Floride Calhoun

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Floride Bonneau Calhoun
Floride Calhoun nee Colhoun.jpg
Second Lady of the United States
In office
March 4, 1825 – December 28, 1832
Preceded by Hannah Tompkins
Succeeded by Letitia Christian Tyler
Personal details
Born (1792-02-15)February 15, 1792
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Died July 25, 1866(1866-07-25) (aged 74)
Pendleton, South Carolina U.S.
Spouse(s) John Caldwell Calhoun
Relations Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson (daughter), Thomas Green Clemson (son-in-law)
Children 10
Religion Episcopalian

Floride Bonneau Calhoun (February 15, 1792 – July 25, 1866) was the wife of prominent U.S. politician John C. Calhoun.

Background and early life

She was born Floride Bonneau Colhoun to U.S. Senator John E. Colhoun and Floride Bonneau. She was a niece of Rebecca Colhoun Pickens, wife of Andrew Pickens. On January 8, 1811, she married John C. Calhoun, her first-cousin-once-removed (her father's first cousin). Soon after their marriage, her husband was elected to Congress, leaving his wife in charge of his plantation, "Fort Hill," in present-day Clemson, South Carolina. Within the next eighteen years, she gave birth to ten children, including five sons and five daughters, although three daughters died in infancy.

In 1817, she accompanied her husband to Washington upon his appointment as Secretary of War.

Second Lady

Eight years later, she became Second Lady of the United States, following her husband's election as Vice President, serving in that role from 1825 to 1832.

Petticoat affair

During her tenure as Second Lady, she became embroiled in a social scandal involving Margaret O'Neill Eaton, the wife of Secretary of War John Eaton, in what became known as the Petticoat affair. Calhoun had organized a coalition among the wives of Jackson cabinet members against Peggy Eaton, whom Calhoun believed had committed adultery with Eaton while still married to her first husband John B. Timberlake. It is alleged that after he heard the allegations of the affair, Timberlake committed suicide while at sea, although official reports put his death as pulmonary disease; others who believed that he committed suicide contended that Timberlake's severe debt provided a motive. The scandal resulted in the resignation of several members of Jackson's Cabinet in 1831, one exception being Postmaster General William T. Barry. Mrs. Calhoun's involvement in the social ostracism of Mrs. Eaton further damaged strained relations between Vice President Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson.[1]

Return to South Carolina

Following her husband's resignation as Vice President and election to the United States Senate, she returned to "Fort Hill," resuming her former status as a plantation mistress. Her husband died in 1850. In 1854, she sold the plantation to her oldest son, Andrew Pickens Calhoun, and held the mortgage. In 1855, she moved to a smaller house in Pendleton, South Carolina, which she dubbed "Mi Casa." She endured the deaths of six of her seven surviving children. After Andrew died in 1865, she filed for foreclosure against Andrew's heirs.

Death and protracted estate issues

She died on July 25, 1866 and was buried in St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery in Pendleton, South Carolina, near her children, but separate from her husband who is buried at St. Philip's Episcopal Church Cemetery in Charleston. Following her death in 1866, the Fort Hill plantation was auctioned at Walhalla in 1872, after lengthy legal proceedings. The executor of her estate won the auction, which was divided among her surviving heirs. Her daughter, Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson and son-in-law, Thomas Green Clemson, received about three-quarters of the plantation, including the house, and her great granddaughter, Floride Isabella Lee, received the balance.[2]


  1. Clemson University page on Floride Colhoun Calhoun
  2. E. M. Lander, Jr., The Calhoun Family and Thomas Green Clemson: The Decline of a Southern Patriarchy, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC, 1983.

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Hannah Tompkins
Second Lady of the United States
Succeeded by
Letitia Christian Tyler