Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney




Woodrow Wilson writes his friend Richard Heath Dabney that he misses his friends at the University of Virginia Law School.




Dear Heath,

Though so long and persistently quiet, I am still in the land of the living. Various duties connected with settling down to life here at home have so occupied my time as to preclude extensive or even limited letter-writing. But I had not forgotten you and the other boys—no, not by a large majority—though I had entirely forgotten the bundle of clothes that I left with you. I am sorry to have given any cause for trouble or anxiety about them and am a thousand times obliged to you for your care in the matter.

As for my health, I now know that to leave the University was the most prudent step I could have taken. My doctor found my digestive organs seriously out of gear and has confirmed me in the belief that, had I remained at the University and there continued to neglect systematic medical treatment of myself, I might have confirmed myself in dyspepsia and have fixed on myself a very uncomfortable future.

But, despite the fact that I am still far from well, and that a wretched spell of weather has prevented my rapid recovery, I am again steadily at work on the law, and am making very satisfactory progress with it. I find that, having gone so far under competent guidance, I now know the land-marks of the subject quite familiarly enough to enable me to explore it with safety and advantage; and I am naturally very much encouraged to find that I can travel so well alone—or, at least, work with so little travail, if you'll excuse the pun!I miss you and the other boys of ?? more than you would believe, Heath; and when Saturday night comes, I find myself wishing that I could drop in at the Jeff. again. Whom have you elected GP in my stead? and what was the ultimate fate of the new Constitution in the Jeff? To what fate did the medal question come? Are there any new candidates for any of the honors of the Society in the field? Tell me all you can about the frat. and about the Jeff., when you write—which do as soon as ever you can. I'm fairly hungry for news from you and about you, and about the rest of the boys. Remember me to all my friends by name—and especially to Blackstone, to whom give a special message of love. If my determination to leave had not been so suddenly arrived at and my preparations in consequence necessarily so hasty, I could not easily have forgiven myself for failing to see him to tell him good-bye. Tell Charlie Kent that I shall look eagerly for a letter from him; give my love to George Preston; and assure Joe Blair that, away from him, I would scarcely think that I existed were it not for the reflection, “cogo, ergo, sum.”You see, I shall expect all the news to come from you; from me there's none to come, except that I'm cultivating the acquaintance of some of the Wilmington girls, and am occasionally figuring in private musical entertainments as one just risen in the firmament of vocal stars. Altogether, however, I am passing a very hum-drum student's life.

Ask Charlie to give my love to Miss Mattie and Miss Susie Minor when next he visits them and to remember me to my other friends among the University young ladies. Don't tell Joe of my message to Miss Susie! His cogitations concerning me might be unkind.Who secured my room? I hope Charlie and Pendleton did; though I fear my dilatoriness in presenting their names, destroyed their chances.

Excuse this rambling budget of messages and believe me, with much love,

Your sincere friend,
T. Woodrow Wilson

Original Format






Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney,” 1881 February 1, WWP20419, University of Virginia Woodrow Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.