Died: February 3,
1924 in Washington D.C.
Married to Ellen
Louise Axson Wilson and to Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
Like Roosevelt before
him, Woodrow Wilson regarded himself as the personal representative
of the people. "No one but the President," he said, "seems
to be expected ... to look out for the general interests of the country."
He developed a program of progressive reform and asserted international
leadership in building a new world order. In 1917 he proclaimed American
entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world "safe for
Wilson had seen
the frightfulness of war. He was born in Virginia in 1856, the son of
a Presbyterian minister who during the Civil War was a pastor in Augusta,
Georgia, and during Reconstruction a professor in the charred city of
Columbia, South Carolina.
from Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) and the University of
Virginia Law School, Wilson earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University
and entered upon an academic career. In 1885 he married Ellen Louise
rapidly as a conservative young professor of political science and became
president of Princeton in 1902.
His growing national
reputation led some conservative Democrats to consider him Presidential
timber. First they persuaded him to run for Governor of New Jersey in
1910. In the campaign he asserted his independence of the conservatives
and of the machine that had nominated him, endorsing a progressive platform,
which he pursued as governor.
He was nominated
for President at the 1912 Democratic Convention and campaigned on a
program called the New Freedom, which stressed individualism and states'
rights. In the three-way election he received only 42 percent of the
popular vote but an overwhelming electoral vote.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson
(December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President
of the United States (1913–1921). A devout Presbyterian, he became
a noted historian and political scientist. As a reform Democrat, he
was elected as the 34th Governor of New Jersey in 1910 and as President
in 1912. His first term as president resulted in major legislation including
the Federal Reserve System. Reelected in 1916, his second term centered
on World War I and his efforts in 1919 to shape the Treaty of Versailles,
which was rejected by the Senate.
Wilson came of age
in the decades after the Civil War, when the Congress was supreme—"the
gist of all policy is decided by the legislature"—and corruption
rampant. Instead of focusing on individuals in explaining where American
politics went wrong, Wilson focused on the American constitutional structure.
Under the influence
of Walter Bagehot's The English Constitution, Wilson saw the American
Constitution as pre-modern, cumbersome, and open to corruption. An admirer
of Parliament (though he first visited London in 1919), Wilson favored
a parliamentary system for the United States. Writing in the early 1880s,
"I ask you
to put this question to yourselves, should we not draw the Executive
and Legislature closer together? Should we not, on the one hand, give
the individual leaders of opinion in Congress a better chance to have
an intimate party in determining who should be president, and the president,
on the other hand, a better chance to approve himself a statesman, and
his advisers capable men of affairs, in the guidance of Congress?"
Wilson started Congressional
Government, his best known political work, as an argument for a parliamentary
system, but Wilson was impressed by Grover Cleveland, and Congressional
Government emerged as a critical description of America's system, with
frequent negative comparisons to Westminster. Wilson himself claimed,
"I am pointing out facts—diagnosing, not prescribing, remedies.".
that America's intricate system of checks and balances was the cause
of the problems in American governance. He said that the divided power
made it impossible for voters to see who was accountable for ill-doing.
If government behaved badly, Wilson asked,
the schoolmaster, the nation, to know which boy needs the whipping?
... Power and strict accountability for its use are the essential constituents
of good government.... It is, therefore, manifestly a radical defect
in our federal system that it parcels out power and confuses responsibility
as it does. The main purpose of the Convention of 1787 seems to have
been to accomplish this grievous mistake. The 'literary theory' of checks
and balances is simply a consistent account of what our Constitution
makers tried to do; and those checks and balances have proved mischievous
just to the extent which they have succeeded in establishing themselves...
[the Framers] would be the first to admit that the only fruit of dividing
power had been to make it irresponsible." 
The longest section
of Congressional Government is on the United States House of Representatives,
where Wilson pours out scorn for the committee system. Power, Wilson
wrote, "is divided up, as it were, into forty-seven signatories,
in each of which a Standing Committee is the court baron and its chairman
lord proprietor. These petty barons, some of them not a little powerful,
but none of them within reach [of] the full powers of rule, may at will
exercise an almost despotic sway within their own shires, and may sometimes
threaten to convulse even the realm itself." . Wilson said that
the committee system was fundamentally undemocratic, because committee
chairs, who ruled by seniority, were responsible to no one except their
constituents, even though they determined national policy.
