Jenna Bush, the 25 year old twin daughter of the president, will marry longtime boyfriend Henry Hager of Virginia on May 10, 2008. The couple will be married at the Bush family ranch in Crawford, Texas. That announcement came this evening ending speculation that she would have a White House wedding.
Jenna, considered the “more outgoing” of the president’s twins, was known for her partying ways as a young adolescent but in recent years gained some critical acclaim as an author and humanitarian. Her book, Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, became a bestseller. It tells of a 17-year-old single mother who is HIV positive.
Henry Hager, who has been a White House aide and worked on President Bush’s re-election campaign, is the son of John and Maggie Hager of Richmond, Va. His father is chairman of the Republican Party in Virginia and a former Virginia lieutenant governor.
The last child of a president to marry while the father was in office? Tricia Nixon? Wrong. The answer would be Dorothy Bush, the daughter of George Herbert Walker Bush and sister to our sitting president. After divorcing her first husband, Dorothy was quietly married for the second time on June 26, 1992 at Camp David. The media learned about it after the event. (See www.whitehouseweddings.com)
The coming wedding of Jenna Bush and Henry Hager will hardly be as quiet as the Dorothy Bush affair but the story reveals how strongly the Bush family feels about privacy and how hard they will try to keep the Jenna Bush event under control.
The wedding will be small, Jenna told a friend, and it will be held deep in the Crawford Ranch compound, away from the prying eyes of the media. There will be no tabloid helicopters overhead, presidential security will see to that. Nor will their honeymoon likely be the circus that attended the honeymoons of other presidential children.
Even so, there has never been a wedding of a presidential child during the age of cable television and holding the event outside the White House does not guarantee peace. FDR, Jr. and his bride, Ethel DuPont, decided that they would avoid the media circus attendant to a White House wedding and buried their ceremony deep in the DuPont compound in Delaware. 650,000 uninvited guests showed up and lined the roads leading into the property. The local governor called out the National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of engineers were called in to help with logistics.
So Crawford, Texas will not likely be an escape from the furor. If history is any guide, the Bush-Hager wedding will be one of the most important social events of our lifetime
Other significant weddings of presidential children not held in the White House include the wedding of Luci Baines Johnson, which was held at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. And the small, private wedding of Julie Nixon, shortly after her own father had won the presidency, to Dwight David Eisenhower II, himself the grandson and namesake of a president, prompted widespread public interest and curiosity.
The wedding of Fanny Hayes, daughter of Rutherford B. Hayes, was an extraordinary event in its time. Though her father was dead, the sitting president, William McKinley and all of his cabinet took trains to Ohio to attend the event.
Dorothy Bush, daughter to one president and sister to another, was the only presidential child married at Camp David.
In marrying Henry Hager, a former aide to the President, Jenna Bush is following a long line of presidential children before her. Like the rest of us, they marry whoever is around. Presidential sons and daughters have fallen in love with White House or congressional staffers and, in more recent times, military aides or secret service agents assigned to protect them.
Eleanor “Nellie” Wilson married Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo, thus overnight becoming a Cabinet officer’s wife in her father’s own administration. Dorothy Bush, the last presidential child to marry while her father served in office, married a congressional aide of the opposing political party.