Kennedy, Ted

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Kennedy, Ted

Ted Kennedy (Edward Moore Kennedy), 1932–2009, U.S. senator from Massachusetts (1962–2009), b. Boston, Mass., youngest son of Joseph P. Kennedy and the last survivor of brothers Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. A graduate of Harvard (1956) and the Univ. of Virginia Law School (1959), he served (1961–62) as an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts before being elected (1962) as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. After the assassination of his brother Robert in 1968, he became the acknowledged leader of Senate liberals and served (1969–71) as assistant majority leader. His political future was clouded by the Chappaquiddick incident (July, 1969), in which Mary Jo Kopechne, a passenger in a car he was driving on an island near Martha's Vineyard, Mass., drowned when the car ran off a bridge. Kennedy's reputation recovered, however, and he became one of the legislature's most effective members. He spearheaded the passage of civil rights legislation and a host of other bills and advocated such programs as national health insurance and tax reform. He was long considered a potential Democratic president, but withdrew in 1974 from the 1976 race and failed in a 1980 primary challenge to President Jimmy Carter. He chaired the Senate judiciary (1979–81), labor and human resources (1987–95), and health, education, labor, and pensions (2001–3, 2007–9) committees. Kennedy was the author of Decisions for a Decade (1968), In Critical Condition (1972), and the posthumously published memoir True Compass (2009).

See biographies by W. H. Honan (1972) and A. Clymer (1999); studies by J. M. Burns (1976) and R. Sherrill (1976); B. Hersh, The Education of Edward Kennedy (1972) and The Shadow President (1997).

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