President Edith Wilson Twitter viral as Kamala Harris takes post for a day

Yasmine Leung November 19, 2021
President Edith Wilson Twitter viral as Kamala Harris takes post for a day

Kamala Harris made history on 19 November 2021 as the first female acting president of the United States after Joe Biden temporarily transferred power due to his routine colonoscopy. Meanwhile, Edith Wilson – wife of Woodrow Wilson – entered the conversation since she was labelled the ‘first woman to run the government’.

The nation’s first female, first South Asian and first black vice-president made history once more when Joe Biden transferred power on Friday morning ahead of his colonoscopy.

Biden resumed his duties at around 11.35am, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

It is routine for the vice-president to take on duties when the president is under anesthesia, as laid out in section 3 of the 25th Amendment.

While Harris officially became acting president, Edith Wilson started trending on Twitter since she took over many duties on behalf of her husband, Woodrow Wilson, essentially becoming the ‘first female president’.

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Who was Edith Wilson?

Edith Wilson (née Bolling) was born 15 October 1872 in Wytheville, Virginia, and passed away on 28 December 1961 aged 89.

Edith’s first husband was Norman Galt, of luxury jewellery brand Galt & Bro, who she met in Washington, DC.

The couple married on 30 April 1896 and welcomed a son in 1903. However, their baby died a few days later and, due to the difficult birth, she was unable to have further children.

When Galt passed away in 1908, she inherited his wealth and used it to enjoy frequent trips to Europe.

She met President Woodrow Wilson in March 1915 at a White House tea. Wilson had lost his wife, Ellen Axson, in 1914.

By December 1915, Edith and Woodrow were married.

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Why was Edith Wilson president?

She served as the first lady of the United States from 1915 to 1921. On returning to the US after the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Wilson suffered a stroke in October, leaving him bed-ridden and partially paralysed. Therefore, she was unofficially president from October 1919 to March 1921.

The first lady took up many routine duties, gaining a controversial reputation. It didn’t help that she married Wilson soon after the death of his first wife.

Edith was the president’s constant attendant and reports claim she chose which visitors to admit or turn away. However, she wrote in her 1939 memoir that she “never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs” – she labelled it as “her stewardship”.

It wasn’t her intention to become president, simply to protect Wilson. At the time there was no system that detailed the proceedings after the disability of the president – the 25th Amendment was only ratified in 1967.

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.