The lives of the rich and powerful seem so distant from everyday world that they appear to inhabit a different plane altogether. And yet they are as much moved by forces of love and fate as anybody else. The same applies to heads of state and kings which is why it would be interesting to find out which US Presidents married more and once and under what circumstances.
President John Tyler
President John Tyler was the first US President to have got married more than once and incidentally also the first to get married while in office. He was the tenth President of the country and also the first to succeed to the office of President on the death of the incumbent. His first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler and during their 29 year-long marriage, the couple had eight children. However in 1839, she suffered a paralytic stroke that left her an invalid and in September 1842, Letitia died in the White House. A few months earlier though, Tyler had already met Julia Gardiner – who would become his second wife – at a White House reception. They began seeing each other in January 1843 a few months after the death of First Lady Letitia Tyler. on June 26, 1844, the president and Julia were married in New York City, , at the Church of the Ascension in a ceremony kept secret not only from the American public but even from most of the President’s family. At the time of the marriage, Tyler was already 54 whereas the bride was just 24. The glaring age difference aroused some speculation since even the President’s oldest daughter Mary was five years older to her new stepmother. In the end though the marriage proved to be a success with the couple having seven children and Tyler remained married to Julia until his death January 18th 1862.
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Millard Fillmore was the thirteenth President of the United States and served in office from June 1850 to March 1853. His first wife was Abigail Powers, the daughter of a Baptist Minister, and who grew up not far from the Fillmore childhood farm. In 1819, she was a freshly appointed teacher at the new academy in New Hope, where her oldest pupil was 19-year-old Millard Fillmore. The love of knowledge and Fillmore's steady progress in it drew them together, and gradually the relationship of teacher and student evolved into romantic attachment. However there was to be a long wait since Fillmore was yet to establish himself in the world. After a lengthy courtship, Millard, aged 26, and Abigail, aged 27, were married on February 5, 1826. The couple had two children. As the First Lady, Millard Fillmore maintained a low profile and was happier arranging books for the White House library rather than in the conventional duties as the hostess of the White House. In 1853, she caught a cold and developed pneumonia; she died just 26 days after leaving the White House, on March 30, 1853.
By the time Fillmore met Caroline Carmichael, his future second wife, she was already widowed. Her first husband was Ezekiel C. McIntosh, a prosperous New York merchant who upon his death left Caroline rather wealthy. She married Millard Fillmore on February 10, 1858 in Albany, New York. At the time of their marriage, Caroline required Fillmore to sign a prenuptial agreement. The couple soon settled down to a comfortable life, after purchasing a mansion on Niagara Square in Buffalo. Unlike his first wife, Millard’s second wife took on the social duties of the First Lady with gusto and is believed to have enjoyed her newfound status as the wife of a former President. The two remained married until Fillmore’s death from a sudden and fatal stroke in 1874.
President Theodore Roosevelt
Remembered for his robust personality, wide range of interests as well as leadership of the Progressive Movement, Theodore Roosevelt is another US President to have married more than once. Roosevelt was the 26th president and served in office from September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909. His first wife was Alice Hathaway Lee, whom he met through common friends in October 1878. At the time of their first meeting, Alice was a vivacious and strikingly beautiful girl whom young Roosevelt found it impossible to forget. Only weeks later, by Thanksgiving, he had made up his mind to marry her and proposed in June 1879. However it would take some amount of persuasion for Alice to agree to the marriage. Eventually Roosevelt married the nineteen year old Alice Lee, on October 27, 1880 which was incidentally his 22nd birthday too.
Tragically she died young of an undiagnosed case of kidney failure two days after their infant Alice was born – her pregnancy having masked the disease till it was beyond help.
The year after his first wife's death, Roosevelt ran into his childhood sweetheart Edith Kermit Crow, at his sister's house. They began seeing each other again; on November 17, 1885, he proposed and she accepted. However, Roosevelt delayed the announcement as it had not been long since he had been widowed. In 1886, Theodore Roosevelt left for London and on December 2, 1886, at St. George's Church of Hanover Square, in London, England, Roosevelt, aged 28, married his second wife, Edith Carow, aged 25. During Edith’s tenure as the First Lady, the White House turned into the social center of the land. She not only expertly hosted formal occasions, but also threw smaller parties brought together distinguished men and women from varied walks of life. She was still married to Theodore Roosevelt at the time of his death January 6th 1919.
President Woodrow Wilson
The 28th President of United States, Woodrow Wilson served two terms in the White House from 1913 to 1921. Wilson’s first wife was Ellen Louise Axson with whom he had three daughters. However Axson’s health slowly deteriorated from Bright's disease and she died in the White House on August 6, 1914. Soon after Wilson met Edith Galt, widow of Norman Galt who had been a prosperous jeweler and left her comfortably off after his death. In March 1915 the two were introduced at the White House by Helen Bones, the president's cousin and official White House hostess since the death of Ellen Wilson, the president's first wife. Wilson was immediately taken by the intelligence and charm of Galt and lost little time in proposing marriage. On December 18, 1915, at the home of the bride in Washington, D.C President Wilson, aged 58, married Edith Bolling Galt, aged 43. The wedding, a small affair attended only by forty odd guests. Edith’s most significant contribution as First Lady remains her service as steward of the executive branch following the president's stroke in September 1919.
President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was the fortieth President of the United States and served from from January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989. Reagan’s rise to the highest office in the land was not without variety since apart from being the 33rd Governor of California (1967–75), he started out as a radio, film and television actor. Reagan’s first wife was actress Jane Wyman with whom he co-starred in the film Brother Rat. They were engaged at the Chicago Theatre, and married on January 26, 1940, at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather church in Glendale, California. Together the couple y had two biological children and adopted a third. However things turned sour in the wake of Reagan's budding political ambitions. Wyman filed for divorce in 1948 which was finalized in 1949. Till today, he is the only US president to have been divorced.
The same year as Reagan’s divorce, he met his second wife-to-be, actress Nancy Davis after she contacted him in his capacity as president of the Screen Actors Guild to help her with issues regarding her name appearing on a communist blacklist in Hollywood as she had been mistaken for another woman with the same name. The two were attracted to each other and were married by March 1952. Their marriage was a happy one and their love remained strong till Reagan’s death in 2004 by pneumonia brought on by Alzheimer’s disease.