Since the White House was first constructed in 1792, its halls have been filled with the laughter of the Presidents’ children. Countless kids have called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home, but after their parents leave office, the kids tend to fade from the public eye. But they’re never too hard to find. Some of them began their own career in politics, most pursued a college education, and a few ran into legal trouble (like number two on our list)!
Keep reading to find out what became of America’s most famous kids after their terms as First Children were up!
“America’s Sweetheart,” Caroline Kennedy wasn’t even six years old when her father, President John F. Kennedy, was shot and killed. Still, her early years were spent in the White House where she and her brother were homeschooled by their mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Caroline later attended law school and became a practicing attorney in the field of international relations.
More From Caroline Kennedy
Caroline has famously been the most private member of the Kennedy clan. But, in 2013, she was appointed to the role of the United States Ambassador to Japan by President Barack Obama. This was the perfect role for her, given her background in constitutional law and international relations. She has mostly kept a low profile since taking office, save for one mishap on Twitter where she insulted a traditional Japanese festival.
George W. Bush
“W” was well into adulthood when his father, George H.W. Bush became President, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his own political career. He attended college at Yale University, joined the National Guard, and began working for a large oil company. Few could knew that he was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps both in office and in war.
The Bush Presidency
After a contentious election cycle, George W. Bush was elected the 43rd President of the United States in 2000. During his Presidency, he often called on his father for advice, but also forged his own path. He was President during the events of September 11th, and also pushed for wide-scale education reform with his controversial no child left behind program.
Michael Ford (furthest right) is the oldest child of Gerald and Betty Ford. He was a teenager when his father was President. A talented tennis player, he practiced every single day and often lifted weights in the White House study. He often criticized the Nixon administration for their handling of the Vietnam War, and openly discussed his disdain for his dad’s decision to pardon the disgraced President Nixon.
What’s Ford Up To Today?
Now, Ford is the Associate Dean of Campus Life at Wake Forest University. He’s an ordained minister and enjoys running. He counsels students on a variety of issues, both religious and otherwise, and helps organize events that will improve the student experience at Wake Forest.
Chelsea Clinton kept a low profile while she lived in the White House, mostly thanks to her mother’s efforts to keep her away from the press. This was the subject of intense media scrutiny, and shows like “Saturday Night Live” often criticized her for her appearance. Former first children jumped to her defense and, as she grew older, Chelsea developed more of an amicable relationship with the press.
Chelsea Clinton Today
These days, Clinton is married to an investment banker and has two young children. She has worked as a journalist for several large corporations, but most of her recent work has focused on her father’s foundation and her mother’s Presidential campaign. She also has had a career as an academic and a consultant. One thing is for certain — she has sure stayed busy since leaving the White House!
Thomas “Tad” Lincoln
Thomas “Tad” Lincoln could be the most mischievous child to have ever lived in the White House. There are countless records of him interrupting his father’s cabinet meetings, making messes in the Oval Office, and even demanding money from visitors in exchange for an audience with his dad! Lincoln suffered from a form of cleft lip and palate that affected his speech and potentially led to his death.
The Later Years Of Thomas ‘Tad’ Lincoln
When Tad was only 18, he suddenly died. No official cause of death has ever been released, but theories ranging from tuberculosis to congestive heart failure have all been proposed. Most likely, though, is that he died from an infection resulting from his cleft lip and palate. Just like his father, he was tragically gone in an instant.
Susan Ford hosted her high school’s prom in the East Room of the White House. She, her date, and their classmates danced the night away while listening to a private band and dining on the White House chef’s gourmet cuisine. To protect taxpayers’ money, though, the Student Government Association had to pay a fee of $1,300 to use the space.
Susan Ford Today
Now known as Susan Ford Bales, the former dancing queen is very active in a number of charitable organizations. Her recent causes have included the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Heart Association. None, however, are as important to her as the Betty Ford Center, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility that was founded by her mother. Ford Bales was previously the chairwoman of the facility’s Board of Trustees.
John F. Kennedy Jr.
John F. Kennedy Jr. was incredibly young while he lived in the White House, but he was still known to enjoy taking rides around the grounds on his mother’s horse. He was also often photographed frolicking through his dad’s office with his sister Caroline, and Secret Service members fondly remember his childlike glee. Unfortunately, his life was ended far too soon…
The Tragic Fate Of The Younger JFK
Often called “JFK Jr.” or “John John,” the younger Kennedy was known to be very similar to his late father, both in looks and personality. He worked as a magazine publisher, an attorney, and a journalist before dying in 1999. While flying over the Atlantic Ocean, Kennedy made a common piloting error that caused his plane to dive underwater, killing him, his wife, and his wife’s sister. This tragedy only added to the rumor of a “Kennedy Curse,” as he was the third person in two generations of his family to die under tragic circumstances.
Ron Reagan, the youngest son of Nancy and Ronald Reagan, gave the First Couple a run for their money. While attending The Webb School in California, he was expelled for riding in a girl’s car. This expulsion didn’t hold him back, though, as he was later accepted to Yale University where he attended for one semester before dropping out to pursue a career as a professional ballet dancer.
Let’s See Where He Has Trickled Down To These Days
He was a successful dancer, but chose to enter the media world upon retirement. He has since hosted a radio show and served as a correspondent to MSNBC. He is, most notably, “an unabashed atheist” and a “staunch liberal.” Young Reagan seems to be quite different than his father was!
Esther Cleveland holds the spot as the first and only child to ever have been born in the White House. Due to ever-advancing medical care, all children of Presidents are now born in hospitals. She did not live there long, but there’s no doubt that the benefits of being a First Daughter lasted throughout her lifetime!
The Later Life Of Esther Cleveland
Cleveland volunteered in France during World War One. She met her husband while she was overseas, and after returning to the United States, they moved to New Hampshire, had a daughter named Phillipa, and lived a quiet life until her death in 1980 at the age of 86.
A Young Amy Carter
Freckled-faced Amy Carter only spent four years living in the White House, but she certainly made headlines while she was there! She was famously spotted reading a book at a state dinner. Many critics claimed that her act of defiance was likely insulting to foreign dignitaries. Carter, who attended Washington D.C. public schools while living in the city, made waves while she was the First Daughter, but not nearly as many as she did during her college years.
The Anti-CIA Years And Eventual Reform Of Amy Carter
Amy Carter was arrested in 1986 for participating in an anti-CIA recruitment protest at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Though she was never convicted of a crime, she was later dismissed from Brown University because of poor academic performance. Fortunately, Carter has since settled down with a family, a master’s degree, and a busy volunteering schedule. But, of course, she has stayed close to her roots by illustrating a children’s book written by her father!