5 U.S. Presidents Who Were Never Fathers


He has a wife, two kids, a noble steed, and looks just as good in a suit and tie as he does when he’s wearing the “Kiss the Chef” apron you bought him and holding a spatula. With the exception of the humongous house he lives in with the handful of bodyguards and surveillance cameras, this man is supposed to be the emblem of the All American Dad. His decisions at the workplace are dictated by the mind of a man rearing his career as his own child.

His name is Mr. POTUS. And ever since President LBJ made the first presidential proclamation in 1966 to honor the third Sunday of June as a day to recognize fathers, Mr. POTUS is synonymous with fatherhood.

In theory.

While most U.S. presidents wound up having children, there are at least five presidents who never had any children. One can only romanticize the correlation between their presidency and their patriarchal status. Let us take a look back at five American presidents who may have never been offered a tie on the third Sunday of June:

1. George Washington


Yes, you read correctly. It is only well suited that the number one spot goes to the first POTUS. In 1759, Washington married a wealthy widow named Martha Dandridge Custis. However, due to his battle with small pox eight years prior, Washington became sterile. Regardless, Washington was said to be a great father to his two step children John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis; as well as to Mrs. Washington's grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis.

2. James Polk


James Polk is best known for using his political prowess to expand west in the spirit of Manifest Destiny. However, the eldest of ten siblings was not able to have children of his own. Polk grew up with several health complications. One of which was so excruciating that he needed to have his urinary stones removed in 1812. The anesthesia for surgery at the time was Brandy. Although the surgery was successful, it left him sterile.

3. Warren Harding


From allegations of as many as four extra-marital affairs, to cronyism that placed his biggest campaign supporters, or the Ohio Gang, into one of the most controversial cabinets, Warren Harding often gets a bad rap. The 29th POTUS was said to marry his wife, Florence Kling DeWolfe (and coincidentally the daughter of his political foe, Amos King) with reluctance. Despite 32 years of marriage, the couple never had any children. According to noted biographer and Historian Francis Russell, Harding’s marriage was always absent of “true love,” and he only married her due to her persistence.

4. James Buchanan


Not only is the 15th POTUS one of four presidents to never have their own child, be he is also the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor, without a single first lady. In fact, journalist Gail Collins has even went as far as making the claim that the govern-your-own-self president may have been homosexual. The only First Lady candidate on Buchanan’s purview was Anne Caroline Coleman, of whom he was said to pursue for her money. Coleman eventually called off the marriage and died shortly after. In order to fill-in for the old time traditional perception of a First Lady, Buchanan had his orphaned, and eventually adopted, niece, Harriet Lane, act as the hostess of the White House.

5. Andrew Jackson


Old Hickory is often recognized as being rough around the edge. This POTUS’ affinity for dueling was perhaps reciprocated in the political realm, in that most of his decisions were awfully polarizing. Our seventh president is also one of five presidents to never have his own child. Jackson married his wife, Rachel Donelson Robards, twice, with their first marriage being deemed illegitimate since her divorce to her first husband was not yet completed. Despite not having children of their own, the two served as guardians for multiple children, including Jackson’s nephew, of whom they raised as their own.