World PoliticsSocial IssuesMilitaryEconomyUS PoliticsActivismGovernment

Presidents' Daughters - Then and Now, After the White House

Updated on March 21, 2017
ThelmaC profile image

Thelma Raker Coffone is an award winning non-fiction writer. She enjoys sharing information about America's presidents and their families.

President Bill Clinton and Daughter Chelsea
President Bill Clinton and Daughter Chelsea

Many United States presidents have been fathers of daughters during their terms in the White House. Some of the presidents' daughters started out as ugly ducklings and later became beautiful women with accomplishments that made them noteworthy in their own right. Being daughters of presidents opened many doors that may have been closed otherwise. In addition to grand opportunities because of their names, they also had access to excellent educations, travel, and chances to meet some of the most important people in the world. The extent to which they took advantage of those benefits varied, just as their personalities varied.

Tricia Nixon White House Wedding
Tricia Nixon White House Wedding
Tricia Nixon at White House Mother's Day Luncheon 2010
Tricia Nixon at White House Mother's Day Luncheon 2010

The Two Daughters of President Nixon ... Tricia Cox and Julie Eisenhower

During President Nixon's troubled presidency, he was the father of two daughters who stood by him during the turmoil leading up to his resignation as president, and the years afterward.

Patricia "Tricia" Nixon was named after her mother but preferred the shortened name of Tricia. She traveled extensively with her father, representing the United States around the world.

Tricia married Edward Cox in the White House Rose Garden in 1971. She was recognized by many as being one of the most beautiful White House brides. Tricia and Edward have one son. She has led more of a private life than many of the other presidential daughters.

President Richard Nixon and his daughter Julie
President Richard Nixon and his daughter Julie | Source
Julie and David Eisenhower
Julie and David Eisenhower

Julie Nixon was the youngest daughter of President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat. Julie has been in the political spotlight most of her life as a presidential daughter and as the grand-daughter-in-law of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Prior to her father's resignation from the presidency, Julie traveled across the US defending his role in the Watergate conspiracy.

She and her husband, David, have a son and two daughters including Jennie Eisenhower, an actress who has performed in the movies, "Arthur", "Mona Lisa Smile" and "Head Space".

Julie lives in Pennsylvania where she is active in public service and has become quite an accomplished author.

Book by Julie Nixon Eisenhower

Nan Britton (left) and her daughter, Elizabeth Ann Harding
Nan Britton (left) and her daughter, Elizabeth Ann Harding | Source

Nan Britton's Book - "The President's Daughter"

President Harding's Illegitimate Daughter

Warren G. Harding was president of the United States from 1921 to 1923. He was commonly recognized as a womanizer, even though he was married to First Lady Florence Harding. Nan Britton, a teenager whose father was a friend of Harding, claimed that she had a continuous affair with Harding until his death in 1923. According to a best-selling book written by Britton after Harding's death, "The President's Daughter", the affair resulted in the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth Ann. The book states that Elizabeth Ann was conceived on the couch in Harding's Senate office just prior to his election as president. It also reports of sexual relations between Harding and Britton in a closet just off the Oval Office which is reminiscent of another presidential tryst many years later, perhaps in the same closet.

During Harding's presidency, it is claimed that he arranged for Secret Service agents to deliver money to Nan for the care of the child. After his death, the payments stopped. Britton lost a 1931 federal court case to declare Elizabeth Ann as Harding's daughter because she was unable to prove paternity.

Nan Britton died in 1991 at age 94 and Elizabeth Ann passed away in 2005. Elizabeth Ann's parentage was never conclusively proved. The grown-up Elizabeth Ann refused DNA testing and her children (presumably Harding's grandchildren) have also refused testing. Understandably, the Harding descendants just want the entire matter to go away. Time will tell if this is the end of this unsolved story.

Lynda Bird Johnson and Chuck Robb
Lynda Bird Johnson and Chuck Robb | Source
Luci Johnson on cover of Life magazine May, 1964
Luci Johnson on cover of Life magazine May, 1964 | Source

The Johnson Girls

President Lyndon Johnson and his wife Lady Bird were the parents of two daughters, Lynda Bird Johnson and her younger sister, Luci Baines Johnson, all family members having the same initials, LBJ.

After a romantic relationship with actor George Hamilton, Lynda married Charles "Chuck" Robb who would go on to become Governor of Virginia. Their relationship endured an affair by Chuck while governor, with Miss Virginia who would later become a Playboy nude model.

