Presidential Love Stories and a Giveaway!

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Hi everyone- Winnie Griggs here.

Within the next week we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day, President’s Day and my birthday (that is a national holiday, isn’t it?). So in my post today I thought I’d find a way to give a nod to all three.

And what better way to do that than to talk about the love stories of two American presidents and then to hand out a birthday present by throwing in a giveaway at the end?

So here goes.

First Ladies have always played important roles for their husbands and American politics at large. They are personal confidants, philanthropists, and even trusted political advisors, and many become celebrated career women independent of their presidential husbands. One almost forgets that beyond the politics and the public image, the President and the First Lady are husband and wife: two people in love, bound by matrimony.

R&A Jackson

It doesn’t get much more heart-wrenching than the tragic love story between Andrew Jackson and his beloved wife Rachel, who technically never was a First Lady. Rachel was mid-divorce when they met and fell in love. Her first husband was cruel and manipulative, and dragged his feet on finalizing their divorce. Before it was official, she and Andrew eloped and started a life together, and Rachel’s family and community readily accepted her new husband. Her first husband, however, used this against her, and had her charged with adultery. To fight this in court, Rachel would have had to further delay the divorce. She accepted the black mark on her reputation in the name of love. The divorce was finalized, and Rachel and Andrew remarried for good.

By all accounts, they adored each other, and as Andrew’s political career progressed, she kept him humble and soothed his anxieties. They were in their sixties by the time he ran for president, and had lived many blissful years together as decent, respectable people, still as in love as they were in their youth.

The tragedy is that during Andrew’s presidential campaign, his enemies dug up the court documents on Rachel’s first marriage and the adultery charge, and she was viciously attacked by the press. Both of them- already elderly for the times and in poor health- took this very hard, and when Andrew won, there was no vindication for Rachel. The stress of the campaign had worn on her, and mere days before her beloved husband left for Washington to take office, she died of an apparent heart attack.

A&J Adams

But I won’t leave you with that sad tale. John and Abigail Adams had a famous romance for an entirely different and very literary reason: their courtship and fifty year marriage is beautifully documented in the thousand-plus detailed letters they wrote to each other. John’s political career often kept them apart for long stretches of time, and their relationship was built and strengthened and maintained through their letters.

Abigail Adams is remembered as a highly intelligent, compassionate, and influential First Lady, and her husband John considered her an intellectual equal in all areas of life. She was his wife, the manager of his home and family, and his closest political advisor. Though she didn’t have a formal education, she was a voracious reader. Growing up around the finest libraries in her home state of Massachusetts, she read and read, on all subjects, and had an impressively broad knowledge base.

On their first meeting, John was not especially impressed. However, a romance soon blossomed. In one early, flirtatious correspondence, John addresses her, “Miss Adorable.” As the relationship progressed, their letters reflected a deep love and a powerful mental connection. They even wrote, in their letters, how much they enjoyed exchanging their thoughts in writing, how much peace it brought them when they could not be together. John and Abigail’s letters paint a vivid picture of two people in love: they quarrel, they wax poetic, they discuss political issues, and they ponder their lives. After John lost the election of 1800, the letters stopped. After nearly forty years of letter correspondence, they finally settled down for good in Massachusetts, together, with no more need for letters.

Just think, these rich stories come from only two of the past presidents of this country. How many other amazing love stories are hidden behind the politics and formality?

Here’s wishing you an early Happy Valentine’s Day, and on an unlikely related note, an early happy Presidents’ Day, too!

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And now for the giveaway.

Anyone who leaves a comment today, giving your thoughts on the stories above, or sharing your own romantic love story, will be entered in a drawing where the winner gets his or her choice of any book from my backlist.  (click here to view a complete list of my books)

Happy early birthday to me 🙂

(click here to view our giveaway guidelines)

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Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.
Updated: February 8, 2016 — 2:10 am

52 Comments

  1. First of all, Happy Birthday! Have a really good one, too.

    Aside from the insights into their marriage, I see the letters between Abigail and John Adams as a national treasure that also give us insights into what was happening in US history at that time from a different perspective. I’ve always loved that Abigail was intelligent and influential, as you mentioned.

