J Robert Kennedy Biography & Facts
Robert Francis Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968), also referred to by his initials RFK or by the nickname Bobby, was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, and as a U.S. Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968. He was, like his brothers John and Edward, a prominent member of the Democratic Party and has come to be viewed by some historians as an icon of modern American liberalism.Kennedy was born into a wealthy, political family in Brookline, Massachusetts. After serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1944 to 1946, Kennedy returned to his studies at Harvard University, and later received his law degree from the University of Virginia. He began his career as a correspondent for The Boston Post and as an lawyer at the Justice Department, but later resigned to manage his brother John's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1952. The following year, he worked as an assistant counsel to the Senate committee chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy. He gained national attention as the chief counsel of the Senate Labor Rackets Committee from 1957 to 1959, where he publicly challenged Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa over the union's corrupt practices. Kennedy resigned from the committee to conduct his brother's successful campaign in the 1960 presidential election. He was appointed United States Attorney General at the age of 36, becoming the youngest Cabinet member in U.S. history since Alexander Hamilton in 1789. He served as his brother's closest advisor until the latter's 1963 assassination.His tenure is known for advocating for the civil rights movement, the fight against organized crime and the Mafia, and involvement in U.S. foreign policy related to Cuba. He authored his account of the Cuban Missile Crisis in a book titled Thirteen Days. As attorney general, he authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to wiretap Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on a limited basis. After his brother's assassination, he remained in office during the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson for several months. He left to run for the United States Senate from New York in 1964 and defeated Republican incumbent Kenneth Keating. In office, Kennedy opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and raised awareness of poverty by sponsoring legislation designed to lure private business to blighted communities (i.e., Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration project). He was an advocate for issues related to human rights and social justice by traveling abroad to eastern Europe, Latin America, and South Africa, and formed working relationships with Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Walter Reuther.
In 1968, Kennedy became a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency by appealing to poor, African American, Hispanic, Catholic, and young voters. His main challenger in the race was Senator Eugene McCarthy. Shortly after winning the California primary around midnight on June 5, 1968, Kennedy was mortally wounded when shot with a pistol by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, allegedly in retaliation for his support of Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War. Kennedy died 25 hours later. Sirhan was arrested, tried, and convicted, though Kennedy's assassination, like his brother's, continues to be the subject of widespread analysis and numerous conspiracy theories.
Early life and education
Robert Francis Kennedy was born outside Boston in Brookline, Massachusetts, on November 20, 1925. He was the seventh of nine children to businessman/politician Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and philanthropist/socialite Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. His parents were members of two prominent Irish-American families in Boston. His eight siblings were Joseph Jr., John, Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Jean, and Ted. All four of his grandparents were children of Irish immigrants.His father was a wealthy businessman and a leading figure in the Democratic Party. After he stepped down as ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1940, Joe Sr. focused his attention on his oldest son, Joseph Jr., expecting that he would enter politics and be elected president. He also urged the younger children to examine and discuss current events in order to propel them to public service. After Joseph Jr. was killed during World War II, the senior Kennedy's hopes fell on his second son, John, to become president. Joseph Sr. had the money and connections to play a central role in the family's political ambitions.
Kennedy's older brother John was often bedridden by illness and, as a result, became a voracious reader. Although he made little effort to get to know his younger brother during his childhood, John took him on walks and regaled him with the stories of heroes and adventures he had read. One of their favorite authors was John Buchan, who wrote The Thirty-Nine Steps, which influenced both Robert and John. John sometimes called Robert "Black Robert" due to his prudishness and disposition.Unlike his older brothers, Kennedy took to heart their mother Rose's agenda for everything to have "a purpose," which included visiting historic sites during family outings, visits to the church during morning walks, and games used to expand vocabulary and math skills. He described his position in the family hierarchy by saying, "When you come from that far down, you have to struggle to survive." As the boys were growing up, he tried frequently to get his older brothers' attention, but was seldom successful.As his father's business success expanded, the family kept homes around Boston and New York City; the Cape Cod peninsula; and Palm Beach. Kennedy later said that during childhood he was "going to different schools, always having to make new friends, and that I was very awkward ... [a]nd I was pretty quiet most of the time. And I didn't mind being alone." He had to repeat third grade. A teacher at Bronxville public school reflected that he was "a regular boy", adding, "It seemed hard for him to finish his work sometimes. But he was only ten after all." He developed an interest in American history, decorating his bedroom with pictures of U.S. presidents and filling his bookshelves with volumes on the American Civil War. He became an avid stamp collector and once received a handwritten letter from Franklin Roosevelt, also a philatelist.In March 1938, Kennedy sailed to London with his mother and four youngest siblings to join his father, who had begun serving as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He attended the private Gibbs School for Boys for seventh grade. In April 1939, he gave his first public speech at the placing of a cornerstone for a youth club in England. According to embassy and newspaper reports, his statements were penciled in his own hand and delivered in a "calm and confident" manner. Bobby returned to the United States just before the outbreak of World W.... Discover the J Robert Kennedy popular books. Find the top 100 most popular J Robert Kennedy books.