Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney




Woodrow Wilson discusses a possible job opening at Bryn Mawr University for his friend Richard Heath Dabney.




My dear Heath,

I have not written to you before because things have been at a standstill with reference to the Associate question; and I can now do little more than chronicle that fact. The authorities wish to wait till they can hear more about some English candidates, concerning whom Canon Creighton has written them, before taking action; and I am waiting, to oppose, with what efficacy I can, an English appointment, so long as we can do as well as we could wish in America. You may be sure that I will bear in mind all you have said about your candidacy, and conduct your case accordingly.

The question you put about the probable stiffness of the Trustees in holding a man to his agreement of service for a definite term of years is a 'mighty' interesting one—to all of us here, as well as to you: I wish I could answer it. I can only state probabilities. One of our number got a good offer and resigned; the trustees offered him a better salary and the privilege of accepting it without signing a new agreement; he stayed and is now serving without any written contract—a free man. That is the outside history of the case: I don't know its inside history. I conclude from it that the 'powers that be' would not prevent a man who was determined to leave. They would hardly, I suppose, be so shortsighted. It would not hurt for one to ask point blank about the matter before signing, I think. But it's a 'mighty' interesting question.

I am pretty sure, from the inquiries I have made, that it would not be possible to get board such as you would have for $1200. The lowest figure for first-class board would probably be from $1600 to $1800. If the scheme of building cottages to be rented to the Professors, which is now under consideration, be carried out, there will doubtless be rooms for you out here at rates somewhat below what it would cost you to live in town and pay $500 per month car fare. But I intend to extend my inquiries and can probably give you more certain figures hereafter.

I've put off speaking about your book, my dear fellow, to the last of my sheet, but not to the last of my thought. I am indeed delighted that you are going into print, and through the medium of such a tip-top house! You're a brave chap to make your first venture in that much discussed field (your Washington and Lee lectures?) but I'm not afraid. I look forward to finding the little volume first class as I look forward to rising and taking a little nourishment to-morrow. Hurrah and hurrah!!

With sincerest regards from us both, I am, oh thou illimitable idiot, in haste and affection

Thy very assinine chum,
Woodrow Wilson

Original Format






Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney,” 1888 January 20, WWP20432, University of Virginia Woodrow Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.