Being president of the United States is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and stressful jobs in the world. Although there are doubtless many ways to deal with all that stress, it can’t be denied that many of our presidents tend to choose risky business as their main form of recreation. Whether it’s JFK sleeping with mob-moll Judith Exner, Abe Lincoln sharing underwear with men, or Bill Clinton in the Oval with a cigar, one thing is clear: infidelity in the White House is as American as apple pie.
#13 Ellen Rometsch: East German Spy
Ellen Rometsch has the “honor” of having sex with two American presidents: John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford. Complicating her efforts is the fact that she came from East Germany, then married a West German military officer who was stationed in Washington D.C., which made it probable that she was an East German and Soviet spy.
Ellen was said to look like Elizabeth Taylor. Ellen worked as a hostess at the Quorum Club, a place where male politicians went for casual hookups. She ran prostitutes and also acted as an escort herself. During this time, Ellen had sex with Gerald Ford, then a young Michigan Congressman.
JFK had a passionate affair with Ellen, and told one of LBJ’s staffers that she had considerable prowess at oral sex. The FBI suspected she was a Soviet spy. Once this was revealed to Bobby Kennedy, he had her deported to Germany so that the affair would not become known after his brother’s death.
Ford’s affair happened while he was serving on the Warren Commission, investigating the death of JFK. FBI head J. Edgar Hoover had an audio tape of Ford having sex with Ellen and he used it for blackmail, so that he would be kept in the loop about the Warren Commission.
#12 William Rufus King: “Aunt Fancy”
In 1857, when America elected James Buchanan as president, they may have unwittingly voted for the first gay president in US history. Buchanan was a lifelong bachelor who shared his home with William Rufus King, a Democratic senator and Vice President from Alabama, for 10 full years. King and Buchanan never really hid their relationship. One Democratic politician wrote to the wife of President James Polk, calling King Buchanan’s “better half,” “his wife” and “Aunt Fancy … rigged out in her best clothes.”
When King accepted an overseas appointment in 1844, Buchanan was fairly obvious about their relationship. “I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me,” Buchanan wrote. “I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”
When King returned, he resumed his relationship with Buchanan, which only ended when King died in 1853. King served as Franklin Pierce’s Vice President for 45 days before succumbing to tuberculosis. King was also a lifelong bachelor. King and Buchanan requested that their nieces burn most of their correspondences, and the nieces complied.
Although modern people like to think that there is an arc of progress that means people are simply more tolerant today, homosexuality was not unheard of in the mid-19th century. Indeed, Walt Whitman was a gay poet living at the same time as Buchanan and Abe Lincoln, who also appears later on this list!
#11 Nan Britton: First Kiss-And-Tell-All
Nan Britton fell in love with Warren G. Harding when she was a 16 year old girl growing up in Harding’s hometown of Marion, Ohio. Her eventual relationship with Harding spawned the country’s first “kiss and tell” book. Britton idolized the young Senator, putting posters of him up on her bedroom wall. Later, she moved to New York to become a secretary. Britton carried on an affair with Harding when he was Senator and President, once having sex in a coat closet in the White House.
Britton claimed she had a daughter by Harding in a 1928 book called “The President’s Daughter.” Harding, who had been married during their affair, died suddenly in 1923. Britton claimed that he promised to care for their daughter but Harding’s widow never paid anything to the young child or her mother. Britton was destitute and wrote the book to help support the family and to champion the rights of illegitimate children.
Britton was savaged by Congress and media during her lifetime. She, her daughter and grandchildren were all hounded by critics for their claims about Harding. Finally, in 2015, Ancestry.com did DNA testing of Britton’s grandchildren and confirmed that they were indeed related to Harding.
Unfortunately Harding’s daughter Elizabeth never met her father and passed away in 2005, 10 years before her paternity was vindicated.
#10 Joshua Speed: Love of Lincoln’s Life
In 1829, a 20-year old Abraham Lincoln wrote a poem about gay marriage. Although historians conclude it was a joking rebuke to a friend who had not invited Lincoln to his wedding, the idea that a frontiersman from Kentucky considered the concept of marriage between men is shocking.
