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January 11, 2013


Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) 103 years ago today, January 11, 1910, John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald* was elected mayor of Boston for a 2nd time.

Mr. Fitzgerald served as mayor the 1st time from 1906-1908, but was defeated for reelection.


John F. Fitzgerald, Mayor of Boston, Library of Congress Photo


Doris Kearns Goodwin writes in “The Fitzgeralds & the Kennedys,” that the party bosses didn’t think Honey Fitz could be reelected as mayor because of “all the baggage he carried.”

But Fitzgerald was able to take advantage of reforms which provided for a new method of nomination.

Honey Fitz squared off against a Harvard Law School graduate named James J. Storrow who was a partner in Lee, Higginson & Company.  Ms. Goodwin describes him as “one of the richest men in all New England.”

As a seasoned pol, Honey Fitz took to the offensive by portraying himself as “an Irish boy from the slums (versus) a wealthy, encrusted Harvard blueblood.”

And Fitzgerald’s “dramatic oratory” seldom failed to illicit “tumultuous cheers” from the crowds.

The election was one of the most competitive & emotional in Boston’s history, but John F. Fitzgerald won by 1,402 votes.

Goodwin says Honey Fitz called it his “greatest triumph.”

A recount on January 20 confirmed Fitzgerald’s victory & he was sworn in as Mayor of Boston for the 2nd time at Faneuil Hall on February 7.  The new reforms would extend his term from 2 to 4 years.  

*John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald (1863-1950) was born in Boston, the 4th of 12 children of Irish immigrants Thomas & Rosanna Fitzgerald.

He married Mary Josephine Hannon in 1889 & their 1st child, Rose, was to be JFK’s mother.

Fitzgerald served on Boston’s Common Council, in the Massachusetts State Senate, in the United States Congress & as Boston’s mayor.

He has been described as a “natural politician” who loved people & singing “Sweet Adeline.”

In 1946, at the age of 86, Honey Fitz helped his grandson, John F. Kennedy, in his campaign for Congress & as President, JFK returned the favor by renaming the Presidential yacht, “HONEY FITZ”.



“The Fitzgeralds & the Kennedys:  An American Saga,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1987.



May 5, 2012

“JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE”: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Getting Into Politics III.

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Chapter 2 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy.  It is published by Little, Brown & Company.

The title of Chapter 2 is “Getting Into Politics”.

This chapter continues the discussion of JFK’s entry into the political profession in 1946.

O’Donnell & Powers write:

“One notable figure from Boston’s political past who enjoyed mingling (in JFK’s congressional campaign)was Grandfather (John F. “Honey Fitz”) Fitzgerald.”

They say that Honey Fitz was around all day.  He told of his own experiences in politics, gave advice to JFK’s speech writers, & often sang his signature “Sweet Adeline.”

And yet, according to the authors, JFK was a far cry from the traditional Boston pols like his own grandfather.  

JFK had an “air of quiet refinement” & “sincere platform manner.”

This chapter includes the following quote:

“After a half a century of oafishness….this attractive, well-spoken, graceful, witty, Celtic, Harvard-bred & very rich young man was what every suburban matron would like her son to be.”

Francis Russell

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