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Kennedy joined the Army to redeem himself and was later readmitted to Harvard.He followed the classic path of the American elite to law school, graduated and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. He believed that, like his brothers, he was destined for greatness.
Keeping such a vice under wraps seemed to run in the blood (as did charisma).Kennedy lawyers arranged for him to pay £55,000 to the Kopechne family from his own pocket with a further £30,000 from his insurance.Mary Jo's mother later said: 'I don't think he ever said he was sorry.' At the height of the scandal, Kennedy went on TV to explain himself in an extraordinary 13-minute address in which he denied driving drunk and rejected rumours of 'immoral conduct' with Kopechne.Incredibly, he was in line to inherit his brother John F.Kennedy's legendary presidency, but his chances were dashed following the drowning of the pretty, young campaign assistant Mary Jo Kopechne.Sustained by the memory of our priceless years together, I shall carry forward the special commitment to justice, excellence and courage that distinguished their lives.' It was not to be.
The steamroller Kennedy political machine, combined with his popular opposition to the then raging Vietnam War, made him favourite for the 1972 presidential election, but the drunken drive that killed Mary Jo snuffed out his bid.
When JFK was assassinated just a year later, Ted was at work on a committee and reportedly stood stunned and unable to move when he heard.
The assassination would prove to be the opening shot in the destruction of the family that in 1960 had held the promise of an era of unprecedented hope in the U. Less than a year after the assassination, Ted experienced his own brush with death in a plane crash. He was left with a permanent back injury, broken ribs and a punctured lung.
He said he was haunted by 'irrational' thoughts immediately after the accident, and wondered 'whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys'.
He said his failure to report the accident right away was 'indefensible'. By this point in the family's extraordinary history, JFK - John Fitzgerald Kennedy - was President and the next in line, Robert 'RFK' Kennedy, was Attorney General.
Divers later estimated that if he had called them immediately, they would have had time to pull out Mary Jo.