History Podcasts

Edward M. House

Edward M. House

Edward Mandell House, the son of a successful banker and land owner, was born in Houston, Texas. For the next dozen years he devoted his energies to cotton farming and became a wealthy man.In 1892, he supported the dim reelection hopes of Texas Governor James S. He later became a campaign advisor to other Texas governors.In 1910, House relocated to New York City in a move calculated to widen his political horizons. He became acquainted with Woodrow Wilson the following year; this relationship would dramatically change the course of the colonel’s life. House played a prominent role in engineering the Democratic presidential nomination for the New Jersey governor in 1912. He never held an official political position within the administration, but emerged as the president’s chief advisor and go-between.House worked well with Congress and earned a share of the credit for Wilson’s early successes in the enactment of New Freedom legislation.In the spring of 1914, House was sent to Europe on his first official diplomatic mission. Shortly before heading back to the United States, word was received of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (June 1914), but House and many others remained confident that war was not in the offing.Nevertheless, the American public was surprised and saddened when war did erupt in late July. Wilson proclaimed neutrality and in January 1915 dispatched House back to Europe on board the Lusitania for a second official mission. House found that both sides were so heavily invested in the conflict that they feared a public backlash if peace were sought without victory.A third mission took place in 1916, when House met with Lord Grey in an abortive attempt to mediate a conclusion to the stalemated conflict. House had actually exceeded his authority in making this offer, but it mattered little since neither side was ready for serious negotiations.Later, House also served on the Allied coordinating committee, which decided upon vital financial and supply issues. In 1918, he was an armistice negotiator after Germany requested the opening of talks; House prevailed upon reluctant Allies to base the war’s termination on Wilson’s Fourteen Points.In January 1919, House accompanied Wilson to Paris for the peace conference and was instrumental in advancing American positions as well as drafting the Covenant of the League of Nations. The president and House split over the need to compromise to gain acceptance of the Treaty; the two would never again meet after the conference's conclusion in June.In an effort to try to advance the prospects for ratification of the Treaty, House later sent a letter to the seriously incapacitated Wilson, suggesting that he resign in favor of Vice-President Thomas Marshall. The letter was never answered.House published What Really Happened in Paris (1921), his account of the Paris meetings.Colonel Edward House was a superb behind-the-scenes operator whose talents made him an invaluable diplomat and presidential advisor. His courtly manner and unwavering realism tended to temper, at least for a while, Woodrow Wilson's abrupt idealism.

Edward Mandell House

Edward Mandell House was a US deep state actor and an agent of influence for The Money Trust who served as president Woodrow Wilson’s handler on behalf of the banking cartel. Little mentioned in history books, he was so much of an insider that he actually lived in the White House.

He was commonly referred to as Colonel House, although he had performed no military service. Presumably this title was used to provide an appearance of legitimacy to his large influence on US government decision-making despite never holding public office and having no officially declared role in the administration, declining to be appointed to Wilson’s cabinet.

Described by Wikipedia as “a highly influential back-stage politician in Texas before becoming a key supporter of the presidential bid of Wilson in 1912”, with “a self-effacing manner”, who “did not hold office but was an "executive agent", Wilson's chief advisor on European politics and diplomacy during World War I (1914–18) and at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.” Wilson accused House and other top advisors of deceiving him at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, a fact that Wikipedia attributes to “a series of small strokes”.

There appears to be a broad consensus among deep political researchers studying the Wilson era that House played a major role in the passing of the Federal Reserve Act Ώ] , as well as the plot by Anglo-American establishment elites to provoke and prolong World War One ΐ] , both crucial developments in a larger effort to consolidate global economic control into the hands of a small number of ultra-wealthy individuals. Α]

Edward M. House

At 15.28 hours on 29 June 1944, U-984 fired a spread of two LUT torpedoes at convoy ECM-17 about 30 miles south of St. Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight. The first struck the Edward M. House and the second the H.G. Blasdel. Six minutes later, the U-boat fired a single torpedo at one of the damaged ships and missed but struck the John A. Treutlen. At 15.43 hours, a Gnat was fired which struck the James A. Farrell.

