Cousin George W. Bush??

I am an avid amateur genealogist.  [Did I just hear someone say rabid?] I enjoy tracking my ancestors and learning more about their lives, who they were, what they thought, what kinds of struggles did they have.  This all fascinates me.  It also fascinates me to discover how I am related to other people.  It is for me a clear sign of the interdependent web of which we are all a part. has a feature that allows someone as rabid about genealogy as I am to look up famous people and their connections to your family tree.  Of course, the connections are only as good as the research that people have done to confirm these connections.  I discovered that I am related, albeit, distantly, to some 6 presidents and 6 first ladies, as well as Rev. William Ellery Channing, one of the icons of Unitarian history.  Interesting, if this sort of thing excites you.  

What startled me is that one of these Presidents that I am distantly related to is none other than President George Walker Bush through his mother, Barbara. 

Now for those of you who know me know that I am not a huge fan of our President.  In fact, I have pretty strong opinions about where I think he should be instead of at the White House.  But the fact that somewhere  inside him and inside me flows the same DNA has stirred up some things for me.   

First, that someone so [Fill in your own expletives @%$#&*!] could be even remotely related to me is astounding.  But it reveals another thought… oft times expressed as “there but for the grace of god, go I.”  I don’t know what experiences he may have had that led him to being the type of persona I see in the media.  For that matter I am not even sure what experiences I have had that were directly responsible and linked to the expression of my own unique persona.  But here I am and here he is on this planet.  Opposites in our opinion, hanging steadfast in our stubbornness to believe that ours are the right ones. Stubborness must come from his mother’s side of the family as it must come from my father’s side of the family.   

In my quest to understand my heritage, I learned several years ago that one of my great grandmothers, several generations back, was Adrienne Cuvelier.  She was the mother of the first white male born in the New World–New Amsterdam, before it was New Amsterdam, to be exact.  It was her family which is claimed to be responsible for one of the first massacres of the native people here.  She instigated revenge for the killing of a white man after a poker game with the native peoples.  In revenge, the men from the fort in the middle of the night crossed the river into New Jersey to slaughter men, women and children of the native people.  Many were decapitated with their heads placed on stakes brought back to the fort.  Grandma Cuvelier was so deranged that it was said she played kick ball with one of the heads after it fell off the stake.  The chief of this village, it is written, is said to have asked what kind of people would kill their own sons and daughters.  Many of the tribe had intermarried with the families from the fort and therefore white blood flowed within their beings. 

I remember feeling sick, physically sick when I first read this historical account of my ancestors role in this brutal attack.  It was unimaginable to me to act in this manner.  And I wondered what part of her still existed in my veins. 

What her act represents to me is the  beginnings of White Privilege in this country.  The belief that whites are so privileged to act in a manner that this behavior coming from other people would be considered at best; arrogantly rude or as in the example given above; down right evil.  Not justifying the act of the native person’s killing of another person, but for the members of the fort to lay blame on an entire village of people is to declare those people as an other, an object that can be gotten rid of as easily as one would get rid of an insect infestation.  To separate oneself from the shared biological connection these people had is a form of schizophrenia, it is to disown a part of our selves.  And, given that my ancestors included 6 Presidents and 6 First Ladies means that others of my ancestry were in the position to strengthen this notion of White Privilege as it developed in America.  

It is said that all people can trace their DNA back to Africa.  Which means that we are all related some how, albeit very distantly.  So when we find ourselves disagreeing vehemently with another person, whether they are in the same room as us, in the news media or across the globe in Iraq or North Korea, know that he or she is kin.   And just as I may disagree with my immediate family on a variety of issues–just listen in on my families annual Thanksgiving political debates–I do not wish any harm to befall them. 

So too, I wish only well being for my Cousin George Dubya.  I close with this Metta. 

May all in my immediate family dwell in peace in their hearts and minds and in their actions. May all in my immediate family know their own well-being.  May all in my distant family dwell in peace in their hearts and minds and in their actions.  May all in my distant family know their own well-being. May all living in other lands dwell in peace in their hearts and minds and in their actions.  May all living in other lands know their own well-being. Namaste… Rev. Fred L Hammond          


Published in: on April 13, 2008 at 8:55 pm  Comments (3)  
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  1. Well, my wife is also related to George W. Bush through his mother. This means you and my wife are cousins – so howdy cuz!
    (and a hi to the fine folks at “Our Home” where two years ago I was treated to their wonderful hospitality while attending the Universalist Convocation there. Not too many UU Churches have their own bluegrass theme song!)

  2. The song you refer to is entitled “The Free Church of Jones.” According to legend, Jones County seceded from Mississippi when Mississippi seceded from the Union and became the Free State of Jones. The existence of the Free State of Jones is fact, the reason behind it’s origin is the stuff of myth and legends. Anyway, someone, whose name escapes me, wrote the song that StevenR refers to and titled it “The Free Church of Jones”. It is a great song about the faith of these fine folk and its words proudly hang on our walls!

  3. Read your email more carefully and found how to leave a comment. Assume your relationship to Dubya is through the Hammond side of the family. Sometime you should publish your connection to the other presidents and first ladies, I, of course, would be interested in any through your mother’s side of the family. Is this a good example of eight degrees of separation, or what? Your Uncle Jim

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