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1930s & Earlier / First Female President - Edith Wilson
There hasn't been a female president of the United States, you say? Technically that's correct. However, many historians consider the second Mrs. Woodrow Wilson to have been a de facto president. Woodrow Wilson was first elected president in 1912. His wife Ellen died of Bright's Disease in 1914. In March 1915, Wilson met a widow 15 years his junior, Edith Bolling Galt. A whirlwind romance occurred. The two were married in December 1915. In August 1919, while on a cross-country tour to garner support for his proposed League of Nations, president Wilson suffered a stroke. The seriousness of the president's affliction was not widely known. Throughout the remaining 19 months of Wilson's presidency, Edith greatly assisted her husband. According to her memoirs, she made numerous decisions regarding which tasks and paperwork would and would not occupy the president's time. Some historians claim she went beyond her wifely duties and actually made presidential decisions on her husband's behalf. Wilson died in 1924. After Edith's death in 1961, the stories of her excessive influence on the ailing president helped spur the passage of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which, under special circumstances, gives presidential powers to the vice-president when a president is alive but greatly incapacitated.