Presidential daughters have a certain image they’re supposed to uphold — they’re meant to be mild-mannered, poised and supportive of their parents’ presidential duties. But, they’re also children who are raised in the spotlight. In other words, every small act of teenage rebellion — no matter how normal — is captured by the paparazzi.
These first daughters were the rebels of the White House. In their worst moments, they were caught partying hard and drinking underage while under the watchful eye of the Secret Service. At the best moments, they rallied against their father’s outdated policies and fought for real change. From arrests to drug binges, these young ladies certainly kept the White House interesting.
Nellie Grant Married A Man Her Father Hated And Got Divorced
Way back in 1874, Nellie Grant did the one thing a daughter of the President of the United States isn’t supposed to do: she disobeyed her father, Ulysses S. Grant. Nellie ended up marrying a man who her father didn’t approve of. In 2018, this doesn’t seem worth more than a couple TMZ headlines, but in the 1800s, this was major news. Her wedding is thought to be the first high profile American wedding in history.
The First Daughter’s husband, Algernon Sartoris, was a wealthy English singer (he wasn’t even American!) They ended up tying the knot in the East Room of the White House and Ulysses cried through the whole ceremony. Way to disappoint your dad. Apparently, he wasn’t so wrong because the pair ended up breaking up, a second scandal of the 1800s.
Nellie Grant Ditched Her American Citizenship, Then Changed Her Mind
Following Nellie’s wedding, her father allegedly went into her bedroom and sobbed uncontrollably. She later left her family and shipped off to England, which is quite rebellious considering her father was the leader of America. It also wasn’t the same thing as living in England today, where D.C. is just a hop, skip and a jump across the pond. No, this meant she was more or less abandoning her life at home.
Being the rebel she was, Nellie never fully accepted English society. She wasn’t admired by British people like her family back in America. When she split from Sartoris, after taking all she could of his drinking problem, she took her four children back to America and renewed her American citizenship. This rebel mama knew no borders.
Chelsea Clinton’s Love Life Was Stressful
Chelsea Clinton has always been one of the more poised presidential daughters, but at one point, she was an 18-year-old making headlines for her love life. Clinton was allegedly dumped by her college boyfriend Matthew Pierce amidst her father’s scandal with Monica Lewinsky. This, somehow, became a scandal in itself.
Prior to the breakup, Clinton graced headlines for seeking medical attention for “stress” at Stanford’s medical center. This immediately launched a zillion armchair investigations into her love life that followed for years to come. Things got particularly scandalous after Clinton moved on with Jeremy Kane, who happened to be on the same swim team as her ex. Someone there broke bro code.
Chelsea Clinton’s Fake Hollywood Affair
Like father, like daughter? Not so. Chelsea Clinton was embroiled in a scandalous Hollywood affair that probably never actually happened. When Bill Clinton was nearing the end of his term, tabloids started chasing rumors that Chelsea had embarked on a steamy relationship with Ben Affleck. Affleck had just split with Gwyneth Paltrow (and it didn’t seem like a conscious uncoupling.)
On some levels, it made sense since Affleck is both wildly attractive and a huge supporter of the Democratic party and the Clintons. They were snapped together laughing at Hillary’s birthday party, but most people just considered the whole thing fake news. We’ll never really know.
The Bush Twins Were A Secret Service Nightmare
Growing up in the White House with a twin means you have a partner in crime. Jenna and Barbara Bush, whose father George W. Bush served as president from 2001 to 2009, could have been living in a half-brained Mary-Kate and Ashley movie plot. But instead, it was actually just their real life.
According to In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler, the Bush twins were “pulling every trick imaginable” to ditch their security detail — but that’s not even the half of it.
The Bush Twins Were Caught Drinking Underage
Kessler claims that the Secret Service had to step in and break up a bar fight involving Jenna’s now-husband Henry Hager. Hager was reportedly so drunk after a 2005 Halloween party that the Secret Service had to take him to the hospital. But he’s not the only one who likes partying.
Both Jenna and Barbara were cited for underage drinking when they were 19-years-old. This came a month after Jenna already pleaded “no contest” to possession of alcohol charges. She reportedly used another person’s ID to buy it. Whoops! The president reportedly tried to keep the incident under wraps, but that’s kind of hard when you’re the leader of the free world. It hit headlines not long after.
