When Johnny Met Louisa
Louisa Catherine Johnson, who was born in London, met John Quincy Adams at her home in Nantes, France, in 1779. She was 4; he was 12. Adams was traveling with his father, John Adams, who was on a diplomatic mission in Europe. The two met again in 1795 in London, when John was a minister to the Netherlands. He courted her, all the while telling her she’d have to improve herself if she was going to live up to his family’s standards (his father was vice president at the time). She married him anyway, in 1797, and his family made it no secret that they disapproved of the “foreigner” in their family. Nevertheless, they were married until John Quincy Adams’s death in 1848. Louisa remains the only foreign-born First Lady in U.S. history.
When Jimmy Met Ann
In the summer of 1819, James Buchanan, 28, became engaged to Ann Coleman, 23, the daughter of a wealthy iron magnate in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He spent very little time with her during the first months of the engagement, being extremely busy at his law office, and rumors swirled that he was seeing other women and was only marrying her for her money. The rumors are believed to be untrue, but Ann took them to heart, and in November, after several distraught weeks, she wrote to him that the engagement was off. On December 9 she died of an overdose of laudanum, possibly in a suicide. Buchanan was devastated, and even more so when her family refused to allow him to see Ann’s body or attend her funeral. He disappeared for some time but eventually returned to his work in Lancaster. After Ann’s death, Buchanan vowed that he would never marry. He didn’t… and remains the only bachelor president in American history.