Book Trailer The Noble Train

Friday, August 5, 2016

How Tough Was the First Madam President?

Tough. Woodrow Wilson had a massive stroke and left Edith Wilson  to run the White House. She had two years of schooling and no experience in government. But she had the best on the job training with Wilson who treated her as a Co President. Still, the fact remained Wilson was fighting for his life while Edith had to close out World War I and deal with America transitioning back to a peace time economy after World War I. And she was a woman at a time when the vote was still two years off.

Her life had not been easy. Her parents could only afford to send her brother to college and Edith was left to be home schooled by her grandmother. Her first marriage ended when her husband died suddenly and left her with a badly in debt jewelry company. Her first son had died after three days. Edith could have sold off the jewelry company but she dug in and took almost no salary and in a few years turned a profit. She then bought an electric car and met a lonely widower named Woodrow  Wilson.

But when the world turned upside down Edith Wilson had to make it up as she went along. Her husband was barely hanging on while she fought for passage of The League of Nations, handled the cover up of her husbands illness, made appointments, ushered bills through passage, and kept the Wilson White House together through 1921. Suffragettes demonstrating outside the gates of the White House had no idea a woman was now President.

Edith Wilson had to fill the role President except she was a woman who had the backing of no one. As Ann Richards said of Ginger Rodgers, "she did everything Fred Astaire did but she it in heels and she did it backwards." An apt metaphor for the unknown First Woman President.

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Books by William Hazelgrove