- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 30, 2006

STAUNTON, Va. (AP) — Old documents detailing the health of President Woodrow Wilson indicate his physical condition was worse than previously reported.

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library commemorated the 28th president’s 150th birthday on Thursday by opening documents that appear to show Wilson’s closest associates trying to cover up his declining health.

About 10,000 private papers from the president’s physician, Dr. Cary Grayson of Upperville, Va., were donated to the library by the doctor’s family last year. They had been tucked away in the family’s home for more than 80 years, and archivists spent the past few months sorting them.

“It is my opinion, having looked at a few hundred of these documents, that we’ve actually underplayed the severity of Wilson’s health,” Eric Vettel, the library’s executive director, said during a C-SPAN broadcast Friday from the library in the city where Wilson, a Democrat, was born.

In letters, Dr. Grayson writes of two operations performed on Wilson’s nose in July and September of 1918. The operations, which the library suspects were probably performed to remove polyps, previously had not been made public.

Dr. Grayson also writes in a 1915 letter to his future wife about a secret trip he made with Wilson to an eye specialist in Philadelphia after a fall that impaired his “good” eye. Wilson had been seeing the eye specialist regularly since an earlier stroke had partially blinded him.

In a letter to Democrats, Dr. Grayson wrote that Wilson would be fit for a third term, despite also expressing doubts in his personal diary on the same day. In one photo, Wilson’s walking cane was airbrushed out of the picture.

Mr. Vettel described the cover-up of Wilson’s health problems as “unintentional.”

“They’re trying to figure out what to do,” he said of the president’s associates. “They’re not sure what to do. They were trying to keep the office looking stable.”

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