“Lol try and guess my actual birth name. No, seriously, give it a shot.”
For most Americans with children, there is a sense of continuing your legacy that comes with siring a child. (Is that what parents call it? All of our writers are single and aren’t allowed to “hold their baby nephews” because we “reek of whiskey and, Jesus, is that what opium smells like?” so we’r out of our element here.)
However, some parents (mostly fathers, honestly) want to take that concept a step further by actually passing on their name to their children. This should not shock you—there are many famous Juniors in the world, from Ken Griffey Jr. (the baseball player more successful than his baseball playing father) to Martin Luther King Jr. (the Civil Rights hero whose father founded Lutheranism, right? Our research staff has been MIA for a few months, honestly.)
However, not every Junior actually carries their Jr. title. Some, like your Dennis Juniors, go by initials like DJ. And others just drop the Jr. all together.
Apparently, that latter category applies to a surprising amount of American presidents. And with the swearing in of Joe Biden, formally known as Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., we decided we’d look back at American history and let you know every president whose name is basically a photocopy of their father’s name.
Joe Biden (Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.)
Joe Biden was born on November 20th, 1942 to Catherine Eugenia Biden and Joseph Robinette Biden Sr. Despite being the oldest child of a half-Irish Catholic family, Biden only has three siblings, though he earned the coveted “Jr.” title by being the first out of the old birth canal (seriously, we have no idea how to write about children or birth, when the topic isn’t messed up Japanese food or insane baseball players we have no idea how to conduct ourselves).
Anyway, he’s our most recent president with Jr. at the end of his legal name. But he’s hardly the only one.
Barack Obama (Barack Hussein Obama II)
While we spent about eight years of hearing lazy detractors seeing a name like “Barack Obama” and honing in on “wait a minute, his middle name is Hussein, THERE MUST BE A JOKE THERE”, it might come as a shock to many Americans that he was not the first Barack Hussein Obama.
Barack Obama was the only child between Barack Obama Sr. and Ann Dunham, who met in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1960, and were wed in 1961 six months before Obama’s birth (scandalous!).
They divorced three years later, and each remarried. While Obama has several half-siblings (including two born from Obama Sr.’s first marriage), it was Barack who was designated his father’s namesake (though, technically, he’s a II, not a Jr.)
Bill Clinton (William Jefferson Blythe III)
That one came out of fuckin’ left field, huh? Guess what? This entry is going to get wild. We know this is definitely not a Jr., but as the only III-named president, we figured we should at least dive into these juicy details.
Good ole Slick Willy was born on August 19th, 1946 (lol, he’s younger than the current president) to William Jefferson Blythe Jr., a traveling salesman who Clinton never met. Blythe died three months before his son’s birth in a car crash.
A word about Blythe Jr. The dude fucked. And was really good at getting married and really bad at staying married. He was 28 years old when he died, and was married five times. His first marriage happened when he was 17 years old, and ended in divorce a year later. He waited two whole years before marrying Maxine Hamilton, and divorcing her the same year.
He then married Minnie Faye Gash in December of 1940, annulled the marriage in April of 1941, and married Wanetta Ellen Alexander on May of 1941. They separated a few years later, but didn’t officially divorced until 1944, or one year after Blythe Jr. married Virginia Dell Cassidy, who three years later gave birth to a future president.
That’s right. Bill Clinton’s parents spent about a year in what Wikipedia refers to, quite frequently, as a bigamous relationship.
Anyway, when Bill was four years old, his mother married Roger Clinton Sr., and Bill immediately adopted the surname (though he didn’t legally change his name until he was fifteen).
So there you have it. Bill Clinton was originally the third of his namesake, born to a horny salesman who was married five times before his 29th birthday. Which honestly might explain a thing or two.
Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter Jr.)
For someone who is mostly known as an “at best, mediocre” president who managed to become a historic philanthropist once he left office, a lot happened during Jimmy Carter’s term, both good and bad. He created two cabinet positions, is the only president to serve a full term and not appoint a Supreme Court justice, and got to deal with the Iran hostage crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He got his ass kicked in the 1980 election, and went on to build a lot of houses for people who needed them.
He also was, randomly, the first U.S. president to be born in a hospital (…what?) and is a descendant of Thomas Carter, who settled in Virginia in 1635. His mother was a nurse and his father, James Earl Carter Sr., was a business man and farmer who would go on to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1953 as a conservative Democrat.
Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter’s namesake does not have any bigamy in his biography.
Gerald Ford (Leslie Lynch King Jr.)
America’s accidental president (and one-time hotty) Gerald Ford was born with a name that has literally nothing to do with his actual name, just like the offices he was elected to had nothing to do with his eventual position as vice president and president.
Ford, whose childhood address randomly is listed on his Wikipedia page, was born to Dorothy Ayer Gardner and Leslie Lynch King Sr., a wool trader and son of a prominent banker. His mother separated from King sixteen days after he was born, which leads one to believe that Leslie really didn’t know how to answer the question “do you think I’m losing the baby fat?”
Truth be told, we tried to think of a better joke for “what would lead someone to leave their husband sixteen days after having birth” but again, we don’t know anything about kids. Is that a question people ask? Should we have done a diaper joke or something? We are so out of our wheelhouse here.
(We should also point out that apparently King would hit Gardner, so we could have probably just not made a joke and pointed out what a fuckhead the guy was.)
