Thomas Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States (1856 - 1924) MP

‹ Back to Wilson surname

Is your surname Wilson?

Research the Wilson family

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States's Geni Profile

Records for Thomas Wilson

12,252,292 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Share

Birthplace: Staunton, Virginia, United States
Death: Died in Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Occupation: Academic, politician
Managed by: Heather Billig
Last Updated:

About Thomas Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924)[1] was the twenty-eighth President of the United States. A leading intellectual of the Progressive Era, he served as President of Princeton University and then became the Governor of New Jersey in 1910. With Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft dividing the Republican Party vote, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912. He proved highly successful in leading a Democratic Congress to pass major legislation that included the Federal Trade Commission, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act, America's first-ever federal progressive income tax in the Revenue Act of 1913 and most notably the Federal Reserve Act.[2][3]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Woodrow_Wilson

--------------------

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States.

--------------------

28th President of the United States of America

Woodrow Wilson helped establish both the Federal Reserve and Federal Trade Commission during his presidency. He was president during World War I and was the second president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

--------------------

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856–February 3, 1924), was the twenty-eighth President of the United States. A devout Presbyterian and leading intellectual of the Progressive Era, he served as president of Princeton University then became the reform governor of New Jersey in 1910. With Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft dividing the Republican vote, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912. He proved highly successful in leading a Democratic Congress to pass major legislation including the Federal Trade Commission, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Underwood Tariff, the Federal Farm Loan Act and most notably the Federal Reserve System.

Re-elected narrowly in 1916, his second term centered on World War I. He tried to negotiate a peace in Europe, but when Germany began unrestricted submarine warfare he wrote several notes to Germany. He called on Congress to declare war when the factors that would lead to a favorable decision to enter war built up. Ignoring military affairs, he focused on diplomacy and finance. On the home front he began the first effective draft in 1917, raised billions through Liberty loans, imposed an income tax, set up the War Industries Board, promoted labor union growth, supervised agriculture and food production through the Lever Act, took over control of the railroads, and suppressed anti-war movements. He paid surprisingly little attention to military affairs, but provided the funding and food supplies that helped to make Allied victory in 1918 possible.

In the late stages of the war he took personal control of negotiations with Germany, especially with the Fourteen Points and the Armistice. He went to Paris in 1919 to create the League of Nations and shape the Treaty of Versailles, with special attention on creating new nations out of defunct empires. Wilson collapsed with a debilitating stroke in 1919, as the home front saw massive strikes and race riots, and wartime prosperity turn into postwar depression. He refused to compromise with the Republicans who controlled Congress after 1918, effectively destroying any chance for ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. The League of Nations went into operation anyway, but the U.S. never joined. Wilson's idealistic internationalism, whereby the U.S. enters the world arena to fight for democracy, progressiveness, and liberalism, has been a highly controversial position in American foreign policy, serving as a model for "idealists" to emulate or "realists" to reject for the following century.

--------------------

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924)[1][2] was the 28th President of the United States. A leader of the Progressive Era, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. With Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft dividing the Republican Party vote, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912.

In his first term, Wilson persuaded a Democratic Congress to pass the Federal Reserve Act,[3] Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and America's first-ever federal progressive income tax in the Revenue Act of 1913. Wilson brought many white Southerners into his administration, and supported their expansion of segregation in many federal agencies.[4][5]

Narrowly re-elected in 1916, Wilson's second term centered on World War I. He based his re-election campaign around the slogan "he kept us out of the war", but U.S. neutrality was challenged in early 1917 when the German government proposed to Mexico a military alliance in a war against the U.S., and began unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking, without warning, every American merchant ship its submarines could find. Wilson in April 1917 asked Congress to declare war.

He focused on diplomacy and financial considerations, leaving the waging of the war primarily in the hands of the Army. On the home front in 1917, he began the United States' first draft since the US civil war, raised billions in war funding through Liberty Bonds, set up the War Industries Board, promoted labor union growth, supervised agriculture and food production through the Lever Act, took over control of the railroads, enacted the first federal drug prohibition, and suppressed anti-war movements.

In the late stages of the war, Wilson took personal control of negotiations with Germany, including the armistice. He issued his Fourteen Points, his view of a post-war world that could avoid another terrible conflict. He went to Paris in 1919 to create the League of Nations and shape the Treaty of Versailles, with special attention on creating new nations out of defunct empires. Largely for his efforts to form the League, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1919, during the bitter fight with the Republican-controlled Senate over the U.S. joining the League of Nations, Wilson collapsed with a debilitating stroke. He refused to compromise, effectively destroying any chance for ratification. The League of Nations was established anyway, but the United States never joined.

