Ted Kennedy has served as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts since 1962. The brother of President JOHN F. KENNEDY and Senator ROBERT F. KENNEDY, who were both assassinated, he has championed many liberal social programs, including NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, and has been a major figure in the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. His presidential aspirations were damaged because of personal scandal.
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy, the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, was born February 22, 1932, in Brookline, Massachusetts. He started at Harvard University in 1950, then left in 1951 to serve in the U.S. Army. He returned to college in 1953 and graduated in 1956. He next attended the University of Virginia Law School, where he graduated in 1959. He married Virginia Joan Bennett in 1958. The couple had three children, Kara A., Edward M., Jr., and Patrick J. They were divorced in 1983.
In 1960, Kennedy became an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He soon turned his eye toward politics. After his brother John was elected president in 1960 and had to resign from the U.S. Senate, Kennedy filed in the 1962 election to fill out John's term. His announcement led opponents to criticize him for trading on the Kennedy name. He was only 30 years old, the minimum age for a U.S. senator set by the U.S. Constitution, and had little experience in politics or the workplace. Nevertheless, Kennedy easily won the election. He won a full six-year term in 1964 and has been reelected five times since then.
Despite his youth, Kennedy soon emerged as a forceful advocate of social-welfare legislation and a respected member of the Senate. He was elected Senate majority whip in 1969, which was highly unusual for a person with little seniority. Kennedy appeared ready to make a presidential bid in 1972. But any hopes in that direction were dashed in the summer of 1969, when his personal conduct became a national scandal.
"AMERICA WAS AN IDEA SHAPED IN THE TURBULENCE OF REVOLUTION, THEN GIVEN FORMAL STRUCTURE IN A CONSTITUTION."
On July 18, 1969, Kennedy attended a party with friends and staff members on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. That evening, Kennedy drove his car off a narrow bridge on the island. Mary Jo Kopechne, a passenger in the car and former member of his brother Robert's staff, drowned. Kennedy's actions following the accident were disturbing...