One-third of all US Presidents
had their ancestral origins in the northern province
of Ireland (Ulster)
During his two visits to Ulster, President Bill
Clinton spoke proudly of his ancestral links with
the province and of the remarkable fact that a
third of all US Presidents had their roots in Ulster.
President Clinton, whose connection is through
his Blythe and Ayer ancestors, is one of at least
14 Chief Executives who are descended from the
250,000 immigrants from the north of Ireland who
had already settled along the American frontier
Most of these early migrants were Ulster Scots,
those people of Scottish origin who spent a century
or more in the northern counties of Ireland before
moving to the New World. These pioneering people
and their descendants, known in the USA as the
'Scotch-Irish', have often been called "the
first true Americans". They have had a huge
and disproportionate impact on American education,
politics, commerce, the military, journalism, literature,
the arts and entertainment.
While many of the Presidents have typically Ulster-Scots
surnames - Jackson, Johnson, McKinley, Wilson -
others, such as Bush, Roosevelt and Cleveland,
have maternal links with the homeland which are
7th President 1829-37. He was born in the predominantly
Ulster-Scots Waxshaws area of South Carolina
two years after his parents left Boneybefore,
near Carrickfergus in County Antrim. A heritage
centre in the village pays tribute to the legacy
of 'Old Hickory', the People's President.
James Knox Polk
11th President 1845-49. His ancestors were among
the first Ulster-Scots settlers, emigrating from
Coleraine in 1680 to become a powerful political
family in Mecklenberg County, North Carolina.
He moved to Tennessee and became its Governor
before winning the Presidency.
15th President 1857-61. Born in a log-cabin (which
has been relocated to his old school in Mercersburg,
Pennsylvania), 'Old Buck' cherished his origins: "My
Ulster blood is a priceless heritage". The
Buchanans were originally from Deroran, near
Omagh in County Tyrone where the ancestral home
17th President 1865-69. His grandfather left Mounthill,
near Larne in County Antrim around 1750 and settled
in North Carolina. Andrew worked there as a tailor
and ran a successful business in Greenville,
Tennessee, before being elected Vice-President.
He became President following Abraham Lincoln's
Ulysses Simpson Grant
18th President 1869-77. The home of his maternal
great-grandfather, John Simpson, at Dergenagh,
County Tyrone, is the location for an exhibition
on the eventful life of the victorious Civil
War commander who served two terms as President.
Grant visited his ancestral homeland in 1878.
Chester Alan Arthur
21st President 1881-85. His election was the start
of a quarter-century in which the White House
was occupied by men of Ulster-Scots origins.
His family left Dreen, near Cullybackey, County
Antrim, in 1815. There is now an interpretive
centre, alongside the Arthur Ancestral Home,
devoted to his life and times.
22nd and 24th President 1885-89 and 1893-97. Born
in New Jersey, he was the maternal grandson of
merchant Abner Neal, who emigrated from County
Antrim in the 1790s. He is the only President
to have served two terms with a break between.
23rd President 1889-93. His mother, Elizabeth Irwin,
had Ulster-Scots roots through her two great-grandfathers,
James Irwin and William McDowell. Harrison was
born in Ohio and served as a Brigadier General
in the Union Army before embarking on a career
in Indiana politics which led to the White House.
25th President 1897-1901. Born in Ohio, the descendant
of a farmer from Conagher, near Ballymoney, County
Antrim, he was proud of his ancestry and addressed
one of the national Scotch-Irish Congresses held
in the late 19th Century. His second term as
President was cut short by an assassin's bullet.
26th President 1901-04. His mother, Martha Bulloch,
had Ulster Scots ancestors who emigrated from
Larne, County Antrim, in May 1729. Teddy Roosevelt's
oft-repeated praise of his "bold and hardy
race" is evidence of the pride he had in
his Scotch-Irish connections.
28th President 1913-21. Of Ulster-Scot descent
on both sides of the family, his roots were very
strong and dear to him. He was grandson of a
printer from Dergalt, near Strabane, County Tyrone,
whose former home is open to visitors. Throughout
his career he reflected on the influence of his
ancestral values on his constant quest for knowledge
Richard Milhous Nixon
37th President 1969-74. The Nixon ancestors left
Ulster in the mid-18th Century; the Quaker Milhous
family ties were with Counties Antrim and Kildare.
George Herbert Walker Bush 41st President 1989-94:
His Ulster Scots links are through William Gault
and Jonathan Weir, his great-great-great-great
grandfathers who both settled in Blount County,
Tennessee, around the Revolutionary War period.
President Bush was made aware of this ancestry
during a visit to Knoxville, where Gault is buried
in nearby Baker's Creek United Presbyterian Church
George W. Bush 43rd President, 2000 - present:
See George Herbert Walker Bush
Other occupants of the White House said to have
some family ties with the north of Ireland include
Presidents Adams, Monroe, Truman, Eisenhower and