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Has Every U.S. President Had a First Lady?

Updated May 23, 2024
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Little sisters sometimes have to put up with a lot from their big brothers -- especially when that big brother becomes the president of the United States. In 1884, Grover Cleveland was elected as America's leader, but as a bachelor, he had no official first lady. To fill the vacancy, his little sister, Rose Cleveland, stepped in, despite her dislike of high society and social events. Rose was known as someone who preferred the academic life, so even when she oversaw White House receptions, she was said to silently conjugate Greek verbs to entertain herself.

Luckily for Rose, Grover Cleveland fell in love with Frances Folsom, and the two married in 1886. Rose, freed from public life, went on to pursue a career as an educator, writer, and lecturer. She served as editor of Literary Life, a Chicago-based magazine, and as principal of the Collegiate Institute in Lafayette, Indiana. The new first lady, Frances, loved her new status, becoming recognized as a wonderful White House hostess and supporter of a number of social causes.

Getting to know Grover Cleveland:

  • Cleveland was nicknamed "Big Steve" -- his real first name was Stephen -- because at 275 pounds (124.7 kg), he weighed more than any other president except William Howard Taft.

  • Before becoming president, Cleveland personally hanged two convicted murderers while serving as a sheriff of Erie County, New York.

  • Despite his love of education and work as a teacher, Cleveland was one of only seven presidents who didn't attend college.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1004326 — On Jan 17, 2021

Don’t forget James Buchanan, a lifelong batchelor.

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