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Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy - History

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy - History


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At the time of her husband's inauguration, Jacqueline Kennedy was the youngest First Lady since Frances Cleveland. She was beautiful, charming, gifted, and immensely popular. Every woman in America wanted to look like her and her taste in fashion quickly became the national standard. Jacqueline Bouvier was born to a wealthy and social prominent Long Island family. Her education was obtained at the choicest of private schools, including Miss Chapin's School, Miss Porter's School, the Sorbonne, and Vasser. It was while she was working as the Inquiring Photographer for the Washington Times-Herald that she met the dashing young Senator John Kennedy. Their 1953 wedding featured 900 guests and thousands of gate-crashing on-lookers.

Although "Jackie," as she was called, professed no particular interest in politics, she quickly became a major asset to her ambitious husband. She traveled around the world as First Lady and impressed many dignitaries with her knowledge of foreign languages. The American public was charmed by the sweet-voiced Jackie who led them on a televised tour of the White House to show off its treasures. As a student of history and an amateur artist, Jackie was determined to restore the Mansion to its 18th and 19th century splendor. She was also interested in ballet, theater, and classical music, scoring a major coup in securing cellist Pablo Casals to perform at the Kennedy White House as he had done years earlier for Theodore and Edith Roosevelt.

Above all else, Jacqueline Kennedy was devoted to her children. They were the first youngsters to live in the White House since the rambunctious children of Teddy Roosevelt. Mrs. Kennedy once said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." She made sure that her children were shielded from too much public exposure while in the White House. At the same time, she very much wanted them to experience a "normal" childhood, going so far as to start a play school for Caroline on the third floor of the White House.

The nation grieved along with the First Family when the Kennedys' third child died shortly after birth in 1963. But there was even greater grief yet to come. On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The nation watched transfixed as the young widow led her family and the world in mourning the fallen president. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Kennedy moved to New York where she led a very private life with her children. In 1968, she married the wealthy Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis. Eventually, she was widowed once again. But she always maintained her quiet composure in the face of unremitting world scrutiny. In 1994, it was announced that the former First Lady was suffering from lymphoma and was receiving chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the cancer was relentless. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, symbol of an era, died at her New York home surrounded by her family and friends. She is buried next to President Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.


Only the most iconic of women can simply go by one name, and Jackie is one of them. Her life was a complicated collage of privilege, challenge, balance and reinvention. In this episode, we talk about the first half of that life from baby of affluence born exactly when the wealth of the US crashed, to just before she headed off on a trip with her husband to Texas in 1963.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born on July 28, 1929 to John and Janet Bouvier. If you head over to the JFK Library and Museum website you can watch the silent film of the Bouvier’s wedding! Her parents “struggled” through the depression with very little money of their own but they lived in a Park Avenue duplex and summered in the Hamptons.

Make sure you put the back of your hand to your forehead before you swoon on the fainting couch.

Jacqueline Bouvier, 1935. David Berne, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

It wasn’t all champagne wishes and caviar dreams-Jackie and her little sister, Lee, became children of divorce (and a bitter divorce at that) when Jackie was 11. Her father was the wild Let’s Have Fun parent and her mom was the, you know…ACTUAL PARENT. Mom taught her things like competitive horseback riding and manners dad taught her things like how men are out for one thing only and to play stupid. *sigh* Jackie’s mother re-married fairly quickly to Hugh Auchincloss…of the Standard Oil Auchinclosses? Mom married up into a much bigger tax bracket and the gang moved to a huge spread in Virginia and summered at a little cottage in Newport, RI.

The cottage. Hammersmith Farm, wikicommons

Jackie followed a pretty traditional, wealthy kid path: High school at Miss Porter’s in Connecticut, college first at Vassar, then the Sorbonne via Smith College (like one does) and finished up with a degree in French Literature from George Washington University. She made her debut, too, not only coming out in Newport and New York society but being named “Deb of the Year” by a Hearst Newspapers society columnist. Let’s just say she has a LOT going for her- she’s fluent in French, picks up other languages very easily, is very, very well read, well traveled, she has a very quick wit, is quite a flirt, hangs in elite circles and, did we mention? She’s beautiful.

