​7 Famous Sons of the American Revolution

Family History
17 February 2015

Teddy Roosevelt
[Image: Library of Congress]
A person’s heritage can influence so much in their life, from the kinds of foods they prepare to the groups they associate with. The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) is a lineage society made up of men who can prove their descent from a Patriot ancestor. The organization’s earliest iteration started in 1876 as a fraternal and civic society created to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who helped the United States gain freedom from Great Britain.

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Today, the group has over 32,000 members represented in various countries around the world. Their history is a great one, with some members who helped make our country what it is today — similar to their Revolutionary ancestors. Here are some the group’s most famous members, past and present.

1. Theodore Roosevelt

The Sons of the American Revolution boasts 16 presidents among their brotherhood. Perhaps the most significant for the SAR was Theodore Roosevelt. He signed The National Society’s charter in 1906, allowing state societies to charter the SAR chapters.

SAR Connection: Jacobus (James) I. Roosevelt

2. Sir Winston Churchill

Connecting a famous British prime minister with the Sons of the American Revolution might sound like a bit of a stretch. However, Churchill proved his eligibility to join the society in 1963 through his American-born mother.

SAR Connection: Lieutenant Reuben Murray

3. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Famous for his genealogy show “Finding Your Roots,” Henry Louis Gates Jr. was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution in 2006. He traced his ancestry back to a free black man named John Redman, who fought during the Revolutionary War.

SAR Connection: John Redman


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4. General Douglas MacArthur

MacArthur’s family’s military service began well before his decorated career. Looking back through his lineage, MacArthur found an early member of his military family had a hand in America’s freedom — John Barney, a private in the Massachusetts Militia, fought during the Revolutionary War.

SAR Connection: John Barney

5. John McCain

Senator John McCain has served his country in the military as well as Congress. In fact, just like MacArthur, McCain comes from a military family, tracing all the way back to the American Revolution. His ancestor John Young served as a militia captain before joining George Washington’s staff. Excelling in both military and politics must run in his family.

SAR Connection: John Young

6. King Juan Carlos I

The first king to become a member of the SAR, Juan Carlos I may have the least traditional path to membership in the entire group. His relative, King Carlos III, held the crown during America’s fight for independence, and he gave gifts and loans to help the Patriots even before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

SAR Connection: Carlos III, King of Spain 1759-1788

SAR inset 7. Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted created some of the most famous parks in the world. The landscape architect designed everything from Central Park to the landscape for Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.

SAR Connection: Benjamin Olmsted

Interested in joining the Sons (or Daughters) of the American Revolution? Or just want to see your family’s involvement in the birth of our nation? You can search an archive of Sons of the American Revolution applications on Ancestry. This is one of the most popular collections on Ancestry because applicants had to prove their lineage by producing a family tree going back to their Revolutionary War ancestor.

— Shanna Yehlen

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