 1960. A second brother, Patrick, died of a lung ailment two days after his premature birth in 1963. Caroline and John, Jr. first lived with their parents in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown. When Caroline was three years old, her father was sworn in as President of the United States and the family moved into the White House. Caroline attended kindergarten in classes organized by her mother, Jackie, and was photographed riding her pony Macaroni around the White House grounds. A photo of a young Caroline with Macaroni in a news article inspired singer-songwriter Neil Diamond to write his hit song "Sweet Caroline"—a fact he revealed only when performing it for her 50th birthday.[6] As a small child in the White House, she received numerous gifts from dignitaries, including a puppy from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and a Yucatán pony from Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.[7] Historians described Caroline's personality as a child as "a trifle remote and a bit shy at times" yet "remarkably unspoiled."[8] "She's too young to realize all these luxuries", her paternal grandmother, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, said of her, "She probably thinks it's natural for children to go off in their own airplanes. But she is with her cousins, and some of them dance and swim better than she. They do not allow her to take special precedence. Little children accept things."[9]

Caroline Kennedy breaks a bottle of champagne against the hull of the US Navy aircraft carrier named after her father. Jackie and John Jr. look on with smiles at the launch ceremonies for the USS John F. Kennedy in May 1967.

On the day of their father's assassination in 1963, nanny Maud Shaw took Caroline and John, Jr. away from the White House to the home of their maternal grandmother, Janet Lee Bouvier, who insisted that Shaw would be the one to tell Caroline about her father's assassination. That evening, Caroline and John Jr. were brought back to the White House, and while Caroline slept in her bed, Shaw broke the news to her.[10] Shaw subsequently found out that their mother had wanted to be the one to tell the children, which caused a rift between the nanny and Mrs. Kennedy.[10] Jackie, Caroline, and John, Jr., moved from the White House back to Georgetown. However, their home soon became a popular tourist attraction in Washington and they moved to a penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan the following year.

In 1967, Caroline christened the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy in a widely publicized ceremony in Newport News, Virginia.[11] In 1975, she was visiting London to complete a nine-month art course at the Sotheby's auction house, when a car bomb placed by the IRA under the car of her hosts, Conservative MP Sir Hugh Fraser and his wife, Antonia, exploded shortly before she and the Frasers were due to leave for their daily drive to Sotheby's. Caroline was running late and had not yet left the house, but a passerby, oncologist Professor Gordon Hamilton-Fairley, was killed. A neighbour of the Frasers, Hamilton-Fairley had been walking his dog, when he noticed something amiss and stopped to examine the bomb.[12]

Education and personal life[edit]

Kennedy attended The Brearley School and Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City and, in 1975, graduated from Concord Academy in Massachusetts.[13] In 1980, she received her Bachelor of Arts from Radcliffe College at Harvard University.[14] In 1988, she received a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School, graduating in the top ten percent of her class.[15] During college, Kennedy "considered becoming a photojournalist, but soon realized she could never make her living observing other people because they were too busy watching her."[16] At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, she was a Photographer's Assistant.[16] In 1977, she became a summer intern at the New York Daily News, earning $156 a week (~$600 in 2013 dollars adjusted for inflation), "fetching coffee for harried editors and reporters, changing typewriter ribbons and delivering messages."[17] Kennedy reportedly "sat on a bench alone for two hours the first day before other employees even said hello to her"; and, according to Richard Licata, a former News reporter, "Everyone was too scared."[16]

In addition, Kennedy wrote for Rolling Stone about visiting Graceland shortly after the death of Elvis Presley.[16] After graduating from college in 1980, Kennedy was hired as a Research Assistant in the Film and Television Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She later became a "liaison officer between the museum staff and outside producers and directors shooting footage at the museum", helping coordinate the Sesame Street special Don't Eat the Pictures.[18] Caroline was threatened on December 4, 1984, when Herbert Randall Gefvert telephoned the museum and reported a bomb having been implanted there while stating his name and address. He was arrested three days later for the threat.[19] While at her museum job, Kennedy met her future husband and exhibit designer, Edwin Arthur Schlossberg, whom she married in 1986 at Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville, Massachusetts.[4][20] Kennedy's matron of honor was her first cousin, Maria Shriver; her paternal uncle, Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, walked her down the aisle. Although Kennedy is often referred to as "Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg", she did not change her name at the time she married.[2][3] Kennedy has three children: Rose, Tatiana, and John; and owns her mother's 375-acre (1.52 km2) estate known as Red Gate Farm in Aquinnah (formerly Gay Head) on Martha's Vineyard.[21] The New York Daily News estimated Kennedy's net worth in 2008 at over $100 million.[22] During her nomination as ambassador to Japan in 2013, financial-disclosure reports showed her net worth to be between $67 million and $278 million, including family trusts, government and public authority bonds, commercial property in New York, Chicago and Washington, and holdings in the Cayman Islands.[23]

