Woodrow Wilson's good friend and de-facto national security adviser Col. Edward House existed in the days before the position officially existed, but House functioned as Wilson's principal foreign affairs adviser nonetheless. House got the role because he was especially skilled at marginalizing Wilson's successive secretaries of state. First, there was William Jennings Bryan, who thought he and House were good friends even as House was destroying Bryan's reputation with the president behind his back. Bryan was succeeded by Robert Lansing, who was also no match for House. During the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, the secretary of state accompanied President Wilson to Paris, but it was House, not Lansing, who sat in on all the meetings and oversaw all of the negotiations on Wilson's behalf even though at the time, House possessed no official government portfolio and was not an actual federal employee.