In addition to their
undemocratic nature, Wilson also believed that the Committee System
moreover, feels that his want of confidence in Congress is justified
by what he hears of the power of corrupt lobbyists to turn legislation
to their own uses. He hears of enormous subsidies begged and obtained...
of appropriations made in the interest of dishonest contractors; he
is not altogether unwarranted in the conclusion that these are evils
inherent in the very nature of Congress; there can be no doubt that
the power of the lobbyist consists in great part, if not altogether,
in the facility afforded him by the Committee system.
But by the time
Wilson finished Congressional Government, Grover Cleveland was president,
and Wilson had his faith in the United States government restored. By
the time he became president, Wilson had seen vigorous presidencies
from William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, and Wilson no longer entertained
thoughts of parliamentary government at home. In his last scholarly
work in 1908, Constitutional Government of the United States, Wilson
said that the presidency "will be as big as and as influential
as the man who occupies it". By the time of his presidency, Wilson
merely hoped that presidents could be party leaders in the same way
prime ministers were. Wilson also hoped that the parties could be reorganized
along ideological, not geographic, lines. "Eight words," Wilson
wrote, "contain the sum of the present degradation of our political
parties: No leaders, no principles; no principles, no parties."
Wilson served on
the faculties of Bryn Mawr College and Wesleyan University (where he
also coached the football team) before joining the Princeton faculty
as professor of jurisprudence and political economy in 1890. A popular
teacher and respected scholar, Wilson delivered an oration at Princeton's
sesquicentennial celebration (1896) entitled "Princeton in the
Nation's Service". (This has become a frequently alluded-to motto
of the University, sometimes expanded to "Princeton in the World's
Service.") In this famous speech, he outlined his vision of the
university in a democratic nation, calling on institutions of higher
learning "to illuminate duty by every lesson that can be drawn
out of the past".
The trustees promoted
Professor Wilson to president of Princeton in 1902. He had bold plans.
Although the school's endowment was barely $4 million, he sought $2
million for a preceptorial system of teaching, $1 million for a school
of science, and nearly $3 million for new buildings and salary raises.
As a long-term objective Wilson sought $3 million for a graduate school
and $2.5 million for schools of jurisprudence and electrical engineering,
as well as a museum of natural history. He achieved little of that because
he was not a strong fund raiser, but he did grow the faculty from 112
to 174 men, most of them personally selected as outstanding teachers.
The curriculum guidelines he developed proved important progressive
innovations in the field of higher education. To enhance the role of
expertise Wilson instituted academic departments and a system of core
requirements where students met in groups of six with preceptors, followed
by two years of concentration in a selected major. He tried to raise
admission standards and to replace the "gentleman C" with
serious study. Wilson aspired, as he told alumni, "to transform
thoughtless boys performing tasks into thinking men."
In 1906-10 he attempted
to curtail the influence of the elitist "social clubs" by
moving the students into colleges, meeting with bitter resistance from
many alumni. Wilson felt that to compromise "would be to temporize
Even more damaging
was his confrontation with Andrew Fleming West, Dean of the graduate
school, and West's ally, former president Grover Cleveland, a trustee.
Wilson wanted to integrate the proposed graduate building into the same
quadrangle with the undergraduate colleges; West wanted them separated.
West outmaneuvered Wilson and the trustees rejected Wilson's plan for
colleges in 1908, and then endorsed West's plans in 1909. The national
press covered the confrontation as a battle of the elites (West) versus
democracy (Wilson). Wilson, after considering resignation, decided to
take up invitations to move into New Jersey state politics.
In 1911 Wilson was
elected Governor of New Jersey, and served in this office until becoming
President in 1913.
early success by implementing his "New Freedom" pledges of
antitrust modification, tariff revision, and reform in banking and currency
The most impressive
achievement was passage of the Federal Reserve system in late 1913.
He took a bankers' plan that had been designed by conservative Republicans,
led by Nelson A. Aldrich and banker Paul M. Warburg and passed it. Wilson
had to outmaneuver the powerful agrarian wing of the party, led by William
Jennings Bryan, which strenuously denounced banks and Wall Street. They
wanted a government owned central bank which could print paper money
whenever Congress wanted; Wilson convinced them that because Federal
Reserve notes were obligations of the government, the plan fit their
demands. Southerners and westerners learned from Wilson that that the
system was decentralized into 12 districts and surely would weaken New
York and strengthen the hinterlands. One key opponent Congressman Carter
Glass, was given credit for the bill, and his home of Richmond, Virginia,
was made a district headquarters. Powerful Senator James Reed of Missouri
was given two district headquarters in St. Louis and Kansas City. Wilson
named Warburg and other prominent bankers to direct the new system,
pleasing the bankers. The New York branch dominated the Fed and thus
power remained in Wall Street. [Link 1954 pp 43-53; Link 1956 pp 199-240]
The new system began operations in 1915 and played a major role in financing
the Allied and American war efforts.
