The Presidential campaigns are heating up. There is an interesting side effect, as mentioned in an old saying: "Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you." Indeed, that is happening now. Until Election Day 2012, you will see many news stories about the ancestors and other distant relatives of every major candidate.
Of course, most of the candidates have family trees that go back for many generations in the United States. If your ancestry also goes back several generations in the U.S., it’s likely that you share at least one common trait with the candidates: you are probably related to many famous people. We all are. After all, you have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents, and so on in a straight mathematical progression. If you go back 300 years, you have about 4,000 ancestors, assuming no duplicates. Of course, most of us have duplicates.
Now add in an unknown number of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and you have perhaps hundreds of thousands of relatives. There's bound to be somebody famous or infamous in a group of that size!
According to an article by Elizabeth Weise in USA Today, "If you have blue eyes, you may be related to every other blue-eyed person in the world. Researchers in Denmark have found that every person with blue eyes descends from just one "founder," an ancestor whose genes mutated 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Before then, everyone had brown eyes."
Okay, batten down the hatches. The news articles are about to begin, stating that every political candidate is related to almost everyone else who ever walked the face of the earth. Actually, that's probably true although proving it may be a bit difficult. Here are a few of the latest relationships for which proof has been found:
Rick Perry is a first cousin six times removed of Sam Houston, the commander-in-chief of Texas Revolutionary forces and twice-elected President of the Republic of Texas.
Rick Perry is also the fifth cousin four times removed of Harry Truman.
Perry, the 47th governor of Texas, is also related to Captain John Paxton, a hero of the U.S. Revolutionary War who survived the infamous winter encampment at Valley Forge with General George Washington.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is connected to Presidents George W. Bush (10th cousins twice removed), George H. W. Bush (10th cousins once removed) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (8th cousins, twice removed) through Ann Marbury Hutchinson, a key figure in the development of religious freedom in America and early settler of Rhode Island and New York. Romney is related to Presidents Calvin Coolidge (10th cousins), Herbert Hoover (10th cousins) and Franklin Pierce (6th cousins 4 times removed) through Thomas Richardson, an English landowner in the late 1500s from Hertfordshire.
Romney also shares a common ancestor with former first lady Barbara Pierce Bush: Franklin Pierce. In addition, he is related to three consecutive presidents of the U.S.: Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is related to four American presidents. Huntsman is related to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt (8th cousins 3 times removed), George H.W. Bush (11th cousins) and George W. Bush (11th cousins once removed) through Ann Marbury Hutchinson. Huntsman and President Calvin Coolidge are 7th cousins 3 times removed through William Goddard, who brought his family to Massachusetts colony in 1665 to escape London's plague and search for better opportunities.
Barack Obama’s distant cousins include actor Brad Pitt, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, billionaire financial investor Warren Buffett, and radio talk show personality Rush Limbaugh.
Relatively speaking–if I can use that expression here–the one candidate who stands out as being different from the others is Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann. Her ancestry is 100 percent Norwegian. So far, the researchers at Ancestry.com have not been able to find any relationship to any other famous Americans in her family tree. But there's hope, especially if any president had Norwegian ancestry.
These won't be the last articles you read about presidential candidates' relatives. The news media seems to love these stories.
You can read more about Ancestry.com's research at http://goo.gl/i31tp.
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