U.S. presidents have Valentines, too

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Presidents and their wives have been an amorous lot, their White House years coming at the pinnacle of lives entwined. The men pursued and loved these women as intensely as they clawed to power and unleashed armies.

"Touch you I must or I'll burst," Ronald Reagan wrote to Nancy three years before he became California governor. Lyndon Johnson, then a young congressman from Texas, declared to his valentine, Lady Bird, mere weeks after they had met, "This morning I'm ambitious, proud, energetic and very madly in love with you."

College graduate Teddy Roosevelt put Alice Lee on a pedestal, telling her five days before they wed: "I worship you so that it seems almost desecration to touch you."

A book of letters between presidents and wives fleshes out momentous periods of history with the full range of human emotion -- love, longing, snippiness, betrayal, loss, lust.

These men turned a resolute face to the world. In private, they could be goo. The women were easily their match in exchanging heart-racing prose and pulled no punches on tough stuff.

Even as John Adams was in Philadelphia working on the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that "all men" are created equal, his loving spouse, Abigail, sent the future second president a blistering letter about the subjugation of wives -- this, way back in March 1776.

"That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth," she wrote. "Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex."

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