THE FINAL CURTAIN
"The carrying out of that promise [an association for peace] is the test of the entire sincerity, integrity and statesmanship of the Republican party." HUBERT HOOVER, October 9, 1920.
THE TREMENDOUS tidal wave that washed in Harding should have come as no surprise to Wilson. The signs all pointed so clearly in one direction that his friends tried to cushion the inevitable blow. On the very day of the election the Cabinet members met, but in response to their warnings Wilson imisted: "The American people will not turn Cox down and elect Harding. A great moral issue is involved." As ex-Secretary Lane later noted, "Such faith, even in oneself, is almost genius!"
When the election returns poured in, Wilson took the shock unflinchingly. To Tumulty he remarked simply, "They have disgraced us in the eyes of the world." At the next Cabinet meeting Wilson looked worried; but he expressed concern, not for himself, but for the distraught world.
A host of admirers addressed letters to the White House, urging Wilson not to be downhearted; he had fought the good fight, and the people were proud of him. To his daughter Eleanor he wrote that no harm had been done to him or to anything essential; but he was distressed because the country now had to face a period of great trial. Symptomatic of a heavy heart was his request that Secretary Colby draft the annual Thanksgiving proclamation; while Wilson bore no resentment, he found it difficult to frame a proper statement.
The outspoken Bryan publicly called upon Wilson to appoint Harding his Secretary of State, and then resign along with Vice President Marshall. But Wilson ignored such ap