February, the month of love, is second only to June for weddings.
It’s a distant second, but second it is. So, let’s talk about weddings.
White House Weddings.
Maria Hester, the daughter of James Monroe, married her sweetheart and first cousin – their mothers were sisters, Samuel Lawrence Gouverneur on March 9, 1820. It was the first White House wedding of a President’s child.
And it was marred by a murder! Maria’s pushy older sister, Eliza, realized the wedding could be a foreign policy coup, and invited so many diplomats there was no room for the Washington insiders and matrons. Every one was pissed. After the couple spent a week’s honeymoon, they attended a reception in their honor at the home of Stephen Decatur. Another ball in their honor was cancelled when Decatur was killed in a duel.
Alice Lee Roosevelt, outspoken daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, was married to Nicholas Longworth on February 17, 1906.
Alice, one of my favorite historical figures, was an outspoken society maven and is considered the first female celebrity of the 20th Century. She came UP with my favorite line, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit next to me.”
She smoked in public, drove a car by herself, and was condemned from pulpits across the nation. There were songs written about her and even a color, Alice Blue, was named for her.
Nicholas Longworth, an Ohioan who would rise to become Speaker of the House (there are so many from there), was a lawyer from Cincinnati.
The wedding was the event of the year, and the story covered every square inch of the front page of the New York Times.
The marriage was a hit or miss affair. Longworth was a drinker and a womanizer. His marital infidelities bothered Alice far less than his political ones. His support of William Howard Taft nearly ended the union. Alice fell in love with Senator and orator William Borah of Idaho. The only child born during her marriage to Longworth, was Paulina, the product of Alice’s affair with Borah. Longworth was more than modern about the affair and the child, he raised her as his own,
Amazingly ahead of her time and unabashedly outspoken, Alice has left some wonderful quotes.
When Sen. Joseph McCarthy told her he would call her Alice, she replied, “You are not going to call me Alice. The trashman and the policeman on my block call me Alice, but you may not!” She also told Lyndon Johnson the reason she wore broad brimmed hats was to keep him from kissing her!
There are more White House wedding, Jenna Bush, Tricia Nixon, and Fanny Hayes. But none can compare with Maria and Alice.
It’s Monday, I won’t bother you with the rest. But there’s plenty to read on the topic.
All The President’s Children by Doug Wead is a good place to start.