Joseph P. Kennedy to John F. Kennedy

Micks on the Make to American Royalty

Rags to Riches: The Kennedys and America's Obsession

Although cliched, America is indeed a nation of immigrants. It is part of American Folklore now. Since the late 19th century most immigrants came to America to obtain a better life. Many immigrants stay in a community amongst themselves and make a modest success of their lives. Others are the pillars of small town America, the ones who made it against all the odds, the personification of the "American ideal" with their jobs and their family life.

And there are those very few who do the impossible, it seems. They are not only incredible success stories but they have taken cultural backgrounds, that once seemed so repugnant to Americans, and made it part of the American culture. The Kennedys of Massachusettes are a prime example. Having arrived in America from impoverished Ireland during the potato famine, in the mid-19th century, the Kennedys along with their fellow Irish, were shunned and denigrated by American society. Their religion, their accents even what they named their children were game for the mockery of the Americans already long established in the country. The Irish were called derogatory names, and were shunned from any jobs they could get. Their lifestyles were poked fun at in the first cartoons in American newspaper. Their existence in America and the perceptions Americans had of them was no grade higher than the image of blacks in America in the late 19th century.

Joseph Kennedy grew up in this and saw this. And he hated it. It was through his sheer ingenuity, brilliance, and marketing skills that being Irish and Catholic was no longer a bad thing. He achieved his own fame and fortune leaving East Boston for Hyannis Port and Brookline Massachusettes. And that seventy years after his birth Joseph P. Kennedy sat in the inaugaral box watching his son John F. Kennedy walk into the American history books as the American President.

Being Irish is now something everyone wants to be in America come St. Patrick's Day, and ever on a regular basis, there is a fascination with tracing your roots back to the Emerald Isle. Joseph P. Kennedy made it possible by marketing the American dream for all its worth through, his son, and one of our nation's Presidents, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

This project aims to study the Kennedys in the early years through Joseph's rise to American notoriety, and watching him as father and cheerleader in his ambition for his children. This will also examine the life of his John F. Kennedy from Boyhood, to the White House years known as "Camelot" and the rise of the Kennedy family from the modest trappings of Boston to America's royal family. How a family who was once a member of a degraded group of people become the icons of American life, outdoing even those who looked down on them. How yet the Kennedy Family was so rich, by the time Joseph's family became part of the White House but yet everyone related to them. This project aims to explore how the Kennedys made their journey from the streets of East Boston to the throne of America's palace, as America's Royal Family. And in doing so become part of American popular culture.

Other Links:

The Irish in America: 1840's-1930's|Joseph P. Kennedy|The Kennedys:Making of a Dynasty
John F. Kennedy |Camelot:The Kennedy White House|The Post Camelot Years