Luci married Patrick Nugent in 1966, while her father was president. They would have 4 children prior to divorcing in 1979. Luci would later marry a Canadian businessman. She was diagnosed in 2010 with Guillain–Barré syndrome. Her doctor expects her to recover fully.

Both Luci and Lynda have followed their mother's footsteps in the area of public service and have received numerous awards. Both are very active in fundraising for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

The Johnson Daughters - Luci on right and Lynda on left. Lynda is looking very much like her mother!
The Johnson Daughters - Luci on right and Lynda on left. Lynda is looking very much like her mother! | Source
President Jimmy Carter and daughter Amy on cover of People magazine.
President Jimmy Carter and daughter Amy on cover of People magazine. | Source
President Carter and daughter Amy
President Carter and daughter Amy | Source

Book Written by President Carter and Illustrated by Amy Carter

Amy Carter - Not Your Typical President's Daughter

President Jimmy Carter's daughter was considered by some to be awkward and stand-offish during the time she lived in the White House. This was not unusual for a girl of just nine years of age who was from a very small town like Plains, Georgia. She was criticized severely in the press, especially when she was seen reading a book during a state dinner, which was very offensive to the foreign guests.

Amy attended public schools in Washington and high school in Atlanta. She was dismissed from Brown University for academic reasons.

She participated in a number of demonstrations in the 1980s and was arrested with activist Abbie Hoffman in 1986 at a rally against the CIA.

Ever the non-conformist, Amy refused to let her father "give her away" at her wedding to James Wentzel in 1996. She stated that "she belonged to no one".

Amy lives in Atlanta with her husband and one son. She keeps a very low profile and does not participate in public ceremonies or give interviews. She, probably more than any other presidential daughter, has not taken advantage of the opportunities that would be granted to her as daughter of President Jimmy Carter.

Susan Ford Washing Her Car at White House in 1976
Susan Ford Washing Her Car at White House in 1976 | Source
Current Photo of Susan Ford
Current Photo of Susan Ford | Source

President Gerald Ford's Daughter, Susan

Susan Ford may not be as well known as some of the presidents' daughters, but she is certainly an impressive lady. She represented her family well in several official functions and has proven to be an effective speaker.

Susan and her mother created National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1984. She currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Betty Ford Center.

During her White House days, Susan was a target of the Symbionese Liberation Army, an American revolutionary group in the 1970s. She was protected by the Secret Service and later married one of the agents, with whom she had two daughters prior to their divorce.

Susan is in the process of writing a series of mystery novels with a setting in the White House. In the first book of the series, "Double Exposure," a body is found in the Rose Garden!

Susan lives with her current husband, Vaden Bales, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Future of These First Daughters

These "first daughters" and their accomplishments are as varied as their public profiles. While some have a joy for the limelight that was probably instilled in them by their famous fathers, others enjoy a private life with some degree of normalcy.

In either case, it is probably safe to say that we haven't heard the last of these ladies. What the future holds for them is uncertain, especially in the case of the young, intelligent and beautiful Chelsea Clinton, who was considered an ugly duckling during her White House years. She may someday follow suit with her politically famous parents and run for president. Wouldn't it be interesting if her opponent turned out to be Amy Carter?

Author's Update

Much has changed on the US political scene since I wrote this article about the presidents' daughters. Donald Trump is the new American president and his daughter is impressing people around the world with the part she is playing in her father's administration. She is not only successful and beautiful, but she is likable to most and very intelligent.

I wish to change my prediction that I made in 2013 that one day we might see a match up in the quest to become president between presidential daughters Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter. I believe Chelsea is still a strong contender but a more likely competitor for her would be Ivanka Trump.

Next Generation Presidential Poll

Who do you think would be the winner in a presidential election between the next generation of Clinton and Trump?

See results

Who Was Your Favorite Presidential Daughter?

See results

© 2013 Thelma Raker Coffone

Please Share Your Comments on Presidents' Daughters Then and Now

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ewent profile image

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 6 weeks ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Wow! Wonderful blog! So much to recall. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Donna Nunnery 3 months ago

      My favorite Presidential Daughter Is Caroline Kennedy

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 6 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Mona thanks for your comments. No, Ron Reagan didn't live in the White House while his father was president. In 1981, when President Reagan was sworn in, Ron was already in his 20's and was married the year before. Great question!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 6 months ago from Philippines

      Very interesting to know what happens to children after the White House. Is there any information about Ronald Reagan's son who was a ballet dancer? Did he ever live in the White House?

