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Joseph Patrick Kennedy

Prominent American businessman and patriarch of the political Kennedy family who built a fortune.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy was a U.S. businessman and financier.

He graduated from Harvard University in 1912. By the age of 25, he was a bank president, and a millionaire at 30. He became a shipbuilder, a motion-picture tycoon, and a large contributor to the Democratic Party. During the 1920s he acquired a large fortune by speculating in the stock market; he is also alleged to have traded in bootleg liquor during Prohibition.

Later, as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1934-35), he outlawed the speculative practices, including insider trading and stock manipulation, that had made him rich.

He was the first Irish American to serve as ambassador to Britain (1937-40).

With his wife, Rose, he encouraged academic and athletic competitiveness in his children and expected the boys in the family - including John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Edward Kennedy - to pursue careers in public service. His role in John Kennedy's narrow victory over Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election has long been the subject of controversy.