11 presidents and first ladies with huge age differences

Several first couples have had notably large age differences. Bettmann/Getty Images, Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania’s 24-year age difference isn’t the largest the White House has ever seen.
  • Among the many first couples in White House history, age gaps have spanned up to 30 years.
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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania set a record for being the only first couple in which the commander in chief is on his third marriage.

Though the couple also has a noticeable age gap of 24 years, they’re only third in the ranks of sizeable age gaps among first couples.

From the Reagans to the Tylers, these are the nine presidents and first ladies with age differences of nine or more years. Notably, the men were always older than the women.

John and Julia Tyler: 30 years


The Tylers hold the title of the couple with the largest age gap in the White House.

Julia, then 24, caused a stir after her wedding to the 50-year-old president as crowds of thousands flocked to see her as they travelled by train from New York to Washington, DC.

Though their marriage lasted until John’s death, it got off to a rocky start when Julia’s family became deeply upset over not being included in the 12-person ceremony they held in New York City.

Grover and Frances Cleveland: 28 years


Grover Cleveland was 48 when he became the first sitting president to get married in his wedding to 21-year-old Frances Folsom.

The couple knew each other for a long time before they tied the knot, as Folsom was the daughter of Cleveland’s longtime law partner. Many in Washington expected him to marry a Folsom, but most were expecting it would be Emma Folsom, his partner’s widow.

Donald and Melania Trump: 24 years


The real-estate mogul Trump’s third marriage was to 35-year-old Melania Knauss in January 2005.

The two first went public nearly a year after they met at a party in a Times Square nightclub during fashion week in September 1998. Since then, the two were visible at the top of New York society before moving to the White House after Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

During their time as the first couple, the Trumps have sparked extensive scrutiny amid cheating rumours and multiple women accusing the president of sexual assault.

James and Dolley Madison: 17 years


James Madison, when he was 43 years old, married 26-year-old Dolley Payne Todd on September 15, 1794. It was her second marriage after her first husband died in 1793.

Federalist newspapers in Baltimore and Boston targeted Dolley during the 1808 election, implying she had intimate relations with her husband’s friend and colleague President Thomas Jefferson. The rumour eventually fizzled out, and her popularity as first lady surged.

Woodrow and Edith Wilson: 16 years

A postcard featuring Woodrow and Edith Wilson, who were married on December 18, 1915. Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Woodrow Wilson married 43-year-old Edith Bolling Galt while in office, in what was the second marriage for both of them.

The couple caused a stir because they met when Wilson was still in mourning for his first wife, who died the year before he married Edith.

But Edith rose above and beyond the expected duties of a first lady after the president suffered a severe stroke in 1919, when she essentially ran the executive branch.

Millard and Caroline Fillmore: 13 years


Caroline was 30 years old when she married 43-year-old Millard Fillmore in 1858.

Fillmore’s second marriage came five years after the death of his wife and first lady, Abigail. It was also Caroline’s second marriage, as she was widowed by a wealthy businessman, and required the former president to sign a prenuptial agreement before they wed.

John and Jacqueline Kennedy: 12 years

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier at Kennedy’s family home at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a few months before their wedding. Bettmann/Getty Images

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was 24 when she married then 36-year-old Sen. John F. Kennedy on September 12, 1953. Seven years later, Kennedy became one of the youngest presidents in US history.

The couple charmed America with their good looks despite the rampant cheating rumours that surrounded their time in the White House. After his assassination in 1963, John was survived by Jackie and the couple’s two children.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan: 10 1/2 years

Ronald Reagan with his wife, Nancy, while on the campaign trail. Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan was 41 when he married his then 30-year-old second wife and future first lady, Nancy, on March 6, 1952.

The couple settled in Los Angeles, where his political career would take off nearly 15 years later when he was elected governor of California.

James and Elizabeth Monroe: 10 years


James Monroe, then 28, married 17-year-old Elizabeth Kortright on February 16, 1786.

The couple settled in New York, while it was still the nation’s capital. After her husband became president in 1817, Elizabeth became a fashionista first lady through her style, which blended American and European attitudes, earning her the nickname “La Belle Americane.”

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes: 9 years


Rutherford B. Hayes, then 30, married 21-year-old Lucy Webb on December 30, 1852.

While serving as first lady from 1877 to 1881, Lucy spearheaded a project to commission several portraits of presidents and first ladies for the White House and encouraged her servants to pursue their educational goals.

Though she was known for pushing reforms in mental health, orphanages, and homelessness, Lucy was frustrated with the restrictions women faced in the military and politics.

Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln: 9 years


Abraham Lincoln, then 33, married 23-year-old Mary Todd on November 4, 1842.

Lincoln had broken his first engagement to Todd, but the two settled down as newlyweds in Springfield, Illinois. The couple would go on to lead a troubled family life, as three of their four sons would die from various diseases and injuries before reaching adulthood.

The former first lady’s dire mental-health state sparked grave concern from her family and friends after her husband’s assassination on April 15, 1865.