Goatview Farm - The Saint Report


July 21
Frances Folsom Cleveland
and the Baby Ruth Issue

frances folsom clevelandFrances Folsom Cleveland, the youngest First Lady, was born on this day in 1864, making her only 21 when she married Grover Cleveland in the White House on June 2, 1886. Cleveland was not merely 27 years Frances' senior, he was also her unofficial guardian since her father's death in 1875 (her father had been Cleveland's business partner), and had bought the baby Frances her first baby carriage.

Even in 1886, this was not the normal course of events and the press had as much fun with the event as any subsequent White House scandal, though this was less a scandal than just plain weird.

While the women's suffrage movement was in full swing, as a First Lady Frances Cleveland was purposely apolitical and uncontroversial other than for her youth, and was recognized as the most popular First Lady since Dolly Madison. (I must insert an editorial ARRRGGGHHH here.) She served eight years in the capacity, though the years were separated--Cleveland was defeated in his bid for re-election in 1888 and was returned to office in 1892. Two of the Clevelands' children were born in the White House, though the most famous, Baby Ruth, was born during the hiatus.

Saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Saint Praxedes, Saint Victor of Marseilles, and Saint Arbogast.
Born today: Yusuf Islam (born Stephen Demetri Georgiou and then becoming Cat Stevens)(1948), Robin Williams (1952), Garry Trudeau (1949), and Janet Reno (1938).

Baby Ruth? Like the candy bar? That's what the candy bar manufacturer said, though for the first time, when it took Babe Ruth to court to prevent his putting out his own Babe Ruth candy bar. However, the days of Baby Ruth Cleveland and Babe Ruth, Home Run King, did not overlap. Baby Ruth died in 1904 at the age of 12 (I don't know of what--all I could find was "got sick and died") and the candy bar was put out in 1921, two years after an already-famous Babe Ruth had joined the Yankees. Incidentally, in the name infringement case the court made its decision in favor of the candy bar manufacturer without taking the derivation of the name into consideration; it felt it was not relevant.

Cleveland died in 1908 and Frances married a Princeton archaeology professor five years later. She died October 29, 1947, in Princeton, New Jersey, where she was still active in campus life.

In this new role, I wonder if Frances were ever confronted by people who felt that the intercession of a popular First Lady could have given women the vote a few years sooner? I wonder if her conscience gave her a bite in the butt every time she cast a ballot? I wonder if she ever got some Professional Help for that father thing?


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Marilyn Jones 2000-2008