Living in New York City and somewhat apart from their Hyannisport cousins,[24] Caroline and John, Jr. were very close, especially following their mother's death in 1994.[25] After John, Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999, Caroline supported not having a public memorial service,[26] and consulted with the Bessette family instead. It was determined that John, Jr. would be cremated and have his ashes scattered into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.[27] John, Jr. left Caroline with half ownership of his magazine, George, which she was never fond of. Caroline believed that John, Jr. would not have wanted the magazine to continue after his death.[28] Afterwards, Caroline became the sole survivor of the former President's immediate family.

Public career: 1989 – present[edit]

Kennedy is an attorney, writer, and editor who serves on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. She wrote the book, "In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights In Action" in collaboration with Ellen Alderman, which was published in 1991. During an interview regarding the volume, Caroline clarified that the two wanted to show why the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution was written.[29] In 2000, she supported Al Gore for the presidency and mentioned feeling a kinship with him since their fathers served together in the senate.[30] From 2002 through 2004, she worked as director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education. The three-day-a-week job paid her a salary of $1 and had the goal of raising private money for the New York City public schools.[31] In that capacity, she helped raise more than $65 million for the city's public schools.[4][32] She currently serves as one of two vice chairs of the board of directors of The Fund for Public Schools, a public-private partnership founded in 2002 to attract private funding for public schools in New York City.[33] She has also served on the board of trustees of Concord Academy, which she attended as a child.[13]

Kennedy and other members of her family created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989. The award is given to a public official or officials whose actions demonstrate politically courageous leadership in the spirit of John F. Kennedy's book, Profiles in Courage.[34] She is also president of the Kennedy Library Foundation[4] and an adviser to the Harvard Institute of Politics, a living memorial to her father. Kennedy is a member of the New York and Washington, D.C., bar associations. She is also a member of the boards of directors of the Commission on Presidential Debates and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and is an honorary chair of the American Ballet Theatre.[34] Kennedy has represented her family at the funeral services of former presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford and former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. She also represented her family at the dedication of the Bill Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas in November 2004.

2008 Presidential election[edit]

Kennedy on the presidential campaign trail.
Kennedy spoke during the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, on August 25, 2008, introducing her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy.

On January 27, 2008, Kennedy announced in a New York Times op-ed piece entitled, "A President Like My Father," that she would endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.[35] Her concluding lines were: "I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president—not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans." The only other presidential candidate she had ever endorsed was her uncle, Ted Kennedy (in 1980).[36][37]

Federal Election Commission records show that Kennedy contributed $2,300 to the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign committee on June 29, 2007. She previously contributed a total of $5,000 to Clinton's 2006 senatorial campaign. On September 18, 2007, she contributed $2,300 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign committee.[38]

On June 4, 2008, Obama named Kennedy, along with Jim Johnson and Eric Holder, to co-chair his Vice Presidential Search Committee.[39] (Johnson withdrew one week later.)

Filmmaker Michael Moore called on Kennedy to "Pull a Cheney",[40] and name herself as Obama's vice presidential running mate (Dick Cheney headed George W. Bush's vice presidential vetting committee in 2000—Cheney himself was chosen for the job[41]). On August 23, Obama announced that Senator Joe Biden of Delaware would be his running mate. Kennedy addressed the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, introducing a tribute film about her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy.[42]

United States Senate seat[edit]

In December 2008, Kennedy announced her interest in the United States Senate seat occupied by Hillary Clinton, who had been selected to become Secretary of State. This seat was to be filled through 2010 by appointment of New York Governor David Paterson.[43] This same seat was held by Kennedy's uncle Robert F. Kennedy from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968, when he was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.[44] Kennedy's appointment was supported by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter,[45] State Assemblyman Vito Lopez,[46] New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg,[47] former New York City Mayor Ed Koch,[48] and the New York Post editorial page.[49]

