The excitement of this political week has us returning to the archives to remember the live and legacy of the Kennedy family’s maternal grandfather – famed John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald. Just two days ago his great-grandson Ted Kennedy, Jr. launched his political career at the state level getting elected to the State Senate in Connecticut while great-great grandson Joe Kennedy, III was re-elected to his 4th CD seat in the US House of Representatives. Here’s the “Honey Fitz” story as we note his election to the US Congress on November 6, 1894….
From the archive ~
Born in the North End in the shadow of the historic Old North Church, John Francis Fitzgerald – known as “Honey-Fitz” – was the founder of what became the historic Kennedy dynasty. He was bright, hardworking, determined and Irish-Catholic. He was the first of “his kind” to attend the prestigious Boston Latin School. His dream of becoming a doctor ended after a year at Harvard Medical School when his father died. His life took a different turn that led him into politics! An avid reader with a fine memory, he could dazzle audiences with his informed opinions, eloquent oratory and a touch of what one reporter called “his consummate Irish charm.” One newspaper printed a poem that began, “Honey Fitz can talk you blind on any subject you can find.” From the Boston City Council, to the Massachusetts State Senate, three terms in the U. S. Congress then to Mayor of Boston – he was the consummate politician – head of a strong political machine where he met the needs of his constituents and supporters – but there were hints of city hall cronyism – even corruption. In 1912 he ran into the wiles and ambitions of another Irish pol – James Michael Curley. His life as an elected official was over. In his later years, ”Honey Fitz” turn his attention to honing the political skills of his daughter Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy’s sons – three of whom became United States Senators and one who achieved the Presidency – John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The rest is history as we learn from MassMoments:
…in 1895, a colorful Irishman from Boston’s North End, nicknamed “Honey Fitz” for his charming and loquacious ways, was elected to the U.S. Congress. Ten years later, John Francis Fitzgerald returned to Boston and ran for mayor. His victory rattled the Yankee establishment. He worked on behalf of the poor, immigrants, and workers, but his administration was rife with graft, cronyism, and corruption. After withdrawing from the 1914 mayoral campaign, Fitzgerald turned his attention to business and family. His daughter Rose had married Joseph Kennedy, and “Honey Fitz” devoted himself to grooming their sons for political careers. Three of them would serve in the U.S. Senate. His namesake, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, would be the 35th President of the United States.