P. J. Kennedy

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Patrick Joseph Kennedy
PJ Kennedy.jpg
P.J. Kennedy , circa 1900
Massachusetts House of Representatives
2nd Suffolk District
In office
1884–1889
Massachusetts State Senate
4th Suffolk District
In office
1889–1895
Personal details
Born (1858-01-14)January 14, 1858
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died May 18, 1929(1929-05-18) (aged 71)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Augusta Hickey
(m. 1887–1923; her death)
Relations
Children
Parents Patrick Kennedy
Bridget Murphy
Alma mater Boston College
Occupation Politician, Businessman
Religion Catholicism

Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy (January 14, 1858 – May 18, 1929) was an Irish-American businessman and politician. He was the father of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and paternal grandfather to World War II casualty Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and longtime Senator Ted Kennedy.

Early life[edit]

Young P.J. Kennedy around the mid-to-late 1870s

P. J. was the youngest of five children born to Irish Catholic immigrants Patrick Kennedy (1823–1858) and Bridget Murphy (c. 1824 – 1888), who were both from New Ross, County Wexford, and married in Boston on September 26, 1849. The couple's elder son, John, had died of cholera in infancy two years before P. J. was born. 10 months after P. J.'s birth, his father Patrick also succumbed to the infectious cholera epidemic that infested the family's East Boston neighborhood. As the only surviving male, P. J. was the first Kennedy to receive a formal education. At the age of fourteen, P. J. left school to work on the Boston docks as a stevedore to help support his mother Bridget and three older sisters Mary, Johanna, and Margaret. In the 1880s, with money he had saved from his modest earnings, he launched a business career by buying a saloon in Haymarket Square downtown. In time, he bought a second establishment by the East Boston docks. Next, to capitalize on the social drinking of upper-class Boston, P. J. purchased a third bar in an upscale East Boston hotel, the Maverick House. Before he was thirty, his growing prosperity allowed him to buy a whiskey-importing business.

By the time he died in 1929, P. J. held an interest in a coal company and a substantial amount of stock in a bank, the Columbia Trust Company. His wealth afforded his family of one son and two daughters an attractive home on Jeffries Point in East Boston.[1]

He attended Boston College on scholarship and became a prominent businessman before entering politics.

Political career[edit]

P. J. Kennedy in 1893 as a Massachusetts state senator

P. J. was described as "likable, always ready to help less fortunate fellow Irishmen with a little cash and some sensible advice." He enjoyed the approval and respect of most folks in East Boston, living on the hill of a mixed Boston neighborhood of upscale Irish and Protestant elite. Beginning in 1884, he converted his popularity into five consecutive one-year terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, followed by three two-year terms in the state senate. Establishing himself as one of Boston's principal Democratic leaders, he was invited to give one of the seconding speeches for Grover Cleveland at the party's 1888 national convention in St. Louis. However, he found campaigning, speech making, and legislative maneuvering, to be less appealing than the behind-the-scenes machinations that characterized so much of Boston politics in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. After leaving the senate in 1895, P. J. spent his political career in various appointive offices—elections commissioner and fire commissioner—as the backroom boss of Boston's Ward Two, and as a member of his party's unofficial Board of Strategy.[1]

Marriage and children[edit]

On November 23, 1887, he married Mary Augusta Hickey (December 6, 1857 – May 6, 1923),[2] daughter of James Hickey and Margaret Martha Field.[3] P. J. and Mary had four children.

Name Birth Death Age Notes
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy September 6, 1888 November 18, 1969 81 years, 2 months Married on October 7, 1914, to Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald (July 22, 1890 – January 22, 1995); 9 children
Francis Benedict Kennedy March 11, 1891 June 14, 1892 1 year, 3 months
Mary Loretta Kennedy August 6, 1892 November 18, 1972 80 years, 3 months Married on October 12, 1927, to George William Connelly (June 10, 1898 – August 29, 1971); one daughter
Margaret Louise Kennedy October 22, 1898 November 14, 1974 76 years, 1 month Married on June 14, 1924, to Charles Joseph Burke (August 23, 1899 – April 5, 1967); three children

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy, youngest son of Joe, named his younger son Patrick Joseph Kennedy II (born 1967) to honor P. J.

Legacy[edit]

In 1914, P. J. and Mary's son Joe married philanthropist Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1890–1995), the eldest daughter of Boston Mayor John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald (1863–1950) and Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon (1865–1964). Joe and Rose had nine children, including World War II casualty Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (1915–1944), President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), Senator Robert F. Kennedy (1925–1968), and longtime Senator Ted Kennedy (1932–2009).

The Patrick J. Kennedy School, named for him, is a public grammar school located in East Boston.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dallek, Robert (2003). "Beginnings". An unfinished life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963. Little, Brown, and Co. ISBN 978-0-316-17238-7. 
  2. ^ "Mary Augusta Hickey". Find A Grave. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Michael Hickey". Home To Clare. Retrieved September 2013.