Sunday, May 27, 2012

Divorce, Marriage, and the Presidents - Part 4 - Divorce

Divorce is a recognized handicap in politics. Until Ronald Regan was elected President in 1980 no candidate who had been divorced was elected President. Ironically, he also signed California’s first no fault divorce law while governor. The stigma of divorce is not what is once was. The first Presidential elections I remember is Eisenhower and Stevenson in 1952. The fact that Stevenson had been divorced made his nomination for president on the democratic ticket initially doubtful in 1952. Even though damage to Stevenson's political standing was lessened by the fact that he had not remarried, polls indicated that his divorced status would cost him votes. Stevenson had a problem because he was divorced but running against the very popular World War II hero did not help either. More recently, Republicans have nominated divorced men in Bob Dole and John McCain. In four of the last eight presidential elections, the Republicans have nominated a divorced man. Neither won. Neither Bob Dole or Ronald Reagan’s divorces were tied to infidelity. And John McCain’s first wife, Carol refused to speak out. It looks like Romney will be the Republican nominee. It would have been interesting to hear more what Gingrich first wife has had to say. The six leading contenders for the 2008 Republican Nomination (McCain, Romney, Huckabee, Paul, Thompson, and Giuliani had been married a total of ten times. John Kerry is the only recent Democratic nominee to be divorced and remarried. In 2008, Chris Dodd had done so, and Dennis Kucinick, for whatever it's worth, was on wife number three. In 2004 Kerry, Kucinich, and Lieberman were divorce. Lieberman may be the only candidate to ever get a “get” (Jewish divorce). Ted Kennedy ran against Carter in 1980. In early 1978, he and his wife, Joan, separated. The couple remained together announcing plans to divorce in 1981; the divorce was finalized in 1982. Franklin D. Roosevelt had an affair with Lucy Mercer and contemplated a divorce from Eleanor but whether true or not it was said that his mother would not let him get divorced because she felt that it would keep him from being President. This seems to be a common thread because it has also been said the Roosevelt was born at Campobello in Canada but his mother said it was in the United States for the same reason. Who cannot forget that divorce and remarriage to a divorcee toppled Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller from the position of front-runner for the 1964 Republican Presidential nomination.
It does not seem to be as much as a problem for first ladies. Rachel Jackson was divorce and will be the subject of a future blog. So was Florence “Flossie” King DeWolfe, a divorcee with one son, who married Warren Harding, five years her junior in 1891 and Elizabeth Ann Bloomer who divorced her first husband, William Warren, in 1947 and married Gerald Ford a year later.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (252 5/27/12)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Divorce, Marriage, and the Presidents Part 3 – Warren G. Harding

I have always been fascinated with Warren Harding.  As I type an autographed letter and picture are looking down on me.  “The Shadow of Blooming Grove” by Francis Russell was one of the first presidential biographies I collected and is one of 300 I own.  I have updated it from the Book of the Month Club edition and even a different copy published in England.  We also visited his home in Marion, Ohio, visited Teapot Dome in Wyoming and picked up an oily rock from there. I also like the fact the Franklin D. Roosevelt ran on the opposing ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate for James Cox in 1920.
Harding is well known for his extramarital affairs.  Internet research shows that allegedly, for 15 years Harding saw Carrie Phillips, wife of Harding’s friend James Phillips. After he won the Republican presidential nomination, the Republican National Committee attempted to silence Phillips with an all-expense paid trip to Japan, a $20,000 payment as well as a promise of future monthly stipends. But is the story of Nan Britton which captures the imagination. I have her book called the President’s Daughter.  My mother told me when she was a child (she was born in 1919) the book was considered a very racy book.  Britton was recently depicted on the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire.  She was a teenager in Ohio she developed a crush on Harding. In 1919, the year before Harding’s run for President, Britton gave birth to a baby girl. She said it was Harding’s.
With the help of secret service agents, Nan sneaked into the White House, and she and the President would walk down a hidden hallway, which Nan called it “our secret passage”—connecting the oval office and a coat closet. Inside the 5-by-5-foot closet, they would make love.
In 1923, with scandals breaking out all around him, the President fled Washington for a tour of the west and Alaska. On the return trip he became ill, and on august 2, he died in his San Francisco hotel room. He was 58.
The cause of death was reported as a stroke, but Harding had suffered food poisoning earlier in the trip. Later an agent for the Bureau of Investigation published a report claiming that Florence had poisoned the President. But no one could ever prove it. Mrs. Harding had refused to have an autopsy done on her husband. Was this her way of divorcing him?
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (251) 5/20/12

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Divorce, Marriage, and the Presidents, Part 2 - Grover Cleveland

Sorry I have not blogged for awhile.  I must be in the mood but this is my 250th blog! Why do so many Presidents adjust their names?  It was actual Stephen Grover Cleveland, Hiram Ulysses Grant,Thomas Woodrow Wilson, John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., Gerald Ford was Leslie Lynch King, Jr., Bill Clinton was William Jefferson Blythe III and maybe Willard Mitt Romney. But I am digressing from my continuation of discussion of Divorce, Marriage, and the Presidents.  Cleveland had John Edward’s scandal and survived it. 
To counter Cleveland's image of superior morality while running for President against James Blaine who was allegedly corrupt, Republicans discovered reports that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child while he was a lawyer in Buffalo, and chanted "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?  (Following the Cleveland’s electoral victory, the "Ma, Ma ..." attack phrase gained a classic rejoinder: "Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!") When confronted with the emerging scandal, Cleveland's instructions to his campaign staff were: "Tell the truth." Cleveland admitted to paying child support in 1874 to Maria Crofts Halpin, the woman who claimed he fathered her child named Oscar Folsom Cleveland. Halpin was involved with several men at the time, including Cleveland's friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom, for whom the child was also named. Cleveland did not know which man was the father, and is believed to have assumed responsibility because he was the only bachelor among them.

But it does not stop there.  Cleveland entered the White House as a bachelor. His sister, Rose Cleveand, moved into the White House and acted as hostess for the first two years of his administration. In 1885 the daughter of Cleveland's friend Oscar Folsom visited him in Washington. Frances Folsom was a student at Wells College; when she returned to school, President Cleveland received her mother's permission to correspond with her. They were soon engaged to be married.
On June 2, 1886, Cleveland married Frances Folsom in the Blue Room at the White House. He was the second president to marry while in office (Tyler was the first), and the only president to have a wedding in the White House. This marriage was unusual because Cleveland was the executor of Oscar Folsom's estate and had supervised Frances' upbringing after her father's death, but the public did not take exception to the match. At twenty-one years old, Frances Folsom Cleveland remains the youngest First Lady, and the public soon warmed to her beauty and warm personality. The Clevelands had five children: Ruth (1891–1904)(Baby Ruth candy bar was named after her and not Babe Ruth); Ester (1893–1980); Marion (1895–1977); Richard Folsom (1897–1974); and Francis Grover (1903–1995).
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (250) 5/13/12