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Setting the Stage

The Kennedy story began in Ireland the 1840s, where a blight caused the failure of four consecutive potato crops. Facing starvation, hundreds of thousands of Irish peasants left for America. While they settled along the eastern seaboard, so many ended up in Boston, Massachusetts that by 1855 more than a third of the city's population was Irish. Among these immigrants were Patrick Kennedy and Thomas Fitzgerald; like many others, they worked hard, married, and raised families. Unlike any of the others, however, within little more than 100 years these two immigrant families put one of their own into the highest office in America. In 1914 their grandchildren, Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald, married and eventually had nine children. Their second son, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, became the 35th president of the United States.




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