Presidents can be softies sometimes. Yes, they wearily shoulder the burden of leading the world’s most powerful nation. But many still find time to pen mushy notes to their snookums.
This Valentine’s Day season, we thought we’d flip through presidential love letters to find the most romantic chief executives. (Spousal love letters – this is a family newspaper.)
Here’s our countdown of the top six Presidents of Luv (original spelling and punctuation preserved):
6. John Tyler. Though his decision to annex Texas led to the Mexican-American War, Tyler had a poet's sensibilities. After his first wife died early in his presidency, he courted the much younger Julia Gardener via verse. In a poem he wrote for her, he contemplated giving love a second chance:
"Shall I again that Harp unstring,
Which long hath been a useless thing,
Unheard in Lady's bower?"
Tyler and Gardiner were married in 1844, in the first wedding for a sitting US president.
5. Woodrow Wilson. Surprised? He wasn’t just a stiff obsessed with the League of Nations. He wrote hundreds of beautiful letters to his first wife, Ellen Louise Axson, who died while he was in office. Then he fell hard for Washington widow Edith Galt. “My pride and joy and gratitude that you should love me with such a perfect love are beyond all expression,” he wrote her. They married in 1915.
4. Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory fought 13 duels, many (at least nominally) over perceived insults to the honor of his wife, Rachel. “May the angelic hosts that rewards and protects virtue and innocence ... be with you until I return,” he wrote her in 1813. Tragically, Rachel died two weeks before Jackson was elected president.
3. Harry Truman. The plain-spoken Truman relied heavily on support from his wife, Bess. They exchanged handwritten letters for 50 years. On July 29, 1945, he wrote her from Germany, where he was attending the Potsdam Conference: “It made me terribly home sick when I talked with you yesterday morning.... I spent the day after the call trying to think up reasons why I should bust up the Conference and go home.”
2. Ronald Reagan. Reagan wrote his beloved Nancy constantly, with special notes for anniversaries. On March 4, 1983, he wrote, “I more than love you, I’m not whole without you.”
1. John Adams. No surprise here – Adams and his wife, Abigail, were famously close. They exchanged thousands of serious, teasing, and loving missives. “Miss Adorable,” Adams once wrote her, “I hereby order you to give [me], as many kisses, and as many hours of your company ... as [I] shall please to demand, and charge them to my account.”