Woodrow Wilson
28th President of the United States
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. Running against Republican incumbent William Howard Taft and Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt, a former President, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912.
Woodrow Wilson's personal information overview.
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Woodrow Wilson excel despite graduation losses - Beckley Register-Herald
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The coaches of host Woodrow Wilson, Greenbrier East and Greater Beckley Christian liked what they saw. Surprisingly, Woodrow excelled despite the graduation of five starters from last season's 41-14-5 team — hitters Jasmine Woods, Emily Wright and
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Princeton hopes to be 'special' team against Beavers - Daily Mail - Charleston
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02--PRINCETON -- Special teams were far from special for Princeton in last Friday's 43-16 loss to Woodrow Wilson. Two kick returns for touchdowns meant changes had to be made. No grabbing or watching allowed. Princeton head coach Ted Spadaro is looking
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Dorothy M. Wilson Valentine - Amarillo.com
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She attended Dallas public schools and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1937. Mrs. Valentine was married for 68 years to William F. Valentine of Amarillo. The couple married Dec. 19, 1942, in Red Bank, NJ, just before then-2nd Lt. Valentine
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No SROs at Woodrow Wilson - Middletown Press
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MIDDLETOWN – School resource officers will not be returning to Woodrow Wilson Middle School this fall, school officials said Tuesday. Board of Education member William Grady explained that he had recently met with police and city
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Sister cities Staunton and Dabas, Hungary, have much in common - Staunton News Leader
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Another: Mayor Zoltan Koszegi, an energetic father of four who recently was elected to the national parliament, said he's a fan of Staunton's own Woodrow Wilson. It was Wilson, after all, whose 14 Points insisted on separate nations for the peoples of
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Bahrain/Washington: Nabeel Rajab Awarded the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award - ABNA.ir
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Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award by the Washington based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The History and Public Policy Program of the Woodrow Wilson
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President Wilson Could Never Imagine - Democracy Made Safe for Perversion - Post Chronicle
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Michael Bresciani In a speech made by President Woodrow Wilson on April 2, 1917 he argued the reasons for declaring war against Germany. Of all that he said the one line most remembered and most often quoted has been, "The world must be made safe for
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Woodrow Wilson sets orientation, registration - In-Forum
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FARGO – Fall orientation and registration dates have been set for students planning to attend Woodrow Wilson High School, the Fargo School District's alternative high school. FARGO – Fall orientation and registration dates have been set for students
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Woodrow Wilson Centre speech: Musharraf vows to repeat his actions - The Express Tribune
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“Whatever I did, I need to repeat it if I am back in power,” he told participants at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars. However, Musharraf confessed that he did have one regret. “The only regret I have was on cutting a deal with ... - -
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Computer game gives people shot at managing budget - Deseret News
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Jane Harman, President, CEO, and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, shows his Budget Hero shirt at the Wilson Center's re-launching of the "Budget Game" on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, July 13, 2011
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Mississippi Healthcare Corridor proposed - Jackson Clarion Ledger
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Barbara Gauntt/The Clarion-Ledger The proposed project would start at I-55 and Woodrow Wilson Avenue in Jackson and stretch to I-220, including property where Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium and the old farmers market are located
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Wilson Library appoints new chair, board members - Augusta Free Press
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The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Foundation today announced that its Board of Trustees has elected Charlottesville pediatrician Michael Dickens as its new Chair and appointed six new Board members: Dr. Richard LM Coleman of Staunton;
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Woodrow Wilson
  • 1924
    Age 67
    In retirement, Wilson harbored hopes for a White House run in 1924 despite the absence of substantial support.
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  • 1923
    Age 66
    On November 10, 1923, Wilson made a short Armistice Day radio speech from the library of his home, his last national address.
    More Details Hide Details The following day he spoke briefly from the front steps to more than 20,000 well wishers gathered outside the house.
  • 1921
    Age 64
    After the end of his second term in 1921, Wilson and his wife moved from the White House to an elegant 1915 town house in the Embassy Row (Kalorama) section of Washington, D.C. Wilson continued daily drives, and attended Keith's vaudeville theatre on Saturday nights.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson was one of only two U.S. Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt was the first) to have served as president of the American Historical Association.
  • 1920
    Age 63
    He was insulated by his wife, who selected matters for his attention and delegated others to his cabinet. Wilson temporarily resumed a perfunctory attendance at cabinet meetings. By February 1920, the president's true condition was publicly known.
    More Details Hide Details Many expressed qualms about Wilson's fitness for the presidency at a time when the League fight was reaching a climax, and domestic issues such as strikes, unemployment, inflation and the threat of Communism were ablaze. No one close to him, including his wife, his physician, or personal assistant, was willing to take responsibility to certify, as required by the Constitution, his "inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office". Because of this complex case, Congress developed the 25th Amendment to control succession to the presidency in case of illness, which was ratified. Prohibition developed as an unstoppable reform during the war, but Wilson played a minor role in its passage. A combination of the temperance movement, hatred of everything German (including beer and saloons), and activism by churches and women led to ratification of an amendment to achieve Prohibition in the United States. A Constitutional amendment passed both houses in December 1917 by 2/3 votes. By January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment had been ratified by 36 of the 48 states it needed. On October 28, 1919, Congress passed enabling legislation, the National Prohibition Act (informally known as the Volstead Act), to enforce the Eighteenth Amendment. Wilson felt Prohibition was unenforceable, but his veto of the Volstead Act was overridden by Congress. Prohibition began on January 16, 1920 (one year after ratification of the amendment); the manufacture, importation, sale, and transport of alcohol were prohibited, except for limited cases such as religious purposes (as with sacramental wine).
  • 1919
    Age 62
    The most important foreign policy advisor and confidant was "Colonel" Edward M. House until Wilson broke with him in early 1919, for his missteps at the peace conference in Wilson's absence.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson appointed three Associate Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States: Along with his Supreme Court appointments, Wilson appointed 20 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals and 52 judges to the United States district courts.
    On October 2, 1919, he suffered a serious stroke, leaving him paralyzed on his left side, and with only partial vision in the right eye.
    More Details Hide Details He was confined to bed for weeks and sequestered from everyone except his wife and physician, Dr. Cary Grayson. For some months Wilson used a wheelchair and later he required use of a cane. His wife and aide Joe Tumulty were said to have helped a journalist, Louis Seibold, present a false account of an interview with the President.
    In Pueblo, Colorado, on September 25, 1919, he collapsed and never fully recovered.
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    The immediate cause of Wilson's incapacity in September 1919 was the physical strain of the public speaking tour he undertook in support of ratification of the Treaty of Versailles.
