Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (22 February 1932 – 25 August 2009) was the senior Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts. In office from November 1962 to August 2009, Kennedy was, at the time, the second-longest serving member of the Senate, after Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
- My brother was the first President of the United States to state publicly that segregation was morally wrong. His heart and his soul are in this bill. If his life and death had a meaning, it was that we should not hate but love one another; we should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.
- Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.
- My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
- Eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy (8 June 1968)
- President Nixon has told us, without question, that we seek no military victory, that we seek only peace. How then can we justify sending our boys against a hill a dozen times or more, until soldiers themselves question the madness of the action? The assault on "Hamburger Hill" is only symptomatic of a mentality and a policy that requires immediate attention. American boys are too valuable to be sacrificed for a false sense of military pride.
- I have requested this opportunity to talk to the people of Massachusetts about the tragedy which happened last Friday evening. This morning I entered a plea of guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to my appearance in court it would have been [im]proper for me to comment on these matters. But tonight I am free to tell you what happened and to say what it means to me.
- I made immediate and repeated efforts to save Mary Jo by diving into the strong and murky current, but succeeded only in increasing my state of utter exhaustion and alarm. My conduct and conversations during the next several hours, to the extent that I can remember them, make no sense to me at all.
- In sum, I believe that the basic constitutional arguments supporting the power of Congress to change voting qualifications b~ statute are the same in the case of literacy, residence, or age. So far as I am aware, the Administration proposals in the area of literacy and residence have encountered no substantial opposition on constitutional grounds. Both proposals were incorporated as amendments to the Voting Rights Act in the bill passed by the House of Representatives late last year, and they are now pending before the Senate. If Congress has the authority to act by statute in these areas, as it must if the Administration bill passed by the House is constitutional, then Congress also has the authority to act by statute to lower the voting age to 18. I am hopeful, therefore, that we can achieve broad and bipartisan agreement on the statutory route to reach our vital goal of enlarging the franchise to include 18 year-olds.
- Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old....When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.
- and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123086375678148323.html a private letter from August 3, 1971 in response to New York's legalization of abortion
- Field reports to the U.S. Government, countless eye-witness journalistic accounts,reports of International agencies such as World Bank and additional information available to the subcommittee document the reign of terror which grips East Bengal (East Pakistan). Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked "H". All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad. ..'
- report dated November 1, 1971 Senator Edward Kennedy. Crisis in South Asia - A report by Senator Edward Kennedy to the Subcommittee investigating the Problem of Refugees and Their Settlement,Submitted to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, November 1, 1971, U.S. Govt.Press, pp.6-7. Quoted in Benkin, Richard L. (2014). A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus., p. 75.
- In fact, the legal system is in part responsible for their very size and growth. And too often when the individual finds himself in conflict with these forces, the legal system sides with the giant institution, not the small businessman or private citizen.
- On big business and big government; speech before American Bar Association, New York (August 8, 1978), reported in Alan F. Pater, Jason R. Pate, What They Said in 1978 (1979), p. 168.
- Well I'm, umm, were I to, to make the, the announcement to run, the reasons that I would run is because I have a great belief in this country, that it is, there's more natural resources than any nation of the world, has the greatest educated population in the world the greatest technology of any country in the world, the greatest capacity for innovation in the world, and the greatest political system in the world. And yet I see at the current time that most of the industrial nations of the world are exceeding us in terms of productivity or doing better than us in terms of meeting the problems of inflation that they are dealing with, their problems of energy and their problems of unemployment. It just seems to me that this nation can cope and deal with its problems in a way that it has in the past. We are facing complex issues and problems in this nation at this time, but we have faced similar challenges at other times and the energies and the resourcefulness of this nation, I think, should be focused on these problems in a way that brings a sense of restoration in this country by its people to in dealing with the problems that we face primarily the issues on the economy the problems of inflation and the problems of energy and I would basically feel that that it's imperative for this country to either move forward, that it can't standstill or otherwise it moves backwards.
- A year ago, a number of us in Congress took up a cause and a challenge that had already stirred at the grassroots across the country. We called for an immediate, mutual and verifiable freeze between the United States and the Soviet Union on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.
- This really is a very strange idea. We cannot found national policy on fond memories of radio serials, dreams of the Old West, and the thrilling days of yesteryear. We must reject the preposterous notion of a Lone Ranger in the sky, firing silver laser bullets and shooting missiles out of the hands of Soviet outlaws. The best defense against nuclear war is arms control and then disarmament.
