Dynasties have long captivated the American imagination. From Roosevelts to Bushes and Romneys, Americans have never let their anti-monarchial roots prevent them from expressing their fascination with families whose intergenerational wealth and persistent prominence seem akin to that of royalty. But how are such legacies manufactured and sustained? I thought it prudent to answer that question today using the example of arguably the most prominent of all American dynasties: the Kennedys.
Step 1: Build a fortune.
PJ Kennedy (born 1858, great-great grandfather to the current youngest generation of Kennedies) established the Kennedy fortune via business acumen (bars, some liquor importing, mining interests, etc). His son, Joe Kennedy Sr., expanded on this and made the Kennedy fortune truly massive (again, lots of liquor involved as well as finance/real estate).
This likely wouldn’t have been possible without his father, PJ, breaking the mold of the poor Irish Catholic immigrant and establishing the small fortune he had for his own kids to build on (his parents were straight out of Ireland and he was the first Kennedy to get a formal education). Joe went on to build enough to last the entire family for generations, and he set up an extremely elaborate network of trusts to ensure that it would last—there is likely still plenty remaining for the current generation.
Money also allows the family to benefit top universities, ensuring their descendants’ attendance for decades to come. You need a solid foundation of wealth before you can move forward and establish any dynasty. This is the first (and arguably the most crucial) step.
Oh, and don’t be too concerned about how you get this money. As many have noted, there was a shady element to the way Joe Kennedy built his fortune, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his father dealt in a few shadows as well (that was typical of the day, especially when it came to liquor). If it makes you wealthy and you can finagle your way out of any culpability for it, it’ll do. That’s the rule they followed, and you may need to follow it to if you’d like to achieve that level of success.
Step 2: Marry well.
PJ married into the Hickey family. You probably won’t know them, but they were established, prosperous Bostonites at the time. PJ’s wife was the daughter of one of the city’s more prosperous businessmen. Their only son, Joe, married a Fitzgerald, daughter of one of the most powerful Irish politicians in the country at the time, John Fitzgerald.
This does two things:
A). It makes Step 1 much easier—you can build a larger fortune with the wealth of two families better than you can build with just one. Some of her father’s wealth was bolted onto his own.
B). It gives your kids a leg up. They descend from two successful lines as opposed to one, and can benefit from the wealth and connections of both. Their pedigree is much stronger.
Step 2B: Marry your daughters very well.
Feminist talking points notwithstanding, the bottomline is that the men are going to be the heavy-lifters when it comes to carrying the pedigree of the name forward. If they can have some political success in their own right, that’s fine, but they do not need to do much so long as the men they marry come from a solid pedigree. Their children will still count towards your legacy, even if they’re not carrying your name. Marrying well will keep their pedigrees and financial status strong.
Step 3: Get into politics.
The first two steps make this much easier to do. This is where the real power is, and once you’ve got the money and the pedigree you can make a real go for it (those are the things that really win elections).
PJ Kennedy started off by converting his popularity in his Boston neighborhood to a long stint in the Massachusetts State Legislature. Soon, he was hanging out with the state’s democratic elite and holding a number of influential appointed positions at the state level.
This is what helped to get the Kennedy name into the realm of the power elite. His son, Joseph, used that political cache (along with the wealth and pedigree inherited from his father and mother) to launch his own career, becoming chairman of the SEC and Ambassador to the UK.
Joe, having taken the next step up from his father (remember PJ held state power, Joe moved up and held some Federal power), then proceeded to groom his sons to take the final step-national high office, targeting the Senate and, ultimately, the Presidency. He was successful. John became president, Robert and Ted both Senators (his first son and namesake was supposed to take the lead for the presidency, but died in WW2). His daughters also generally married well (Eunice to highly accomplished Sargeant Shriver of the establishment Shriver clan, Patricia to an accomplished actor, and Jean married a financier but actually had a decent political career in her own right).
At this point, the dynasty was largely set. It took about three generations to get running, but Joe’s sons cemented it firmly into the foundation of the American elite, as did his money. They’re cruising now—no more climbing left for them to do at the top of the American pyramid.
Aside from these three steps, some careful image cultivation aided things: JFK just happened to be very charismatic and thus garnered a sort of celebrity status, as did his wife. This added a large measure of fame to the already phenomenal pedigree the Kennedys had built, and created the whole “Camelot”/American royalty idea. Some of the marriages to celebrities enhanced this (I already mentioned Patricia, but Eunice’s daughter’s marriage to Schwarzenegger is another example). This gave the Kennedy name some popular cache that some other very well established families (ex: Taft, Forbes, Udall, Weld, Bush, etc) do not have. The Roosevelts probably come the closest, along with the Vanderbilts.
How can you do this?
Tough call. If you didn’t get in on the ground floor or lack ancestors who did so, it is tough to replicate this in the modern USA. Things aren’t quite as fluid as they’ve been in the past—the established elite have just been getting richer and established tighter controls, making it harder to replicate what they did before and easier for them to stay on top absent competition from upstarts.
Marrying into it would be the most effective way, but not any old Joe can do that. If you’re not white, not affluent or famous, and not a graduate of an elite university, this will be tough. These folks generally congregate within certain socials circles and prefer to get with their own.
You may have a better chance of pulling this off in another society. This could be done by marrying into another nation’s elite, and becoming a part of it yourself (this would require some serious legwork on your part), or by establishing yourself in another country, building some sizable wealth (enough to make you a one percenter there) and then following the model listed above from step one, starting from scratch and hoping that your children/grandchildren will cement your dynasty the way Joe, JFK, Robert and Ted did for PJ. This way, your descendants can occupy a role similar to that of the Kennedys here in a smaller pond, wielding similar power within their playing field. For the young red pill male who is adventurous enough to see opportunities across the globe and take advantage of them, great rewards can be obtained.