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Edith Bolling Galt Wilson

Edith Bolling was born in Wytherville, Virginia on October 15, 1872.
Her father, William Bolling was a circuit court judge.

Edith was a descendant of Pocahontas.

She attended two boarding schools.

She married Norman Galt in 1896. He died in 1908. Edith took over running their jewelry store.

For her time she was a "liberated woman." She played golf and was the first woman to obtain a driver's license in Washington, D.C.

She met President Wilson on a visit to the White House in March of 1915. Wilson first wife had died in August of 1914.

Woodrow Wilson said it was love at first sight.

They were engaged in September of 1915. Wilson's advisors were worried that his marrying so soon would hurt his political career. However, they were married on December 18, 1915. They were married at here house rather than the White House.

Edith Wilson
Library of Congress

Woodrow Wilson tried to teach Edith how to ride a bike. Her lessons took place in the basement of the White House.

On October 2, 1919 Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed.

Edith and others thought he should resign the as President, but the doctors encouraged him to continue.

After that Edith allowed only people she approved to see the President. She also reviewed any official papers he needed to see. She also relayed his decisions to officials in the government. She was accused of grabbing power which she denied.

Some people say she was our first woman president because she controlled visit ers and messages to Wilson after he had a stroke.

Wilson got somewhat better, but died in February 1924.

She wrote a book about her experiences as First Lady titled My Memoir.

Her last public appearance was in 1961, she rode in President John Kennedy's inaugural parade.

She died on her husband's birthday, December 28, 1961. She was 89.

Edith is buried next to President Wilson on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

 

 

Topics

First Ladies Home

U.S. Presidents Home





 

Sources of Information:

Books:
Barden, Cindy,Meet the First Ladies, Lorenz Corp.
Gormley, Beatrice,First Ladies: Women Who Called The White House Home (First Ladies) , Scholastic Paperbacks, 1997
Smith, Carter, Editor,Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies DK Publishing, New York, 2002

Web Sites:
The White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/firstladies/
Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/odmdhtml/