After college, Jackie won a very prestigious gig with Vogue magazine…and quit on her first day.

Oh, we talk about that. A lot. Jackie headed back to Washington and took a job as a secretary with the Washington Times and quickly worked up to a journalist position as Inquiring Photographer with her own column.

Jackie went through her training fiance, John Husted, Jr- but called that engagement off within a year. He wasn’t the guy for her, but she was dating this John Kennedy fellow. A handsome Senator from Massachusetts, he was a war hero and came from a large, loud, competitive, very wealthy family. Jack liked Jackie, but Jack liked A LOT of women.

The two dated and Jack’s father, Joe (who often got exactly what he wanted) thought Jackie was the perfect wife for his up-and-coming politician of a son. But Jack didn’t want to get married.

Until he did. 36 year-old Jack and 24 year-old Jackie were married in Newport. Library of Congress

In the next five years the couple would look, from the outside, like they had it all but Jack never slowed down his womanizing and Jackie had a miscarriage and a stillbirth with very little support from him. In other marriages in other families with other careers this marriage would have ended- but it didn’t.

The more you know-Aga stove (note the cement base–The House of Wood would need a little work for this.)

When Jackie was 28 she gave birth to a healthy daughter, Caroline, and three years later a son, John, Jr was born. Three years later the family was also about to move–into the White House.

August 1962 President Kennedy and family, Hyannis Port.
Cecil Stoughton, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Once Jackie became First Lady she set off almost immediately to define her role, and her cause: preserving the history of the White House. She began a renovation project on the old mansion with a goal to bring the history of the White House back to it.

80 MILLION people watched her tour of the White House when it aired, re-aired and was distributed world wide. If you still can’t add yourself to the un-factorable numbers who have watched since, you should fix that.

Jackie also proved to be a valuable political asset. She charmed heads of state, set fashions and ideals for women around the world, and brought a very cultured, youthful, and glamorous image to the presidency and to the country. Men loved to look and talk to her women wanted to be like her.

Our world’s collided when Jackie met this Recappery subject in 1961. Queen Elizabeth hosts the Kennedys. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

There were some dark corners in the Kennedy lives- Jack and his women and Jackie gave birth to a third child, Patrick, but he died only two days afterward due to a lung condition.

As Jackie was recuperating from that heartbreak, Jack asked her to go with him on a trip to help gather support for his re-election. Jackie agreed and made plans to accompany her husband to Texas in November of 1963.

This is the book Beckett was talking about.

Beckett has put together quite the Jackie Pinterest board!

All of our other media recommendations will be on the shownotes for Part Two .


16 Facts About Jackie Kennedy’s Infamous Cousin and Aunt’s Downfall

The Bouvier family is most famous for producing one of America&rsquos most influential socialites and First Ladies: Jacqueline Lee (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis, the wife of President John F. Kennedy. However, their legacy also includes the sad tale of the daughter of a great house being reduced to poverty and misery.

A photograph of Grey Gardens in 2009. Wikimedia

Edith Bouvier Beale, aunt to Jackie Kennedy, and her daughter went from a promising and bright future as socialites to living destitute in a decrepit house as nature crept in around them and filth overtook them. A 1975 documentary Grey Gardens drew national attention to the plight of the two women and the hidden disgrace of how one of America&rsquos illustrious families treated their own.

A photograph of Big Edie. musicalstagecompany.com

1. Big Edie Was Once a Child Prodigy

Big Edie Bouvier was born into a wealthy family. Her father, John Vernou Bouvier was a prominent attorney, while her mother, Maude Frances Sargeant, was the daughter of a wealthy paper manufacturer. Her father was obsessed with the idea of aristocracy and went so far as to fabricate a royal background for the family. He had the book Our Forebears privately printed which laid out the family&rsquos fake royal lineage and contained the family motto &ldquoThe hallmark of aristocracy is responsibility.&rdquo

Amidst the privilege and luxury of her wealthy upbringing, Edie embarked on a singing career. Big Edie was widely recognized as a very talented child singer and, by the age of 10, was considered by some to be a child prodigy. In her teenage years, she pursued a career in amateur singing.

