Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy (1929-94)


Figure 1.--Here are Jackie and gher younger sister Lee with the maternal Ryan cousins about 1935. The children to the left are are Joan, Mimi, and John Ryan. Jackie and Lee are at the right. Notice the white cloves and Johb's Eton collar.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born in 1929 and grew up in affluent family circumstances. Her father was John Vernon Bouvier III. Her mother was Janet Lee. The family lived in New York City and East Hampton, Long Island. She learned to ride at an earky age and had a passion for horses as a girl. Jackie was sent to exclusive private schools. In addition to her horses she akso studied balet. At school she liked to write poems and stories as well as draw illustrations for them. Her mother divorced her father and married Hugh D. Auchincloss (1942). Their mother brought Jackie and her sister to "Merrywood," his rural home near Washington, D.C. They spent summers at Auchincloss' Newport, Rhode Island estate for the summer social season. It was there that she received "the Debutante of the Year" accoldae during the 1947-1948 season. She went to Vassar. She spent her junior year in France pefecting her French and learning a great deal about French culture. She graduatied from George Washington University. As a result, Mrs. Kenndy entered the White House as one of the most urbanne cultured women in history. After receiving her degree she got a job as the "inquiring photographer" for the Washington Star. It was at this time that she met then Senator Kennedy, one of Washington's most eligible bachelors.

Parents

Jackie's father was John "Black Jack" Vernon Bouvier III. Her mother was Janet Lee, the daughter of a well-to-do Manhattan builder. Like her future son-in-law's family, in was the Irish Potato Famine that brought Janet Lee's family to America. The two married when Janet was only 21 years old. Unlike the Kennedy's Janet was not nostolgic about Ireland, in fact embarssed her. Jackie was enchanted with her dashing husband. It was her mother, however, that was responsible for strength-of-character as well as her artistic sence. [Pottker] While Jack was a heavy drinker and proved to be a dreadful husband, he was a doting father. The marriage was a dissaster. It finally resulted in a sandalous divorce.

Family

Jackie had a younger sister--Lee. She was also close to her maternal cousins, the Ryans seen here (figure 1).

Childhood

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born in 1929 and grew up in affluent family circumstances. The family lived in New York City and East Hampton, Long Island. She learned to ride at an earky age and had a passion for horses as a girl. She was an aggressive rider even at a young age. Jackie was a successful competitive rider. In addition to her horses she akso studied balet. At school she liked to write poems and stories as well as draw illustrations for them. Her parents problems affected Jackie. She had a terrible temper as a girl and would throw fitful tantrums if she did not get her way. [Pottker, p. 73.]

Bouvier Counsins

There were 10 Bouvier couusins which played during family get togethers, usually for Sunday lunches. Jackie's father aklways took her and Lee's side in discussions and squables. As a result, the others would give the girls a hard time when he wasn't close. Favorite torments would be to stick burrs in their hair or throw fire crackers at them. [Pottker, p. 75.] The Boiuveir grandparents stressed artistic appreciation. The children were encouraged to write poems abd draw. Their mother reqired the girls to learn a poem to recite for every important holiday. [Pottker, p. 75.]

Divorce

One of Jackie's strongest childhood memories was the constant fighting between her parents--especially the yelling. She would hide in the dark hallway and listen. She was overwealmed by the yelling. [Davis] Her mother divorced her father in scandal.

Hugh D. Auchincloss (1897-1976)

a Jackie's mother had little money of her own. After divorcing John Bouvier, Jackie's mother married married wealthy Hugh D. Auchincloss (1942). His Scottish ancestors had made a fortune in dry goods trade. Like many rich Americans, Hugh attentded private schools, in his case Groton--perhaps the most influential American private schools. Hugh was Unlike her first marriage, this one was a success. The marriage lasted 34 years. Auchincloss died in 1976. Hugh offered Janet and her daughters financial security.

New Family

Their mother brought Jackie and her sister to "Merrywood," his rural home near Washington, D.C. Auchincloss was a widower with children. The older son was Hugh D. III (Yusha) who was a teenager at the time and welcomed his new step-mother a step sisters to the family. Janet anfd Hugh had a son, James Lee (Jamie) and a daughter, Janet Lee who died of cancer when she was only 39 years old.

