John F. Fitzgerald

Last updated
John F. Fitzgerald
J. F. Fitzgerald.jpg
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Massachusetts's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1919 October 23, 1919
Preceded by Peter Francis Tague
Succeeded byPeter Francis Tague
38th and 40th Mayor of Boston
In office
February 7, 1910 [1]  February 2, 1914 [2]
Preceded by George A. Hibbard
Succeeded by James Michael Curley
In office
January 1, 1906 [3]  January 6, 1908 [4]
Preceded by Daniel A. Whelton
Succeeded by George A. Hibbard
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Massachusetts's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1895 March 3, 1901
Preceded by Joseph H. O'Neil
Succeeded by Joseph A. Conry
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the 3rd Suffolk district
In office
Boston Common Council
Ward 6
In office
Personal details
John Francis Fitzgerald

(1863-02-11)February 11, 1863
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedOctober 2, 1950(1950-10-02) (aged 87)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Resting place St. Joseph Cemetery
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Mary Josephine Hannon(m. 18891950)
  • Rose Kennedy
  • Mary Agnes Fitzgerald
  • Thomas Acton Fitzgerald
  • John Francis Fitzgerald, Jr.
  • Eunice Fitzgerald
  • Frederick Hannon Fitzgerald
  • Thomas Fitzgerald
  • Rosanna Cox
Alma mater

John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald (February 11, 1863 – October 2, 1950) was an American politician, father of Rose Kennedy and maternal grandfather of President John F. Kennedy.

Rose Kennedy 20th-century American philanthropist

Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy, Countess of the Holy Roman Church was an American philanthropist, socialite, and the matriarch of the Kennedy family. She was deeply embedded in the "lace curtain" Irish Catholic community in Boston, where her father John F. Fitzgerald was mayor. Kennedy was the wife of businessman and investor Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., who was United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, formally known as Ambassador to the Court of St. James's in the UK. Their nine children included President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and longtime Senator Ted Kennedy. In 1951 she was ennobled by Pope Pius XII, becoming the sixth American woman to be granted the rank of Papal countess.

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.


Fitzgerald was a Democratic U.S. congressman who went on to win two terms as mayor of Boston, and made several unsuccessful runs for Governor of Massachusetts. He made major improvements to the port, and became a patron of the baseball team now known as the Boston Red Sox. He maintained a high profile in the city, with his theatrical style of campaigning, and his personal charm and charisma that earned him the nickname 'Honey Fitz'. His daughter Rose married Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., a son of his political rival P. J. Kennedy. In old age, Fitzgerald helped his grandson John F. Kennedy to win his first seat in congress.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

Governor of Massachusetts head of state and of government of the U.S. commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Governor of Massachusetts is the head of the executive branch of the Government of Massachusetts and serves as commander-in-chief of the Commonwealth's military forces. The current governor is Charlie Baker.

Boston Red Sox Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

The Boston Red Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. The Red Sox have won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of any MLB team, and they have played in 13. Their most recent appearance and win was in 2018. In addition, they won the 1904 American League pennant, but were not able to defend their 1903 World Series championship when the New York Giants refused to participate in the 1904 World Series. Founded in 1901 as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox' home ballpark has been Fenway Park since 1912. The "Red Sox" name was chosen by the team owner, John I. Taylor, circa 1908, following the lead of previous teams that had been known as the "Boston Red Stockings", including the forerunner of the Atlanta Braves.

Early life and family

John Francis Fitzgerald was born in the North End of Boston, to Irish businessman/politician Thomas Fitzgerald of Bruff, County Limerick, and Rosanna Cox of County Cavan. He was the fourth of twelve children. Both of his sisters, Ellen and Mary, and his eldest brother, Michael, died in infancy. Fitzgerald's brother Joseph had severe brain damage from malaria and barely functioned. Only three of the children survived in good health. Fitzgerald's mother died when he was sixteen. His father wished for him to become a doctor to help prevent future tragedies of the sort that had marred the Fitzgerald family.

North End, Boston Neighborhood of Boston in Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

The North End is a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It has the distinction of being the city's oldest residential community, where people have continuously inhabited since it was settled in the 1630s. Though small, only 0.36 square miles (0.93 km2), the neighborhood has nearly one hundred establishments and a variety of tourist attractions. It is known for its Italian American population and fine Italian restaurants. The district is a pending Boston Landmark.

Bruff Town in Munster, Ireland

For people with the surname, see Bruff (surname).

County Limerick County in the Republic of Ireland

County Limerick is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster, and is also part of the Mid-West Region. It is named after the city of Limerick. Limerick City and County Council is the local council for the county. The county's population at the 2016 census was 194,899 of whom 94,192 lived in Limerick City, the county capital.

