Presidential Inbreeding: Are All U.S. Presidents Related?

Octopus King - the genealogy of related presidents (Illustration By: Matt Wainwright)

Octopus King – the genealogy of related presidents (Illustration By: Matt Wainwright)

Does anybody else wish we could be done with all Bushes, Clintons and Kennedys? No more Roosevelts, Harrisons or Adamses?

As it turns out, ruling dynasties formed by centuries of incestuous coupling aren’t just for European monarchies. Here in America, we have our own “royal” families, a certain posterity who just can’t seem to keep their posteriors away from the seat of power.

Although no U.S. president has ever been directly related to the president that he immediately follows or who immediately follows him, some have come pretty close:

  • George W. Bush (#43) was the son of George H. W. Bush (#41).
  • John Quincy Adams (#6) was the son of John Adams (#2).
  • Benjamin Harrison (#23) was the grandson of William Henry Harrison (#9).
  • James Madison (#4) and Zachary Taylor (#12) were second cousins.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (#32) was a fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt (#26)

The presidential bloodline runs especially deep for our longest-serving president. Genealogists have determined that FDR was related to a total of 11 presidents, five by blood or and six through marriage: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren and George Washington.

But it gets better. In 2012, a 12-year-old girl in California traced the lineage of all but one American President back to King John, who ruled England from 1166 to 1216. King John “Lackland” Plantaganet signed the Magna Carta in 1215, limiting the monarch’s power and helping form the British Parliament. According to the pre-teen, only one president was not related to King John – Martin Van Buren (#8), who has Dutch roots. (He was known as the “OK” president. Seriously.) If her research is true, it appears that all but one of the U.S. presidents are cousins. Kissing cousins. Of related royal bloodlines. Descended from European monarchs. So much for the Revolutionary War of independence

4 thoughts on “Presidential Inbreeding: Are All U.S. Presidents Related?

  1. I’ve heard about Obama somehow being a part of that lineage as well, but I think folks would love to expand on that!

    • Obama is indeed part of that lineage! Here’s a little nugget to get you started: According to Lynne Cheney (former VP Dick Cheney’s wife), Barack Obama (#44) is 10th cousin to George W. Bush.

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