Fast Facts about Robert F. Kennedy

SWPC-RFK-C004-003 Senator Robert F. Kennedy addresses a crowd at San Fernando Valley State College, California during his 1968 presidential campaign.

The following information about Robert F. Kennedy is arranged alphabetically by topic. For more information please contact Kennedy.Library@nara.gov. Have a research question? Ask an Archivist.

Africa: Began tour of Africa (South Africa included) on June 1, 1966.

Attorney General: January 20, 1961-August 25, 1964. Resigned to run for the U.S. Senate from New York.

Birth: November 20, 1925 in Brookline, MA.

Boston Post Articles: Covered Arab-Israeli war (June) and Berlin airlift for the Boston Post in 1948, Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in 1951.

Campaigns of John F. Kennedy:

  • Managed three East Cambridge wards during John F. Kennedy's 1st Congressional campaign, 1946.
  • Left Justice Department to manage John F. Kennedy's Senate campaign.
  • Managed John F. Kennedy's campaign to be nominated as Vice-President during the 1956 Democratic convention in Chicago.

Capital Punishment: In letters to constituents throughout 1968 he expressed his strong willingness to support a bill then under consideration for the abolition of the death penalty. He declared this willingness in letters written shortly before his death.

Communion: First: St. Joseph's Church, Bronxville, NY, April 30, 1933

Death: After victory statement and shortly after midnight June 5, 1968 was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Died 1:44 am, Pacific Time on June 6 at Good Samaritan Hospital in L.A. Body was flown back to NY for requiem high mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, then by train to Washington for burial at Arlington National Cemetery June 8. President Johnson declared June 9 a national day of mourning.

Debate with Ronald Reagan: May 15, 1967

Education, Early: Attended a large number of schools (at least 12 by his own estimate) due to family movement. Schools included St. Paul's, Portsmouth Priory. Graduated from Milton Academy in 1942 after spending 1 year there.

Education, Post-Secondary: Harvard University, B.A. in Government (1948); University of Virginia School of Law, J.D. (1951; graduated 56th in a class of 125). Admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.

Funeral

"Gross National Product" Speech: University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

Honors: Chosen as one of the ten outstanding young men of 1954 by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, January 8, 1955.

Internal Security Division: Briefly served as attorney with the Division, then the Criminal Division of the United States Justice Department, 1951-1952.

Latin America: Embarked on a three week tour of Latin American (Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil) on November 10, 1965.

Mount Kennedy: With a three-man team, Robert F. Kennedy reached the summit of the 13,000 foot (up to that point, the highest unclimbed peak in North America) Canadian mountain near the US border on March 24, 1965. It was named after President John F. Kennedy on January 4, 1965.

Music Played at Funeral: Adagietto movement from Mahler's Fifth Symphony--New York Philharmonic; "Battle Hymn of the Republic"--Andy Williams; Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah--choir; "Navy Hymn," Excerpt from Verdi's Requiem, Cesar Franck "Panis Angelicus"--Richard Tucker; "In Paradisum"--chorus from Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart. A Gregorian chant was heard during the mass proper, but in English not Latin. Thus the congregation sang "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Lamb of God" (The New York Times, 9 June 1968, by Donald Henahan, p. 53).

Navy Years (October 5, 1943- May 30, 1946): Joined Naval Reserve as Apprentice Seaman. Assigned as Seaman 2nd Class to the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Spent war years patrolling for submarines in the Caribbean

Presidential Campaign: Announced candidacy for President March 16, 1968 in Caucus Room, Old Senate Office Building

Primaries, 1968:

  • Robert F. Kennedy did not enter NH on March 12;
  • Was a write-in in Wisconsin on April 2 and came in a distant third;
  • Was a write-in in Pennsylvania on April 23 and came in a distant second;
  • Was a write-in in Massachusetts on April 30 and came in second;
  • Entered D.C. on May 7 and won with 62.5%;
  • Entered Indiana on May 7 and won with 42.3%;
  • No one but Stephen Young on ballot in Ohio on May 7;
  • Entered Nebraska on May 4 and won with 51.7%;
  • West Virginia on May 14 only had unpledged delegates at large;
  • Entered Oregon on May 28 and lost to McCarthy 44 to 38%;
  • Entered California on June 4 and won over McCarthy 46.3 to 41.8%;
  • Was a write-in in New Jersey on June 4 and came in second to McCarthy 36.2 to 31.3%;
  • Entered South Dakota on June 4 and won over Johnson and McCarthy;
  • Was not on ballot for June 11 Illinois primary, although his brother Edward was write-in.

Senate Campaign: Elected U.S. Senator from NY with vote of 3,823,749 over Kenneth Keating's 3,104,056 on November 3, 1964.

Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities: Chief Counsel to Committee in the Labor or Management Field (aka, "Rackets Committee"), 1957. Resigned from Committee in 1960 to manage John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign.

Senate Permanent Subcommittee: Assistant Counsel on Investigations chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy, 1953. Resigned July 31, 1953 to work the next eight months as Counsel to the Hoover Commission on Government Reorganization. Rejoined Subcommittee as Minority Counsel in 1954 and later became Majority Chief Counsel under John McClellan.

Social Security Number: 026-24-0879

Speeches

Vietnam: Called for halt of U.S. bombing in Vietnam on March 2, 1967.

Wedding: Married Ethel Skakel (b. April 11, 1928) at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Greenwich, Connecticut. John F. Kennedy was best man.