WILSON, Woodrow, (1856-1924), President. Typed letter signed ("Woodrow Wilson") as President, to a cousin, Mary E. Hoyt, Cornish, N.H., 26 September 1915. 2 pages, 8vo, on embossed Presidential Cottage stationery, with White House envelope containing two monogrammed wax seals on verso. In protective quarter red morocco gilt slipcase. In superb condition.
A PRESIDENT TAKES A BRIDE. WILSON ANNOUNCES HIS ENGAGEMENT: "A GREAT HAPPINESS HAS COME TO ME IN THE MIDST OF MY LONELINESS"
Two years after the death of his first wife, Woodrow Wilson tells a cousin of his engagement to Edith Galt. "Something very delightful has happened to me which I am not yet at liberty to tell others but which I want you to know among the first. A great happiness has come to me in the midst of my loneliness. Mrs. Norman Galt, a lovely Washington woman (born in Virginia) whom I first met in April last through Helen...has promised to marry me. When you know her you will know why it was inevitable that I should fall in love with her, for she is wholly delightful and lovable." Wilson explains that Mrs. Galt is free of the taint of Washington society: "She is known here for everything that is fine and nothing that is touched with the small spirit of the society folk of the place..." He extolls her "wonderful...gifts both of heart and of mind" but asks Hoyt to "please for the present keep this as an absolute secret. We are not yet ready to let others know of it, though we shall, of course, make public announcement of the engagement in due time."
Another Wilson cousin, Helen Bone, introduced Edith Bolling Galt to the President in April 1915. The widow of a noted Washington jeweler, Mrs. Galt was 43 when she met the president, whose first wife had died in 1913. An intense romance soon blossomed, and the couple was inseparable throughout that summer, spending much time at the President's cottage in Cornish, New Hampshire, or on Wilson's yacht. The press complied with Wilson's request not to photograph them together, or to mention his early morning departures from her Washington residence. The couple was married on 18 December 1915, in a private ceremony at which the Marine Corps band played both "Hail to the Chief" and "Here Comes the Bride."
The President's September 1919 stroke thrust the new Mrs. Wilson into unwanted historical prominence. For the last 18 months of the administration she screened her invalid husband from public and Congress, selecting only a few issues for his attention, leaving Cabinet heads to handle the rest. After Wilson's death in 1924 Edith Wilson remained in Washington, and lived to ride in the Inaugural Parade of John F. Kennedy in 1961.