Other economic policies
The Underwood tariff
lowered the tariff. The revenue thereby lost was replaced by a new federal
income tax (authorized by the 16th Amendment, which had been sponsored
by the Republicans.). The "Seaman's Act" of 1915 improved
working conditions for merchant sailors. A response to the Titanic disaster,
it required all ships to be retrofitted with lifeboats. This caused
the cruise ship "Eastland" to be topheavy; it sank in Chicago
killing over 800 tourists.
A series of programs
were targeted at farmers. The "Smith Lever" act of 1914 created
the modern system of agricultural extension agents sponsored by the
state agricultural colleges. The agents taught new techniques to farmers
in every county. The 1916 the "Federal Farm Loan Board" which
issued low-cost long-term mortgages to farmers.
Child labor was
curtailed by the Keating-Owen act of 1916, but the Supreme Court declared
it unconstitutional in 1918.
The railroad brotherhoods
threatened in summer 1916 to shut down the national transportation system.
Wilson tried to bring labor and management together, but when management
refused he had Congress pass the "Adamson Act" in September,
1916, which avoided the strike by imposing an 8-hour day in the industry
(at the same pay as before.) It helped Wilson gain union support for
his reelection; the act was approved by the Supreme Court.
Wilson broke with
the "big-lawsuit" tradition of his predecessors Taft and Roosevelt
as "Trustbusters", finding a new approach to encouraging competition
through the Federal Trade Commission, which stopped "unfair"
trade practices. In addition he pushed through Congress the Clayton
Antitrust Act making certain business practices illegal (such as price
discrimination, agreements forbidding retailers from handling other
companies’ products, and directorates and agreements to control
other companies). The power of this legislation was greater than previous
anti-trust laws, because individual officers of corporations could be
held responsible if their companies violated the laws, bringing the
consequences closer to home. More importantly, the new laws set out
clear guidelines that corporations could follow, a dramatic improvement
over the previous uncertainties. This law was considered the "Magna
Carta" of labor by Samuel Gompers because it ended union liability
antitrust laws. In 1916 under threat of a national railroad strike he
approved legislation that increased the wages, and cut the hours of
railroad employees; there was no strike.
Until Wilson announced
his support for the suffrage amendment, a group of women calling themselves
the Silent Sentinels protested in front of the White House, holding
banners such as "Mr. President—What will you do for woman
World War I
Wilson spent 1914
through the beginning of 1917 trying to keep America out of the War
in Europe. He offered to be a mediator, but neither the Allies nor the
Central Powers took his requests seriously. Republicans, led by Theodore
Roosevelt, strongly criticized Wilson’s refusal to build up the
Army in anticipation of the threat of war. Wilson won the support of
the US peace element by arguing that an army buildup would provoke war.
He vigorously protested Germany’s use of submarines as illegal,
causing his Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan to resign, in
protest, in 1915. Wilson was able to narrowly win reelection in 1916
by picking up many votes that had gone to Roosevelt or Eugene V. Debs
in 1912. His supporters praised him for avoiding war with Germany or
Mexico, while maintaining a firm national policy.
When Germany resumed
unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 and made a clumsy attempt
to get Mexico as an ally (see Zimmermann Telegram), Wilson took America
into the Great War as a “war to end all wars." He did not
sign any alliance with Britain or France but operated as an independent
force. He raised a massive army through conscription and gave command
to General John J. Pershing, allowing Pershing a free hand as to tactics,
strategy and even diplomacy.
Wilson had decided
by then that the war had become a real threat to humanity. Unless the
U.S. threw its weight into the war, as he stated in his declaration
of war speech, Western civilization itself could be destroyed. His statement
announcing a "war to end all wars" meant that he wanted to
build a basis for peace that would prevent future catastrophic wars
and needless death and destruction. This provided the basis of Wilson's
Fourteen Points, which were intended to resolve territorial disputes,
ensure free trade and commerce, and establish a peacemaking organization,
which later emerged as the League of Nations.