The Edward M. House (Master Austin Stuart Fithian) was struck by one torpedo under the stern as she was proceeding as the third or fourth ship in the port column. The explosion threw up a column of water several hundred feet in the air, stoved in the forepeak, flooded the #1 port and starboard deep tanks and buckled the shell plating and the collision bulkhead. The engines were stopped briefly during the damage was examined and then followed convoy. One armed guard and one crewman were injured of the nine officers, 33 men, 28 armed guards (the ship was armed with two 3in and eight 20mm guns) and 587 troops on board. The ship continued to the Normandy beachhead, discharged her troops and equipment the same day and returned to the United Kingdom on 1 July. She was repaired at Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 9 July to 31 October and then sailed for New York, returning to service.

Location of attack on Edward M. House.

ship damaged.

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Very soon, every American will be required to register their biological property [that's you and your children] in a national system designed to keep track of the people and that will operate under the ancient system of pledging. By such methodology, we can compel people to submit to our agenda, which will affect our security as a charge back for our fiat paper currency. Every American will be forced to register or suffer NOT being able to work and earn a living. They will be our chattels [property] and we will hold the security interest over them forever, by operation of the law-merchant under the scheme of secured transactions.

Americans, by unknowingly or unwittingly delivering the bills of lading [Birth Certificate] to us will be rendered bankrupt and insolvent, secured by their pledges. They will be stripped of their rights and given a commercial value designed to make us a profit and they will be none the wiser, for not one man in a million could ever figure our plans and, if by accident one or two should figure it out, we have in our arsenal plausible deniability. After all, this is the only logical way to fund government, by floating liens and debts to the registrants in the form of benefits and privileges. This will inevitably reap us huge profits beyond our wildest expectations and leave every American a contributor to this fraud, which we will call “Social Insurance.”[Social Security] Without realizing it, every American will unknowingly be our servant, however begrudgingly. The people will become helpless and without any hope for their redemption and we will employ the high office [presidency] of our dummy corporation [US] to foment this plot against America.

Edward M. House / <cite>private meeting with Woodrow Wilson</cite>

The greatest embarrassment of my political career has been that active duties seem to deprive me of time for careful investigation. I seem almost obliged to form conclusions from impressions instead of from study. I wish that I had more knowledge, more thorough acquaintance, with the matters involved.

Woodrow Wilson / <cite>The Creature From Jekyll Island</cite>

The Shiffs, the Warburgs, the Kahns, the Rockefellers, the Morgans put their faith in [Colonel Edward Mandell] House. When the Federal Reserve legislation at last assumed definite shape, House was the intermediary between the White House and the financiers.

George Sylvester Viereck / <cite>Strangest Friendship in History: Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House</cite>

In particular, he foresaw it would be necessary for the Fabians to develop a top level Anglo-American planning group in the field of foreign relations which could secretly influence policy on the one hand and gradually "educate" public opinion on the other .

Rose Martin / <cite>as quoted by G. Edward Griffin in The Creature From Jekyll Island</cite>

Further Reading

For House's own story, Charles Seymour, ed., The Intimate Papers of Colonel House (4 vols., 1926-1928), is indispensable. House lacks a full-scale biography, but a perceptive work is Alexander L. George and Juliette L. George, Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House: A Personality Study (1956). See also Rupert Norval Richardson, Colonel Edward M. House, vol. 1: The Texas Years (1964). The interested reader should also consult the many works of the Wilson scholar Arthur S. Link, including Woodrow Wilson (1963). □

[email protected] of Nebraska - Lincoln



Date of this Version


Bruce, S. D. Woodrow Wilson's Colonial Emissary: Edward M. House and the Origins of the Mandate System, 1917-1919 (unpublished dissertation - University of Nebraska)


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: History, Under the Supervision of Professor Lloyd E. Ambrosius. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Scot David Bruce


After World War I, reallocating the former German and Turkish colonies proved to be one of the more challenging feats of the peace process. After months of negotiation in 1919, first in Paris, then in London, the various national leaders agreed to create the mandate system, which proved to be a compromise between outright colonial expansion and genuine independence, whereby the former German and Turkish colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East were mandated to the conquering nations in trust until the indigenous peoples were deemed ready to administer their own governments and societies. For decades, the mandate system was viewed by scholars as a genuine departure from the traditional forms of European colonialism so prevalent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This study departs from previous interpretations while accounting for the key contributions from past scholars, providing both new direction and new conclusions. The analysis is largely philosophical in nature, tracing the primary American role in developing the mandates, while examining the developmental ideas behind Wilsonian principles such as national self-determination. Moreover, though Wilson himself is crucial to the study, the historical lens is primarily Edward M. House, who was Wilson’s most trusted advisor, with a particular aptitude in the realm of foreign affairs. House was instrumental in forming the mandate system from 1917 through 1919.


