BasicsSen. Edward M. Kennedy, popularly known as Ted Kennedy, is the senior United States Senator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A life-long Democratic, Sen. Kennedy is the second-longest serving United States Senator currently in office and is chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). He has been named the most effective and influential United States Senator by a variety of partisan and non-partisan organizations, including Time magazine. Sen. Kennedy is the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and is considered the patriarch of the legendary Kennedy family of Massachusetts.
Early LifeKennedy was born on February 22, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts as the youngest of nine children in a well-connected political family. Although he attended some of the finest preparatory schools in New England, Kennedy never did particularly well in school, instead excelling primarily in athletics and debate. He gained admission to Harvard College but was dismissed at the end of his first year for cheating on an exam due to severe anxiety. He used his time away from the college to enlist in the United States Army, serving as a military police officer at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Paris. Once he returned to Harvard, he committed himself to his studies, greatly improved his grades, and graduated with a degree in government. He then enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1956, followed by the Hague Academy of International Law in 1958. Although he remained an average student, he continued to excel at debate and public speaking, winning the prestigious William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition in 1959.
Political LifeKennedy got his start in politics by managing his brother John's Senate re-election campaign in 1958. When John was elected United States President in 1960, Kennedy expressed his interest in the seat but was not eligible yet due to his age. Once he met the age requirement, he was able to run in a special election in 1962; he has held the seat continuously since. In the Senate, he has held the titles of Senate Majority Whip, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resource, and his current position as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He also ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1980, but withdrew from the race after winning 10 of 34 primaries.
Oratory LifeKennedy has long been considered one of the finest orators in American history, particularly his speeches from the 1980s forward. Here are some of the finest examples from his long career:
Iconic StatusKennedy is arguably the most iconic United States Senator of the 20th century, largely due to his effectiveness in passing legislation, his activism for the lower and middle classes, his high regard within the Democratic Party, and his family legacy. He is often known by his nickname "The Lion of the Senate," and is also becoming known as "The Last Lion," since he represents what is considered a dying breed of highly influential senators.
Family LifeFollowing the assassinations of his brothers, Kennedy took on the role of de facto father for his nieces and nephews. He has been married twice, currently to Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and has three children, including United States Representative Patrick Joseph Kennedy II of Rhode Island.