As she got older, Edie kept up with the demands of the socialite lifestyle and began attending parties in search of a spouse. In 1917, she married attorney Phelan Beale and gave birth to her first child, a daughter named little Edie, that same year. Edie had two more children, sons, in 1920 and 1922. With three children, she placed her singing career on a back burner. Shortly after the birth of their third child, Phelan moved the family to the Grey Gardens estate in the Hamptons.


1961, January 20 - 1963, November 22 31 years old

On January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy took the oath of office to become the nation's 35th president. At age 31, Jacqueline Kennedy was the first lady. With her gracious personal style and her passion for history and the arts, she worked hard to be worthy of her new role. While she had a deep sense of obligation to her country, her first priorities were to be a good wife to her husband and mother to her children. She told a reporter that "if you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much."

Mrs. Kennedy soon set about making the White House into a real home for her family. She turned the sun porch on the third floor into a kindergarten school for Caroline and 12 to 15 other children, who came every morning at 9:30. There was also a swimming pool, a swing set, and a tree house on the White House lawn for Caroline and John Jr. White House Blue Room after restoration, 24 January 1963.

While First Lady, Mrs. Kennedy was named sponsor of the USS Lafayette (SSBN 616) and christened the ship (in English and French) at its 8 May 1962 launching at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, CT. [6]


1st Black First Lady?

Jackie Kennedy took on the First Lady role when African-Americans agitated for equality under the law.

President Kennedy supported (though somewhat tepidly) anti-discrimination laws. And so the New York Genealogical and Historical Society approached Jackie Kennedy hoping to discuss her African ancestry. Perhaps, they thought, it could help get a Civil Rights bill passed.

But Jackie Kennedy described her van Salee ancestors as ‘Jewish.’

She wouldn’t be the first person with African blood to inhabit the White House. The van Salee descendants also included President Warren G. Harding, as well as the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys and Humphrey Bogart.

President Thomas Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemings, a mixed-race woman who he enslaved.

And since nearly 4 percent of European-Americans have African ancestors, the United States probably had more than one black First Lady.

Beaton, by the way, did not limit his catty remarks to Jackie Kennedy. He described Audrey Hepburn as looking ‘Mongolian’ with a huge mouth.

Here’s his complete description of the first black First Lady Jackie Kennedy.

Huge, baseball-player’s shoulders and haunches, big boyish hands and feet very dark, beautiful receptive eyes looking roguish or sad — sometimes they pop too much — mouth very large and generous, with a smile turning down at the corners in an inverted laugh a somewhat negroid appearance the suspicion of a moustache, and very black hair.

You might also enjoy this story about Jack and Jackie Kennedy’s wedding here. This story about the first black first lady was updated in 2020.


Jacqueline Kennedy (American Pride)

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy (July 28, 1929 – May 19, 2015) was First Lady of the United States during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and was regarded as an international icon of style and culture. Bouvier was born in 1929 in Southampton, New York, to Wall Street stockbroker John Vernou Bouvier III and his wife, Janet Lee Bouvier. In 1951, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from George Washington University and went on to work for the Washington Times-Herald as an inquiring photographer.

In 1952, Bouvier met then-Congressman John Kennedy at a dinner party in Washington. Kennedy was elected to the Senate that same year, and the couple married on September 12, 1953, in Newport, Rhode Island. They had four children, two of whom died in infancy. Following her husband's election to the presidency in 1960, Jacqueline was known for her highly publicized restoration of the White House and emphasis on arts and culture, as well as for her style, elegance, and grace.

At age 31, she was the third youngest First Lady when her husband was inaugurated President. During her lifetime, Jacqueline Kennedy was regarded as an international fashion icon.[4] Her famous ensemble of a pink Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat that she wore in Dallas has become a symbol of her husband's attempted assassination in 1963. Even after her death, she ranks as one of the most popular and recognizable First Ladies, and in 1999 she was listed as one of Gallup's Most-Admired Men and Women of the 20th century.

