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TheMenfromMassachusettsintheWhiteHouse:KennedyonAdams

PoliticaldynastiesaboundintheUnitedStatesandasthe2016presidentialelection
seasonfeaturesanotherBushandanotherClinton,itisnotonlyvaluabletostudytheKennedy
dynasty,buttolookathowKennedystudiedtheAdamsDynasty.JohnKennedywasvery
skilledincraftinghispoliticalappearanceandhiscareer,andusedreferencestolinkhimself
withgreatPresidentssuchasJohnAdamsandJohnQuincyAdams.Usinghiselectionto
CongressassteppingstonestotheWhiteHouse,hemadeverylittlecontributiontolegislature
duringhistermsintheHouseorSenate.Heclaimedtohavewrittenabookin1955,Profilesin
Courage,forwhichhisfather,JoeKennedymanipulatedaPulitzerPrize.1Evenhisheroismin
thePT109sinkingwasnotsomuchabouthisactofheroismasitwasaboutcreatingheroes.2
Howeverin1955,Kennedywasinthemidstofcreatingandsustainingapoliticaldynasty
establishedbyhisgrandfathersandfather.Thisdynastysurvivestodaywithhisdaughter
CarolineKennedyservingasAmbassadortoJapanandhisnephewRep.JoeKennedyIII
servingintheHouse.3
Kennedywasastudentofhistoryandwellawareofhowcomparisonswithgreatfamilies
couldboosthispoliticalcareer.AlthoughoriginallyrebuffedbyEleanorRooseveltwhenhe
soughthersupportshedidgrudginglyworktosupporthiselection4.Kennedywasabletogain
Trumanssupportforhispresidency.KennedysfamilydidnothavethelongAmerican
residencysharedbypastPresidents,sohewasabletolinkhisfamilysMassachusettsheritage
withtheAdamsfamilythroughhiswritingandspeeches.
JohnFitzgeraldKennedysharedsuperficialtraitswithJohnandJohnQuincyAdams.All
threeJohnswereborninMassachusetts,hadwelleducatedparents,attendedHarvard,married
intelligentsupportivewomenandlivedintheWhiteHouseforonlyoneterm.KennedyandJohn
Adamsbothlostsons,PatrickKennedyandCharlesAdams,whileinoffice.Thevicepresidents
ofJohnAdamsandJohnKennedy,ThomasJeffersonandLyndonJohnson,bothbecame
presidents.JohnAdamsandJohnKennedywereaccusedofnepotism.JohnAdamsgreatest
legacyofhistimeinofficewasmaintaininganeutralitywithFranceandkeepingtheUSoutof
war.HealsostrengthenedtheArmyandtheNavy,inordertobeabletonegotiateoutof
strength.5Kennedyalsoavoideda(nuclear)warandbuiltuptheUSmilitary.JohnQuincy
wrotetheMonroeDoctrinethatKennedydidnotinvokeduringtheCubanMissileCrisis,6but
newspapersgaveKennedycreditforupholding.7Beyondthesuperficialityoftheirsimilarities,
1

Giglio,JamesN.ThePresidencyofJohnF.Kennedy.Lawrence,Kan.:UofKansas,1991.Print.p.11
Dallek,Robert.AnUnfinishedLife:JohnF.Kennedy,19171963.Boston:Little,Brown,2003.Print.
p.9899
3
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/11/newkennedys4membersofclanwhocouldcarrypoliticalto
rch/
4
Roosevelt,Eleanor.1960.Web.30July2015.
<http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/documents/md19600817.pdf>.
5
Matuz,Roger,andBillHarris.ThePresidentsFactBook:AComprehensiveHandbooktothe
Achievements,Events,People,Triumphs,andTragediesofEveryPresidentfromGeorgeWashingtonto
GeorgeW.Bush.NewYork:BlackDog&LeventhalPub.,2004.Print.
6
Dallekp.539
7
Gigliop.216
2

themenageatroisofJohnshadlittleincommonphilosophically.TheAdamswerestaunch
CalvinistsandthoughKennedywasaCatholic,hisphilanderingandlyingwerenotChristian
virtues.TheAdamsdidnotenjoystandingforofficeanddidnotcampaignasKennedydid.
KennedyusedpollstodeterminethewillofthepeoplewhiletheAdamsusedtheirinnermoral
compasstomakedecisions.ThoughtheAdamsdidnotgainmuchpopularityintheirday,they
arerankedsimilarlytoKennedyintheaverageoraboveaveragerangeofPresidential
achievements,whileKennedyisrankedasmostoverrated.8.

IronicallyitisnowtheKennedysfamethateclipsestheAdamsfame.Schoolsnamed
forJohnKennedynumber103,butJohnAdamsonly22,whileJohnQuincyAdamsonlyhas1
school.9 Slatemagazinedidresearchlocating
Kennedymemorialsworldwide
,whileJohnand
10
JohnQuincyhavenomemorialsinWashingtonDC. JohnAdamslivedlongenoughtoseehis
sonelectedasPresidentandcametotermswithhisformernemesis,ThomasJefferson.John
QuincyAdamscollapsedathisdeskontheHouseFloor11
JohnKennedysfamilycontinuestoupholdhisimagethrougha2003reprintofProfiles
inCouragewithanintroductionbyCarolineKennedyandaforewordbyRobertKennedy.12The
KennedyLibrarywithCarolineKennedyhasinstitutedannualcontemporarypoliticalcourage
awardsandissuedthebook
ProfilesinCourageforOurTime
.CarolineKennedystatesinthe
booksintroductionofhertimeintheSenateReceptionroomwithheruncleanddaughter,Ifelt
acontinuityofspiritreachingacrosstimeandintothefutureasIlookedatTeddyandRose.
Thisbookispartofthatcontinuum.13Carolinecontinuestopromoteandprotectherfamilys
legacy, 14justashermothercreatedamythoftheCamelotyearsandherfatherstrovetocreate
andprotecttheKennedyimage.KennedychosewellwhenhehonoredtheAdamsfamily,soit
isfittingthatmymiddleschoolstudentslearnaboutbothfamilies.

Rottinghaus,Brandon,andJustinVaughn."NewRankingofU.S.PresidentsPutsLincolnatNo.1,Obama
at18KennedyJudgedMostOverrated."WashingtonPost.TheWashingtonPost,16Feb.2015.Web.31
July2015.
9
Strauss,Valerie."HowManySchoolsAreStillNamedafterJohnF.Kennedy?"WashingtonPost.The
WashingtonPost,22Nov.2014.Web.31July2015.
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answersheet/wp/2014/11/22/howmanyschoolsarestillnamedafte
rjohnfkennedy/>.
10
Heffner,Alexander."WhyDoesn'tJohnAdamsHaveaMemorialinWashington?"WashingtonPost.The
WashingtonPost,1July2011.Web.31July2015.
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/whydoesntjohnadamshaveamemorialinwashington/2011/0
6/30/AGTvmrtH_story.html>.
11

History,Art&Archives,U.S.HouseofRepresentatives,
TheDeathofRepresentativeJohnQuincy
AdamsofMassachusetts,
http://history.house.gov/HistoricalHighlight/Detail
(July31,2015)
12
Kennedy,JohnF.ProfilesinCourage.NewYork:HarperCollins,2003.Print.
13
Kennedy,Caroline.ProfilesinCourageforOurTime.NewYork:Hyperion,2002.Print.p.2
14
Maier,Thomas."TheAnguishofJackieKennedy."CNN.CableNewsNetwork,12Dec.2014.Web.31
July2015.