Presidents’ Mothers: Are they the secret of success?

“All I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother, God bless her.”

– Abraham Lincoln

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to confirm that most of America’s presidents are “mama’s boys.”

It must make Sigmund Freud smile for one of his most enduring discoveries was how the perceived favorite child of a mother is empowered for life.  Consider the overwhelming evidence that mothers play a key role.  Many recent presidents were literally named after their mothers but none of their many siblings.

Ronald Wilson Reagan named after his mother Nelle Wilson.

Richard Milhous Nixon named after his mother Hannah Nixon.

Lyndon Baines Johnson named after his mother Rebecca Baines.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy named after his mother Rose Fitzgerald.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt named after his mother Sarah Delano.

Woodrow Wilson named after his mother Janet Woodrow.

And on and on it goes back into history. Rutherford Birchard Hayes named after his mother Sophia Birchard.  Of course it is not a perfect formula or Marvin Pierce Bush would have been elected president, not his older brother, George W. Bush, but it is common enough to defy any odds.

“You are a Delano,” FDR’s mother, Sarah Delano used to tell him, “not a Roosevelt.”

“I was a mama’s boy,” said Woodrow Wilson, “no question about it, but the best of womanhood came to me through those apron strings.”

“God bless my mother,” Abraham Lincoln supposedly said to his law partner William Herndon,” all I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother.”

Keep in mind, the above famous quote, attributed to Lincoln’s law partner, may never have really been uttered.  Yes, it is featured prominently in almost every biography of Lincoln and appears in the first pages of Pulitzer Prize Award winning books but recent research shows that  the time and place named by Herndon  just couldn’t have happened and so, now even the quote is suspect.  But there is no denying that Lincoln loved his mother and perhaps, even more, his stepmother, who gave him the gift of books.

When I wrote The Raising of President I blind copied some of the above information to five psychologists, asking them to each give me their opinion.  I was especially intrigued why so many of the children who were namesakes of their mother went on to become presidents.

All five answered back with the same conclusion. When the mother took that infant to her breast she felt a special bond with the child who would bare her name for life and the infant could feel it.

I am only a layman who doesn’t pretend to understand such things but if it is true, if a baby can “feel” favoritism then just imagine the power and the impact for good or bad a mother, or a father’s words have on their children?   I was reminded of the experiments conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society.  If the human voice can empower a plant, then it must surely cause powerful reactions for good or bad on a human being.

There is a very predictable family formula for strong leaders, good and bad.  They have an attachment to the mother and an absent father.  Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedung all fit the pattern as neatly as Washington and Jefferson.

Andrew Jackson’s father died before the future president was even born.  His mother died when he was 14 years old.   Even when alive, she was often gone .  As a nurse she tended the wounded during the Revolutionary War.

When Andrew Jackson died as an old man, many years later, his body was full of bullets, including one lodged near his heart and too dangerous to remove.  They were the result of a life of action, including duels and wars.  It was as if he wanted to be worthy, the equal of those Revolutionary War soldiers who took his mother away from him as a boy.

In a sense, Andrew Jackson’s life was one long  journey back into the arms of his mother.

Read about mothers of the presidents.

And start reading The Raising of a President right now on Kindle.


Published by Doug Wead

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Game of Thorns, is about the Trump-Clinton 2016 election. He served as an adviser to two American presidents and was a special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

19 thoughts on “Presidents’ Mothers: Are they the secret of success?

    1. TheAverageJoe —

      LOL — Doug is hopefully busy accomplishing things for Ron Paul (since he “phoned” this one in…).

  1. Ron Paul Wins Big Today in Oklahoma!

    Mitt received another slap (unfortunately Rmoney, as a good Mormon, cannot turn the other cheek — since a two-face has several….).

    Also, other excellent news from this Great State is that Congressional District #1 will have a TRUE VOTE within a few weeks (Ron Paul will win this one, too)!

    Also, I believe Rule #11 was discussed…but could not tell what was the outcome (the live-stream was of poor quality with horrible acoustics…hardly could hear what was said most of the time!).

    Hopefully, someone will clarify the proceeding by posting a succinct account.

    Also, the feed from Arizona was mostly gone — so, not sure if the claim that Ron Paul won there, also, is true (or are they going into another session on Monday)?

  2. Dear World,

    We, the Real Americans, in supporting Ron Paul to win in 2012, are not just risking our livelihood — but our liberty and life — in order to Save our Nation from the brink of total disaster, and thereby the World!

    Failure to elect Ron Paul as President, will quickly result in us — the ones that dared to speak from heart-and-mind — to be deprived of life and liberty (since all internet posters, and pictured Ron Paul supporters, have already had their identity made by OUR GOVERNMENT…probably in a file for disposing such “undesirables” in the near future)! This will be just a small loss for the few.

