Biography of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson Part 8 First Lady

About the United States President Woodrow Wilson, biography and history of his first lady.


28th President


"Our First Lady President"

From the time of his collapse during his speaking tour promoting the League in September, 1919, until the end of his term some 17 months later, Wilson was little more than a shadow president. While the Chief Executive lay helpless and paralyzed in the White House, his wife, his doctor, and his private secretary agreed that the nation must never learn the true extent of his illness. The White House gates were closed, sentries were posted, and Edith Galt Wilson assumed active control of the presidency.

There was widespread talk that Vice-President Thomas Marshall (whose only enduring contribution to American history was his statement "What this country needs is a good 5 cent cigar") should take control of the government. Marshall, however, was too timid for such decisive action, especially with the Wilsons obviously unwilling to give up the reins of power. One of the main purposes of the 25th Amendment (ratified in 1967) was to avoid a repeat of the Wilson-Marshall situation, as well as to provide a clear-cut means for the transfer of power in cases of presidential incapacity.

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