Brothers: Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy
Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968), also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician. He was a younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and acted as one of his advisers during his presidency. From 1961 to 1964, he was the U.S. Attorney General.
John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.
Robert F. Kennedy at the White House, 1964
After his election into presidency, his father, Joe Kennedy Sr., asked John F. Kennedy only one thing of his second oldest son and that was to have his third oldest son, Robert F. Kennedy be his Attorney General. Part of this request was to keep Joe Kennedy’s family in power as his youngest son, Ted Kennedy was to hold Jack’s Senate as soon as he was old enough and the second part of this thought was to keep F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover in check.
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt - White House Press Office (WHPO)
Robert F. Kennedy had a reputation to put up a good fight as he had in his experience as the chief counsel of the 1957–59 Senate Labor Rackets Committee under chairman John L. McClellan. In a dramatic scene, Kennedy squared off with Teamsters union President Jimmy Hoffa during the antagonistic argument that marked Hoffa’s testimony. Kennedy left the Rackets Committee in late 1959 in order to run his brother John’s successful presidential campaign. In fact when Robert started helping his brother, many had a sense that Robert would appear to be ready for a brawl.
When acting as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy quickly proved himself by using his past experience handling organized crime.
Robert Kennedy’s tenure as Attorney General was easily the period of greatest power for the office; no previous United States Attorney General had enjoyed such clear influence on all areas of policy during an administration. Yet to a greater extent, it was President Kennedy who sought the advice and counsel of his younger brother, and it is to this extent that Robert Kennedy remained the President’s closest political advisor. Kennedy was relied upon as both the President’s primary source of administrative information and as a general counsel with whom trust was implicit, given the familial ties of the two men.
President Kennedy once remarked about his brother that, “If I want something done and done immediately I rely on the Attorney General. He is very much the doer in this administration, and has an organizational gift I have rarely if ever seen surpassed.”