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Edith Wilson: The First Unofficial Lady President

Kendall Harris

Edith Wilson was a former First Lady of the United States. Born on October 15th of 1972 in Wytheville, VA, Edith Wilson became the second wife of U.S president Woodrow Wilson. She served as First Lady from 1915 to 1921. After President Woodrow Wilson suffered from a stroke, Edith Wilson took over multiple responsibilities of being a President for the remainder of his second term. She has been labeled “Secret President” and “America’s First Lady President.”

Before and after the tragic event, Edith Wilson was always involved in the Presidency and their marriage was controversial. Woodrow Wilson confided in her with all his secrets and classified information. She never left his side, even if people weren’t fond of her as the First Lady. It was thought that notes were passed as a way of communication between the President and the people during his sickly times, but it wasn’t known if it was Edith or Woodrow Wilson who responded to the notes. Edith was involved just as much as Woodrow was.

The first question that usually comes to mind after hearing about Edith Wilson is: Why didn’t the vice president take over instead? Both Woodrow and Edith Wilson didn’t want to consider Woodrow resigning as President and allowing Vice President Thomas Marshall to take over. They even tried to hide the level of seriousness of Woodrow’s paralysis. Therefore, Edith stepped up and started making decisions. She was immensely devoted to her husband and protecting his reputation and thought it best if she followed through with his desires.

Other countries have elected female leaders, but the United States has failed to do so. Edith Wilson was never much recognized for stepping up into the President’s shoes. She carefully helped out her husband with his duties until his death in 1924. Even after his death, she was still devoted to Woodrow and his legacy. She was later considered a potential vice presidential candidate but failed to receive the role. She wrote and published an autobiography called “My Memoir” in 1939 which was later considered unreliable. Her last public appearance was January 20, 1961 and she died at age 89 in December of 1961.

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