Tags: first | sons | US | presidents

Eight First Sons Who Might Have Been President

Monday, 01 Oct 2012 07:17 PM

By Doug Wead

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Everybody knows that there were two sons of U.S. presidents who went on to become president themselves.

But you may not know that there were eight others who either declared their candidacies for the nation’s highest office or had expectations placed on them to do so?

video-tribute-to-bush-sr--and-jr--in-Tampa-getty.jpg
Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were given a video tribute at the Republican National Convention
(Getty Images)
The two that made it of course were John Quincy Adams, son of our second president, John Adams, and George W. Bush, son of George Herbert Walker Bush.

The younger Adams was elected the sixth president of the United States while the younger Bush became the 43rd.

Here are the eight who might have joined them:
  1. Charles Francis Adams: Charles Francis Adams was the son and grandson of presidents and might have become one himself. He was fluent in several languages, graduated from Harvard at age 17 and was elected to the House of Representatives. As ambassador to the Court of St. James during the American Civil War he is credited by many for keeping England from supporting the confederacy.
  2. John Van Buren: Many said he was a better lawyer, businessman and politician than his father. But when "Prince John" as he was called, was elected to the House of Representatives he kept fighting his father’s old battles.
  3. Robert Todd Lincoln: After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, rose to prominence in America. After graduating from law school, every major corporation looked to his services and many offered him positions on their board of directors. Within decades, he became one of the richest men in America and was a cabinet officer and ambassador. Heads of state who visited America, often called on the younger Lincoln. But many were concerned that his political rise was unhealthy. Joseph Pulitzer, for one, railed against the possible presidency of Lincoln "simply because he is the son of a president."
  4. Jesse Grant: Jesse Grant, son of President Ulysses S. Grant, joined his mom and dad on their famous round-the-world trip during their retirement years. Jesse fell in love with the lavish lifestyle foreign potentates showered on the son of a former head of state and succumbed to their flattery. Failing to understand how American elections worked, and living in cultures where power rested in a few families, many foreign leaders anticipated that Jesse Grant, himself, would one day be an American president. The attention apparently went to Jesse's head. He eventually returned to America and announced he was running for president but the press and the public largely ignored him and his campaign fizzled.
  5. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.: Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was on the fast track to the presidency. His father had been appointed assistant secretary of the Navy on his way to the White House, and so had his cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt. So when TR, Jr. received the same appointment many expected the pattern to be repeated. But fate did not comply. Ted served as governor of Puerto Rico and the Philippines. He was a hero in World War II but recent disclosures show a jealous FDR restricted his press coverage. TR, Jr. was the only general to land with his own troops on the first wave, on the first day of the Normandy D Day invasion during World War II. He died shortly afterward and was awarded the Medal of Honor in absentia.
  6. Robert Taft: Sen. Robert Taft, son of President William Howard Taft, is considered by many to have been one of the top five greatest lawmakers in American history. He ran for president three times and very nearly won the Republican nomination in 1952.
  7. John Eisenhower: John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, son of President Dwight Eisenhower, is one of America's greatest military historians. He served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium in the Nixon administration. In the 1960s, the Democratic National Committee commissioned a private poll which showed John Eisenhower as their most formidable Republican opponent for president, beating out both Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller but Eisenhower was not tempted. He is in retirement and is now the oldest living child of a president.
  8. John F. Kennedy, Jr.: Many observers believed that JFK, Jr., son of John F. Kennedy, had the best chance to retrace his father's steps and win back the White House for a Kennedy family member. Kennedy never traded on those expectations and wisely kept his own counsel about any political ambitions. His sister made a brief appearance in public life, jockeying for appointment to the Senate. It did not go well. JFK, Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999. He was 38 years old.
Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush. Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.

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