- Now in the 1980's, a moment of history and a sense of hope call your generation to work as great as any that has gone before -- the work of peace. The challenge comes with special warning now because the danger has become so present and so clear. The difference each of you can make, if all of you try, may mean the difference between peace and war, between a just society and a garrison state.
- Address at Brown University (4 June 1983)
- I hope for an America where neither "fundamentalist" nor "humanist" will be a dirty word, but a fair description of the different ways in which people of good will look at life and into their own souls.
- Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy ... President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.
- Senate speech opposing Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court (1 July 1987)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act will end the American apartheid. The act has the potential to become one of the great civil rights laws of our generation. Disabled citizens deserve the opportunity to work for a living, ride a bus, have access to public and commercial buildings, and do all the other things that the rest of us take for granted. Mindless physical barriers and outdated social attitudes have made them second class citizens for too long. This legislation is a bill of rights for the disabled, and America will be a better and fairer nation because of it.
- Senate speech (7 September 1989)
The Dream Shall Never Die (1980)
- Concession speech in his campaign for nomination as the Democratic Presidential candidate against incumbent Jimmy Carter at the Democratic Convention in New York City (12 August 1980)
- My fellow Democrats and my fellow Americans, I have come here tonight not to argue for a candidacy but to affirm a cause. I am asking you to renew the commitment of the Democratic Party to economic justice. I am asking you to renew our commitment to a fair and lasting prosperity that can put America back to work.
- The serious issue before us tonight is the cause for which the Democratic Party has stood in its finest hours— the cause that keeps our party young— and makes it, in the second century of its age, the largest political party in this Republic and the longest-lasting political party on this planet. Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man— and the common woman. Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called “the humble members of society— the farmers, mechanics, and laborers.” On this foundation, we have defined our values, refined our policies, and refreshed our faith.
- I speak out of a deep sense of urgency about the anguish and anxiety I have seen across America. I speak out of a deep belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party, and in the potential of that party and of a president to make a difference. I speak out of a deep trust in our capacity to proceed with boldness and a common vision that will feel and heal the suffer— the division of our party.
- The economic plank of this platform on its face concerns only material things; but is also a moral issue that I raise tonight. It has taken many forms over many years. In this campaign, and in this country that we seek to lead, the challenge in 1980 is to give our voice and our vote for these fundamental Democratic principles: Let us pledge that we will never misuse unemployment, high interest rates, and human misery as false weapons against inflation. Let us pledge that employment will be the first priority of our economic policy. Let us pledge that there will be security for all who are now at work. Let us pledge that there will be jobs for all who are out of work— and we will not compromise on the issue of jobs. These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition; they have been the soul of our party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.
- The 1980 Republican convention was awash with crocodile tears for our economic distress, but it is by their long record and not their recent words that you shall know them. The same Republicans who are talking about the crisis of unemployment have nominated a man who once said— and I quote—“Unemployment insurance is a prepaid vacation plan for freeloaders.” And that nominee is no friend of labor. The same Republicans who are talking about the problems of the inner cities have nominated a man who said— and I quote—“I have included in my morning and evening prayers every day the prayer that the federal government not bail out New York.” And that nominee is no friend of this city and of our great urban centers. The same Republicans who are talking about security for the elderly have nominated a man who said just four years ago that participation in Social Security “should be made voluntary.” And that nominee is no friend of the senior citizen. The same Republicans who are talking about preserving the environment have nominated a man who last year made the preposterous statement— and I quote—“Eighty percent of air pollution comes from plants and trees.” And that nominee is no friend of the environment. And the same Republicans who are invoking Franklin Roosevelt have nominated a man who said in 1976— and these are his exact words—“Fascism was really the basis of the New Deal.” And that nominee, whose name is Ronald Reagan, has no right to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
- The great adventure which our opponents offer is a voyage into the past. Progress is our heritage, not theirs. What is right for us as Democrats is also the right way for Democrats to win.
- It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them; but it is also correct that we dare not throw our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.
- The demand of our people in 1980 is not for smaller government or bigger government but for better government. Some say that government is always bad, and that spending for basic social programs is the root of our economic evils. But we reply, the present inflation and recession cost our economy $200 billion a year. We reply, inflation and unemployment are the biggest spenders of all.
- We are the party of the New Freedom, the New Deal, and the New Frontier. We have always been the party of hope. So this year, let us offer new hope— new hope to an America uncertain about the present but unsurpassed in its potential for the future.
- Finally, we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for national health insurance. We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone— and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge. Let us resolve that the state of a family’s health shall never depend on the size of a family’s wealth. The President, the Vice President, and the members of Congress have a medical plan that meets their needs in full. Whenever senators and representatives catch a little cold, the Capitol physician will see them immediately, treat them promptly, and fill a prescription on the spot. We do not get a bill even if we ask for it. And when do you think was the last time a member of Congress asked for a bill from the federal government? I say again, as I have said before, if health insurance is good enough for the President, the Vice President, and the Congress of the United States, then it is good enough for all of you and for every family in America.
- There were some who said we should be silent about our differences on issues during this convention. But the heritage of the Democratic Party has been a history of democracy. We fight hard because we care deeply about our principles and purposes. We did not flee this struggle. And we welcome this contrast with the empty and expedient spectacle last month in Detroit, where no nomination was contested, no question was debated, and no one dared to raise any doubt or dissent.
- For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
- This has sometimes been misquoted as "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die."
- I won't yield to anyone about guns in our society. I know enough about it.
- She was a blessing to us and to the nation ? and a lesson to the world on how to do things right, how to be a mother, how to appreciate history, how to be courageous. No one else looked like her, spoke like her, wrote like her, or was so original in the way she did things. No one we knew ever had a better sense of self. ... No one ever gave more meaning to the title of first lady.
- Never say in grief you are sorry he's gone. Rather, say in thankfulness you are grateful he was here.
- If we set the precedent of limiting the First Amendment, in order to protect the sensibilities of those who are offended by flag burning, what will we say the next time someone is offended by some other minority view, or by some other person's exercise of the freedom the Constitution is supposed to protect?
- Constituent letter (1997)
- There are some who seek to wreck the peace process. They are blinded by fear of a future they cannot imagine—a future in which respect for differences is a healing and unifying force. They are driven by an anger that holds no respect for life—even for the lives of children. But a new spirit of hope is gaining momentum. It can banish the fear that blinds. It can conquer the anger that fuels the merchants of violence. We are building an irresistible force that can make the immovable object move.
- We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years.
- I believe that the most enduring legacy of the September 11 attacks is a new sense of community among all Americans. Four hundred years ago, the poet John Donne wrote that "No man is an island." Today, our country reaffirms the truth of those words. We understand that if one of us is hurting, all of us hurt. This renewed national spirit leads us to reaffirm the basic social bond that unites us all. Every American should have the opportunity to receive a quality education, a job that respects their dignity and protects their safety, and health care that does not condemn those whose health is impaired to a lifetime of poverty and lost opportunity
- I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted. But I begin with the strongest possible affirmation that good and decent people on all sides of this debate, who may in the end stand on opposing sides of this decision, are equally committed to our national security. The life and death issue of war and peace is too important to be left to politics. And I disagree with those who suggest that this fateful issue cannot or should not be contested vigorously, publicly, and all across America. When it is the people's sons and daughters who will risk and even lose their lives, then the people should hear and be heard, speak and be listened to. But there is a difference between honest public dialogue and partisan appeals. There is a difference between questioning policy and questioning motives. There are Republicans and Democrats who support the immediate use of force - and Republicans and Democrats who have raised doubts and dissented.
- The question is not whether we will disarm Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction but how. And it is wrong for Congress to declare war against Iraq now, before we have exhausted the alternatives. It is wrong for the president to demand a declaration of war from Congress when he says he has not decided whether to go to war. It is wrong to avert our attention now from the greater and far more immediate threat of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorism.
- Senate speech in opposition to the Iraq War (10 October 2002)
- You are what this debate is about. It is about good people who come to America to work, to raise their families, to contribute to their communities, and to reach for the American Dream. This debate goes to the heart of who we are as Americans. It will determine who can earn the privilege of citizenship. It will determine our strength in separating those who would harm us from those who contribute to our values.
- We cannot simply speak out against an escalation of troops in Iraq, we must act to prevent it... There can be no doubt that the Constitution gives Congress the authority to decide whether to fund military action, and Congress can demand a justification from the president for such action before it appropriates the funds to carry it out.
- Remarks to the National Press Club (9 January 2007), as quoted in "Official: First wave of troops to Iraq by Jan. 30" at MSNBC (9 January 2007)
- What is the price, we ask the other side? What is the price that you want from these working men and women? What cost? How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business? How many billion dollars more, are you asking, are you requiring? When does the greed stop, we ask the other side? That’s the question and that’s the issue.
- Senate speech (25 January 2007)
- But don't you realize, that's where I sail.
