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Timeline: Senate Icon

Events in the life and career of Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy.

Edward and Joseph Kennedy

Feb. 22, 1932

Edward Moore Kennedy is born in Boston, the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy.

The 1950s

May 1951: Kennedy is caught cheating on an exam at Harvard and leaves school. He enlists in the Army, serves for the next 16 months, and later re-enrolls at Harvard.

June 1954: Kennedy graduates from Harvard and enrolls at the University of Virginia Law School. He graduates in 1959.

Nov. 29, 1958: Kennedy marries Virginia Joan Bennett.



March: Resigns as assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Mass., and announces his candidacy for his brother John's unexpired Senate term.

Nov. 6: Elected as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.

President John F. Kennedy is seen riding in motorcade approximately one minute before he was shot in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963.

Nov. 22 1963

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas.


June 1964

Kennedy's back is broken in a plane crash that kills his aide and the pilot.

Nov. 3, 1964

Brother Robert Kennedy is elected to the Senate from New York.

March 1968

Sen. Robert Kennedy announces his candidacy for the presidency.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy lies on the floor at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles waiting for the arrival of medical aid moments after he was shot on June 5, 1968. (AP)

June 5, 1968

After winning the California primary, Robert Kennedy is shot in Los Angeles and dies the next day.

Ted Kennedy car at water's edge on Chappaquiddick Island, July 1969.

July 18, 1969

Kennedy drives his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, Mass., and manages to escape. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowns. Kennedy later pleads guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, a misdemeanor, and receives a two-month suspended sentence and a year's probation.

Kennedy's TV address.

July 25, 1969

Kennedy delivers a television address to explain his actions at Chappaquiddick.

The 1970s

Nov. 3, 1970: Kennedy is re-elected to the Senate, but loses his majority whip position. He chairs the Senate Health Committee.

November 1979: Kennedy announces his candidacy in the 1980 presidential election.

The 1980s

January-August 1980: Kennedy wins Democratic primaries in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, California, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and New Jersey. The rest go to the incumbent, President Jimmy Carter.

August 1980: In an emotional speech to the Democratic National Convention, Kennedy withdraws his bid for the presidency.

Dec. 1982: Kennedy announces he will not run for president in 1984. After 24 years of marriage, he divorces his wife, Joan.

Dec. 19, 1985: Kennedy announces he will not run for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.

William Kennedy Smith

March 1991

A woman accuses Kennedy's nephew, William Kennedy Smith, of raping her at the family's Palm Beach, Fla., estate. He is later acquitted of the charge.

June 11, 1991

A conservative political group files an ethics complaint against Kennedy, alleging that he violated Senate rules by his actions relating to the alleged rape. Kennedy raised questions when he left Palm Beach, Fla., without speaking to police, who had made attempts to contact him. Senate Ethics Committee dismisses the complaint on June 19.

July 11, 1991

Edward M. Kennedy Jr., Kennedy's son, announces that he spent three weeks in an alcohol treatment center because drinking was "impairing my ability to achieve the goals I care about."

Oct. 25, 1991

Kennedy takes responsibility for "faults in the conduct of my private life" and pledges to reform his lifestyle, in a speech at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

September 1992

A book by former administrative assistant Richard E. Burke depicts Kennedy as a former partygoer, womanizer and cocaine user. Kennedy calls the book "a collection of bizarre and untrue stories."

Edward M. Kennedy and Victoria Anne Reggie on their wedding day.

July 1992

Kennedy marries Victoria Reggie, a Washington lawyer.

Oct. 13, 1994

The Senate Ethics Committee dismisses allegations of sexual harassment and drug use by Kennedy.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy

Jan. 4, 1995

Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of the Massachusetts senator, becomes the youngest member of the 104th Congress.

Aug. 21, 1996

A major health care bill sponsored by Kennedy and Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., is signed into a law. The law protects workers from losing health insurance when they change jobs or from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

July 1999

John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, perish in a plane crash in the waters off Martha's Vineyard.

Feb. 10, 2000

Kennedy is released from a hospital after being treated for bacterial pneumonia.

January 2002

No Child Left Behind, which Kennedy co-sponsored, is signed into law. The legislation is designed to give states and school districts more freedom over how they spend federal dollars, but requires them to raise student achievement.

April 5, 2004

Kennedy says Iraq has become "George Bush's Vietnam" and compares him to former President Nixon.

May 4, 2006

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of the Massachusetts senator, drives his vehicle into a Capitol Hill security barrier. On June 13 a judge sentences Patrick Kennedy to drug treatment and a year's probation after he pleads guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

November 2006

Kennedy easily wins an eighth term that would extend his Senate career to an even 50 years in 2012.


May: Congress approves an increase in the federal minimum wage, a longtime priority for Kennedy.

Oct. 12: Kennedy has surgery in Boston to clear a partially blocked artery in his neck.

Jan. 28, 2008

Kennedy announces he is endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., waves as he walks out of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after he was released Wednesday, May 21, 2008.

May - June 2008

On May 17, Kennedy suffers a seizure at his Cape Cod home.
Doctors diagnose the senator with a cancerous brain tumor on May 20. He undergoes brain surgery on June 2.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., right, arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, for the swearing-in of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Jan. 20, 2009

Sen. Kennedy suffers a seizure during the inaugural luncheon for President Barack Obama. He was transported to a hospital where he was released the next day. The doctor treating him says the seizure was probably brought on by "simple fatigue."

July 30, 2009

Kennedy is one of 16 people selected by President Obama for the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. In a statement, the senator said, "I am profoundly grateful to President Obama for this extraordinary honor. My life has been committed to the ideal of public service which President Kennedy wanted the Medal of Freedom to represent. To receive it from another President who prizes that same ideal of service and inspires so many to serve is a great privilege that moves me deeply."

Aug. 25, 2009

Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and haunted bearer of the Camelot torch after two of his brothers fell to assassins' bullets, died at his home in Hyannis Port after battling a brain tumor. He was 77

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