Presidents' Families - Some Were Unfortunate after Leaving the White House
Indiana State Journal, 6 May 1896
Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer
Majority Fared well, but Other Tenants of the Mansion Have Lived on Charity, Widows Cared for
A son of a President of the United States died a few days ago in this city where he had lived in poverty and obscurity for a number of years. Once he lived in the White House and went to the Capitol with the messages of the President, his father. His name was John Tyler, and he was the son of the tenth President of the United States. He drew a pension of $8 a month for service in the Mexican, war until his death. For a number of years in the latter part of his life he held apposition in the department service in Washington, but the changes of politics threw him out, and he was unable to obtain reinstatement.
The problem, "What, shall we do with our ex-Presidents?" is not nearly so important as "What shall we, do with the families of our ex-Presidents?" for of late years the ex-Presidents have taken care of themselves or have been cared for by their friends, but this kindness has not been extended always to their families. And the son of a President of the United States is handicapped for life. My greatest misfortune is that I am the son of the President," said the child of a chief executive.
Presidents' wives have been cared for by Congress. Pensions of $5,000 a year have been granted to five of them—Mrs. Tyler, Mrs. Polk, Mrs., Grant, Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Garfield. Mrs. Grant is comparatively rich, the result of the success of her Husband's memoirs, and Mrs. Garfield has a very comfortable fortune contributed by some rich friends of her late husband.
As a rule Presidents' sons have shown themselves amply able to care for themselves John Adams left a fortune of $50,000 to his son, John Quincy Adams, but the younger Adams had been elected President of the United States before he received his father's bequest. He was a man of great mental capacity, and he was amply able to make his own way In the world.
Jefferson's children were not so fortunate. He was so poor that he sold his library to Congress for $23,000 (about one-quarter of its value), and later he endorsed a note for $20,000 for a friend, which he was compelled to pay. He was in danger then of losing Monticello, but Philip Hone, Mayor of New York, raised $8,500 in that city in 1826, and the people of Philadelphia and Baltimore added $5,000 and $3,000, respectively, to the sum, so that Jefferson died solvent. His daughter, Mrs. Randolph, and her children, who had been with him during his last years, were left penniless, and Mrs. Randolph contemplated opening a school, but South Carolina and Virginia voted $10,000 each to her support, and she lived on the interest of this money till her death in 1836.
Madison left no children to share his small estate. Monroe died poor, but his two daughters had married before his death, one of them being the wife of George Hay, of Virginia, and the other of Samuel L. Gouverneur, of New York.
John Quincy Adams left an estate about as large as that of his father $50,000; but the Adams family was quite able to take care of itself without inheritance, and down to the present day it has earned honors and wealth.
VAN BUREN, RICH
Jackson left no children. His grand-niece is a clerk in the government departments. Van Buren was one of the richest of the Presidents. It was said he drew no salary till he left the White House, and that he received the $100,000 which had accumulated during his term in one lump. He had a son Abraham, who graduated at West Point and served with distinction in the army. He was brevetted for gallantry at Churubusco. Abraham Van Buren married a woman who was well-to-do. John Van Buren, President Van Buren's second son, graduated at Yale and became one of the leading members of the New York bar. He was elected Attorney-general of the State.
William Henry Harrison left a small estate, which went eventually to his son, the father of Benjamin Harrison, who was a member of Congress from Indiana for four years. Benjamin Harrison inherited very little of his money, and he had to make his own way from the beginning of his career. But he showed conspicuous ability as a lawyer, and his practice since he left the White House has been worth probably $20,000 or $30,000 a year to him.
