Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
[John F. Kennedy]
Biography: The inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961 brought to
the White House and to the heart of the nation a beautiful young wife and the first young
children of a President in half a century.
She was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, daughter of John Vernon Bouvier III
and his wife, Janet Lee. Her early years were divided between New York
City and East Hampton, Long Island, where she learned to ride almost as
soon as she could walk. She was educated at the best of private schools;
she wrote poems and stories, drew illustrations for them, and studied
ballet. Her mother, who had obtained a divorce, married Hugh D.
Auchincloss in 1942 and brought her two girls to "Merrywood," his home
near Washington, D.C., with summers spent at his estate in Newport, Rhode
Island. Jacqueline was dubbed "the Debutante of the Year" for the
1947-1948 season, but her social success did not keep her from continuing
her education. As a Vassar student she traveled extensively, and she
spent her junior year in France before graduating from George Washington
University. These experiences left her with a great empathy for people
of foreign countries, especially the French.
In Washington she took a job as "inquiring photographer" for a local
newspaper. Her path soon crossed that of Senator Kennedy, who had the
reputation of being the most eligible bachelor in the capital. Their
romance progressed slowly and privately, but their wedding at Newport in
1953 attracted nationwide publicity.
With marriage "Jackie" had to adapt herself to the new role of wife to
one of the country's most energetic political figures. Her own public
appearances were highly successful, but limited in number. After the
sadness of a miscarriage and the stillbirth of a daughter, Caroline
Bouvier was born in 1957; John Jr. was born between the election of 1960
and Inauguration Day. Patrick Bouvier, born prematurely on August 7,
1963, died two days later.
To the role of First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy brought beauty,
intelligence, and cultivated taste. Her interest in the arts, publicized
by press and television, inspired an attention to culture never before
evident at a national level. She devoted much time and study to making
the White House a museum of American history and decorative arts as well
as a family residence of elegance and charm. But she defined her major
role as "to take care of the President" and added that "if you bungle
raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters
Mrs. Kennedy's gallant courage during the tragedy of her husband's
assassination won her the admiration of the world. Thereafter it seemed
the public would never allow her the privacy she desired for herself and
her children. She moved to New York City; and in 1968 she married the
wealthy Greek businessman, Aristotle Onassis, 23 years her senior, who
died in March 1975. From 1978 until her death in 1994, Mrs. Onassis
worked in New York City as an editor for Doubleday. At her funeral her
son described three of her attributes: "love of words, the bonds of home
and family, and her spirit of adventure."