Rose Elizabeth Cleveland
June 13, 1846
November 26, 1918, Bagni di Lucca, Italy
Grover Cleveland was a bachelor when he became president, and so he asked his 38-year-old and single sister, Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, to serve as the official hostess. Rose was academically inclined and taught literature at the college level. As acting first lady, she was better known for her serious nature than her fashion sense and entertainment skills. She shied away from politics and chose to spend much of her time writing and socializing with her literary and theater friends. Although Rose was not a presidential spouse, she became the first acting first lady to publish books she wrote during her time in the White House. Her first book was titled George Eliot’s Poetry and Other Studies and became a large success, earning $25,000 in 1885. The next year Rose wrote and published a second book that explored American culture, You and I: Or Moral, Intellectual and Social Culture.
During the second year of his presidency, Cleveland married Frances Folsom and she subsequently served as first lady for the remainder of Cleveland’s first term through 1889 and then the entirety of his second term in the years 1893-1897.
In her 1888 book Social Mirror: A Complete Treatise on the Laws, Rules and Usages that Govern Our Most Refined Homes and Social Circles, Rose writes, “It is by contact with humanity that we become more tender, more unselfish, more sympathetic, more wise, and less egotistic.”