A Presbyterian of deep religious faith, he appealed to a gospel of service and infused a profound sense of moralism into Wilsonianism. Wilson's idealistic internationalism, now referred to as "Wilsonianism", which calls for the United States to enter the world arena to fight for democracy, has been a contentious position in American foreign policy, serving as a model for "idealists" to emulate and "realists" to reject ever since. Because of his leadership in World War I he is ranked as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents. [6]

Contents [show]

1 Early life2 Personal life3 Academic career4 Writings on government and politics 4.1 Government systems4.2 Evolving views4.3 Public administration5 President of Princeton University6 Governor of New Jersey7 Election of 19128 Presidency, 1913–1921 8.1 First term, 1913–1917 8.1.1 Federal Reserve 19138.1.2 Economic legislation8.1.3 Antitrust8.1.4 War policy—World War I8.1.5 Segregation in the federal government8.2 Election of 19168.3 Second term, 1917–1921 8.3.1 Decision for War, 19178.3.2 War Message8.3.3 The Fourteen Points8.3.4 Home front8.3.5 Other foreign affairs8.3.6 Peace Conference 19198.3.7 Post war: 1919–208.3.8 Incapacity8.4 Administration and Cabinet8.5 Supreme Court appointments8.6 Civil Rights 8.6.1 African Americans8.6.2 White ethnic groups9 Death and legacy10 Media11 See also12 Notes13 References 13.1 Secondary sources13.2 Primary sources14 External links

[edit] Early life

Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia on December 28, 1856 as the third of four children of Reverend Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson (1822–1903) and Jessie Janet Woodrow (1826–1888).[1] His ancestry was Scottish and Scots-Irish. His 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, born in Paisley, Scotland and Marion Williamson from Glasgow.[7] His grandparents' whitewashed house has become a tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. Descendants of the Woodrows still live in the farmhouse next door to it.[8]


Wilson circa 1880sWilson's father was originally from Steubenville, Ohio, where his grandfather published a newspaper, The Western Herald and Gazette, that was pro-tariff and abolitionist.[9] Wilson's parents moved South in 1851 and identified with the Confederacy. His father defended slavery, owned slaves and set up a Sunday school for them. They cared for wounded soldiers at their church. The father also briefly served as a chaplain to the Confederate Army.[10] 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 Robert E. Lee's side and looking up into his face.[10]

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 in 1861. Joseph R. Wilson served as the first permanent clerk of the southern church's General Assembly, was Stated Clerk from 1865–1898 and was Moderator of the PCUS General Assembly in 1879. Wilson spent the majority of his childhood, up to age 14, in Augusta, Georgia, where his father was minister of the First Presbyterian Church.[11][11]

Wilson was over ten years of age before he learned to read. His difficulty reading may have indicated dyslexia,[12] but as a teenager he taught himself shorthand to compensate.[13] He was able to achieve academically through determination and self-discipline. He studied at home under his father's guidance and took classes in a small school in Augusta.[14] During Reconstruction, Wilson lived in Columbia, South Carolina, the state capital, from 1870–1874, where his father was professor at the Columbia Theological Seminary.[15]

In 1873, he spent a year at Davidson College in North Carolina, then transferred to Princeton as a freshman, graduating in 1879, becoming a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Beginning in his second year, he read widely in political philosophy and history. Wilson credited the British parliamentary sketch-writer Henry Lucy as his inspiration to enter public life. He was active in the undergraduate American Whig-Cliosophic Society discussion club, and organized a separate Liberal Debating Society.[16]

In 1879, Wilson attended law school at the University of Virginia for one year. Although he never graduated, during his time at the University he was heavily involved in the Virginia Glee Club and the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, serving as the Society's president.[17] His frail health dictated withdrawal, and he went home to Wilmington, North Carolina where he continued his studies.[18]

