Ellen Axson Wilson to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre




Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University




My darling

Your dear little letter came duly and Margaret's followed last night,—also a long one from Nell yesterday,—all a great delight to me in my loneliness. Though it is not fair to Uncle Stock to use that word, for he has been perfectly lovely to me, and a devoted nurse; even reading to me hours at a time. I haven't had such a “good time” being ill since my mother died!—One afternoon he read the whole of “Macbeth” at one sitting and most superbly! It was the greatest treat!But he is off for New Haven today as one of Edward Woods' party to the game;—and I am very well again. It is an enchanting Indian Summer day, and I have been having a happy morning superintending the setting out of plants in the garden. I have several hundred big new hardy shrubs;—hydrangea, snowball, &c. &c.”—which I am setting out in masses in the new garden & down by '79 for landscape effects. In another year the new garden (by the sundial) is going to be enchanting!You must not think, dear, that your father and I are inclined to criticize your decision with regard to the fraternity. I am sure that you will do what you feel is right, and our opportunities for judging of the situation, as it has developed since your return this fall, are not sufficient to make us feel that we can advise you;—at least not until we can talk it over with you fully at Thanksgiving. Suppose, darling, you try to dismiss it all from your mind until then;—everybody call a halt and stop talking, (as they are trying to do in Princeton!) so that the excitement may die down a bit and the case have a chance to be judged on its merits. They are evidently not doing that now or they would not talk to you so foolishly and unkindly about “loyalty” and “injuring your friends.” Of course, dear, you are not injuring your friends individually nor are you “disloyal” to them as individuals, and,—to put the matter too bluntly to bestrictly true,—the whole object of the movement is to “injure” the fraternities;—to destroy them in fact, because they are founded on selfish principles that ought to be destroyed. It is easy to call people “disloyal,” and other hard names, but they prove nothing at all. I need not tell you again, my darling, how my heart bleeds for you that you must be subjected to all this; but I want you to take what comfort you can from the unquestionable fact that none of the friends who are making it hard for you now will in the end respect you or love you the less for what you do;—even though you should finally resign. After you have all been out of college and away from its atmosphere a short time these things will fall into their true perspective and look very differently. Then you will hear no more of disloyalty. You may remind me of your graduate advisers(!) there,—in the Latin School,—I forget their names. But they, unfortunately for them, have not got away from the undergraduate atmosphere and so do not yet see things in their right proportions.
I had a telegram last night from your father in Cleveland. He is quite well and starts for home tomorrow afternoon. He had a very pleasant visit to Nashville.
Our last sensation is two columns in a N.Y. paper telling about “the disappearance since the hour set for her wedding” of Wilson's Howe's divorced wife. She got her divorce on Oct. 30 & on the 31st it seems she was to marry one Justin Perceval who was also just divorced, but she has not been heard of since that day! This is accompanied with pictures of all parties & flaring headlines stating among other things that her divorced husband was “the nephew of Princeton's President.” Isn't it horrible?Goodbye my precious darling, don't worktoo hard! I can't tell you how eager I am for Thanksgiving. Be sure to bring Flora with you. As ever Your devoted


Original Format






Wilson, Ellen Axson, “Ellen Axson Wilson to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre,” 1907 November 16, WWP17418, Jessie Wilson Sayre Correspondence, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.