After a short interval, the house was purchased in 1891 by Edward M. Reynolds, a banker who came to Mason from east Texas having previously lived in New York. Even though the Broad residence was already the largest and most luxurious in Mason, Reynolds envisioned something much grander. He hired the German architect Richard Grosse to remodel and enlarge the house. Grosse, who had immigrated to Texas in 1883, was the architect of many of Mason County’s sandstone buildings, including the Lutheran Church in Mason, the Methodist churches in Art and Hilda, the original high school (now the Historical Building), and the county jail.

In redesigning the Reynolds house, Grosse added the third story and the wraparound porches. Although he kept most of Broad’s original structure intact, he replaced the bay window with a more prominent alcove and raised the second-story windows. Grosse’s masterpiece, completed around 1896, was a stunning, asymmetrical Italianate mansion of 22 rooms.
Local author Stella Gipson Polk attended children’s parties at the Reynolds house in the early 1900s and recalled that the huge basement was “just right for children playing hide-and-go-seek.”

Jennie Reynolds(left) was Postmistress of Mason for many years, having been appointed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Edward Reynold(right)

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Diary, Reminiscences, and Memories (original transcriptions) of Colonel Edward M. House are digitized and also available on microfilm (HM 236) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. Four logbooks kept during the Paris Peace Conference are also available on microfilm (HM 68). Patrons must use the digital copies, the microfilm, or use copies instead of the originals.

Original audiovisual materials, as well as preservation and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers must consult use copies, or if none exist must pay for a use copy, which is retained by the repository. Researchers wishing to obtain an additional copy for their personal use should consult Copying Services information on the Manuscripts and Archives web site.

Preservation History Database

The Warburg Mansion is a case study in architectural adaptation and assimilation in the battle to bring a Gilded Age mansion into modern museum usage.


Designation Status and/or Current Status

Key Dates in Preservation Activity

Preservation History

Archives, Personal Files, Ephemera & Oral Histories

The Warburg Mansion was built in 1907-08 by the architect Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert (often referred to as C. P. H. Gilbert) for Felix M. Warburg, a prominent Jewish financier and philanthropist. On a plot of land across from the Central Park Reservoir at 92 nd Street and Fifth Avenue, at the northern end of “Millionaires’ Row,” Gilbert constructed a Late Gothic/Early Renaissance Revival mansion. The Warburg Mansion was one of the numerous opulent Gilded Age mansions that were built in a range of architectural styles along Fifth Avenue, but it is significant today not only for its history and design but also for its survival where many of the other residences have been lost to demolition.

C. P. H. Gilbert, an architect known for using diverse styles when designing commissions for his wealthy clients, utilized for the Warburg Mansion the so-called François I mode, introduced by Richard Morris Hunt in the 1880s. This style was “adapted from the transitional Late Gothic and Early Renaissance styles of the Loire Valley.” Yet Gilbert’s design favors the Gothic details to those of the Renaissance, and in a bolder scaling. 1 Much of the exterior was left as relatively simple expanses of Indiana limestone, with the majority of the ornament concentrated on the upper part of the house. The choice of the Gothic style, closely linked to ostentatious church architecture, led Warburg’s father-in-law Jacob H. Schiff to criticize the house, concerned that it would incite anti-Semitism. 2

The mansion contained more than fifty rooms, many with rich detailing and wood paneling. Having grown up in these lavish surroundings, Edward Warburg would later recall that “father used to say had he had any idea what kind of family he was going to have, he never would have built a house as formal as this.” 3 The ground floor contained a grand stairway, rooms for the family’s art collections, and spaces for philanthropic, social, and business meetings. On the second floor were the formal spaces of the conservatory, dining room, and a music room with a built-in organ. The third floor contained the more intimate spaces of the sitting room, breakfast room, and parents’ quarters, with the children’s quarters on the fourth floor. On the fifth floor Warburg had his squash court, and the sixth floor housed the servants’ quarters.

