P. J. Kennedy
|Patrick Joseph Kennedy|
P.J. Kennedy , circa 1900
|Massachusetts House of Representatives
2nd Suffolk District
|Massachusetts State Senate
4th Suffolk District
January 14, 1858|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 1929
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Mary Augusta Hickey
(m. 1887–1923; her death)
|Relations||See Kennedy family|
|Children||Joseph, Francis, Mary, and Margaret|
Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy (January 14, 1858 – May 18, 1929) was an American businessman and politician. He was a major figure in the Democratic Party in Boston. Kennedy was the father of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and the paternal grandfather of President John F. Kennedy.
The son of Irish immigrants, he was the only surviving male in the family, following two outbreaks of cholera, and started work at fourteen as a stevedore in the docks. He owned three saloons and a whisky import house, and eventually had major interests in coal and banking. He moved successfully into politics, as a sociable man able to mix comfortably with both the Irish and the Protestant elite, and he sat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and in the Massachusetts Senate. His particular talent was for the behind-the-scenes machinations for which Boston politics became so notorious.
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. His mother Bridget had purchased an East Boston stationery and notions store where she had worked. The business took off and expanded into a grocery and liquor store.
At the age of fourteen, P. J. left school to work with his mother and three older sisters, Mary, Johanna, and Margaret, as a stevedore on the Boston Docks. 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.
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 Massachusetts 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 as an appointed elections commissioner, an appointed fire commissioner, as the backroom boss of Boston's Ward Two, and as a member of his party's unofficial Board of Strategy.
Marriage and children
|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|
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.