A political family (also referred to as political dynasty) is a family in which several members are involved in politics, particularly electoral politics. Members may be related by blood or marriage; often several generations or multiple siblings may be involved.

A royal family or dynasty in a monarchy is generally considered to not be a "political family," although the later descendants of a royal family have played political roles in a republic (such as the Arslan Family of Lebanon would be). A family dictatorship is a form of dictatorship that operates much like an absolute monarchy, yet occurs in a nominally republican state.

United States

In the United States, many political dynasties have arisen since the country's founding (having at least two generations holding political office):


Four noted U.S. political families - Adams, Harrison, Roosevelt, Bush - have had two members become President

These dynasties have seen at least one member become President of the United States, which is the highest office in the country:

  • The first dynasty with presidential connections occurred with the Adams family, which saw John Adams serve as the second president (after being the first vice president), and his son John Quincy Adams served as the sixth. John Quincy's son Charles would later serve as an Ambassador to the UK (then called Minister) and a U.S. Congressman, a fourth generation of the family (John Quincy Adams II) would hold office as a state representative in Massachusetts, and his son Charles was an early mayor of Quincy, Massachusetts.
  • Another early political dynasty was the Harrison family, which saw six generations hold public office from the late 18th through mid 20th centuries, beginning with Benjamin Harrison V, who was one of the early governors of Virginia. His son William Henry Harrison would become the eighth U.S. President. William's son John Scott Harrison would serve as U.S. Congressman, while his son Benjamin Harrison became the 23rd president (marking the first and only grandfather-grandson presidents). Benjamin's son Russell Benjamin Harrison would then serve as a state representative and state senator from Indiana in the 1920s, and Russell's son William served as a congressman in the 1950s and 60s.
Theodore Roosevelt and family
The Trumps
Note - Though the family of 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton have been referred to as a dynasty because his wife, Hillary Clinton, is a former U.S. Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator, and was the 2016 Democratic nominee for President of the United States,[3] they are more accurately described as a power couple.


While not achieving the presidency, other notable U.S. political dynasties include:

  • The Cheneys - Dick Cheney served as a congressman, cabinet official for Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, and Vice President under George W. Bush. His daughter Liz is currently a congresswoman representing Wyoming (her father's old seat).
  • The Pauls - Ron Paul served as a 17-term congressman, while his son Rand currently is a U.S. Senator. Both also ran for President (Ron in 2008 and 2012, Rand in 2016).
  • The D'Alesandros - Thomas D'Alesandro Jr. served three terms as mayor of Baltimore, Maryland and was a five-term congressman. Two of his children followed in his political footsteps - his daughter Nancy (Pelosi) is a 15-term congresswoman, former Speaker of the House (the highest political office a woman has held in U.S. history), and current House Minority Leader, while his son Thomas III served a term as mayor of Baltimore in his own right.
  • The Paynes - a Cleveland based political family led by Henry B. Payne, who was an Ohio state senator and later U.S. congressman, while his son Nathan P. Payne served as mayor of Cleveland.


Hoping to prevent political dynasties, the Indonesian parliament, who represent the third largest democracy in the world, passed a law barring anyone holding a major office within five years of a relative.[4]

See also


  1. ^ KQED, General Article: The Kennedys in Politics, <>
  2. ^ Joseph Curl (January 20, 2005). "Rise of 'dynasty' quick, far-reaching". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on 2006-03-19.
  3. ^ Feldmann, Linda. "Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush? Why Political Dynasties Might Make Sense. (+video)." The Christian Science Monitor 23 July 2014
  4. ^ Solomon, Andrew (2015-07-18). "What's Wrong with Dynastic Politics?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-02-05. 
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