by Yoon Joung Lee
The wife of the 35th President of the United States, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, was born in Southampton, New York in 1929 to an affluent family as the elder of two daughters. Her father, John Vernou Bouvier lll was a successful Wall Street stockbroker and her mother, Janet Norton Lee, was an American socialite.
She spent most of her childhood in New York City and East Hampton, New York. Her mother was an accomplished rider and she put her little girl Jackie on a horse when she was a year old. Since that time, Jackie showed outstanding talent on horse riding and she won several national championships by age 11.
Other than horse riding, she also enjoyed reading and she was able to read all the childrens’ books by herself even before she started school. Her family believed that Jackie might one day be a writer. When Jackie was ten years old in 1942, her parents divorced and her mother married Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr., who was a wealthy lawyer. Due to her parent’s divorce, her sisters had to spend their time evenly in their mother’s homes in McLean, Virginia and their father’s homes in New York City and Long island.
In 1947, she graduated from Miss Porter’s School, a boarding school for girls in Connecticut and continue to study at Vassar College in New York majoring in history, literature, art and French. In 1951, she graduated from George Washington University and took a job at the Washington Times-Herald as a reporter-photographer. Soon after she got a job, she met John F. Kennedy who was a popular congressman. In 1953, they married at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island.
The early years of their marriage was filled with considerable disappointment and sadness. John underwent two operations from his spinal problems and wartime injuries and Jackie experienced miscarriage and delivered a stillborn daughter. While John was recovering from surgery, Jackie encouraged him to write about several U.S. senators fighting for the things they believed in. The book, Profiles in Courage, won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957. That same year, the Kennedys’ first child, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, was born.
3 years later in 1960, John Kennedy was elected the nation’s 35th president and it was just weeks before Jackie gave birth to their son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. Jackie was 31 years old. Jackie became the youngest first lady in nearly 80 years. She started travelling all over the world accompanying her husband and cameras caught her gracious personal style as well as her fashion sense, beauty, and facility with languages.
She soon made the White House into a real home for her family. She made a kindergarten school for John and Caroline and 12 other children. She also established a White House Fine Arts Committee and gathered outstanding American arts and furnitures around the United States to restore all the public rooms in the White House. She wanted people to have a greater appreciation of the history of America’s most famous residence. Her work was aired on CBS Television and 80 millions American watched the broadcast. She won an honorary Emmy Award.
In 1963, Jackie accompanied her husband to Texas to make one of her infrequent political appearances. As the president’s motorcade passed Dallas, she heard several gunshots and the last one passed John’s head. She returned to the capital as a widowed first lady. During John’s funeral, she received an outpouring of admiration from Americans and from all over the world. After her husband’s death, she moved to New York City.
In 1968, she married the Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, but after 7 years, she again lost her husband, inheriting a sum variously estimated at $20 million to $26 million. After losing her second husband, she spent her time in an apartment in New York City and maintained her interest in the arts and in landmark preservation.
In 1994, she died in her new York City apartment after she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Her funeral was held at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church and she was buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to John F. Kennedy.