Sons Of The Presidents
( Originally Published 1908 )
TRUE it is that in many cases the lives of the sons and grandsons of distinguished men are obscured by the greatness of fathers or grandfathers. In the case of the Presidents, however, many notable exceptions to this more or less usual state of affairs may be cited. For example, two members of the Adams family of Massachusetts, father and son, became Presidents of the United States. Two members of the Harrison family of Ohio also became Presidents, these being father and grandson. Besides these, the sons of no less than ten or twelve Presidents have lived to make a name for themselves.
Well-Known Presidents' Sons
Regarding those Presidents' sons who have made a name for themselves, the Ohio Magazine gives the following facts :
Only twenty-one Presidents' sons have grown to manhood. Six Presidents Washington, Madison, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan (a bachelor) and McKinley left no children. Two Jefferson and Monroe left daughters only. President Johnson had two sons, but both died before he was President, and so do not count. The sons of thirteen Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur and Benjamin Harrison have lived to man's estate. The sons of Cleveland and Roosevelt are still boys.
Of the twenty-one Presidents' sons who have reached manhood, nine have bulked large in the public eye, and all but one or two have been solid, substantial citizens.
The prominent nine are John Quincy Adams, President, diplomatist and Representative ; Charles Francis Adams, publicist and statesman; Robert Tyler, Register of the Confederate Treasury; Richard Taylor, who served with distinguished gallantry on the Confederate side of the Civil War; John Van Buren, prominent in State politics and just entering National politics when he died ; Robert Todd Lincoln, Cabinet Minister, diplomatist and president of the Pullman Palace Car Company ; Frederick Dent Grant, diplomatist and General in the army; Henry A. Garfield, lawyer, banker and professor of politics in a great university, and James R. Garfield, State Senator and United States Civil Service Commissioner, Commissioner of Corporations in the Department of Commerce and Labor, now in the Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior.
Besides the nine who have climbed so high, there is John Scott Harrison, who had the unique distinction of being the son of one President and the father of another. He was a man of force and of great influence in his own State.
Ten, or one less than half the President's sons who have reached manhood, are entitled to be named on the roll of honor.
To these ten should be added two others, namely, the sons of Presidents Hayes, Benjamin Harrison. Major Webb C. Hayes, son of President Hayes, achieved a splendid record in the Spanish-American War, and afterward as an officer of the United States Army. President McKinley appointed him Lieutenant-Colonel of the Thirty-first Infantry, and he did good work in Porto Rico and elsewhere in operations against the Spaniards.
At the same time the son of President Benjamin Harrison, Major Russell B. Harrison, was appointed by President McKinley to a high post in the Inspector-General's department. He proved to be one of the most useful officers of the army. At the close of the war Major Harrison went to Havana and rendered distinguished service in establishing the new and better order of things in that city.
Lincoln's Son Once a White House Tenant
Robert Todd Lincoln, only living son of Abraham Lincoln, has indeed lived to have recorded to his credit a career of distinguished service in Government as well as in business, in diplomacy as well as in the Cabinet. At the time he was a tenant in the White House, he was twenty years old. At the age of sixty-three, according to a biographer, he was appointed Secretary of War by Garfield, sixteen years after Abraham Lincoin was assassinated. He never has been much in politics, but has been mentioned several times for the Presidency. Upon leaving the Cabinet, in 1895, he returned to Chicago, where he had gathered a big law practice, after graduating from Harvard College and Law School, and built up his practice anew, his speciality being real estate. He became counsel for the Pullman Company early in its history, and on the death of Mr. George M. Pullman was made its President. He was Minister to England under Harrison.
A Distinguished Son of General Grant
While his father lived at the White House as President of the United States, Colonel (now General) Fred Grant brought his bride to the mansion and the newly married couple lived there for months. Since then Gen. Fred Grant has served with honor and distinction in the army, and now holds one of its highest commands. His brother, Jesse Grant, is so popular among his fellow-Democrats of California, that they have more than once mentioned him as a candidate for President.
Senator George F. Hoar tells of meeting President Grant at the White House and concludes with an allusion to the love of Grant for his son, evidently young Fred Grant, as follows :
"I was not in the habit of going often to the White House when Grant was President. When I did, he received me always with great kindness. He always seemed to be very fond of my brother ; and I suppose that led him to receive me in a more intimate and cordial fashion than he would otherwise have done. I was first introduced to him in the cloak-room of the House of Representatives the Saturday evening before his inauguration. He came, I think, to see Mr. Boutwell, then a member of the House, afterward his Secretary of the Treasury. He came to Worcester in the summer of that year, and I went with him in a special car to Groton in the afternoon. He expressed special delight in the appearance of the boys of the Worcester Military School, who turned out to escort him. One of his sons, a well-grown lad, was upon the train. The general had not seen him for some time, and he sat with his arm around him, as one might with a little girl."
Two Sons of President Garfield
One son of President Garfield is now Secretary of the Interior, and one of the most able members of President Roosevelt's Cabinet. Another, Prof. Harry A. Garfield, who has for years occupied the important chair of politics in Princeton University, is now President of Williams College, in Massachusetts.
The political progress' of the young Secretary of the Interior, has been achieved within less than a dozen years. "On leaving college," says one biographer, "he took up the practice of law in Cleveland, and his first appearance in public life was in 1896, when he was elected to the Ohio Senate from his father's old district. In 1902 President Roosevelt made him a member of the Civil Service Commission, and in the following year Commissioner of Corporations, in the Department of Commerce and Labor."
Harry Augustus Garfield, who, according to his biographer, is two years older than his brother, has also made his mark as President of Williams College an institution of which he and all his brothers are graduates, as was their father, President Garfield. He was the first head of Williams College who did not come from the pulpit. He had been for years a lawyer.
A Son of President Tyler
Lyon G. Tyler, a son of President John Tyler, is at the head of the next to the oldest institution of learning in the United States, namely, William and Mary College, at Williamsburg, Virginia.
This institution is the alma mater of three Presidents of the United States—Monroe, Madison and Tyler ; and George Washington was its chancellor.
President Tyler talks to visitors today "in the picturesque old room which was the headquarters of Lord Cornwallis during that memorable campaign which ended with the surrender of Yorktown, and on the walls of which are autograph letters written by Thomas Jefferson," and also John Tyler.