Woodrow Wilson Death

As the 28th president of the United States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) had served two terms in office, from 1913 to 1921. He was a highly respected leader known for his intellect and dedication to democracy. However, his administration was not without criticism, as he faced strong opposition from Congress and the American people over his handling of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. His sickness was also a source of controversy because of the secrecy surrounding it.

A Series of Strokes

Wilson had a history of illness. He already had strokes even before becoming the president. His first known stroke was in 1896. He experienced pain in his right arm and lost some movement in his right hand. In 1906, when he was president of Princeton (formerly known as the College of New Jersey), he had another stroke that left him nearly blind in his left eye. In 1913, during his first term as President of the United States, he had a serious stroke that caused temporary paralysis in his left arm. However, he denied that he was seriously ill and continued to work.

In 1919, Wilson attended the peace conference in Paris that followed World War I. On April 3, he contracted the Spanish flu. Six months later, he suffered a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed. He was unable to speak or walk without assistance and spent the rest of his life bedridden. Despite this, he still planned to run for a third term in office. The president’s inner circle, including the president’s wife (Edith Wilson) and the White House physician (Dr. Grayson), kept news of the stroke secret from the masses. They thought that the president would recover and that it would be best if the public did not know the extent of his health issues.

Edith communicated with the Cabinet members on his behalf and decided which concerns Wilson should be made aware of. She increasingly controlled access to him and acted as his unofficial chief of staff. When his sickness was discovered, it set up the 25th Amendment, which stated that the vice-president will take over if the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Final Years and Burial

Wilson lost the 1920 election to Warren G. Harding. He and his wife moved from the White House to a townhouse in Washington, D.C. Wilson’s health continued to decline. In his final years, he continued writing essays, albeit with physical difficulty due to his frail health.

On February 3, 1924, Wilson suffered a massive stroke and died at the age of 67. His funeral was held at the National Cathedral, and he was buried in Washington, D.C., making him the only president to have been buried in the capital.