Throughout the history of the United States, many of the first families’ children have made their way into the public eye.
Story by Alexis Tatum
Earlier this year, Chelsea Clinton defended Barron Trump from Twitter trolls, saying that every kid deserves a chance at a normal life and that the 10-year-old shouldn’t suffer from the actions of his parents. She also recalled some unfortunate events from her time in the White House, including being the punchline of a rather cruel joke from Rush Limbaugh, who referred to her as the “White House dog.” Barron Trump is only the most recent kid to step into the spotlight of first child. We’ve compiled a list of the most memorable young residents throughout the history of the White House.
The Roosevelt's: Who Aren’t They Related to?
Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt were fifth cousins. Franklin Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, was also his fifth cousin. There were a total of 12 Roosevelt children in the White House at one time or another, all with strange familial connections. Franklin Roosevelt was actually related to at least 11 other presidents, including his cousin Theodore. With a rather large web of famous family members, the Roosevelt children probably aren’t sure of all their relatives either.
The Kennedy’s: A Very Political Family
The beloved Kennedy family is one of the most famous in American history. After the heart-breaking assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline was left to raise their remaining two children, John and Caroline. (The Kennedy’s two other children died prematurely.) Before the tragic 1999 plane crash that resulted in his death, JFK Jr. was an Assistant District Attorney in New York. The remaining Kennedy child, Caroline, went on to serve as a United States Ambassador to Japan. Most of the Kennedy's, especially the first family, remained in the public eye and politics for the majority of their lives.
Lynda Bird Johnson: The Oldest Living First Child Today
Lynda Bird Johnson was born after her mother had suffered three miscarriages, so the chances of her survival were predicted to be slim. Today, the eldest daughter of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson is the oldest living first child at the age of 73. A graduate of her mother’s alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, Lynda married her husband, Chuck Robb, in the White House in 1967. She’s served as a magazine editor, an American chairwoman, and has earned a multitude of public service awards in her lifetime.
Patti Davis: The Black Sheep
Patti Davis’s name speaks to her rebellious behavior: she changed it so as not to be recognized as a Reagan. Ronald Reagan’s second daughter was infamously known as the black sheep of the family and has very liberal views. At the time of her father’s election, Davis was unwed and living with her boyfriend. She was addicted to drugs starting at age 15, and dealt with addiction well into her twenties. She didn’t speak with her family until the end of her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s. At age 42, Davis posed nude for Playboy Magazine and did so again at age 58. Many people criticized her nude photos, but the free-spirited first child never seemed to mind.
The Bush Twins: Need I Say More?
Jenna and Barbara Bush were each caught up in legal trouble during their father’s presidency for underage drinking and possession of alcohol. At age 19, the twins were faced with misdemeanor charges for presenting themselves as 21-year-olds and trying to buy alcohol at a Tex-Mex restaurant, Chuy’s, in Austin, Texas. Their legal troubles remained the subjects of headlines throughout their father’s presidency, earning them a less than favorable reputation.
Malia and Sasha Obama: First Children of Color
Daughters of Barack and Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha are the first children of color to reside in the White House as members of the first family. Malia, who is now 18 years old, is working an internship at Tribeca during her post-high school gap year. She will attend Harvard University in the fall of 2017.
In August 2016, criticism arose when a video emerged of the teen smoking what looked to be marijuana at Lollapalooza, Chicago’s annual music festival. She was apparently following the footsteps of her father who was known to smoke his fair share of pot in his college days.
Younger daughter Sasha hasn’t made much controversy for herself. The 15-year-old had a summer job at Martha’s Vineyard, which was unexpected and pretty cool. How many other first children have you heard of working while residing in the White House?
Each of these first children have made their own claim to fame and struck the American public in different ways. Despite who their parents are and what decisions they make, it’s important to remember that these people aren’t super-humans. As for Barron Trump, the latest first child, Chelsea Clinton was right: everyone deserves a chance at a normal childhood.