The personal lives of the United States Presidents have been the subject of much curiosity and speculation over the years. While many are remembered for their political achievements, some have also gained notoriety for their extramarital affairs. From Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton, there have been several presidents who have been involved in scandals related to their romantic relationships.
While some of these affairs were kept secret for years, others were widely known and had a significant impact on the president’s reputation and legacy. This partial list explores the intimate lives of the commanders-in-chief, shedding light on the affairs that have shaped their personal and political histories.
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809): Jefferson was believed to have had a long-term affair with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings who was purported to be the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife. It is believed that he sired at least 6 of her children, 4 of who survived into adulthood and who were proclaimed free by Jefferson in their later years. There is a detailed accounting at Monticello.org
Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding (1921-1923): Harding had multiple extramarital affairs, including one with a woman named Carrie Fulton Phillips. She kept hundreds of their love letters, which were later used to blackmail Harding. The affair was documented in several biographies, including “The Shadow of Blooming Grove” by Francis Russell. You may find their correspondences in the Library Of Congress collection here.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945): Roosevelt had a long-term affair with his wife’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer. The affair was discovered by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1918, but they remained married. The affair was documented in the book 1972 Pulitzer Prize winning biography “Eleanor and Franklin” by Joseph P. Lash.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961): Eisenhower was reported to have had an affair with his driver and personal assistant, Kay Summersby, during World War II. The relationship was documented in the book “Ike’s Mystery Man” by Peter Carlson. Though more recent articles throw doubt on the story as noted here in this article in the Washington Post.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963): Kennedy had multiple extramarital affairs, including one with a White House intern named Mimi Alford. The affair was documented in her book “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.” You can read more about this book in this article from the New York Times.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969): Johnson had a long-term affair with a woman named Alice Marsh. The affair was documented in the book “The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate” by Robert A. Caro.
Bill Clinton (1993-2001): Clinton had a well-known affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment. The affair was documented in Lewinsky’s book “Monica’s Story” and in several other books, including “The Death of American Virtue” by Ken Gormley.
Donald Trump (2017-2021): Trump had multiple extramarital affairs, including one with pornographic actress Stormy Daniels. The affair was documented in her book “Full Disclosure” and in several news articles.
The Jury Is Still Out On These Presidents
Gerald Ford was believed to have had a sexual encounter with a woman, Ellen Rometsch, who was later deported to Eastern Germany. She also was purported to have been sexually involved with John F. Kennedy.
George HW Bush was reported in several biographies to have had an 18 year long affair with a former aide, Jennifer Fitzgerald which he vehemently denied – but apparently his wife Barbara spoke about in interviews for the books.
Grover Cleveland was accused of sexual assault by Maria Halpin. The assault resulted in the birth of a child he had forcibly removed from the mother and had her imprisoned in an insane asylum.
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