In January 1882, Wilson started a law practice in Atlanta. One of his University of Virginia classmates, Edward Ireland Renick, invited him to join his new law practice as partner and Wilson joined him in May 1882. He passed the Georgia Bar. On October 19, 1882, he appeared in court before Judge George Hillyer to take his examination for the bar, which he passed easily. Competition was fierce in the city with 143 other lawyers, and he found few cases to keep him occupied.[19] Nevertheless, he found staying current with the law obstructed his plans to study government to achieve his long-term plans for a political career. In April 1883, Wilson applied to the Johns Hopkins University to study for a doctorate in history and political science and began his studies there in the fall.[19]

[edit] Personal life

Wilson's mother was possibly a hypochondriac and Wilson himself seemed to think that he was often in poorer health than he really was. He did suffer from hypertension at a relatively early age and may have suffered his first stroke at age 39.[20]

In 1885, he married Ellen Louise Axson, the daughter of a minister from Rome, Georgia. They had three daughters: Margaret Woodrow Wilson (1886–1944); Jessie Wilson (1887–1933); and Eleanor R. Wilson (1889–1967).[1] Axson died in 1914, and the following year Wilson married Edith Galt, a direct descendant of the famous Native American Pocahontas.[21] Wilson is one of only three presidents to be widowed while in office.[22]


Wilson's Pierce Arrow, which is on display in his hometown of Staunton, Virginia.Wilson was an early automobile enthusiast, and he took daily rides while he was President. His favorite car was a 1919 Pierce-Arrow, in which he preferred to ride with the top down.[23] His enjoyment of motoring made him an advocate of funding for public highways.[24]

Wilson was an avid baseball fan. In 1915, he became the first sitting president to attend a World Series game. Wilson had been a center fielder during his Davidson College days. When he transferred to Princeton he was unable to make the varsity team and so became the team's assistant manager. He was the first President to throw out a first ball at a World Series game.[25]

He cycled regularly, including several cycling vacations in the English Lake District.[26] Unable to cycle around Washington, D.C. as President, Wilson took to playing golf, although he played with more enthusiasm than skill.[27] Wilson holds the record of all the presidents for the most rounds of golf,[27] over 1,000, or almost one every other day. During the winter, the Secret Service would paint golf balls with black paint so Wilson could hit them around in the snow on the White House lawn.[28]

[edit] Academic career

He began his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in 1883 and three years later he completed his doctoral dissertation, "Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics", and received a Ph.D. in history and political science. For his doctorate, Wilson had to learn German.[29] He received academic appointments at Bryn Mawr College (1885–88) and Wesleyan University (1888–90).[30]

At Wesleyan, he also coached the football team and founded the debate team – it is still called the T. Woodrow Wilson debate team. He then joined the Princeton faculty as professor of jurisprudence and political economy in 1890. While there, he was one of the faculty members 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.[31]

Wilson delivered an oration at Princeton's sesquicentennial celebration (1896) entitled "Princeton in the Nation's Service". This phrase became the motto of the University, later expanded to "Princeton in the Nation's Service and in the Service of All Nations".[32] In this 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".[33]

Wilson was 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."[34]

[edit] Writings on government and politics

This section needs additional citations for verification.

Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2010)

This section reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry. To meet Wikipedia's quality standards and conform with our Neutral Point of View policy, please help to introduce a more formal style and remove any personally invested tone. (February 2010) 

[edit] Government systems

Under the influence of Walter Bagehot's The English Constitution, Wilson saw the United States Constitution as pre-modern, cumbersome, and open to corruption. An admirer of Parliament, Wilson favored a parliamentary system for the United States. Writing in the early 1880s:[35]

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 he was impressed by Grover Cleveland, and Congressional Government emerged as a critical description of America's system, with frequent negative comparisons to Westminster. He said, "I am pointing out facts—diagnosing, not prescribing remedies."[36]

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. If government behaved badly, Wilson asked:[37]

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.

Wilson singled out the United States House of Representatives for particular criticism:[38]

... 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.

