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May 16, 2018

Woodrow Wilson’s “indiscreet but not improper” friendship with Mary Peck looked like an opportunity for his political opponents to defeat him in 1912.  By 1915 this was old news and not likely to affect the President’s chances for re-election.  What mattered more was whether the public would be okay with Wilson’s courtship of Edith Bolling Galt.  It had been fewer than nine months since Mrs. Wilson’s death when the widower President proposed marriage to Mrs. Galt.  Treasury Secretary McAdoo was worried about the political implications.  Wilson’s good friend Colonel House was also uneasy.  Then, to complicate matters, the former Mrs. Peck visited the White House seeking a favor from the President.

Of course, when Wilson thought of Edith, political considerations were the furthest thing from his mind.  Similarly, when his dear friend from bygone days came to the White House, he thought first of what he could do for her, then whether her visit would hinder his courtship of Edith.  It was up to McAdoo and House to discover any political implications.  They wondered whether Wilson’s financial assistance to the former Mrs. Peck would be viewed as a bribery payment.  She may have been a dear old friend, but to Wilson’s enemies she might look like a former lover with an angle.

If Mark Twain were still alive, she could have sought his assistance.  He and others in that circle had enjoyed Mrs. Peck’s hospitality back in the Bermuda days.  Still, there was no one she was closer to than the President.  She may not have been his lover, but she had been his confidante.  He had trusted her enough to discuss his political ambitions.  Now, with minimal embarrassment, she would ask him for a loan of $7,500.




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