Jackie died of natural causes in relation to breast cancer. She had been in remission since 2021. Her children, President Kennedy, Ambassador to Japan Caroline, Documentary filmmaker and President of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, as well as daughter, Rose.


Jackie Kennedy’s Childhood and Early Education

On July 28, 1929, Jackie was born as Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in Southampton, New York, in Southampton Hospital. Her mother was Janet Norton Lee (1907 –1989), and her father was John Vernou “Black Jack” Bouvier III (1891 – 1957). Janet Norton Lee’s ancestry was of Irish descent, while John Vernou Bouvier III’s family hailed from France, Scotland, and England. Soon after her birth, Jacqueline was baptized at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan. A few years later in 1933, the Bouvier family welcomed a new member, Caroline Lee Bouvier, who would later be Caroline Lee Radziwill-Ross. Both sisters were reared strictly in the Catholic faith.

As a young child, Jackie was establishing her independence and quick wit, and it was noticeable to everyone who interacted with her. While on a walk with her nanny and little sister, Jackie wandered away from the small group. When a police officer stopped her, worried about a young girl alone, she told him, “My nurse and baby sister seem to be lost,” effectively displaying that she did not blame herself for the situation.[i] Her take-control attitude followed her throughout her entire life.

Jacqueline spent much of her early childhood between Manhattan and Lasata, which was the Bouviers’ country estate in East Hampton on Long Island. She and her father formed a very close relationship that often excluded her sister, Lee, much to the younger sister’s disappointment. John Vernou Bouvier III claimed that Jackie was the “most beautiful daughter a man ever had.”[ii]

In her childhood, Jacqueline dabbled in multiple hobbies, as many children do. She exceeded all expectations with her mastery of horseback-riding. In fact, her mother placed her on a horse when she was only one year old. By the time Jackie turned twelve years old, she had a few national championships under her belt. In 1940, The New York Times wrote, “Jacqueline Bouvier, an eleven-year-old equestrienne from Easy Hampton, Long Island, scored a double victory in the horsemanship competition. Miss Bouvier achieved a rare distinction. The occasions are few when a young rider wins both contests in the same show.”[iii] She continued to compete successfully in the sport and lived on as an avid equestrienne for the rest of her life.[iv]

She did not stop her hobbies at horseback-riding. Additionally, Jackie spent long hours buried in books, took ballet lessons, and developed a passion for learning languages. French was a particular favorite and was emphasized in her childhood education.[v] These developed language skills helped Jacqueline as she entered her husband’s political realm. Whereas John F. Kennedy often needed a translator in foreign countries and with foreign dignitaries, his wife could often speak their language fluently.

Before she even began school, young Jackie read all the books on her bookshelves. She loved Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Little Lord Fauntleroy’s grandfather, Robin Hood, Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, and the poetry of Lord Byron. Her mother often wondered if she would one day make a career of writing.[vi] Near a childhood Christmas, she penned the following poem:

Reindeer hooves will soon be drumming

On the roof tops loud and clear.”[vii]

Referring to reading as a child, Jackie said, “I lived in New York City until I was thirteen and spent the summers in the country. I hated dolls, loved horses and dogs, and had skinned knees and braces on my teeth for what must have seemed an interminable length of time to my family. I read a lot when I was little, much of which was too old for me. There were Chekhov and Shaw in the room where I had to take naps and I never slept but sat on the windowsill reading, then scrubbed the soles of my feet so the nurse would not see I had been out of bed.”[viii] Jacqueline had a thirst for learning, and she never quite quenched it.

