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The Kennedys at Virginia

From left to right: Ted Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy during a 1958 visit to UVA.

In March 1958, the UVA Law School held its first Law Day for students, alumni and their families. Attendees included then-Senator John F. Kennedy, his wife, Jacqueline, and his brothers Robert F. Kennedy (Law ’51) and Edward M. Kennedy (Law ’59).

The day was highlighted by a Saturday evening cocktail party at Alumni Hall and a buffet dinner at Memorial Gym. There, with students ringing the edge of the gym’s balcony track, John Kennedy addressed a crowd of more than 800. Among his remarks, he discussed education and the Cold War, saying, “It is no exaggeration to say that the struggle in which we are now engaged may well be won or lost in the classrooms of America.”

Brother Ted—a second-year law student at the time—was a particularly interested observer. In addition to keeping up with his studies, he was managing John’s successful Senate re-election campaign in Massachusetts.

Mortimer Caplin (Law ’40), former UVA law professor and President Kennedy’s commissioner of the IRS, remembers teaching federal taxation to Robert and Ted. “They were both just average students, but they were good on their feet,” Caplin says.

Indeed, Ted Kennedy and future California Sen. John V. Tunney (Law ’59) partnered to win the Law School’s moot court competition.