The United States Of... Sex Scandals?!
From Bill Clinton's steamy affair with Monica Lewinsky to Donald Trump's reported pay-off to porn star Stormy Daniels, the White House has been ground zero for some of the most salacious stories in American history.
Now, Eleanor Herman's new book, Sex With Presidents, uncovers some of the lesser-known bedroom secrets of American presidents and explores the surprising ways voters have reacted to their leaders’ shocking romps.
“Most men who think they should be in charge of this country have a lot of ego to begin with, they’re narcissists,” Herman told PEOPLE. “The danger is when you have an egotistical narcissist to begin with who, suddenly given a lot of power, will get even crazier.”
“There appears to be little difference between the thrills of seeking public power, with crowds of adoring fans, to seeking pubic power, with an adoring audience of one," the author writes. "The same compulsions that send a man hurtling toward the White House can also send him into a foolhardy tryst with a woman."
Scroll through the gallery below to check out four of the the most shocking revelations of our past presidents’ romantic lives.
FDR’s “Summer Wives”
Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of the most beloved presidents in U.S. history, but he was a dog of a husband. He was known for having "summer wives," a term that was coined when wealthier men of Washington, D.C., would send their wives and families to colder locales during the summer to escape the city's heat.
Herman says Roosevelt had an affair with Lucy Page Mercer Rutherfurd, his wife Eleanor's secretary at the time, while Eleanor and the kids were out of town. According to Herman, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, let the pair meet up at her mansion. When asked why she supported the affair, Longworth reportedly told a family member, “Franklin deserved a good time. He was married to Eleanor.”
The affair greatly hurt FDR’s wife, Eleanor. "The bottom dropped out of my own particular world, and I faced myself, my surroundings, my world, honestly for the first time," Eleanor wrote to a friend upon discovering letters between the pair.
FDR later moved on to a new girlfriend, Marguerite Alice "Missy" LeHand, who served as his personal secretary and close confidante beginning in 1920 and through his presidency.
Eleanor was rumored to have enjoyed her own secret lesbian relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok. Herman quotes from steamy letters between the two women in 'Sex With Presidents': “I can’t kiss you so I kiss your picture good night & good morning.…” Eleanor wrote to Hickok in one 1933 letter, adding: “I miss you so much and I love you so much.”
Warren G. Harding’s Wild Nights Out
The handsome Warren G. Harding, who won the presidency in 1921, was known to have multiple mistresses including Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of the head of a department store in Ohio, and Nan Britton, a secretary who claimed she was Harding’s mistress and shared a daughter, Elizabeth.
According to Herman, the 29th president was also regularly partying with prostitutes and got drunk with his secret service agents, even during the era of Prohibition. The author described one particularly rowdy night out at a brothel known as the Love Nest, where a prostitute was hit on the head with a bottle of champagne. “As her friends tried to revive her, Harding, who was leaning against a mantle, drunk, was hustled out of the building by his Secret Service agents,” Herman writes.
Woodrow Wilson’s Steamy Love Letters
After Woodrow Wilson’s first wife, Ellen, died suddenly of Bright’s Disease in 1914, the then-president quickly grew lonely and craved the company of another woman. “I never dreamed such loneliness and desolation of heart possible,” Wilson wrote to his alleged secret girlfriend, Mary Peck, within hours of Ellen’s death.
He went on to remarry — surprisingly not to Peck — but to Edith Bolling Galt, a friend of his cousin.
Ahead of their wedding, the pair exchanged sizzling love letters. Wilson wrote that Edith “turns to her lover and throws the gates wide — no, not quite wide yet, but wide enough to show him the sweet and holy places where her true spirit loves." He also told Edith she was his “perfect playmate” and began signing all of his letters with a cheeky nickname — “Tiger.”
Lyndon B. Johnson’s Sneaky Buzzer System
The 36th president reportedly found a way to sneak women into the Oval Office without his wife, Lady Bird, finding out, Herman says. After FLOTUS walked in on Johnson having sex in the office with one of his secretaries one day, the president had a buzzer system installed. “The Secret Service was to buzz him when the first lady was on her way so he could pull up his pants before she arrived,” Herman writes.
Johnson was a shameless flirt who also said he “only wanted to hire women with ‘good behinds’ so he could ‘enjoy’ their rear ends as they left his office,” Herman writes.