John Kennedy Jr. playing in the Oval Office

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Civics in Action
August 2020

The Kids of the White House

 

 

By Talia Cowen

You’ve just learned what it’s like to live in the White House. Now meet some kids who’ve actually called it home!

You’ve just learned all about what it’s like to live in the White House. Now meet some kids who’ve actually done it!

Jesse Grant

Move-in Age: 11

Presidential Parent: Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)

Life in the White House: Jesse and his older sister, Nellie, traveled from the White House to school in a cart pulled by two pet ponies. Jesse remembered the White House and its yard as the “largest and best playground available.”

Life After the White House: When his father’s term ended, Jesse and his parents traveled around the world for two-and-a-half years. In 1908, Jesse ran for president but lost.

Move-in Age: 11

Presidential Parent: Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)

Life in the White House: Jesse and his older sister, Nellie, traveled from the White House to school in style: in a cart pulled by two pet ponies named Reb and Billy Button. He remembered the White House and its grounds as the “largest and best playground available.”

Life After the White House: When his father’s presidency ended, Jesse and his parents embarked on a two-and-a-half-year world tour. In 1908 Jesse ran for president—but lost.

Quentin Roosevelt

Move-in Age:

Presidential Parent: Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

Life in the White House: Quentin was part of a group of boys who would play together at the White House. They built obstacle courses in the halls and played hide-and-seek. They were so troublesome that President Roosevelt called them the “White House Gang.”

Life After the White House: After moving out, Quentin went to flight school. He then joined the United States Army Air Service and was a pilot during World War I. Sadly, he died in the war when he was 20 years old.

Move-in Age: 3

Presidential Parent: Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

Life in the White House: During his years at the White House, Quentin formed a group of boys his age who would play together. They built obstacle courses in the White House halls and played hide-and-seek. They were so rambunctious that Roosevelt called them the “White House Gang.”

Life After the White House: Shortly after leaving the White House, Quentin went to aviation school, later joining the United States Army Air Service. He served as a pilot during World War I. Tragically, he died at 20 years old while fighting in the war.

Charles Taft

Move-in Age: 11

Presidential Parent: William Howard Taft (1909-1913)

Life in the White House: Charles was a White House troublemaker. He once flew a model airplane off the roof of the building. It’s also said that he sometimes had fun answering calls on the telephone switchboard. That’s the system that connected phone calls in the White House then.

Life After the White House: Charles became mayor of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. He said that one of the proudest moments of his career was helping build the stadium where Cincinnati’s baseball and football teams played.

Move-in Age: 11

Presidential Parent: William Howard Taft (1909-1913)

Life in the White House: Charles was a documented White House troublemaker. Reportedly, he once flew a model airplane off the roof of the building. It’s also said that he sometimes amused himself by answering calls on the telephone switchboard, which was the system that connected phone calls in the White House.

Life After the White House: Charles grew up to be a politician, eventually becoming mayor of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. He claimed that one of the proudest moments of his career was overseeing the construction of the stadium where Cincinnati’s baseball and football teams would play.

David D. Eisenhower

Move-in Age: 4

Presidential Grandparent: Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

Life in the White House: In 1958, David and his family moved to Washington, D.C. They moved to be closer to his grandparents, who were the president and the first lady! David would play in the White House gardens and ride his tricycle. When David was 5, his grandfather renamed the presidential vacation home—Camp David—after him.

Life After the White House: After his grandfather moved out of the White House, David still spent time with presidents. He married President Richard Nixon’s daughter Julie! He also became an author and a college professor and wrote about his famous grandfather.

Move-in Age: 4

Presidential Grandparent: Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

Life in the White House: In 1958, David and his family moved to Washington, D.C., to be closer to his grandparents—the president and the first lady! The kids would play in the gardens and ride their tricycles on the pavement in front of the White House. When David was 5, his grandfather renamed the presidential retreat—Camp David—after him.

Life After the White House: After David’s grandfather moved out of the White House, David still kept presidential company. He ended up marrying President Richard Nixon’s daughter Julie. David eventually became a respected author and professor, and wrote about his grandfather’s legacy.

Caroline Kennedy

Move-in Age: 3

Presidential Parent: John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

Life in the White House: The first lady turned a room in the White House into a kindergarten classroom for Caroline. When she wasn’t in class, Caroline rode her pony, Macaroni, around the White House grounds. Sometimes, her father, President Kennedy, would join.

