Most Americans became obsessed with President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the early 1960s while they were in office. JFK and Jackie became a brand-new kind of President and First Lady: young, attractive, and chic to boot. After JFK’s assassination in 1963, the couple’s status as one of the most successful First Couples in history became ever more vital. But they were both very private in one particular area: their children, both living and dead. Just two of JFK and Jackie’s four children lived to see the White House. Their deaths were devastating.
According to Steven Levingston’s book The Kennedy Baby: The Loss that Transformed JFK, Jackie got pregnant five times during her marriage, published by The Huffington Post. Jackie had a miscarriage in her first trimester in 1955, years before JFK was elected to the White House. Their first child, a daughter named Arabella, was stillborn a year later.
Take a closer look at President John F. Kennedy’s children in this post.
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy is John F. Kennedy’s and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s only living child. She was born on November 26, 1957, in New York City.
During her father’s presidency, Caroline spent her early years in the White House. Because of the promise and excitement that the young senator gave to America, his presidency is often referred to as the “Camelot Presidency.” As a result, the Kennedys became synonymous with the perfect American family. Caroline was a media darling; no one could get enough of the little girl who escorted her father to the Oval Office every morning and rode her pony across the White House grounds.
However, not everything in the Kennedy home was perfect, and indeed the family had several tragedies. Jackie’s miscarriages, one 15 months before Caroline was born and another three years later, on August 7, 1963, were among them, as was a premature baby boy named Patrick by the Kennedys. The assassination of Caroline’s father by sniper fire on November 22, 1963, was the most direct loss Caroline suffered. Caroline had not yet reached the age of six.
Caroline, her sibling, and her mother moved out of the White House and into a home in Georgetown two weeks after the assassination. However, life for the Kennedys became more complicated as a circus-like environment of media and interested onlookers descended on their house. The family relocated to New York City in the summer of 1964. There, the family enjoyed some degree of anonymity and less aggressive paparazzi. Caroline was enrolled in the Sacred Heart School that September, much like Kennedy women before her.
By the late 1960s, the family had grown into a quiet life in New York City. Caroline and John Jr.’s lives were once again turned upside down after Robert F. Kennedy, their favorite uncle and U.S. Senator, was assassinated in 1968. Jackie became concerned about her children’s welfare. Caroline often sought support from her uncle, U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, and the two became close.
Caroline enrolled at The Brearley Academy, an elite all-girls school on Manhattan’s classy Upper East Side, in 1969 and excelled as a pupil and aspiring photographer. She then went to Concord Academy in Massachusetts, where she lived for the first time away from her mother.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1980, Caroline served at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she met her future partner, Edwin Schlossberg, an interactive media artist. Caroline Kennedy married Schlossberg, 41, in an extravagant Cape Cod, Massachusetts ceremony on July 19, 1986. They had three children: Rose, Tatiana, and Jack. She also took over as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit corporation devoted to supporting the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum with financial, personnel, and artistic services.
After a long battle with lymphatic cancer, Jackie Kennedy died in 1994. Caroline took on Jackie’s position as honorary chairperson at the American Ballet Theatre as a tribute to her mother’s work in the arts. Caroline was dealt another blow on July 16, 1999, when her only son, John F. Kennedy Jr., was killed in a plane crash near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, along with his wife and sister-in-law. Though Caroline’s reaction to the disaster was kept private, the only surviving Kennedy heir immediately assumed the family mantle. She eventually decided to appear at the 2000 Democratic National Convention 2000.
Caroline Kennedy, a relatively private woman, made waves in 2008 when she was speculated to be a potential candidate for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. Caroline was nominated as the United States ambassador to Japan by President Barack Obama on July 24, 2013, putting an end to much media debate about her chances of winning the role. In October, the United States Senate gave her final approval. Caroline took over for John Roos, who had been the United States envoy to Japan since August 2009. Walter Mondale, Howard Baker, and Tom Foley are among others who have previously held the role.
John F. Kennedy, Jr.
The president’s second child, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr., was born on November 25, 1960, in Washington, D.C.
Little “John-John” was the first child ever born to a president-elect and captured America’s hearts after the assassination of his father, in the much-photographed moment when, as a young boy, he bravely saluted his father’s casket. Despite his mother’s tough defense, Kennedy spent his entire childhood in the media spotlight as one of the American journalists’ favorite subjects, thanks to looks inherited from his attractive parents.
John Kennedy served as an assistant district attorney in New York City after initially considering a career in acting and graduating from Brown University and New York University Law School. He then left the law profession to pursue a career in journalism, and in 1995, he founded the popular, trendy political publication, George. Even though he may have had a promising career in politics, he chose to forge his path in life.
He married Carolyn Bessette, his longtime girlfriend, in September 1996.
Kennedy, his wife, and Lauren Bessette were traveling to Martha’s Vineyard on a single-engine private plane piloted by Kennedy, on their way to a cousin’s wedding in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, on July 16, 1999. When their aircraft did not land on time, large search teams were sent to find it. The search continued for the next few days, but to no avail at first. The three passengers were later assumed to be killed.
The bodies were discovered on July 21. All three were to be buried at sea, according to the Kennedy and Bessette families. President Bill Clinton and his wife attended the private mass.
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy
In August of 1963, Jackie gave birth to the couple’s fourth and final child. Jackie went into labor too soon, and her baby boy Patrick was diagnosed with hyaline membrane disorder, also known as Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Patrick succumbed to his condition 39 hours later.
Many scholars and authors agree that Patrick’s death took Jackie and JFK closer together in the months leading up to his death. After Patrick’s passing, the formerly cold pair emerged from the hospital holding hands, a strong indication of increased love between the two.