USA Founding Fathers' DNA



It is now possible to determine 25 markers for the Y-chromosome for any male at a reasonable price. ( This is a proposal to do such for the persons who were most instrumental in bringing into being the United States of America, who are often called the "Founding Fathers."

To determine the Y-chromosome markers for a Founder Father, one need only determine the markers for several men who descend in the male-line from the Founding Father, or descend in the male line from his father or grandfather. It is very easy to get a DNA sample to be tested: one need only swab the insides of the cheeks with a soft brush and deposit the brush into a tube to be shipped to Family Tree DNA.

Why would it be desirable to determine the 25 markers for the Y-chromosomes of the Founding Fathers? One answer is the same answer, whatever it is, that one would give to the question: Why is it desirable to collect artifacts related to the Founding Fathers?

The U.S. Congress established the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Commission to prepare for and celebrate the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin on 17 January 2006, one of whose duties is "The acquisition and preservation of artifacts associated with Benjamin Franklin." The Pew Charitable Trusts has granted $4 million to support the celebration, including "locating, cataloging and conserving items that were owned by or associated closely with Franklin." I can say without fear of contradiction that the DNA of Benjamin Franklin would be the ultimate artifact related to him. Obtaining the full DNA for any Founding Father may be impossible, but determining the 25 markers of their Y-chromosomes is very possible.

Benjamin Franklin's DNA

A project to obtain the 25 markers for Benjamin Franklin is already underway: Franklin Families Genetics Project. It is expected that his 25 markers will be known well before 17 January 2006. See Benjamin Franklin's DNA.

If any male-line relatives with surname Franklin of Benjamin Franklin would like to be tested to help determine the 25 markers for Benjamin Franklin, contact me at, or you can join the project on-line at

Thomas Jefferson's DNA

3rd President: 1801-1809

Y-chromosome markers were measured in a project to test whether Thomas Jefferson is related to the descendants of his slave woman Sally Hemings. See . Not all of those 11 markers are in the 25-marker set that Family Tree DNA measures. The measured Y markers alleles are

The Y-chromosome haplogroup is K2, which is rare in Europe, as described in the Wikipedia link above. It originated in the Middle East.

Apparently Thomas Jefferson had all of his teeth when he died. So there is none lying around from which DNA could be extracted from its roots.

There is a comprehensive web site about Thomas Jefferson's descendants by Sally Hemings: This web site summarizes a book, The Slave Children by Thomas Jefferson by Samuel H. Sloan.

If any male-line relatives with surname Jefferson of Thomas Jefferson would like to be tested to help determine the 25 markers for Thomas Jefferson, contact me at

Other relevant web sites:

George Washington's DNA

1st President: 1789-1797

There is a project to measure STR markers for males with surname Washington: It does not indicate that the few who have been tested so far descend from George Washington, 1st Pres. of the USA.

Apparently George Washington lost his teeth at an early age. Apparently a tooth of George Washington exists: I wonder if DNA could be extracted from its roots: See Benjamin Franklin's Tooth

A project is underway to test the DNA for the trees at George Washington's estate Mt. Vernon, Virginia:

A web site claims that George Washington was cloned from his hair DNA in 1994:

There is a claim that West Ford (b1784/5) is a son of George Washington by a slave woman: Another web page describes an unsuccessful effort to use DNA to connect West Ford to GW: Other related web pages are:

Other web sites related to the DNA of George Washington:

A book, I Cannot Tell a Lie: The True Story of George Washingtons African American Descendants by Linda Allen Bryant, has been written about the possible relationship between West Ford and George Washington.

If any male with surname Washington would like to be tested to help determine the 25 markers for George Washington, see

John Adams' DNA

2nd President 1797-1800

There is an Adams male-line Y-chromosome testing project underway with Family Tree DNA.

If any male-line relatives with surname Adams of John Adams would like to be tested to help determine the 25 markers for John Adams, contact

James Madison's DNA

4th President 1809-1817

There is no Madison male-lines Y-chromosome project at Family Tree DNA. You could start a project. See near the bottom of that web page.

James Monroe's DNA

5th President 1817-1825

There is no Monroe male-lines Y-chromosome project at Family Tree DNA. You could start a project. See near the bottom of that web page.

Alexander Hamilton's DNA

There is a Hamilton male-line Y-chromosome testing project underway with Family Tree DNA.

If any male-line relatives with surname Hamilton of Alexander Hamilton would like to be tested to help determine the 25 markers for Alexander Hamilton, contact

Abraham Lincoln's DNA

16th President: 1861-1865

Yes, I know that Abraham Lincoln is not a Founding Father, but he was uniquely instrumental in keeping the USA from foundering.

There is a web page that claims that 12 markers have been measured for a descendant of Abraham Lincoln, 16th Pres. of the USA, but it does not give the markers:

There is a web page The Medical History of President Abraham Lincoln

There is a Advisory statement by the panel on DNA testing of Abraham Lincoln's tissue set up by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The reason for this advisory panel was that a request had been received by National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. to make available some of Lincoln's tissue to test his DNA for a genetic disorder that is implicated in Marfan Disease. The book, Abraham Lincoln's DNA and Other Adventures in Genetics by Philip R. Reilly, has a chapter devoted to this request. The request was denied.

To learn about the Lincoln surname Family Tree DNA project, see Lincoln surname Y-chromosome project.

Ancient Founders' DNA

In his book, Adam's Curse, a Future Without Men, Bryan Sykes has described the research that has found some Y-chromosome markers of Somerled (c1100-1164), Somhairle mac Gillegride, King of the Hebrides and Kintyre, Regulus of Argyll, Rex Insularum, King of the Isles. He also describes how others have probably found some Y-chromosome marker of Genghis Kahn (1162-1227), conqueror of East Asia and Eastern Europe.

A news story about the Genghis Kahn Y-chromosome hit the newspapers in May 2006 because an American living in Florida, Thomas R. Robinson, was discovered to carry the GK Y-chromosome. In an interview with a New York Times reporter, the author of this web page noted:

"Genghis Kahn lived c1200, about 800 years ago or about 30 generations ago.  Since there are about 25,000 genes in a human, the likelihood of a descendant carrying even a single gene of a given ancestor after 30 generations is negligible, except for the Y-chromosome. Of course, his/her genes come from about 25,000 ancestors in that 30th generation, we just do not know from which of the 1,073,741,824 ancestors in that generation they came. (The actual number of ancestors in that generation is smaller, because of some being ancestors more than once. That is obvious because not that many people were on the Earth then. Even though Mr. Robinson may carry some mutated version of GK's Y-chromosome, he probably carries none of GK's other genes.) It will be interesting to learn about the mutations that exist among the male carriers of the GK Y-chromosome."