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Jackie Kennedy's letters to Father Joseph Leonard go public

Jacqueline Kennedy with JFK during the 1960 presidential campaign
Jacqueline Kennedy with JFK during the 1960 presidential campaign

Jacqueline (Jackie) Kennedy wrote letters to Joseph Leonard, a priest who she had only met twice, and now the letters have become public. The letters, written from 1950 to 1964 – from when Mrs. Kennedy was single to when she had become a former first lady after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – show a side of Mrs. Kennedy which has not been revealed before, according to a Washington Post report on Tuesday.

In the letters, Mrs. Kennedy wrote privately to the priest about her life. The letters included her feelings about her husband’s womanizing and his incredibly strong political aspirations – as well as about his assassination. In one letter, she revealed that the assassination of her husband made her feel bitter against God. In other, she wrote of her personal ambition in which she stated that maybe she was just dazzled and pictured herself in a glittering world of crowned heads and Men of Destiny – as opposed to being a sad little housewife. In that letter, she went on to admit that the dazzling life can be very glamorous from the outside – but living it and being lonely could be a Hell. A letter timed to the point where she had been married to the then-future president for a year said that she loved being married much more than she did even in the beginning.

All told, Jacqueline Kennedy wrote about 30 letters to the Irish priest. The letters equated to more than 130 pages of her writings on personal stationery as well as on her father-in-law Joseph P. Kennedy’s stationery and on White House stationery. There is also one printed telegram among the revealed documents. In the writings, she wrote that it was so good in a way to write all of her thoughts down and get it off her chest because, she admitted, she never really talked with anyone.

Mrs. Kennedy, named Jacqueline Bouvier at the time, was 21-years-old when she met Father Joseph Leonard for the first time. They met when she visited Ireland. At the time, he was 71-years-old. Five years later, she saw him again when John Kennedy was a United States senator and she and her husband were in Ireland.

Quite revealing, she wrote of a stockbroker she almost married before marrying John Kennedy. In marrying Kennedy, she wrote that she had early fears that the president might be like her own father – one who loved the chase but was bored with the conquest. She feared that once she married, her husband would be like like her father and need proof that he is still attractive and would thereby flirt with other women while resenting her. Her last letter to Leonard was in 1964, the year he passed away made reference to the assassination of the president. In that letter, Mrs. Kennedy wrote that she felt more cruelly every day about what she had lost. She wrote, “I always would have rather lost my life than lost Jack.”

The newly-released letters written by Jacqueline Kennedy are scheduled to be sold on June 10. They will be sold at Sheppard’s Irish Auction House in Durrow, according to an NBC News report. The auctioned-sale of the manuscripts is expected to receive approximately $1.6 million.

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