BLOG POST #1: INTRODUCTION
Read the posts and solve a mystery linked to President Wilson’s 1915 wedding to Edith Bolling Galt. The new First Lady and Woodrow Wilson make a dramatic appearance in Murder Between the Lines, the second novel in the Kitty Weeks Mystery series, which features the adventures of bold newswoman Capability “Kitty” Weeks in World War I era New York. For more historical surprises, sign up for the Kitty Weeks newsletter: firstname.lastname@example.org
On August 6, 1914, just a few days after World War I broke out, tragedy struck the White House. Ellen Axson Wilson, President Woodrow Wilson’s beloved wife of almost thirty years and mother to their three grown daughters, died of Bright’s Disease. Her devoted husband plunged into depression. Seven months later, his cousin, Helen Bones introduced him to her friend, the handsome 38-year-old Washington widow, Mrs. Edith Bolling Galt. Mrs. Galt owned her late husband’s jewelry store and drove around town in a jaunty electric motor car. The president was smitten. His future bride described the first evening they spent together in her memoirs:
“Thereafter I never thought of him as the President of the United States, but as a real friend. That evening started a companionship which ripened quickly. He, Helen and I often went for motor rides after dinner… We talked over the things which were rapidly developing in the conduct of the War. From the first he knew he could rely on my prudence, and what he said went no further.”
Everyone seemed happy for the President when he and Mrs. Galt announced their engagement in October 1915. (Everyone that is, except for Kitty Weeks’s irascible boss, Helena Busby, editor of the Ladies’ Page of the New York Sentinel who thought it was too soon after the death of the former First Lady!) Wilson and Mrs. Galt married on December 18th of that same year. The new Mrs. Wilson never left her husband’s side, even traveling with him to Europe at the end of the war to attend the Paris Peace Conference.
In 1919, after the war ended, President Wilson suffered a stroke and collapsed. He was little seen for the rest of his term in “the worst instance of presidential disability we’ve ever had” (Wilson scholar, John Milton Cooper, as quoted in the Washington Post). During that time, Mrs. Wilson and the president’s personal physician, Dr. Cary Grayson, controlled all access to the patient. Even as she attempted to downplay her role in her incapacitated husband’s administration, Mrs. Wilson said:
“So began my stewardship. I studied every paper, sent from the different Secretaries or Senators… I, myself, never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs. The only decision that was mine was what was important and what was not, and the very important decision of when to present matters to my husband.”
Who was this woman with little formal education from Wytheville, Virginia who sprung onto the public scene in 1915 and ended up shepherding the United States through turbulent times? The arrangements for her wedding to Woodrow Wilson provide some clue to her personality.
In the course of this blog tour, I describe four different aspects of their wedding plan: The Location, Guest List and Attendants, Ceremony and Officiants, Dress and Flowers. The wedding went off as arranged, except for one significant last-minute change—which provides an insight into the future First Lady’s personality. Your mission is to guess what changed and why. The answer will be revealed in the final blog post.
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