Edith Wilson (1872–1961) is often referred to as the first female president because of the important role she filled as First Lady of the United States from 1915-1921. The circumstances she faced had never before occurred during an American presidency. In October of 1919, President Wilson suffered a severe stroke and was incapacitated. To preserve his strength Mrs. Wilson screened all matters of state and only presented what she deemed critical issues to President Wilson from his bedside. This critical role kept the country afloat for the remaining two years of his term.
FIRST LADY EDITH GALT WILSON - PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR AND CAREGIVER
Mrs. Wilson was very proud of her southern heritage. She had grown up in Wytheville, Virginia and was the seventh of William Bolling’s eleven children. Mr. Bolling had welcomed many extended family members into his home – two grandmothers, several aunts, and cousins. Why? Because some of the women had unfortunately lost their husbands at war.
People often say that everything happens for a reason. While not every first lady could take the reins when her husband fell ill, Mrs. Wilson was very capable because she had been prepared for this moment during her upbringing. Her paternal grandmother was paralyzed and confined to a bed. Young Edith Galt had been tasked with her care and in return, her grandmother guided her character development and gave her an eclectic education which was largely supplemented by her father. Later in life, Edith Galt Wilson also cared for her ailing mother.
PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON AND EDITH GALT WILSON ON THEIR DECEMBER 18TH, 1915 WEDDING DAY
Before Mrs. Wilson married Woodrow Wilson, she had been married for 12 years to Norman Galt, a well-known and successful jeweler in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, he died suddenly in 1908. Edith Galt was introduced to President Wilson while he was in office, shortly after his first wife, Ellen Wilson, passed away. Although they got along well from the beginning, they waited until the anniversary of Ellen Wilson’s death had passed before they married, respecting the traditional year of mourning. On December 18, 1915, they became husband and wife.
From the beginning Mrs. Wilson was a very active first lady. She dedicated her life to supporting President Wilson’s efforts. This role became much more significant when President Wilson suffered a severe stroke that left him paralyzed on one side. From that point forward, Mrs. Wilson managed every aspect of his life. She decided all matters of public affairs and only concerned President Wilson with very important decisions. In fact, instead of asking for the assistance of Vice President Marshall, or any other major cabinet member, the First Lady distributed non-critical matters to department heads herself.
FIRST LADY EDITH WILSON ASSISTED PRESIDENT WILSON IN ALL HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES
Mrs. Wilson continued to care for President Wilson in their Washington D.C. home, no more than one mile from the White House, after he left office and until his death in 1924. Edith Wilson continued to be active in the Washington political and social arena until she succumbed to heart failure in 1961 at age 89, on the same day that would have been President Wilson’s 105th birthday.
ELEGANT EMBROIDERED SILK PIECE OWNED BY FIRST LADY EDITH WILSON
Many Americans enjoy collecting artifacts that commemorate the accomplishments and private lives of historical figures such as First Lady Edith Wilson. Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has spent a quarter of a century collecting museum-quality historical artifacts. Many of his treasures include items owned by American presidents and first ladies.
THE STERLING SILVER TYPEWRITER BRUSH OWNED BY PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON
Mr. Amyx is proud to own a handmade linen bag that had been given as a gift to Maggie Rogers, the First Maid who served the Wilson's in The White House. Made from silk, the item features an eagle grasping an American flag. Because women were advocating for the right to vote at the time, there was some concern that that this gift may interpreted as a pro-suffrage gesture. Mr. Amyx acquired the piece directly from Lillian Rogers Parks, perhaps the most famous maid in the history of the White House ( from 1929-1960), and who was the daughter of Maggie Rogers. The President's personal typewriter brush, which he often used in the White House, was also acquired directy from Lillian Rogers Parks.
COLLECTOR OF AMERICAN HISTORICAL MEMORABILIA - RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX
If you would like to open a confidential discussion about buying, selling, or trading museum-quality historical artifacts, please contact Mr. Raleigh DeGeer Amyx.