Ulster American Presidents

The Irish ancestry of president John F Kennedy is well-documented, but less well known is the Ulster ancestry of as many as seventeen of the forty-three Presidents of the USA.

Ulysses S Grant

Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was the son of Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson who had left their home at Boneybefore near Carrickfergus, Antrim some eighteen months before his birth in Carolina in 1767. He was the victorious U S Commander at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 (that war with the English when Ross of Rostrevor set fire to the White House!). Andrew’s wife Rachel was also of Ulster lineage.

James Knox Polk (1845-49) was the great-grandson of Robert Bruce Polk (Pollok) of Lifford, Donegal who arrived in the American colonies about 1860.

The parents of James Buchanan (1857-61) – James and Elizabeth Speer Buchanan lived at Deroran near Omagh, Tyrone and left for America in 1783.

Andrew Johnson (1965-69) was grandson of Andrew Johnson of Mounthill, Larne, Antrim who arrived in America about 1750.

Ulysses S Grant’s (1869-77) great grandfather John Simpson left Ulster for America in 1760.

The father and grandfather of Chester Alan Arthur (1881-85) emigrated from Dreen, near Cullybackey, Antrim in 1801. The maternal grandfather of Grover Cleveland (1885-89 and 1893-97) one Abner Neal left Co Antrim in the late eighteenth century.

Benjamin Harrison (1889-93) was the grandson of the ninth President William Henry Harrison who was related to Ulster immigrants James Irwin and William McDowell.

William McKinley (1897-1901) was great grandson of James McKinley who emigrated to America from Conagher near Ballymoney about 1743.  

Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) is believed to have Presbyterian ancestors on his maternal side from Larne, Antrim. Folklore in East Antrim links him to the Irvines and the Bullochs of Larne.

Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) was the grandson of James Wilson who emigrated to North Carolina from Strabane in 1807. 

Harry Truman (1945-53) was grandson, on his mother’s side, of Solomon Young of Scots-Irish settler stock.

Richard Millhouse Nixon had Ulster connections on two sides of his family. His Nixon Presbyterian ancestors left Antrim for America around 1753 while the Millhouses came from Carrickfergus and Ballymoney.

Jimmy Carter (1977-81) was descended on his mother’s side, from Scots-Irish settler Andrew Cowan of Co Antrim.

Bill Clinton (1993-2001) claims to be a relative of Lucas Cassidy who left Fermanagh for America around 1750.

And finally, George W Bush (current) and his father George Bush (1989-93) though mainly of English stock, have on the maternal side an ancestor William Gault of Antrim who was one of the first settlers of Tennessee.



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