Wilson said that the Congressional committee system was fundamentally undemocratic in that committee chairs, who ruled by seniority, determined national policy although they were responsible to no one except their constituents; and that it facilitated corruption.[39]

[edit] Evolving views

By the time Wilson finished Congressional Government, Grover Cleveland was President, and Wilson's faith in the United States government was restored. When William Jennings Bryan captured the Democratic nomination from Cleveland's supporters in 1896, however, Wilson refused to support the ticket. Instead, he cast his ballot for John M. Palmer, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party, or Gold Democrats, a short-lived party that supported a gold standard, low tariffs, and limited government.[40]

After experiencing the vigorous presidencies of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson no longer entertained thoughts of parliamentary government for the United States. 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 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."[41]

[edit] Public administration

Wilson also studied public administration, which he called "government in action; it is the executive, the operative, the most visible side of government, and is of course as old as government itself".[42] He believed that by studying public administration governmental efficiency could be increased.[43]

Wilson was concerned with the implementation of government. He faulted political leaders who focused on philosophical issues and the nature of government and dismissed the critical issues of government administration as mere "practical detail". He thought such attitudes represented the requirements of smaller countries and populations.[citation needed] By his day, he thought, "it is getting to be harder to run a constitution than to frame one."[44] He thought it time "to straighten the paths of government, to make its business less unbusinesslike, to strengthen and purify its organization, and it to crown its dutifulness".[45] He complained that studies of administration drew principally on the history of Continental Europe and an American equivalent was required.[citation needed] He summarized the growth of such foreign states as Prussia, France, and England, highlighting the events that led to advances in administration.[citation needed]

By contrast, he thought the United States required greater compromise because of the diversity of public opinion and the difficulty of forming a majority opinion. Thus practical reform to the government is necessarily slow.[citation needed] Yet Wilson insisted that "administration lies outside the proper sphere of politics"[46] and that "general laws which direct these things to be done are as obviously outside of and above administration."[47] He likens administration to a machine that functions independent of the changing mood of its leaders.[citation needed]

Such a line of demarcation is intended to focus responsibility for actions taken on the people or persons in charge. As Wilson put it, "public attention must be easily directed, in each case of good or bad administration, to just the man deserving of praise or blame. There is no danger in power, if only it be not irresponsible. If it be divided, dealt out in share to many, it is obscured..."[48] Essentially, the items under the discretion of administration must be limited in scope, as to not block, nullify, obfuscate, or modify the implementation of governmental decree made by the executive branch.[citation needed]

[edit] President of Princeton University


Prospect House, located in the center of Princeton's campus, was Wilson's home during his term as president of the university.The trustees promoted Professor Wilson to president of Princeton in 1902, replacing Francis Landey Patton, whom the Trustees perceived to be an inefficient administrator. 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.[49] He achieved little of those ambitious plans because he was not a strong fund raiser, but he did increase 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.[50]

To emphasize the development 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's C" with serious study. Wilson aspired, as he told alumni, "to transform thoughtless boys performing tasks into thinking men".[51]

In 1906–10, he attempted to curtail the influence of social elites by abolishing the upper-class eating clubs and moving the students into colleges, also known as quadrangles. Wilson's Quad Plan was met with fierce opposition from Princeton's alumni, most importantly Moses Taylor Pyne, the most powerful of Princeton's Trustees. Wilson refused any proposed compromises that stopped short of abolishing the clubs because he felt that to compromise "would be to temporize with evil".[52] In October 1907, due to the intensity of alumni opposition and Wilson's refusal to compromise, the Board of Trustees withdrew its support for the Quad Plan and instructed Wilson to withdraw it.[53]

Even more damaging to Wilson's administration of the University 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 area with the undergraduate colleges. West wanted them to remain separate. The trustees rejected Wilson's plan for colleges in 1908, and then endorsed West's alternative in 1909. The national press covered the confrontation as a battle of the elites represented by West versus democracy represented by Wilson.[54]

But of greatest significance is a statement of his published in the High School Teachers Association of New York: "I do not wonder at it. I think it is hardly just to blame those who have brought this situation about, because this change in modern life has come upon us suddenly. It has confused us. We are in an age so changeful, so transitional, I do not wonder that this confusion has come into our education, and I do not blame anybody. I do not see how it could have been avoided, how we could have avoided trying our hands at a score of things hitherto unattempted to determine at least if they were possible or not. Therefore this is not a subject for cynical comment, this is not a subject for criticism. It is a subject for self-recognition. The present need is that we should examine ourselves and see whether this be true or not; and, if it is true, ask ourselves whether the air has cleared enough, and whether our experiment has gone far enough, to make a definite program, to make a radical change, in the things we have attempted. This is the moment for counsel. The thing that is imperative upon our conscience is that we should ask ourselves whether it be possible to do it differently and better."

