Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Presidents in Love by Tara Kingston

Welcome back to History Undressed our regular third Tuesday blogger, Tara Kingston! In honor of President's Day and Valentine's Day, Tara has written a fascinating post for us today. Enjoy!

Presidents in Love…

by Tara Kingston

The study of America’s history is often told with facts and dates and names of places, with little attention paid to the people behind the events. When we speak of American Presidents, the focus is often on politics and accomplishments and scandals. But what about the bold, brilliant women who captured their hearts and stayed by their side throughout the years in the White House and beyond? What about…Presidents in love…

~ Richard and Pat Nixon
Long before Richard Nixon was dubbed “Tricky Dick” for his political strategies, it turns out he was a hopeless romantic. When he met a young teacher named Thelma “Pat” Ryan, it seemed a case of love at first sight. He courted the woman he called his “Irish gypsy” for two years before they married, following a proposal during which he’d placed an engagement ring in a basket filled with flowers.

~ Harry and Bess Truman
Harry Truman courted his childhood crush Bess Wallace for years after they first met in Sunday School when Harry was six and Bess was five. During World War I, Bess carried his photo in her pocket while he went off to war. Harry and his “Dear Bessie” married in 1919. During their courtship, and the years afterward, they exchanged more than a thousand letters. In his youth, the man known as “Give ’em Hell, Harry” wrote this to the woman who would become his wife, “I suppose that I am too crazy about you anyway. Every time I see you I get more so if it’s possible…”


~John and Abigail Adams
John and Abigail Smith Adams corresponded for decades during their courtship and throughout the long separations they experienced after their marriage in 1764. In one missive, he refers to Abigail as “Miss Adorable”, while Abigail refers to John as her “dearest friend”. More than a thousand letters from their correspondence survive. Their love letters were commemorated in the 2001 Love series of United States postage stamps.

~Ronald and Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan’s collected love letters from the President in I Love You, Ronnie depict a love story that endured for decades. Reagan wrote poetry for his wife and sent adoring notes through their marriage, even while traveling on Air Force One, saying in 1983, “I more than love you…” Who was to guess that the man dubbed “The Great Communicator” was also such a romantic.

~ Lyndon and Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson
Lyndon Johnson was known as a savvy politician, but I suspect few saw his romantic side. During their whirlwind 1934 courtship, more than 90 letters were exchanged that provide a look at the love between Johnson and Lady Bird. In one missive dated October 23, 1934, Johnson wrote, “This morning, I am ambitious, proud, energetic and very madly in love with you.” Is it any wonder Lady Bird married Lyndon on November 17, 1934, a little more than two months after they first met on September 5, 1934?

~George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush
On their forty-ninth anniversary, George wrote to Barbara, “You give me joy that few men know. I’ve climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.” With a love like that, is it any wonder that the Bushes, the longest married couple in presidential history, celebrated their seventy-first anniversary on January 6.

~ Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter
The Carters have employed an acronym to express their love since the 1940s, ILYTG – I Love You The Goodest. Jimmy even had a compact engraved with the letters. The Carters have been married for sixty-nine years.

The biographies of our nation’s leaders are filled with wonderful love stories. These are only a few that touched my heart. Presidents from George Washington through Barack Obama have created their own stories. Check out the resources listed at this end of this post for more heart-warming presidential love stories.




Dear Bird: The 1934 Courtship Letters, http://archives.lbjlibrary.org/exhibits/show/34letters

All photographs are in the public domain.

About The Author:

Award-winning author Tara Kingston writes historical romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern belle-out-of-water in a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own love story with her real-life hero in a cozy Victorian. The mother of two sons, Tara's a former librarian whose love of books is evident in her popping-at-the-seams bookcases. It goes without saying that Tara's husband is thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need for yet another set of shelves. When she's not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys cycling, hiking, and cheering on her favorite football team.

In a world where a man’s loyalty doesn’t depend on the color of a uniform, danger, intrigue, and passion are facts of life for the men and women of Tara’s Secrets & Spies series, historical romances set against the backdrop of the Civil War.


Anonymous said...

What a great blog...I didn't know any of this about these men!!!


Tara Kingston said...

I knew about the lasting marriages of the Bushes, Carters, and Reagans, but I was truly surprised to learn that politically driven men like Richard Nixon, LBJ, and Truman were head over heels in love with their wives. I love the human side of history. Truly heartwarming!