WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 1924 (UP) - A nation's sorrow at the death of Woodrow Wilson was expressed today in the silencing of the wheels of government, flags drooping at half staff and a proclamation from President Coolidge declaring the highest honors that can be paid shall be accorded the war chieftain of the nation.
Wilson died at 11:15 a.m. Sunday while prayers for him were ascending in the churches. He simply went to sleep and died without a struggle or pain.
Mrs. Wilson decided the body of her husband shall be laid to rest with private and simple ceremony.
Rear Admiral Cary T. Grayson, physician and friend of Mrs. Wilson, announced the funeral arrangements from the front step of the Wilson home on S. St.:
"A brief private service will be held at the Wilson house at 3 o'clock p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.
"This service will be followed by a service at 3:30 o'clock at Bethlehem chapel of the Washington cathedral.
"After this the body will be placed in the crypt of the cathedral.
"The services will be conducted both at the house and the chapel by the Rev. James H. Taylor, pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church of Washington, where Mr. Wilson attended when president; the Rev. Sylvester Beach, who was Mr. Wilson's pastor when he was president of Princeton University, and the bishop of Washington, the Rev. James E. Freeman."
Admiral Grayson said that no provisions had been made for the body of the late president to lie in state in the rotunda of the Capitol, as Senator Robinson, minority leader of the Senate, stated earlier in the day after a call at the Wilson home probably would be the arrangement.
Mrs. Wilson desires that the funeral of her husband be private and simple, Grayson said, and there accordingly will be nothing in the nature of a state funeral.
The fact the body is to be placed in the crypt at Washington Cathedral indicates, Grayson said, that no final decision has been reached by Mrs. Wilson as to where the former war president will be buried.
Grayson believes the crypt will be only a temporary resting place for his former distinguished patient. But, he stated, he did not know where the final burial will be.
Mrs. Wilson this morning had recovered somewhat from the fatigue of a vigil which lasted practically unbroken from Thursday on.
William G. McAdoo and Mrs. McAdoo, a daughter of Mr. Wilson, are speeding east from California. A telegram said they could not reach Washington before 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The storm doors of the Wilson residence hardly had been thrown open early this morning when the first of a steady stream of callers - high government officials, former associates of the late president, family friends and others - began to arrive to leave messages of condolences and sympathy for Mrs. Wilson and Miss Margaret Wilson.
When the Senate and House met at noon, official notice of Wilson's death was given and adjournment was taken until tomorrow.
After Republican leader Longworth made official announcement in the House, Representative Garrett delivered a brief eulogy on the wartime president. Senator Robinson, Arkansas, Democratic leader in the Senate, delivered the eulogy in the upper house.
Henry Cabot Lodge, who killed Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations in the United States Senate, today eulogized the man he so bitterly fought in the struggle which eventually left Wilson a broken, crippled invalid.
Standing on the very spot in the Senate where he delivered so many bitter attacks on the league, Lodge today said in a speech:
"I believe for all my colleagues on this side of the chamber that we have heard with profound sorrow the formal announcement of the death of President Wilson. Mr. Wilson was a man of remarkable ability and strong will."
News of the death reached President Coolidge while he was at church. He and Mrs. Coolidge drove directly to the Wilson home and left their cards.
Long before Wilson died, he knew that his end was coming soon. With calm resignation he lay waiting for it. He became unconscious Saturday night and a few hours later passed without knowing it into the sleep that never ends.
A few minutes before, two of his physicians, Rear Admiral Grayson and Dr. Sterling Ruffin, examined him and found him barely alive.
His heart, weary with the long struggle, was just fluttering in the last stages of fatigue. It was certain the end was very near.
Dr. Ruffin left the house, but Admiral Grayson stayed at the bedside to be there at the end.
Mrs. Wilson and the former president's daughter Margaret rearranged the pillows to make Wilson more comfortable. Then Mrs. Wilson sat down at the beside and watched.
After 15 minutes, before Wilson died he came out of his long sleep and opened his eyes, but apparently did not regain consciousness.
Mrs. Wilson and his daughter, Margaret, who were sitting on opposite sides of the great four poster bed, spoke to him, but he showed no recognition.
At times Mrs. Wilson leaned lightly over the bed and stroked the feeble arm. But already life was flickering too faintly to respond to these last touches of affection.
Anxiously her eyes followed Admiral Grayson each time he leaned over the listen to Wilson's heart, and then, with the nod of assurance, she would settle back with a weary sigh.
