Grover Cleveland, the Only President to Be Married in the White House, Writes His Bride About Wedding

May 23, 1886

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Grover Cleveland, the Only President to Be Married in the White House, Writes His Bride About Wedding
Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages | SMC 1164

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      Background

      To the not-quite 22 year-old Frances "Frank" Folsom, came this distinction: she had her entire wedding planned, down to the smallest detail, by the President of the United States. But far from being a grievous example of governmental over-reach, this surprising solicitude was the offering of a man in love - for President Grover Cleveland, as he writes here to his "Darling Frank", could barely wait to take her in his arms, and for "us two to go away immediately after the ceremony and be together for a week." Young "Frank" had been, for the last nine months, traveling abroad - secretly engaged, all the while, to Cleveland, whom she had literally known (as her father's best friend and her own legal guardian) for her entire life. Now, as she was about to disembark in New York City, news came that her grandfather had died - and Cleveland worried (unnecessarily) whether a postponement of the wedding would now ensue. Cleveland, himself, wanted a simple ceremony as soon as possible, with little, or better still, no notice to the infernal "gossips" of the press. Thus this most remarkable love letter, laying out, in detail, his plans for their marriage ceremony - and begging, at every juncture, her approbation, that all might be (must be, he insisted) as she desired.

      Here, too, this marvelous distinction: Cleveland explained that acting as his proxy would be his friend and private secretary Colonel Lamont, who would not only meet her ship and escort her to Washington, but to whom she might, unreservedly, communicate all her dearest wishes and intimate thoughts, about her nuptials:

      My darling Frank

      I feel to night that you are almost here. It seems a dreadfully long time since I have written to you... I feel dreadfully to think that the first news you receive as you arrive will be of death among your relations... I know that you will be glad to hear that I have made arrangements for us two to go away immediately after the ceremony and be together for a week... But why do I talk of all these things when I have no idea of how you will feel about the date of the ceremony when you know of your Grandfather[']s death?.. Everything will be as you desire... I have thought that perhaps after all you would prefer to have the ceremony on the 2nd as contemplated and reduce it to a very quick affair indeed, though we planned to have it quick in any event. If there is a postponement there will be all sorts of... talk and the propriety of the situation will furnish material for... the gossips... to tell you the truth my Love I mean to leave this to you... only adding that Col Lamont who starts to-morrow morning to meet you and who will hand you this can tell you all you want to know. I want you to talk to him just exactly as freely as you would to me... He knows all my thoughts in connection with the matter except he cannot know how much I love you. Its rather strange to do such things by proxy but in this case it is the only way... and I am sure no one outside of ourselves is more interested or has our welfare and comfort more at heart... I've been awfully good and patient [...] but God knows how much I want to take you in my arms... I cannot think of any more to nite for the Colonel will say all for me except to express my tender and everlasting love. He will even talk to you about the ring and learn from you whether you will let me put it on your finger just before we stand before the minister. If you would like it just as well we have thought it might be better than to try and introduce it into a Presbyterian ceremony. Don't fail to tell him how you desire to have even this matter arranged. You see we have thought of all the slightest detail...

      God bless my Darling

      G.C

      On June 2, 1886, Grover Cleveland became the first and only president to be married at the White House. His marriage to "Frank" Folsom was exceptionally happy, and lasted twenty-two years, until his death in 1908. Mrs. Cleveland married again; she outlived Grover by 39 years.



      Autograph Letter Signed (“G.C”), as President, 4 pages, recto and verso, quarto, Executive Mansion, Washington, May 23, 1886. To “Darling Frank”, his fiancé, Frances Folsom, aboard the “S.S. Noordland” in New York Harbor. With autograph envelope.
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      EXECUTIVE MANSION, 
      WASHINGTON.

      May 23. 1886

      My darling Frank

      I feel to night [sic] that you are almost here. It seems a dreadfully long time since I have written to you.

