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The will be held on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016  ♦  2016 Presidential Candidates

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The ancestry of our presidents reflects the varied and rich tapestry of our history as a nation of immigrants. While our early presidents are predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the majority of our 20th century presidents are of Irish descent.

After President John F. Kennedy's ascension to the Oval Office in 1961, every president who has occupied the office since has an Irish ancestor somewhere in their genealogical history, with the exception of President Gerald Ford. In fact, according to Gary Boyd Roberts in his book, Ancestors of American Presidents, there have been no less than 20 American presidents with Irish ancestries.

The Pilgrims of the Mayflower also made a notable contribution to the roster, with eight of their descendants becoming president of the country (John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush).

Despite several claims to the contrary involving former President Warren Harding, our current president, Barack Obama, is the first African-American to hold the office of president.

We also have three presidents with German ancestry (Polk, Hoover and Eisenhower), three Dutch (Van Buren and both president Bush) and one Danish (Johnson).

What about our candidates? Let's take a look.

Incumbent Vice-President of the United States

Joe Biden

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden
Biden Ancestry

Biden’s lineage can be traced back to England, and more notably, Ireland.

His maternal great grandfather, James Finnegan, hails from County Louth in Ireland; his maternal great-great grandfather, Patrick Blewitt (1833-NA), was a native of County Mayo, Ireland.

Records indicate that Biden’s paternal great-great-great grandfather, William Biden (NA-1863), was born in Sussex, England. His maternal great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Allen Robinett (1630-1694), was a wealthy merchant from Chester, England. He sold his entire shareholding and left England for the rugged and still thinly populated Pennsylvania in 1682.

In an interview with the Irish Voice in 2008, Biden claimed that his ancestors hailed “from a Famine era family, the Finnegans, who fled Co. Mayo to avoid the Great Hunger.

Trivia: Biden’s maternal great grandfather, Edward Francis Blewitt (1859-NA), became the first Irish Senator in the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Blewitt, who was a civil engineer with Scranton city, served Philadelphia’s 22nd District between 1907 and 1910.

More on Joe Biden


Current President of the United States

Barack Obama

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama
Obama Ancestry

Obama is of mixed African and Caucasian parentage. 

His father, Barack Obama Sr., is an ethnic Kenyan Luo from the Nyanza province. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, is a Caucasian American of English, Scottish, Irish, French, Swiss, German and Welsh descent. Dunham’s great-great-great-great-great grandfather from the maternal line, Christian Gutknecht (Goodnight), originally hailed from Bischwiller, France, and arrived here in 1749 with his Swiss-German wife, Maria Magdalena Grüholtz (1723- unknown).

Dunham’s eighth generation paternal grandfather, Jonathan Singletary Dunham (1639-1724), is of English/Scottish stock. His lineage can be traced back to Edward I of England (1239 – 1307) and William the Lion (1143–1214). Robert Perry (1785-1852), her great-great-great grandfather from her maternal line, is a Welshmen. Dunham’s paternal great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney (1830-1878), arrived in New York City in 1850 from Moneygall, Ireland.
President Obama and wife, Michelle, greeting Henry Healy, his distant
cousin, during a visit to Moneygall, Ireland, on May 23, 2011.

Obama, through his maternal great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Philip Ament (1755-1836), is related to Lyndon B. Johnson, the country’s 36th President, who is the great- great- great-grandson of Ament. He is also the eighth cousin, twice removed, of the 39th President, Jimmy Carter, through his seventh generation maternal grandfather, Moses Teague (1718-1799). Interestingly, Obama is the tenth cousin of former presidents Gerald Ford (once removed), George H.W Bush (once removed) and George W. Bush (twice removed) through his tenth generation paternal grandfather, Samuel Hinckley (1589-1662). Obama is, additionally, the distant relative of two more former United States Presidents, James Madison and Harry Truman, as well as former Vice President, Dick Cheney.

More on Barack Obama

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