For Rubin and Charles has married two girls /
But Billy has married a boy
Questions about Lincoln’s sexuality have gained more credibility as homosexuality has become less of a taboo. The man who is the most frequent subject of Lincoln speculation is his lifelong best friend, Joshua Speed. Lincoln lived above Speed’s store while in the legislature in Springfield. Shortly thereafter, the two started sleeping in the same bed. This was not unusual for the time, except for one thing: if there was enough room for people to sleep alone, they did so. Lincoln and Speed eventually lived in a large house, but slept together every night for four years.
By 1840, Speed and Lincoln were ages 26 and 31, respectively. It was unusual for men to be unmarried at their ages. Their letters show that both men were unhappy that marriage was “required.” When Speed married and moved away, Lincoln suffered a nervous breakdown so intense that friends feared he would commit suicide. Although Lincoln was engaged to eventual-wife Mary Todd, he broke the engagement on the day of the wedding.
Lincoln wrote to Speed after Speed’s wedding. “When this shall reach you, you will have been Fanny’s husband several days. You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting — that I will never cease, while I know how to do any thing…
“I hope with tolerable confidence, that this letter is a plaster for a place that is no longer sore. God grant it may be so.
“I would desire you to give my particular respects to Fanny, but perhaps you will not wish her to know you have received this, lest she should desire to see it. Make her write me an answer to my last letter to her at any rate. I would set great value upon another letter from her.
“P.S. I have not been quite a man ever since you left.”
Two years later, Lincoln finally married Mary Todd. Although his frequent attempts to get Speed to move to Washington DC failed, when Speed visited the two resumed the arrangement, sleeping inside the same bedroom while Lincoln lived at the White House.
#9 Lt. David Derickson
In 1862, Lincoln met David Derickson, who was his personal bodyguard while Lincoln served as president. Several witnesses at the time remarked about their peculiarly close relationship. Tish Fox, the wife of Assistant Naval Officer Gustavus Fox, wrote that “when Mrs. Lincoln was away, they slept together.”
Thomas Chamberlain, who was Derickson’s supervisor, wrote a memoir about the Civil War which contained this passage:
“Capt. Derickson, in particular, advanced so far in the president’s confidence and esteem that in Mrs. Lincoln’s absence he frequently spent the night at his cottage, sleeping in the same bed with him, and — it is said — making use of his excellency’s nightshirt! Thus began an intimacy which continued unbroken until the following spring … ”
Lincoln was in his mid-50s at the time and was the President of the United States. Despite his position of prominence, he was so connected to Derickson that other acquaintances though it notable enough to discuss their sleeping and clothing arrangements.
#8 Judith Exner
JFK had a relationship with Judith Exner while he was president. The two were introduced by Frank Sinatra while in Las Vegas, when Kennedy was still a Senator. The affair continued after JFK was elected President. In 1962, FBI Director J Edgar Hoover confronted Kennedy with evidence that Exner had mob ties. After the confrontation, JFK tried to break it off with Exner.
Exner claims that during their final meeting, the two had sex and she became pregnant. Exner said she had an abortion. In the 1970s, a Congressional committee investigating attempts to murder Fidel Castro. They subpoenaed Exner, who told them about the affair. she also said Kennedy used her to carry messages back and forth with Sam Giancanna, a mob boss who was an old associated of his father Joseph Kennedy back during Prohibition.
Giancanna allegedly arranged for the abortion, and then he had his own affair with Exner.
Judith Exner said she never peeked inside the messages she carried. “Jack never in a million years thought he was doing anything that would hurt me, but that’s the way he conducted himself; the Kennedys have their own set of rules,” she said. “Jack was reckless, so reckless.”
#7 Monica Lewinsky
We all remember Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who ended up having an affair with Bill Clinton. The ensuing investigation turned up lurid details like the two playing with a cigar and Monica keeping a dress that Clinton ejaculated on.
The young girl who once worked as an intern and had her life ruined by Clinton and investigator Kenneth Starr eventually positioned herself well above the gossipy fray. After 10 years of almost total silence, a 40-year old Lewinsky began a writing career in 2014. “I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past.”
Lewinsky maintained that her relationship with the president was consensual. “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”
When other people who had affairs with Bill Clinton couldn’t wait to insert themselves into the 2016 presidential election, Lewinsky refused to play their games, reportedly turning down as much as $10 million for interviews. Lewinsky is now an anti-bullying advocate and sociologist.
