Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney




Woodrow Wilson advises his friend Richard Heath Dabney on his teaching career.




My dear Heath,

I am full of disappointment about the way things have gone here. These Trustees here—or, at any rate, those who guide them,—are so parsimonious that there is no prospect at all of my having a competent assistant within any reasonable period—unless a man of independent means who don't care for salary can be had! They have come down in the amount which they offer, instead of going up—as they could do, for all I can see—and as beyond question, of course, they should do, to make it worth anybody's while to come to this expensive place. They now purpose offering, at the most, $1100 for the first, $1200 for the second year of a two years' engagement. And of course this shuts you out. I could not with decent regard for the duties of friendship advise you to come for a dollar less than $1,500 (the sum I had the first year) I could not have lived on that the second year, with a child: it then took every cent of $2,000; and I could not pretend to keep house now—or, for that matter, to board comfortably—with two babies, were I not getting an additional $500 for the Johns Hopkins. With the present resources of the college there can be no great advance in salary; and to accept less than enough at first would be to risk continuing with less than enough. Less than enough to marry and live rationally on, I mean of course, for I am speaking to your case—not to that of a starving bachelor. Oh, I am beyond measure disappointed! I shall henceforth be all the more eager for the turning up of a chance to get a chair of public law or the like somewhere else. I have received your book and have dipped into it enough to feel that you can afford to wait for openings in the east. I am presently going to have a few days of 'Easter vacation' in which to read the little volume through; but I have already read enough of it to be sure that it is what I expected—tip-top. Accept my heartiest thanks for it, my dear fellow,—I shall prize it doubly—for your sake, as well as for what everybody else will find in it, clearness, fulness, skilful speed of treatment. But more of it hereafter. You already have my hearty congratulations.

Mrs. W. joins me in warmest regards to you.

Affectionately Yours,
Woodrow Wilson

Original Format






Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney,” 1888 March 26, WWP20433, University of Virginia Woodrow Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.