Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 18, 1915:

Woodrow Wilson Marries Edith Galt

Edith Galt Wilson is best known as a sort of de facto president after her husband had a stroke promoting the League of Nations, but she had a life besides that short interval -- both before and after Wilson.

According to "Courted for four years by her first husband, once she married Norman Galt and moved to Washington, D.C. it is not clear whether she ever worked with him in his family's legendary silver and jewelry store that he managed. After his death, she inherited Galt's. Although she oversaw its daily operations she hired a manager to run the store and direct the staff. She bought a car and learned to drive it, and took numerous trips to Europe where she indulged her lifelong love of fine clothing.

"With a curiosity about the widowed President Woodrow Wilson, she met him in February 1914 while taking tea with his cousin Helen Bones and their mutual friend Altrude Gordon. Gordon was dating and would marry the naval physician Cary Grayson, who worked for the Wilsons. Within months, she and Wilson were exchanging letters that mixed politics and their passionate love for each other. Wilson proposed marriage to Edith Galt just three months after meeting her.

Woodrow Wilson died in 1924. Edith Wilson survived until 1961. again: "Edith Wilson carefully screened the visitors to and activities of her disabled husband until his death in 1924. She devoted the rest of her life to managing his legacy. Edith Wilson held the literary rights to all of her husband's papers in a time before presidential papers were seen as public documents, and she denied access to those whose motives she did not trust and granted access to those who proved their loyalty to her. She maintained full script control of the 1944 Zanuck film biography Wilson, including the depiction of herself as played by actress Geraldine Fitzgerald.

"Before World War II, she made several trips to Europe for events honoring Wilson's vision of a League of Nations. Although she resisted any substantive involvement in Democratic Party policy, she was considered a potential vice presidential candidate in 1928, and that year attended the national presidential convention and spoke at the podium. She also eagerly attended public events where she was honored as a symbol of her husband. She sat next to Eleanor Roosevelt, for example, as President Franklin Roosevelt [delivered his speech asking for a declaration of war against Japan].

"Edith Wilson maintained close contact with her successors, especially Grace Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mamie Eisenhower, but she became overtly partisan in the 1960 election, denying her previous acquaintance with the Republican candidate Vice President Richard Nixon and pledging herself to John F. Kennedy's candidacy. Her last public appearance was at his January 20, 1961 inaugural. Her 1938 autobiography, My Memoir, was later found to be factually faulty by historians."

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