The Life of Edward M. Kennedy

Edward M. Kennedy was the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts. He was the second longest-serving member of the Senate.

Edward Moore Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on February 22nd, 1932. He was the fourth son and last of nine children of Joseph P. (1888–1969) and Rose Fitzgerald (1890–1995) Kennedy.

His father was a multimillionaire businessman. Because his family moved frequently, Kennedy attended several different private schools before enrolling in Milton Academy, near Boston, Massachusetts, in 1946.

Upon graduation from Milton in 1950 he enrolled at Harvard University. At the end of his freshman year, however, he was expelled for having another student take a Spanish exam in his place. Kennedy then enlisted for a two-year term in the Army. His father's influence won him an assignment as a guard to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE) in Paris.

After completing his time in the Army, Kennedy returned to Harvard and graduated in 1956. He then enrolled in the University of Virginia Law School, where his natural talent for debate was sharpened. He received his law degree in 1959 and was admitted to practice in Massachusetts in the same year

While still a law student, Kennedy managed the successful Senate reelection campaign in Massachusetts of his brother John Kennedy. In 1960 he served as Western states coordinator for John's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. After his brother's victory in the 1960 election, Edward took a position as assistant to the district attorney of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. As preparation for running in 1962 for the remainder of John's unfinished Senate term, Edward traveled widely and made many speeches.

He was first elected in 1962 to complete the final two years of the Senate term of his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy, who was elected President in 1960. Senator Kennedy was re-elected to eight full terms during his time in the Senate.

Throughout his career, Senator Kennedy was an advocate for health care, education, civil rights, immigration reform, raising minimum wage, defending the rights of workers and their families, assisting individuals with disabilities, protecting the environment, and safeguarding and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.

Senator Kennedy was the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and also served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, as the Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee.

In addition, he was a member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and the Congressional Friends of Ireland, as well as a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Senator Kennedy graduated from Harvard University and the University of Virginia Law School.

He resided in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, with his second wife Victoria Ann Reggie Kennedy. Kennedy has five children; Patrick, Kara and Edward Jr. from his first marriage to Joan Bennett; and Curran and Caroline Raclin from his second.

He passed away on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009, after his long battle with cancer. He was 77-years-old.

Family Statement on the Passing of Senator Kennedy

“Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

To read more about his career in the Senate and his many accomplishments, click here.

- Senator Edward M. Kennedy's Official Website
- Notable Biographies: Edward M. Kennedy Biography

Learn More:

  • Career Accomplishments
    Read more about his career in the Senate and his many accomplishments.

  • LIFE - Ted Kennedy: His Life and Times
    View rare photos of Kennedy captured throughout the years.

  • Milestones: Edward M. Kennedy
    Interactive timeline of Kennedy’s life and career.

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