They may be leaders of this great nation, but United States presidents are just like the rest of us in some ways: they’ve got all different kinds of families, want the very best for their children, and struggle to find the most perfect names to give their babies. In honor of Presidents’ Day this year, we dipped into history to find the best baby names chosen for the children and – in some cases – grandchildren of U.S. Presidents.
With one foot in the Oval Office and the other rocking a cradle, presidents and their betrothed are choosing baby names for little bootie-clad voters with big shoes to fill: unlike children of The Crown in Great Britain who have generations to learn the ins-and-outs of royal life, the progeny of American presidents are thrust into the limelight of politics with little or no warning – destined for classic Yankee independence.
In the earliest days of our democracy, presidents’ children – like those of others — may have been seen and not heard, but their names were still interesting and carefully chosen, as you’ll see. In modern times, Presidents’ kids may have played airplane pilot inside Air Force One, walked their pets accompanied by Secret Service, and grown up tumbling down the lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But just like our families, at one time or another their parents probably hollered their full names out the back door to get them inside the White House for supper.
Whatever their sacrifice or accomplishments, here are some of the best Presidentially-inspired baby names in history.
America – The first name of a founding father’s granddaughter, America Pinckney was the daughter of Patsy Washington, one of several children raised by the first President of the United States — George Washington — and his wife, Martha. The name America means ‘Home Ruler’ and is of English origin.
Barron – The name of current president Donald Trump’s fifth child and third son, Barron is the only product of the former television show host and his third wife, First Lady Melania Trump. The name Baron means ‘Noble Man’ and is of English origin.
Buck – Nickname of Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., son of 18th U.S. president and one-time commanding general of the Union Army in the American Civil War. The name Buck means ‘Deer’ and ‘Cowboy’ and is of American origin.
Caroline – Daughter of 35th U.S. President John Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy’s first name inspired the hit song, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. The name Caroline means ‘Beautiful Woman’ and is of Latin origin. Caroline’s children are named Rose, Tatiana and John.
Chelsea – Inspired by a Joni Mitchell song, the name Chelsea Victoria is that of the Clinton’s only child. Her father Bill Clinton was the 42nd President and her mother Hillary is a former Senator and Secretary of State. The name Chelsea means ‘Port For Chalk Or Limestone’ and is of English origin. Chelsea’s kids are Charlotte, Aiden and Jasper.
Columbia – Step-granddaughter of the first President of the United States, Columbia Lafayette was the daughter of Martha Parke Custis, who was the child of George Washington’s wife, Martha Washington. The country’s founding father had no biological children with Martha, but raised hers as his own. The name Columbia means ‘A Dove’ and is of Latin origin.
Eliza – The daughter of the United States’ fifth president, James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth, young Eliza was the unofficial First Lady during her father’s presidency due to her mother’s frequent illness. Also a prominent American socialite, she was married to well-known attorney and judge, George Hay. The name Eliza means ‘God Is My Oath’ and is of English origin.
Eston – The youngest son of enslaved woman Sally Hemings and — a growing number of scholars agree — Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, Eston Hemings was considered a master of the violin as an adult, having been born into slavery and freed in 1827 as part of Thomas Jefferson’s will. Later in life, Eston changed his last name to Jefferson. The name Eston means ‘From The East Town,’ is of English origin and can be used for any gender.
Harrison — In honor of John Scott Harrison and his family. Fun fact: John Scott is the only person to be both son and father of a U.S. president. He’s the son of William Henry Harrison (9th President) and father of Benjamin Harrison (23rd). The name Harrison means ‘Son Of Harry’ and is of English origin.
Jenna – One of 43rd President George W. Bush’s twin daughters with wife Laura, Jenna’s sister Barbara is named after their paternal grandmother. The name Jenna means ‘Fair Phantom’ and is of English origin.
Luci – 36th President of the United States Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson’s younger daughter Luci Baines Johnson is a businesswoman and philanthropist. Her sister is Lynda Bird Johnson. The name Lucie means ‘Light’ and is of French origin.
Lyon – The son of 10th U.S. President John Tyler and his second wife, Julia, as an adult Lyon Gardiner Tyler was an advocate of historical research and preservation in the country. The name Lion means ‘Large Feline Mammal’ and is of English origin.
Malia – Former U.S. President (the 44th) Barack Obama’s eldest daughter with his wife Michelle, Malia’s middle name is Ann. The name Malia is a ‘form of Mary’ and is of Hawaiian origin. Her younger sister is known as Sasha, but her full first name is Natasha.
Mamie – Nickname of Mary Scott Harrison, daughter of 23rd U.S. President Benjamin Harrison and his wife Caroline. Mamie was also the great-granddaughter of William Henry Harrison. The name Mamie means ‘Mother’ and is of American origin.
Myrthe – The granddaughter of the country’s 12th president, Zachary Taylor, and his wife Margaret, Myrthe was the daughter of Confederate General Richard Scott Taylor. It’s a Dutch name, after the evergreen ‘mirte (myrtle) plant.’
Patsy – Nickname of one of the daughters of third president Thomas Jefferson, the statesman also known as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Patsy’s given name was Martha, after her mother. The name Patsy means ‘Noble’ and is of English origin. Her sister Mary’s nickname was Polly.
Quentin – The youngest son of 26th President Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, Quentin became a pursuit pilot in WWI. He perished over France. The name Quentin means ‘Fifth’ and is of Latin origin.
Smith – Smith Thompson Van Buren was the youngest son of America’s eighth president, Martin Van Buren, and wife Hannah. With siblings Winfield, Martin and Abraham, simply-named Smith was the last boy to be christened. The name Smith means ‘Blacksmith or other Skilled Worker’ and is of English origin.
Walker – It’s the middle name of George Walker Bush, child of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, who also goes by the nickname 43rd for his subsequent presidency years after his dad. The name Walker means ‘Fuller of Cloth’ and is of English origin
So, whether you’re actively building an American dynasty or perhaps simply contemplating possibilities for the future, Presidentially-inspired baby names may be just the ticket to keep your constituency satisfied.
Kellie Flanagan (she/her) is a writer and producer for print, broadcast and web, with credits in all media. Kellie has written and directed for major television and cable networks television shows including The Wild West, A&E’s Biography and The Civil War Journal.
As a child actor Kellie had a lead role on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and appeared in the original Star Trek, The Andy Griffith Show, and the cult classic film Wild In The Streets. Kellie is currently a staff writer at the Mariposa Gazette.
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