    Definitely not a love story but I also appreciate the letters between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and the friendship they came to after their adversarial political careers were over. And dying on the same day, July 4; if it were fiction instead of fact, you wouldn’t accept it. Talking about letters makes me think about how much we may be missing these days in a sound byte, texting world.

    1. Hi Linda. Thanks for the early birthday wish! And I didn’t know that about the two presidents dying on the same day – Love learning new things!

  2. I learned something today. I never knew the first story. I did know the second. Sad that public office leaves you open for such things. Thanks so much.

    1. You’re quite welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Happy Birthday, Winnie! What a lovely way to celebrate. I knew these stories but loved reading about them again. Abigail Adams is one of my favorite historical figures. She was truly a woman before her time.

    1. Thanks Margaret! And yes, I’ve always admired Abigail Adams myself

  4. Happy Birthday!
    Thank you for the stories. I did not know about the first one. So sad that she could not have gone on to help him when he took office. How he must have felt.
    The second one – always enjoy reading about them. So romantic – in my opinion.

    1. Thanks for the early birthday wish! And I agree – I always love a good love story, and if it’s historical, so much the better 🙂

  5. Thank you for your very interesting post and giveaway, Winnie. My husband and I wrote many a letter to each other while he was in the army and I was in college. We will celebrate our 41st anniversary this year.

    1. Oh Melanie, congratulations on your 41 year long romance – that’s awesome!

  6. Such a fun look into history, Winnie. I didn’t know about those love stories. What a joy to read your post. May you have a lovely Valentine’s Day with plenty of romance of your own as well as a great birthday. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks Karen! And I wish you much more of the same!

  7. Happy early birthday Winnie! May your day be filled with fun, laughter and love!
    I never knew the stories of the Presidents and their wives you shared. Guess I didn’t really think about them from the marriage aspect, probably most people don’t! It’s too bad Rachel was never able to erase the black mark on her reputation. What a tragedy that she never lived to see her husband take office.
    Before we were married, my husband & I had been good friends. Through circumstances too long to list here, we too exchanged long distance letters which turned romantic. It was a great time of really getting to know each other while being physically far apart. When I moved across the US to be with him, we were quite comfortable with each other. The rest is history as they say!
    Thanks for the two stories and the chance to win one of your books! I enjoyed reading today’s post 🙂

    1. Hi Trixi/ I love hearing about real folks and their roads to romance! Thanks for sharing

  8. People don’t write letters like they use to which is a shame. I don’t think emails will be the same for learning the history of important people. I met my husband in high school. He was the new kid and I had never left my home town. We’ll be married 47 years come June.

    1. 47 years! That’s amazing! Congratulations!

  9. Great post, Winnie! Happy Birthday!

  10. Happy Happy B-day wishes!!! 🙂

  11. Those love stories about the past Presidents were awesome. Looks like they had a lot of heartache along the way to true love. Good thing they didn’t have social media back then all of the input would have buried them & would have up ended their lives more.
    Happy early Birthday, Winnie!!! Enjoyed your post.
    I met my husband at a gas station, he was the attendant; as he put on a new set of tires for me we did a lot of talking & the rest is history. We have been married 48 yrs & counting.

    1. Oh how wonderful about your own romantic 48 year long love story. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great one.

  13. What an interesting look at history. Thanks for sharing, Winnie and have a wonderful Birthday!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Jane, and thanks for the b’day wishes!

  14. Happy birthday month…a valid excuse to buy books Winnie!

    1. As far as I’m concerrned ANY excuse to buy books is a valid one 🙂

  15. 2 great love stories. Happy Birthday.

  16. Hi Winnie! I am a fan of Abigail Adams — ever since seeing the mini-series of John Adams by David McCullough. His book is even better–with many quotes from her letters. What an interesting lady. I had not known anything about Rachel Jackson. It was interesting to learn about.

    Happy Birthday!

    1. Hi Kathryn, I’m learning there are a lot of people that are fans of Abigail Adams. She was one interesting lady!

  17. what a interesting post,some of this i was aware of and a lot i was not,,makes you wonder what else is buried amongest the past,,happy Birthday to you and thanks

    1. Hi Vickie, so glad I could provide you with some new tidbits of history. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Enjoyed both stories about the presidents and their first ladies. Especially Rachel and Andrew Jackson. How sad that Racheal died before Andrew got to take office. Shows how the negative and cruel exposure from the press caused her death. They really did love one a other and wanted to be together. While her first husband was a very cruel man. Thanks for this history of the two presidents and their wives. Also thanks for this giveaway.

