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Jacqueline Bouvier and Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) announced their engagement on this day in 1953. After she accepted his proposal, Kennedy presented her with a 2.88-carat diamond-and-emerald engagement ring from Van Cleef & Arpels. Kennedy went on to become the nation’s 35th president in 1961. Jackie, as she was widely known, soon emerged as one of the most popular and admired first ladies ever to live in the White House.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was born in 1929 into a socially prominent family in New York City. In 1951, after graduating from George Washington University, she toured Europe with her sister Lee. She perfected her French while spending a year in Paris studying at the Sorbonne.

She returned to Washington to begin a short-lived newspaper career as a $42.50-a-week “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the long-defunct Washington Times-Herald. Jackie would pose a news-related question to people on the street and, after noting their response, take their picture for publication. She ended her venture into journalism by covering the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London.

While working for the newspaper, Jackie met Jack at a dinner party on May 8, 1952, at the Georgetown home of Charles Bartlett, then the Washington correspondent for the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times. They spent a good deal of time apart, however, because Kennedy, then a congressman, often returned to Massachusetts to pursue his successful Senate bid against the Republican incumbent, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.

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The couple married on Sept. 12, 1953, at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. More than 1,200 people attended the wedding reception at the Bouvier family’s Hammersmith Farm. On November 22, 1963, she was riding beside her husband in a motorcade in Dallas, when he was assassinated. She withdrew from public view after his funeral. She married Aristotle Onassis, a Greek shipping magnate, in 1968. He died in 1975.

Jackie died in New York on May 18, 1994, at the age of 64, after a successful career in publishing. After her death, a residence hall at her alma mater, located on the southeast corner of I and 23rd Streets NW, was renamed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Hall.

In 1999, she was named on Gallup’s list of “Most Admired Men and Women in 20th century America.” Today, she ranks among the most popular first ladies in U.S. history. 


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