Who Were Donald Trump's Parents?

Before serving as president of the United States, Donald Trump was no stranger to fame in the public eye. The highly controversial former president had curated an image of being a successful businessman; he erected some of the largest hotels across the world, opened casinos, wrote books, owned a football team at one point, created a board game, marketed steaks, had his own wine brand, and starred on his famous reality television show "The Apprentice," where he trained people how to be successful in the business world (via Time Magazine).

But Trump wasn't someone who came from humble beginnings. Before Donald, the Trump family had already been building wealth for generations. Most people have heard Donald Trump's famous quote when talking about getting his business career getting started in the right direction, saying, "I got a small loan of a million dollars" from his father (per CNBC, it was more like $60.7 million), but how was all that success created, and what did the Trump family do to gain its fortune?

Humble beginnings

Donald Trump's father was Frederick Christ Trump, who was born into wealth, but not nearly comparable to the fortune his future son would amass. Frederick Trump (or Fred for short), was born in 1905 to an illegal German emigrant and successful businessman, Friedrich Trump. Friedrich Trump was born in 1869 to German parents in the small town of Kallstadt, where the family owned a vineyard, though struggled financially, according to All That's Interesting. After the death of his father, Johannes Trump, Friedrich went to school to be a barber but failed at finding work, so he ventured to the United States (via All That's Interesting).

Friedrich left in 1885, when he was around 16 years old, and ventured to Seattle, Washington, where he settled in 1891, six years after he left his hometown. He opened up many motels, taverns, and inns to attract the miners who had moved out West in search of gold, which gave him great success as a businessman. However, in 1918, Friedrich contracted the Spanish Flu and died at the age of 48, leaving behind his wealth to his wife and three children, one of whom was the then 12-year-old boy, Frederick Trump.

Fred Trump

Before Friedrich Trump's death, he and his wife, who was also from Germany, had attempted to move back to their hometown but were deported after Friedrich was accused of dodging military service, according to All That's Interesting. The couple moved back to the United States, where they settled in New York City until Friedrich's death. Thus, this is where Frederick "Fred" Trump began making his estate.

When Fred was a teenager, he built garage extensions for people's houses, which became his first line of work, according to Insider. In the 1920s, he had begun building single-family homes for families in Queens and Brooklyn but expanded his real estate empire to encompass apartment buildings, after the federal government guaranteed loans for developers to make affordable housing after World War II, according to Britannica. While furthering his career in business, he also met Donald Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, a Scottish immigrant (via Insider).

Mary Anne MacLeod

Donald Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod (above, third from left) was born in 1912 on the Isle of Lewis, where she was one of 10 children born to an impoverished family, according to The Scotsman. Her father, Malcolm MacLeod, was a fisherman who also farmed a small parcel of land. Her mother was also named Mary MacLeod. After visiting one of her sisters in the United States in 1929, daughter Mary decided to emigrate there herself, and on May 2, 1930 she took the RMS Transylvania to New York City, where she arrived the day after she turned 18 years old (via The Scotsman).

She lived on Long Island with her sister and mostly worked as a housekeeper or nanny. However, in the 1930s, she crossed paths with Frederick Trump (above, far right), and the two fell in love, eventually getting married in 1936. A year later, on April 5, 1937, Maryanne Trump was born. The couple then had four more children: Frederick Christ Trump Jr., Elizabeth Trump, Donald Trump, and Robert Trump (via The Scotsman).

Glamour and eccentricity

As the family accrued more wealth, Mary Anne Trump no longer had to work as a nanny or housekeeper, and the family eventually hired their own Scottish housekeeper (via The Scotsman). Mary Anne became more involved with community service opportunities, volunteering for a local hospital, the Boy Scouts of America, charities, and the Salvation Army, among other organizations, according to The Scotsman.

Donald Trump attributed much of his eccentric and glamorous lifestyle to his mother, according to The New Yorker. Donald held his mother in great esteem, even naming a room in Mar-A-Lago after her, and complained about other women because they would always be compared to his own mother, who he felt trumped anyone with who he was ever with, no pun intended (via The New Yorker). One of the most notable things Donald contributes to his mother is his famous hairstyle, which is one of his most recognizable features (via The Scotsman). 

The Trump Legacy

Frederick (above, left) and Mary Anne Trump faced many controversies and hardships in their own rights, often experiencing legal or financial trouble. Fred Trump was investigated for his abuse of the federal loans that were given to him and other developers to create affordable housing, according to Britannica. It was discovered that Fred had developed an apartment property for $3.7 million less than the federal loan he was given, and his right to get federal loan guarantees was revoked (via Britannica).

The Trump family had also been accused of racist business practices, and in 1973 Trump Management was sued by the Department of Justice for discriminating against African American tenants, according to The New York Times. However, the Trump business empire continued to grow, and it eventually included a future president of the United States. Fred Trump died in 1999 at the age of 93, and Mary Anne Trump died the following year, at the age of 88 (via The Scotsman). The Trump dynasty that has been growing for more than three generations continues to affect the politics of our modern world, and one could only imagine how things might be different if one German immigrant hadn't decided to make the voyage thousands of miles away from his home.