Grover Cleveland, Frances Folsom’s wedding: The only U.S. president to marry inside the White House

Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom made history when they wed on June 2, 1886. 

Cleveland is the only president in history to be married inside the White House. They were married in the Blue Room, according to the White House Historical Association. Their marriage also made Folsom the youngest first lady to date, as she was only 21 years old when they wed. 

Folsom was the daughter of a longtime friend and law partner of Cleveland’s named Oscar Folsom. Cleveland knew Folsom from birth and was nearly 30 years older. 

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After Folsom’s father died, Cleveland became the administrator of the family estate and guided the young Folsom by providing educational advice to her, according to the White House website. 

Cleveland was the first Democrat elected president after the Civil War. When Cleveland took office for his first term in 1885, he was unmarried. With her mother’s permission, Cleveland sent letters to Folsom while she was going to school at Wells College in New York, according to History.com. 

In one of his letters, he proposed to Folsom, according to the source. Their engagement was kept under wraps until just before the wedding. 

On June 2, 1886, Cleveland and Folsom got married in the White House. Their wedding was a small event, attended by only 28 guests, according to History.com. Rev. William Neal Cleveland, the president’s brother, officiated the wedding along with Rev. Bryon Sutherland, according to the source. 

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Music was provided by the United States Marine Band under the direction of John Philip Sousa. 

Prior to Cleveland’s marriage to Folsom, his sister, Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, fulfilled the duties of the first lady.

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As first lady, Folsom held two receptions every week, one of which took place on Saturday so women who were employed could attend, according to the White House website. 

Cleveland ran for a second consecutive term but lost to Benjamin Harrison. During the next election, he ran again and was re-elected, bringing him and his wife back into the White House. To date, Cleveland is the only president to leave the White House and be re-elected. 

Cleveland and Folsom had five children together. Their first, Ruth, was born in 1891 after Cleveland lost the election. Ruth died at age 12 from diphtheria. Their second child, Esther, was born in 1893, during Cleveland’s return to the White House. Their third child, Marion, was born in 1895. In 1897, their fourth child, Richard, was born, followed by the youngest, Francis, in 1903. 

Cleveland died June 24, 1908, when he was 71. Five years after his death, Folsom married Thomas J. Preston Jr., a professor of archeology. 

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When Folsom died Oct. 29, 1947, she was buried next to Cleveland in Princeton, New Jersey.