Is Reagan the only divorced President?

Just curious. I know there was a time when divorce was scandal-scandal-scandal.

I’m sure I should go out and double check this, but my memory tells me that, as you say, there used to be a huge black mark against you if you were divorced and some thought this would also be true for Reagan.

Not so, of course. He became our first divorced president.

But I also certainly remember that Nelson Rockefeller was said to have lost all chance of becoming president when he divorced Happy, and that was less than two decades before Reagan.

One difference being Ron’s divorce happened quite far back, so that his entire political career happened after marrying Nancy. And the marriage to Jane was not that long (by the general standards of the time). It’s almost as if Middle America has this subconscious thing along the lines of that a showbiz marriage is not quite as real.

Maybe Democrats really are more open-minded; they nominated divorcee Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and again in 1956.

To answer the OP, yes.

Nelson Rockefeller didn’t divorce Happy; he divorced his first wife so that he could marry Happy.

Of course, had he lived much longer, that marriage might have ended in divorce also. Nelson died during a late-night “business meeting” with a comely 25-year-old assistant whom he had hired to “help him write a book on his art holdings”.

The old rascal.

Right. Told you I should have looked it up first. :slight_smile:

If I recall correctly, the furor over Rockefeller’s divorce and remarriage had pretty much died down by the '64 (?) presidential campaign. Then Happy (his second wife) gave birth just before a significant primary, and the whole thing all boiled up again. Rockefeller lost the primary, and with it pretty much any chance of gaining the nomination.

A couple of weeks later he was introducing some friends to his new son, and told them that “if he’d been born two days later, he’d be the son of the President of the United States.”

I see. Thank you!

Warren Harding was elected president in 1920 having fathered an illegitimate child born in 1919. He was married at the time of the child’s birth. Not sure if the 1920 electorate knew of the little bastard.

Florence Kling Harding eloped with a neighbor at age 19, and then divorced him two years later, before marrying Warren Harding in 1891. Her ex-husband was long dead by the time Warren Harding was elected U.S. president in 1920.

I should add that Betty Ford had been married and divorced before she met Gerald Ford.

Heh. As near as I can tell they ain’t.

Going back a bit further on First Ladies – Rachel Jackson was also divorced before marrying Andrew Jackson. She thought. Turns out the divorce didn’t go through and she and Andrew weren’t legally married. After a couple of years, the first husband popped up again and sued for divorce on the grounds that Rachel was living with another man. Andrew and Rachel were legally remarried as soon as possible. Still, this was pretty scandelous and came back to haunt them years later when Jackson entered politics.

The fact is, too, that Jane Wyman left Ronald Reagan, and not the other way around.

Such things do make a difference, especially for the time period we’re talking about.

Grover Cleveland (I think) fathered a child out of wedlock, causing the other party to exclaim "Ma! Ma! Where’s my Pa?"

After the election, Cleveland supporters responded "Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!"

God, the things I remember…