Jeff Labrecque
August 26, 2009 AT 02:37 PM EDT

Edward M. Kennedy, a champion of progressive causes from the floor of the Senate for 47 years, succumbed to brain cancer on Tuesday. The youngest son of America’s most famous political dynasty, the Senator from Massachusetts had been the voice of his family ever since his emotional eulogy for his slain brother, Robert, in 1968.

Kennedy was an invaluable ally and respected opponent to 10 presidents, notably President George W. Bush, who teamed with the proudly liberal Senator on education legislation but clashed over the war in Iraq. In his later years, he became caricatured (The Simpsons’ Mayor Quimby), but his pace never slowed. Kennedy visited The Daily Show in 2006 to promote his book, America Back on Track, and the then-75 year-old was as charming and feisty as ever. Love him or hate him, his impact on modern America is beyond debate.

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