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 John Francis Fitzgerald

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John Francis Fitzgerald

  • Birth 11 Feb 1863 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Death 2 Oct 1950 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Burial West Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Plot St. Anthony, Sec. 1-near the top of the hill
  • Memorial ID 1880

Controversial Boston politician, known as "Fitzie" in his youth and "Honey Fitz" in later years, best known as the maternal grandfather of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. He was born John Francis Fitzgerald in Boston, Massachusetts on February 11, 1863. He grew up in Boston's North End, attending Eliot Grammar School and Boston Latin School, and finally Harvard Medical School, although he left the latter to take care of his family after the death of his father, by taking a position in the Boston customhouse from 1886 to 1891. Fitzgerald found he had a gift for politics; he was elected a member of the Boston Common Council in 1892; and then became member of the State senate in 1893 and 1894. He was elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-fourth, Fifty-fifth, and Fifty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1895-March 3, 1901). Fitzgerald did not distinguish himself in Congress, except in his opposition to a bill that would have required new immigrants to be able to read the Constitution as part of a qualification test. When the bill was quashed, he was angrily confronted by the formidable Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of his home state: "Impudent young man,” raged Lodge. “Do you think Jews or Italians have any right in this country?" "As much as your father or mine," Fitzgerald replied. "It's only a difference of a few ships." Returning to Boston, Fitzgerald ran for mayor on a reform platform. He also served as chairman of the Massachusetts delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1912. In private life he engaged in the insurance and investment banking business and was also owner of a weekly newspaper. Fitzgerald’s mayoral career was ultimately ended by the 1914 scandal over an indiscrete affair he had with a blonde cigarette girl named “Toddles” Ryan. The merger of Boston’s two most prominent Irish political families occurred in 1914 when Fitzgerald's eldest daughter Rose Elizabeth married Joseph Patrick Kennedy, an up-and-coming young Irish-American banker, who was the son of Boston political boss Patrick Joseph Kennedy. The 1918 election sent Honey Fitz back to the House of Representatives by a slim margin of 238 votes, but evidence of widespread electoral fraud soon cropped up and he was unseated by the House. He served as a member of the Port of Boston Authority 1934-1948. 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 Boston, Massachusetts, October 2, 1950, remembered fondly by his grandson who named the presidential yacht the “Honey Fitz.”

Bio by: Edward Parsons





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1880
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Francis Fitzgerald (11 Feb 1863–2 Oct 1950), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1880, citing Saint Joseph Cemetery, West Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .