This post was written by Luis Rodriguez, Collections Management Specialist
The Kennedy family had a long and generally positive relationship with Time and its founder Henry Luce. Joseph P. Kennedy had several meetings with Luce while the former served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and from the late 1930s on into the post-war years, the two argued amicably over United States foreign policy. In 1940 “Joe” Kennedy convinced Luce to write the introduction to the published version of his son John F. Kennedy’s thesis Why England Slept. In it, Luce wrote, “If John Kennedy is characteristic of the younger generation–and I believe he is–many of us would be happy to have the destinies of this Republic handed over to his generation at once.”
It was in November 1958 that Time did its first cover story on the younger Kennedy, at that time a Massachusetts senator who was emerging as a strong candidate in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Then in 1960, Joe Kennedy chose to have dinner with Luce in New York the night his son received the nomination that would lead to him becoming the 35th President.
Typical of this relationship is a letter from the elder Kennedy to his friend Henry Luce. In 1957 he wrote: “In cleaning out my 1933 files, I came across this receipt. You see, even twenty-four years ago when Jack was at the ripe old age of fifteen, I thought he should begin reading ‘Time.’ Could it be that the diligent support of this idea has made him as smart as he is?” Enclosed with the letter is the receipt for a three-month subscription for John Kennedy from his father.
The publications of Henry Luce didn’t always commend the presidency of John F. Kennedy, but they did pay close attention to him, as the tie between one of America’s most prominent families and one of its biggest publications was always present.