Former presidents of the United States are some of the most recognized names in the nation’s history. In some cases, the same can be said about these U.S. presidents’ children. Many of these “first kids” have gone on to lead successful lives in the public eye. Many mostly faded into the background, staying out of the public eye as much as possible — or haven’t ventured far enough in their careers yet to decide one way or the other. Here are some of the most — and least — accomplished of them all.
Least: Amy Lynn Carter
Amy Carter, the only daughter of former president Jimmy Carter, has maintained a relatively low profile since the birth of her son in 1999. She went to art school and was once arrested for being part of a public protest, but was never charged.
Next: This president’s son offered his voice to radio for over a decade.
Most: Michael Reagan
Ronald Reagan’s adopted son Michael became a successful radio talk show host long after his father left the White House. He also published a bestselling autobiography and several other books, and now works mainly as a public speaker.
Next: His grandson has had a more successful political career than him.
Least: Jack Carter
Former president Jimmy Carter’s oldest son Jack is a businessman and politician. He ran for a senate seat in 2006, but lost the election. He has a degree in nuclear physics, but also went on to finish law school. His son Jason became a state senator in 2010.
Next: This Reagan child didn’t find success without stirring up controversy.
Most: Patti Davis
Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s daughter has made a career out of both modeling and writing. Both have earned her harsh criticisms despite their successes, especially the autobiography she wrote about her family and her Playboy cover.
Next: This first daughter became an advocate for children’s literacy.
Most: Lynda Bird Johnson Robb
Former president Lyndon Johnson’s eldest daughter served as the chairman of a children’s literacy organization, Reading is Fundamental. She also worked as a contributing editor for the Ladies Home Journal magazine.
Next: This president’s daughter excelled in photography.
Most: Susan Ford Bales
Gerald Ford’s daughter went on to become a well-known writer and photographer. She worked as a photojournalist for publications like Newsweek and the Associated Press.
Next: She never hesitated to make her political opinions known.
Most: Alice Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt’s only daughter, Alice, earned herself a seat on America First’s board of directors around the time of World War II. She made and kept numerous connections with presidential families over the years, and published multiple autobiographies.
Next: She almost decided try filling a well-known senator’s seat in 2008.
Most: Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy is the oldest daughter of John F. Kennedy. Since first moving into the White house at the age of 3, she has become a successful lawyer and writer. She considered running for Hillary Clinton’s senate seat in 2008, but later changed her mind.
Next: This early president’s daughter died before the age of 50.
Least: Abigail ‘Nabby’ Adams
Abigail Amelia Adams was the daughter of one of the nation’s Founding Fathers, John Adams, who also served as president after George Washington. She led a quiet life, shy, poor, and married to a man that was not kind to her. She died of breast cancer before the age of 50.
Next: Like many other former presidents’ daughters, she has chosen to lay low.
Least: Tricia Nixon Cox
Since the end of her father’s presidency, Richard Nixon’s oldest daughter Tricia has mostly stayed out of the political spotlight — as much as any of the U.S. presidents’ children can. She is married to Edward Finch Cox, whom she met at a high school dance.
Next: You may have seen her on NBC.
Most: Chelsea Clinton
The daughter of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton became an NBC correspondent in the early 2010s. She also participated in her mother’s presidential campaign beginning in 2016.
Next: He lived a short, unhappy life.
Least: George Washington Adams
George Washington Adams, son of the nation’s sixth president John Quincy Adams, lived a short life that most likely ended in misery. Historians believe he likely suffered from depression and died as a result of suicide.
Next: This president’s son also became president.
Most: George W. Bush
Son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush followed in his father’s footsteps and served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2008. Before his presidency, Bush was the governor of the state of Texas.
Next: He became a successful lawyer.
Most: John Van Buren
Martin Van Buren’s son went to Yale College and became a lawyer, even eventually opening his own practice. He also served as the New York State Attorney General for two years. He ran for the title again years later, but lost.
Next: This young ‘first son’ is probably on his way to great things — someday.
Least (for now): Barron Trump
At just 11 years old, Barron Trump — the only son of Melania and Donald Trump — is still too young to run for congress or start his own global activism campaign. Maybe he’ll get there one day. He did bring his classmates to the White House to meet the president in 2017, and is now attending an elite private school. A good education is a great place to start.
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