CHAPTER XI
"PRIME MINISTER" OF NEW JERSEY

AS HE SETTLED into the routine of office at Trenton, Woodrow Wilson was deeply moved, he said, by his "new responsibilities as representative and champion of the common people against those who have been preying upon them." He took delight in his congregation of all sorts and conditions of men, and he felt very close to them. He was finding politics "the very stuff of life, its motives . . . interlaced with the whole fibre of experience, private and public, its relations . . . intensely human, and generally intimately personal." In a speech in November he had remarked that "a man's fortune is interesting only when it is lifted upon a great tide." Discovering that the current of popular feeling was running strongly with him, Woodrow Wilson thrived in body and spirit.

To his family the Governor-elect was still the knight in glistening armor, and for his sake they put up with danger and discomfort. Their hearts fluttered when at the inaugural ball two officers forbade guests to carry muffs or handbags, for fear of concealed weapons. Moving into a small suite in the Princeton Inn, eating in a public dining room, the Wilsons felt cramped financially as well as materially. In the absence of housekeeping duties, however, Ellen Wilson could concentrate her talents on her husband's business. She learned the tactics of politics quickly. Tumulty loved her as he had loved the mother whom he had lost. "She's a better politician than you are, Governor," he said to his chief.

One day, pestered by a fanatical idealist, Wilson remarked: "There should be a sign on the desk of every reformer: 'DON'T BE A DAMN FOOL!'" He must call a tune that his people could be persuaded to follow. And so, in aiming his program for reform legislation, the Governor restrained impulse with cold reason and concentrated on the measures most needed to give the people a healthful sense of control over their government and with it a feeling of responsibility. Realizing that the Democrats who sat in the legislature1 would press for the passage of

____________________
1
In the new Assembly the Democrats had a majority of 42 to 18, but at least ten of the party's assemblymen were henchmen of the fallen bosses. In the Senate the Republicans held a majority of 12 to 9, though in the Democratic minority Wilson was able to find four able spokesmen.

-181-

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