Presidential Sweethearts

In the course of searching for a specific photograph of President Woodrow Wilson for a reference question, I came across the image below, and couldn’t resist it! Between the heart-shaped frames, the huge grins on both the President and the First Lady, and the addition of a cupid holding up two hearts perched in the corner, the image is charming and seemed appropriate to share on a day for sweethearts: Valentine’s Day. But why was this image created? I looked at the original item and saw that it was copyrighted on December 11, 1915 – and all became much clearer. One week later, on December 18, President Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt were married in the White House during Wilson’s first term, a second marriage for both.

[Woodrow Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt, head-and-shoulders portraits cut in the shape of overlapping hearts with rose border; drawing of cupid in lower right and of the U.S. Capitol which is visible between the hearts] Photo copyrighted American Press Association, 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3d02254

[Woodrow Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt, head-and-shoulders portraits cut in the shape of overlapping hearts with rose border; drawing of cupid in lower right and of the U.S. Capitol which is visible between the hearts] Photo copyrighted American Press Association, 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3d02254

Wilson was not the first President to marry in the White House. That milestone goes to Grover Cleveland, who entered his first term as a bachelor, but soon met young Frances Folsom. On June 2, 1886, twenty-one-year-old Frances became the youngest First Lady in U.S. history when she married President Cleveland in the Blue Room of the White House. Imagine my surprise when I found that Cleveland and his bride also inspired a heart-shaped tribute, also copyrighted within days of the wedding. This photo – where Frances Folsom is simply referred to as “President Cleveland’s Bride” also includes the romantic inscription: “Two hearts that beat as one.” 

"Two hearts that beat as one." President Cleveland. President Cleveland's bride. Photo copyrighted by A. G. Bushnell, 1886 June 4. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g13964

“Two hearts that beat as one.” President Cleveland. President Cleveland’s bride. Photo copyrighted by A. G. Bushnell, 1886 June 4. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g13964

I was now on a mission to see if we had any other such images of our former Presidents and First Ladies and found one more example. Here President Theodore Roosevelt and his second wife, Edith, are shown surrounded by flowers in a heart shape. Roosevelt married Edith, a childhood and family friend, in December 1886. This flowery photo was produced in December 1902, about a year after Roosevelt became President.

President and Mrs. Roosevelt. Photo copyrighted by R. Y. Young, 1902 December 31. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/stereo.1s01941

President and Mrs. Roosevelt. Photo copyrighted by R. Y. Young, 1902 December 31. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/stereo.1s01941

My heart's greeting to you. Chromolithograph by Obpacher Brothers, 1884. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.14115

My heart’s greeting to you. Chromolithograph by Obpacher Brothers, 1884. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.14115

 

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