Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney




Woodrow Wilson discusses his work at Princeton University and his writing plans with his friend Richard Heath Dabney.




My dear Heath,

Will you pardon me if I write you a letter on my type-writer? The only pen that I can write with is half a mile away, in the summer study which I have established in one of the college buildings, and I don't want to delay writing to you until I can fetch that pen. I have not written to you this long time past because I was (I feel quite certain) the hardest worked man in the United States; but now that I can write I am in a hurry to do it.

I have not forgotten that handsome review of “The State”, which you wrote for the Presbyterian and Reformed Review (even the criticisms of which I enjoyed, for I had no doubt they were just): for that I owe you hearty thanks. Your appreciation of my work went straight to the right place and heartened me immensely. I hope that there was not too large a modicum of the leniency of affection in your praises of the book. I am curious, too, to know whether you have heard any one speak of his experience with the book as a text for class use.I feel very lonely sometimes to think of you away off so many, many miles from me and of all the stimulation and comfort I might get, if I could but renew our old comradeship. Distance and prolonged separation do not cool friendships, at least not friendships that struck deep as ours did, but they do sadly curtail opportunities for the sort of growth which is to be had only by intercourse with those whose minds and whose hearts alike you can repose perfect confidence in. How do I know that a fellow who is not my friend and intimate is not talking foer efeffect?

Apparently it must still be several years before I can get away from home easily even in vacation, so much work have I, and so many engagements of one kind or another. This summer I am pegging away at that 'Epoch of American History' which I have had to postpone writing until now because of new class work constantly pressing for first attention. But cannot you get this far, even if you have to bring some work with you? I am not too busy to spend half the day with you, and it would do us both a world of good to see you once again. Think about it, old fellow, and try. There are a thousand and one things it would do us both good to talk about.My work here is proving very stimulating indeed: it is like lecturing constantly to cultivated audiences, for my electives number about 160 men each; and it stimulates me immensely to have to interest so many minds in the more abstruse topics of jurisprudence. Political Economy, which at present I have charge of, I shall presently get rid of, for we are to have a special chair of Economics. Then I shall be lecturing wholly within the special field of my choice, and shall expect to grow into some sort of power and success, especially if my dearest scheme, the establishment of a law school here on the Scottish and European plan of historical and philosophical, as well as technical, treatment, should become a realized plan. And everything is ready for its realization, except the money!

By the way, you have generally been in Washington when the Economic Association was in session: what men among its younger members have made the best impression on you,—such an impression as men of real thoughtfulness and of teaching ability ought to make?

Write to me soon to prove that you forgive my long silence; accept the most affectionate messages from us both; and come soon to Princeton.

As ever of old,

Affectionately yours,
Woodrow Wilson

Original Format






Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Woodrow Wilson to Richard Heath Dabney,” 1891 July 1, WWP20440, University of Virginia Woodrow Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.