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 months ago from Oakley, CA

      Very interesting...but what about the scandal of GW Bush's daughter getting in trouble with alcohol? They tried to hush it up, but it got out anyway...

    • profile image

      Ken Kellar 7 months ago

      Tricia Nixon,aged very well.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 7 months ago from Philippines

      How wonderful to see how all the "First Daughters" had fared later in life. There must be something right about the presidency, since none of them came out as drug addicts or serial wives:)

    • profile image

      Ruth Gideon 15 months ago

      I loved seeing the pictures of how these "First Daughters" look now. Tricia Nixon was always my favorite!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wow, all the president daughters are different when they are young. Very much alike their parents when they are grown up

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Kathleen thanks for your compliments on my article. I find anything about the Presidents and their families to be very interesting. I am so glad you found me through Patti Inglish and I am just thrilled that she liked my work enough to follow me. I have admired her work for a long time! I also like your work and have followed you for a while.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I found you through Patti Inglish, a hubber I've respected for my entire HP experience. You and I write about some of the same topics, but I have to admit I never looked into presidential daughters. This hub is fascinating and a lot of work went into it. Sharing and Following

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      nybride thanks for your comment. Yes, I love writing history hubs. I have enjoyed reading your hubs and I look forward to following you!!

    • nybride710 profile image

      Lisa Kroulik 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I can see you love history as much as I do. I loved seeing the updated pictures and what these ladies are up to.

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Careermommy thanks for your nice comments. I enjoyed researching this article and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      ThelmaC, this was a very interesting read. I love learning historical facts about past Presidents and their families. Great job!

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      SaffronBlossom glad you found it interesting. You have written some interesting hubs also. Thanks for stopping by.

    • SaffronBlossom profile image

      SaffronBlossom 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This is such an interesting hub! I learned a lot from it--thank you!

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Garret thanks for your nice comments. I think you are on the right track already by reading articles written by other hubbers. I learned a lot by doing that when I was new. You also make friends that way and get followers. Write good quality hubs by doing thorough research. Best of luck to you on hubpages!

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Thanks for your comment Jean-ette. I was going to include Patti Davis but the hub was getting so long that I had to decide between Patti and Susan Ford. I loved the picture of Susan washing her own car outside the White House so I opted to go with Susan. I liked the fact that she washed it herself instead of having a staff person do it for her.

    • Jean-ette profile image

      Jean-ette 4 years ago

      Enjoyed reading this interesting hub Thelma. I read the autobiography of Patti Davis not too long ago. Very different than her father Ronald Reagan in her opinions but just as strong minded about her beliefs.

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      HSchneider thanks for the compliment! Glad you liked it.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent history of some of the Presidential daughters, ThelmaC. Great job.

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Tillsontitan thanks for your nice comments. I enjoy following you and reading your hubs!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      This was a very interesting and different topic Thelma. I've often wondered what happened to those daughters, pretty much all of them. It is nice to see they have gone on to lead semi-normal lives.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      MizBejabbers thanks for sharing the info about the Clintons, especially the part about Chelsea and your teacher friend. I think Chelsea would be quite capable to be in politics but the question is does she want to. Time will tell.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 years ago

      Yes, Thelma, I have known Bill Clinton since 1980 when I was a reporter for the Arkansas Radio Network. I never got to know Hillary, although I met her on several occasions. She was always suspicious of reports (can't blame her) and wouldn't let them get to know her. However, I was behind her in a supermarket line one day when she was checking out her groceries. She carried on a conversation with the checker like they were old friends, so that proved that she really does have a sincere warm fuzzy side. I held back and she never knew that I was behind her. I really enjoyed seeing a side of her that she didn't let reporters see. I've never met Chelsea because she was just a little tyke then, but a former school teacher that I now work with says that Chelsea was her favorite student in over 30 years of teaching.

    • ThelmaC profile image
      Author

      Thelma Raker Coffone 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      MizBejabbers thanks for your nice comments. I enjoy reading your hubs and following you. Have you ever met the Clintons ... I noticed you are from their home state and you have a background in radio and newspaper so just wondering?

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 years ago

      A wonderful update on the presidents' daughters. I've often wondered what happened to Amy Carter in private life, and now I know. Yes, it will be interesting to see what Chelsea Clinton does. She has a hard act to follow with both her mother and father, but she seems to have inherited their intelligence, if not their ambitions. Voted you up and interesting.