    But a Catastrophe for the World. Hope you’d enjoy living in a “Brave New World”…where all your actions will determined afore!

    It is not that we, Real Americans, want to give up — we won’t!

    But the most powerful government in the world — our own — can, and will, use UNTOUCHABLE Governmental Agencies to quash any-and-all individuals that dare oppose its might!

    1. Surfisher.

      Sadly I have to agree with you.
      That is why failure is not an option. We must win. For ouselves, our children, our country and yes even the world.
      It takes great courage to be part of this revolution.
      To all freedom fighters,

  3. Aw, Doug,
    this is a wonderful post!
    As a mother, and as an American who cares, I do thank you!

    (PS: please send me a note regarding the rule-breaking in Arizona, yesterday. I fear the people of AZ really do now know what the witnessed, in regard to melding the State’s GOP office with the Romney campaign, in requesting donationf FOR Romney, by going to State of Arizone GOP donations page! Rule-11 would remove Romney from their ballot and invalidate ALL votes for Romney, based on this melding of same. Thanks!)

    1. Hi, Anne! Happy Mothers’ Day! My Mom died about ten years ago, but my coworker came in today to get some high-priority stuff done. Just before he left, I said, “Hey, before ya go, since My Mom’s dead, I thought I’d ask you to wish your Mom (who is about my age) and your wife happy Mothers’ Day. And don’t forget to pick up those paper towels and garbage bags!”

      BTW, should it be “Mother’s” (rather than “Mothers'”) since we each have only one Mom?

      1. I always took the apostrophe to be at the end (after the “s”) as it pertains to all mothers. The day would belong to all mothers, hence, the plural possesive placement of apostrophe would be: mothers’, I believe the folk who expect us to buy things from them say, “Mother’s”, but I don’t think they are correct.
        Now I am confusing myself.
        If I am talking about a day for my own mother, I would use, “Mother’s day”.., but when talking about a day for mothers all over the world, I believe the correct use of the apostrophe would be at end.
        Or, I could be wrong..
        Happy day, regardless!
        My son, who loves HIS mother, went and picked up a scooter, for himself, yesterday. He drove it my home and picked me up for a “date”. We went for a short scooter-ride (my bike has more muscle) to Korea House, and ate a lovely dinner. I have a nice boy (he is 26, so not a boy to anyone, save me.)

      2. Thanks for the response on the placement of the apostrophe.You _did_ know that I’m the Self-Appointed Chief of the Internet Apostrophe Police, right? It’s like a breath of fresh air to hear from someone who actually knows an apostrophe from a hole in the ground!

      3. Oh, and I got so twisted around on the apostophe, I forgot to add; love that “..and don’t forget the paper towels and garbage bags!” Sweet.
        (and, to think, all plural nouns sans apostrophe– and placement of such IS my pet-peeve!)

      4. At Tampa — would this be the best Sign to carry?
        Please, submit yours.

        Stop the Fraud–
        Vote your Conscience!
        Ron Paul 2012

  4. Doug says, “Many recent presidents were literally named after their mothers but none of their many siblings.”

    Just political commentary, but there are a HECK of a lot more kids named in honor of their Mom who have never been presidents! My sister’s middle name is our Grandma’s first name (Blanche), and she’s (my sister) a psycho bitch from Hell. what might that tell us?

      1. My sister is the certifiable psycho – at my Mom’s memorial, even the sister’s pastor noted that he had noticed it. If either Mom or Grandma was a psycho, they kept it well-hidden!

  5. Ron Paul to WIN in Tampa — see HOW below!

    Superb article — must read!

    Some key points:

    “Romney’s Achilles’ heel is a moral one. It is the sum of all of the cheating that has been done in his favor by the party. For example…
    In Oklahoma, party officials pulled out a ballroom divider to cordon off Ron Paul supporters and shut them out of participation. Later they turned out the lights. Voice votes that were clearly lost were declared won….In Virginia, at a district convention, officials coaxed the Ron Paul delegation outside and then locked the door. The pastor of the church that was hosting the event was, himself, locked outside.”

    (And the parade of GOP frauds in favor of Mitt goes on: nearly in every State!)

    Add to this breaking rule #11 —“…the GOP wasn’t bound by its own rules when it chose to provide material support to Romney while the race was still ongoing.”

    It is the American Way to support an underdog — Ron Paul in this case — “People get very excited about an underdog who can win — especially if he is an underdog that was kept down by nefarious means.”

    Read this superb article — and pass it on!

    Ron Paul to WIN — Or America to END 2012!

    (there are no other options!)

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