Has anyone ever ruled the world

Edith Wilson: US President - almost 100 years before Hillary Clinton

The year is 1920. A stout, round-faced woman in a long dark dress hurries with energetic steps through the White House with letters and files in her arms. At the entrance, a bunch of journalists with notepads ready to hand tries to catch a glimpse of the person who rules here: them.

Excuse me, Ms. Clinton, but America's first de facto ruling President - she already existed. Thirty years before Hillary Clinton's birth, Edith Wilson, Woodrow Wilson's second wife, ran the Oval Office for 17 months. Nobody had chosen her, she never called herself president. Nevertheless, she took on many government duties after her husband was unable to perceive her after a severe stroke.

At that time - unlike today - the constitution did not regulate what happens when the president can no longer perform his duties. There was no mechanism that automatically transferred power to the Vice President.

Complicating matters further, Wilson’s Vice President Thomas R. Marshall showed little ambition. Even when Wilson lay in bed paralyzed and amnesia, he vehemently refused to take on his duties - for fear of assassinations.

Almost no school education, but understanding and a sense of duty

Wilson's work threatened to crumble. In view of this, and following the advice of Wilson's doctor - who feared that if Wilson lost his position, he would lose his will to live - the first lady took matters into her own hands. Not out of political ambition, but out of love. She and her future husband were both widowed, quickly fell in love, and married just three months after they first met in 1915. Edith Bolling Galt, the daughter of impoverished Virginia landowners, was 14 years younger than Woodrow and had only been to school for two years. But she had a keen mind and a strong sense of duty.