Joseph Patrick Kennedy Biography (American Financier and Politician)


Who was Joseph Patrick Kennedy? Information on American financier and government official Joseph Patrick Kennedy biography, life story, works and career.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy

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Joseph Patrick Kennedy; American financier and government official: b. Boston, Mass., Sept. 6, 1888; d. Hyannis Port, Mass., Nov. 18, 1969. Born into a family of moderate means, Kennedy vowed that he would be a millionaire by the time he was 35. After graduating from Harvard in 1912, he was briefly a Massachusetts state bank examiner and in 1914 became president of the Columbia Trust Company, a small East Boston bank. During World War I he was assistant general manager of the Fore River plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at Quincy, Mass. After the war, as manager (1919-1924) of the Boston office of the investment banking firm of Hayden, Stone & Co., he rapidly developed phenomenal aptitude as an operator in the “bull” market of the 1920’s. He also became interested in the management of motion picture theaters and the production of films, and for a number of years was one of the major financiers in the Hollywood motion picture industry, cutting operating costs and reorganizing several companies. When he returned East in 1930, he had a fortune of about $5 million, and in spite of the depression he continued to be successful in financial ventures.

In politics, Kennedy supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his 1932 campaign, and in 1934 Roosevelt appointed him chairman of the newly established Securities and Exchange Commission, set up to regulate financial speculation; many of those who vigorously protested his appointment were won over by his efficient management of the agency. In 1937 he was for a few months chairman of the United States Maritime Commission and later that year was appointed ambassador to Great Britain, the nation’s top diplomatic post. Although he was anti-Nazi, he doubted England’s capacity to resist when war broke out in 1939, and opposed American intervention. He resigned as ambassador in November 1940.

Kennedy married Rose Fitzgerald in 1914. Three of their sons became famous in politics; John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States; Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. senator and attorney general; and Edward M. Kennedy, U.S. senator.


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