While this nation has yet to elect its first woman president—and though history has downplayed her role—just over a century ago a woman became the nation’s first acting president. In fact, she was born in 1872, and her name was Edith Bolling Galt Wilson. She climbed her way out of Appalachian poverty and into the highest echelons of American power and in 1919 effectively acted as the first woman president of the U.S. (before women could even vote nationwide) when her husband, Woodrow Wilson, was incapacitated. Beautiful, brilliant, charismatic, catty, and calculating, she was a complicated figure whose personal quest for influence reshaped the position of First Lady into one of political prominence forever. And still nobody truly understands who she was.
With narrative verve and fresh eyes, leading historian on women’s suffrage and power Rebecca Boggs Roberts takes an unflinching look at the woman whose ascent mirrors that of many powerful American women before and since: one full of the compromises and complicities women have undertaken throughout time in order to find security for themselves and make their mark on history.
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