Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr, 1888 - 1969

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Born: 6 September 1888, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 18 November 1969, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

An ambitious boy, this grandson of Irish refugees from the Irish Potato Famine delivered papers and did chores for neighbors. He graduated from Boston Latin School and Harvard University, then married the mayor's daughter Rose Fitzgerald, but had a long string of casual affairs and an extended relationship with actress Gloria Swanson. As manager of a Quincy, Massachusetts shipyard he built ships for the Navy, then refused to deliver some without payment, forcing a legal battle with Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt. He may have run liquor from Canada into the US during Prohibition for the Bronfman family, his Somerset Importers became exclusive US agents for Gordon's Gin and Dewar's Scotch and he had huge stocks just offshore when Prohibition ended. He amassed a fortune in banking, shipbuilding, and motion-picture distribution (he organized the merger that created RKO), but moved from stocks to real estate before the crash. He made up with Roosevelt and was one of his key backers in 1932, Roosevelt tagged him to become the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission where he outlawed the insider trading and much of the price manipulation he had used to build his wealth. Although he had good relations with some individual Jews, he was strongly anti-Semitic in general. He was named ambassador to Great Britain, but resigned after his opposition to war with Hitler made him unpopular on both sides of the Atlantic. His own presidential aspirations dashed, he devoted himself to the political careers of his sons, Joseph Jr, John, Robert, and Ted. He suffered a severe stroke in 1961; he was confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak for the rest of his life.

Biography from Wikipedia and the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

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