"Let us go back and distinguish between the two things that we want to do; for we want to do two things in modern society. We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. You cannot train them for both in the time that you have at your disposal. They must make a selection, and you must make a selection. I do not mean to say that in the manual training there must not be an element of liberal training; neither am I hostile to the idea that in the liberal education there should be an element of the manual training. But what I am intent upon is that we should not confuse ourselves with regard to what we are trying to make of the pupils under our instruction. We are either trying to make liberally-educated persons out of them, or we are trying to make skillful servants of society along mechanical lines, or else we do not know what we are trying to do." [55]

Wilson served as president of the American Political Science Association in 1910. Around this time, Wilson decided to leave his post at Princeton. After considering an immediate resignation, he decided instead to take up invitations to enter New Jersey state politics.[56]

[edit] Governor of New Jersey

In 1910 Wilson ran for Governor of New Jersey against the Republican candidate Vivian M. Lewis, the State Commissioner of Banking and Insurance. Wilson's campaign focused on his independence from machine politics, and he promised that if elected he would not be beholden to party bosses. Wilson soundly defeated Lewis in the general election by a margin of more than 49,000 votes, although Republican William Howard Taft had carried New Jersey in the 1908 presidential election by more than 80,000 votes.[57]

In the 1910 election the Democrats also took control of the General Assembly. The State Senate, however, remained in Republican control by a slim margin. After taking office, Wilson set in place his reformist agenda, ignoring the demands of party machinery. While governor, in a period spanning six months, Wilson established state primaries. This all but took the party bosses out of the presidential election process in the state. He also revamped the public utility commission, and introduced worker's compensation.[58]

[edit] Election of 1912

Main article: United States presidential election, 1912

Wilson's popularity as governor and his status in the national media gave impetus to his presidential campaign in 1912. He selected William Frank McCombs, a New York lawyer and a friend from college days, to manage his campaign. Much of Wilson's support came from the South, especially from young progressives in that region, especially intellectuals, editors and lawyers. Wilson managed to maneuver through the complexities of local politics. For example, in Tennessee the Democratic Party was divided on the issue of prohibition. Wilson was progressive and sober, but not a 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.[59]

The convention deadlocked for more than 40 ballots as no candidate could reach the two-thirds vote required to win the nomination. A leading contender was House Speaker Champ Clark, a prominent progressive strongest in the border states. Other contenders were Governor Judson Harmon of Ohio, and Representative Oscar Underwood of Alabama. They lacked Wilson's charisma and dynamism. Publisher William Randolph Hearst, a leader of the left-wing of the party, supported Clark. William Jennings Bryan, the nominee in 1896, 1900 and 1908, played a critical role in opposition to any candidate who had the support of "the financiers of Wall Street". He finally announced for Wilson, who won on the 46th ballot.[60]

In the campaign Wilson promoted the "New Freedom", emphasizing limited federal government and opposition to monopoly powers—positions that he reversed on coming to office. Wilson enjoyed the support of many black leaders including W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter. Wilson's speeches and letters expressed the sentiments of a defender of the underprivileged.[4]

In a bitter contest for the Republican nomination, President William Howard Taft defeated former president Theodore Roosevelt, but when Roosevelt walked out of the Republican convention and ran as a third party candidate, Wilson's success in the electoral college was assured. He won 41.8% of the popular vote.[61]

[edit] Presidency, 1913–1921

[edit] First term, 1913–1917

Wilson is the only President to hold a Ph.D. degree and the only President to serve in a political office in New Jersey before election to the Presidency. He was the first person identified with the South to be elected President since Zachary Taylor and the first Southerner in the White House since Andrew Johnson left in 1868.[62] Wilson had a strong base of support in the South. He was the first president to deliver his State of the Union address before Congress personally since John Adams in 1799. Wilson was also the first Democrat elected to the presidency since Grover Cleveland in 1892 and only the second Democrat in the White House since the Civil War.


Wilson addressing the U.S. Congress, April 8, 1913In resolving economic policy issues, he had to manage the conflict between two wings of his party, the agrarian wing led by Bryan and the pro-business wing. With large Democratic majorities in Congress and a healthy economy, he promptly seized the opportunity to implement his agenda.[63] Wilson experienced early success by implementing his "New Freedom" pledges of antitrust modification, tariff revision, and reform in banking and currency matters.[64] He held the first modern presidential press conference, on March 15, 1913, in which reporters were allowed to ask him questions.[65]

Wilson's first wife Ellen died on August 6, 1914 of Bright's disease. In 1915, he met Edith Galt. They married later that year on December 18.

