Edward M. Kennedy (1932–2009), “The Lion of the Senate”

U.S. Capitol BuildingSenator Edward (“Ted”) Kennedy of Massachusetts, one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the United States Senate, died of brain cancer on August 25, 2009. At age 77, he was the third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history and a “towering figure” in the Democratic Party. Over his career as a senator, spanning 1962 to 2009, Kennedy is credited with authoring more than 2,500 bills, of which some 300 became law. Among his favored causes were promotion of civil rights, AIDS care, cancer research, children’s health insurance, and education; opposition to apartheid, disability discrimination, conservative judicial nominees, and the Iraq war; and reform of immigration and campaign finance. Ted Kennedy is most associated with legislation concerning health care, and he was a tireless promoter of universal health insurance. He owed much of his success as a legislator to his willingness to compromise with Republicans to get bills passed. He will be remembered by many admirers as having made “a significant difference in the quality of life for the American people.”

The younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy also ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, in 1980, but was unsuccessful. His endorsement in early 2008 of Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy was widely viewed as a key boost. President Obama said, “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.”

Related Links

  • FACTBOX: Reactions to the Death of Senator Kennedy
    This article gathers the reactions of political leaders in the United States and around the world to the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy on August 26, 2009.(Source: Reuters, August 27, 2009)
  • Edward M. Kennedy, United States Senator for Massachusetts
    Senator Edward Kennedy’s official U.S. Senate Web site, devoted to his memory; includes a list of his many accomplishments as a U.S. senator, from 1962 to 2009.(Source: senate.gov; accessed August 30, 2009)
  • Edward M. Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Is Dead at 77
    This extensive obituary from the New York Times is an admiring biography of a man who, it says, “knew acclaim and tragedy in near-equal measure”; includes links to photo gallery and Kennedy family tree.(Source: New York Times, August 27, 2009)
  • NPR News Special: Remembering Ted Kennedy
    In this NPR special, friends and colleagues of the late senator talk about his influence in passing social legislation, his advocacy for civil and women’s rights, and his lifelong goal to reform health care.(Source: National Public Radio, August 27, 2009)

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