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Sunday, June 16, 2024

All the Presidents' Children

Aaron O'Neill at Statista:
The 45 men who have served as the President of the United States (officially there have been 46 as Grover Cleveland is counted twice) have fathered, adopted or allegedly fathered at least 190 children. Of these 190, 169 were conceived naturally, eleven were adopted and there are ten reasonable cases of alleged paternity (possibly more). Today, there are 34 living presidential children; the oldest of which is Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, daughter of Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson; the youngest is Barron Trump, son of Donald and Melania Trump. John Tyler is the president who fathered the most children, having fifteen children over two marriages (and allegedly fathering more with slaves), while his successor, James K. Polk, remains the only U.S. president never to have fathered or adopted any known children. Coincidentally, as of November 2020, the U.S.' tenth president, John Tyler, has two grandsons who are still alive today, despite the fact that he was born in 1790.

The president, their children and spouse are collectively known as the First Family of the United States; the current first family is made up of President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, as well as their children, Hunter and Ashley. Two of President Biden's children died before he was elected to office; his son Beau died of cancer in 2015, while his one year old daughter Naomi was killed in a car accident in 1972, along with Biden's wife, Neilia (who was also Beau and Hunter's mother). Two presidents' sons have gone on to assume the presidency themselves; these were John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush respectively, while one presidential grandson, Benjamin Harrison, later became president.

Three U.S. presidents have allegedly fathered illegitimate children with slaves. The most well-known and substantial of these allegations relates to Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings; who was also the half-sister of Jefferson's wife Martha (with whom he had already fathered six children). Following Martha's passing in 1782, its is believed that the future-president would then go on to have a relationship with Hemings that spanned four decades and saw the birth of as many as eight children between 1790 and 1808. Hemings, thought to have been 14 years old at the beginning of the relationship (Jefferson was 44), and her children remained enslaved to Jefferson until his death in 1826. DNA tests conducted in recent years have confirmed a genetic connection between the Hemings and Jefferson families, and the majority of historians accept that Thomas Jefferson was the father of at least six of Hemings' children. Less substantial claims have also been levelled at John Tyler, with political opponents claiming that he fathered several children with slaves in the years following his first wife's death; although these claims have been widely disregarded by historians, with little investigation into their validity. It is alleged that William Henry Harrison also fathered at least six children with one of his slaves, Dilsia, however these claims are anecdotal and have been disregarded or ignored by historians. In spite of this, to this day, there are some African-American families in the U.S. who claim to be the descendants of both Harrison and Tyler.

It is generally accepted that two other presidents, Grover Cleveland and Warren G. Harding, fathered children through extramarital affairs. It is likely that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock in 1874; even paying child support to the mother, acknowledging that he could have been the father. When the child's mother accused Cleveland of rape, he had her institutionalized to discredit these accusations, and the child was taken away and raised by Cleveland's friends. The issue came to light nationally during the 1884 election campaign, but Cleveland still emerged victorious. In 1927, four years after his death in office, it came to light that Warren G. Harding had fathered a child out of wedlock a year before winning the 1920 election. The child was conceived during one of his two long-term, extramarital affairs, and Harding did pay the mother child support, although he kept the affair and child a secret. Harding died before the child's fourth birthday, his family dismissed these claims as rumors, claiming that he was infertile; however, DNA tests confirmed that the child was his in 2015. While there have been numerous accusations of presidents' infidelity in the past century, particularly relating to John F. Kennedy and Donald Trump; Trump is the only president since Harding to have had a child out of wedlock (although the couple did get married two months after the birth of their daughter, Tiffany).