John Vernou Bouvier, II (1865 - 1948) MP

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Birthplace: Torresdale, PA, USA
Death: Died
Managed by: Bjørn P. Brox
Last Updated:

About John Vernou Bouvier, II

Bouvier, John Vernou, Jr. (1865-1948)

John Vernou Bouvier, Jr. (aka "The Major") was proud patriarch of the Bouviers, the father of Big Edith, William "Bud", John III, and red-headed twins Maude and Michelle. He was the grandfather of Little Edie, Bouvier "Buddy," Phelan Jr., Lee, and Jackie (his favorite). He graduated with honors from Columbia University Law School (he was the first in his family to attend college), became a trial lawyer, and was so successful that he opened his own firm (to which Edith's husband, Phelan, became a law partner). He was so highly regarded that he was appointed Major Judge Advocate for the Army during World War I. Henceforth, he delighted in being addressed as Major Bouvier. In 1890, he married Maude Sargeant, the beautiful, English-born daughter of a wealthy paper manufacturer. He purchased the family home Lasata, strategically situated near the ocean and the Maidstone Club, with his wife's money in 1925. The bulk of his wealth, however, came from his association with his uncle, M. C. Bouvier, a Wall Street tycoon for whom he put aside his law practice and worked, to their mutual financial advantage.

As consequential as wealth and military title were for him, neither satisfied the Major's constant ambition to improve his social status. He successfully sought membership in Manhattan's Union and Racquet Clubs and, on Long Island, the Maidstone and Piping Rock Clubs. A proudly American, flag-waving Republican, his name was also on the roster of fashionable associations in Washington, D.C., Florida and Cuba. The Major typified a sort of Victorian refinement: his hair was trimmed twice weekly; he was a stylish dresser; his mustache was carefully groomed and waxed until the points stood out beyond his cheeks; he preserved an immaculate physique even into his 60's. He would often turn off both of his hearing aids and ignore the noisy, constant bickering of his family.

Apparently unsatisfied with the family genealogy, he eventually privately printed a little book called Our Forebears in which, with shameless magnitude, he invented the most outrageous accounts of a noble Bouvier ancestry (the line, "The hallmark of aristocracy is responsibility" comes from this book). His elaborate, mythical history indicates that the Bouviers were descended from French nobility. Though, from actual documentation, the Bouviers had apparently been lowly drapers, tailors, glovers, farmers and domestic servants (the very name Bouvier means cowherd). Nevertheless, long after the Bouvier history had eventually been debunked, Little Edie was still telling reporters in the 1970's that the family descended from French kings. At the time of the Major's death, Big Edie was all but disinherited from what little remained of the Bouvier family fortune, having been left only a small trust fund of $65,000 from her father.

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John Bouvier, II's Timeline

August 12, 1865
Torresdale, PA, USA
May 19, 1891
Age 25
East Hampton, NY, USA
Age 27
Age 29
Age 64
Manhattan, New York, New York
January 15, 1948
Age 82