News & Politics

A Whole Bunch of Presidential Descendants Are About To Be In The Same Place

A DC summit will feature 42 White House offspring.

Gathering all of the living ex-presidents together in one place is relatively simple: There are only five of them. Gathering living presidential descendants together? Forty-five presidencies after George Washington took office, it’s a bit more complicated.

But that’s what’s on the agenda next week, when the White House Historical Association convenes a first-ever Washington summit of presidential children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and assorted other relatives. The  Presidential Sites Summit will run from August 27-30 and feature public programming that includes meet-and-greets, excursions of landmarks like the Library of Congress, and panel discussions about subjects like “The White House Behind the Camera,” and “The Stories of Presidental Descendents.”

Some 42 relatives of ex-presidents—and nearly 100 representatives of presidential sites—are expected for the summit, which the Historical Association convenes in order to “discuss insight into the management and outreach of presidential libraries, historic homes, and museums” according to the summit’s website . Among the guests: One of Lyndon Johnson’s daughters, one of President Grover Cleveland’s grandsons, and one of Rutherford B. Hayes’ great-great-great grandsons.

The oldest living relative: 94-year-old Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., grandson of John Tyler. (For those of you doing the math at home: Yes, Tyler left office in 1845, which means the family had some robust genes and late-in-life marriages.)

Though events are slated for sites around town, the Association says tickets are sold out. But there will be several on-theme celebrations at popular Pennsylvania Ave.-adjacent haunts. The Round Robin Bar, found conveniently in the Willard, will offer two specialty cocktails: a Mint Julep (the brainchild of Sen. Henry Clay, whose offspring are not invited to the summit on account of their illustrious ancestor’s record three general-election losses) and ‘The Lobbyist” (a mixer made especially for the event). Old Ebbitt Grill, Cafe Milano, Lincoln, and Martin’s Tavern will also provide themed cocktails of choice.

The presidential progeny will also get a White House tour on Monday afternoon. After their standard walk around the premises, the descendants will be joined by First Lady Melania Trump.  Mary Jean Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Emory Gatchell, Jr., a fifth-generation grandson of President James Monroe, will plant a tree with Mrs. Trump. According to the White House, the sapling comes from the original Eisenhower Oak located near the Kennedy Garden.

Unfortunately, fans of more recent political history likely won’t get to witness any moments of interfamilial awkwardness between the children of former rivals: According to the WHHA, none of the more recent offspring such as Chelsea Clinton, the Bush sisters, or the Obama kids will be in attendance. Those looking for electoral fisticuffs might instead watch how the grandson of Grover Cleveland interacts with the great-great-granddaughter of Benjamin Harrison. Their two presidential ancestors squared off in 1888 and 1892, each defeating the other once. And both of the descendants will be there.



Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.