CHAPTER XIV
WINNING THE PRESIDENCY

THE SPOTLIGHT THAT FELL on Woodrow Wilson at Sea Girt, in July of 1912, was garish, relentless, and worldly. He squirmed in rebellion as political impresarios, news reporters, brass bands, photographers, and autograph hunters swarmed over the lawn, up on the porch, and even into the house. Outside of his bedroom the Governor had no privacy. Some ten thousand letters came in--more than half from people who said that they had prayed for the nomination of Wilson. He was awed by the trust of the masses and frightened by the pathetic faith of individuals in the omnipotence of their ruler.

Soon he was protesting: ". . . the more these new things crowd upon me the more I seem to be dependent for peace and joy upon those I love. The more public my life becomes the more I seem driven in upon my own inner life and all its intimate companionships." Most of all he rested on the devotion of Ellen Wilson, who was absolutely sure that all this great faith in him would never be disappointed. But he still demanded the refreshment that came in letters from Bermuda, messages trifling and humorous that he could share with his family. "The life I am leading now can't keep up," he wrote to Mary Allen Peck ". . . Not a moment am I left free to do what I would. I thought last night that I should go crazy with the strain and confusion of it." Coming out dripping from a hot room in which he had been sealed up to make phonograph records for the coming campaign, he exclaimed: "If any man ever tries to get me to run for president again, I'll break his neck!"1

Democrats from many states descended on Sea Girt to see the new chief. On the Fourth of July thirty-five members of the National Committee, some of them still sulking over the nomination of an amateur, came to listen and went away enthusiastic. The loyalty of Tammany and of Underwood and his followers was pledged. McCombs was welcomed with thanks for a hard job well done; but this man, who for months had simmered between the fire of Wilson's righteousness and the caldrons of the party bosses, was in no physical condition to

____________________
1
Robert W. Woolley to the writer.

-235-

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