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Melania Trump is in Paris. President Trump has flown to France to commemorate Bastille Day with French President Macron. Mrs. Trump was speaking French to students at a Parisian grade school when US reporters were ushered into the classroom. At that time, for whatever reason, Melania switched to speaking English with French conveyed through a translator.

Mrs. Trump is fluent in five languages. In addition to English and French, she knows Italian, German and Serbian. Other First Ladies were also French-speaking. Most notably was Jackie Kennedy who charmed French President Charles DeGaulle with her linguistic mastery during the Kennedys’ 1961 trip to Paris.

Nineteenth century First Ladies Elizabeth Monroe and Louisa Adams were both French Speakers. Mrs. Monroe learned the language during husband James Monroe’s two tours as the American ambassador to France. Louisa, the wife of the sixth US President, John Quincy Adams, was educated by French nuns during the American Revolution. Louisa Adams, our only foreign-born First Lady prior to Melania Trump, had an American father who lived in London. For obvious reasons, her entire family spent most of the years of the Revolutionary War as exiles in France.

Please let me know of any other First Ladies who could speak French. Thanks.

Lud Historian
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