      I feel dreadfully to think that the first news you receive as you arrive will be of death among your relatives. Your Grandfather Folsom was buried yesterday. I have heard no details except what I see in the papers to the effect that his death was not entirely unexpected. I had a dispatch from Dr [sic] Martin I think Wednesday night telling me of his death and asking when you were coming to which I replied next week after the first.

      I had a letter from your Aunt Frank about the same time but written before she heard of Mr [sic] Folsoms [sic] death asking me what the change in your plan was to which your mother had referred in a letter to her. I waited till last night and 

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      replied telling her you would sail from Antwerp on the 15th [text is crossed out] [...] I did not mention the report nor go into any [...] particular detail about our plans. I did ask her what she thought the effect of your Grandfathers [sic] death would be regarding a postponement of the marriage. She wrote me that she thought no one would come from Jackson except Mrs [sic] Cadman and perhaps her daughter.

      I had a letter too from Ida Gregg congratulating me and indulging in a good deal of joyous expression in anticipation of seeing us married. Did you see some very foolish things which it was reputed she said? But thats [sic] no matter.

      I know that you will be glad to hear that I have made arrangements for us two to go away immediately after the ceremony and be together for a week.

      But why do I talk of all these things when I have no idea of how you will feel about the date of the ceremony when you know of your Grandfathers [sic] death? I feel that everything is in abeyance till I know as concerns for me know how my Sweet Pet will look upon the matter which has been the subject of so much planning, in the light of changed circumstances. Everything shall be as you desire; and yet I know Darling, that you will want to know a little of what has been forming in my mind

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      I have thought that perhaps after all you would prefer to have the ceremony on the 2d as contemplated and reduce it to a very quick affair indeed- though we planned to have it quick in any event. There will be nobody from my circle of relatives present but Mrs [sic] Hoyt and Lizzie and quite likely only the latter. Your mother and Ben could go immediately after the wedding to Folsomdale. If there is a postponement there will be all sorts of newspaper talk and the propriety of the situation will furnish material for that kind of foolishness all during the interval - whereas if it takes place and is over the event itself will occupy the attention of the gossips.

      I am so afraid of jarring upon your feelings and sentiments that I dont [sic] want to say much about my wishes and preferences ; and to tell you the truth my Love I mean to leave this to you with the above beside only adding that Col Lamont who starts to-morrow morning to meet you and who will hand you this can tell you all you want to know. I want you to talk to him just exactly as freely as you would to me. He has been an immense comfort to me and I dont [sic] know what I should have done without him. He knows all my thoughts in connection with the matter except he cannot know how much I love you. Its [sic] rather strange to do such things by proxy but in this case it is the only way and my Colonel is no ordinary man. He will go into

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      every detail with you ; and I am sure no one outside of ourselves is more interested or has our welfare and comfort more at heart.

      The hints which I have given that perhaps you would not prefer a postponement I not only follow my own judgment (subject of course to your sense of duty and propriety) but that of some others who have communicated with me. Lizzie will be in N. Y. to-morrow and of course will see you. I shall be in N. Y. a week from to-night [sic] I expect and that night or the next day we'll meet for the first time in an age my darling Life. Ive [sic] been awfully good and patient Pet but God knows how much I want to take you in my arms. My pure Child how I wish I could take from you any perplexity. I cannot think of any more to nite [sic] for the Colonel will say all for me except to express my tender and everlasting love. He will even talk to you about the ring and learn from you whether you will let me put it on your finger just before we stand before the minister. If you would like it just as well we have thought it might be better than to try and introduce it into a Presbyterian ceremony. Dont [sic] fail to tell him just how you desire to have even this matter arranged. You see we have thought of all the slight detail. Give my love to your mother. I received a letter from you yesterday dated May 10. The Colonel has one for you which was sent to my care from Rome. Dont [sic] let him forget to give it to you.

      God bless my Darling

      G. C

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      EXECUTIVE MANSION, 

      Miss Frank Folsom
      S.S. "Nordland"
      New York Harbor

      Kindness of
      Col D. S. Lamont