- I'd like to speak for a moment regarding the Hate Crimes Amendment -- at a time when our ideals are under attack by terrorists in other lands, it is more important than ever to demonstrate that we practice what we preach, and that we are doing all we can to root out the bigotry and prejudice in our own country that leads to violence here at home. Now more than ever, we need to act against hate crimes and send a strong message here at home and around the world that we will not tolerate crimes fueled by hate.
- Senate speech in favor of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (25 September 2007)
- So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now. I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future. My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey - to have the courage to choose change. It is time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.
- I get up very early in the morning. I enjoy the quietness, the stillness, the rawness in the winter and fall. It's a special time.
- Esquire: The Meaning of Life (2009), p. 81
- I will never forget the 5th anniversary of the Peace Corps where I sat with the very first group of volunteers. I asked each of them why they decided to get involved. They said it was the first time anyone asked them to do anything for their country. Today, another young president has challenged another generation to give back to their country
DNC Speech (2008)
- My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here.
And nothing — nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.
I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.
- For me this is a season of hope -- new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.
And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.
- We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy called of going to the moon, he didn't say, "It's too far to get there. We shouldn't even try."
Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon.
- There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination — not merely victory for our Party, but renewal for our nation.
And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
- This last line references the last line of his DNC speech in 1980 where he said "the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
- From the windows of my office in Boston … I can see the Golden Stairs from Boston Harbor where all eight of my great-grandparents set foot on this great land for the first time. That immigrant spirit of limitless possibility animates America even today.
- Attributed to a 2007 Senate speech by Kathy Kiely, "Kennedy 'fashioned the modern day legal system of immigration' ", USA Today, 26 August 2009
- What we have in the United States is not so much a health-care system as a disease-care system.
- 1994. Attributed without source by telegraph.co.uk, 26 August 2009
Quotes about Kennedy
- According to Soviet documents unearthed in the early 1990’s, Kennedy literally asked the Soviets, avowed enemies of the U.S., to intervene on behalf of the Democratic party in the 1984 elections. Kennedy’s communist communique was so secret that it was not discovered until 1991, eight years after Kennedy had initiated his Soviet gambit.
- Sean Davis, Ted Kennedy Secretly Asked The Soviets To Intervene In The 1984 Elections, The Federalist, 10 March 2015
- Kennedy’s message [to Yuri Andropov] was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
- Peter Robinson, Ted Kennedy's Soviet Gambit, Forbes, 28 August 2009
- When President Reagan chose to confront the Soviet Union, calling it the evil empire that it was, Sen. Edward Kennedy chose to offer aid and comfort to General Secretary Andropov. On the Cold War, the greatest issue of his lifetime, Kennedy got it wrong.
- Peter Robinson, Ted Kennedy's Soviet Gambit, Forbes, 28 August 2009
- Well don't throw anything now, because we're not talking about philosophy or party. The finest legislator I ever worked with was Ted Kennedy. He had a magnificent staff, he even had a parliamentarian on that staff of his. So when you were in the legislative arena and you were bringing your lunch and staying late, you wanted to get Ted on your side or least use some of his expertise. I would go to him sometimes early on and say look, you'll have to trust me, what the hell do I do right now to move this bill? Boy I'll tell you he had ways to do it and as you can see he uses those skills on issues in which I was totally on the other side. I can't remember them all there were so many. We were never on the same side. But he is a legislator.
- When did Ted Kennedy become Jabba the Hutt? He's huge! You're a Kennedy, not a Macy's Day float!! Bring him down, we're voting! No sir, I said "no" to the Krispy Kreme!!
- Robin Williams in Robin Williams : Live On Broadway (2002)
- Teddy Kennedy was the weak kitten in the litter, never able to measure up to his brothers. … One problem Teddy has always had was keeping it in his pants — even when other people are around.
- Cleo O'Donnell, (Cleo O'Donnell died in 1953, Cleo O'Donnell Jr. Kennedy family friend was the captain of Harvard Football in 1946),wife of a former Kennedy campaign aide, quoted in Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up (1989) by Leo Damore, p. 285. This has sometimes been quoted with "The accident at Chappaquiddick displayed his chronic immaturity" as part of the quotation of O'Donnell, but this is actually a statement by author Leo Damore.
Kennedy in his own words
- Robert Kennedy's eulogy read by Ted Kennedy
- Jacqueline Kennedy's eulogy read by Ted Kennedy
- Tribute to John F. Kennedy Jr. read by Ted Kennedy
- Webcast of Kennedy at a Jan. 21, 2003 National Press Club event, via NPR Provides corroboration for 2006 re-election run.
- Ted Kennedy's 1980 Democratic National Convention Address