Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney




Woodrow Wilson congratulates his friend Richard Heath Dabney on his engagement and prospects for a teaching position in history at the University of Virginia.




My dear Heath,

I need hardly tell you, 'in so many words,' that my interest in the contents of your last letters has been so great as almost to overcrow my great disappointment at losing all hope of having you with me next year. With the news of your engagement I was simply delighted: for it is evident, my dear fellow, from what you say that you have secured the girl you want, just the one you need and ought to have: and my own happy experience under similar circumstances prompts me to congratulate you with all my heart—and her: for I am convinced, after mature reflection, that she might do worse, whatever her own charms and deserts, than marry thee—even thee, thou very ass!I am only less gratified to hear of your good chances for the chair at the University of Va. ('mum's the word'!), since they seem to be real chances. That would indeed be a real prize (though the chair is still burdened with English and Rhetoric, is it not?) and I should rejoice to think of you back at the old place—I love it almost as much as you do—in the most influential faculty in the South. You would be very much to be envied: but I should not envy you because I want to see you at the top of things. I might envy another fellow, but not one of my own chums.—I put myself entirely in your hands with reference to a letter from me to be used in your candidacy, if you should want such a document. If you will send me the one you have, I will address it specifically to the Board of Visitors: or I will write another one to them, if you wish. You know the field best, and the best tactics, and I hope you will speak out in the matter.

The prospect now is for $850.00 for my assistant here next year—one thousand the year following (that's really the best our Trustees can do at present). I am afraid that the 'powers' would not wait till June to choose—indeed I am sure they would not: the field will be picked over before that; but it is possible that we may have to wait that long anyway: for the choice practically rests with me, and I am surprised to find, now that you are out of the question, how few men there are to choose from. I may not satisfy myself with anyone before June.

I enjoyed your Courier piece immensely—it's a rattler.

With love as ever

Your sincere friend,
Woodrow Wilson

Original Format






Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney,” 1887 February 17, WWP20430, University of Virginia Woodrow Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.