Eight Scotch and Irish American Presidents of the Past

In honor of President’s Day let’s discuss several American Presidents who claim Scottish and Irish descent. Many people of Irish descent have been known to migrate away from their country for many generations in search of better job prospects and life experiences in other cities, nations, and continents. Following a number of years of traveling, others find their way back home. Some people move away from their home country and start a new life there. Some Irish Americans are elected to the Office of President of the United States!

An astounding 23 of the 46 people who have held the office of President of the United States of America have claimed Irish ancestry, ranging from 7 times great grandparents to direct descendants of immigrants. That’s right nearly half of the US’s presidents claim to be Irish American Presidents. Although none of them were born in Ireland (and even if they were, they wouldn’t be eligible for the presidency of the United States), several have been there to see where their ancestors originated from. In their hometown, they have been greeted by large groups of well-wishers and, on occasion, offered a free pint.

A good number of these Irish-American individuals went on to play significant roles in the course of history and are recognized all over the globe for the accomplishments they made while in office. The following is a list of 13 of the 23 Irish Americans who have served as President of the United States, along with the history of their forebears and the path that led them to assume one of the most influential posts in the world.

President Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was the first President of the United States to claim Irish heritage. He served as the 7th President of the United States. From 1829 to 1837, he served in that capacity. His parents had arrived in America just two years earlier, in 1765, from Ireland, together with their two other boys who were also born in Ireland. He was born in 1767 at the border area of North and South Carolina. Unfortunately, Jackson was never able to meet his father. His father passed away at the age of 29, just a few weeks before his son was born. During the American Revolutionary War, he served as a messenger while he was only a little lad. After that, he went on to become a lawyer and ended up playing a role in the establishment of the state of Tennessee. In addition, before being nominated for the presidency in 1822, he served for a while in the Tennessee militia. In spite of the fact that he failed to win the election the first time around, he did it successfully in 1828 and is mostly renowned for the inhumane Indian Removal Policy, which expelled Native Americans from the land that was rightfully theirs.

President James Knox Polk

James Knox Polk, who was born in 1795 and served as President of the United States from 1845 to 1849, was the 11th President of the United States. His family was one of the earliest European pioneers to come to the United States, and he was one of ten children. His family was of Scottish and Irish heritage. Polk was 49 years old when he took office as President of the United States, making him the youngest person to ever hold that position. He made a solemn oath to serve in that capacity for no more than one term, and he was successful in achieving all of the objectives he had established for himself at the outset of that term: to re-establish the Independent Treasury System, to reduce tariffs, and to acquire Oregon Country, California, and New Mexico (the latter of which actually involved invading Mexico and fighting a war with them!). He also kept his promise to step down from office at the end of that However, his constant effort took its toll on his health, and just a few short months after completing his tenure, he passed away from cholera.

President James Buchanan

James Buchanan was another American president of Scots-Irish ancestry; more particularly, his ancestors on both sides were of Ulster-Scots heritage. James and his 10 siblings were brought up in Pennsylvania by their father, who moved there in 1783 after leaving Donegal. After that, Buchanan went on to achieve a great deal of success in politics, ultimately becoming Secretary of State. The majority of people were not impressed by him during his time in office from 1857 to 1861, and he is mostly recognized for passing up a great number of significant changes that were subsequently used by his successor, Abraham Lincoln. As a result of his seeming lack of interest in his fiancé, many people assumed that he was homosexual since he chose to immerse himself in his career rather than in his relationship. She called off the engagement, and not long after that, she passed away from what seems to have been hysteria brought on by an overdose of laudanum (a kind of opium).

