Frances Cleveland

Frances Cleveland

27th First Lady of the United States
Date of Birth: 21.07.1864
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Frances Cleveland
  2. Early Life and Family Background
  3. Relationship with Grover Cleveland
  4. Later Life and Second Marriage
  5. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Frances Cleveland

Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland Preston, the 27th First Lady of the United States, served as the First Lady from 1887 to 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897. She was the wife of President Grover Cleveland.

Frances Cleveland

Early Life and Family Background

Frances Clara Folsom was born on July 21, 1864, in Buffalo, New York. She was the only child of a successful lawyer whose ancestors had immigrated to America in the early 17th century. Her family roots can be traced back to England, with ancestors settling in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Frances' sister passed away in childhood, making her the sole heiress of her family. Initially, she was named Frank in honor of her uncle, but later her parents decided to choose a more feminine version of the name.

Frances Cleveland

Relationship with Grover Cleveland

Frances' future husband, Grover Cleveland, was a close friend of her father and first saw her shortly after her birth. As a caring uncle, he played an active role in her upbringing, pampering Frances and taking care of her. When her father died in a road accident in 1875 without leaving a will, the court appointed Cleveland as the manager of the Folsom estate. Their relationship took a more romantic turn when Frances was studying at Wells College for women. In August 1885, Cleveland, who had already been in office as President for almost half a year, proposed to Frances in writing, and she accepted. The engagement was announced five days before their wedding, which took place on June 2, 1886, in the White House. This made Cleveland the only U.S. President to marry in the presidential residence. Frances was 21 years old, while her husband was 49. The modest ceremony, attended only by relatives, close friends, and cabinet members with their wives, took place at 7 p.m. in the Blue Room. Cleveland's brother served as the assistant priest, and the traditional words "to cherish, love, and support" were changed to "to cherish, love, and obey" in their wedding vows. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in the mountains of western Maryland for five days before Frances experienced a sharp interest from the press. However, her friendliness and charm as the hostess of the White House earned Frances widespread love and popularity as the First Lady.

Frances Cleveland

Later Life and Second Marriage

When Cleveland lost the following election, he and Frances moved to New York, with Grover promising to return to the White House in four years. True to his word, Cleveland was reelected, and Frances became the only First Lady to serve her duties twice but not consecutively. The Cleveland's had five children, three daughters and two sons, with all of them, except for their eldest daughter who died of diphtheria in childhood, living to a ripe old age. After Grover Cleveland's death from cancer in 1908, Frances Cleveland, then 44 years old, lived in Princeton. Her youngest son had just turned five. In February 1913, at the age of 49, she remarried to Thomas J. Preston, a professor of archaeology at Princeton University. Frances became the first widow of a U.S. President to enter into a second marriage.

Later Years and Legacy

Frances Cleveland and her children were in Switzerland when World War I broke out, but she managed to return home within a couple of months. During the Great Depression, she became a member of the American Handicrafts Guild and sewed clothes for those in need. Frances Cleveland passed away at the age of 83 in Baltimore on October 29, 1947. She was buried in Princeton, next to her first husband.