Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. was a prominent American businessman, investor, and ambassador. Kennedy was an Irish American and was the father of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, United States Attorney General and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy, naval officer Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Special Olympics co-founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith; grandfather of U.S. Representatives Joseph P. Kennedy II and Patrick J. Kennedy; and great-grandfather of newly-elected U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III. He was a leading member of the Democratic Party and of the Irish Catholic community. He was the inaugural Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later directed the Maritime Commission. Kennedy served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1938 until late 1940, including the early part of World War II.
Born to a political family in Boston, Massachusetts, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. was educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard University, and embarked on a career in finance, making a large fortune as a stock market and commodity investor and by investing in real estate and a wide range of industries.