Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jackie Kennedy

                    The gracious First Lady we knew as Jackie Kennedy was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier  on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York.  She was the first First Lady to be born in a hospital.  Her father was Wall Street stock broker John Vernou Bouvier III (born May 19, 1891, East Hampton, New York; died August 2, 1957, New York, New York) and her mother was Janet Norton Lee (born December 3, 1907, New York, New York; died July 22, 1989, Newport, Rhode Island.  Bouvier was also known as "Black Jack Bouvier."  Jackie was the older of two girls; her sister, Caroline Lee - known as Lee - was born in 1933. 

John and Janet were married July 7, 1928, in East Hampton, New York, and divorced in 1940.  Janet married Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr. (1897-1972) - Standard Oil heir - on June 21, 1942.  Auchincloss brought three children with him into the family:  Hugh, Nina, and Thomas.  This couple had two children together, Janet and James Auchincloss.  Janet married a third time to Bingham Morris on October 25, 1979.  His first wife and his second wife were apparently long-time friends because the first was a bridesmaid for Janet's first (?) wedding.

Janet descended from Irish ancestry, being the granddaughter of four County Cork, Ireland, immigrants who moved to New York during the 1840's potato famine; this made Jackie half-Irish.   Jack's ancestry included English, French, and Scottish ancestors. Jackie's paternal grandmother Maude Sergeant was the daughter of an immigrant from Kent, England.  Jackie's paternal great-great-grandfather was born in France where he was a contemporary of Joseph Bonaparte and Stephen Girard, and he became a cabinetmaker, carpenter, merchant and real estate speculator based in Philadelphia.  Even though Jackie's maiden name is French, she was only one-eight French, having descended from one French ancestor.

Jackie spent her early years in New York City and at the Bouvier family estate in East Hampton, New York.  After their parents divorced, Jackie and Lee divided their time between their mother's homes in McLean, Virginia, and Newport, Rhode Island, and their father's homes in New York City and Long Island.  Jackie became an enthusiastic equestrienne at an early age and had a lifelong passion for riding horses.  She also wrote essays and poems, some of which were published in local newspapers and magazines.

Miss Bouvier was taught the social graces in the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, (1942-1944) and Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut (1944-1947).  She was named "debutante of the year" when she made her debut into society in 1947.  She was strikingly attractive; she was 5 feet 8 inches tall and had brown hair and brown eyes.

That year Jackie entered Vassar College where she spent two years before spending her junior year (1949-1950) studying in France at the University of Grenoble and at the Sorbonne - in a study-abroad program through Smith College.  When she returned to the United States, she transferred to The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature.  Jackie's college graduation coincided with Lee's graduation from high school, and the two sisters traveled through Europe during the summer of 1951.  They later co-authored a book entitled One Special Summer; this book was Jackie's only autobiography and her only publication to feature her own drawings.

Jackie was hired by The Washington Times-Herald as an "Inquiring Photographer."  She would choose random people on the street and take their pictures, which were then published in the newspaper along with a short quotation from them.  She interviewed Pat Nixon, Vice President Nixon, and Senator John F. Kennedy, and her questions became increasing political.  She covered Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation as one of her last assignments.  She took continuing education classes in American History at Georgetown University.

Then-U.S. Representative John Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier were in the same social circles and often attended the same events, but they were not formally introduced until May 1952 at a dinner party hosted by mutual friends.  They soon began dating and announced their engagement on June 25, 1953.

Bouvier and Kennedy were married on September 12, 1953, at a Mass in St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode IslandBoston's Archbishop Richard Cushing performed the wedding ceremony, which was attended by 700 guests.  A reception at Hammersmith Farm for 1200 guests followed the ceremony.  Jackie's wedding dress is now housed in the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jackie and Jack honeymooned in Acapulco, Mexico, and set up housekeeping in McLean, Virginia.  Jackie miscarried in 1955 and gave birth to a still-born daughter, Arabella, in 1956.  A second daughter, Caroline, was born in 1957, and a son, John, in 1960.  A second son, Patrick Bouvier, was born on August 7, 1963, and died two days later.  Caroline and John were very young children when their father was assassinated.  John died in a private airplane accident with his wife and sister-in-law.

John F. Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives and US Senate before being elected President of the United States, becoming the first Catholic President.

                    Jackie was pregnant for most of the 1960 presidential campaign and thus played a limited public role.  She wrote articles and personal stories that were printed in the newspapers, participated in television and newspaper interviews, and taped campaign radio commercials in foreign languages.  Behind the scenes, she provided literary and historical examples and quotations for Jack's speeches.  She began a popular millinery style when she appeared at her husband's swearing in ceremony in a large pillbox hat.  I remember being very impressed with Jackie Kennedy and the aura of Camelot surrounding her family.

                    Mrs. Kennedy's priorities as First Lady were her young children and her family's privacy, but she began early to redecorate the family quarters of the White House and to historically restore the public rooms of the building.  She scoured government warehouses searching for displaced White House furnishings; she also solicited citizens to donate important historical and artistic items.  She also used the White House to showcase the arts.

The Kennedy's were together in Dallas, Texas, when the President was assassinated on November 22, 1963.  She held his bleeding head in her lap on the way to the hospital, and her pink Chanel suit covered in blood was a symbol of his assassination and a lasting image.

                    Five years after Kennedy's death, Jackie married Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate and airline owner, at Skorpios Island, Greece.  After the death of Onassis in 1975, Jackie returned to New York City where she spent the final two decades of her life as a book editor at Viking Press (1975-1977) and Doubleday (1978-1994).  She is remembered for her elegance, grace, fashion style, for her preservation of historic architecture, and for her contributions to the arts.

                    Jackie died at her apartment in New York City on May 19, 1994, at age 64.  Even though Jackie married Onassis, a divorced man, in a Greek Orthodox ceremony, she did not convert to his faith and was buried with full rites of the Catholic Church.  She was interred by her husband at Arlington national Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.  Former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and incumbent First Lady Hillary Clinton.

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