Malia Also Lashed Out At A Fan
It isn’t easy growing up in the spotlight, but presidential daughters have fans and haters whether they like it or not. Obama, who proved to be very mild-mannered during her father’s presidency, finally lost it in 2017 when a fan wanted to snap her photo.
The former First Daughter was with a friend in Harvard Square when a woman approached her asking if she could snap a picture for her granddaughter. Obama declined, but the woman took her picture anyway. The 20-year-old apparently yelled, “Are you gonna take it in my face like an animal in a cage?” before relenting. It’s not very presidential, but you have to respect a girl who knows her limits.
Malia Obama Was Caught Smoking Weed
Malia Obama is one smart cookie — just like her father Barack. The 20-year-old presidential daughter is currently attending Harvard, but that doesn’t mean she’s all work and no play. Obama caused a small controversy when someone snapped her at Lollapalooza music festival smoking what appeared to be a cannabis joint. Eyewitnesses confirmed to the New York Post that it was, in fact, the sticky icky.
This wasn’t Obama’s last scandal at Lolla. The following year, she was apparently rocking out so hard that she had to be spirited away in a golf cart. She looked a little dazed leading some people to believe she was under the influence. But according to others, she was just having a good time.
Patti Davis Protested Her Father’s Policies
Patti Davis was largely considered the black sheep of the Reagan family because of her rebellious attitude. She spent nearly 20 years feuding with her parents, who were more or less estranged from the writer. Worse yet, she was a liberal college dropout who rallied against her father’s own policies.
Davis’ claim to fame was protesting against her father’s nuclear weapons policy. She attended a number of raucous demonstrations, and later in life, admitted it had less to do with politics and more to do with angering her dad. “[I] was a child railing against a parent, nothing more,” she said.
Patti Davis Makes The Cover
Patti Davis waited until after her father left office to cause a larger controversy, but it doesn’t get much more scandalous than bearing it all. In a damning, tell-all autobiography, the former First Daughter claimed her father was “distant” and her mother was “abusive.” Then, she decided to strip down for a completely nude photoshoot in Playboy.
Davis ended up gracing Playboy’s cover. All she had to do was offer a full frontal view of her girls. It’s largely considered one of the most controversial covers Playboy has ever done, which says a lot considering the very idea of Playboy is controversial.
Patti Davis’ Drug Addiction
A drug addiction isn’t very presidential, but neither was a lot of Patti Davis’ life. The wild child admitted to snorting coke, popping pills and nearly slitting her own wrists during a drug binge. She claimed to have first picked up drugs at just 15-years-old. She initially opted for methedrine, Dexedrine and cocaine.
“I can almost taste [cocaine] in the back of my throat – and I still love the taste. You don’t get over drugs,” she said of her teenage drug use. Nancy Reagan, Davis’ mother and the former First Lady, ironically spearheaded a national “Just Say No” drug campaign. Needless to say, this was a point of contention in the family.
Alice Roosevelt Had The Audacity To Wear Jeans
According to Politico, Alice Roosevelt was the sassiest First Daughter to ever live in the White House. Teddy Roosevelt’s first-born was once described in the press as a “wild animal that had been put into good clothes.” Would she be radical by today’s standards? It’s wholly debatable. She was a brat, but was it more?
Some of Alice’s biggest indiscretions involve wearing jeans in the White House, betting on horses, chewing gum and driving her car too fast.She also drove around with male passengers and was unsupervised — but things got worse. Throughout the course of her very long life, it seemed like Alice would do anything to oppose her mother Edith. Anything.
Christmas Was Awkward During The Roosevelt Presidency
Christmastime in the White House is normally a festive affair with luxurious decorations. Apparently, that wasn’t when Alice claimed residence. The former First Daughter was a self-proclaimed pagan. She publicly declared Christianity as “sheer voodoo” which probably thrilled the Americans who voted for her pops. She refused to be confirmed.
Part of Alice’s rebellion had to do with the fact that she never really felt loved by her stepmother, who started calling her a “guttersnipe” that ran around “uncontrolled with every boy in town” at age 14. When her parents planned to ship her off to Miss Spence’s boarding school in Manhattan, the then 15-year-old threatened to “do something disgraceful” just to shame her family.