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    In 1919, Wilson guided American foreign policy to "acquiesce" in the Balfour Declaration without supporting Zionism in an official way.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson expressed sympathy for the plight of Jews, especially in Poland and France. In May 1920, Wilson sent a long-deferred proposal to Congress to have the U.S. accept a mandate from the League of Nations to take over Armenia. Bailey notes this was opposed by American public opinion, while Richard G. Hovannisian states that Wilson "made all the wrong arguments" for the mandate and focused less on the immediate policy than on how history would judge his actions: "he wished to place it clearly on the record that the abandonment of Armenia was not his doing." The resolution won the votes of only 23 senators.
    In mid-November 1919 Lodge and his Republicans formed a coalition with the pro-Treaty Democrats, and were close to a two-thirds majority for a Treaty with reservations; but the seriously indisposed Wilson rejected this compromise and enough Democrats followed his lead to defeat ratification.
    More Details Hide Details Cooper and Bailey suggest that Wilson's stroke in September had debilitated him from negotiating effectively with Lodge. Wilson's administration did effectively demobilize the country at the war's end. A plan to form a commission for the purpose was abandoned in the face of Republican control the Senate, which complicated the appointment of commission members. Instead, Wilson favored the prompt dismantling of wartime boards and regulatory agencies. Demobilization was chaotic and violent; four million soldiers were sent home with little planning, little money, few benefits, and other vague promises. A wartime bubble in prices of farmland burst, leaving many farmers deeply in debt after they purchased new land. Major strikes in the steel, coal, and meatpacking industries disrupted the economy in 1919. Racial animosity erupted in serious race riots of ethnic whites against blacks in Chicago, Omaha, and two dozen other major cities in the North.
    Wilson had a series of debilitating strokes and had to cut short his trip on September 26, 1919.
    More Details Hide Details He became an invalid in the White House, closely monitored by his wife, who insulated him from negative news and downplayed for him the gravity of his condition. Senator Lodge led the opposition to the treaty in the Republican controlled Senate; the key point of disagreement was whether the League would diminish the power of Congress to declare war. It proved possible to build a majority for the treaty in the Senate, but the two-thirds coalition needed to ratify was insurmountable. One block of Democrats strongly supported the Versailles Treaty; a second group supported the Treaty but followed Wilson in opposing any amendments or reservations. The largest bloc—Lodge and the Republicans—wanted a treaty with reservations, especially on Article X, which empowered the League of Nations to make war without a vote by the United States Congress. Finally, a bipartisan group of 13 "irreconcilables" opposed a treaty in any form.
    In a reversal of his earlier position, in summer 1919 Wilson repeatedly stressed Germany's guilt, saying the treaty, "seeks to punish one of the greatest wrongs ever done in history, the wrong which Germany sought to do to the world and to civilization; and there ought to be no weak purpose with regard to the application of the punishment.
    More Details Hide Details She attempted an intolerable thing, and she must be made to pay for the attempt."
    For his peace-making efforts, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize.
    More Details Hide Details John Maynard Keynes, an anti-Wilson and anti-League intellectual, asserted Wilson was not well regarded at the Conference, "he was in many respects ill-informed as to European conditions his mind was slow and unadaptable There can seldom have been a statesman of the first rank more incompetent than the President in the agilities of the council chamber." Keynes' highly regarded rhetoric became the prevailing judgment of the conference for decades. The chances were less than favorable for ratification of the treaty by a two-thirds vote of the Republican Senate. Public opinion was mixed, with intense opposition from most Republicans, Germans, and Irish Catholic Democrats. In numerous meetings with Senators, Wilson discovered opposition had hardened. Despite his weakened physical condition Wilson decided to barnstorm the Western states, scheduling 29 major speeches and many short ones to rally support. Wilson had earlier downplayed Germany's guilt in starting the war by calling for "peace without victory", but he had taken an increasingly hard stand at Paris and rejected advice to soften the treaty's treatment of Germany.
    Wilson took a break from the negotiations and departed February 14, 1919 for home, then returned to Paris three weeks later and remained until the conclusion of a treaty in June.
    More Details Hide Details Heckscher describes Wilson, during the first four weeks of the Conference as, "playing, with force and discretion, a commanding role…he established his priorities, secured accommodation on major issues and won preliminary acceptance of the League." He promoted his plan in France, and then at home in February. Wilson gave a speech at the Metropolitan Opera House in defense of the League—he was more insistent about it than ever. Heckscher contends that the enduring image of Wilson as a grim, unsmiling and unforgiving figure dates from this visit home during the conference. While the general public along with editorial writers, churches and peace groups generally favored the League, the Republicans vowed to defeat the League and discredit Wilson. Wilson notably did not address the Congress as to ongoing deliberations at the peace conference, as indeed his counterpart Lloyd George did with Parliament. Heckscher opines that this was a missed opportunity to forge the debate even though the Congressional majority had changed. In France he was without the usual control over his message through the media; in fact, the French initiated an aggressive propaganda campaign in the midst of the Conference to affect its outcome.
    Wilson was an automobile enthusiast, and took daily rides while he was President in his favorite car, a 1919 Pierce-Arrow.
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    A devoted Presbyterian, Wilson infused morality into his internationalism, an ideology now referred to as "Wilsonian"—an activist foreign policy calling on the nation to promote global democracy. For his sponsorship of the League of Nations, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize, the second of three sitting presidents so honored.
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  • 1918
    Age 61
    In an effort at reform and to shake up his Mobilization program, Wilson removed the chief of the Army Signal Corps and the chairman of the Aircraft Production Board on April 18, 1918.
    More Details Hide Details On May 16, the President launched an investigation, headed by Republican Charles Evans Hughes, into the War Department and the Council of Defense. The Hughes report released on October 31 found no major corruption violations or theft in Wilson's Mobilization program, although the report found incompetence in the aircraft program.
    The studies culminated in a speech by Wilson to Congress on January 8, 1918, wherein he articulated America's long term war objectives.
    More Details Hide Details It was the clearest expression of intention made by any of the belligerent nations. The speech, known as the Fourteen Points, was authored mainly by Walter Lippmann and projected Wilson's progressive domestic policies into the international arena. The first six dealt with diplomacy, freedom of the seas and settlement of colonial claims. Then territorial issues were addressed and the final point, the establishment of an association of nations to guarantee the independence and territorial integrity of all nations—a League of Nations. The address was translated into many languages for global dissemination. When the time came, Wilson spent six months in Paris for the Peace Conference, thereby becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office. He disembarked from the George Washington in Brest on December 13. While in Italy (January 1–6, 1919) for meetings with King Victor Emmanuel III and Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando, he became the first incumbent U.S. president to have an audience with a reigning pope, when he visited Pope Benedict XV at the Apostolic Palace.
