Joe Biden lives in a house that has seen an inordinate and unbelievable amount of personal grief and tragedy, but he may be the first president to openly talk to Americans about working through loss.
When Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie died in the White House of typhoid fever, his wife, Mary, entered a long period of mourning. The Lincolns spent much of his remaining presidency living outside the White House, in a cottage on a hilltop in Washington, trying to get away from the house where their son died.
Calvin Coolidge’s son Calvin Jr. got a blister on his toe playing tennis at the White House. In those days before antibiotics, the resulting infection killed him after he was admitted to what’s now known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Coolidge, a stoic politician known as “Silent Cal,” later admitted he was changed by the loss of his 16-year-old son.
“When he went, the power and the glory of the Presidency went with him,” Coolidge wrote in his autobiography.
Franklin Pierce’s only living son was cut down in a train accident between his election and inauguration. His wife was inconsolable, and Pierce ended up being a notoriously bad pr