#6 Kay Summersby
Dwight Eisenhower had an affair with Kay Summersby while he was a general during World War II. She was his Jeep driver and secretary. He was away from his wife for three years during the War. Eisenhower cut ties with the woman as soon as he returned to the US, but the damage was already done.
Eventually letters between the two were published. When Eisenhower had been dead for seven years, and Summersby was dying, she wrote the book “Past Forgetting: My Love Affair With Dwight D. Eisenhower.” Others confirmed the affair. Harry Truman told his biographer that then-General Eisenhower had written to General of the Army George C. Marshall, asking to return from Europe to the United States to get a divorce from his wife, Mamie, but Marshall refused him permission.
Truman said he eventually discovered letters from Eisenhower to Summersby and “one of the last things I did as President, I got those letters from his file in the Pentagon, and I destroyed them.” But new letters resurfaced in the 1991 and were auctioned by Sotheby’s. In one letter, written after he had returned to Washington, Ike requests a copy of her diary, which she provided. It was presumably destroyed.
#5 Lucy Mercer
When Franklin D. Roosevelt first started his affair with Lucy Mercer in 1918, letters between the two were discovered by Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor, who offered to release him from the marriage. FDR refused after his mother advised him that divorce, plus re-marriage to a Catholic, could doom his political future. Instead, FDR promised not to see Mercer and persuaded Eleanor to stay married to him.
However, Roosevelt’s affair with Mercer never really ended and the two were in close contact for thirty years. James Roosevelt, the oldest son, said his parents’ marriage was an “armed truce” for the rest of their lives.”I have the memory of an elephant. I can forgive, but never forget,” wrote Eleanor.
Although Mercer eventually married, after her husband divorced in 1944, she was free to spend more time with FDR. On April 12, 1944, Mercer brought her friend Elizabeth Shoumatoff to FDR’s Warm Springs home to paint his portrait. FDR collapsed and died. Shoumatoff and Mercer packed up and fled the home, and her presence on the day of his death was hidden. Eleanor was not at the home that day.
Mercer died in 1948. She had burned and destroyed nearly their entire correspondence over 30 years.
#4 Jennifer Fitzgerald
Jennifer Fitzgerald started out as George H.W. Bush’s secretary and wound up being what many described as his “office wife.” Fitzgerald met hims when he was posted to Beijing’s a special envoy to China.
“I don’t know what particular skills she brought to the job,” recalled one former member of China office. “She certainly couldn’t type.” Barbara Bush suddenly left China in order to spend the holidays in the U.S., leaving Bush to spend 12 days in Hawaii with Fitzgerald. Bush’s mother, Dotty, was so concerned about the affair she counseled Barbara to update her look and get more involved in her son’s career.
When Bush returned to the U.S. and became Director of the CIA, she went with him. She remained his secretary and more when he became Vice President. It was during Bush’s time as Veep when the two shared a cottage in Switzerland while on official visit to the country in 1984. Louis Fields suggested this was possible because Barbara Bush was on a book tour, promoting her story about the Bush family dog.
Bush had several close calls with Fitzgerald during the time Ronald Reagan was president. Nancy Reagan reportedly loved to gossip about Bush’s love life. During one incident, Al Haig and William French Smith rushed from a dinner in order to rescue George Bush.
“The two men returned about 45 minutes later, laughing their heads off. They said they had had to bail out George Bush, who’d been in a traffic accident with his girlfriend. Bush had not wanted the incident to appear on the (Washington) DC police blotter, so he had his security men contact Haig and Smith. They took care of things for him, then came back to dinner.”
On another occasion, Bush was visiting Fitzgerald in her apartment near the Chinese Embassy when a fire broke out. Security had to hustle Bush out of the building before the fire department arrived.
When Bush was elected president in 1988, Fitzgerald moved along with him again. This time, aides were prepared to do battle over her influence over the President, so they maneuvered to have her direct supervisor be James Baker, the no-nonsense Secretary of State who was the only person who could stare down Fitzgerald.
The Fitzgerald-Bush affair was front page news during the presidential campaign of 1992, but no one remembers it because of Bill Clinton’s many affairs.
