With so much attention being paid to President Trumpâ€™s alleged extramarital affairs by the â€śget Trumpâ€ť cadre of press and politicians, I thought I would do a little research on the subject. What I found was volumes of information that date as far back as George Washington. The research divulged a lot of information that appears to be factual, and a fairly equal amount that seems to be mere gossipy speculations; unverified.
In doing some research, here are some of the names of presidents who have been suspected of having extra marital affairs . . . some suspected gossip and not proven, many verified; in random order: Chester A. Arthur, Warren Harding, John Tyler, William Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, Calvin Coolidge, James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, James Garfield and Andrew Jackson. Please, donâ€™t take this list as an accusation, as you will see, the â€śevidenceâ€ť for some of the names listed is more gossip than fact. However, here are a few thumbnail bits of information . . .
â€” Thomas Jefferson was a widower and his mistress, Sally Hemings, was his slave. She herself was the daughter of Jeffersonâ€™s father-in-law and his female slave. Historians tended to dismiss the rumors of this relationship as gossip spread by Jeffersonâ€™s enemies. However in 1998, DNA testing on Jeffersonâ€™s descendants showed that the president or one of his close male relatives was highly likely to be the father of Hemingsâ€™ last son, Eston. A later study by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation also concluded that Jefferson was likely the father of at least one of Hemingsâ€™ six children.
â€” James Buchanan was our countryâ€™s only bachelor president. His fiancĂ©, Ann Coleman, died before he was elected and he remained unmarried his entire life. Buchanan had a very close relationship with William Rufus De Vane King, a diplomat who served as U.S. senator and the nation’s 13th vice president â€”coincidentally, the only vice president to never have married. Reports are that Buchanan was openly gay.
â€” Dwight Eisenhower was reported to have a very close relationship with his military driver, Kay Summersby. The relationship is said to have ended when he returned to the United States at warâ€™s end.
â€” Warren Harding was said to have had relationships with Nan Britton and with Carrie Fulton. There is some sketchy information that Fulton blackmailed him.
â€” Andrew Jackson is said to have married his wife before she had completed her divorce from her husband.
â€” President Roosevelt (FDR) had an on-going relationship with Lucy Mercer. Word is that because of that relationship, Eleanor Roosevelt also had a relationship outside of marriage.
â€” John Kennedy was a known womanizer and had a number of relationships while in the White House.
â€” Lyndon Johnson, Kennedyâ€™s successor, also had many extra marital relationships.
â€” There was much gossip about George Washington being infatuated with his neighbor and friend Sarah â€śSallyâ€ť Fairfax, but never proven.
â€” In the 1880â€™s, as he was preparing to run for a second term, Chester A. Arthur was plagued with rumors that he was keeping a mistress. He told a friend that the rumor was â€śworse than an assassination.â€ť
â€” Most readers are familiar with the many extra marital exploits of William Clinton.
â€” Calvin Coolidge was reported to have had a relationship with a Mimi Alford. (Silent Cal . . . who woulda thought?)
â€” There has been some unverified speculation that Ronald Reagan engaged in an extramarital affair during the time he was married to Nancy.
â€” There have been some gossip/rumors about George H. W. Bush having some extra marital affairs. However, some reports say that the rumors were being spread by Democrats to lessen the reports of Clintonâ€™s dalliances.
â€” There are also reports about Abraham Lincoln having a couple of affairs with men. The first with his body-guard, David Derickson and another relationship that lasted four years with a man named Joshua Speed.
It appears that many of our leaders were somewhat lacking in fidelity and many more were subject to gossip about whether they were or not. And, as we are all aware, the charges continue today concerning President Trumpâ€™s history with a number of women. In the two cases under discussion, one a Playboy model and the other a porn “star,” it appears their claims may have some substance. However, the claims also raise some significant legal questions . . . in each case, the alleged sexual activity was said to be consensual and, in neither case, was money expected or exchanged. What is interesting is that when President Trump was running for or became president, each of the women then sought some recompense for their past relationship. While Iâ€™m not a lawyer, it seems that an obvious question ought to be: Is their action extortion? It would seem so as in each case, a payoff was being demanded for simply keeping quiet about the past consensual relationship.
Feel free to disagree.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident. He may be reached at email@example.com)