    With congressional elections approaching, in 1918 Wilson made an appeal to the public for the retention of a Democratic majority and this seriously backfired due to its self-serving tone–Republicans successfully picked up majorities in both houses of Congress.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson initiated a secret series of studies named The Inquiry, primarily focused on Europe, and carried out by a group in New York which included geographers, historians and political scientists; the group was directed by Col. House.
  • 1917
    Age 60
    To further counter disloyalty to the war effort at home, Wilson pushed through Congress the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 to suppress anti-British, pro-German, or anti-war statements.
    More Details Hide Details While he welcomed socialists who supported the war, he pushed at the same time to arrest and deport foreign-born enemies. Many recent immigrants, resident aliens without U.S. citizenship, who opposed America's participation in the war were deported to Soviet Russia or other nations under the powers granted in the Immigration Act of 1918.
    It was signed by Wilson on April 6, 1917.
    More Details Hide Details The U.S. did not sign a formal alliance with Britain or France but operated as an "associated" power—an informal ally with military cooperation through the Supreme War Council in London. The U.S. raised a massive army through conscription and Wilson gave command to General John J. Pershing, with complete authority as to tactics, strategy and some diplomacy. Edward M. House, Wilson's key unofficial foreign affairs advisor, became the president's main channel of communication with the British government, and William Wiseman, a British naval attaché, was House's principal contact in England. Their personal relationship succeeded in serving the powers well, by overcoming strained relations in order to achieve essential understandings between the two governments. House also became the U.S. representative on the Allies' Supreme War Council. March 1917 also brought the first of two revolutions in Russia, which impacted the strategic role of the U.S. in the war. The overthrow of the imperial government removed a serious barrier to America's entry into the European conflict, while the second revolution in November relieved the Germans of a major threat on their eastern front, and allowed them to dedicate more troops to the Western front, thus making U.S. forces central to Allied success in battles of 1918. Wilson initially rebuffed pleas from the Allies to dedicate military resources to an intervention in Russia against the Bolsheviks, based partially on his experience from attempted intervention in Mexico; nevertheless he ultimately was convinced of the potential benefit and agreed to dispatch a limited force to assist the Allies on the eastern front.
    Wilson delivered his War Message to a special session of Congress on April 2, 1917, declaring that Germany's latest pronouncement had rendered his "armed neutrality" policy untenable and asking Congress to declare Germany's war stance was an act of war.
    More Details Hide Details He proposed the United States enter the war to "vindicate principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power". The German government, Wilson said, "means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors". He then also warned that "if there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with a firm hand of repression." Wilson closed with: The declaration of war by the United States against Germany passed Congress by strong bipartisan majorities on April 4, 1917, with opposition from ethnic German strongholds and remote rural areas in the South.
    In March 1917 several American ships were sunk by Germany and Teddy Roosevelt privately reacted, "if he does not go to war I shall skin him alive".
    More Details Hide Details Wilson called a cabinet meeting on March 20, in which the vote was unanimously in support of entering the war.
  • 1916
    Age 59
    Wilson ordered the military occupation of the Dominican Republic shortly after the resignation of its President Juan Isidro Jimenes Pereyra in 1916.
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    In December 1916, a month after his reelection, Wilson (a noted supporter of mother's pensions) addressed a conference on social insurance in which he spoke of how a conference like that gave evidence of "the dominant interest of our own time, and one of the best elements of social insurance is social understanding – an interchange of views and a comprehension of interests which for a long time was only too rare."
    More Details Hide Details Wilson was aggravated with the British for ignoring his suggestion of a postwar league of nations; he also objected to their seizure of mail from neutral ships and their blacklisting of firms trading with Britain's enemies. Wilson insisted a league of nations was the solution to ending the war. Wilson found it increasingly difficult to maintain neutrality, after Germany rescinded earlier promises – the Arabic pledge and the Sussex pledge. Early in 1917 the German ambassador Johann von Bernstorf informed Secretary of State Lansing of Germany's commitment to unrestricted submarine warfare; Bernstorff had tears in his eyes as he knew the U.S. reaction would adversely affect his country's lot. Then came the revelation of the Zimmermann Telegram, in which Germany attempted to enlist Mexico as an ally, promising Mexico that if Germany was victorious, she would support Mexico in winning back the states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona from the U.S. Wilson's reaction after consulting the cabinet and the Congress was a minimal one – that diplomatic relations with the Germans be brought to a halt. The president said, "We are the sincere friends of the German people and earnestly desire to remain at peace with them. We shall not believe they are hostile to us unless or until we are obliged to believe it".
    Wilson, renominated without opposition, employed his campaign slogan "He kept us out of war", though he never promised unequivocally to stay out of the war. In his acceptance speech on September 2, 1916, Wilson pointedly warned Germany that submarine warfare resulting in American deaths would not be tolerated, saying "The nation that violates these essential rights must expect to be checked and called to account by direct challenge and resistance.
    More Details Hide Details It at once makes the quarrel in part our own." As the Party platform was drafted, Senator Owen of Oklahoma urged Wilson to take ideas from the Progressive Party platform of 1912 "as a means of attaching to our party progressive Republicans who are in sympathy with us in so large a degree." At Wilson's request, Owen highlighted federal legislation to promote workers' health and safety, prohibit child labour, provide unemployment compensation and establish minimum wages and maximum hours. Wilson, in turn, included in his draft platform a plank that called for all work performed by and for the federal government to provide a minimum wage, an eight-hour day and six-day workweek, health and safety measures, the prohibition of child labour, and (his own additions) safeguards for female workers and a retirement program. Wilson's opponent was Republican Charles Evans Hughes, former governor of New York with a progressive record similar to Wilson's as governor of New Jersey. Theodore Roosevelt commented that the only thing different between Hughes and Wilson was a shave. However, Hughes had to try to hold together a coalition of conservative Taft supporters and progressive Roosevelt partisans, and his campaign never assumed a definite form. Wilson ran on his record and ignored Hughes, reserving his attacks for Roosevelt. When asked why he did not attack Hughes directly, Wilson told a friend, "Never murder a man who is committing suicide."
    Wilson made his final offer to mediate peace on December 18, 1916.
    More Details Hide Details As a preliminary, he asked both sides to state their minimum terms necessary for future security. The Central Powers replied that victory was certain, and the Allies required the dismemberment of their enemies' empires; no desire for peace existed, and the offer lapsed. Wilson's remarriage rejuvenated his personal aspirations for re-election. Edith Wilson enjoyed, as Ellen never had, the crowds and the power as a close collaborator with her husband. Executive decisions just prior to the campaign also enabled Wilson to bolster his political mastery. He was presented with a vacancy on the Supreme Court, which he succeeded in filling with a controversial nominee, Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish member of the court. Also, in the summer of 1916 the nation's economy was endangered by a railroad strike. The president called the parties to a White House summit in August—after two days and no results, Wilson proceeded to settle the issue, using the maximum eight-hour work day as the linchpin. Once the Congress passed the Adamson bill incorporating the president's proposal, the strike was cancelled. Wilson was praised for averting a national economic disaster, though the law was received with howls from conservatives denouncing a sellout to the unions and a surrender by Congress to an imperious president.
    Wilson made a plea for postwar world peace in May 1916; his speech recited the right of every nation to its sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom from aggression. "So sincerely do we believe these things", Wilson said, "that I am sure that I speak the mind and wish of the people of America when I say that the United States is willing to become a partner in any feasible association of nations formed in order to realize these objectives".
    More Details Hide Details At home the speech was seen as a turning point in policy. In Europe the words were received by the British and the French without comment. His harshest European critics rightly thought the speech reflected indifference on Wilson's part; indeed, Wilson never wavered from a belief that the war was the result of corrupt European power politics.
    Meanwhile, Wilson requested and received funds in the final 1916 appropriations bill to provide for 500,000 troops.
    More Details Hide Details It also included a five-year Navy plan for major construction of battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines—showing Wilson's dedication to a big Navy. In March 1916 the SS Sussex, an unarmed ferry under the French flag, was torpedoed in the English Channel and four Americans were counted among the dead; the Germans had flouted the post-Lusitania exchanges. The president demanded the Germans reject their submarine tactics. Wilson drew praise when he succeeded in wringing from Germany a pledge to constrain their U-boat warfare to the rules of cruiser warfare. This was a clear departure from existing practices—a diplomatic concession from which Germany could only more brazenly withdraw, and regrettably did.
    In early 1916 Pancho Villa raided Columbus, an American town in New Mexico, killing eighteen Americans and causing an enormous nationwide American demand for his punishment.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson ordered Gen. John Pershing and 4000 troops across the border to capture Villa. By April, Pershing's forces had broken up and dispersed Villas bands. Villa remained on the loose and Pershing continued his pursuit deep into Mexico. Carranza then pivoted against the Americans and accused them of a punitive invasion; a confrontation with a mob in Parral on April 12 resulted in two dead Americans and six wounded, plus hundreds of Mexican casualties. Further incidents led to the brink of war by late June when Wilson demanded an immediate release of American soldiers held prisoner. They were released; tensions subsided and bilateral negotiations began Under the auspices of the Mexican-American Joint High Commission. In early 1917, as tensions with Germany escalated toward war. Unknown to Washington, Germany's Zimmermann Telegram had already invited Mexico to join in war against the United States. Wilson had to get out of Mexico to deal with Germany and he ordered Pershing to withdraw from Mexico. The last American soldiers left on February 5, 1917. The Americans learned of the Zimmermann proposal on February 23, and Wilson accorded Carranza diplomatic recognition in April, After war was declared on Germany. Biographer Arthur Link calls it Carranza's victory—his successful handling of the chaos inside Mexico, as well as over Wilson's policies. Mexico was now free to develop its revolution without American pressure.
    War between the United States and Mexico was averted through negotiations, and in 1916 his reelection campaign for president boasted he had "kept us out of war."
    More Details Hide Details Huerta fled Mexico and Carranza came to power. Though the administration had achieved the desired result, it was a pyrrhic victory, as Carranza's lieutenant, Pancho Villa, presented a more serious threat in 1916.
    Wilson faced former New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes in the presidential election of 1916.
    More Details Hide Details By a narrow margin, he became the first Democrat since Andrew Jackson elected to two consecutive terms. Wilson's second term was dominated by American entry into World War I. In April 1917, when Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, Wilson asked Congress to declare war in order to make "the world safe for democracy." The United States conducted military operations alongside the Allies, although without a formal alliance. During the war, Wilson focused on diplomacy and financial considerations, leaving military strategy to the generals, especially General John J. Pershing. Loaning billions of dollars to Britain, France, and other Allies, the United States aided their finance of the war effort. Through the Selective Service Act, conscription sent 10,000 freshly trained soldiers to France per day by the summer of 1918. On the home front, he raised income taxes, borrowing billions of dollars through the public's purchase of Liberty Bonds. He set up the War Industries Board, promoted labor union cooperation, regulating agriculture and food production through the Lever Act, and granting to the Secretary of the Treasury, William McAdoo, direct control of the nation's railroad system.
  • 1915
    Age 58
    In early 1915 Germany declared the waters around Great Britain to be a war zone; Wilson dispatched a note of protest, imposing "strict accountability" on Germany for the safety of neutral ships.
    More Details Hide Details The meaning of the policy, dubiously applied to specific incidents, evolved with the policy of neutrality, but ultimately formed the substance of U.S. responses over the next two years. The commercial British steamship Falaba was sunk in March 1915 by a German submarine with the loss of 111 lives, including one American in the Thrasher Incident. Wilson chose to avoid risking escalation of the war as a result of the loss of one American. In the spring of 1915 a German bomb struck an American ship, the Cushing and a German submarine torpedoed an American tanker, the Gulflight. Wilson took the view, based on some reasonable evidence, that both incidents were accidental, and that a settlement of claims could be postponed to the end of the war. A German submarine torpedoed and sank the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania in May 1915; over a thousand perished, including many Americans. In a Philadelphia speech that weekend Wilson said, "There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right". Many reacted to these remarks with contempt. Wilson sent a subdued note to the Germans protesting its submarine warfare against commerce; the initial reply was evasive and received in the United States with indignation. Secretary of State Bryan, a dedicated pacifist, sensing the country's path to war, resigned, and was replaced by Robert Lansing.
    Edith initially did not pursue the furtherance of their physical interaction with the vigor of Wilson, but she gradually warmed to the relationship and they became secretly engaged in the fall of 1915.
    More Details Hide Details Many in Wilson's camp had become concerned about the appearance of a premature romance soon after the death of his wife; the engagement was made public in October and they were married on December 18. From 1914 until early 1917, Wilson's primary objective was to keep America out of the war in Europe, and his policy was, "the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned." In a 1914 address to Congress, Wilson argued, "Such divisions amongst us would be fatal to our peace of mind and might seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace, the one people holding itself ready to play a part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace and accommodation, not as a partisan, but as a friend." He made numerous offers to mediate and sent Colonel House on diplomatic missions; the Allies and the Central Powers, however, dismissed these overtures. Wilson even thought it counterproductive to comment on atrocities by either side; this led to assertions of heartlessness on his part. Republicans, led by Theodore Roosevelt, criticized Wilson's refusal to build up the U.S. Army in anticipation of war, but Wilson retained the support of the peace element, including women and the religious.
