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Joseph P. Kennedy, patriarch of the most distinguished family in modern American history, met Franklin Roosevelt in World War I, when Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Kennedy was assistant general manager of Bethlehem Steel’s Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, MA. Kennedy prospered as a businessman, and he helped swell Roosevelt’s campaign coffers in 1932. Roosevelt gratefully made Kennedy inaugural Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (his nearest successors were James Landis, William Douglas, and Jerome Frank).

On January 7, 1938, FDR selected Kennedy to replace the deceased Robert Bingham as Ambassador to the Court of St. James. In London, he got to do fun things like witness the opening of children’s zoos and dejectedly ponder the future of Western civilization. Kennedy told a Boston Globe interviewer in November 1940 that “[d]emocracy is all done. . . . Democracy is finished in England. It may be here.” The notion that Britain was fighting for democracy rather than economic survival was “bunk.” Having embarrassed the State Department with his apparent defeatism, Kennedy could no longer be allowed to speak for it. He resigned on November 6, 1940.

Here’s Kennedy’s nomination: