John F. Kennedy and Other Famous Presidents Who Came From Great Political Dynasties

Some folks have public service in their blood. Don’t believe it? Just take a look at the long line of politicians who’ve come from politically inclined families. From the most famous family (page 3) to one of America’s originals (page 6), these are the greatest political dynasties in U.S. history.

The Bush family

Bush Family Portrait

Two presidents in the family is a pretty big deal. | Newsmakers/Getty Images

  • Prescott Bush: Senator
  • George H.W. Bush: President, vice president, congressman
  • George W. Bush: President, governor
  • Jeb Bush: Governor

The Bush family is one of the most prolific political dynasties in U.S. history. And it all began with Prescott Bush, George H.W. Bush’s father. Prescott Bush represented Connecticut in the Senate from 1952 to 1963 before handing the political reins to his son. After serving as a congressman, George H.W. Bush became Ronald Reagan’s vice president from 1981 to 1989. And as the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush served from 1989 to 1993.

Continuing with tradition, George W. Bush was the governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 before becoming the 43rd president of the United States, serving from 2001 to 2009. And his younger brother, Jeb Bush, served as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. While Jeb Bush has toyed with the idea of running for president in the past, time will tell whether he makes another attempt at a presidential hat trick for the Bush family.

Next: A great name in American history

The Roosevelt family

Theodore Roosevelt and his family with a dog

Theodore and Franklin were distant cousins. | Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

  • Theodore Roosevelt: President, vice president, and governor
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt: President and governor

The Roosevelt name is a beloved one in American history, and it all started with the 26th U.S. president. Shortly after becoming William McKinley’s vice president in March 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became president after McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Teddy Roosevelt also served as the governor of New York from 1899 to 1900.

Although not as close as others on this list, Franklin D. Roosevelt was Teddy Roosevelt’s fifth cousin. And furthermore, FDR’s wife, Eleanor, was Teddy Roosevelt’s niece. Carrying on the family’s tradition of some of the nation’s greatest presidents of all time, FDR served as the 32nd U.S. president. His term began in 1933 and lasted until his death in 1945, making him the longest-serving president in U.S. history. Before his tenure as commander in chief, FDR had also served as the governor of New York from 1929 to 1932.

Next: This family is American royalty. 

The Kennedy family

American multi-millionaire Joseph Patrick Kennedy (right), the newly-appointed ambassador to London, with his wife Rose Kennedy (second from right) and eight of their nine children, in London. From left: Edward, Jeanne, Robert, Patricia (1924 - 2006), Eunice, Kathleen, Rosemary and John F Kennedy

They’re a true dynasty. | Keystone/Getty Images

  • Patrick Joseph Kennedy: State representative and senator
  • Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.: U.S. ambassador to the U.K., 1st chair of the U.S. Maritime Commission, and 1st chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • John F. Kennedy: President and congressman
  • Robert F. Kennedy: Attorney general and senator
  • Edward “Ted” Kennedy: Senator
  • Patrick J. Kennedy: Senator

The Kennedy family are as close to royalty as any U.S. family can come. While their story is tragic, the Kennedy legacy has stood the test of time, and the American public continues to be fascinated with every detail of their lives. So let’s begin with the most famous family member, John F. Kennedy.

JFK started his political career in Massachusetts, representing the state in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. As the 35th president of the United States, JFK held office from 1961 until he was assassinated in 1963. JFK’s grandfather, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., were also prominent politicians.

Moving down the Kennedy bloodline, Robert Kennedy was the 64th U.S. attorney general before his term as a New York senator, during which he was assassinated in 1968. And the youngest brother, Ted Kennedy, was a Massachusetts senator from 1962 until he died in 2009, making him one of the longest-serving senators in U.S. history. Finally, Ted Kennedy’s son, Patrick J. Kennedy, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Rhode Island. He stepped down in 2011, effectively ending the Kennedys’ streak of family representation in Congress or as president since 1947.

Next: Two presidents run in this family. 

The Harrison family

William Henry and Benjamin Harrison

Left: William Henry Harrison | Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Right: Benjamin Harrison | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Benjamin Harrison V: Governor
  • William Henry Harrison: President, senator, and governor
  • Benjamin Harrison: President and senator

As the fifth governor of Virginia (1781-1784), Benjamin Harrison V kicked off a long line of Harrison politicians. His son, William Henry Harrison, served as a senator from Ohio, the first governor of the Indiana Territory, and the ninth U.S. president in 1841. Unfortunately, he died from pneumonia, effectively ending his term after only one month — the shortest term ever served by a U.S. president. But the Harrison legacy didn’t end there.

From 1889 to 1893, William Henry Harrison’s grandson, Benjamin Harrison, served as the 23rd president, making the Harrison family the only political dynasty to every produce a grandfather-grandson presidential duo. Additionally, Benjamin Harrison also served as a senator from Indiana from 1881 to 1887.

Next: This is the only husband-and-wife duo on the list.  

The Clinton family

They are a political power couple. | Tim Clary/AFP/Getty Images

  • Bill Clinton: President and governor
  • Hillary Clinton: First lady, senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate

Bill Clinton started his political career as the governor of Arkansas before serving as the 42nd U.S. president from 1993 to 2001. After Bill Clinton’s time in office, his wife, Hillary Clinton, clearly wasn’t ready to end her political career. She was a New York senator from 2001 to 2009 and the U.S. secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Hillary Clinton then unsuccessfully ran for president.

Next: This family isn’t just the name of a popular movie.

The Adams family

John and John Quincy Adams photo collage

Left: John Adams | Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Right: John Quincy Adams | Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

  • John Adams: President and Founding Father
  • John Quincy Adams: President

Adams was a prominent name in politics, particularly in Massachusetts. Most notably are the father-and-son duo –the first to each serve as president.

From 1789 to 1797, John Adams was the first vice president before becoming the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. His son, John Quincy Adams, was a Massachusetts congressman and the sixth U.S. president, serving from 1825 to 1829.

Next: This family has a strong presence in Ohio. 

The Taft family

Taft Family

Like father, like son. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Alphonso Taft: Attorney general and secretary of war
  • William Howard Taft: President and chief justice
  • Robert A. Taft: Senator
  • Charles Phelps Taft II: Mayor

William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States. After that, he served as the chief justice of the Supreme Court — the only president to have held both positions. His father, Alphonso Taft, served as attorney general and secretary of war.

William Howard Taft’s sons were also involved in public service. Robert Taft was a senator from Ohio (and unsuccessfully ran for president on three separate occasions), and Charles Taft was the mayor of Cincinnati. Furthermore, Robert Taft Jr. — son of Robert A. Taft and grandson of William Howard Taft — represented Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Senate.

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