    In February 1915 Wilson had met Edith Bolling Galt, a southern widow and jeweler.
    More Details Hide Details After several meetings, he fell in love, and in May, Wilson proposed. He was rebuffed initially but Wilson was undeterred and the courtship continued.
    This lasted until March 1915, when he moderated, drew back from the bill and, without its passage, congratulated the Congress for its work in the session just ended—his initial journey through mourning was evident.
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    In January 1915, Wilson emerged from his depression during a spirited speech in Indianapolis where he said, "the trouble with the Republican Party is that it has not had a new idea for thirty years… the Republican Party is still a covert and a refuge for those who are afraid, for those who want to consult their grandfathers about everything."
    More Details Hide Details Another sign of Wilson's emotional restoration was the aggressiveness with which he pursued passage of a ship-purchase bill to bulk up the inadequately equipped merchant marine.
    Wilson was an avid baseball fan, and in 1915 became the first sitting president to attend, and throw out the first ball at, a World Series game.
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  • 1914
    Age 57
    His wife Ellen's failing health, due to kidney failure, worsened in the spring of 1914; after a fall, she was bedridden, then rallied briefly, but Wilson wrote "my dear one… grows weaker and weaker, with a pathetic patience and sweetness."
    More Details Hide Details He was at her bedside to the end, which came August 6, when Wilson despairingly said "Oh my God, what am I to do." Wilson later wrote accurately of his mourning and depression, "Of course you know what has happened to me…God has stricken me almost beyond what I can bear". Six months of depression followed for him, though mourning continued. At the same time that Wilson's private world shattered, World War I broke out in Europe, and this momentously changed his political life.
    In the summer of 1914 Wilson gained repeal of toll exemptions at the Panama Canal for American ships; this was received positively by the international community, as a cessation of past discrimination against foreign commerce.
    More Details Hide Details The measure was considered unpatriotic by U.S. business interests and opponents such as Tammany Hall. With the President reaching out to new constituencies, 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. The 1916 Federal Farm Loan Act provided for issuance of 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. No major child labor prohibition would take effect until the 1930s.
    Wilson began pushing for legislation which culminated with the Federal Trade Commission Act signed in September 1914.
    More Details Hide Details In doing so, Wilson broke with his predecessors' practice of litigating the antitrust issue in the courts, known as trust-busting; the new Federal Trade Commission provided a new regulatory approach, to encourage competition and reduce perceived unfair trade practices. In addition, he pushed through Congress the Clayton Antitrust Act making certain business practices illegal, such as price discrimination, agreements prohibiting retailers from handling other companies' products, and directorates and agreements to control other companies. The power of this legislation was greater than that of previous anti-trust laws since it dictated accountability of individual corporate officers and clarified guidelines. 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, Wilson approved legislation that increased wages and cut working hours of railroad employees; there was no strike.
  • 1913
    Age 56
    Wilson frequently intervened in Latin American affairs, saying in 1913: "I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men."
    More Details Hide Details These interventions included Mexico in 1914, Haiti in 1915, the Dominican Republic in 1916, Cuba in 1917, and Panama in 1918. The U.S. maintained troops in Nicaragua throughout the Wilson administration and used them to select the president of Nicaragua and then to force Nicaragua to pass the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty. Additionally, American troops in Haiti – under the command of the federal government – forced the Haitian legislature to elect as president a pro-Western candidate who was favored by Wilson though less popular among the Haitian citizenry.
    The United States had long recognized the government of Porfirio Díaz. The U.S. supported the transition that brought about the election of Francisco I. Madero. Wilson, who took office shortly after Madero's assassination in 1913, rejected the legitimacy of Huerta's "government of butchers" and demanded Mexico hold democratic elections.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson's unprecedented approach meant no recognition and doomed Huerta's prospects. Wilsonian idealism became a reason for American intervention in Latin America until 1933, when Franklin Roosevelt ended moralistic approaches to the region. After Huerta arrested U.S. navy personnel in the port of Tampico Wilson sent his navy to occupy Veracruz.
    At the end of 1913, summing up the president's efficacy, the Saturday Evening Post magazine stated, "This administration is Woodrow Wilson's and non-other's.
    More Details Hide Details He is the top, middle and bottom of it. There is not an atom of divided responsibility... the Democratic Party revolves about him. He is the center of it—the biggest Democrat in the country—the leader and the chief".
    Wilson had not waited for completion of the tariff legislation to proceed with his next item of reform—banking—which he initiated in June 1913.
    More Details Hide Details After consulting with Brandeis, Wilson declared the banking system must be "public not private, must be vested in the government itself so that the banks must be the instruments, not the masters, of business." He tried to find a middle ground between conservative Republicans, led by Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, and the powerful left wing of the Democratic party, led by William Jennings Bryan, who strenuously denounced private banks and Wall Street. The latter group wanted a government-owned central bank that could print paper money as Congress required. The compromise, based on the Aldrich Plan but sponsored by Democratic Congressmen Carter Glass and Robert Owen, allowed the private banks to control the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, but appeased the agrarians by placing controlling interest in the System in a central board appointed by the president with Senate approval. Moreover, Wilson convinced Bryan's supporters that because Federal Reserve notes were obligations of the government, the plan met their demands for an elastic currency. Having 12 regional banks, with designated geographic districts, was meant to weaken the influence of the powerful New York banks, a key demand of Bryan's allies in the South and West, and was a key factor in winning Glass' support. The Federal Reserve Act passed in December 1913.
    Wilson defended his administration's segregation policy in a July 1913 letter responding to Oswald Garrison Villard, publisher of the New York Evening Post and founding member of the NAACP; Wilson suggested the segregation removed "friction" between the races.
    More Details Hide Details Ross Kennedy says that Wilson complied with predominant public opinion, but his change in federal practices was protested in letters from both blacks and whites to the White House, mass meetings, newspaper campaigns and official statements by both black and white church groups. The president's African-American supporters, who had crossed party lines to vote for him, were bitterly disappointed, and they and Northern leaders protested the changes. Wilson continued to defend his policy, as in a letter to "prominent black minister Rev. H.A. Bridgman, editor of the Congregation and Christian World." Heckscher argues that Wilson had promised African Americans to deal generously with racial injustices, but did not deliver on these assurances. Segregation and government offices, and discriminatory hiring practices had been started by President Theodore Roosevelt and continued by President Taft; The Wilson administration continued and escalated the practice.
