Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis


Life Influences

Jackie, born in Southampton, New York as Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, was influenced by numerous individuals and their different ways of living.

Jackie's Mother

In Jackie's time period, women were expected to get married, have kids, and stay at home, however she secretly wished for anything but this and she had a slightly mischevious nature especially in her childhood. Her mother raised Jackie as any socially acceptable mother would. She placed Jackie in French lessons at the age of 12 and ballet lessons at the Metropolitan opera house while sending Jackie to a boarding school where she learned proper manners, the art of conservation, and excelled at writing. Her senior year she was named "Debutante of the Year", and in the yearbook she wrote that her life's ambition was "not to become a housewife." Both Jackie and her mother were also award winning equestriennes who were often in the news. Despite these successes, Jackie felt as if she were destined for greater things.

Jackie's Father

She particularly looked up to her father, "Black Jack", who was completely the opposite of her mother. He did not have very much money and he had affairs with many women eventually leading to his and Janet's divorce. Despite Jackie being taunted by her classmates who saw the divorce in the news, she continued to admire her father for his daring and undisciplined nature. When Jackie's stepfather Hugh D. Auchincloss came along, she enjoyed his beautiful estates, however, his riches did not win her over quite like the richness of Black Jack's personality. His carefree outlook on life inspired Jackie to have similar views. She was also particulary fond of Black Jack due to his origin. Although later proved fraudulent, Bouvier, Black Jack's last name, was originally understood to be French, and Jackie found much of her identity in this. She studied French history and considered the French General Charles de Gaulle to be her hero because he refused to accept defeat through Armistice with Hitler in 1940.

Jackie's First Husband

The evidence of Charles de Gaulle's influence on her life is the relationship Jackie had with her first husband, John F. Kennedy. Jackie loved Kennedy for many of the same reasons she loved her father and this came with consequences. Kennedy was a playboy much like Black Jack and yet Jackie never gave up on him, just like Charles de Gaulle refusing to accept defeat. Jackie worked hard and even went back to school to try to become a better support and aid to her husband. Despite Kennedy's many affairs and his constant focus on work, Jackie wanted to be as useful as possible to him and one way she came as a wonderful help was through her fluency in 4 languages including English, French, Italian, and Spanish. Although Jackie doubted, at times, her husband's love for her, she deeply cared for him and displayed this through her actions. Kennedy was never publicly seen showing affection for Jackie until their two-day old son, Patrick, tragically passed away. When Jackie was released from the hospital, Kennedy tenderly held her hand. The death of Patrick particularly brought the two of them closer together, however this was not the only troubled birth Jackie had. In 1940 she gave birth to a stillborn babygirl who was going to be named Arabelle, and her son John Jr. was born prematurely with weak lungs. This gave Jackie a negative reputation for having pregnancy and birth difficulty. Through these troubled times, Jackie and her husband's relationship continued to grow stronger and the day Kennedy was assassinated devastated Jackie to the point of despair. In 1964 there was no name for Jackie's condition however it was later to be diagnosed as PTSD. She described herself as "a living wound", and thought she would "never be able to feel anything again". The shooting of Robert F. Kennedy, politician and brother to JFK, furthmore devastated Jackie. She suffered for 31 years with this condition and in attempts to combat the disease, she sought psychiatric treatment and she tried to focus on raising her kids. She married for a second time to rich and well-known Aristotle Onassis but after his death in 1975 she remained single. At age 64, Jackie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and on May 19, 1994, the doctors could do no more to save her. She chose to go home and pass away in her own bedroom, and as her son John Jr. put it, "She did it in her own way and in her own terms." Overall, these unique individuals and circumstances shaped Jackie into a strong, fearless woman who overcame obstacles and never gave up trying to become the best woman she could be.

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Jackie as an Activist

Jackie served as a role model to women to govern their own lives. She wanted them to know that they are capable of so much more than society tells them, and that being fearless is glamorous. As a girl, Jackie was not fond of her mother because she was everything tht society wanted a woman to be. She often sacrificed her reputation growing up for wanting to write and let her opinions be known. Jackie knew that women could be just as smart as men and she didn't understand why some women would never put their intelligence to good use. Her belief that every man or woman could make a difference, whether that be in someone else's life or their very own, left an impression on America, and inspired her to perservere through whatever life threw at her.

Jackie's American Experience

The American Experience of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was one of suffering and heartache however she found love and a purpose in life despite her troubles so it was both a positive and negative experience. The traumatic experiences that impacted her life gave her a humble and hard-working attitude but sadly they were emotionally and physically damaging.

Historical Summation

Source: "Jackie O-In A Class of Her Own" (Video)

The narrator in this video clearly believes Jackie to be a woman worth remembering. His tone throughout is one filled with admiration and enthusiasm. This source not only shares Jackie's story, it identifies the impacts she made on America and how she was selfless yet self-reliant. Her selflessness is demonstrated through her concern about the impact of publicity on her children, and her self-reliant nature is seen through her belief that she didn't need anyone to tell her how to live her life. Additional facts about Jackie include that she was the first first lady to show the amount of glamour and elegance that she did, and she also introduced American arts and culture into the White House.

Compare/Contrast on Jackie

Time Period: 2016

Today, Jackie would most likely be respected for the troubling circumstances she had to endure, and her thoughts about the roles of women would be greatly supported and understood. Additionally, her fluency in 4 different languages would allow her to reach out to the people of many ethnicities within America.

If I had Jackie's skills, I would travel the world to encourage women of all different ethnicities the same way she encouraged American women. I would also write an autobiography in several languages.

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Political Cartoon

In this political cartoon, Jackie is seen on her death bed as she suddenly wonders if it was a mistake to never write an autobiography of her life, but then she remembers her famous quote, "I want to live my life, not record it."

Defining Quotes

“When you get written about a lot, you just think of it as a little cartoon that runs along at the bottom of our life—but one that doesn't have much to do with your life.”

"Pearls are always appropriate."

"I want to live my life, not record it."