[edit] Federal Reserve 1913

Wilson secured passage of the Federal Reserve Act in late 1913. Wilson had tried to find a middle ground between conservative Republicans led by Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and those, especially the powerful left wing of the Democratic party led by William Jennings Bryan, who opposed all banking schemes and 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 a certain influence over the new Federal Reserve, but appeased the populists by placing controlling interest in a central, public board. This Board of Governors included members appointed by the President and approved by Congress who would outnumber the board members selected by bankers. Moreover, Wilson convinced Bryan's supporters that because Federal Reserve notes were obligations of the government, the plan met their demands. Wilson's plan also organized the Federal Reserve system into 12 districts, a structure meant to weaken the influence of the powerful New York banks, a key demand of Bryan's allies in the South and West. This decentralization was a key factor in winning the support of Congressman Glass.[66]

The final plan passed in December 1913. Some bankers felt it gave too much control to Washington, and some reformers felt it allowed bankers to maintain too much power. Several Congressmen claimed that New York bankers feigned their disapproval.[67]

Wilson named Paul Warburg and other prominent bankers to direct the new system. While power was supposed to be decentralized, the New York branch dominated the Fed as the "first among equals".[68] The new system began operations in 1915 and played a major role in financing the Allied and American war effort.[69]

[edit] Economic legislation

In 1913, the Underwood Tariff Act lowered the tariff. The revenue thereby lost was replaced by a new federal income tax (authorized by the 16th Amendment. The Seamen's Act of 1915 attempted to improve working conditions for merchant sailors. A response to the RMS Titanic disaster, it required all ships to be retrofitted with lifeboats.[citation needed]

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.[70]

Child labor was curtailed by the Keating–Owen Act of 1916, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1918. No major child labor prohibition would take effect until the 1930s.[71]

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 work 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.[72]


Wilson uses tariff, currency and anti-trust laws to prime the pump and get the economy working in a 1913 political cartoon[edit] Antitrust

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 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 previous anti-trust laws, because individual officers of corporations could be held responsible if their companies violated the laws. 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 wages and cut working hours of railroad employees; there was no strike.[73]

[edit] War policy—World War I

Main article: 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 U.S. Army in anticipation of the threat of war. Wilson won the support of the U.S. peace element by arguing that an army buildup would provoke war. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, whose pacifist recommendations were ignored by Wilson, resigned in 1915.[74]

On 18 December 1916 Wilson unsuccessfully offered to mediate peace. 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 or common ground existed, and the offer lapsed.[75]

While German submarines were killing sailors and civilian passengers Wilson demanded that Germany stop, but he kept the U.S. out of the war. Britain had declared a blockade of Germany to prevent neutral ships from carrying contraband goods to Germany. Wilson protested some British violation of neutral rights, where no one was killed. His protests were mild, and the British knew America would not take action.[74]

[edit] Segregation in the federal government

In 1912, "an unprecedented number"[5] of African Americans left the Republican Party to cast their vote for Democrat Wilson. They were encouraged by his promises of support for their issues. The issue of segregation came up early in his presidency when, at an April 1913 cabinet meeting, Albert Burleson, Wilson's Postmaster General, complained about working conditions at the Railway Mail Service. Offices and restrooms became segregated, sometimes by partitions erected between seating for white and African-American employees in Post Office Department offices, lunch rooms, and bathrooms, as well as in the Treasury and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It also became accepted policy for "Negro" employees of the Postal Service to be reduced in rank or dismissed. And unlike his predecessors Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson accommodated Southern opposition to the re-appointment of an African American to the position of Register of the Treasury and other positions within the federal government. This set the tone for Wilson's attitude to race throughout his presidency, in which the rights of African Americans were sacrificed, for what he felt would be the more important longer term progress of the common good.[5][76]

[edit] Election of 1916

Main article: United States presidential election, 1916

Renominated in 1916, Wilson used as a major campaign slogan "He kept us out of the war", referring to his administration's avoiding open conflict with Germany or Mexico while maintaining a firm national policy. Wilson, however, never promised to keep out of war regardless of provocation. In his acceptance speech on September 2, 1916, Wilson pointedly warned Germany that submarine warfare that took American lives 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. It at once makes the quarrel in part our own."[77]