Accordingly, after being educated at Boston Latin School and Boston College, [5] [6] he enrolled at Harvard Medical School for one year, but withdrew following the death of his father in 1885. [7] Fitzgerald later became a clerk at the Customs House in Boston and was active in the local Democratic Party.

Boston Latin School First public school in the United States

The Boston Latin School is a public exam school in Boston, Massachusetts. It was established on April 23, 1635, making it both the oldest school in America and the first public school in the United States. The Public Latin School was a bastion for educating the sons of the Boston "Brahmin" elite, resulting in the school claiming many prominent New Englanders as alumni. Its curriculum follows that of the 18th century Latin school movement, which holds the classics to be the basis of an educated mind. Four years of Latin are mandatory for all pupils who enter the school in the 7th grade, three years for those who enter in the 9th.

Boston College private research university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, United States

Boston College is a private Jesuit research university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The university has more than 9,300 full-time undergraduates and nearly 5,000 graduate students. The university's name reflects its early history as a liberal arts college and preparatory school in Boston's South End. It is a member of the 568 Group and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Its main campus is a historic district and features some of the earliest examples of collegiate gothic architecture in North America.

Harvard Medical School Medical school in Boston, MA

Harvard Medical School (HMS) is the graduate medical school of Harvard University. It is located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1782, HMS is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States and is consistently ranked 1st among research-oriented medical schools by U.S. News and World Report. Unlike most other leading medical schools, HMS does not operate in conjunction with a single hospital but is directly affiliated with several teaching hospitals in the Boston area. The HMS faculty has approximately 2,900 full- and part-time voting faculty members consisting of assistant, associate, and full professors, and over 5,000 full- and part-time, non-voting instructors. The majority of the faculty receive their appointments through an affiliated teaching hospital.

Fitzgerald was a member of the Royal Rooters, an early supporters' club for Boston's baseball teams, particularly its American League team, the modern Boston Red Sox. At one point, he was the group's chairman, and threw out the ceremonial opening pitch in Fenway Park's inaugural game (April 20, 1912), as well as in the 1912 World Series later that year. His great-granddaughter Caroline Kennedy threw out the first pitch for Fenway Park's 100th anniversary on April 20, 2012. [8]

Royal Rooters

The original Royal Rooters were a fan club for the Boston Americans, which in 1908 changed its name to the Boston Red Sox, in the early 20th century. They were led by Michael T. McGreevy, who owned a Boston bar called Third Base Saloon. While M.T. "Nuf Ced" McGreevy was certainly the spiritual leader of the Royal Rooters, Mayor of Boston John F. Fitzgerald, the maternal grandfather of John F. Kennedy, served as chairman for a while, and during that time, M.J. Regan was the secretary. Other members included C.J. Lavis, L. Watson, T. S. Dooley, J. Keenan, and W. Cahill, among others. Their theme song was "Tessie" from the Broadway musical "The Silver Slipper". Though the musical ran for less than six months, the song has gone down in history. The original Rooters disbanded in 1918.

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

American League Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League.

Political career

Fitzgerald was elected to Boston's Common Council in 1891. In 1892, he became a member of the Massachusetts Senate, and in 1894, he was elected to Congress for the 9th district, serving from 1895 to 1901. [9] These early victories came about with support from the powerful boss of Boston's 8th ward, Martin Lomasney. [10] In December 1905, Fitzgerald was elected Mayor of Boston, becoming the first American-born Irish-Catholic to be elected to that office. In the process, he made an enemy of the powerful Lomasney, who had fielded one of his lieutenants, Edward J. Donovan, for the office. [11] Fitzgerald served as mayor of Boston from 1906 to 1908, was defeated for re-election in December 1907, but won the January 1910 election and returned to the office from 1910 to 1914.

Massachusetts Senate

The Massachusetts Senate is the upper house of the Massachusetts General Court, the bicameral state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Senate comprises 40 elected members from 40 single-member senatorial districts in the state. All but one of the districts are named for the counties in which they are located. Senators serve two-year terms, without term limits. The Senate convenes in the Massachusetts State House, in Boston.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper house. Together they compose the national legislature of the United States.

Martin Lomasney American politician

Martin Michael Lomasney was a Massachusetts politician, who served as state senator, state representative, and alderman. However, he is best known as the political boss of Boston's West End. Nicknamed "the Mahatma" for his uncanny ability to deliver votes for his preferred candidates, Lomasney controlled Ward Eight and wielded considerable influence in city and state politics for over 40 years.

