First Major Political Love Scandal and Blackmail

Mozelle Martin

Sometimes a man can lust after the presidency and other women. Unfortunately, it usually does not work out for the best.

Those two desires don't seem to jive well, and July 1791 was no different.

That's when U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton started an affair with Maria Reynolds, an attractive 23-year-old woman who aimed her wiles toward Hamilton after her husband was said to have abandoned her.

A few months after the affair started, Reynold's husband, James, mysteriously returned.

But... was it genuinely mysterious, or was it preplanned all along?

James was a well-known, professional con artist who blackmailed Hamilton. Although Hamilton did pay one-third of his salary ($1,750) to keep the affair from going public, it didn't work. Sadly, at least in Hamilton's situation, the blackmailer was not satisfied.

After James made the affair public in 1797, Hamilton's affair became known as the first major love scandal in American politics.

Despite Hamilton's public apology, most historians believe he didn't become president because of the damage to his reputation.

What do you think?

Here are a few other political love scandals throughout history:

  • Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings
  • Philip Barton Key II and Teresa Sickles
  • William Campbell Preston Breckenridge and Madeleine Pollard
  • Arthur Brown and Anne Maddison Bradley
  • Woodrow Wilson and Mary Allen Hulbert
  • Warren G. Harding and Carrie Phillips, and Nan Britton
  • John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, Judith Campbell Exner and Mimi Alford
  • Lyndon B. Johnson and Alice Marsh, and Madeleine Duncan Brown
  • Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe
  • Wayne Hayes and Elizabeth Ray
  • Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
  • Gary Condit and Chandra Levy

What other political love scandals can you think of?

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Hamilton ReynoldsPhoto byAll That's Interesting

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