A Brief Biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was truly a woman ahead of her time, and understood that the role of women in Post- World War II life was shifting before it even began to change. Onassis balanced the role of the traditional woman as a wife and mother while becoming one of the most influential First Ladies the country had seen yet through her style, intelligence, and grace. However, it was her astuteness that made her so captivating; Onassis knew what had to be done politically, historically, and socially to promote her and her husbands legacy for decades to come. Her ability and drive to always be one step ahead of the game was what led her to such recognition, and remains to be her legacy up to this day. Even from her experiences as a child, Onassis showed a zeal for learning and a vivacious attitude that foreshadowed her success as a grown woman. Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born on July 28, 1929, in Southampton New York. Her father, John Bouvier, was a New York stockbroker while her mother, Janet, was an equestrienne. Onassis was sent to good schools throughout her life, and proved to be a conscientious student, albeit a little mischievous.1 One of her teachers in elementary school described her as "a darling child, the prettiest little girl, very clever, very artistic, and full of the devil.” Another teacher claimed that "her disturbing conduct in geography class made it necessary to exclude her from the room”.2 From the age of twelve, Onassis participated in ballet lessons, learned French, and shared wither her mother a love of horseback riding. In 1940 when Onassis was just eleven, she won a national junior horsemanship competition. In the New York Times, they reported that "Jacqueline Bouvier, an eleven-year-old equestrienne fro... ... middle of paper ... ...ng days.27 The fact that Onassis planned this years before and died before the release of the recordings shows how committed she was to maintaining her husband’s legacy and not allowing it to be forgotten. In the words of Douglas Brinkley, “Jacqueline Kennedy epitomized elegance in the post–World War II era...There's never been a first lady like Jacqueline Kennedy, not only because she was so beautiful but because she was able to name an entire era 'Camelot' ... no other first lady in the 20th century will be able to have that aura. She's become an icon."28 Throughout her life, she was admired as a learned, classy, and graceful woman. Through her actions in the White House and her influence on husband’s presidency, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’s legacy paints her to this day to be a diligent and fiercely independent woman with wisdom beyond her years.

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