Who is Caroline Kennedy? Biography, Parents, Career, Books, Husband, Children

Caroline Kennedy, born in New York City on November 27, 1957, is the sole surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She spent her childhood at the White House during her father’s presidency and is recognized as the most private member of the famed Kennedy family. Caroline is a lawyer and author who has co-written and edited several books. President Barack Obama nominated her to be the United States’ ambassador to Japan in July 2013.

Early Life

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was born in New York City on November 27, 1957, to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and John F. Kennedy. Caroline spent her childhood in the White House during her father’s presidency.

His presidency is commonly referred to as the “Camelot Presidency” because of the hope and optimism he gave to America. As a result, the Kennedys became synonymous with the ideal American family. Caroline was a media favorite; people couldn’t get enough of the little girl who walked her father to the Oval Office every morning and rode her pony about the White House grounds.

However, not everything in the Kennedy household was perfect, and the family suffered a number of tragedies. Among them were Jackie’s miscarriages, one 15 months before Caroline was born and another three years later on August 7, 1963; and a preterm newborn boy called Patrick by the Kennedys.

Caroline suffered the most immediate losses on November 22, 1963, when her father was slain by sniper fire. Caroline had just turned six at the time. One of the most terrible moments in American presidential history is the image of her clutching her mother’s hand and her brother John Jr. saluting John F. Kennedy’s flag-draped coffin during the nationally televised funeral procession.

Jackie and the children moved out of the White House and into a residence in Georgetown two weeks following the assassination. However, the Kennedy family’s life became increasingly difficult as a circus-like environment of reporters and inquisitive bystanders descended on their home. The family relocated to New York City in the summer of 1964. The family found some anonymity and less invasive paparazzi there. Caroline Kennedy, like generations of Kennedy ladies before her, enrolled in the Sacred Heart School that September.

By the late 1960s, the family had settled into a tranquil life in New York City. Caroline and John Jr.’s lives were destroyed again in 1968, when their beloved uncle and U.S. Senator, Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated. Jackie grew concerned for her children’s safety. Jackie married Greek shipping mogul Aristotle Onassis four months after Bobby died. Onassis lavished presents on Caroline and her brother, but Caroline couldn’t accept him, and there were problems between his children and Jackie. Caroline frequently sought consolation from her uncle, U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, and the two grew close.

When the family was in New York, Onassis supplied protection. During vacations and breaks, the family would visit Greece or sail around the Caribbean on their yacht. Caroline entered in The Brearley School, an exclusive all-girls school on Manhattan’s affluent Upper East Side, in 1969, where she excelled academically and as a budding photographer. She then went to Concord Academy in Massachusetts, where she resided for the first time away from her mother.

During this period, Jackie and Onassis’ marriage began to fall apart. Her stepfather was grieved by the death of his 24-year-old son Alexander in a plane crash in 1973. Aristotle Onassis passed away in March 1975. After his death, Jackie returned to New York City and began working as an editor at Viking Press. She continued to try to keep her children out of the spotlight, frequently keeping them away from their wayward, scandal-making cousins.

Growing Up in the Spotlight

Caroline and her brother avoided drugs and alcohol as a result of their mother’s guidance, instead becoming dedicated students. Caroline excelled in her private school in New York and went on to Radcliffe College (now part of Harvard) for her undergraduate studies. In addition to her coursework, the young Kennedy interned for the New York Daily News and worked as a political intern for her uncle, Ted Kennedy, during the summers.

Caroline worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art after receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1980, when she met her future husband, an interactive-media designer called Edwin Schlossberg. She also took over as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing financial, human, and creative resources to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Caroline Kennedy married Schlossberg, 41, in an opulent Cape Cod, Massachusetts ceremony on July 19, 1986. Despite the family’s efforts to keep the wedding private, it became a hot topic in the media. More than 2,000 people surrounded the church and an adjacent hillside.

Advanced Education

Caroline entered Columbia Law School quietly, as she was interested in politics but not in the spotlight. In 1988, she graduated with little fanfare during a private pre-commencement ceremony with 380 other students. Rose, her first child, was born the same year. In 1989, the young lawyer kept himself occupied by founding the Profile in daring Awards, which recognize elected people who have demonstrated political daring. She also started researching for her first book.

Caroline, who is interested in constitutional law, co-wrote In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action with fellow law graduate Ellen Alderman. She refused to use her mother’s publishing industry contacts, instead publishing the book in February 1991 through William Morrow & Co. She also startled Washington authorities and stunned the public the following year when she declined an offer to chair the Democratic National Convention. Instead, the quiet Kennedy dedicated her time to her family and personal endeavors.

More Family Tragedy

Jackie Kennedy died in 1994 after a protracted fight with lymphatic cancer. Caroline took on Jackie’s job as honorary chairman of the American Ballet Theatre as an homage to her mother’s dedication in the arts. Caroline co-wrote another book, The Right to Privacy (1995), in addition to her humanitarian activities. She also assumed the job of Kennedy name guardian, spending several painful months attempting to settle her mother’s $200 million fortune while under intense public scrutiny.

Caroline and her brother went public in 1998 in an auction dispute with Evelyn Lincoln, President John F. Kennedy’s former secretary, who attempted to sell “intensely personal” pieces of memorabilia belonging to their father.

Caroline suffered another setback on July 16, 1999, when her only sibling, John F. Kennedy Jr., was killed in a plane crash in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, along with his wife and sister-in-law. While Caroline’s reaction to the tragedy was kept quiet, the only remaining heir to the Kennedy lineage swiftly assumed the family mantle. She finally accepted to speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

Work and Politics

She also continued to write. Caroline Kennedy collaborated on The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, which was released in 2001 to honor her late mother. She has also edited two anthologies: Profiles in Courage for Our Time (2002) and A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, and Speeches Every American Should Know (2003). In 2005, she released A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, and in 2007, she released A Family Christmas.

Caroline Kennedy is a member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s national board of directors, vice chair of the Fund for Public Schools in New York City, and chief executive of the New York City Department of Education Office of Strategic Partnerships.

Caroline Kennedy, the famously private senator, made news in 2008 when she was reported to be a likely candidate for Hillary Clinton’s vacated Senate seat. Caroline later withdrew her candidacy, citing personal reasons.

U.S. Ambassador in Japan

Former President Barack Obama nominated Caroline to be the United States’ ambassador to Japan on July 24, 2013, putting to rest much media speculation about her chances. In October, she was officially confirmed by the United States Senate. Caroline took over for John Roos, who had been Japan’s US ambassador since August 2009. Walter Mondale, Howard Baker, and Tom Foley are among those who have previously held the position.

Personal Life

Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg have three children: Rose, Tatiana and Jack.

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