After attending kindergarten, Jackie enrolled in Manhattan’s Chapin School in 1935. The Chapin School, an all-girls independent day school, presented a space for young Jackie to learn everything she needed to know from grades one to six.[ix] Although she was quite smart, Jackie often found herself in trouble at school. Her teacher said that she was “a darling child, the prettiest little girl, very clever, very artistic, and full of the devil.”[x] She was a very mischievous child and found herself sent to the headmistress, Miss Ethel Stringfellow, many times. Stringfellow wrote on Jacqueline’s report card: “Jacqueline was given a D in Form because her disturbing conduct in her geography class made it necessary to exclude her from the room.”[xi] Like most parents, Jackie’s mother made excuses for her daughter’s actions, saying that Jackie finished assignments early and acted out in boredom.[xii] Janet Bouvier once asked her daughter, “What happens when you’re sent to Miss Stringfellow?” Young Jackie replied, “Well, I go to the office and Miss Stringfellow says, ‘Jacqueline, sit down. I’ve heard bad reports about you.’ I sit down. Then Miss Stringfellow says a lot of things—but I don’t listen.” Cool and calm, she was unwilling to admit guilt.

Biographer Sarah Bradford says, “Jackie was already a rebel, unsubdued by the discipline at Miss Chapin’s. She was brighter than most of her classmates and would get through her work quickly, then was left with nothing to do but doodle and daydream. All the teachers interviewed by Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer twenty years later remembered her for her beauty and, above all, her mischief.”[xiii] Even then, Jackie was creating a name for herself. She would not be forgotten easily.

Nothing in Jackie’s life was smooth. Jacqueline’s father had a reputation for cheating on his wife and partaking in too much liquor too fast. By the time young Jackie was born, John Bouvier was involved in several affairs already. Jackie’s mother attempted to give the marriage another chance, encouraging her husband to focus on his job as a stockbroker, which had thus far produced no positive results.[xiv] She grew embittered with her husband and quickly realized she wanted out of the marriage. She still had her children to consider, though. It bothered Janet Bouvier to no end that her children obviously preferred their father’s company over hers. She had a tendency to overreact to situations and occasionally hit her girls, which only made them prefer their father even more.

In a 2013 interview, Lee, Jackie’s sister, said that her mother was too concerned with her “almost irrational social climbing,” but when referring to her father she said, “He was a wonderful man … He had such funny idiosyncrasies, like always wearing his black patent evening shoes with his swimming trunks. One thing which infuriates me is how he’s always labeled the drunk black prince. He was never drunk with me, though I’m sure he sometimes drank, due to my mother’s constant nagging. You would, and I would.”[xv]

During Jacqueline’s time at the Chapin School, her parents were experiencing another bout of marital issues. On top of her father’s extramarital affairs, he was also an alcoholic. To boot, the family drowned in financial instability after Wall Street crashed in 1929. Although her father built some of the most distinguished apartments on Park Avenue in New York, his loss of money was excessive. He made too many bad investments and did not spend well, in general. Jacqueline later said that she was afraid that her father would not be able to pay her tuition to school.

In 1936, Jacqueline’s parents separated and were granted a divorce four years later. Janet Bouvier hoped that the time apart—the separation—would show her husband that he needed to learn family responsibility. During their separation, the press published all the gory and intimate details of their personal lives. Detailed photographs showed evidence of John Bouvier’s dalliances, which embarrassed his wife no end.[xvi] Lee said, “There was such relentless bitterness on both sides. Jackie was really fortunate to have or acquire the ability to tune out, which she always kept … It was like for the years from ten to twenty never hearing anything [from your parents] except how awful the other one was.”[xvii]

Apparently, Jackie learned at a very young age how to conceal her true feelings. Her cousin John H. Davis said that she had a “tendency to withdraw frequently into a private world of her own.”[xviii] Although she was able to restrain her opinions as a younger woman and child, the truth of it all came out later: she was deeply affected by the divorce and the media attention that came along with it. For the rest of her life, Jackie would hate the press and would try at all costs to control the narrative they were printing. Often, she would seek journalists who would print what she wanted, such as Theodore White, the man who printed her story of Camelot she invented the week after her husband’s assassination.

Jacqueline’s mother remarried later to Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr., the heir of Standard Oil.[xix] The Bouvier sisters had three new stepsiblings from the wedding, offspring of Auchincloss’ previous two marriages. Additionally, Jacqueline’s mother and Auchincloss had two more children together.

