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How Woodrow Wilson's secret illness solved a depression and paved the way for America's 'first female president


A history lesson in deception from the executive branch.

Recently we spoke with financial analyst Jim Grant on his new book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself," or what Grant ironically called America's last "governmentally unmedicated" depression.

One of our questions for Grant concerned perpetual progressive thorn in Glenn Beck's side, Woodrow Wilson, and how it came to pass that Wilson failed to intervene during the recession of 1920-1921.

President Woodrow Wilson. (Photo Credit: President Woodrow Wilson. (Photo Credit:

For while Woodrow Wilson would leave office on March 4, 1921, to be succeeded by the comparatively laissez-faire President Warren Harding, Wilson himself remained largely hands off in his handling of a calamitous recession that would remarkably last only 18 months.

The answer to why Wilson remained hands off, which in Grant's view helped America recover speedily from one of its sharpest economic downturns, lies in a story that comprises one chapter of Beck's "Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America."

"[Wilson was] incapacitated, and so was his administration," says Grant. He continued, "His [Wilson's] instincts and his track record were in the direction of heavy-handed interventionism. During the war, full-blown war socialism took place. In fairness he was in favor of a balanced budget thereafter, but his policies were in the direction of interference."

Indeed as told in chapter 3 of Beck's new book, "Woodrow Wilson: A Masterful Stroke of Deception," the president, during the final months of his second term, was largely kept out of public view.

For during a trip around the country in September of 1919 in support of the League of Nations -- the creation of which was to be his crowning achievement as president -- Wilson would succumb to a debilitating illness, a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed on his left side.

[instory-book ISBN="9781476783895"]

How was Wilson able to continue executing his duties as commander-in-chief following the debilitating episode?

How did the public, let alone members of the federal government fail to discover Wilson's ailment and call for his replacement as president?

That answer lies largely in the imperious figure of his second wife, Edith.

Edith Wilson, the president's ambitious spouse, would cleverly manage the affairs of her husband, while manipulating the federal government and the press in order to protect Woodrow Wilson and his legacy.

The world would not discover the astounding truth until decades later.

Nor was this to be the first or last deception pulled off by a president to protect power -- a bipartisan problem since time immemorial.

Read "Dreamers and Deceivers" for the whole remarkable story.


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