The old world. The new world. Well, it was new two hundred years ago. At that time we thought it was going to disrupt these kinds of elite power structures, so that new men -- men like Andrew Jackson, to the tremendous upset of what turn out to have been his relatives -- could rise.

Well, we didn't get that, then or now. So what did we get?


Ymar Sakar said...

Japan has a saying about how the blood descendants of a criminal will be a criminal as well, almost like fate.

The aristocracy is mostly a breeding experiment. It's why people like Hillary Clinton values stable marriage and descendant indoc, while preaching the values of divorce and Alinsky. It gets rid of the competition if people think the way to fame and power is through welfare.

David Foster said...

I don't think the information that Presidents have been related to George Washington, or King John, or whoever, unless it is paired with information about what % of the population as a whole will be related to a given random individual going back that many generations.

Eric Blair said...

What Dan said. I read something once that postulated that pretty much all of Western Europe could count Charlemagne as an ancestor.

Ah, here it is:

We are all counts of the Empire.

Grim said...

Well, you can do the math the way they suggest. My great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War. His father would have been around the time of the Mexican war, and his father around the time that Washington was an old man, and his father when Washington was young. So that puts 1776 seven generations ago. So that means I have 128 ancestors in that generation. (Not nearly the 1 trillion ancestors you need to cover Charlemagne's time!)

Now, there were far more than 128 people in America at that time (around two million, it's estimated). So assuming that all your ancestors were in America at that time (a valid assumption for me, but not for many Americans), there are over 15,000 combinations of ancestors that would cover your 128 necessary ones. We aren't all related to Washington, in other words.

Therefore, I think it's kind of interesting that every single President has come from that narrow line.

Grim said...

Well, unless you want to go back to Charlemagne (or, as the article says, to the 'last common ancestor of Europeans' in 1400). In that sense we're all sort-of cousins of some degree. But we don't all have Washington in our bloodlines -- he's too close.

jaed said...

GAHHHH that story doesn't say all presidents are descended from George Washington; it says that are related in some verifiable way. It's far more likely that you are a distant cousin of George Washington - that is, that you had a verifiable common ancestor - than that you're a direct descendant.

It's a commonplace of genealogical research, for example, that damn near everyone with any English ancestry at all turns out to be descended from Edward III. And Washington was one of them, so anyone with that line of descent is related to Washington. He seems to be my 12th cousin five times removed, for example.

And that is a much, much, much larger number. It would not greatly surprise me if in excess of 80% of Americans were related to Washington (as opposed to descended from him). Relationship, as opposed to descent, is not "a narrow line" at all.

(I just looked through the list. Not one president is listed as descended from Washington. They're all either distant cousins, or related by marriage.)