After the marriage, the Bouvier sisters moved their primary residence to Auchincloss’ Merrywood estate in McLean, Virginia. They also spent a good deal of time at their new stepfather’s other estate, Hammersmith Farm, in Newport, Rhode Island, and in their father’s homes in Long Island and New York City. Jackie began to see her stepfather as a source of stability he was able to provide monetary funding and a pampered childhood, which her father could never do on quite as grand a scale. Although Jacqueline felt at home with her new family, she was a bit of an outcast within their new social circle. Many of her new family’s friends were white Anglo-Saxon protestants (WASPS), and her position as a Catholic left her as an outsider with her religion and her status as a child of divorce, which was an uncommon trait in the elite social group.[xx]

Jacqueline grew very fond of her stepfather, regardless of the issues of social anxiety and distance. At the age of twenty-three, she wrote a series of poems that highlighted things in her life made possible by her mother’s marriage to Auchincloss. In an introduction, she wrote: “It seems so hard to believe that you’ve been married ten years. I think they must have been the very best decade of your lives. At the start, in 1942, we all had other lives and we were seven people thrown together, so many little separate units that could have stayed that way. Now we are nine—and what you’ve given us and what we’ve shared has bound us all to each other for the rest of our lives.”[xxi] Jacqueline truly appreciated the stability granted to her by her mother’s divorce.

When Jackie finished six years at the Chapin School, she moved on to the Holton-Arms School in Northwest Washington, D.C., which she attended from 1942 to 1944. Here, she grew fond of Miss Helen Shearman, the Latin teacher. She claimed that the instructor was demanding, “But she was right. We were all lazy teenagers. Everything she taught me stuck, and though I hated to admit it, I adored Latin.”[xxii]

Jacqueline transferred to Miss Porter’s School, a boarding school for girls in Farmington, Connecticut, attending from 1944 to 1947. Along with a rigorous academic schedule, the school emphasized proper manners and the art of conversation. At Miss Porter’s Jacqueline felt she could distance herself from her mother’s new family, allowing her to pursue independence and college preparatory classes.[xxiii] Here, she began learning to function on her own, something she would have to do at various points in her life whether she wanted to do so or not.

Jackie did well at Miss Porter’s School. Upon graduation, Jacqueline was listed as one of the top students of her class she received the Maria McKinney Memorial Award for Excellence in Literature.[xxiv] Her senior class yearbook claimed that she was known for “her wit, her accomplishment as a horsewoman, and her unwillingness to become a housewife.” She even wrote in the class yearbook under the Ambition in Life section: “Not to be a housewife,” but Jacqueline grew worried about her future prospects eventually.[xxv] She later wrote to a friend: “I just know no one will ever marry me and I’ll end up as a house mother at Farmington.”[xxvi]

Right now, you can get our Kindle book on Jackie Kennedy for free. Just click here to download the book, or click on the cover below.

[i] Adler, Bill. The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Portrait in Her Own Words. 2009.

[ii] Leaming, Barbara. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story. 2014.

[iii] “Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.” https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Life-of-Jacqueline-B-Kennedy.aspx. Accessed 9 August 2017.

[iv] Tracy, Kathleen. The Everything Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Book: A Portrait of an American Icon. 2008.

[v] Tracy, Kathleen. The Everything Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Book: A Portrait of an American Icon. 2008.

[vi] “Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.” https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Life-of-Jacqueline-B-Kennedy.aspx. Accessed 9 August 2017.

[vii] Adler, Bill. The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Portrait in Her Own Words. 2009.

[viii] Adler, Bill. The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Portrait in Her Own Words. 2009.

[ix] Pottker, Jan. Janet and Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. 2002.

[x] “Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy.” John F. Kennedy: Presidential Library and Museum. https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Life-of-Jacqueline-B-Kennedy.aspx. Accessed 24 July 2017.

[xi] “Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy.” John F. Kennedy: Presidential Library and Museum. https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Life-of-Jacqueline-B-Kennedy.aspx. Accessed 24 July 2017.

