It has been 14 years since Barack Obama defeated Republican nominee John McCain and became the 44th President of the United States. On November 4, 2008, he was voted into the White House, making him the first African American to hold office, and was later reelected in 2012.
While Obama joked during his 2008 campaign that he was a distant relative of the former Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney, who served under President George W. Bush, researchers soon found that his family tree throws up yet more interesting links.
His parents divorced in 1964, and he moved to Indonesia before heading back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents because his mother wanted him to have a “good English-language education, which wasn’t available… in Indonesia”, according to NPR.
Research conducted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society founded in 1845, found that Obama is related to seven former Presidents, namely Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, James Madison, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and both Bushes.
Samuel Hinkley of Cape Cod, who emigrated from Kent to Massachusetts before his death in 1662, links Obama and former President George W. Bush, making them 10th cousins once removed.
Obama is even related to the former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, albeit distantly. The 44th US President is the wartime leader’s 15th cousin four times removed through Sir Thomas Stanley, an English nobleman.
And it doesn’t stop there. The former President is also a distant relative of the former republican senator Scott Brown. Obama’s mother, who died in 1995, is a descendent of Richard Singletary of Haverhill, who held public office as a town selectman in the 1650s.
Mr Singletary’s eldest son, Jonathan Singletary who later changed his surname to Dunham – that of Obama’s mother – is related to Scott Brown through his brother, thus tying Obama with Brown.
Not only is Obama distantly related to a number of prominent politicians, but he is also tied to Hollywood star Brad Pitt. The former President shares a relative with the Fight Club actor, making them ninth cousins.
Interestingly, Hillary Clinton – who was Obama’s Democratic rival in 2008 – is linked to Pitt’s ex-wife, Angelina Jolie. Clinton and the Hollywood actress share an ancestor who died in 1718.
Obama would occasionally discuss his genealogy during speeches. During a trip to Ireland in 2011, he shed some light on his Irish roots after visiting his long-lost eighth cousin.
During the visit he had a pint of Guinness and visited Moneygall to see his ancestral home during a six-day long trip to Europe, and in a speech, said: “We feel very much at home. I feel even more at home after that pint that I had…
“I knew that I had some roots across the Atlantic, but until recently I could not unequivocally claim that I was one of those Irish Americans. But now if you believe the Corrigan Brothers, there’s no one more Irish than me.”
He added: “It turns out that people take a lot of interest in you when you’re running for President. They look into your past. They check out your place of birth. Things like that. Now, I do wish somebody had provided me all this evidence earlier because it would have come in handy back when I was first running in my hometown of Chicago because Chicago is the Irish capital of the Midwest. A city where it was once said you could stand on 79th Street and hear the brogue of every county in Ireland.”
The former President studied at Occidental College, Columbia University, as well as Harvard Law School in 1988. He then moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he worked as a lawyer and lecturer.
Before venturing into politics 25 years ago, he wrote a memoir called ‘Dreams from My Father,’ published in 1995, where he wrote of his early years and his time in Chicago.