President Ulysses S. Grant

An Irishman by the name of John Simpson, who was originally from County Tyrone, was Ulysses S. Grant’s great-great-grandfather. Despite the fact that both of Grant’s parents were members of the Methodist church, he was never baptized and never joined any specific religious denomination. This was quite unusual for early inhabitants of the area. In spite of the fact that he was given the name Hiram Ulysses at birth, when he registered for the United States Military Academy, his name was entered incorrectly, and from that point on, he was known as Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was not interested in pursuing a career in the military, so he resigned after completing the required number of years of duty. However, he had a difficult time finding work in another field and ended up rejoining the Union Army during the Civil War. During the years 1869–1877, while he served as president, he advocated, among other things, for a peace process with Native Americans and civil rights for formerly enslaved people who had been released. After completing his second term as president, Grant became the first Irish American president to go to the home of his ancestors. This trip took place in 1878. Grant went to see the home of his great grandpa in Tyrone, which is now an exhibition center devoted to telling the narrative of Grant’s life.

President William McKinley

William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was a descendent of an Irish farmer who lived in Conagher, which is located in County Antrim. McKinley was so proud of his Irish ancestry that he even spoke at a national Scots-Irish conference that was held in the late 19th century. He is credited with rapid economic success during his term of office from 1897–1901, but unfortunately, his contributions to America and the rest of the world were cut short when he was assassinated by a man hiding his gun under a tissue during a meet and greet with the public. This tragic event cut short his time to make a positive impact on America and the rest of the world.

President Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, who served as president of the United States during the 20th century, has Irish ancestry on his mother’s side. He is considered to be one of the most famous figures of that era. In 1729, her ancestors left Glencoe, which was located in County Antrim, and moved to the United States. Roosevelt is famous for having said that Irish Presbyterians, who belonged to the religion that his mother practiced, were a “brave and sturdy people.” As a youth, Roosevelt struggled with severe asthma, and he later lost both his wife and mother within the span of twenty-four hours to separate causes of death: his mother passed away from typhoid illness, and his wife passed away while giving birth. He did, however, avoid death in the face of attempted murder, so it wasn’t all awful!

President Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, can trace his ancestry back to this region of the globe. His maternal ancestors were Scottish and English, while his paternal grandfather came to the United States from Strabane, County Tyrone, in Ireland. Throughout his political career, he reflected on the ways in which his Irish forebears had influenced his never-ending search for knowledge and satisfaction on several occasions. He was open and very proud of his Irish heritage. He was in office from 1913 to 1921, during which time he weathered the storms of the First World War, the Mexican Revolution, and the campaign for women’s suffrage. Historians and politicians both have high esteem for him because of his ability to weather these storms.

President John F Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, who was perhaps the most well-known (and well-loved) Irish US President, also has the greatest Irish heritage, since all four of his grandparents were born in Ireland. This gives him the best Irish lineage of any US President. His maternal grandfather was from County Limerick, while his paternal grandfather was from New Ross in County Wexford. Both of his grandfathers were born in Ireland. Raised in Massachusetts and New York, the Kennedy clan is the epitome of Irish-American, and the charismatic John Francis quickly won over Americans when it came time for his election – although his great military career and political character certainly helped things along. Following his murder in 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a tour of Ireland for the last five months of his life. Everywhere he visited, he was met by crowds of people who wished him well. During the course of his brief, four-day tour, he made history by being the first leader from a foreign nation to deliver a speech to both Houses of the Oireachtas. In addition, he was awarded two honorary degrees. He and his wife Jackie went to Galway, where they were honored with a set of Claddagh Rings in recognition of John F. Kennedy’s Irish heritage. Because he was spotted wearing it during his journey, we may infer that he found it to be comfortable.

What day does President’s Day fall on?

Presidents’ Day is celebrated every year on the third Monday of February — February 20 this year.

Why isn’t this holiday referred to as Presidents Day anymore?

There was never a formal transition to Presidents’ Day as the holiday’s name. However, as local governments and private companies are permitted by federal statute to give whatever name they want to a federal holiday, the majority of states designate this celebration Presidents Day. The month of February is known as “Valentine’s Day” sales by many retailers, who also make use of this second term.

Why do we celebrate Presidents Day?

President’s Day is a federal holiday officially named Washington’s Birthday and is a celebration of our nation’s first president.

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