[xii] Harris, Bill. First Ladies Fact Book—Revised and Updated: The Childhoods, Courtships, Marriages, Campaigns, Accomplishments, and Legacies of Every First Lady from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama. 2012.

[xiii] Hunt, Amber, and David Batcher. Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America’s Most Public Family. 2014.

[xiv] Badrun Alam, Mohammed. Jackie Kennedy: Trailblazer. 2006.

[xv] Hunt, Amber, and David Batcher. Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America’s Most Public Family. 2014.

[xvi] Hunt, Amber, and David Batcher. Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America’s Most Public Family. 2014.

[xvii] Hunt, Amber, and David Batcher. Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America’s Most Public Family. 2014.

[xviii] McFadden, Robert D. “Death of a First Lady: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Dies of Cancer at 64.” New York Times. 20 May 1994. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0728.html. Accessed 24 July 2017.

[xix] Tracy, Kathleen. The Everything Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Book: A Portrait of an American Icon. 2008.

[xx] Pottker, Jan. Janet and Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. 2002.

[xxi] Adler, Bill. The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Portrait in Her Own Words. 2009.

[xxii] Adler, Bill. The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Portrait in Her Own Words. 2009.

[xxiii] Spoto, Donald. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. 2000.

[xxiv] Spoto, Donald. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. 2000.

[xxv] Adler, Bill. The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Portrait in Her Own Words. 2009.

[xxvi] Adler, Bill. The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Portrait in Her Own Words. 2009.


John F. Kennedy marries Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island

Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, the future 35th president of the United States, marries Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island on September 12, 1953. Seven years later, the couple would become the youngest president and first lady in American history.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was born into a prominent New York family in 1929 and grew into an avid horsewoman and reader. In 1951, after graduating from George Washington University, Jackie, as she was called, took a tour of Europe. That fall, she returned to the U.S. to begin her first job as the Washington Times-Herald’s “Inquiring Camera Girl.” Shortly afterward, she met a young, handsome senator from Massachusetts named John Kennedy at a dinner party in Georgetown. They dated over the next two years, during which time Jackie mused at the idea that she might actually marry a man who was allergic to horses, something she never thought she would have considered. In 1953, the two were engaged, when Kennedy gave Jackie a 2.88-carat diamond-and-emerald ring from Van Cleef and Arpels.

“Jack,” as Kennedy was called, and Jackie married on September 12, 1953, at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. Jackie wore an ivory silk gown made by Ann Lowe, an African-American designer. The Catholic mass was attended by 750 guests and an additional 450 people joined the wedding reception at Hammersmith Farm. The couple danced to the Meyer Davis Orchestra’s version of “I Married an Angel.” Davis also performed at Jackie’s parents’ wedding and at Kennedy’s inaugural ball.


Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy

First Lady Jacqueline Lee “Jackie” (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis was a symbol of strength for a traumatized nation after the assassination of one the country’s most energetic political figures, President John F. Kennedy, who served from 1961 to 1963.

The inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961 brought to the White House and to the heart of the nation a beautiful young wife and the first young children of a President in half a century.

She was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, daughter of John Vernon Bouvier III and his wife, Janet Lee. Her early years were divided between New York City and East Hampton, Long Island, where she learned to ride almost as soon as she could walk. She was educated at the best of private schools she wrote poems and stories, drew illustrations for them, and studied ballet. Her mother, who had obtained a divorce, married Hugh D. Auchincloss in 1942 and brought her two girls to “Merrywood,” his home near Washington, D.C., with summers spent at his estate in Newport, Rhode Island. Jacqueline was dubbed “the Debutante of the Year” for the 1947-1948 season, but her social success did not keep her from continuing her education. As a Vassar student she traveled extensively, and she spent her junior year in France before graduating from George Washington University. These experiences left her with a great empathy for people of foreign countries, especially the French.

In Washington she took a job as “inquiring photographer” for a local newspaper. Her path soon crossed that of Senator Kennedy, who had the reputation of being the most eligible bachelor in the capital. Their romance progressed slowly and privately, but their wedding at Newport in 1953 attracted nationwide publicity.

