Friday, December 28, 2007

John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald

I am fascinated with history and was researching the Kennedy family today. I found a great website over at PBS. I have borrowed from them liberally, because a lot of the info was too good not to mention.

John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald (1863-1950) Elected to serve in the Massachusetts State Senate in 1892, Fitzgerald won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives three years later. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge called him an "Impudent young man" Returning to Boston, Fitzgerald won the office of mayor on a reform platform. "The people not the bosses must rule! Bigger, Better, Busier Boston!" was his slogan. He spent a lot of his time with a blonde cigarette girl named "Toodles" Ryan. In the mayoral election of 1914, the incumbent was faced with the announcement of two public lectures from his opponent, James Michael Curley: "Graft in Ancient Times and Modern" and "Great Lovers from Cleopatra to Toodles." Fitzgerald's campaign was over. The 1918 election sent Honey Fitz back to the House of Representatives by a slim margin of 238 votes. A challenge and subsequent investigation of the election revealed systematic fraud. Numerous votes came from falsely registered voters who resided elsewhere, or were serving overseas, or were dead. Thugs were hired to intimidate voters who supported Fitzgerald's opponent. Following these revelations, Fitzgerald was unseated by the House.
Fitzgerald's eldest daughter Rose married a young Irish American banker, Joseph P. Kennedy, in 1918. After his congressional debacle, Honey Fitz spent a lot of time with his two eldest grandsons, Joseph Jr. and John. The ex-mayor ran unsuccessfully for governor of Massachusetts, twice. Fitzgerald ran for office again, in 1942, as a candidate for United States Senate, possibly merely to act as a spoiler to block the election of one of his son-in-law's Democratic Party rivals. The Republican, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., won instead. In 1946, Fitzgerald campaigned with his grandson John for the latter's first election, the old city boss shaking hands beside the ambitious, photogenic youngster. The young Kennedy won the seat in the House of Representatives that his grandfather had first held fifty years earlier. Fitzgerald died in 1950, remembered fondly by his grandson who named the presidential yacht the Honey Fitz.

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