When the Country's Founding Father is Your Founding Father- page 4 | History | Smithsonian
President William Howard Taft and his sons, Robert, right, and Charles Phelps. (Bettmann / Corbis)

When the Country's Founding Father is Your Founding Father

The descendants of American presidents are the athletic trainers, lawyers, salesmen and executives of everyday life

Andrew Jackson VI Knoxville, Tennessee

Andrew Jackson VI
(J. Miles Cary / Knoxville News Sentinel)
Andrew Jackson VI, a great-great-great-grandson of President Andrew Jackson, first visited the Hermitage, the president’s plantation home in Nashville, Tennessee, on an eighth-grade field trip. He returned again in 1985, when about 120 Jackson descendants gathered for a reunion, and has frequented the site ever since. “It kind of gives you an anchor for your family,” Jackson told James Yasko, director of education at the Hermitage, in an inverview [MP3] last year. "You actually know where your roots are."

President Jackson and his wife, Rachel, did not have any biological children, but they did adopt Rachel’s nephew Andrew Jackson Donelson, who took the name Andrew Jackson Jr. The moniker has survived in the family for nearly 250 years. “It is certainly an ice breaker,” said Jackson, in the interview.

His relation has affected his career choice—up to a point. “Andrew Jackson was a lawyer, and I think that may have influenced me in my decision to be a lawyer. He worked for the attorney general’s office, and I worked for the attorney general’s office. He was a judge, and I am a judge,” said Jackson. “And he was a general and president, and I am not.” Jackson, 55, lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and is a Knox County General Sessions Court judge.

Jackson had planned to name a son Andrew Jackson VII but instead had two daughters, Rachel and Rebekah. The name, he says, was “daughtered out.”

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