Wilson narrowly won the election, defeating Republican candidate Charles Evans Hughes. As governor of New York from 1907–1910, Hughes had a progressive record, strikingly similar to Wilson's as governor of New Jersey. Theodore Roosevelt would comment 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 so his campaign never seemed to take 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 to "Never murder a man who is committing suicide."[78]

The result was exceptionally close and the outcome was in doubt for several days. The vote came down to several close states. Wilson won California by 3,773 votes out of almost a million votes cast and New Hampshire by 54 votes. Hughes won Minnesota by 393 votes out of over 358,000. In the final count, Wilson had 277 electoral votes vs. Hughes 254. Wilson was able to win reelection in 1916 by picking up many votes that had gone to Teddy Roosevelt or Eugene V. Debs in 1912.[79]

[edit] Second term, 1917–1921

[edit] Decision for War, 1917

Before entering the war in 1917, the U.S. had made a declaration of neutrality in 1914. During this time of neutrality, President Wilson warned citizens not to take sides in the war in fear of endangering wider U.S. policy. In his address to congress in 1914, Wilson states, "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."[80]

The U.S. maintained neutrality despite increasing pressure placed on Wilson after the sinking of the British passenger liner RMS Lusitania with American citizens on board. This neutrality would deteriorate when Germany began to initiate its unrestricted submarine warfare threatening U.S. commercial shipping. When Germany started unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, despite the promises made in the Arabic pledge and the Sussex pledge, and attempted to enlist Mexico as an ally (see Zimmermann Telegram), Wilson took America into World War I as a war to make "the world safe for democracy". He did not sign a formal alliance with the United Kingdom or France but operated as an "associated" power. 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.[81]

Woodrow 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 on April 2, 1917,[82] western civilization itself could be destroyed. His statement announcing a "war to end war" 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. Included in these fourteen points was the proposal of the League of Nations.[83]

[edit] War Message


President Wilson delivering his war message before Congress. April 2, 1917.Woodrow Wilson delivered his War Message to Congress on the evening of April 2, 1917. Introduced to great applause, he remained intense and almost motionless for the entire speech, only raising one arm as his only bodily movement.[84]

Wilson announced that his previous position of "armed neutrality" was no longer tenable now that the Imperial German Government had announced that it would use its submarines to sink any vessel approaching the ports of Great Britain, Ireland or any of the Western Coasts of Europe. He advised Congress to declare that the recent course of action taken by the Imperial German Government constituted an act of war. He proposed that 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". He also charged that Germany had "filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of counsel, our peace within and without our industries and our commerce". Furthermore, the United States had intercepted a telegram sent to the German ambassador in Mexico City that evidenced Germany's attempt to instigate a Mexican attack upon the U.S. The German government, Wilson said, "means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors". Wilson closed with the statement that the world must be again safe for democracy.[85]

With 50 Representatives and 6 Senators in opposition, the declaration of war by the United States against Germany was passed by the Congress on April 4, 1917, and was approved by the President on April 6, 1917.

[edit] The Fourteen Points

Wikisource has original text related to this article: 

Fourteen Points

Main article: Fourteen Points


Image of Wilson created by 21,000 soldiers at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, 1918 "Address to the American Indians"

("The great white father now calls you his brothers"), an address given in 1913

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Problems listening to this file? See media help.

In a speech to Congress on January 8, 1918, Wilson articulated America's war aims. It was the clearest expression of intention made by any of the belligerent nations. The speech, authored principally by Walter Lippmann, translated Wilson's progressive domestic policies into comparably idealistic equivalents for the international arena: self-determination, open agreements, international cooperation. Promptly dubbed the Fourteen Points, Wilson attempted to make them the basis for the treaty that would mark the end of the war. They ranged from the most generic principles like the prohibition of secret treaties to such detailed outcomes as the creation of an independent Poland with access to the sea.[86]

[edit] Home front

To counter opposition to the war 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 and pushed for deportation of foreign-born radicals.[87] Citing the Espionage Act, the U.S. Post Office refused to carry any written materials that could be deemed critical of the U. S. war effort. Some sixty newspapers were deprived of their second-class mailing rights.[88]

His wartime policies were strongly pro-labor. He worked closely with Samuel Gompers and the AFL, while suppressing antiwar groups trying to impede the war effort. The American Federation of Labor, the railroad brotherhoods and other 'moderate' unions saw enormous growth in membership and wages during Wilson's administration. There was no rationing, so consumer prices soared. As income taxes increased, 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.[88]