Anyway, Gardner remarried when Ford was three, marrying Gerald Rudolff Ford, and Leslie Lynch King Jr. became Gerald Rufolff Ford Jr. Yup, he’s the only president who is a Junior twice. When he officially changed his name at the age of 22, he stuck with the less-dumb spelling of Rudolph, and officially became Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. (even though the spelling change seems to indicate that Ford doesn’t know how Juniors work).
Calvin Coolidge (John Calvin Coolidge Jr.)
Calvin Coolidge, pictured above informing you that your doctor is out of your network and the insurance agency will not be covering the costs of your cancer treatment, is considered a lower-tier president, though he managed to be pretty supportive of racial equality, and helped restore public confidence towards the office (since Warren Harding, his predecessor, was just, lousy with scandals). Oh, and fun fact, he’s the only president born on the Fourth of July.
His father, being named John Calvin Coolidge Sr., makes him a junior, though Coolidge decided from an early age that he wanted to go by his middle name, which originated to honor John Calvin (Coolidge was an active member of the Congregational church).
Coolidge served as a vice president before succeeding Harding upon his predecessor’s death, won the only election he ran in, and decided against running for re-election, saying, “If I take another term, I will be in the White House till 1933…Ten years in Washington is longer than any other man has had it—too long!”‘
Calvin Coolidge died on January 5th, 1933, from coronary thrombosis. This got dark real fast. Onto the next Junior.
Theodore Rooselve (Theodore Roosevelt Jr.)
Holy shit, really? As you all know, we LOVE Teddy Roosevelt and his family, and no big deal, our editor-in-chief Johnny Roosevelt is his great-great-great-grandson, so you would assume we knew that Teddy Roosevelt was the second child of Theodore Roosevelt Sr., a businessman and philanthropist who helped found the New York City Children’s Aid Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American History of Natural History.
Considering that our editor-in-chief is actually a part of the Roosevelt family, you’d think that we’d know that Teddy Roosevelt took the name of his father, who was once nominated to to be the Collector of the Port of New York, but was rejected by the senate, and that he installed the love of the outdoors into his son before tragically dying at the age of 46.
You’d assume we’d know all that, but it was actually news to us! If we didn’t know better, we’d almost think that Johnny Roosevelt might be lying about his identity or some shady shit like that.
William McKinley (William McKinley Jr.)
Teddy Roosevelt’s predecessor, pictured above trying to buy out Bailey Brothers Building and Loans, is notable for his assassination at the hands of the anarchist Leon Czolgosz. William McKinley was also the seventh of nine children of William McKinley Sr., a pioneer of the iron industry in eastern Ohio, and Nancy McKinley.
Unfortunately, the rest of this article is a bit more straightforward. Not every Jr. president can be Bill Clinton or Gerald Ford, we guess.
James Buchanan (James Buchanan Jr.)
That dude up there who looks like Anthony Hopkins is playing an alcoholic in a film where he hopes to get an Oscar nomination is James Buchanan, who arguably was the worst president in American history.
His father was James Buchanan Sr., a wealthy merchant, farmer and real estate investor from Mercerburg, Pennsylvania. That’s all we really want to devote to this entry. Sure, the dude was a pretty epic drinker, but he also was probably pretty responsible for the Civil War, so forget about this guy.
John Tyler (John Tyler Jr.)
John Tyler is one of those presidents that you probably forgot about. He ascended to the presidency when William Henry Harrison died just thirty days into his term, and thus Tyler became the first president to become president upon the vacation of the office without a vote. This set the precedent for the 25th amendment, and it also meant that he himself did not have a vice president during his whole term.
He signed Texas into the union three days before leaving office, after losing his attempt at election at the end of his term, and he is the longest-serving president to have never been elected to the office.
He also was a Junior. His father, John Tyler Sr. was known as Judge Tyler, and was a college roommate of Thomas Jefferson who served in the Virginia House of Delegates. He also ended up joining the Confederacy so fuck him.
James Madison (James Madison Jr.)
We’re now in Founding Farther territory, and two of our Founding Fathers have the same name as their fathers. Madison was the oldest of 12 (though only six lived through childhood, because the past was terrifying) born to James Madison Sr., a tobacco plantation owner who served as a colonel in the militia during the Revolutionary War.
Something that might surprise you is how young James Madison was during the actual Revolutionary War. He, like his father, served in the Virginia Militia, in 1775…when he was 24. Dude wrote the Federalist papers in his mid-30s.
Anyway, let’s go onto our last Junior.
John Adams (John Adams Jr.)
The second president of the United States, and the first to have his own son become president, was himself a Junior to John Adams Sr., a British colonial farmer and minister who married at the age of 43, and fathered (are we using that right? WHY ARE WE SO BAD WRITING ABOUT KIDS) the future president a year later.
The history of the Adams family seems to be one of a whole slew of Juniors who make sure to go out of their way to avoid that no one in the family has “III” as part of their name. John Adams Sr.’s father was Joseph Adams Jr., who refused to name his son Joseph Adams III, and instead gave him the confusingly similar name of John Adams.
Then John Adams Jr. named one of his six children John…Quincy Adams. So while he gave his future-president son his name, he changed it just enough that he would not be a III, and would not be a Junior.
By the way, John Quincy Adams named one of his sons John Adams II. This family really liked that name. Fun fact—John Adams II married his cousin, Mary Catherine Hellen, which isn’t the grossest part about that story. That’s because both his older and younger brother wanted to marry that same cousin and both siblings were so mad that she chose to cousin-marry John Adams II that they refused to show up to the wedding.
So basically, if you’re looking for some SWEET GOSS, look no further than the Jr. loving, “The Third” hating Adams family.