John F. Fitzgelrald, 1906 John F. Fitzgerald cph.3a42992.jpg
John F. Fitzgelrald, 1906

Of his stylish manner, Robert Dallek wrote: "He was a natural politician—a charming, impish, affable lover of people..... His warmth of character earned him yet another nickname, "Honey Fitz," and he gained a reputation as the only politician who could sing "Sweet Adeline" sober and get away with it. A pixie-like character with florid face, bright eyes, and sandy hair, he was a showman who could have had a career in vaudeville. But politics, with all the brokering that went into arranging alliances and the hoopla that went into campaigning, was his calling. A verse of the day ran: 'Honey Fitz can talk you blind / on any subject you can find / Fish and fishing, motor boats / Railroads, streetcars, getting votes.' His gift of gab became known as Fitzblarney, and his followers as "dearos," a shortened version of his description of his district as 'the dear old North End.'" [12]

Fitzgerald's first term as mayor was little more than a poorly managed jobs-for-votes program, in which the city payroll expanded, and job-seekers were frequently granted provisional positions that did not require passing civil service exams. He lost the 1907 election in part because his opponent, Republican George A. Hibbard, promised he would be "cleaning up the mess" of his opponent. [13] The Republican-controlled city and state then attempted to reduce the influence of Democratic Irish ward bosses in Boston politics by altering the city charter. They eliminated the large common council, replaced the board of aldermen with a nine-seat city council, and extended the mayor's term to four years. [14] His January 1910 reelection bid was almost scuttled by a bribery scandal involving no-bid contracts with kickbacks during his first term. Fitzgerald managed to escape prosecution, but made a long-term enemy in Daniel H. Coakley, an Irish lawyer who had defended one of the key figures in the business. [15] In addition to contending with Lomasney's renewed opposition, he also had to contend with the rising star of James Michael Curley, who was kept out of the race by offering him Fitzgerald's old Congressional seat. [16] Fitzgerald won a narrow victory in the election, against James J. Storrow, a stiff Protestant Boston Brahmin. [17]

Early in his first term as Boston's mayor, Fitzgerald formulated a plan to revitalize the commercial importance of the city under the banner of "A bigger, busier and better Boston". This plan died with his first term, but gained traction after his reelection. Fitzgerald was able to persuade businesses and the Massachusetts legislature to invest $9 million for improvements to the port by 1912. Within a year, the investments began to pay off in the form of new port traffic to and from Europe. [18]

The "Bigger, Busier and Better Boston" campaign, 1907. Boston Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce 1907.JPG
The "Bigger, Busier and Better Boston" campaign, 1907.

He was for years the most prominent political figure in the city of Boston, where Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy was a more behind-the-scenes Democratic Party figure. P. J. opposed Honey Fitz when the latter first ran for mayor, but they later became allies. In 1914, these two powerful political families (Kennedy and Fitzgerald) were united when P. J.'s elder son Joe married Fitzgerald's eldest daughter Rose.

Fitzgerald had, in the runup to the January 1910 election, promised Curley that he would not run for another term as mayor, since it was a position Curley sought. But in 1913, Fitzgerald decided to run for re-election, setting up a generational battle with Curley. Curley made common cause with Daniel Coakley, and they secured Fitzgerald's withdrawal from the race after threatening to expose a dalliance he had with a cigarette girl—Elizabeth "Toodles" Ryan, who was the same age as his daughter Rose—at a local gambling club. [19] Curley was subsequently elected in January 1914 to his first of four terms as Boston mayor.

From March 4, 1919, to October 23, 1919, Fitzgerald again served in Congress, now for the 10th district, until Peter F. Tague successfully contested the election. Fitzgerald was an unsuccessful candidate for the offices of Senator in 1916 and Governor in 1922. His opponent for the Senate was Henry Cabot Lodge. In 1942, he ran a quixotic campaign for the U.S. Senate, and lost the Democratic primary to Congressman Joseph E. Casey.

In his later years, Fitzgerald focused on his business interests and on honing the political instincts of his daughter Rose's promising sons. In 1946, when John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy decided to run for Congress, 83-year-old Honey Fitz helped him plan his campaign strategy. At the victory celebration, Fitzgerald danced an Irish jig, sang "Sweet Adeline," and predicted that his grandson would someday occupy the White House. Shortly after his election to the presidency, President Kennedy renamed the presidential yacht the Honey Fitz in honor of his maternal grandfather.

