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Presidents' Places: Thomas Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson's first Princeton home

While serving as president of Princeton University, future President of the United States Thomas Woodrow Wilson lived in these two houses, first in the one above, and later in the one below. The two houses are side-by-side, and only a few blocks from the post-presidential home of Steven Grover Cleveland. (All three houses are privately owned.)

Second Princeton home of Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow's first wife, Ellen, died while he was president of the United States. About a year later, he married his second wife, Edith Galt.

The joke which was going around at that time:
   Q. "What did Edith do when Woodrow asked her to marry him?"
   A. "Why, she was so surprised she fell right out of bed!"

Edith had attended school very briefly, if at all, as a child. She was brought up to be a social lady and hostess; she could barely read or write, and her signature looks like a first grader's.

Woodrow is generally considered to be one of the better presidents, establishing more government control over the economy, and further involving the United States in world affairs.

However, when Woodrow suffered a stroke and was bedridden for many months, Edith in effect served as president of the United States. There was no provision at that time for the vice president to take over when the president was disabled, and Edith would not let Woodrow resign the presidency, saying it would kill him. The country was essentially without a president for the rest of his term, about a year and a half. Edith had taken an interest in governmental affairs (no pun intended) while Woodrow's wife, and was intelligent enough, but no one knew whether her decisions reflected the president's will or merely her own. She let almost no one in to see the president, and gave out no information; no one really knew how bad off President Wilson was.

Still nothing was done about presidential succession until about 25-30 years later.

All photos on this site ©Donald L. Mark 1973-2007    Back to "Presidents' Places" Index