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May 1915

May 9, 2018

Ellen Axson Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson, died on August 16, 1914.  In March 1915 the widower President was introduced to Washington widow Edith Bolling Galt.  On May 3 Wilson told her he loved her and wanted her to be his wife.  Edith, although flattered, was somewhat surprised.  She replied: “Oh, you can’t love me, for you don’t really know me, and it is less than a year since your wife died.”

But Wilson was persistent…  and methodical.  He had already received the approval of his family before broaching the subject with Edith.  He had even arranged to be alone with Edith on the South Portico while his dinner guests were on the South Lawn.  Woodrow Wilson, who had spent most of his life in academia, was no slouch when he needed to execute a plan of action.  However, Edith was not ready to be conquered.

Four days later, right after lunch, the President learned the Lusitania had been sunk.  It would be hours before he would learn the details, including the tremendous loss of life.  Meanwhile, he canceled his golf plans and went for a drive instead.  That same day he wrote to Edith: “My happiness absolutely depends upon your giving me your entire love.”

Over the next few weeks the President seemed to be making progress in his campaign to win a commitment from Mrs. Galt.  Then, on the final day of the month, the former Mrs. Peck visited the White House.  Her financial situation had deteriorated since she had become divorced, and she came to ask the assistance of an old friend who had enjoyed her hospitality during better times.

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