It’s All Relative: Massachusetts US Senate Edition

One-quarter of all Bay State U.S. Senators were preceded by a family member in Congress; Joe Kennedy III would become the 14th

joekennedy20This is the fifth in a series of reports on political royalty in Congress. Past reports have focused on Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Wyoming.

Elizabeth Warren’s recent full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton – and reports that she is being vetted to be the former Secretary of State’s running mate – has heightened the buzz that the Massachusetts U.S. Senator’s seat could be vacant next year. (Leading to problems for the Democrats that were recently discussed here).

If Warren is picked and the Democratic ticket wins in November, her successor will be a Republican appointed by Governor Charlie Baker. In Massachusetts, state law requires that a special election be held for the seat between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy occurs.

One Bay State politician who has already contemplated running in such a special election is two-term Democratic U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III.

Although Kennedy has the third shortest tenure of the state’s nine-member Democratic U.S. House delegation (ahead of only Katherine Clark and freshman Seth Moulton), his surname would make him a formidable candidate in the race.

And, were he victorious in such a contest, Rep. Kennedy would add his name to an already substantial list of Massachusetts’ U.S. Senators who came from political royalty.

A Smart Politics review of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress finds that 13 of Massachusetts’ 53 U.S. Senators since statehood had family members who had previously served in Congress, or 24.5 percent.

Nine of these 13 U.S. Senators served in the 20th or 21st Centuries:

  • Republican George Hoar (1877-1904): son of Massachusetts Anti-Jacksonian U.S. Representative Samuel Hoar (1835-1837), brother of Massachusetts Republican U.S. Representative Ebenezer Hoar (1873-1875), and grandson of Connecticut Pro-Administration U.S. Representative Roger Sherman (1789-1791)
  • Republican Henry Cabot Lodge (1893-1924): great-grandson of Massachusetts Pro-Administration U.S. Senator George Cabot (1791-1795; 1795-1796)
  • Republican John Weeks (1913-1913): great nephew of New Hampshire Jacksonian U.S. Representative John Weeks (1829-1833)
  • Democrat Marcus Coolidge (1931-1937): son of Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Representative Frederick Coolidge (1891-1893)
  • Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1937-1944; 1947-1953): grandson of Massachusetts Republican U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (1893-1924), nephew of Massachusetts Republican U.S. Representative Augustus Gardner (1902-1917), great-great grandson of Massachusetts Federalist U.S. Representative (1815-1819) and U.S. Senator (1820-1823; 1823-1825; 1825-1827) Elijah Mills, great-great grandson of Massachusetts Anti-Jacksonian U.S. Representative (1825-1834) and Whig U.S. Senator (1835-1841; 1845-1853) John Davis, and great-great-great grandson of Massachusetts Pro-Administration U.S. Senator George Cabot (1791-1795; 1795-1796)
  • Republican Sinclair Weeks 1944-1944): son of Massachusetts Republican U.S. Representative (1905-1913) and U.S. Senator (1913-1913) John Weeks
  • Republican Leverett Saltonstall (1945-1967): great-grandson of Massachusetts Whig U.S. Representative Leverett Saltonstall (1838-1843)
  • Democrat John Kennedy (1953-1960): grandson of Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Representative John Fitzgerald (1895-1901; 1919-1919)
  • Democrat Ted Kennedy (1962-2009): brother of Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Representative (1947-1953) and U.S. Senator (1953-1960) John Kennedy and grandson of Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Representative John Fitzgerald (1895-1901; 1919-1919)

Four other 19th Century Bay State U.S. Senators were preceded in Congress by family members:

  • Federalist Dwight Foster (1800-1803): brother of Rhode Island Federalist U.S. Senator Theodore Foster (1790-1803)
  • Federalist John Quincy Adams (1803-1808): son of Continental Congress member John Adams (1774-1777)
  • Jeffersonian Republican Joseph Varnum (1811-1817): brother of Continental Congress member James Varnum (1780-1781; 1787)
  • Federalist Harrison Otis (1817-1822): son of Continental Congress member Samuel Otis (1787-1788)

Like Joe Kennedy III, seven of these 13 U.S. Senators served in the U.S. House prior to entering the U.S. Senate: Dwight Foster (1793-1800), Joseph Varnum (1795-1811), Harrison Otis (1797-1801), George Hoar (1869-1877), Henry Cabot Lodge (1887-1893), John Weeks (1905-1913), and John Kennedy (1947-1953).

John Quincy Adams famously served in the nation’s lower legislative chamber at the end of his political career (1831-1848).

A half-dozen additional Massachusetts U.S. Senators preceded family members who later served in one of the nation’s two legislative chambers:

  • Federalist Eli Ashmun (1816-1818): father of Massachusetts Whig U.S. Representative George Ashmun (1845-1851)
  • Federalist Elijah Mills (1820-1823; 1823-1825; 1825-1827): great-great grandfather of Massachusetts Republican U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1937-1944; 1947-1953) and Connecticut Republican U.S. Representative John Davis Lodge (1947-1951)
  • Whig John Davis (1835-1841; 1845-1853): father of two-term California Republican U.S. Representative Horace Davis (1877-1881) and great-great grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
  • Whig Edward Everett (1853-1854): father of one-term Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Representative William Everett (1893-1895)
  • Whig Julius Rockwell (1854-1855): father of four-term Massachusetts Republican U.S. Representative Francis Rockwell (1884-1891)
  • Democrat Paul Tsongas (1979-1985): husband of five-term Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas (2007-present)

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