But once when Grayson bent over the ex-president, the doctor's face tightened as Mrs. Wilson watched. There was a moment of agonized suspense - a flicker of doubt. Then a sad shake of the doctor's head.
"His eyes remained open for about 10 minutes," Grayson said, describing the death scene, "and then he closed them and passed away shortly afterward just like a tired man going to sleep."
There was a gasp from Mrs. Wilson, and a moan of grief from Margaret.
Five minutes later the anxious crowd of watchers in front of the house saw the door open. Admiral Grayson came out. The visible grief written on his tired face foretold the news.
Newspaper reporters rushed up while police held the crowd on the opposite curb.
In a low, breaking voice, Grayson read the statement announcing the death, as follows:
"Mr. Wilson died at 11:15 this morning.
"His heart action became feebler and feebler and the heart muscle was so fatigued that it refused to act any longer. The end came peacefully. The remote causes of death lie in his ill health which began more than four years ago, namely arteriosclerosis and hemiplegia. The immediate cause of death was exhaustion following a digestive disturbance which began in the early part of last week, but did not reach an acute stage until the early morning hours of Feb. 1. CARY T. GRAYSON."
Wilson suffered a paralytic stroke just after he was brought back to Washington following his collapse at Wichita, Kan., in 1919.
He never regained full use of his left arm and leg, although specially designed exercises helped some.
Thus closed the book of the man who threw the sword of America into the balance at the crisis of the world's greatest war.
The voice which carried the message of the Wilson soul into the darkest recesses of the world had become stilled forever.
The scene in front of the house when the death was announced was heart rending. Here were gathered several hundred persons, whose eyes, red with weeping, testified that they were drawn by affection, not by curiosity.
Some remained gazing at the house. Others, feeling a personal loss for this man to whom they had never even spoken, walked slowly down the hill, wiping their eyes.
A young woman clerk, poorly dressed, went up to the door just after Admiral Grayson had returned inside. She carried a single white lily and handed it in her humble tribute to departed greatness.
Then came a 5-year-old boy clutching a large red rose. He rang the bell and the Negro attendant stooped down to take the flowers. Little Sammy White was too young to know much about the man who had just passed away, but his father works at Walter Reed Hospital and, from him, Sammy had gathered that Wilson was to be honored.
Hardly had little Sammy pattered across the street to his mother than a great black limousine rolled up with the President and Mrs. Coolidge. They stepped out, and the president handed two cards to the door man. They turned away with solemn faces, entered their auto and drove away.
President Coolidge issued a proclamation late yesterday ordering suitable military and naval honors for the funeral and directing that flags be kept at half staff on public buildings here for 30 days.
The war president died on the seventh anniversary of a momentous step in his public career. On Feb. 3, 1917, Wilson took the decisive step which was to throw America into the war and drive through the German lines to victory. He dismissed the German ambassador, Count von Bernstorff, and severed diplomatic relations with Germany.
Last Wednesday, Admiral Grayson was away on a hunting trip when Wilson ate several things which upset his stomach. Just what it was that caused the disturbance, Dr. Grayson does not know.
The practiced eye of Mrs. Wilson detected trouble. She telegraphed Grayson to rush back. He arrived the next day to find Wilson up about the house, dictating letters, reading the newspapers and following his usual routine.
Grayson made a hasty examination. There were ominous symptoms. He ordered Wilson to bed immediately.
The former president gradually began to weaken.
Friday morning, shortly before dawn, there came a sudden turn. Grayson and the two consulting specialists made a new diagnosis. They decided that death was not far off. Grayson told Mrs. Wilson and intimated as much to the patient.
Wilson himself had sensed that his struggle was near an end.
"I'm a broken piece of machinery," he said with a sad smile. "When the machinery breaks down, I'm ready."
There was no struggle as the tide started out. Wilson lay quietly, while his strength slowly ebbed away. Friday he was still conscious and in good spirits.
"Too many cooks sometimes spoil the broth," he remarked as the three doctors marched into the room for an examination.
During the night he sank lower. Saturday he was too ill to speak above a whisper. Toward evening he fell into a coma. His spirit, wearied of life's trials, had already begun to take wing. But life clung on a little longer and saw the bright Sunday sun come in at the windows once more.
Then at the hour when prayers were going up from the pulpits of the land, he opened his eyes - but they saw nothing. They were the empty windows of a soul already on its way. A few moments later they closed wearily again.
Woodrow Wilson was dead.