    In 1913, he became the first president to deliver the State of the Union address in person since 1801, as Thomas Jefferson had discontinued this practice.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson, the only Democrat besides Grover Cleveland to be elected president since 1856 and the first Southerner since 1848, recognized his Party's need for high-level federal patronage. Wilson worked closely with Southern Democrats. In Wilson's first month in office, Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson brought up the issue of segregating workplaces in a cabinet meeting and urged the president to establish it across the government, in restrooms, cafeterias and work spaces. Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo also permitted lower-level officials to racially segregate employees in the workplaces of those departments. By the end of 1913 many departments, including the Navy, had workspaces segregated by screens, and restrooms, cafeterias were segregated, although no executive order had been issued. Segregation was urged by such conservative groups as the Fair Play Association.
    Having taken office one month after ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, Wilson called a special session of Congress, whose work culminated in the Revenue Act of 1913, introducing an income tax and lowering tariffs.
    More Details Hide Details Through passage of the Adamson Act, imposing an 8-hour workday for railroads, he averted a railroad strike and an ensuing economic crisis. Upon the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Wilson maintained a policy of neutrality, while pursuing a more aggressive policy in dealing with Mexico's civil war.
  • 1912
    Age 55
    With Wilson the first Southerner to have a serious chance at the White House since 1848 however, Southern Democrats in general strongly supported Wilson's campaign for the nomination in 1912.
    More Details Hide Details More of Wilson's support came from young progressives in that region, including intellectuals, editors and lawyers. Wilson managed to maneuver through the complexities of local politics. For example, in Tennessee the Democratic Party was divided over Prohibition; Wilson was progressive and sober, but not dry, and appealed to both sides. They united behind him to win the presidential election in the state, but divided over state politics and lost the gubernatorial election. After Norfolk, Wilson then proceeded westward to Kansas, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington; he favored voting reforms which empowered the populace, such as the initiative, the referendum and the recall (excepting judges). In California Wilson was asked about his views on women's suffrage and though he was firmly opposed, he evasively said that it was a matter for the states to decide. In July 1911 Wilson brought William Gibbs McAdoo and Edward Mandell House in to manage the campaign. The 1912 Democratic convention in Baltimore was one of the most dramatic conventions in American history; only the Republican conventions of 1880 and 1940, and the Democratic convention of 1952 are comparable. William F. McCombs who helped Wilson win the governorship served as convention chairman. The Republicans at their convention had set the stage a week earlier, nominating incumbent William Howard Taft, with Theodore Roosevelt stalking out, to launch an independent campaign to split the party vote. Wilson was convinced that the Baltimore convention should be allowed to work its will without his interference—so he went golfing and motoring.
    Wilson's prominence as governor and in the national media induced his presidential campaign in 1912.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson committed himself to try for the Democratic nomination in March of the prior year when he spoke at an Atlanta meeting of the Southern Commercial Congress; afterwards he said: "I was given a dinner, breakfast and reception, and on every possible occasion was nominated for the presidency!" While Wilson was in Atlanta, his wife Ellen, alert that key Democrat William Jennings Bryan was visiting Princeton, and recalling Wilson's opposition to him in 1896, invited him for dinner upon Wilson's return. The establishment of rapport with Bryan, the most recent standard bearer of the party, was a success. Wilson began a public campaign for the nomination in the South, with a speech to the Pewter Platter Club in Norfolk, Virginia. While he was received enthusiastically, the speech, reformist in nature, was considered provocative and radical by the conservative audience, making the visit on the whole less than positive.
    He was the first Southerner elected as president since Zachary Taylor in 1848, and Wilson was a leading force in the Progressive Movement, bolstered by his Democratic Party's winning control of both the White House and Congress in 1912.
    More Details Hide Details In office, Wilson reintroduced the spoken State of the Union, which had been out of use since 1801. Leading the Congress, now in Democratic hands, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. Included among these were the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, and the Federal Farm Loan Act.
    Running for president in 1912, Wilson benefited from a split in the Republican Party, which enabled his plurality of just over forty percent to win him a large electoral college margin.
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  • 1910
    Age 53
    He attributed his and others' success against the Taft Republicans in 1910 in part to the emergent national progressive message enunciated by Theodore Roosevelt in his post-presidency.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1910 election, the Democrats also took control of the General Assembly, though the State Senate remained in Republican hands. Wilson appointed Joseph Patrick Tumulty as his private secretary, a position he held throughout Wilson's political career. He began formulating his reformist agenda, intending to ignore the demands of party machinery. After Wilson's election, political boss U.S. Senator Smith asked Wilson to endorse his own reelection bid in the state legislature (this was before popular election of senators); Wilson refused, and endorsed Smith's opponent James E Martine. When Martine won the seat, Wilson had manifestly positioned himself as a new leader in the party in that state. Wilson concentrated on four major state reforms—changes in the election laws, a corrupt practices act, Workmen's Compensation, and establishment of a commission to regulate utilities. The Geran bill, drafted by Del. Elmer H Geran, expanded public participation in primaries for all offices including party officials and delegates; it was thus directed at the power of the political bosses. It passed the state assembly, albeit by a narrow margin. The corrupt practices law and Workmen's Compensation statute soon followed.
    On July 12, 1910 he was introduced to New Jersey's power players at the Lawyers Club in New York, including James Richard Nugent, Robert S. Hudspeth, Millard F. Ross, and Richard V. Lindabury.
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    In January 1910 Wilson had drawn the attention of New Jersey's U.S. Senator James Smith, Jr. and George Harvey as the potential Democratic standard bearer in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
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    Wilson was elected president of the American Political Science Association in 1910, but soon decided to leave his Princeton post and enter New Jersey state politics.
    More Details Hide Details McGeorge Bundy in 1956 described Wilson's contribution to Princeton: "Wilson was right in his conviction that Princeton must be more than a wonderfully pleasant and decent home for nice young men; it has been more ever since his time".
    In the election of 1910, he was the gubernatorial candidate of New Jersey's Democratic Party, and was elected the 34th Governor of New Jersey, serving from 1911 to 1913.
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  • 1908
    Age 51
    He soundly defeated Lewis by a margin of more than 650,000 votes, although Republican William Howard Taft had carried New Jersey in the 1908 presidential election by more than 82,000 votes.
    More Details Hide Details Historian Edmund Morris called Wilson in the Governor's race a "dark horse."
    From its outset, Wilson became disenchanted with resistance to his recommendations at Princeton; he ruminated on future political leadership. Prior to the Democratic presidential nominating convention in 1908, Wilson had dropped hints to some influential players in the Democratic Party of his interest in the Democratic ticket.