To stop defeatism
at home, Wilson pushed the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act
of 1918 through Congress to suppress anti-British, pro-German, or anti-war
opinions. He welcomed Socialists who supported the war, like Walter
Lippmann, but would not tolerate those who tried to impede the war efforts,
many of whom ended up in prison. His wartime policies were strongly
pro-labor, and the American Federation of Labor and other unions saw
enormous growth in membership and wages. There was no rationing, so
consumer prices soared. As income taxes skyrocketed, white collar workers
suffered. Appeals to buy war bonds were highly successful, however.
Bonds had the result of shifting the cost of the war to the affluent
Wilson set up the
United States Committee on Public Information, headed by George Creel
(thus its popular name, Creel Commission), which filled the country
with patriotic anti-German appeals and conducted various forms of censorship.
Other foreign affairs
Between 1914 and
1918, the United States intervened in Latin America, particularly in
Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, and Panama. The U.S. maintained troops in Nicaragua
throughout his administration and used them to select the president
of Nicaragua and then to force Nicaragua to pass the Bryan-Chamorro
Treaty. American troops in Haiti forced the Haitian legislature to choose
the candidate Wilson selected as Haitian president. American troops
occupied Haiti circa 1915 - 1934.
After Russia left
the war following the Bolshevik Revolution and started providing help
to the Germans, the Allies sent troops to prevent a German takeover.
Woody sent expeditionary forces to Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and Vladivostok.
American forces penetrated westward from Vladivostok to Lake Baikal
in cooperation with Britain and France, and in joint command with Japanese
soldiers. American troops finally left Vladivostok on April 1, 1920.
After the Great
War, Wilson participated in negotiations with the stated aim of assuring
statehood for formerly oppressed nations and an equitable peace. On
January 8, 1918, Wilson made his famous Fourteen Points address, introducing
the idea of a League of Nations, an organization with a stated goal
of helping to preserve territorial integrity and political independence
among large and small nations alike.
the Fourteen Points as a means toward ending the war and achieving an
equitable peace for all the nations. He spent six months at Versailles
for the 1919 Paris Peace Conference (making him the first U.S. president
to travel to Europe while in office). He worked tirelessly to promote
his plan. The charter of the proposed League of Nations was incorporated
into the conference's Treaty of Versailles.
For his peacemaking
efforts, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize. However Wilson
failed to win Senate support for ratification and the United States
never joined the League. Republicans under Henry Cabot Lodge controlled
the Senate after the 1918 elections, but Wilson refused to give them
a voice at Paris, and refused to agree to Lodge's proposed changes.
The key point of disagreement was whether the League would diminish
the power of Congress to declare war. Historians in 2006 ranked Wilson's
failure as the 4th worst presidential mistake ever made.
Post war: 1919-20
After the war, in
1919, major strikes and race riots broke out. In the Red Scare, his
attorney general ordered the Palmer Raids to deport foreign born agitators
and jail domestic ones. In 1918, Wilson had the Socialist leader Eugene
V. Debs arrested for trying to discourage enlistment in the army. His
conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Wilson broke with
many of his closest political friends and allies in 1918-20. He dreamed
of a third term, but his Democratic party was in turmoil, with Irish
and German voters outraged at the party for Wilson having entered World
War I on the British-French side.
On October 2, 1919,
Wilson suffered a serious stroke that almost totally incapacitated him;
he could barely move his own body. The extent of his disability was
kept from the public until after his death. Wilson was purposely, with
few exceptions, kept out of the presence of Vice President Thomas R.
Marshall, his cabinet or Congressional visitors to the White House for
the remainder of his presidential term. Meanwhile, his second wife,
Edith Wilson, served as steward, selecting issues for his attention
and delegating other issues to his cabinet heads. This was, as of 2006,
the most serious case of presidential disability in American history,
and was later cited as a key example why ratification of the 25th amendment
was seen as important.
of Princeton, he turned away black applicants for admission, saying
that their desire for education was "unwarranted".
official segregation in federal government offices, for the first time
since 1863. "His administration imposed full racial segregation
in Washington and hounded from office considerable numbers of black
Wilson fired many
black Republican office holders, but also appointed a few black Democrats.
W.E.B. DuBois, a leader of the NAACP, campaigned for Wilson and in 1918
was offered an Army commission in charge of dealing with race relations.
(DuBois accepted, but failed his Army physical and did not serve.)
When a delegation
of blacks protested his discriminatory actions, Wilson told them that
"segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be
so regarded by you gentlemen". In 1914, he told The New York Times
that "If the colored people made a mistake in voting for me, they
ought to correct it".
