Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Frances Folsom Cleveland

                    Frances Clara Folsom was born on July 21, 1864, in Buffalo, New York, and was the daughter of Oscar Folsom and Emma Harmon.  Frances was her parents' only child to survive infancy as her sister, Nellie Augusta, died just previous to her first birthday.  Frances was given the name of Frank in honor of an uncle, but she later adopted the feminine version of the name, Frances

Oscar was a lawyer as well as a descendant of the earliest settlers of Exeter, New HampshireFrances' ancestors from both sides of her family came from England and settled in the area that would later be known as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire; from there they eventually migrated to western New York.

Frances' father was a longtime and close friend of Grover Cleveland; therefore, it was only natural for Grover (age 27) to take an interest in the new baby.  He bought a baby carriage for her and otherwise pampered her as she was growing up.  When Oscar died in a carriage accident on July 23, 1875, without a written will, the court appointed Cleveland to be the administrator of his quarter-million dollar estate.  Frances was 11 years old at the time of her father's death and continued to live with her mother who was still living. 

Frances attended Central High School in Buffalo, New York, and Medina High School in Medina, New York, before attending Wells College in Aurora, New York.  It was sometime during her college days that Cleveland developed romantic feelings for her.  Soon after her graduation from college, he sent a letter to her in August 1885 with his proposal, and she accepted.  The engagement was not announced until five days before the wedding.  Frances' mother was not pleased initially with the engagement because she believed that the President should have asked her - the mother - to be his bride rather than the daughter.

                    President Cleveland was 49 and Frances was 21 when they were married on June 2, 1886, at the White House.  Cleveland was the only President to be married in the White House and spent his wedding day working as he usually did.  The wedding took place at 7:00 p.m. in the Blue Room of the White House and was performed by the Reverend Byron Sutherland, assisted by the Reverend William Cleveland, the groom's brother.  The wedding was a small affair and was attended by relatives, close friends, the Cabinet and their wives.  The bride's mother and both grandmothers could have been in attendance.  The words "honor, love, and keep" were substituted for "honor, love and obey".  The music was provided by John Philip Sousa and the Marine Band.  The newlyweds honeymooned for five days at Deer Park in the Cumberland Mountains of Western Maryland.

                    Frances became the youngest First Lady and remains so today.  She endured "intense media interest" when she took over the duties of White House hostess, but "her charm won her popularity."  When President Cleveland was defeated in the 1888 election, the Clevelands moved to New York.  Before leaving the White House, Frances told the staff, "I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now when we come back again … four years from today" (World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 671).  As Cleveland was the only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms so Frances was the only First Lady to be in two nonconsecutive administrations.  

                    Grover and Frances were parents of five children, two son and three daughters:  Ruth (1891-1904), Esther (1893-1980), Marion (1895-1977), Richard Folsom (1897-1974), and Francis Grover (1903-1995).

                    Cleveland Hall was constructed on the Wells College Campus in 1911 in honor of Frances Cleveland.  It originally served as a library but now holds foreign language classes.  Frances lived in Princeton, New Jersey, after Cleveland passed away in 1908.  She married again at age 49 on February 10, 1913, to Thomas J. Preston, Jr., a professor at Princeton University.  In doing so, she became the first presidential widow to marry again.  Frances passed away on October 29, 1947, in Baltimore and was buried in Princeton next to President Cleveland.

                    Information for this article except as noted came from Wikipedia.

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