Whether you're interested in American history, unusual marriages, or a good old-fashioned political scandal, I have just the book for you: A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland by Charles Lachman
Lachman provides an overview of Cleveland's life, but focuses on the rumor about him that seems to be reality. I've read many times the little rhyme about Cleveland, Ma! Ma! Where's my Pa! Gone to The White House! Ha Ha Ha!
Based on all the research the author has done, it seems to be almost undeniably true that when Cleveland was a lawyer in Buffalo, New York, he raped a widow named Maria Halpin, who subsequently gave birth to his son. The piece of evidence that's lacking, as far as I'm concerned, is a DNA test, and I don't think that's going to take place at this late date.
The book is quite a fascinating read. I love presidential history, and I enjoyed learning more about Cleveland, especially since I'd read so many references to the rumor that he had an illegitimate child.
I don't want to tell you what happened to the son, or to his biological mother, because it would spoil too much of the book for you. However, I will fill you in on some interesting facts about Grover Cleveland:
- In the course of three short years, Cleveland went from being Mayor of Buffalo to being elected the Governor of New York, and was then elected President in 1884.
- Cleveland's closest friend, Oscar Folsom, was killed in an accident in 1875. As the executor of Folsom's estate, Cleveland helped Folsom's widow raise her young daughter.
- Cleveland became the only president to get married in The White House when he took as his bride his former ward, Frances Folsom. Cleveland was 48; Folsom was 21 (the youngest First Lady in history).
- The Clevelands went on to have five children. The last was born when Cleveland was 66.
- In 1888, Cleveland won the popular vote for the presidency but lost in the electoral college to Benjamin Harrison.
- Cleveland regained the presidency four years later -- the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.
Lachman's style is light and makes for easy reading. He makes a point of saying that the definitive biography of Cleveland has already been written, but he wanted to bring the man's secrets to light.
And Grover Cleveland certainly had his share of secrets.
|President and Mrs. Cleveland|
Happy Reading, Chickadees!