Personal life

On September 18, 1889, Fitzgerald married his second cousin Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon. She was a daughter of Michael Hannon and Mary Ann Fitzgerald. [20]


Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald July 22, 1890January 22, 1995104 yearsMarried on October 7, 1914, to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr.; had nine children: Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr., John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Rose Marie Kennedy, Kathleen Agnes Kennedy, Eunice Mary Kennedy, Patricia Helen Kennedy, Robert Francis Kennedy, Jean Ann Kennedy, and Edward Moore Kennedy.
Mary Agnes FitzgeraldNovember 1, 1892September 17, 193643 yearsMarried on April 29, 1929, to Joseph F. Gargan, Sr.; had three children: Joseph F. Gargan, Jr. and two younger daughters, Mary Jo Gargan and Ann Gargan.
Thomas Acton FitzgeraldApril 19, 1895September 7, 196873 yearsMarried on September 7, 1921, to Marion D. Reardon (died February 7, 1925); had one daughter: Marion Eunice Fitzgerald. Married again on October 11, 1930, to Margaret Bernice Fitzpatrick; had two children: Barbara Ann Fitzgerald and Thomas Acton Fitzgerald, Jr.
John Francis Fitzgerald, Jr.December 7, 1897March 28, 197981 yearsMarried on April 28, 1928, to Catherine O'Hearn; had three sons: John Francis Fitzgerald III, Robert P. Fitzgerald, and Fred Fitzgerald.
Eunice Josephine FitzgeraldJanuary 26, 1900September 25, 192323 yearsNever married. [21]
Frederick Hannon FitzgeraldDecember 3, 1904February 8, 193530 yearsMarried on October 26, 1929, to Rosalind Miller; had one son: Frederick Hannon Fitzgerald, Jr.


On October 2, 1950, Fitzgerald died in Boston at the age of eighty-seven. His funeral was one of the largest in the city's history. President Harry S. Truman sent his sympathies and Fitzgerald's pallbearers included U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge II, U.S. Senator Leverett Saltonstall (the grandson of the man who had given "Honey Fitz" his first job), future U.S. Speaker of the House John McCormack, Massachusetts Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, and James Michael Curley. As "Honey Fitz" was carried to his final rest from Holy Cross Cathedral to St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, a crowd of thousands who had gathered along the streets sang "Sweet Adeline".


The official name for the Central Artery highway in Boston was "The John F. Fitzgerald Expressway," until it was torn down in the 1990s as part of Boston's "Big Dig" project which eliminated the Central Artery and replaced it with a tunnel. The resulting greenway above the tunnel where the expressway had been was named for Fitzgerald's daughter as the "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway".

See also

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  1. "New Mayor of Boston". Arkansas Democrat . Little Rock, Arkansas. February 7, 1910. Retrieved March 16, 2018 via
  2. "Curley Serves Two Masters". The Barre Daily Times . Barre, Vermont. February 2, 1914. Retrieved March 15, 2018 via
  3. "Fitzgerald Boston's Mayor". The Washington Post . January 2, 1906. p. 1. Retrieved March 18, 2018 via
  4. "NEW HAND AT HELM" . The Boston Globe . January 7, 1908. p. 1. Retrieved March 17, 2018 via
  5. "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy Excerpt".
  6. {{cite web|url=
  7. McGoldrick, Monica. You Can Go Home Again: Reconnecting with Your Family, p. 155. W. W. Norton & Company, 1995, ISBN   0-393-31650-5.
  8. Boston Herald
  9. "Massachusetts", Official Congressional Directory , 1896
  10. O'Neill, pp. 33-34
  11. O'Neill, p. 36
  12. "Chapter Excerpt: An Unfinished Life by Robert Dallek". 14 November 2006. Archived from the original on 14 November 2006.
  13. O'Neill, pp. 37-38
  14. O'Neill, p 39
  15. O'Neill, pp. 39-40
  16. O'Neill, pp. 40-41
  17. O'Neill, pp. 41-42
  18. Fitzgerald, John F. (1914). Letters and speeches of the Honorable John F. Fitzgerald: mayor of Boston. City of Boston. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  19. O'Neill, pp. 43-44
  20. Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2001). The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. Simon and Schuster. pp. 88–89..
  21. "Ex-Mayor Fitzgerald's Daughter Dies at Boston". Fitchburg Sentinel. September 25, 1923. p. 12. Retrieved August 22, 2014 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg


Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph H. O'Neil
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1895 – March 4, 1901
Succeeded by
Joseph A. Conry
Preceded by
Daniel A. Whelton
Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts
Succeeded by
George A. Hibbard
Preceded by
George A. Hibbard
Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts
Succeeded by
James Michael Curley
Preceded by
Peter F. Tague
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th congressional district

March 4, 1919 – October 23, 1919
Succeeded by
Peter F. Tague