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Bermuda 1907

April 18, 2018

Mary Allen Hulbert was a widow when she married widower Thomas Dowse Peck in 1890.  The couple separated in 1907, and she sued for divorce in 1911.

Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as Governor of New Jersey in January 1911.  He and Mrs. Peck had become friends four years earlier.  They enjoyed one another’s company, and Wilson did not hide their friendship from his wife.  The one-time Mrs. Peck would even visit the White House during Wilson’s presidency.

There is a famous photo of Wilson standing next to the seated Mrs. Peck.  She is wearing a long white dress and a huge dark Gainsborough hat.  Wilson is leaning away from Mrs. Peck, but his right hand is on her chair behind her left shoulder.  The photo is very much like those displayed in many Cracker Barrel restaurants and would be unremarkable except for its subjects.

In January 1907 Mrs. Wilson encouraged her husband to keep his resolution to take a winter vacation even though she would not be accompanying him on his trip to Bermuda.  He spent his time bicycling, walking the beach, and preparing a lecture series.  On the first Tuesday of February the Mayor of Hamilton, Bermuda gave a dinner party in Wilson’s honor.  Among the guests was Mary Peck.  Their conversation was playful and witty, but not unusual for a Southern gentleman who enjoyed speaking with women.  However, Mrs. Peck was no shrinking violet.  She even smoked cigarettes!

On the night before Wilson left Bermuda, he was again the guest of honor at a dinner party, this time at Mary Peck’s.  Although he and Mrs. Peck were able to briefly discuss one of their favorite authors, most of Wilson’s time was taken by the men at this gathering.

Thus began a friendship that lasted the entire length of Wilson’s political career.


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