Why don’t modern Presidents have sons? Because boys—unlike those personality-less, boring, horrid female children—are too irrepressible to go on campaigns. Yep, that’s the theory, even though it’s worth pointing out that Reagan had sons, they were just grown. Boys are just so embarrassing!
And then there’s Roosevelt. Teddy and Ethel moved in with two daughters, Alice and Ethel, and four sons: Ted Jr., Kermit, Archie and Quentin. The White House has been recovering ever since.
“Roosevelt’s sons were fantastic scoundrels,” says Bonnie Angelo, author of First Families: The Impact of the White House on Their Lives. They would sneak around behind the lamplighter on Lafayette Square extinguishing the lamps he lit. They’d slide down the grand staircase on kitchen trays. “When Archie was sick, his brother Quentin – with the aid of a White House staffer – brought their pony Algonquin up to his room in the elevator to make him feel better,” says Angelo. These pranks were tolerated, she notes, because the President enjoyed them more than anyone. “The only thing he stopped the boys doing was shooting spitballs at one of the early presidential portraits.”
As we know, girls are genetically unable to give their parents any real grief like this. Just ask the Bushes.
Hey, wait, didn’t the first Bush also have sons? I seem to think they presented problems themselves, albeit as adults.