    More Details Hide Details While he had no real expectations of being placed on the ticket, he did leave instructions that he should not be offered the vice presidential nomination. And then he was off for a vacation in Scotland. Party regulars considered his ideas politically as well as geographically detached and fanciful. But, the seeds had been sown. Wilson later commented that politics was less brusque than university administration.
  • 1906
    Age 49
    Not long afterward, Wilson suffered a recurrence of his 1906 ailment; as before, a vacation was prescribed and proved beneficial.
    More Details Hide Details Late in his tenure, Wilson had a confrontation with Andrew Fleming West, dean of the graduate school, and also West's ally ex-President Grover Cleveland, who was a trustee. Wilson wanted to integrate a proposed graduate school building into the campus core, while West preferred a more distant campus site. In 1909 Wilson's final year at Princeton began with a gift made to the graduate school campaign subject to the graduate school being located off campus; the acceptance of this condition by the board was a pivotal defeat for Wilson. The national press covered the confrontation as a battle between the elites, represented by West, versus the populists, represented by Wilson.
    When Wilson began vacationing in Bermuda in 1906, he met a socialite, Mary Hulbert Peck.
    More Details Hide Details Their visits together became a regular occurrence on his return. Wilson in his letters home to Ellen openly related these gatherings as well his other social events. According to biographer August Heckscher, Ellen could sense a problem, and it became the topic of frank discussion between them. Wilson historians have not conclusively established there was an affair; but Wilson did on one occasion write a musing in shorthand—on the reverse side of a draft for an editorial: "my precious one, my beloved Mary".; Wilson also sent very personal letters which would be used against him by his adversaries later. During his time at Princeton, he attempted to curtail the influence of social elites by abolishing the upper-class eating clubs. He proposed moving the students into colleges, also known as quadrangles. Wilson's Quad Plan was met with fierce opposition from Princeton's alumni. Wilson persisted, saying that giving in "would be to temporize with evil". In October 1907, due to the intensity of alumni opposition, the Board of Trustees withdrew its support for the Quad Plan and instructed Wilson to withdraw it.
    In 1906 Wilson awoke to find himself blind in the left eye, the result of a blood clot and hypertension.
    More Details Hide Details Modern medical opinion surmises Wilson had suffered a stroke—he later was diagnosed, as his father had been, with hardening of the arteries; he took a Bermuda vacation. He began to exhibit his father's traits of impatience and intolerance, which would on occasion lead to errors of judgment. In 1896 Wilson had, somewhat prophetically, described his problem, in the sesquicentennial speech at Princeton: "your thorough Presbyterian is not subject to the ordinary laws of life, is of too stubborn a fiber, too unrelaxing a purpose, to suffer mere inconvenience to bring defeat".
  • 1903
    Age 46
    Wilson also negotiated a treaty with Colombia in which the U.S. apologized for its role in the Panama Revolution of 1903–1904.
    More Details Hide Details After Russia left World War I following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Allies sent troops there to prevent a German or Bolshevik takeover of allied-provided weapons, munitions and other supplies previously shipped as aid to the pre-revolutionary government. Wilson sent armed forces to assist the withdrawal of Czechoslovak Legions along the Trans-Siberian Railway, and to hold key port cities at Arkhangelsk and Vladivostok. Though specifically instructed not to engage the Bolsheviks, the U.S. forces engaged in several armed conflicts against forces of the new Russian government. Revolutionaries in Russia resented the United States intrusion. Robert Maddox wrote, "The immediate effect of the intervention was to prolong a bloody civil war, thereby costing thousands of additional lives and wreaking enormous destruction on an already battered society." Wilson withdrew most of the soldiers on April 1, 1920, though some remained until as late as 1922.
  • 1902
    Age 45
    The Princeton trustees promoted Professor Wilson to president in June 1902, replacing Francis Landey Patton, whom the trustees perceived to be an inefficient administrator.
    More Details Hide Details Although the school's endowment was barely $4 million, Wilson 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 increases. 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 increased the faculty from 112 to 174, most of whom he selected himself on the basis of their records as outstanding teachers. The curriculum guidelines he developed proved important progressive innovations in the field of higher education. Wilson also made biblical studies a scholarly pursuit, appointed the first Jew and the first Roman Catholic to the faculty, and helped liberate the board from domination by conservative Presbyterians. To emphasize the development of expertise, Wilson instituted academic departments and a system of core requirements. Students were to meet for these 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's C" with serious study. Wilson aspired, as he told alumni, "to transform thoughtless boys performing tasks into thinking men".
    Wilson earned a PhD in political science at Johns Hopkins University, and served as a professor and scholar at various institutions before being chosen as President of Princeton University, a position he held from 1902 to 1910.
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  • 1899
    Age 42
    In 1899, Wilson wrote in "The State" that governments could legitimately promote the general welfare "by forbidding child labor, by supervising the sanitary conditions of factories, by limiting the employment of women in occupations hurtful to their health, by instituting official tests of the purity or the quality of goods sold, by limiting the hours of labor in certain trades, and by a hundred and one limitations of the power of unscrupulous or heartless men to out-do the scrupulous and merciful in trade or industry."
    More Details Hide Details Wilson believed that America's system of checks and balances complicated American governance. If government behaved badly, Wilson queried, "How is the schoolmaster, the nation, to know which boy needs the whipping?" Wilson singled out the United States House of Representatives for particular criticism, saying, " divided up, as it were, into forty-seven seignories, 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." In his last scholarly work, Constitutional Government of the United States (1908), 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 hoped that presidents could be party leaders in the same way British prime ministers were. Wilson also hoped that the parties could be reorganized along ideological, not geographic, lines. He wrote, "Eight words contain the sum of the present degradation of our political parties: No leaders, no principles; no principles, no parties."
  • 1893
    Age 36
    His third book, entitled Division and Reunion, was published in 1893 and considered an outstanding contribution to American historical writing.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson's fourth publication, a five-volume work entitled History of the American People, was the culmination of a series of articles written for Harper's, and was published in 1902.
  • 1892
    Age 35
    Wilson had in the past been offered the presidency at the University of Illinois in 1892, and at the University of Virginia in 1901, both of which he declined.
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  • 1890
    Age 33
    Wilson's second publication in 1890 was a textbook, entitled The State, used widely in college courses throughout the country until the 1920s.
    More Details Hide Details He argued that government should not be deemed evil and advocated the use of government to allay social ills and advance society's welfare. in 1889 Wilson contributed to a U.S. historical series, covering the period from Pres. Jackson through Reconstruction.
    In February 1890, with the help of friends, Wilson was elected by the Princeton University board to the Chair of Jurisprudence and Political Economy, at an annual salary of $3,000.
