Lucy Page Mercer Rutherfurd
(April 26, 1891-July 31, 1948) was a mistress and long time friend of United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She was with Roosevelt on the day he died in 1945.
Born in Washington, D.C., Lucy Page Mercer was the daughter of Carroll Mercer (1857–1917) and his wife, the former Minna Leigh Tunis (1863–1947). Both were members of prominent Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...
families, but the Mercers possessed little money and separated shortly before World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
. Lucy had one sister, Violetta Carroll Mercer (1889–1947).
Affair with Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Lucy Mercer was hired by Franklin's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...
, as a personal secretary in the winter of 1914; previously, Mercer had worked in the Washington D.C. shop of society decorator Elsie Cobb Wilson.
It is unclear when the Mercer-Roosevelt affair began, but in September 1918, Eleanor discovered love letters between her husband and her social secretary when he returned from Europe suffering from the flu of 1918. Eleanor offered her husband a divorce. The future president's mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, was adamant that there be no divorce, as that would have ruined Franklin's political career. Eleanor then gave Franklin an ultimatum: stop seeing Lucy Mercer or she would obtain a divorce. Roosevelt did not want to sacrifice his political career, so he promised never to see his mistress again. However, Roosevelt continued to see Mercer over the years, in later years with the connivance of his daughter, Anna.
The Mercer-Roosevelt affair became public in 1966, when revealed in The Time Between the Wars
(Doubleday), a memoir written by Jonathan Daniels, a former Roosevelt aide from 1943 to 1945 who was then editor in chief of The News & Observer
The News & Observer is the regional daily newspaper of the Research Triangle area of the U.S. State of North Carolina. The N&O, as it is popularly called, is based in Raleigh and also covers Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill. The paper also has substantial readership in most of the state east of...
in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mercer's daughter and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. denied any romance between their respective parents had occurred; the historical record, however, has established the romance beyond doubt.
Marriage and death
Jonathan Daniels wrote about Lucy Mercer that "every man who ever knew her, fell in love with her". In February 1920, Lucy Page Mercer became the second wife of Winthrop Rutherfurd, a New York socialite with a horse farm in Aiken County, South Carolina
Aiken County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. In 2000, its population was 142,552; in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that its population had reached 160,099...
. He had previously been secretly engaged to Consuelo Vanderbilt
Consuelo Balsan , was a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family...
, whose mother forced her to break their engagement so that she could marry an English duke. The Rutherfurds had one child, Barbara Mercer Rutherfurd (1922–2005). In 1965, Lewis Polk Rutherfurd—a grandson of Winthrop Rutherfurd by his first wife—married the half-sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle...
, Janet Jennings Auchincloss.
It is unknown whether the affair with Roosevelt continued after her marriage, but it is certain that the former lovers remained in contact. According to Jonathan Daniels, when Roosevelt was elected president for the first time, the new chief executive secretly arranged for a private car to bring Lucy Rutherfurd to the 1933 inauguration as well as supplied her with a ticket to the event. She also visited him in the White House six times in 1944-1945 when Eleanor Roosevelt was absent and met him several times at the winter White House in Georgia.
Lucy Rutherfurd was with Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, the day that he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that caused his death in Warm Springs
Warm Springs is a city in Meriwether County, Georgia, United States. The population was 478 at the 2010 census.-History:Warm Springs first came to prominence in the 19th century as a spa town, due to its mineral springs which flow constantly at nearly 32 °C...
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...