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Some Presidential Father’s Day Trivia—The Sunday Political Brunch—June 17, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Mark Curtis

Okay politics has gotten way too serious in the past week with five more primaries and President Trump’s summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. Let’s lighten up this week and do some fun trivia about presidents and their Father’s Day legacies. We’ll “brunch” on that this week.

“Like Father; Like Son” – We’ll start with the easy trivia. We’ve had two father and son combos serve in the White House, which is quite a rarity. Yes, royal families leave a legacy of kingly descendants, but our Founding Fathers very much tried to steer away from that. Still, President John Adams was our second U.S. President and his son John Quincy Adams was our sixth. Nearly two hundred years later we elected George H.W. Bush as our 41st President, and just twelve years later sent his son George W. Bush to the White House.

“John Who? – Does anyone recall U.S. Rep. John Scott Harrison (Whig-OH), who served two terms in Congress in the 1850s? Probably not, but he has the distinction of being the only person to be both the son and the father of a U.S. President. His dad was President William Henry Harrison, and his son President Benjamin Harrison.

“The Presidential Mingle” – Julie Nixon – daughter of President Richard Nixon – married David Eisenhower, grandson of President Dwight Eisenhower. Making this even more intriguing is the fact that Richard Nixon also served as Vice President under President Eisenhower for eight years from 1953 to 1961.

“Land of Lincoln” – President Abraham Lincoln is considered one of our greatest chief executives. His life was tinged with sadness, including the death of a son while he served as President. Two other Lincoln children died young. But Lincoln’s eldest had shining moments. His son Robert Todd Lincoln served as a Captain in the U.S. Army under General (and later President) Ulysses S. Grant. Robert Lincoln attended Harvard and rose the ranks in politics. He served as U.S. Secretary of War (now Defense), under Cleveland. He then went on to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Benjamin Harrison. Yes, his amazing accomplishments may be over shadowed by his dad in all the history books, but Robert Todd Lincoln remains one of the most prolific and successful of all presidential children.

“The Dads Have It” – If there is one thing in common among all 44 men who have served as U.S. President, it’s that all were fathers. Mind you that five were adoptive fathers, and the other 39 fathered biological children. Now I know some of you are scratching your heads saying, “President James Buchanan was a life-long bachelor?” Well, that’s true, but President Buchanan adopted his orphaned niece, Harriet Lane. At the age of 27, Lane served as First Lady of the United States for her bachelor uncle’s presidency!

“Father of Our Country?” – George Washington never fathered any children, but he did adopt his wife Martha's six kids. Four other Presidents - James Madison, James Polk, Andrew Jackson, and James Buchanan, also adopted children, but fathered none. President Warren Harding fathered a child out-of-wedlock the year before winning the White House.

“Trump Dad Times-Three” -- President Donald Trump is the only U.S. President to have been married three times, and fathered children with all three spouses. Donald Jr, Eric, and Ivanka, are the children from first wife Ivana. Tiffany Trump is the daughter of Marla Maples; and Barron Trump is the son of Melania Trump. Several other presidents had children with two spouses, and we know that Thomas Jefferson had children with slave Sally Hemmings.

“Father of Father’s Day” – Father's Day has a variety of origins. The first known commemoration was a memorial service in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907, after 361 men were killed in a mining accident. 1910, the YWCA in Spokane Washington offered a Father's Day service, but attempts to make it a national holiday in the administrations of Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge failed. It was always celebrated unofficially, but became a formally recognized holiday when President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation in 1966, which later became law under President Nixon in 1972. Father's Day had a lot of "presidential fathers!"

“Double Trouble” – The only presidential couple to deliver twins, was George W. and Laura Bush, with daughters Jenna and Barbara. By the way, they are among 31 living presidential children, the eldest being 74-year-old Lynda Byrd Johnson Robb, and the youngest being 12-year-old Barron Trump.
“Most Kids? – President John Tyler wins this one hands down, with 15 kids. Tyler had eight children with his first wife and seven with his second. His first wife Letitia died about a year and a half into his term. Two years later he married Julia, while still in the White House.

Do you have a favorite presidential child? I liked rebellious teenager Susan Ford, who was known to sneak out of the White House while in high school. Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter, author, and analysts now based in West Virginia, as Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving the Mountain State.


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