John Kennedy’s political career began in 1945
After the death of Joe Kennedy, Jr during World War II, John moved into the position of oldest son. He now had a choice to make – go to law school and again follow in Brother Joe’s footsteps, or go into business with his father. He enrolled in Stanford University’s graduate business school, Kennedy remained one semester, then entered the hospital due to persistent problems with his back.
In 1945, Kennedy became a writer for the Herst newspapers and covered the elections in England, along with the Potsdam Conference as the Allies met to decide the fate of a defeated Germany.
During his historic fourth term as president, FDR died April 12, 1945 as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. With Truman now in charge, the war which continues to linger in the Pacific is quickly brought to an end when an atomic bomb are dropped on the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and then Nagasaki on August 9, prompting the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945.
During the summer of 1945, the political bug finally bites Kennedy and he begins to weigh the possibilities of running for office. Two potential opportunities now catch his eye – lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and congressman. Kennedy begins to lean in the direction of the congressional seat, believing his war record will be a stronger benefit for him in that race. Not just that, but the seat he will compete for is the one previously held by his maternal grandfather, Honey Fitz.
Prior to making his decision, Kennedy consults with Dave Powers who lives in the working class area of Charlestown, Massachusetts. His campaign needs Powers’ help due to Dave’s familiarity with the 11th Congressional District (now obsolete). Following a meeting Dave attends with Jack as Kennedy addresses the Gold Star mothers, Dave takes Kennedy on a tour of a poor neighborhood while riding the el. Dave does not require a lot of convincing to work with Jack’s campaign.
Jack also needs help from the ladies and his sisters are quick to enlist. In addition to Mama Rose; Eunice, Pat and Jean begin holding tea parties in their homes in an effort to reach hundreds of women voters. The popularity of the Kennedy ladies’ parties sparks an increase in business for the local dressmakers as a sudden run on party dresses cleans out the inventory and requires replenishment. The tea hosted by the Kennedy ladies at the Hotel Commander in Cambridge experiences such a large turnout; traffic totally comes to a halt.
The Kennedy men also have a role to fill. Papa Kennedy makes a place for himself in the campaign by fueling the campaign’s funding tank and hiring a public relations firm. After Brother Bobby finishes his tour of duty on the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr destroyer, he too is recruited into the campaign efforts.
With the quantity of fiscal and physical help Jack receives from family and friends, his opponents are quick to describe him as a spoiled millionaire’s son who is totally incapable of representing a district composed of working class families. The voices of the critics apparently are not loud enough to reach the area voters due to the fact Jack wins the congressional election. At 29 years old, he is on his way to Washington. Making his own debut in Congress that same year is a young man Kennedy will later become well acquainted with, California Congressman Richard M. Nixon.