Walter Hines Page to Woodrow Wilson




Page writes to President Wilson about his need to take medical leave.


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum



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Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.


My dear Mr. President:

I have been struggling for a number of months against the necessity to write you this note; for my doctors now advise me to give up all work for a period - my London doctor says for six months. I have a progressive digestive trouble which does not yield to the usual treatment. It’s the war, five London winters, the monotony of English food and the unceasing labor wh. is now the common lot. I am ashamed to say that these have now brought me to something near a breakdown. I have had Sir. Wm Osler as well as two distinguished London physicians for several months. The digestive trouble has brought other ills in its train (I’m glad to say no organic disease); and I am assured that they will yield to freedom from responsibility and complete rest for a time in a dry, warm climate and that they are not likely to yield to anything else.

I see nothing else to do, then, but to bow to the inevitable and to ask you to be kind enough to relieve me and to accept my resignation to take effect as soon as I can go to Washington and make a somewhat extended report on the work here which, I hope, will be of some use to the Department; and I ought to go as soon as possible - say, in September. I cannot tell you how great my disappointment is that this request has become necessary.

If the world and its work were so organized that we cd do what we should like to do, I shd like a leave of absence till the winter be broken and then to take up my duties here again till the war end. But that, of course, is impracticable. And it is now a better time to change Ambassadors than has before come since the war began. My five years’ service has had two main phases - the difficult period of our neutrality and the far easier period since we came into the war. But, when the war ends, I fear that there will be again more or less troublesome tasks arising out of commercial difficulties.

But for any reasonable period the Embassy’s work fortunately can now go on perfectly well with Mr. Laughlin as charge - until my successor can get here. The Foreign Office like him, he is persona grata to all other Departments of the Government, and he has had a long experience; and he is most conscientious and capable. And the organization is in excellent condition.

I venture to ask you to have a cable message sent to me (to be deciphered by me alone). It will require quite a little time to pack up and to get away.

I send this, Mr. President, with more regret than I can express and only after a struggle of more than six months to avoid it.

Yours sincerely,

Walter H. Page

Original Format





Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918, “Walter Hines Page to Woodrow Wilson,” 1918 August 1, WWP25081, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.