Hugh Auchincloss provided Janet and her girls both stability and the affluence to provide the a pampered childhood in upper-class America. The family spent summers at Auchincloss' Newport, Rhode Island estate for the summer social season. It was there that she received "the Debutante of the Year" accoldae during the 1947-1948 season.

Education

Jackie was sent to exclusive private schools. After Kindergarten she went to the excusive Miss Chapin's School. She was the brightest girl in the class and the naughtiest. [Pottker, p. 74.] She went to Vassar. She spent her junior year in France pefecting her French and learning a great deal about French culture. She graduatied from George Washington University. As a result, Mrs. Kenndy entered the White House as one of the most urbanne cultured women in history.

The Inquiring Photographer

After receiving her degree she got a job as the "inquiring photographer" for the Washington Star. Her kob was to get photographs of socially prominent Washinftonians. It was while working as a photographer that she met then Senator Kennedy, one of Washington's most eligible bachelors.

John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Mass., May 29, 1917, the great-grandson of Irish immigrants. He became one of the most charismatic leaders of the United States when he was elected president in 1961. He was, at the age of 43, the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic ever elected to the presidency. Rich, handsome, elegant, and articulate, he aroused great admiration at home and abroad. His assassination in Dallas, Texas in November 1963 provoked outrage and widespread mourning. His term of office as president was short but launched American on a path of securing basic civil rights for all its citizens and a technology race with the Russians to the moon which was an important element in forging America's echnological dominance in the last quarter of the 20th Century.

Marriage (1953)

Senator Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier were married at Newport in 1953. Mrs. Kennedy was used to high society, but had no experience with politics. She soon had to adapt to life as the wife of a prominent political figure as well as a new member of the boisterous Kennedy clan. She proved to be a sensation at her public appearances, but she tried to limit them as much as possible.

The Children

Their first child was a stillborn daughter. Caroline Bouvier arrived in 1957. John Jr. was born a few years later after Senator Kennedy's election in 1960. Patrick Bouvier was born in 1963 a few months before President Kennedy's assasination. He lived only 2 days. Jackie as First Lady jeaously guarded the cildren's privacy. Jack as President loved to show them off.

First Lady (1961-63)

Mrs Kennedy was one of the most notable First Ladies in presidebntial history. Washington was used to a series of middle age matrons. Mrs. Roosevelt had stirred up Washington, but not Washingtoin society or cultural life in which she took little interest. Mrs Kennedy took an active interest in the city's cuktural life and invited renowned musicians to the White House. The President was often unfamiliar and had to be cued when to stand up and congratulate the pergormer. (At first he would begin aplauding too early.) Mrs. Kennedy's interest in the arts was extensiveky covered by the press. This helped inspire a greater attention to the arts on a national level. Mrs. Kennedy also took a great interest in the White House. She devoted considerable energy to restoring the White House and acquiring period pieces with which to furnish it. She did not actively entered political life, but defined her role as "to take care of the President". The children were of course another principle concen. She also said, "if you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much."

President Kennedy's Assasination (November 1963)

Mrs Kenned was with the Presisent when he was shot in Dallas. Her courage at the time and in the aftermath wascnoted by the entire country.

Move to New York

After the assaination, Mrs. Kennedy wanted more privacy for herself and hervtwo children.. She moved to New York City where she found a measure of privacy,

Aristotle Onassis

Mrs. Kennedy married the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis in 1968. He was 23 years her senior and the marriage was much criticused. The marriage did bring her the ability to assure her and the children's privacy as well as a financial independence. Onassis died in 1975.

Later Years

Mrs Kennedy spent her later years in New York City. She worked as an editor for Doubleday.

Sources

Davis John O. Jacqueline Boubie: An Intimate Memoir. Davis was a cousin.

Pottker, Jan. Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and her Daughter Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (St. Martin's Press: New York, 2001), 381p.








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Created: June 25, 1999
Last changed: March 23, 2004