April 18, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Presidents and Sex Scandals

3 min read
Kay Summersby and Dwight Eisenhower

Kay Summersby and Dwight Eisenhower

Presidents and Their Sex Scandals–A Long Running Tradition

Presidents and their Sex Scandals
Presidents and their Sex Scandals

I mean, really? Does anyone believe this stuff?

That being said, it wouldn’t be the first President of the United States to partake in a sexual relationship leading to a national scandal.

Anyone living today–and old enough to be surfing the web to read this–remembers the following:

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” – Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

This affair, with Monica Lewinsky, led to President Bill Clinton being impeached by the House of Representatives. (He was later acquitted by the Senate.) His career came to a stand still; however, it did launch the career of his wife, Hillary Clinton. In fact, in a video by Youtube sensation Philip Defranco, while covering the previous nights coverage of the 2013 Golden Globes, he referred to him as “Hillary Clinton’s husband.” Any other former president would have been recognized by name, but his scandal lowered his status to that below his wife’s.

But surely there were more infidelities–scandal’s of presidents past?

Yep, and here they are! Having started with President Clinton, we will now work backwards in time through some of my favorite sex scandals.

John F. Kennedy

Who do you think you were fooling, Kennedy? The most famous of your ladies was Marilyn Monroe, but let’s face it. America was well aware of all the others. During John F. Kennedy’s presidency, reporter R.W. Apple, Jr. of the New York Times observed a beautiful woman being escorted in the president’s suite. He took the information to the editor and was told, “Apple, you’re supposed to report on political and diplomatic policies, not girlfriends. No story.” It was a time when the President of the United States was invincible, and the media was uninterested in getting on his bad side. The story was squashed, but the infamy of his sexcapades rivals his assassination.

Dwight Eisenhower
Kay Summersby and Dwight Eisenhower
Kay Summersby and Dwight Eisenhower

While Eisenhower was a General during World War II, he was driven by Kay Summersby. Spending so much time with her, he couldn’t help but fall in love. As the writers at Guyism: What Guy’s Need to Know put it, “how could a man like him resist the romantic overtures of a temptress who was obviously proficient at working a stick like his driver, Ms. Summersby?” (I know, crude.) The affair went on for years, but if you want a full description of their love-making, check out: Past Forgetting: My Love Affair with Dwight D. EisenhowerThat’s right, six years after his death, Kay Summersby published a tell-all book about their relationship.

Warren Harding

President Harding was powerful, but not powerful enough to keep his private love life out of the court system. President Harding was involved in two major sex scandals. The first of these was with Carrie Phillips, the wife of one of his friends. Along with their sex came lots and lots of love letters. Where are these letters now? Sealed by the courts. However, you won’t have to wait long. An article in The Blade, a Toledo, Ohio, newspaper from December 30, 1971, states that the love letters will be sealed until 2014. Unfortunately, this would not be the worst of it. Four years after the death of President Harding, Nan Britton, published a book entitled, The President’s Daughter, which not only told of their romps, but–you guessed it–accused him of fathering her child.

Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland and Maria Crofts Halpin
Grover Cleveland and Maria Crofts Halpin

President Cleveland’s sex scandal started long before his presidency, but I deem it worth mentioning because it did affect his chances of becoming President. Before Grover Cleveland became president he had relations with a Maria Halpin. She accused him of fathering her bastard child, and Cleveland didn’t deny it. Poor Maria Halpin became such a heavy drinker, Cleveland had her committed to a mental hospital and sent his child to an orphanage. Maria Halpin was released from the institution and Cleveland gave her $500 to disappear. (Roughly $10,000 dollars in 1880 money.)

What I find most interesting about this is how it almost cost him the presidency. While campaigning, the story became widely know and often crowds followed Grover Cleveland and chanted,

Ma, ma, where’s my pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!

Somehow with all this…Grover Cleveland became President twice, both in 1885 and 1893.


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