There’s a lot about the U.S. government that we just don’t know. It’s not just closed door meetings and secret military operations, either; sometimes even the presidents themselves are hiding skeletons in their closets.
If there was one “vice” that was most shared among past presidents, it would have to be adultery. While almost every U.S. president was married, that didn’t stop many from having numerous affairs. Some were very public, while others have been rumors for decades. Either way, here are the 14 biggest presidential mistresses. We’re sure a couple will be familiar, but #4 will blow your socks off!
#14 Maria Crofts Halpin
Presidential elections have been getting ugly for over 100 years. In 1884, Grover Cleveland’s opponent alleged that he had fathered a child with Halpin. As it turned out, that was correct and he was paying her child support. However, this scandal didn’t stop Cleveland from becoming the president twice.
#13 Eleanor Mondale
Bill Clinton is no stranger to sexual scandals, but this is one you likely didn’t know. Mondale was the daughter of a former Vice President, but that didn’t stop Clinton from allegedly carrying on an affair with her. According to a secret service agent, the two were involved. Another of Clinton’s mistresses comes in at the 8th spot.
Even the first president wasn’t immune to sex scandals. George Washington was rumored to have had a sexual affair with a slave named Venus. This affair apparently led to the birth of a son named West Ford. This has not been proven, but so many claims have been made and Ford’s descendants hope that DNA evidence will able to prove it.
#11 Helen G. Douglas
Before Lyndon B. Johnson became president of the United States in 1963, he had an affair with famous actress Helen G. Douglas. He was a congressman, and she herself was starting to become involved with politics herself, after success as an actress. This affair was reportedly a very passionate one.
#10 Marilyn Monroe
This is one of JFK’s most famous encounters. Shortly after meeting each other, these two apparently had a sexually scandalous meeting at Bing Cosby’s house. Monroe felt so bad she got in touch with JFK’s wife, only to find out she knew about his “extracurricular activities.” Another of JFK’s famous mistresses appears in at the 6th spot.
#9 Nan Britton
Since she was a teen, Britton was obsessed with Warren G. Harding. Once his presidency ended, she dropped a major bombshell in 1928. She released a book that claimed she was not only Harding’s mistress, but also that she had his child before he became president. This was questioned for years but finally proven via DNA results in 2015.
#8 Sally Hemings
This was easily one of the biggest presidential affairs in history. Thomas Jefferson had a long-lasting affair with his slave, Sally Hemings, until his death. Rumors state that they had as many as six children together, and four of them went on to be freed by Jefferson himself in adulthood.
#7 The Slaves of John Tyler
No president has fathered more children than John Tyler. In his two marriages, he fathered an unbelievable 15 children. However, those are only his legitimate children. There are a ton of rumors out there that he also fathered many children with his slaves. While oral history confirms this, it is impossible for DNA to ever prove this as most were sold off as slaves.
#6 Judith Exner
After Frank Sinatra introduced Judith Exner to JFK, they took a liking to each other and the rest was history. Their affair began in the 1960s and Exner has even said that she had aborted his child, but that was never proven. The next entry is arguably the most famous example on this list.
#5 Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky was an intern at the White House when Bill Clinton was president. He admitted to having an “inappropriate relationship” with her. His confession precipitated huge fallout for the president and his mistress throughout 1995 and 1996. The highly-publicized affair besmirched Clinton’s legacy, and even led to decades of personal troubles for Lewinsky.
#4 Lucy Mercer
While some First Ladies knew about and accepted their husband’s escapades, some were not okay with it. FDR had an affair with Lucy Mercer, and when Eleanor found out, she was not too pleased. In fact, she wanted a divorce, but the president didn’t agree as he felt it would ruin him publically.
#3 Alice Glass
Apparently, Lyndon B. Johnson had quite the reputation of being a cheater. This was among one of his most famous affairs, mainly because of how it was discovered. Glass was a secretary in a political office and struck up a sexual relationship with Johnson. When his wife found out, she actually physically attacked Glass.
#2 Lucia Calhoun
James Garfield had a wife at home, but that didn’t stop him from cheating with an 18-year-old mistress. Calhoun worked as a NY Times reporter. When his wife found out, she gave him an ultimatum of either her or his mistress. He intelligently chose his wife. The next entry maintained a 12-year sexual relationship with a president.
#1 Gennifer Flowers
Gennifer Flowers is a former model and actress who rose to fame after revealing her affair with Bill Clinton. Before he was ever the president, she said that they had continued an affair that lasted longer than a decade. He claimed he did no such thing, but then Flowers released audio tapes that proved otherwise.
Cheating on a spouse is unfortunately very common and as you just saw, even the people at the top of the government are guilty of it. It is simply shocking to see just how many presidents had a mistress or even more than one, without much of the public knowing. Of course, most people knew that a couple have had extramarital affairs, but not this many. It seems like whenever politics and power meet at a crossroads, scandals soon follow in close proximity. Presidents have done some truly amazing things for this country, but no one is without their vices.