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Woodrow Wilson's Scandal

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 2211 words Published: 11th Sep 2017

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Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States. Wilson was born on December 28th, 1856, he was an American scholar who was best remembered for leading the United States into World War I. Woodrow was born into a religious family and also very well-educated. In 1885 future President Wilson married his first wife, Ellen Louise Axson. Ellen was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. Wilson and Axson met at her father’s church in Rome, Georgia, they were instantly attracted to each other, together they shared a strong religious belief and an even stronger passion for arts and reading. A year into Woodrow’s presidency, Ellen succumbed to kidney failure brought on by Bright’s disease. Bright’s disease is involving chronic inflammation of the kidneys.

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The main individual involved in Woodrow Wilson’s engagement/affair was Woodrow Wilson who was the 28th president and was born in 1856. Ellen Louise Axson who was born in Savannah, Georgia, graduated from Romeis Female College and was recognized for her artistic ability, she had 3 children and one died in 1905, then Axson died on August 6, 1914. Woodrow married Ellen Axson and had 3 children, Axson died then a year later after her death Wilson married Edith Galt.Galt was married to Wilson in 1915 and believes to be a descendent of Pocahontas. Wilsons affair started in his marriage with Ellen and went through his marriage with Edith. Woodrow had an affair with Mary Allen Hulbert. Hulbert met Wilson when he showed up at her door and said he was on a mission of national urgency.

This scandal has many facts to prove what has happened. “It was during Wilson’s tenure at Princeton University that Ellen found herself in the role of the betrayed wife” (Wilson – A portrait). During this time Ellen had sent Wilson alone to Bermuda while she stayed home to watch after the children. “Wilson was absolutely devastated by Ellen’s death she had been his greatest emotional support. And now suddenly she was taken away” (Wilson – A portrait). Before Ellen passed away she was always concerned with her husband’s well being, she had the family physician make a promise to her to always make sure to look after Wilson when she no longer could. “Wilson wandered alone through the White House. He was heard by his staff to mutter one phrase, again and again “My God, what am I to do?” (Wilson – A portrait). Wilson wanted to love and support a strong woman like Ellen. “Wilson was not a widower for long. He met and married Edith Bolling Galt,… in December 1915” (Woodrow Wilson marries Ellen Axson in Savannah, Georgia). The couple was introduced by Wilson’s cousin and a mutual friend. In 1916 when the presidential campaign started to fire up, many of the advisors for Wilson worried that his marriage to Edith so soon after his first wife’s death would become a political responsibility. “Edith Bolling Galt, with whom he was in love, and would soon marry” (An Honorable Affair). Edith was always at Wilson’s side but her presence irritated and frustrated Wilson’s advisors. “..she was accused of signing Wilson’s signature without consulting him, though she insisted this was not the case and blamed the accusations on her husband’s political opponents” (Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Bolling Galt). In October of 1919 Wilson suffered a stroke while touring the nation to promote his plan for the League of Nations, the League of Nations was an international organization designed to prevent any further conflicts like World War I. During Wilson’s recovery from the stroke Edith consumed the role of “steward”, screening his mail and official papers. “Hulbert and Wilson met in 1907 in midwinter on the island of Bermuda. She was 44 and temporarily alone, on her yearly escape from a loveless marriage in Massachusetts. Wilson was 50, then president of Princeton University, also vacationing alone, decompressing from a grueling fight with university trustees and a popular dean over the disposition of private endowments to the graduate school. Ellen, was back in New Jersey, ailing, beset by a depression that strained their marriage” (An Honorable Affair). In Bermuda the bougainvillea, a flower, was in bloom. Bermuda was “the setting for an affair,” Hulbert owned Shoreby, a huge, estate on the island. Hulbert entertained governors and captains of industry like Mark Twain. She was everything the Princeton president was not, vivacious, free spirited, and fun – loving. Hulbert was to have said; if any letters are to exist they would only be from Wilson and give him a bad reputation. Wilson was said to have been a virgin until his first marriage at 28. His long face and glasses gave him a look of impossible correct thinking, and the high starched collars and stovepipe hat in which he was frequently photographed in. Wilson seemed more modern but also unapproachable. “The story of the alleged love affair, more or less, died with her” “Dearest friend” is how the married Woodrow Wilson addresses his most ardent letters to Hulbert. “With infinite tenderness” is how he signs them. “He was smitten” (An Honorable Affair).

The time of this affair ranges from 1885 to 1961. In 1885 Wilson married Ellen Axson, although they both became instantly attracted to each other they did not marry until 1885, because Ellen was unwilling to leave her heartbroken father. 27 years later, Wilson became president and Ellen became the 28th first lady; of those who knew Ellen in the White House they described her as “calm and sweet, a motherly woman, pretty, and refined” (Ellen Axson Wilson). In 1914 Ellen died at the age of 54, it was still the Victorian Age. Doctors didn’t share any prognosis they didn’t know of with the patient or the patient’s family, but Dr. Grayson knew Ellen, she was a “steel magnolia” who demanded the truth. A year after Ellen’s death Wilson married Edith Galt in 1915. “Edith, who claimed to be directly descended from Pocahontas, was the wealthy widow of a jewelry store owner and a member of Washington high society” (Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Bolling Galt). In 1916 Wilson had an affair with Mary Allen Hulbert. “Theirs may have been the most proper and dignified and discreet and downright honorable illicit affair in history. Hulbert, the woman in the hotel room, was said to have possessed compromising letters that attested to a lengthy extramarital dalliance between herself and Wilson” (An Honorable Affair). 1919, Wilson had suffered a stroke. 8,000 miles in 22 days had cost Wilson his health, Wilson had just cut his tour short of the country to promote the League of Nations. Wilsons suffered constant headaches, collapsing from exhaustion in Colorado, he managed to return back to Washington to suffer a near-fatal stroke on October 2nd. Wilson left office in March of 1921, he and a partner established a law firm, Wilson died at his home on February 3, 1924 at the age of 67. Woodrow was buried in the Washington National Cathedral and he was the only president to be buried in the nation’s capital.