Warburg occupied the house with his wife Frieda and five children until his death in 1937, after which the family moved out. By 1941, after Frieda’s attempts to donate the house to a museum failed, news reports stated that the house would be demolished to make room for an 18-story apartment building designed by Emery Roth. 4 However, by 1944 Frieda successfully transferred ownership of the mansion to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America for use as a museum, which opened in 1947 as the Jewish Museum. 5

“The Felix M. Warburg mansion, one of the finest representatives of its style and of its era surviving in New York, is an eloquent reminder of the initial development of Fifth Avenue as a street of grand mansions and town houses, a testimony to the architectural elegance of an entire age as well as to the talents of an individual architect. Moreover, its current use as the Jewish Museum is a fitting tribute to the original owner and his family ­– to their beliefs, ideals, and traditions…The mansion itself is a tangible reminder of one facet of Jewish life in American history, and as such is one of the museum’s more important treasures.” 6

The Warburg Mansion has housed the Jewish Museum since 1947. In 1981 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated landmark status on the mansion.

1980: Landmark designation of the Warburg Mansion is brought up at a LPC hearing but the Jewish Museum requests to defer action

1981: Plans are revealed to construct a residential tower next to the mansion neighborhood action, led by Genie Rice at the Willard Straight Block Association, gathers over 900 signatures on a petition against the tower

November 1981: The Warburg Mansion is designated a New York City Landmark

1982: Alliance to Preserve the Warburg Mansion brings together seven block associations and over 70 individuals to collect more than 4,000 signatures against the construction of a tower

April 1982: The Board of Estimate upholds the building's landmark status, but in a compromise allows a modified construction plan for a tower

1988: New construction plan for museum addition scraps plans for tower and opts to expand with Kevin Roche’s seven-story design using the mansion’s Gothic Revival style

Major changes to the mansion began in 1962 with the construction of the List Building on an adjoining lot on Fifth Avenue, providing much-needed space for the museum. The three-story building, with its modern design by Samuel Glazer, shifted the entrance from the original impressive 92 nd Street entry to one on Fifth Avenue. 7

Less than a decade later in 1970, the Jewish Museum successfully opposed landmark designation by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), not wishing to limit their ability to fully utilize the property. 8 But in 1980 landmark designation came up again at a LPC hearing, and the Jewish Museum requested to defer action. 9 The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the owner of the property, opposed landmark status for the building as it would impede with their plan to construct a residential tower in the place of the List Building. By April 1981 neighbors began to organize against the development of the proposed tower, which would alter the character of the neighborhood the Willard Straight Block Association appointed Genie Rice as its representative in the campaign to secure landmark status for the mansion. Despite the success of “Dear Neighbor” letters that brought in more than 900 signatures as well as attendance at Community Board meetings, the Board voted against recommending landmark status in June. 10

In November, as the LPC voted to designate the Warburg Mansion a New York City landmark, the Jewish Museum presented architectural plans for a 25-story tower attached to and cantilevering over the mansion, citing the need for the funds which the luxury apartment tower would generate for the museum. 11 In anticipation of the Board of Estimate meeting which would approve or disapprove landmark designation, a coalition was formed, consisting of the Willard Straight Block Association, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, and Unity of 92 nd Street, which petitioned Mayor Ed Koch and Borough President Andrew Stein with more than 1,200 signatures from the community. 12 By February 1982 a larger coalition, the Alliance to Preserve the Warburg Mansion, came together, consisting of seven block associations and 73 individuals, with Rice appointed as coordinator. Their concern was not only the effect of the proposed tower on the fabric of the neighborhood, but also the landmark designation of the mansion, the validity of the New York City Landmarks Law, and the strength of the LPC. While the meeting with the Board of Estimate was laid over at the request of the Jewish Museum, the Alliance gained support in speakers and in signatures, with over 4,000 signatures by late March. 13 This activity of the Alliance would eventually lead to the relaunch of CIVITAS, a new community organization to preserve and promote Manhattan's Upper East Side and East Harlem, under the leadership of Rice, August Heckscher, and Frank Lichtensteiger. 14 With a final meeting on April 1, the Board of Estimate voted unanimously to uphold the landmark designation, but with a compromise that allowed for a smaller-scaled tower, 19 stories instead of the original 25, and narrower so as to not cantilever over the mansion. 15

