Woodrow Wilson

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Woodrow Wilson—President of the United States during the First World War, Promoter of the League of Nations

December 28, 1856, Staunton, VA, 11:45 PM, LMT, or December 29, 12:45 AM. (Sources: Blackwell and Link for 12:45 AM, Doane, Kraum and Weston for 11:45 PM. Wilson is said to have told Weston that he was born about twenty minutes before midnight {then rectified to 11:42 PM}). Died, February 3, 1924, Washington, D.C. 

(Ascendant, Libra; Sun and Mercury conjunct with Mercury also in Capricorn; Moon in Aquarius with Venus and Mars conjuncted in Aquarius; Jupiter in Aries; Saturn in Cancer; Uranus and Pluto in Taurus; Neptune in Pisces)            In these two charts the Sun has either a third or fourth house placement, and Mars/Venus is found either in the fourth house or the fifth.   

Perhaps the most important initiative undertaken by Woodrow Wilson was the promotion of the idea of the League of Nations, the forerunner of today’s United Nations. This idea, we are told by the Tibetan, originated in the fourth ray Ashram with Master Serapis, and was conveyed to Wilson (a “sixth ray aspirant”) by Colonel House, a sixth ray disciple in the Ashram of the Master Jesus. Wilson’s Ascendant in Libra, the sign of peace, made him receptive to this early attempt to bring the nations of the world into cooperation and right relations. The strength of Capricorn and Saturn in Wilson’s chart (and his appearance) also suggest the importance of the seventh ray in his makeup and the grave sense of responsibility with which he must have been possessed. The sixth ray was probably the ray of his soul.


There is a spirit that rules us....I believe that men are emancipated in proportion as they lift themselves to the conception of providence and of divine destiny, and therefore I cannot be deprived of the hope that is in me -- in the hope not only that concerns myself, but the confident hope that concerns the nation -- that we are chosen and prominently chosen to show the way to the nations of the world how they shall walk in the paths of liberty.
---Campaign Address in Jersey City, NJ, May 25, 1912

We know our task to be no mere task of politics but a task which shall search us through and through...

This is not a day of triumph: It is a day of dedication. Here, muster, not the forces of party, but the forces of humanity. Men's hearts wait upon us, men's lives hang in the balance; men's hopes call upon us to say what we will do. Who shall live up to the great trust? Who dares fail to try?
---First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1913

It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war...but the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts, -- for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments...for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.
---Address to a Joint Session of Congress, April 2, 1917

The arrangements of justice do not stand of themselves, my fellows citizens...
There is one thing that the American people always rise to and extend their hand to, and that is the truth of justice and of liberty and of peace. We have accepted that truth, and we are going to be led by it, and it is going to lead us, and through us, the world, out into pastures of quietness and peace such as the world never dreamed of before.
---An Address in the City Auditorium in Pueblo, Colorado, September 25, 1919

The man who has the time, the discrimination, and the sagacity to collect and comprehend the principal facts and the man who must act upon them must draw near to one another and feel they are engaged in a common enterprise.
---Address to American Political Science Association, December 27, 1910

The sum of the whole matter is this, that our civilization cannot survive materially unless it be redeemed spiritually.
---"The Road Away from Revolution," Atlantic Monthly, August, 1923.

Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work.
---Congressional Government, A Study in American Politics (1885).

We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.
---Baccalaureate address as President of Princeton University, June 9, 1907.

Government should not be made an end in itself; it is a means only -- a means to be freely adapted to advance the best interests of the social organism. The state exists for the sake of society, not society for the sake of the state.
---The State; Elements of Historical and Practical Politics (1911)

Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America, my fellow citizens -- I do not say it in disparagement of any other great people -- America is the only idealistic nation in the world.
---Address supporting the League of Nations, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, September 8, 1919.

One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to be supplied is light, not heat.
---Address on preparedness, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 29, 1916.

The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.
---Address to New York Press Club, September 9, 1912.

I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty. But we shall not be poor if we love liberty, because the nation that loves liberty truly sets every man free to do his best and be his best, and that means the release of all the splendid energies of a great people who think for themselves. A nation of employees cannot be free any more than a nation of employers can be.
---Address on Latin American policy, Fifth Annual Convention, Southern Commercial Congress, Mobile, Alabama, October 27, 1913.

The program of the world's peace, therefore, is our program; and that program, the only possible program, as we see it, is this: 1. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
---"Fourteen Points" Address to Joint Session of Congress, January 8, 1918.

Only a peace between equals can last. Only a peace the very principle of which is equality and a common participation in a common benefit.
---Address to the United States Senate on essential terms of peace in Europe, January 22, 1917.

When I resist, therefore, when I as a Democrat resist the concentration of power, I am resisting the processes of death, because the concentration of power is what always precedes the destruction of human initiative, and, therefore of human energy.
---Address, New York City, September 4, 1912.

Public Service
There is no cause half so sacred as the cause of a people. There is no idea so uplifting as the idea of the service of humanity.
---Address, Madison Square Garden, New York City, October 31, 1912.

Responsibility of People
In the last analysis, my fellow countrymen, as we in America would be the first to claim, a people are responsible for the acts of their government.
---Address, Columbus, Ohio, September 4, 1919.

World War I
The world must be made safe for democracy.
---Address to Joint Session of Congress, asking for a declaration of war, April 2, 1917.

It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts, for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.
---Address to Joint Session of Congress, asking for a declaration of war, April 2, 1917.


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 democracy."

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.

After graduation 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 Axson.

Wilson advanced 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, Wilson wrote

"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.".

Wilson believed 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,

"...how is 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." [4]

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." [5]. 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 facilitated corruption.

"the voter, 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."

Academic career

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 with evil.".

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.

Presidency 1913-1921

Wilson experienced early success by implementing his "New Freedom" pledges of antitrust modification, tariff revision, and reform in banking and currency matters.

Federal reserve 1913

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 suffrage?"

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 1920s.

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.

Wilson intended 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.

While President of Princeton, he turned away black applicants for admission, saying that their desire for education was "unwarranted". 

Wilson reintroduced 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 federal employees."

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". 

Woodrow Wilson's 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.

White ethnics

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.

Irish Americans 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."

Later life

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 Cathedral
The final resting place of Woodrow Wilson at the Washington National Cathedral

* 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 National Cathedral)
* 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)

Wilson maneuvered 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 re-election.

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 Germany.

Massive American 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 until 1924.

Woodrow Wilson, 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 prosper.

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" trade practices.

Despite provocation 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.

Wilson's idealism 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.





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