History of the American People, praised the KKK of the 1860s, and was
repeatedly quoted in the film The Birth of a Nation, which has come
under fire for alleged racism. Wilson was a classmate of Thomas Dixon,
author of the novel The Clansman upon which the film is based. Dixon
arranged a special White House preview (this was the first time a film
was ever shown in the White House). Wilson did not make the statement,
"It is like writing history with lightning...and yet it is all
so true." That was invented by a Hollywood press agent. In fact
Wilson felt he had been tricked by Dixon and publicly said he did not
like the film; Wilson blocked its showing during the war.
Wilson had some
harsh words to say about immigrants in his history books. However after
he entered politics in 1910 Wilson worked hard to integrate new immigrants
into the Democratic party, into the army, and into American life. For
example, the war bond campaigns were set up so that ethnic groups could
boast how much money they gave. He demanded in return during the war
that they repudiate any loyalty to the enemy.
were powerful in the Democratic party and opposed going to war alongside
their enemy Britain, especially after the violent suppression of the
Easter Rebellion of 1916. Wilson won them over in 1917 by promising
to ask Britain to give Ireland its independence. At Versailles, however,
he reneged and the Irish-American community vehemently denounced him.
Wilson, in turn, blamed the Irish Americans and German Americans for
the lack of popular support for the League of Nations, saying, "There
is an organized propaganda against the League of Nations and against
the treaty proceeding from exactly the same sources that the organized
propaganda proceeded from which threatened this country here and there
with disloyalty, and I want to say--I cannot say too often--any man
who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready
to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready."
In 1921, Wilson
and his wife retired from the White House to a home in the Embassy Row
section of Washington, D.C. Wilson died there on February 3, 1924. He
was buried in Washington National Cathedral. Mrs. Wilson stayed in the
home another 37 years, dying on December 28, 1961.
The final resting place of Woodrow Wilson at the Washington National
The final resting place of Woodrow Wilson at the Washington National
* Wilson remains
the only American president to have earned a research doctoral degree.
* His carved initials are still visible on the underside of a table
in the History Department at the Johns Hopkins University.
* Wilson was an early automobile enthusiast and, while president, he
took daily rides.
* Wilson was an avid fan of the New York Giants baseball club.
* His earliest memory, from age 3, was of hearing that Abraham Lincoln
had been elected and that a war was coming.
* Wilson would forever recall standing for a moment at Robert E. Lee's
side and looking up into his face.
* Wilson was one of only two presidents (Theodore Roosevelt was the
first) to become President of the National Historical Association.
* Wilson was president of the American Political Science Association
from 1910 to 1911.
* Wilson has been the subject of books by three noteworthy authors.
Herbert Hoover's The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson is extremely sympathetic,
and remains the only book written by one ex-President about another
one. Sigmund Freud and William Bullitt's Thomas Woodrow Wilson: A Psychological
Study is devastatingly unsympathetic, and was unpublished for 30 years
after Freud's death.
* Wilson is the only U.S. president buried in Washington, D.C. (Washington
* Wilson was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
* Wilson was the only president for almost one hundred years to have
been born in the states that formed the Confederate States of America.
(Andrew Johnson (1865–1869) was born in North Carolina and Dwight
Eisenhower (1953–1961) was born in Texas)
through Congress three major pieces of legislation. The first was a
lower tariff, the Underwood Act; attached to the measure was a graduated
Federal income tax. The passage of the Federal Reserve Act provided
the Nation with the more elastic money supply it badly needed. In 1914
antitrust legislation established a Federal Trade Commission to prohibit
unfair business practices.
Another burst of
legislation followed in 1916. One new law prohibited child labor; another
limited railroad workers to an eight-hour day. By virtue of this legislation
and the slogan "he kept us out of war," Wilson narrowly won
But after the election
Wilson concluded that America could not remain neutral in the World
War. On April 2,1917, he asked Congress for a declaration of war on
effort slowly tipped the balance in favor of the Allies. Wilson went
before Congress in January 1918, to enunciate American war aims--the
Fourteen Points, the last of which would establish "A general association
of nations...affording mutual guarantees of political independence and
territorial integrity to great and small states alike."
After the Germans
signed the Armistice in November 1918, Wilson went to Paris to try to
build an enduring peace. He later presented to the Senate the Versailles
Treaty, containing the Covenant of the League of Nations, and asked,
"Dare we reject it and break the heart of the world?"
