Skip to main content

Of Love, Guilt, And The Combustibility Of Letters

July 2024
1min read

James C. Logan of Montreal, Canada, writes to make a complaint and provide a footnote: “As a long-time Canadian admirer of President Woodrow Wilson, I was very interested in the article entitled ‘Love and Guilt: Woodrow Wilson and Mary Hulbert’ in your April/May, 1979, issue. I regret the insinuations about the relationship, for which there is no iota of proof. … Wilson’s letters, with their terms of endearment, might suggest something more than the platonic in the relationship, but proof? I have just received Volume 29 of Arthur Link’s Papers of Woodrow Wilson , and I have read through the previous 28 volumes, and I still have found no proof. … Even Theodore Roosevelt, to his eternal credit, refused to make use of anything scandalous in this connection: ‘You cannot make a Lothario,’ he said in the 1912 campaign, ‘out of a man who looks and acts like an apothecary’s clerk.’

“Where are Mary Hulbert Peck’s letters? Well, 250 of them perished in the fireplace of Bernard Baruch’s home, if my information is correct. A number of years ago, I started collecting original letters written by Woodrow Wilson through the American Library Service and now own 45 of them. I could have been the owner of 250 of Mrs. Peck’s letters, too. The American Library Service telephoned me one weekend more than fifteen years ago to offer me these letters at a price of $12,500. That weekend my wife and I decided not to answer the telephone, so I missed the call. The letters were sold by the A.L.S. to a private collector. When Bernard Baruch heard of the sale, he offered to buy them for $300,000, and did so. He wanted to destroy them just in case there was something incriminating in them. Whether there was any such evidence, of course, will never be known now.”

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.