Cleveland-Preston, Frances (1864-1947)
First Lady of the United States; wife of Grover Cleveland — 22nd and 24th president of the United States.
Vintage signature accomplished in fountain pen ink on a small calling card. Professionally matted along with a bronze commemorative coin and a 4″x6″ color litho print photo postcard. Encased in glass and a bead-relief wood frame.
Frances Clara Folsom was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of a lawyer and a descendant of the earliest settlers of Exeter, New Hampshire, and mother Emma Harmon. She was their only child to survive infancy. Originally, she had the first name Frank (named for an uncle), but later decided to adopt the feminine variant Frances!
Frances attended Central High School in Buffalo and Medina High School in Medina, New York and went on to attend Wells College in Aurora, NY. Sometime while she was in college, Grover’s feelings for Frances took a romantic turn. He proposed to her by letter in August 1885, soon after her graduation. They did not announce their engagement, however, until just five days before the wedding.
They were married in 1886 at the White House, the only president to have been married in the Executive Mansion. Their age difference of 27 years is the second largest of any presidential marriage (behind that of John Tyler).
Frances was the object of close media interest. She took over the duties of being White House hostess, and her charm won her popularity. She held two receptions a week — one on Saturday afternoons, when women with jobs were free to come.
After President Cleveland was defeated in the 1888 presidential election, the Clevelands lived in New York City. Upon leaving the White House at the end of her husband’s first term, Cleveland is reported to have told the staff to take care of the building since the Clevelands would be returning in four years. She proved correct, becoming the only First Lady at the time to preside at two nonconsecutive administrations.
Frances Cleveland died at the age of 83 in 1947 in Baltimore. She is buried in Princeton next to President Cleveland, her first husband.