    More Details Hide Details He continued a previous practice of reserving time for a six-week course in administration at Johns Hopkins. He was also a faculty member of the short-lived coordinate college, Evelyn College for Women. Additionally, Wilson became the first lecturer of Constitutional Law at New York Law School, where he taught with Charles Evans Hughes. Representing the American Whig Society, Wilson delivered an oration at Princeton's sesquicentennial celebration (1896) entitled "Princeton in the Nation's Service," which was the origin for the school's motto. Wilson became annoyed that Princeton was not living up to its potential, complaining, "There's a little college down in Kentucky which in 60 years has graduated more men who have acquired prominence and fame than has Princeton in her 150 years." Wilson, a disciple of Walter Bagehot, considered the United States Constitution to be cumbersome and open to corruption. Wilson favored a parliamentary system for the United States and in the early 1880s 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."
  • 1888
    Age 31
    In 1888, Wilson left Bryn Mawr for Wesleyan University; it was a controversial move, as he had signed a three-year contract with Bryn Mawr in 1887.
    More Details Hide Details Both parties claimed contract violations and the matter subsided. At Wesleyan, he coached the football team and founded the debate team, which bears his name.
  • 1885
    Age 28
    He next taught at Bryn Mawr College from 1885 until 1888, teaching ancient Greek and Roman history; while there, he refused offers from the universities of Michigan and Indiana.
    More Details Hide Details When Ellen was pregnant with their first child in 1886, the couple decided that Ellen should go to her Aunt Louisa Brown's residence in Gainesville, Georgia, to have their first child; she arrived just one day before the baby, Margaret, was born in April 1886. Their second child, Jessie, was born in August 1887.
    She happily agreed to sacrifice further independent artistic pursuits in order to keep her marriage commitment, and in 1885 she and Wilson married.
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  • 1883
    Age 26
    Wilson's marriage to Ellen was delayed by traumatic developments in her family; in late 1883, Ellen's father Edward, suffering from depression, was admitted to the Georgia State Mental Hospital, where in 1884 he committed suicide.
    More Details Hide Details After closing the family home in Rome, Georgia, and recovering from the initial shock, Ellen gained admission to the Art Students League of New York. After graduation, she pursued portrait art and received a medal for one of her works from the Paris International Exposition.
    In late spring of 1883, Wilson was summoned to Rome, Georgia, to assist in the settlement of his maternal uncle William's estate, which was being mishandled by a brother-in-law.
    More Details Hide Details While there he met and fell in love with Ellen Louise Axson, the daughter of a minister from Savannah, Georgia; he proposed to her and they became engaged in Asheville.
    In the fall of 1883, Wilson entered Johns Hopkins University to study history, political science and the German language.
    More Details Hide Details Three years later, he completed his doctoral dissertation, Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics, and received a Ph.D.
  • 1882
    Age 25
    His health became frail and dictated withdrawal, he went home to his parents, then living in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he continued his law studies. Wilson was admitted to the Georgia bar and made a brief attempt at law practice in January 1882; he found legal history and substantive jurisprudence interesting, but abhorred the day-to-day procedural aspects.
    More Details Hide Details After less than a year, he abandoned the practice to pursue his study of political science and history. Both parents expressed concern over a potentially premature decision.
  • 1879
    Age 22
    In 1879, Wilson attended law school at the University of Virginia for one year; he was involved in the Virginia Glee Club and was president of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society.
    More Details Hide Details While there, he enjoyed frequent trips to his birthplace of Staunton. He visited with cousins, and fell in love with one, Hattie Woodrow, though his affections were unrequited.
  • 1876
    Age 19
    In the hotly contested presidential election of 1876, Wilson declared his support for the Democratic Party and its nominee, Samuel J. Tilden.
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  • 1873
    Age 16
    Wilson attended Davidson College in North Carolina for the 1873–74 school year, cut short by illness, then transferred to Princeton as a freshman.
    More Details Hide Details He graduated in 1879, a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. In his second year, he studied political philosophy and history, was active in the Whig literary and debating society, and wrote for the Nassau Literary Review. He organized the Liberal Debating Society and later coached the Whig–Clio Debate Panel.
  • 1870
    Age 13
    During Reconstruction, Wilson lived in Columbia, South Carolina, from 1870 to 1874, while his father was professor at the Columbia Theological Seminary.
    More Details Hide Details His father moved the family to Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1874 where he was the minister at First Presbyterian Church until 1882.
    He became minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, and the family lived there until 1870, when young Wilson was 14.
    More Details Hide Details Wilson in 1873 formally became a member of the Columbia First Presbyterian Church in South Carolina and remained a member throughout his life. Wilson's reading began at age ten, possibly delayed by dyslexia; he later blamed the lack of schools in the postbellum South. As a teen, he taught himself the Graham shorthand system to compensate, and achieved academically with self-discipline, studying at home with his father, then in classes at a small Augusta, Georgia school.
  • 1865
    Age 8
    He served as the first permanent clerk of the southern church's General Assembly, was Stated Clerk for more than three decades from 1865 to 1898, and was Moderator of the PCUS General Assembly in 1879.
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  • 1861
    Age 4
    In 1861 Wilson's father was one of the founders of the Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) after it split from the northern Presbyterians.
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  • 1856
    Wilson was born to an ethnic Scots-Irish family in Staunton, Virginia, on December 28, 1856, at 18–24 North Coalter Street (now the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library).
    More Details Hide Details He was the third of four children of Joseph Ruggles Wilson (1822–1903) and Jessie Janet Woodrow (1826–1888). Wilson's paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland (now Northern Ireland), in 1807. His mother was born in Carlisle, England, the daughter of Rev. Dr. Thomas Woodrow from Paisley, Scotland, and Marion Williamson from Glasgow. This was one of the Border Counties, which supplied many immigrants to the North American colonies in the late 18th century. Joseph Wilson's immigrant family settled in Steubenville, Ohio. There his father published a pro-tariff and anti-slavery newspaper, The Western Herald and Gazette. After marrying, Joseph and Jessie Wilson moved to the South in 1851 and came to fully identify with it, moving from Virginia deeper into the region as Wilson was called to be a minister in Georgia and South Carolina. Joseph Wilson owned slaves, defended slavery, and also set up a Sunday school for his slaves. Both parents identified with the Confederacy during the American Civil War; they cared for wounded soldiers at their church, and Wilson's father briefly served as a chaplain to the Confederate Army. Woodrow Wilson's earliest memory, from the age of three, was of hearing that Abraham Lincoln had been elected and that a war was coming. Wilson would forever recall standing for a moment at General Robert E. Lee's side and looking up into his face.
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