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  • Kennedy
  • Kennedy F. Robert
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Robert F. Kennedy (20)

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  Summary  

Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968), also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and acted as one of his advisors during his presidency. From 1961 to 1964, he was the U.S. Attorney General.

Following his brother John's assassination on November 22, 1963, Kennedy continued to serve as Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson for nine months. In September 1964, Kennedy resigned to seek the U.S. Senate seat from New York, which he won in November. Within a few years, he publicly split with Johnson over the Vietnam War.

In March 1968, Kennedy began a campaign for the presidency and was a front-running candidate of the Democratic Party. In the California presidential primary on June 4, Kennedy defeated Eugene McCarthy, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota. Following a brief victory speech delivered just past midnight on June 5 at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. Mortally wounded, he survived for nearly 26 hours, dying early in the morning of June 6.

  Biography  

 personal life
 Family

In 1950, he married Ethel Skakel. Together, they had eleven children:

  1. Kathleen Hartington
  2. Joseph Patrick II
  3. Robert Francis, Jr.
  4. David Anthony (1955–1984)
  5. Mary Courtney
  6. Michael LeMoyne (1958–1997)
  7. Mary Kerry
  8. Christopher George
  9. Matthew Maxwell Taylor
  10. Douglas Harriman
  11. Rory Elizabeth Katherine

The last child, Rory, was born six months after her father's assassination.

Kennedy owned a home at the well-known Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod in Hyannis Port, but spent most of his time at his estate in McLean, Virginia, known as Hickory Hill, located west of Washington, D.C. His widow Ethel and their children continued to live at Hickory Hill after his death. She now lives full time at the Hyannis Port home.

 Attitudes and approach
Despite the fact that his father's most ambitious dreams centered around his older brothers, Robert maintained the code of personal loyalty that seemed to infuse the life of the Kennedy family as a whole. His competitiveness was admired by his father and elder brothers, while his loyalty bound them more affectionately close. A rather timid child, Robert was often the target of his father's dominating temperament.

Working on the campaigns of John Kennedy, Robert was more involved, passionate and tenacious than the candidate himself, obsessed with every detail, fighting out every battle and taking workers to task. Robert had, all his life, been closer to older brother John than the other members of the Kennedy family.

RFK's opponents on Capitol Hill maintained that his collegiate magnanimity was sometimes hindered by a tenacious and somewhat impatient manner. His professional life was dominated by the selfsame attitudes that governed his family life—a certainty that good humor and leisure must be balanced by service and accomplishment. Schlesinger comments that Kennedy could be both the most ruthlessly diligent and yet generously adaptable of politicians—at once both temperamental and yet forgiving. In this, Kennedy was very much his father's son; lacking truly lasting emotional independence and yet possessing a great desire to contribute. He lacked the innate self-confidence of his contemporaries and yet found a greater self-assurance in the experience of married life, an experience that he stated had given him a base of self-belief from which to continue his efforts in the public arena.

Upon hearing yet again the assertion that he was "ruthless", Kennedy once joked to a reporter, "If I find out who has called me ruthless I will destroy him." And yet he also openly confessed to possessing a bad temper that required self-control: "My biggest problem as counsel, is to keep my temper. I think we all feel that when a witness comes before the United States Senate he has an obligation to speak frankly and tell the truth. To see people sit in front of us and lie and evade makes me boil inside. But you can't lose your temper—if you do, the witness has gotten the best of you."

 Religious faith
Central to Kennedy's politics and personal attitude to life and its purpose was his Catholicism, which he inherited from his family. Throughout his life, Kennedy made reference to his faith, how it informed every area of his life, and how it gave him the strength to re-enter politics following the assassination of his elder brother. His was not an unresponsive and staid faith, but the faith of a Catholic Radical—perhaps the first successful Catholic Radical in American political history.

Robert Kennedy was easily the most religious of his brothers. Whereas John maintained an aloof sense of his faith, Robert approached his duties with a Catholic worldview. In the last years of his life, he found great solace in the metaphysical poets of ancient Greece, especially the writings of Aeschylus. In his Indianapolis speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Kennedy quoted these lines from Aeschylus:

"He who learns must suffer. Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, and against our will, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God."

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Robert F. Kennedy", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.