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Which U.S. President Had the Most Presidential Relatives?

John Adams set a familial precedent, with two U.S. Presidents in his lineage. His son, John Quincy Adams, followed in his footsteps, making them the first father-son duo in the White House. This legacy of leadership raises the question: How does family shape a president's path? Join us as we examine the influence of lineage on America's highest office.
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman

There's no denying that politics can be a family business. The Clintons, the Rockefellers, the Bushes, and the Kennedys are among the many families that have made a significant impact on U.S. history and politics at the highest levels. But what's less obvious is just how many U.S. presidents were actually related to one another, either through blood or marriage. Of course, George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, were both elected to the nation's top job, as were Founding Father John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. In the 19th century, William Henry Harrison was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison.

Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were fifth cousins, although the list of FDR's presidential relatives certainly doesn't end there. In fact, the nation's longest-serving president was related to 11 other presidents, albeit distantly. In addition to Theodore Roosevelt, FDR's relatives and relatives-in-law included John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Madison, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant and William Howard Taft. FDR was even related to his own wife – Eleanor Roosevelt was Theodore Roosevelt's niece, making her the fifth cousin once removed of the 32nd president.

The presidential family tree:

  • FDR's (very) extended family includes Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, as well as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Douglas MacArthur.

  • George W. Bush and Barack Obama are distant cousins – they have the same great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, 17th-century English immigrants Samuel Hinckley and Sarah Soole.

  • There are no direct descendants of Presidents George Washington, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and William McKinley.

Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...

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    • Many U.S. presidents were related to one another by blood or marriage – Franklin D. Roosevelt was distantly related to 11 other presidents.
      Many U.S. presidents were related to one another by blood or marriage – Franklin D. Roosevelt was distantly related to 11 other presidents.