Life After the White House: Caroline’s father was killed in 1963. As an adult, Caroline has done a lot to honor him. She’s also been involved in politics. Caroline was the ambassador to Japan from 2013 to 2017. As ambassador, she lived in Japan and represented the American government.

Move-in Age: 3

Presidential Parent: John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

Life in the White House: First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy turned a sunny room in the White House into a kindergarten classroom for Caroline and 12 to 15 classmates. When she wasn’t in class, Caroline enjoyed taking her pony, Macaroni, out for rides around the White House grounds. Occasionally, her father, President Kennedy, would join them.

Life After the White House: Caroline’s father was assassinated in 1963. For her whole adult life, Caroline has played an active role in honoring his legacy. She has also stayed involved in politics and was the U.S. ambassador to Japan from 2013 to 2017. She was the first woman to hold that role.

Steven Ford

Move-in Age: 18

Presidential Parent: Gerald Ford (1974-1977)

Life in the White House: The first night his family moved into the White House, Steven snuck onto the roof with a childhood friend. On the roof, they played loud rock music. Steven didn’t like publicity, so he lived in the White House only some of the time. He preferred living and working on ranches out west.

Life After the White House: Steven later became a well-known Hollywood actor. He acted in more than 30 movies and played many roles on TV.

Move-in Age: 18

Presidential Parent: Gerald Ford (1974-1977)

Life in the White House: Steven says that the night his family moved into the White House, he snuck onto the roof of his new home with a childhood friend and blasted rock music. Despite his debut in the presidential home, he decided that he wanted to stay out of the spotlight. Steven lived in the White House for only a few months at a time. He preferred living far away from Washington, D.C., rodeo-ing out west.

Life After the White House: So much for staying out of the spotlight! Steven later became a well-known Hollywood actor, appearing in more than 30 movies and playing many roles on TV.

Amy Lynn Carter

Move-in Age: 9

Presidential Parent: Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

Life in the White House: Amy had a second house in the White House. It was a tree house the White House carpenter built for her. 

Life After the White House: Amy grew up to become an activist. She took part in many protests during the 1980s and early 1990s. She also illustrated a children’s book her father wrote. It’s called The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer.

Move-in Age: 9

Presidential Parent: Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

Life in the White House: Amy left several marks on the White House. One is the tree house the White House carpenter built for her on the grounds. Another is her name in a White House elevator shaft, which she hand-wrote with a marker.

Life After the White House: Amy grew up to become an outspoken activist. She was involved in protests in the 1980s and early 1990s. One of the issues she was most passionate about was ending racial segregation in South Africa. She also worked with her father on a children’s book called The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer. He wrote the words, and she drew the pictures.

Chelsea Clinton

Move-in Age: 12

Presidential Parent: Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Life in the White House: What was the worst thing that Chelsea did while she was in the White House? According to her mom, it was ordering pizza with her friends! (Pizza delivery to the White House is a big no-no with the Secret Service.) 

Life After the White House: Today, Chelsea is active in her parent’s nonprofit organization, the Clinton Foundation. It works on many issues, like health, climate change, and improving the lives of girls and women. She has also written

Move-in Age: 12

Presidential Parent: Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Life in the White House: What was the most rebellious thing that Chelsea did while she was in the White House? According to her mother, it was ordering pizza with her friends! (Pizza delivery to the White House is a big no-no with the Secret Service.) 

Life After the White House: Today, Chelsea is active in the non-profit organization her parents founded, the Clinton Foundation. It works on many issues related to health, global climate change, and improving the lives of girls and women. Chelsea is also the author of several children’s books.

Sasha Obama

Move-in Age: 7

Presidential Parent: Barack Obama (2009-2017)

Life in the White House: On the night their dad officially became president, Sasha and her older sister, Malia, enjoyed a private Jonas Brothers concert at the White House. And the night before they moved out, they had a slumber party with friends, chicken nuggets, and pizza.

Life after the White House: After her dad’s presidency ended, the family stayed in D.C. so Sasha could finish high school. She graduated in 2019 and is now a student at the University of Michigan.

Move-in Age: 7

Presidential Parent: Barack Obama (2009-2017)

Life in the White House: On the night of their dad’s inauguration, Sasha and her older sister, Malia, rocked out at a private Jonas Brothers concert at the White House. And the night before they moved out? There was a slumber party with friends, chicken nuggets, and pizza, of course!

Life After the White House: After her dad’s presidency ended, the family decided to stay in D.C. so that she could finish high school there. She graduated in 2019 and is now a student at the University of Michigan.