Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

A “what if?” from 1916

Another reason why Woodrow Wilson is one of the most fascinating American presidents ever: in the midst of an exceedingly tense election, in 1916, he devised a plan to abdicate the Oval Office earlier than necessary.

woodrowwilsonThe precarious state of relations with the nations at war in Europe, particularly Germany, made Wilson fear for national security in the event of an interregnum — which then, before the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, lasted more than a month longer than it does today. A former professor of political science who had studied and admired parliamentary systems, Wilson decided upon a drastic plan to shorten this uneasy period.

Two days before the election he had a sealed letter, which he had typed himself, hand-delivered to the secretary of state, who was then third in line of succession to the presidency. Wilson wrote that if he lost he would immediately appoint his Republican opponent, Charles Evans Hughes, secretary of state, and then he and his vice president would resign, making Hughes president at once. Wilson said he was proposing this plan because those were not “ordinary times” and “no such critical circumstances in regard to our foreign policy have ever existed before.”

More historical op-eds, please.

(image from flickr user stefanie says under a Creative Commons license)

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December 11, 2008 - Posted by | History, U.S. politics |

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