Robert Francis Kennedy

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Kennedy, Robert Francis,

1925–68, American politician, U.S. Attorney General (1961–64), b. Brookline, Mass., younger brother of President John F. KennedyKennedy, John Fitzgerald,
1917–63, 35th President of the United States (1961–63), b. Brookline, Mass.; son of Joseph P. Kennedy. Early Life

While an undergraduate at Harvard (1936–40) he served briefly in London as secretary to his father, who was
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 and son of Joseph P. KennedyKennedy, Joseph Patrick,
1888–1969, U.S. ambassador to Great Britain (1937–40), b. Boston, grad. Harvard, 1912. The founder of an American dynasty, he was the father of nine children, including John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Edward M.
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A graduate of Harvard (1948) and the Univ. of Virginia law school (1951), Bobby Kennedy managed his brother John's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1952. From 1953 to 1956 he was counsel to the Senate subcommittee chaired by Sen. Joseph R. McCarthyMcCarthy, Joseph Raymond,
1908–57, U.S. senator from Wisconsin (1947–57), b. near Appleton, Wis. He practiced law in Wisconsin and became (1940) a circuit judge. He served with the U.S. marines in the Pacific in World War II, achieving the rank of captain.
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. He then became (1957) chief counsel to the subcommittee investigating labor rackets and there gained a reputation for toughness by exposing corruption in the Teamsters UnionTeamsters Union,
U.S. labor union formed in 1903 by the amalgamation of the Team Drivers International Union and the Teamsters National Union. Its full name is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America (IBT).
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. In 1960 he was manager of his brother's presidential campaign. His inclusion in President Kennedy's cabinet gave rise to charges of nepotism, but he proved a vigorous attorney general, especially in prosecuting civil rights cases. He was also his brother's closest adviser.

After John Kennedy's assassination, Robert Kennedy continued for a time in President Lyndon JohnsonJohnson, Lyndon Baines,
1908–73, 36th President of the United States (1963–69), b. near Stonewall, Tex. Early Life

Born into a farm family, he graduated (1930) from Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Southwest Texas State Univ.), in San Marcos.
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's cabinet, but in 1964 he resigned to run for election as Senator from New York. Despite criticism that he was a "carpetbagger," he succeeded. In the Senate he was a vigorous advocate of social reform and became identified particularly as a spokesman for the rights of minorities. Although Kennedy had supported his brother's intensification of American aid to the South Vietnamese government, he became increasingly critical of Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War and by 1968 was advocating that the Viet Cong be included in a South Vietnamese coalition government.

Urged to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968, Kennedy appeared reluctant until Sen. Eugene McCarthyMcCarthy, Eugene Joseph,
1916–2005, U.S. political leader, b. Watkins, Minn. He served (1942–46) as a technical assistant for military intelligence during World War II and then taught (1946–49) at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
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's showing in the New Hampshire Democratic primary convinced him that a challenge to Johnson could be successful. Kennedy announced his candidacy on Mar. 16, 1968. Although Johnson withdrew (Mar. 31) from the race, the administration's standard passed to Vice President Hubert HumphreyHumphrey, Hubert Horatio,
1911–78, U.S. Vice President (1965–69), b. Wallace, S.Dak. After practicing pharmacy for several years, Humphrey taught political science and became involved in state politics.
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, while Senator McCarthy retained the support of many opponents of the Vietnam War, who accused Kennedy of opportunism.

Kennedy conducted an energetic campaign and won a series of primary victories, culminating in California on June 4. At the end of that day he gave a victory speech in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and while leaving was shot. He died a day later (June 6, 1968). The gunman, Sirhan B. Sirhan, was captured at the scene and later convicted of murder. Like his brother John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He wrote The Enemy Within (1960), Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1969), and To Seek a Newer World (1969).


See E. O. Guthman and J. Shulman, Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words (1988); memoir by J. Newfield (1969); biographies by A. M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1978), E. Thomas (2000), and L. Tye (2016); P. Kimball, Bobby Kennedy and the New Politics (1968); D. Halberstam, The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy (1968); D. Ross, ed., Robert Kennedy: Apostle of Change (1968); J. Witcover, Eighty-Five Days (1969); V. Navasky, Kennedy Justice (1971); M. K. Beran, The Last Patrician (1998); R. Steel, In Love with Night: The American Romance with Robert Kennedy (1999).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kennedy, Robert Francis


Born Nov. 20, 1925, in Brookline, Mass.; died June 6, 1968, in Los Angeles. US statesman. Brother of J. F. Kennedy.

Kennedy was a lawyer by training. Beginning in 1957 he held responsible posts in the US machinery of state. In 1961 he was named attorney general in J. F. Kennedy’s cabinet, a post he also occupied until 1964 in L. B. Johnson’s cabinet. In 1964 he was elected senator from the state of New York. He became known as one of the leaders of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and criticized the Vietnam policy of Johnson’s administration. In 1968 he announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for president; on June 5, at the height of the election campaign, he was fatally wounded by an assassin.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.