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Friday, August 26, 2016

How Madam President Ran the White House with no Education

She did it by making it up as she went along. Edith Wilson had two years formal education as a child but she was basically home schooled. So when she found herself having to step in for her husband Woodrow Wilson in 1919 as President she had to fall back on some basic coping mechanisms she had discovered in her life. She had survived the death of a husband and child and inherited a failing jewlery company. Edith was nothing if not dogged and she persevered and turned her first husbands struggling jewelry company around in three years and became a lady of means.

She did it by delegating and by dealing with what was in front of her. Same with the White House. When Woodrow became persona non grata behind the presidential bedroom door the first thing Edith did was prioritize. If something did not have to be dealt with immediately then it might not be dealt with at all. Business was conducted by correspondence in 1919 and many letters to the President were never opened and discovered years later in the National Archives. But that doesn't mean Edith was not attending to the business at hand.

Her biggest job was one of making sure essential business was completed. This meant she had to use the men around the president and delegate away from the President who could handle very little. Edith was a gatekeeper and if she needed presidential input then she would present it to Woodrow. Few people actually saw Wilson from 1919 to 1921 who Edith did not deem essential. Think of someone who is running a household with little help. Some of the bills won't get paid. The dog might not get fed. The house might be a wreck. But the mortgage would be paid and the lights kept on and the children fed.

In this way Edith Wilson kept the United States of  American running.

Order Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Books by William Hazelgrove