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Frances Cleveland's French Lessons

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Frances Cleveland, the bright and beautiful young wife of President Grover Cleveland, was much in demand on the social scene of Washington, D.C., and devised a novel way to set aside several hours a week for her French lessons. Her French teacher would go for a ride with Mrs. Cleveland, driven by Coachman Albert Hawkins, one morning each week. In the privacy of the carriage the first lady could take her lessons undisturbed. Mrs. Cleveland became so absorbed that she would often direct Hawkins in French. With a grin and a nod, Hawkins smartly replied, "Oui, Oui Madame." The veteran coachman came to the White House during the Grant administration and his ability to handle the situation without a pause afforded Mrs. Cleveland and her teacher great amusement.

Portrait of Frances Cleveland by Frances B. Johnston, 1886.

Library of Congress

This custom-made landau was built for President Grover Cleveland at a cost of $2,000 in 1885.

The Hub, New York, N.Y.