Famous courtships shaped through pen and paper
Letters have connected lovers and family through the decades. From war to the White House, the ritual of writing love letters has influenced countless relationships.
Some of America’s most expressive love letters were penned by the most powerful men in the country — American presidents. These commanders in chief show their most tender moments and thoughts through letters written to their girlfriends, wives and children. Some even vie for marriage commitments.
Without this tried and true form of communication, it’s possible that marriages such as Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson’s would never have happened.
Below are just two examples of presidents who used passionate prose in their private lives.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Johnson and Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor began their 10-week whirlwind courtship — in which they exchanged almost 90 letters — in September 1934. They married Nov. 17, 1934.
In Johnson’s letters, he frequently asks Lady Bird to marry him, proclaiming his desire to be married as soon as possible. Lady Bird, however, expresses her concern for such a short courtship before marriage.
“It’s an important decision,” Johnson wrote. “It isn’t being made in one night…but your lack of decision hasn’t tempered either my affection, devotion or ability to know what I want.”
Lady Bird replied, “Sort of put me on the spot, didn’t it dear? All I can say, in absolute honesty, is — I love you, I don’t know how everlastingly I love you — so I can’t answer you yet.”
While still in college, around his 20th birthday, Theodore Roosevelt met and fell in love with his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. Almost two dozen letters display the passion and young love the Rough Rider had for Alice.
“Sweetest little wife, I think all the time of my little laughing, teasing beauty, and how pretty she is, and how she goes to sleep in my arms, and I could almost cry I love you so,” he once wrote to Alice.
Alice died shortly after giving birth to their daughter. Roosevelt remarried the following year, and had five more children. While they were growing up, Roosevelt would write to his children regularly, sending them illustrations and reminding them of his love. These letters were later compiled into a book, Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to his Children.