Circumstances surrounding this case are results of an affair between Woodrow Wilson and Mary Allen Hulbert. “That a serious sex scandal would have been devastating to Wilson’s presidency, and eroded his moral authority at a critical time in history” (An Honorable Affair). Hulbert said that any letters that could possibly exist would only hurt Wilson’s credit and further burnish his good name. “When rumors of an affair initially surfaced during Wilson’s first presidential campaign in 1912, his opponent, Teddy Roosevelt, peremptorily dismissed them: “You can’t cast a man as a Romeo when he looks and acts so much like an apothecary’s clerk” (An Honorable Affair). Wilson had an eventful eight-years of presidency, the gossip of Mary Hulbert then known as by her married name, Mary Peck, escalated. “…, the president’s second wife, tens of thousands of his personal papers became available for publication by the Liberty of Congress” (An Honorable Affair). These papers, Hulbert sold to an official biographer, long after Wilson passed.

All along “There had long been rumors to that effect. Hulbert and Wilson had long denied them. But now there was, apparently, an offer on the table” (An Honorable Affair). This rumor was never proven because Mary Hulbert wouldn’t talk, Ms. Hulbert claims that the only letters that could possibly be found would be the ones that Wilson sent to her.

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The government was affected in many ways. “…enjoyed having her sit in the Oval Office while he conducted business, which led to accusations that she had undue influence over who was allowed access to the president” (Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Bolling Galt). At this time Wilson was recovering from his stroke, Galt assumed the role of looking after Wilson, screening his mail and official papers. ” In their first year she convinced her scrupulous husband that it would be perfectly proper to invite influential legislators to a private dinner, and when such an evening led to an agreement on a tariff bill, he told a friend, “You see what a wise wife I have!” (Ellen Axson Wilson). The Wilsons preferred to being without an inaugural ball and the First Lady’s entertainments were simple, but her disorganized feelings made her party’s successful. “The story of the alleged hotel room bribe appeared in the 1925 series of memories Hulbert wrote for the Liberty magazine, a year after Wilson’s death. When it was published, there was a one-day furor in Congress. Rep. Frank Reid, an Illinois Democrat, introduced a resolution demanding an investigation” (An Honorable Affair). If Hulbert would have been right there had been much effort to give up on an innocent man and underestimate the Constitution for political gain.

“During this time he would abandon his lifelong caution, initiating a series of moves that would lead to his resignation from Princeton” (An Honorable Affair). This would cause a political career that would lead him first to the governorship of New Jersey and then to one of the great presidents in American history. “Wilson lost stature as an academic administrators but gained a national reputation as a fighter for intellectual freedom and an enemy of the monied elite” (An Honorable Affair). Speaking before the next graduating class when his letters indicated a growing passion for Hulbert, he told the graduates that there are things one does for duty and things one does for joy.

Had President Wilson not met Edith Galt and had been defeated in the 1916 re-election, Wilson might have married Mary Hulbert. But for a presidential candidate to have acknowledge any serious intentions toward her, a divorce, would have been, social and political suicide.”The story of her alleged love affair, more or less, died with her” (An Honorable Affair). Edith Wilson may never have been able to read the letters her husband wrote to Hulbert but in her last years she told Wilson’s scholars Arthur S. Link and David W. Hirst that there probably wasn’t much of anything in them. For the rest of Edith’s life she was dedicated above all else to preserve her husband’s image of greatness. ” As the 1916 presidential campaign heated up, many of Wilson’s advisors worried that his whirlwind courtship and marriage to Edith so soon after his first wife’s death would become a political liability” (Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Bolling Galt).

“A man and a woman loved and respected each other. They did not permit whatever passion they shared to destroy marriage. What happend, happend. They took it it to their graves. Whatever degree of intimacy they enjoyed, the details should remain — as one might argue these matters should remain — completely, eternally, gloriously private” (An Honorable Affair). Hulbert always found men with agendas, and politicians more attractive but she always denied it. It was said by Gene Weingarten that Wilson and Hulbert loved each other and that the relationship they had was a mystery to Wilson’s presidency. Weingarten also had the question of “But were they lovers?” (An Honorable Affair). When the married Wilson addressed his letters to Hulbert it would start with “Dearest friend” and signed “With infinite tenderness”. Wilson told Hulbert he missed her when she was not in Bermuda while he was. “Yet she must have instinctively realized that Wilson’s secret romance had been restorative and life enhancing to him and that, she, too, owed a debt of gratitude to Mary Hulbert” (An Honorable Affair).


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