#3 Marilyn Monroe
John F. Kennedy had many known mistresses. Of course the most famous was Marilyn Monroe. They allegedly hooked up for the first time at Bing Crosby’s house in 1962. The evidence? Marilyn’s biographer, Donald Spoto, Monroe called her personal massage therapist, Ralph Roberts, from the same bedroom phone where JFK was located at Crosby’s house. The call was related to JFK’s back problems, and Monroe recommended Roberts.
Roberts eventually told Spoto:
“Marilyn told me that this night in March was the only time of her “affair” with JFK. Of course she was titillated beyond belief, because for a year he had been trying, through Lawford, to have an evening with her. A great many people thought, after that weekend, that there was more to it. But Marilyn gave me the impression that it was not a major event for either of them: it happened once, that weekend, and that was that.”
Their next official meeting was at JFK’s birthday party at Madison Square Garden, on May 19, 1962, where she memorably wished him a Happy Birthday.
However, Monroe also had an affair with JFK’s brother, Bobby. Their romance got started on the night of the birthday party, when Monroe pinned him against he wall. The two then had a torrid affair that lasted for at least three months. Monroe then mysteriously died on August 5, 1962, leading some to believe that there was foul play involved.
#2 Condoleeza Rice
Condoleeza Rice was the Secretary of State and George W. Bush’s close confidant. She was also his mistress. Rice made a major gaffe during her tenure, once referring to bush as “my husband” during an interview. Laura Bush reportedly moved out of the White House for a time when Bush was drinking and romancing Condoleeza. Rice has never married.
Few details had been known regarding the depth of their relationship until 2015, when a former White House Chef wrote a tell-all book. Ronnie Seaton was an on-call chef at the White House for 32 years. Seaton described Bush as a man who liked whiskey and pot. After one particularly late night meeting between Rice and Bush – Seaton served them soup and rice pilaf – the two adjourned for an even more late-night meeting, a la President Fitzgerald and Olivia from the TV show, Scandal.
An amazed kitchen staff later witnessed Laura Bush confronting George about their meeting. “She told him that she found out he stayed there a little too late and something else happened — something more than just a meeting,” said Seaton.
Seaton said the staff were shocked because Rice was always so professional. Laura even threatened to cut off George’s penis if he strayed again. “She told him if it happens again he wasn’t going to be able to use it again— that she was going to cut it off.”
#1 Sally Hemings
For years, descendants of slave Sally Hemings (below) insisted she had a relationship with her owner, Thomas Jefferson. The biographers and Jefferson family denied it – until a DNA test done on Hemmings’ descendants proved that they were related to Thomas Jefferson. The rumors that Hemings had six children by Jefferson are true.
Sally Hemings was the youngest child of a slave and a white slave-owner, John Wales. When Wales died, ownership of Sally and 134 other slaves passed to Wales’ oldest daughter, Martha, who happened to be married to Thomas Jefferson. Sally was 25 years younger than Martha.
Hemings spent two years with Jefferson when he was a special envoy to France. Martha Jefferson had died and Jefferson was a widower. Meanwhile, France had outlawed slavery, and Hemings, along with her brother James, who was training as a chef, could have petitioned for their freedom. However, Hemings became pregnant at age 16 by Jefferson. He promised that if she returned to Virginia with him, still a slave, he would free her and their children.
Jefferson did not free the children, but Hemings gave birth to six more children by Jefferson. None of them were recorded in Jefferson’s “farm” diary, where he listed the birth of other slaves. Some of the children ran away and entered white society. Harriet Hemings, his daughter, was the only slave Jefferson ever freed, deciding not to send out slave-catchers when she ran away. He allowed two of his sons to buy their freedom. In his will, he freed his male children, and petitioned Virginia to allow them to remain in the state as free men.
Although Jefferson’s family denied paternity, in the 20th century DNA analysis made it possible to test their claims that a white overseer was the probable father. Testing concluded that the overseer was not the father, but the children were indeed related to Jefferson. Both the National Genealogical Society and Jefferson Foundation concluded Jefferson was the father of all of Hemings’ children.
Three of the four surviving children of Hemings and Jefferson identified as white and married into white society in the North. Only one, Madison Hemings, continued to associate with the black community.