In 2019, CNN anchor Jack Tapper tweeted about Grover Cleveland’s marriage, calling it “quite disturbing” and “very sick.” Cleveland doesn’t seem like he would excite that kind of passion, so what was Tapper so upset about?
Well, here’s the thing. If you were a guest at President Cleveland’s wedding, you’d know you were about to watch him marry a woman 27 years younger than him, who he had known since she was literally a baby. Not only that, but according to the White House’s biography on Frances Folsom Cleveland, when she was just 11 years old, her dad died, and Cleveland became an administrator of his late law partner’s estate. The biography takes pains to point out, however, that Cleveland was “never her legal guardian.” Which, you know, makes the fact he was marrying the person to whom he gifted her first baby carriage after she was born not weird at all.
If you’re thinking, well, things were a bit different back then, even at the time this situation got a “wait, what?” from most people. In fact, History says that once the press caught on to the fact Cleveland was involved with someone, everyone assumed it was Frances’ mother, who was not only much more age-appropriate but an old friend of the president. It was genuinely shocking to the public that instead, Cleveland was marrying a girl of only 21, whom he’d treated almost like a daughter her whole life.