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Neighbors of DuPage

William Hazelgrove’s Madam President chosen as Literary Guild Selection

Nov 07, 2016 09:58AM ● By Neighbors Magazines

Women have assumed presidential power before, as this compelling portrait of Edith Wilson shows. Has America already had a woman president? William Hazelgrove’s Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson makes a compelling case to that effect, detailing how First Lady Edith Wilson assumed many of her husband’s responsibilities after Woodrow Wilson suffered a crippling stroke. Pairing historical facts with a lively, engaging narrative, Hazelgrove sets the scene leading to the President’s health crisis. Wilson came to office with preexisting hypertension and arteriosclerosis. World War I and the unsuccessful fight to join the League of Nations took a further toll on his well-being.

Following the October 1919 stroke, Wilson was left partially paralyzed and blind in one eye. He was also physically weak, psychologically overwhelmed, and hardly fit to serve. Hazelgrove’s portrait of Edith reveals a capable, devoted woman, unexpectedly forced to play a major part in governing the United States. The pressure placed upon Mrs. Wilson was intense. The President’s post-stroke condition had to be kept confidential so as not to alarm an already anxious nation. Wilson’s political rivals needed to be subdued as well, particularly “venomous serpent” Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, as Edith called him, and the pugnacious Theodore Roosevelt, both men portrayed vividly by Hazelgrove. Despite his health issues, Wilson did not concede to Vice President Thomas Marshall.

Therefore, until the end of Wilson’s term in 1921, Edith quietly handled a triage of Oval Office matters while acting as her husband’s confidante and caretaker. Gesturing to Edith Wilson as “Madam President” is shown to be deserved, though her role was never officially acknowledged. For a woman who had little formal education or prior political experience, Edith Wilson’s efforts to keep the White House afloat are shown to have been extraordinary. 

Madam President brings Edith Wilson’s so-called petticoat government to its rightful light, and offers a poignant look at Woodrow Wilson, as a lover, a husband and a leader.

“An amazing secret unveiled about our country’s past! Before women could vote, one woman became the acting president through a twist of fate and love for her husband, President Woodrow Wilson. William Hazelgrove’s riveting style lets us into the backrooms of the White House to see how a woman who had only two years of formal education was able to pull it off—and do it for two years. Incredible. A great read—and ride!”
—ROBIN HUTTON, author of the New York Times bestselling Sgt. Reckless

“Heritage and history! William Hazelgrove chronicles Edith Bolling Wilson’s strong, independent nature in his enlightened account of one of the most controversial but powerful women of the twentieth century. The reader comes away with a new appreciation for Mrs. Wilson’s selfless motives and a better understanding of why this progressive Virginian has been called ‘Madam President.’”
—FARRON SMITH, founder of the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation and Museum

Events Scheduled for Presentations of The First Woman President:

The Book Store, Nov 12th, 1:00pm — Glen Ellyn, IL
Andersons Bookstore, Nov 16th, 7:00pm — Downers Grove, IL
Centuries and Sleuthes, Nov. 26th, 10:00am — Forest Park, IL
Centuries and Sleuthes, Dec. 4th, 2:00pm — Forest Park, IL
The Book Stall, Jan 19th, 6:30pm — Winnetka, IL


Nov 20 Waterline Reading Batavia IL 7PM
Dec 5 Nineteenth Century Club Oak Park IL 1 PM
Jan 18 Riverside Library Riverside IL 7 PM
Feb 18 Oak Brook Library Oak Brook IL 2PM
Mar 18 Deerfield Library Deerfield IL 3PM
May 3 Wilmette Womens Club Wilmette IL 1pm