The First Female President

By: Kayla Robinson
OwlFeed Journalist

Edith Wilson, formerly known as Edith Bolling, was the wife of the 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson. Shortly after Woodrow suffered from a horrible stroke that left him incapacitated, Edith declared herself stewardess and took over for him while he recovered.

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Photo Credit: geneaologybank.com

Edith was the second wife of President Wilson and had descended from multiple famous historical American figures including Thomas Jefferson and Martha Washington, and was a direct descent of the Native American Princess Matoaka, also known as Pocahontas.

Although Edith was educated, she disliked college and left after only two terms, claiming her dorm was too cold. Despite formerly taking no interest in politics, Edith took an active role as Lady of the House after the election of her husband to office. Woodrow gave her secret transmissions and informed her of state matters; all the while, she took lead in informing soldiers in World War II of diseases they may face and limiting the use of resources needed in war on certain days.

After President Wilson’s stroke she reviewed material meant for him and made decisions on important matters. She would write notes on the documents and send it back with nervous handwriting that could be mistaken as a handicap’s limited movements.

When in risk of being caught by Senator Albert Fall, she prepared Woodrow to look presentable and took notes for him. Now, I know what you’re thinking: did Edith Bolling Galt Wilson con the entire United States government? Indeed, she did. Edith’s loyalty knew no bounds, she even fired the Secretary of State for hosting a meeting without President Wilson, despite knowing full well he wouldn’t be in the condition to go. She only let the most trustworthy people visit him and took care of him to the fullest extent while he recovered.

When Edith took over, it was less for the good of the country and more for the sake of her husband’s image. Edith had a personal stake in her duties as stewardess, and her lack of knowledge in politics led to incidents such as Edith insisting Edward Grey, the British representative, be fired after he made a joke at her expense. The King of England denied her request and put off the meeting concerning the League of Nations, which may have led to the failure of Wilson’s plan. Now, I told you she was president, I made no claims on her pettiness.

Edith watched over her husband with undying loyalty from the first time they met until his death, and continued to honor him decades later. Despite her former disfavor of politics, she would contact the first ladies after her and take place in political events in the name of her husband. She took it as her duty to keep both of their images squeaky clean, and she did, to a degree.

Edith Wilson didn’t manage to make it into everyone’s history books, despite this being a significant incident in U.S. history. The same can be said for the likes of Deborah Sampson Gannet and Anna Maria Lane, who Mulan’d their way into the American Revolution. The same can be said for many forgotten historical figures that are important, not just in history, but to people looking for someone to look up to. That’s why we have months like women’s history month and black history month, months that are often as dusted over as the figures they were made for.