President Tyler's first wife died while he was in the White House. One of his sons, Robert, went to Philadelphia, where he held several civil offices. Then he went to Richmond, where he was appointed register of the treasury. At the expiration of his term of office he moved to Montgomery, Ala., where he edited a newspaper until his death. John Tyler, who has just died was secretary to his father, though he did not hold the title of private secretary, as that office was created after he left the White House. He drew no salary, and he said not long ago that when he left the White House he pawned his watch for $20 because he had no money. John Tyler would, have been one of the victims of the explosion on the Princeton which killed his future stepmother's father if he had not been escorting Mrs. Gilmore, the wife of the Secretary of the Navy, to the cabin at the time the Peacemaker, blew up. Mr. Gilmore was killed in the accident. So was Mr. Gardiner, of New York, whose daughter became Mrs. Tyler not long afterward. President Tyler had a son by his second wife who was conspicuous in the politics of Virginia, and who became president of William and Mary College, the institution from which his father had graduated. Mrs. Tyler was the first President's wife to receive aid from Congress. A pension of $5,000 was granted to her.
Mrs. Polk also received a pension from Congress. She had no children. President Taylor left several children, who were quite competent to take care of themselves. His eldest daughter married Jefferson Davis; another married W.. H. Bliss, major in the army, and she was mistress or the White House during part of her fathers term. After the death of her father and her husband she married Philip Dandridge, of Virginia, who were quite competent to take care of themselves.
Her brother, "Dick" Taylor, was a man of much distinction; a member of the secession convention of Louisiana, served in the Confederate army, under Stonewall Jackson in the valley campaign, rose to the rank of general and served with credit till the end of the war; After the war he went to New York, where, just before his death in 1879, he published a book with the title "Destruction and Reconstruction."
PIERCE'S GRIEF. President Fillmore had only one child, a daughter, who died while he was yet alive. President Pierce had three children, all boys. Two of them died while quite young. The third lived to be thirteen. He was killed in a railroad accident while traveling with his father and mother from Andover to Lawrence, Mass., in January 1853. It was only two months before the inauguration of his father as President, and the accident cast a gloom over the White House during the entire administration of President Pierce. James Buchanan was a bachelor. The Lincolns brought three boys with them to the White House. One died during his father's administration, he was the President's favorite child, and another not long after the murder of the President Robert T.Lincoln, the oldest of the three was spared to his mother, and his career has been an honor to his father's name. He has been Secretary of War, minister to England, and he is reckoned a possibility in the presidential contest. He has been successful as a lawyer, too. His, mother received pension of $3,000 from 1870 till 1882, when it was increased to $5,000.
President Johnson left two daughters,both of whom married well. Martha became the wife of Judge D. T. Patterson, and she was the mistress of the White House during her father's term. Mary married Daniel Stover, who died before Mr.Johnson became President. She, too, was with her father in the White House. After his retirement she married W. R. Bacon.
The Grant family was fairly well-to-do when the second term ended, but the unfortunate connection with Ferdinand Ward plunged it into poverty. When Grant was dying he completed his book of memoirs, having in view a provision for his family. Mrs. Grant has realized $500,000 in royalties from the book. She has a pension of $5,000 a year, too, granted to her by Congress soon after her husband's death.
Fred Grant is the only member of the family who has been at all conspicuous in public affairs. He was minister to Austria, and he is now one of the police commissioners of New York City. He has been discussed as a vice presidential possibility.
President Hayes retired to his old home in Fremont, O. at the end of his term, taking with him about $50,000 of his salary as President. He left a good estate. His four sons are all in business, and are said to be prospering. One of them is in Cleveland and another is in Toledo. The one daughter lives in the old homestead at Fremont. She never married. [Added data: Hayes served on the Board of Trustees of Ohio State University, the school he helped found during his time as governor of Ohio, from the end of his Presidency until his death. Rutherford Birchard Hayes died of complications of a heart attack in Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio, at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday January 17, 1893]
There were four sons and a daughter in the Garfield family. Their future was assured by a popular subscription taken at the time of their father's death. The $16,500 raised for Thomas Jefferson was very small compared with the $360,000 contributed by the people of the United States for the support of the Garfield family. This sum is held in trust, and the income is paid to Mrs. Garfield. At her death the principal will be divided among her children. Mrs. Garfield has also a pension of $5,000 a year from the government. One of the Garfield boys has gone into politics and is a member of the Ohio Legislature. The daughter married her father's private secretary, Stanley Brown, and lives in Washington.
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