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Exactly the Right Priorities

May 23, 2018

In 2018 it would be equivalent to more than $185,000.  So, when Mary Allen Hulbert, a.k.a. the former Mrs. Peck, asked Wilson for a loan of $7,500, she was not asking for a small amount.   With an annual salary of $75,000, Wilson was quite capable of helping his one-time confidante.  His real problem was political optics rather than personal finance.

In addition, members of the Cabinet were concerned the President would not be re-elected if his courtship of Edith Bolling Galt resulted in marriage before the end of 1916.  A grieving widower might get the sympathy vote of a compassionate nation, but someone who remarried too soon might incur the wrath of the women voters in the Western states,… at least, that’s what the Cabinet thought might happen.  They were probably somewhat relieved that universal suffrage had not yet been ratified.

The Cabinet nominated McAdoo and Colonel House to speak with the President.  McAdoo, who in addition to being the Treasury Secretary was also the President’s son-in-law, told Wilson he had received an anonymous letter which stated that Mrs. Hulbert had been offering to sell some of Wilson’s letters.  That could make the $7,500 look like a payoff instead of a secured loan.  If Wilson were to marry before the 1916 election, surely these letters would also come to light.

Woodrow Wilson took decisive action, but not as the Cabinet might have hoped.  He immediately “confessed” everything to Edith.  Since his relationship with the one-time Mrs. Peck had not been physical or even romantic, it is not exactly clear what he needed to say.  He just didn’t want anything to stand between him and Edith.  They were married December 18, 1915.  Less than eleven months later, despite having given love a higher priority than his political fortunes, Woodrow Wilson was elected to a second term as President.

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