  19. Rachel and Andrew Jackson’s story is really interesting with the stigma of divorce in that time! I find it sad how it still leaves such a stigma even in today’s world when people divorce due to abuse and things. Thanks for this chance!

    1. Hi Katie! You’re quite welcome – thanks for stopping by

  20. Hi Shirley – you’re quite welcome, glad you enjoyed the post

  21. Happy Birthday, Winnie!!! I love this post. I had forgotten that Mrs Jackson had dies so close to Andrew taking office. How very sad. It is also sad that the art of the written word is dying out. I wonder what sort of records will be available to future generations – after all text conversations aren’t preserved long term and that is how many people communicate these days.

    1. Hi Glenda. Glad you enjoyed the post. And I agree about the written. I used to love getting letters back when I was away at college – it was such a tangible way of staying connected.

  22. Have a Happy Birthday. In reading about these President’s love stories I am reminded of another couple so in love … President Ronald Reagan and Nancy. Another great love story.

    1. There were a number of these presidential love stories, I could spend hours digging into the research 🙂

  23. It breaks my heart about Andrew and Rachel Jackson. The character assassinations we see in media today have become commonplace. I couldn’t imagine how morally devastating it would be during a much more conservative time in history. They didn’t have the spin doctor publicists that today’s politicians have.

    Thank you for the mini history lesson, Winnie, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  24. It really is a shame that communication today is so easy and instant with email, texting, etc. We tend not to give much thought into what we are posting and it is out there for all to see. Most of those communications will be gone in the future and there will be few treasured memories from them. I was in the Peace Corps from 1968 to 1971. There were no phone calls home, no emails or video conferences. Instead, I have letters written home or to me that are a chronicle of my time overseas. Little details that would have been forgotten are saved for me to relive and share with my children and grandchildren. When I came back, I married someone in the Air Force. This was during the Vietnam War, and from the time we were engaged through the first years of marriage, he was deployed 4 times. We could call each other, but overseas rates were so high, many families were spending hundreds of dollars every month. We wrote letters. It was an extension of the letters we wrote she I was overseas and worked well. As a result, we have a special chronicle of our first hears together.
    In a way, technology has robbed us. The thought put into words that will be there “forever” and is important to a relationship isn’t being nurtured. The warmth and happiness those words bring when they are read and reread is not being experienced. Future generations will be poorer for it.

  25. Happy birthday. We have 3 this month, my brother on the 8th, our grandson on the 13th, and our daughter on the 15th. Hope you have a wonderful birthday.

  26. Best wishes for a HaPpY BiRtHdAy! Hope you enjoy the day with your family and friends.
    I’m glad Rachel and Andrew were able to overcome the negativism she received for being a divorcee. Their love was strong enough to weather the bad together. So sad she died so suddenly.

    My husband and I will be married 39 years in July. I met him when he dated one of my roommates. The next school year I saw him again and we started dating. I knew right away he was the one I would marry. The first Valentine’s Day we were together and engaged I received red roses with a card signed with love and his name. When I brought them to his place to show him, he said he didn’t send them. They were from someone I had dated years before!

  27. Happy Birthday!
    Great article, I always like learning history.
    I went through a horrible divorce 10 years ago, 2 years later God brought my soul-mate into my life and we’ve been married for 7 years. I knew he was a keeper when I told him I have MS and he said “we’ll face it together.”

  28. It is too bad that the press is as bad today as it was back then. Glad they had each other though.
    Thereadmaster@me.com

  29. I so enjoyed both recollections of our early presidents. I met my husband 33 yrs ago while eating at an old Italian restaurant in Krebs, OK. I ordered lamb fries and at the next table I heard a cowboy say, a woman after my own heart. 3 months later we were engaged. Now he’s dragging me all over Nicaragua where we’ve been missionaries for 12 years!

  30. Happy Birthday. Thank you for telling these two stories. I knew them both at one time but it is nice to be reminded.

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