- NAME: Frances Cleveland
- OCCUPATION: U.S. First Lady
- BIRTH DATE: July 21, 1864
- DEATH DATE: October 29, 1947
- EDUCATION: Wells College, Central School, Medina Academy for Boys and Girls, Miss Bissell's School for Young Ladies
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Buffalo, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: Baltimore, Maryland
- Originally: Frances Clara Folsom
- AKA: Frances Cleveland Preston
- Full Name: Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland Preston
- AKA: Frances Cleveland
- Nickname: Frankie
- Nickname: Frank
Best Known For
When Frances Cleveland married Grover Cleveland, she became the youngest first lady ever, and the first to be married in the White House.
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Frances Cleveland was born on July 21, 1864, in Buffalo, New York. She married President Grover Cleveland on June 2, 1886. The couple had four daughters and two sons. Grover Cleveland died in 1908, and Frances remarried in 1913. Frances became active in the Needlework Guild during World War I, later serving as its national president from 1925 to 1940. She died on October 29, 1947, in Baltimore, Maryland.
"I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the [White] house, for I want to find everything just as it is now when we come back again four years from today."
Frances Cleveland was born Frances Clara Folsom on July 21, 1864, in Buffalo, New York. Her father, an attorney named Oscar, died in a carriage accident two days after Frances' ninth birthday. Her mother, Emma Harmon, would eventually remarry. Frances had one sibling, a sister named Nellie.
Frances received her early education at Miss Bissell's School for Young Ladies, followed by the Medina Academy for Boys and Girls. She left Central [High] School in Buffalo in her senior year, but completed the necessary coursework to earn her diploma. In 1882 she enrolled at Wells College in Aurora, New York. After graduating in 1885, Frances and her mother spent nine months traveling throughout Europe.
In the spring of 1885, while visiting Washington, D.C., with her mother, Frances received a marriage proposal from Grover Cleveland, the president of the United States. Upon returning from her trip to Europe, at 21 years old, Frances married the president in the White House's Blue Room on June 2, 1886. By doing so, Frances became the youngest-ever U.S. presidential first lady. She was also the only first lady ever to have been married at the White House.
After the newlyweds came home from their honeymoon in Maryland, Frances took over the title of first lady, which Grover's younger sister, Libbie, had assumed for the previous 14 months.
A statuesque beauty, Frances quickly became America's sweetheart. Before long, companies were asking her to endorse their products, somewhat to the chagrin of her husband, who feared for her safety as she was increasingly surrounded by throngs of admirers. When she accompanied the president on his tour of the southern and western United States in 1887, it only served to further her celebrity. After appearing on the covers of Harper's and Leslie's that year, "Frankie" became a fashion trendsetter for women all over the country.
Frances supported projects in Washington, including the Women's Christian Temperance Movement's "Hope and Help Project," and helped establish the Washington Home for Friendless Colored Girls.
Grover Cleveland's first term ended in 1889. He would not be reelected for a second term until 1893. In the interim, Frances gave birth to a daughter. She was pregnant again by the time her husband started his second term, and gave birth to the child in September of that year. During Cleveland's second term, Frances had a third daughter and two sons.
When Cleveland's second term ended in 1897, the family moved to Princeton, New Jersey.
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