Rose Cleveland was “a woman of unusual gifts, of large and varied information, of vigorous views and strong convictions.” Born in New York in 1846, she was the youngest of Richard and Ann Cleveland’s nine children and the sister of future President Grover Cleveland, who was nine years her senior. Miss Cleveland attended school at Houghton Seminary, taught in Pennsylvania and New York, and exhibited a particular passion for literature.
When her unmarried older brother became president in 1885, Miss Cleveland moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as White House hostess. As first lady, she hosted traditional receptions and dinners at the White House while also pursuing her own academic interests. For example, although Miss Cleveland was only first lady for fifteen months, she found time to author two books: George Eliot's Poetry and Other Studies (1885) and You and I: Moral, Intellectual and Social Culture (1886). Despite Rose Cleveland’s preference for intellectual pursuits over social gatherings, her receptions were well-attended and she was well-liked. On June 2, 1886, President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in the Blue Room, and his new bride took over as first lady.
After leaving the White House, Rose Cleveland spent her years teaching and writing, and remained a frequent visitor at the Executive Mansion. She published a third book, The Soliloquies of St. Augustine in 1910, and during the final years of her life, she had a romantic relationship with Evangeline Marrs Whipple, an activist and philanthropist. A number of their love letters are in the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society. The two women moved to Bagni di Lucca, Italy together in 1912, where they lived until Rose Cleveland passed away from the Spanish Flu in 1918. They are buried next to each other in the Bagni di Lucca English Cemetery.
You Might Also Like
The First Ladies Symposium Videos
The First Ladies Symposium
The First Ladies Symposium Contributors
Jill BidenJill Tracy Jacobs Biden was born on June 3, 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey. Growing up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, she...
The First Ladies Symposium Schedule
May 6, 2021This program will be virtual9:00-9:15amWelcome and Overview Jill Biden, First Lady of the United StatesAnita McBride, Director...
Mid-Century Fashion and the First Ladies: From Ready-to-Wear to Haute Couture
Foreword, William SealeThe Style of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: Fashion and Frugality in Times of Depression and War, Morgan BlattenbergThe...
The First Ladies
Read Digital EditionForeword, William SealeThe Office of the First Lady: Managing Public Duties, Private Lives, and Changing Expectations, Anita B....
First Ladies' Private Lives
In the early decades of the republic a president's wife, like other wives, seldom displayed her private life to the...
Collection Animal Ambassadors
Animals, whether pampered household pets, working livestock, birds, squirrels, or strays, have long been a major part of White House...
Podcast Conversations from History Happy Hour
In this first episode of 2021, White House Historical Association President Stewart D. McLaurin introduces the Association’s popular virtual program Hi...
Collection The Presidents
Biographies & Portraits
Podcast Entertaining at the White House
From diplomatic dinners to holiday gatherings, the White House has always played a central role in the nation’s official en...
Collection Women and the White House
While there has yet to be a female president, women have played an integral role in shaping the White House...