The Curious Relationship of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Curious Relationship of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Curious Relationship of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt

Larry Holzwarth - November 24, 2019

The Curious Relationship of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Joe Kennedy and his family in Hyannisport in 1931, before the start of his political career. JFK Presidential Library

25. Joseph Kennedy Sr. remains a controversial and enigmatic figure today

Joseph Kennedy, like all members of the extended family of which he was the patriarch, is a highly controversial and polarizing figure today. He is often condemned as a criminal, a womanizer, an irresponsible father who had his daughter lobotomized and then institutionalized, and many other things. Some are true, some are exaggerated, and some are the smears of those who simply hate the name Kennedy. A search for truth that penetrates the veil of hatred and the myths it created reveals a far more complex portrait of the man. He was certainly no saint, but neither was he Satan in Irish disguise.

His personal papers remain in the care of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, where few have had unfettered access to them (biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin is one) and where they are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. The American Library of Congress contains much of his correspondence from his various government posts, as does the FDR Presidential Library, the State Department Archives, and the National Archives. The true story of the man is available for those willing to dispel preconceived notions and myths. It is far more interesting than the idea of Kennedy simply having been the man known as Bootlegger Joe.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga”. Doris Kearns Goodwin. 1987

“The Wedding That Changed American History”. James W. Graham, TIME Magazine. October 7, 2014

“The Biggest Kennedy Myth”. Daniel Okrent, Newsweek/Daily Beast. April 7, 2013

“Joseph Kennedy Presents His Hollywood Years”. Carl Beauchamp. 2009

“The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy”. 2012

“Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Third American Revolution”. Mario R. DiNunzio. 2011

“Affectionately, FDR”. James Roosevelt. 1959

“From Wall Street to Sing Sing”. Elliot Rosenberg, The Wall Street Journal. August 9, 2016

“The Press: The Colonel’s Century”. TIME Magazine. June 9, 1947. Online

“The Shipbuilding Program of the US Maritime Commission”. Article, MARAD. Online

“How Britain Hoped To Avoid War With Germany In The 1930s”. James Taylor, Imperial War Museum. Online

“Neville Chamberlain and Appeasement”. Article, The Guardian. September 5, 2009

“Joseph Kennedy and the Jews”. Edward Renehan, History News Network. Online

“November, 1938: FDR Day by Day”. FDR Presidential Library. Online

“Joseph P. Kennedy: Controversial Ambassador to Great Britain”. Peter Kross, Warfare History Network. Online

“The Secret of the Churchill-Roosevelt Correspondence: September 1939 – May 1940”. James Leutze, Journal of Contemporary History. July, 1975. Online

“Kennedy, Joseph P. Sr.: Letters from JFK”. Archives, JFK Presidential Library. Online

“The Kennedys: Is Democracy Finished?. Article, PBS.Org.

“Truman”. David McCullough. 1992