Joseph Patrick Tumulty

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Joseph Patrick Tumulty in 1913.

Joseph Patrick Tumulty (pronounced TUM-ulty) (May 5, 1879 – April 19, 1954) was an American attorney and politician from New Jersey. He is best known for his service, from 1911 until 1921, as the private secretary of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.


Tumulty was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to Philip and Alicia[1] on 5 May 1879.[2] He attended St. Bridget's school and graduated from Saint Peter's College, New Jersey in 1901.[1] Tumulty was active in Democratic state politics in New Jersey. He served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1907-1910.

Presidential advisor[edit]

As a state legislator, Tumulty acted as an advisor to Woodrow Wilson in his 1910 gubernatorial campaign. He then served as Wilson's private secretary in 1911, when Wilson was Governor of New Jersey and from 1913-1921 when Wilson was President of the United States. This position would in later years become the White House Chief of Staff. In 1916 after Wilson's reelection, anti-Catholic sentiment from his wife, Edith Wilson, and from his adviser Col. Edward M. House caused Wilson to fire him, until intervention by his former student David Lawrence caused him to be reinstated.

Tumulty's dismissal-and-reinstatement was a fateful move, as Wilson's absence from active-day-to-day executive leadership in 1919-1920 during the negotiations at Versailles, and his later severe stroke and illness, meant that significant shares of the work of the White House was done by Tumulty and by Edith Wilson, and after 1916 their relations were not friendly.

Immediately after Wilson's retirement in 1921, his former private secretary published a tell-all memoir, Woodrow Wilson As I Knew Him (1921). The publication enraged Tumulty's former boss, who took steps to let his intimates know that the former private secretary would never again be admitted into Wilson's presence or inner circle.[3]

Tumulty died in 1954. He is buried in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland.



  1. ^ a b Sackett, William (1919). Scannell's New Jersey's first citizens and state guide. J.J. Scannell. pp. 454–455. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  2. ^ Bennett, David J. (2007). He Almost Changed the World: The Life and Times of Thomas Riley Marshall. AuthorHouse. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-4259-6562-4. Retrieved 06-12-2011.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ "Wilson-Tumulty Breach Widened By Repudiation of 'Message'". The Pittsburgh Press. April 14, 1922. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 

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