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It’s safe to say that no other 20th-century political family captured the nation’s attention and imagination the way Kennedys did. (OK, maybe the Roosevelts, but we don’t have any of their campaign buttons.) We have buttons from the famoed Kennedy brothers who served in Congress (but none from the men in the next generation who served).

Edward (Ted) Kennedy wasn’t the first Kennedy to come to Congress, but he was there the longest. Ted represented Massachusetts in the Senate (having won a special election to replace his brother when JFK moved to the executive branch) from 1962 until his death in 2009.

Robert (Bobby) Kennedy had the shortest congressional career. He didn’t arrive in the Senate until 1965, representing New York, after his work as attorney general in his bother’s and Lyndon Johnson’s administrations. While in the midst of his first term, he ran for the Democratic nomination for president and was assassinated after a campaign event in Los Angeles in 1968.

Finally, John F. Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the House from 1947 to 1953 and in the Senate from 1953 to 1960, when he resigned because he had won the 1960 presidential election. He was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. The button to the left is one of the smaller buttons in our collection, while the larger one below has had red, white, and blue ribbons attached.Nearly 20 Kennedys have served in Congress since the 18th century, most of them not immediately related to this family. However, there have been two Williams, two Roberts, three Johns, and two Ambroses. None of the men who share names were related.

Click here for the first post in this series.