She was criticized for not voting in a number of Democratic primaries and general elections since registering in 1988 in New York City[46] and for not providing details about her political views.[48] In response, Kennedy released a statement through a spokeswoman that outlined some of her political views including that she supports legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, is pro-choice, is against the death penalty, is for restoring the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, and believes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should be re-examined.[50][51] On foreign policy, her spokeswoman reiterated that Kennedy opposed the Iraq War from the beginning as well as that she believes that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital city of Israel.[52][53] Kennedy declined to make disclosures of her financial dealings or other personal matters to the press, stating that she would not release the information publicly unless she were selected by Governor Paterson.[54] She did complete a confidential 28-page disclosure questionnaire required of hopefuls, reported to include extensive financial information.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Kennedy acknowledged that she would need to prove herself. "Going into politics is something people have asked me about forever", Kennedy said. "When this opportunity came along, which was sort of unexpected, I thought, 'Well, maybe now. How about now?' " "[I'll have to] work twice as hard as anybody else..... I am an unconventional choice..... We're starting to see there are many ways into public life and public service."[55] In late December 2008, Kennedy drew criticism from several media outlets for lacking clarity in interviews, and for using the phrase "you know" 168 times during a 30-minute interview with NY1.[56]

Shortly before midnight on January 22, 2009, Kennedy released a statement withdrawing from consideration for the seat, citing "personal reasons".[57] Published reports that "a definite tax issue" and "a nanny problem" were the reasons for Kennedy's withdrawal turned out to be inaccurate and leaked by aides to Gov. Paterson.[58][59] Kennedy declined to expand upon the reasons that led to her decision to withdraw.[57][60] One day after Kennedy's withdrawal, Paterson announced his selection of Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate seat.[61]

2012 Presidential election[edit]

Caroline Kennedy was among the 35 national co-chairs of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.[62]

On June 27, 2012, Kennedy made appearances in Nashua and Manchester, New Hampshire, to campaign for the re-election of President Obama.[63]

United States Ambassador to Japan[edit]

Kennedy makes her first statement after arriving at the Narita International Airport on November 15, 2013.

On July 24, 2013, President Barack Obama announced Kennedy as his nominee to be Ambassador to Japan, to succeed Ambassador John Roos.[64][65] The prospective nomination was first reported in February 2013[66] and, in mid-July 2013, formal diplomatic agreement was reportedly received from the Japanese government.[67]

On September 19, 2013, Kennedy sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and responded to questions from both Republican and Democratic senators in relation to her potential appointment as the US ambassador to Japan. Kennedy explained that her focus would be military ties, trade, and student exchange if she was selected for the position.[68]

On October 16, 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed Kennedy by unanimous consent as the next Ambassador to Japan. She is the first female American ambassador to Japan.[69] On November 12, 2013, she was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry.[70] Kennedy arrived in Japan on November 15[71] and met Japanese diplomats on November 18 as part of her first official meetings after having taken the office.[72] The following day, NHK showed live coverage of Kennedy's arrival at the Imperial Palace to present her diplomatic credentials to Emperor Akihito.[73] In December, she visited Nagasaki to meet with survivors of the atomic bomb.[74]

On January 17, 2014, Kennedy issued a statement on Twitter that was critical of Japan's practice of dolphin drive hunting, expressing concern about the "inhumanness" of the practice and stating that the United States government opposes drive-hunt fisheries.[75] The annual dolphin hunt in a National Park at Taiji, Wakayama in western Japan was a source of controversy after the Oscar-winning of the documentary "The Cove". A senior official connected with the seasonal dolphin hunt friendly invited Kennedy to see for herself the hunt defending his traditions as painless to the small cetaceans.[76]

In February 2014, Kennedy visited the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, the site of the large military bases of United States Forces Japan, and was received by protests against the American military presence and placards with "no base" written on them. The protestors are opposed to the American military presence citing various concerns over sexual assaults and the environmental impact of the base.[77] Kennedy subsequently met with Okinawa's governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, who was re-elected in 2010 in opposition to the base. Kennedy subsequently pledged to reduce the burden of the American military presence in Okinawa.[77]

Works published[edit]

Kennedy and Ellen Alderman have written two books together on civil liberties:

  • In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights In Action (1991)[78]
  • The Right to Privacy (1995)[78]

On her own, she has edited these New York Times best-selling volumes:

  • The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (2001);[78]
  • Profiles in Courage for Our Time (2002);[78]
  • A Patriot's Handbook (2003);[78]
  • A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children (2005).[78]

She is also the author of A Family Christmas, a collection of poems, prose, and personal notes from her family history (2007, ISBN 978-1-4013-2227-4). In April 2011, a new collection of poetry, She Walks In Beauty – A Woman's Journey Through Poems, edited and introduced by Caroline Kennedy, was published. She launched the book at the John F Kennedy Library & Museum at Columbia Point, Dorchester, MA.


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External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Roos
United States Ambassador to Japan