Despite this compromise, by 1988 the Jewish Museum had altered their construction plans again, this time towards something more community-minded and more likely to be agreeable to the neighborhood. Rather than a post-modern residential tower, an addition to the museum was proposed that would continue the late Gothic Revival style limestone façade across the Fifth Avenue lot where the List Building had stood. The seven-story design of Kevin Roche, of the firm Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo & Associates, differed from his other modern projects such as the Ford Foundation Building or his renovations to galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The plans, which gutted much of the interior including the grand oak stairway, doubled and modernized the museum space, and brought the entrance back to the grand 92 nd Street entry. With a seamless exterior look, the design was met with support by the surrounding community. 16 In 1993 the Jewish Museum reopened with the Roche addition complete, masterfully crafted by the Cathedral Stoneworks team from the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in limestone from the same quarry C. P. H. Gilbert used. 17 With this expansion the museum became the largest Jewish Museum in the world outside of Israel. 18

The Warburg Mansion landmark designation process “demonstrated that citizens can have power if they are organized and committed and persistent.” 19 –Genie Rice

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<i>Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand: The Life of Colonel Edward M. House</i>

Godfrey Hodgson, Journalist, author, and former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar commentatorsRobert Beisner, Professor Emeritus of History, American University David Patterson, Independent Scholar.

Date & Time


In September 1911, presidential contender Woodrow Wilson paid a visit to the Manhattan apartment of a gentleman whose political skills had been recommended to him. The gentleman, Colonel Edward M. House (the "colonel" was a Texas honorific), soon became a key member of Wilson's presidential campaign. After Wilson's election in 1912, House became Wilson's close friend and most trusted advisor. In fact, Godfrey Hodgson stated at a Division of U.S. Studies' discussion of Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand, House became Wilson's de facto "assistant president for foreign policy." House is "my second personality," Wilson declared "his thoughts and mine are one."

Back in Texas, House had been a political kingmaker responsible for the election of three governors. Wilson gave House the opportunity to take his ambitions to the national stage, and House began the process in the election of 1912 by helping deliver Texas for Wilson. The president-elect responded by giving House control of patronage in the new administration – an extraordinary power for a private citizen

House's most crucial role, however, was in the area of foreign policy. House traveled to Europe frequently and, in the early years of the Wilson administration, was more attuned to the signs of impending war than most Americans. With Wilson's knowledge, he tried to negotiate between German and British officials in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent war. After this country's entry into World War I in 1917, House established a working group of scholars, described by Hodgson as made up of "Brahmins and refugees," to draw up a plan for the world once peace was achieved. In January 1918, Wilson decided to give a speech on the subject, and he and House sat down in the White House one night at half past ten to rough it out. They drew in part on a draft submitted by Walter Lippmann, a member of the working group. House later wrote in his diary that he and Wilson "finished remaking the map of the world. at half past twelve o'clock." The result was the Fourteen Points. It was also, Hodgson said, the beginning of the process by which diplomacy was taken out of the hands of the State Department.

House returned to Europe as Wilson's trusted emissary, and was successful in persuading the European powers to agree to an armistice in November, 1918. He quickly became "second only to President Wilson as the most influential delegate at the peace conference in Paris," according to Hodgson. When Wilson came back to the United States for the end of the lame duck congressional session in February 1919, he left House behind to hammer out an agreement on the basis of the Fourteen Points. Returning to Europe in March, Wilson accused House of compromising Wilson's dream by conceding too much to the allies' demands. This strained the friendship, but it soon broke, Hodgson declared, in part because Wilson's judgment was affected by a series of strokes and in part because of Wilson's second wife's dislike of House. The loss in 1919 of an opportunity for a lasting peace was therefore due to some extent to Wilson's insistence on imposing his moral vision on the world, his ignoring of House's skills as a realist and negotiator, and House's failure to remember that the only power he had was dependent upon Wilson's continuing faith in him.

Robert Beisner explored the institutional implications of the House-Wilson relationship. Seeking competence, loyalty and discretion, Wilson in effect emasculated the State Department. Franklin D. Roosevelt followed this pattern by relying on Harry Hopkins during World War II. Dean Acheson was able to redress the balance somewhat after the war. As Undersecretary of State during the Truman administration, at a time when the Secretary was frequently out of the country (1945-1947), Acheson became extremely close to Truman and began to alleviate Truman's suspicion of the State Department. The process continued when Acheson was named Secretary himself in 1949 and successfully battled competing institutions and advisors, becoming Truman's chief foreign policy advisor.