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Did Jackie almost leave Jack at the altar in Newport?

Senator John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy at their wedding reception at Hammersmith Farm in Newport.Library of Congress

Tuesday marked 70 years since JFK and Jacqueline Bouvier were married in Newport, and one of the best Twitter feeds in Rhode Island, @OTDRhodeIsland, shared some fantastic pictures of the lovely couple.

But did you know it almost never happened?

A new book released this summer, “Jackie: Public, Private, Secret,” claims that the future First Lady had doubts about marrying Kennedy, who had been elected to the US Senate the year before and was on a fast track to the White House.

The author, J. Randy Taraborrelli, reported that Jackie was thinking about canceling the wedding for the entire week leading up to the ceremony. That story comes from Adora Rule, who was 18 at the time and hired to assist with planning the reception.


At one point that week, Rule, Ethel Kennedy, and Jackie left Hammersmith Farm (Jackie’s childhood home) and drove to a nearby mansion on Bellevue Avenue. Jackie told the women she’d find her own way home.

When Rule and Ethel Kennedy were driving back to Hammersmith, Rule claimed Kennedy said, “I swear to God if that girl leaves Bobby’s brother at the altar, I’ll kill her with my own two bare hands. She doesn’t know how lucky she is to marry into this family.”

Of course, the wedding ended up going off without a hitch, and the rest is history.

Taraborrelli’s book is filled with plenty of other fun stories about Newport, like the time JFK invited the prime minister of India to Hammersmith. As they were flying in a helicopter over the area, JFK joked, “I just wanted you to see how the average American family lives.”

You can buy the book here.

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, links to interesting stories, and more. If you’d like to receive it via email Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.


Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.