Alice’s Scandalous Affair
Throughout her teen years, Alice continued to grace tabloids with her scandalous presence. She partied in private railroad cars, was kicked out of Boston’s Copley Plaza for smoking and literally burned one of her father’s angry letters. Perhaps the pinnacle of the scandal was when she found herself embroiled in a steamy affair with a senator.
Alice married Nicholas Longworth III, who eventually became Speaker of the House. Just because she tied the knot, didn’t mean she was faithful. She had numerous affairs, but the most famous was with Senator William Borah. He became the father of her only daughter Paulina Longworth.
Amy Carter Was A Political Rebel
Amy Carter was passionate about politics, just like her father Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, she took things a little too far. The former first daughter was arrested three times for protesting South African apartheid. She was just a teenager.
Carter said her father gave her permission to attend the protests. In 1985, the First Daughter graced a New York Times headline after being handcuffed and taken away in a police car with two other protesters. She was 17-years-old and her long-running apartheid protest was a near daily occurrence at the South African Embassy. She reportedly told the police “I’m proud to be my father’s daughter.” The demonstrations resulted in more than 1,800 arrests.
She Was Arrested A Fourth Time For Protesting CIA Campus Recruiting
In 1987, Carter was arrested a fourth time for her political protesting. This time, she was arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct at a demonstration against the C.I.A. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It’s a pretty bold move to protest against the very government that your father runs, but nonetheless, Carter trucked on with her attempt at highlighting alleged C.I.A. misconduct.
Carter’s disorderly conduct charge stemmed from the fact that she sat down in a road and attempted to block buses carrying people who had been arrested at the demonstration. She was later acquitted.
Cater’s Rebel Heart Got Her Booted From Brown
Presidential first daughters typically attend prestigious Ivy League schools. Amy Carter was no different. She attended Brown in the late ‘80s. However, it seemed like she spent more time focusing on politics than coursework.
According to The New York Times, Carter was dismissed from Brown in 1987 after failing to keep up with her coursework. In other words, she failed out. At the time, she was just a sophomore, but more than likely her two-week trial regarding the C.I.A. protests had something to do with her absences. According to friends, she typically ignored classes over political causes. Carter just couldn’t fight that rebel spirit.
Susan Ford Hustled Her High School Prom To The White House
Susan Ford was a mover and shaker while she lived in the White House during her father Gerald Ford’s presidency, but only for the sort of issues that affect teen girls. The former First Daughter reportedly caused a huge stir when she had the audacity to wear jeans in the white house like wild-child Alice Roosevelt. Beyond that, Susan was the only First Daughter who ever managed to host her high school prom in the White House.
According to Vanity Fair, the 1975 prom was a “wild night” that included Swedish meatballs, an “intergalactic band” and a ride on the presidential yacht. Who knew presidents had yachts?
Susan Ford’s Non-Affair Scandal
Susan Ford managed to go through her tenure at the White House without much controversy. Though, she rebelled against her mother when the controversy was no fault of her own. During a TV interview, Betty Ford was asked by an interviewer: “What if Susan Ford came to you and said, ‘Mother, I’m having an affair.” What was her answer? Not a good one.
“Well I wouldn’t be surprised. I’d think she was a perfectly normal human being like all young girls if she wanted to continue, I would certainly counsel and advise her on the subject” Betty replied. Susan was so embarrassed that she issued a public denial. Yes, sometimes mama isn’t right.
Helen Taft Manning Was A Suffragette
Helen Taft Manning seemed like most teenagers who grow up in the White House. She was given a debutante party in 1910, under the watchful eye of her father President Howard Taft. She took care of her disabled mother, who had suffered from a stroke, and graduated from the prestigious Bryn Mawr college. But, she was also a rebel who championed women’s rights.
Nellie traveled across the country and gave speeches supporting women’s rights and was publicly outspoken about factory workers rights. She’s largely credited with swaying her father’s opinion about women’s suffrage and once publicly said the right to vote should be given only to women and a select few men who could prove they’re sufficiently knowledgeable. Dang girl, tell them how you really feel.