No Cognitive Test For Me, Please

I can sympathize with President Biden’s recent comments about cognitive tests. I believe he said something to the effect that every day is a mental...

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The First Lady President

If the past is prologue as someone has said, perhaps it is time to revisit the final term of Woodrow Wilson, whose wife some say become the country’s de facto first female president because of his extended illness.

Wilson was the 28th president of the United States, serving from 1913 to 1921. I am no historian. But in the context of today’s current events, his story seemed to take on new relevance. At least to me.

Here’s what the University of Arizona had to say about the situation on the Internet:

“Months after contracting the Spanish flu, Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke on October 2, 1919. This left him incapacitated and unable to perform his presidential duties. The situation was unprecedented, and the country faced a critical question: who would lead in Wilson’s absence? The answer lay in the hands of two key individuals: Dr. Cary T. Grayson, Wilson’s personal physician, and Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the president’s second wife.

“Dr. Grayson, despite being evasive about Wilson’s true condition, painted a rosy picture, claiming that the president’s mind remained clear and active. However, only he and Edith Wilson knew the full extent of Woodrow Wilson’s illness.

“Edith, fiercely protective of her husband, kept the truth hidden from the public. For a year and a half, the United States effectively operated under an unelected shadow government of two: Edith and Dr.  Grayson.

“The rest of the month following Wilson’s stroke was a tense period of health crises. Despite his denial, it was clear that Wilson was seriously ill. His wife, Ellen, consulted doctors who gave grim assessments.

“In essence, the United States navigated a delicate balance between official government structures and the behind-the-scenes influence of Edith Wilson, ensuring continuity despite the president’s incapacitation. Woodrow Wilson’s hidden illness left a lasting impact on American history, revealing the power dynamics at play during moments of crisis.”

Also available on the Internet is a compelling article published in the March 7, 2023, Smithsonian Magazine, How Edith Wilson Kept Herself—And Her Husband—In the White House. It is an excerpt from the book, Untold Power: The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson by Rebecca Boggs Roberts, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2023 by Rebecca Boggs Roberts.

Check it out.

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