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White House staff in the Woodrow Wilson administration experienced both the death of Wilson's first wife, Ellen Axson Wilson, on August 6, 1914; and Wilson's second marriage, sixteen months later. Chief Usher Ike Hoover recalls this sensitive period in the life of President Wilson, and its effect on the White House as a home and workplace.

After Ellen Wilson's death, writes Hoover, "the place [became] strangely lonesome and different. Mrs. Wilson had . . . endeared herself to all."1 The President, comments Hoover, "accepted the inevitable with a grace and a charm that was inspiring to all about him."2

Within a few months, Wilson began seeing a widow, Mrs. Edith Bolling Galt.3 By the summer of 1915, notes Hoover, "Everyone about the place still had sweet memories of [the first Mrs. Wilson], and yet their sympathies were with the President in his new enterprise. . . ."4

The couple married on December 18, 1915. Ike Hoover records that Wilson had to arrange for the marriage license "in the regular way. . . . He had to pay his fee of a dollar out of his own pocket, and answer all questions just like the humblest citizen."5

Woodrow and Edith Bolling Wilson.

Library of Congress

Footnotes & Resources

  1. Irwin Hood Hoover, Forty-two Years in the White House, 1934 (Westport: Greenwood Reprint, 1974), 60.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Hoover, 62.
  4. Ibid., 64.
  5. Ibid., 71.

Read More: William Seale, "The White House Staff," in The President's House. Washington: White House Historical Association, 1986, 818–822.

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