But the election
of 1918 had shifted the balance in Congress to the Republicans. By seven
votes the Versailles Treaty failed in the Senate.
The President, against
the warnings of his doctors, had made a national tour to mobilize public
sentiment for the treaty. Exhausted, he suffered a stroke and nearly
died. Tenderly nursed by his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt, he lived
nicknamed the "schoolmaster in politics," is chiefly remembered
for his high-minded idealism, which appeared both in his leadership
on the faculty and in the presidency of Princeton University, and in
his national and world statesmanship during and after World War I.
Wilson was born
in 1856 in Staunton, Virginia (and named Thomas Woodrow Wilson). He
grew up in Georgia and South Carolina during the suffering of the Civil
War and its aftermath. He was also deeply influenced by the Presbyterianism
of his father, a minister and sometime college teacher.
Wilson first went
to Davidson (N.C.) College, but withdrew shortly because of ill health.
He ultimately graduated from the College of New Jersey (later to become
Princeton University) in 1879. Determined to become a statesman, he
studied law for a year at the University of Virginia in 1879-80 and
was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1882, but his law practice did not
Wilson went to Johns
Hopkins University in 1883, studying government and history. At Johns
Hopkins, he wrote Congressional Government, which was published in 1885.
That book, still admired today as a study of lawmaking in the national
U.S. government, was accepted as his dissertation, and he received the
Ph.D. degree in political science from Johns Hopkins the following year.
Wilson is the only U.S. president to hold a Ph.D.
Wilson taught at
Bryn Mawr (Pa.) College, then at Wesleyan University in Middletown,
Connecticut. In 1890 he became professor of jurisprudence and political
economy at Princeton University. He wrote nine books and became an accomplished
essayist. The trustees of Princeton University named him president of
the institution in 1902.
As president of
Princeton, Wilson strove to institutionalize intellectual contacts between
students and teachers. He resisted in some ways Princeton's reshaping
of the time as it became a university focused more on graduate studies
and less on the moral and intellectual upbringing of undergraduates.
In 1910 Wilson accepted
the Democratic nomination for governor of New Jersey. He won the election
in a landslide. His ambitious and successful Progressive agenda, centered
around protecting the public from exploitation by trusts, earned him
national recognition, and in 1912 he won the Democratic nomination for
president. Wilson's "New Freedom" platform, focused on revitalization
of the American economy, won him the presidency with 435 electoral votes
out of 531 and a Democratic Congress.
As president, Wilson's
domestic agenda continued his campaign against corrupt trusts. In 1913,
the Underwood Act and the Federal Reserve Bill were passed, the former
creating honest tariff reform by greatly reducing rates (for the first
time since the Civil War) and instituting income tax; the latter creating
new currency and establishing the twelve Federal Reserve banks and their
board of governors to perform central banking functions. The Federal
Trade Commission was established in 1914 to restrict "unfair"
and pressure to enter the widening war in Europe that had begun in 1914,
Woodrow Wilson maintained American neutrality for two years. He ran
for reelection in 1916 with the slogan, "he kept us out of war."
But rapid escalation of submarine warfare by Germany to include unlimited
war on neutrals as well as belligerents left Wilson with no alternative
but to ask Congress for a declaration of war in April 1917.
The world would
look to America and Wilson's leadership to resolve the First World War.
Wilson's Fourteen Points Address of 1918 called for a peace of reconciliation,
based on democracy, self-determination, without annexations and indemnities,
and a postwar League of Nations. The Paris Peace Conference in 1919
concluded with the signing of the Versailles Treaty with Germany, but
a new Republican Congress at home was not in agreement with the peace
negotiated under Wilson, particularly with the League of Nations and
collective security aspects. Ultimately, a separate peace was negotiated
between the United States and Germany. Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel
Peace Prize, and heralded in Europe as a savior of peace.
Exhausted from his
vigorous efforts toward ratification of the Versailles Treaty, traveling
8,000 miles by rail around the country, Wilson fell ill and would never
fully recover. Wilson was unable to campaign for the presidency, whichWarren
G. Harding would win in 1920 defeating Democratic candidate James M.
Cox. Wilson retired to Washington, D.C., where he passed away in 1924.
and status as a great world leader led to the creation of the Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars as the U.S. memorial to him.
The Center is not an institution for the study of Woodrow Wilson, but
aims to embody Wilson's ideals by putting scholarship at the service
of the world's public life.