With marriage “Jackie” had to adapt herself to the new role of wife to one of the country’s most energetic political figures. Her own public appearances were highly successful, but limited in number. After the sadness of a miscarriage and the stillbirth of a daughter, Caroline Bouvier was born in 1957 John Jr. was born between the election of 1960 and Inauguration Day. Patrick Bouvier, born prematurely on August 7, 1963, died two days later.

To the role of First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy brought beauty, intelligence, and cultivated taste. Her interest in the arts, publicized by press and television, inspired an attention to culture never before evident at a national level. She devoted much time and study to making the White House a museum of American history and decorative arts as well as a family residence of elegance and charm. But she defined her major role as “to take care of the President” and added that “if you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”

Mrs. Kennedy’s gallant courage during the tragedy of her husband’s assassination won her the admiration of the world. Thereafter it seemed the public would never allow her the privacy she desired for herself and her children. She moved to New York City and in 1968 she married the wealthy Greek businessman, Aristotle Onassis, 23 years her senior, who died in March 1975. From 1978 until her death in 1994, Mrs. Onassis worked in New York City as an editor for Doubleday. At her funeral her son described three of her attributes: “love of words, the bonds of home and family, and her spirit of adventure.”

The biographies of the First Ladies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The First Ladies of the United States of America,” by Allida Black. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.

Learn more about Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy’s spouse, John F. Kennedy.


U.S. First Lady

It was at a dinner party in 1952 that Onassis met a dashing young congressman and senator-elect from Massachusetts named John F. Kennedy he "leaned across the asparagus and asked her for a date." They were married a year later, on September 12, 1953. Onassis gave birth to her first child, Caroline Kennedy, in 1957. That same year, she encouraged Kennedy to write and, subsequently, helped him edit Profiles in Courage, his famous book about U.S. senators who had risked their careers to stand for causes they believed in.

In January 1960, John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency. Although Onassis was pregnant at the time and thus unable to join him on the campaign trail, she campaigned tirelessly from home. She answered letters, gave interviews, taped commercials and wrote a weekly syndicated newspaper column called "Campaign Wife."

On November 8, 1960, Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon by a razor-thin margin to become the 35th president of the United States less three weeks later, Onassis gave birth to their second child, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. The couple had a third child, Patrick਋ouvier Kennedy born prematurely on August 7, 1963, but lost the਌hild two days later. 

Onassis&aposs first mission as first lady was to transform the White House into a museum of American history and culture that would inspire patriotism and public service in those who visited. "Every boy who comes here should see things that develop his sense of history," she once said. Onassis went to extraordinary lengths to procure art and furniture owned by past presidents—including artifacts owned by George Washington, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln𠅊s well as pieces she considered representative of various periods of American culture. "Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there," she insisted. "It would be sacrilege merely to &aposredecorate&apos it𠅊 word I hate. It must be restored𠅊nd that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship."

As the culmination of her project, Onassis gave a tour of the restored White House on national television on February 14, 1962. A record 56 million viewers watched her televised special, and Onassis won an honorary Emmy Award for her performance.

As first lady, Onassis was also a great patron of the arts. In addition to the officials, diplomats and statesman who typically populated state dinners, Onassis also invited the nation&aposs leading writers, artists, musicians and scientists to mingle with its top politicians. The great violinist Isaac Stern wrote to Onassis after one such dinner, "It would be difficult to tell you how refreshing, how heartening it is to find such serious attention and respect for the arts in the White House. To many of us it is one of the most exciting developments on the present American cultural scene."

Additionally, Onassis frequently traveled abroad, both with the president and alone, and her deep knowledge of foreign cultures and languages (she spoke fluent French, Spanish and Italian) helped garner goodwill toward America. She was so adoringly received in France that President Kennedy introduced himself as "the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris." Presidential advisor Clark Clifford wrote to Onassis, "Once in a great while, an individual will capture the imagination of people all over the world. You have done this and what is more important, through your graciousness and tact, you have transformed this rare accomplishment into an incredibly important asset to this nation."


Watch the video: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 1996 Biography (May 2022).