Wilson set up the first western propaganda office, 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.[89] In 1917, Congress authorized ex-President Theodore Roosevelt to raise four divisions of volunteers to fight in France- Roosevelt's World War I volunteers; Wilson refused to accept this offer from his political enemy. Other areas of the war effort were incorporated into the government along with propaganda. The War Industries Board headed by Bernard Baruch set war goals and policies for American factories. Future President Herbert Hoover was appointed to head the Food Administration which encouraged Americans to participate in "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays" to conserve food for the troops overseas. The Federal Fuel Administration run by Henry Garfield introduced daylight savings time and rationed fuel supplies such as coal and oil to keep the US military supplied. These and many other boards and administrations were headed by businessmen recruited by Wilson for a dollar a day salary to make the government more efficient in the war effort.[88]

[edit] 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 the Wilson 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, under the command of the federal government, forced the Haitian legislature to choose the candidate Wilson selected as Haitian president. American troops occupied Haiti between 1915 and 1934.[90] Wilson ordered the military occupation of the Dominican Republic shortly after the resignation of its President Juan Isidro Jimenes Pereyra in 1916. The U.S. military worked in concert with wealthy Dominican landowners to suppress the gavilleros, a campesino guerrilla force fighting the occupation. The occupation lasted until 1924, and was notorious for its brutality against those in the resistance.[91]

Main article: American Expeditionary Force Siberia

Main article: Polar Bear Expedition

After Russia left the war 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.[92] Wilson sent armed forces to assist the withdrawal of Czech and Slovak prisoners along the Trans-Siberian Railway, hold key port cities at Arkangel and Vladivostok. Though not sent to engage the Bolsheviks, the U.S. forces engaged in several armed conflicts against forces of the new Russian government. Despite the apparent innocuousness of Wilson's motives, revolutionaries in Russia resented the American intrusion. As Robert Maddox puts it, "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."[93] Wilson withdrew most of the soldiers on April 1, 1920, though some remained until as late as 1922.

In 1919 Wilson guided American foreign policy to "acquiesce" in the Balfour Declaration without supporting Zionism in an official way. Wilson expressed sympathy for the plight of Jews, especially in Poland and in France.[94]

In May 1920, after the Senate passed a resolution unanimously expressing sympathy for Armenia's suffering, Wilson sent a proposal to Congress to establish an American mandate over Armenia. It failed in the Senate with only 23 votes for and 52 against. He later requested an appropriation to underwrite a loan to Armenia, but got no response from Congress.[95]

[edit] Peace Conference 1919

Main article: Paris Peace Conference, 1919

After World War I, 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.[citation needed]

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 in Paris for the 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.[citation needed]


Wilson returning from the Versailles Peace Conference, 1919.For his peace-making efforts, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize,[96] however, he failed to even win US Senate support for ratification. 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. During this period, Wilson became less trustful of the press and stopped holding press conferences for them, preferring to use his propaganda unit, the Committee for Public Information, instead.[65]

A poll of historians in 2006 cited Wilson's failure to compromise with the Republicans on U.S. entry into the League as one of the 10 largest errors on the part of an American president.[97] The extensive restrictions in the Treaty of Versailles left the German populace with a resentment against the treaty and ultimately contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II.

When Wilson traveled to Europe to settle the peace terms, he visited Pope Benedict XV in Rome, making Wilson the first American President to visit the Pope while in office.

[edit] Post war: 1919–20

Wilson's administration did not plan for the process of demobilization at the war's end. Though some advisers tried to engage the President's attention to what they called "reconstruction", his tepid support for a federal commission evaporated with the election of 1918. Republican gains in the Senate meant that his opposition would have to consent to the appointment of commission members. Instead, Wilson favored the prompt dismantling of wartime boards and regulatory agencies.[98]

Demobilization proved chaotic and violent. Four million soldiers were sent home with little planning, little money, and few benefits. A wartime bubble in prices of farmland burst, leaving many farmers bankrupt or deeply in debt after they purchased new land. Major strikes in steel, coal, and meatpacking followed in 1919.[99] Serious race riots hit Chicago, Omaha and two dozen other cities.[100] As the election of 1920 approached, Wilson imagined that a deadlocked Democratic convention might turn to him as the only candidate who would make U.S. participation in the League of Nations the dominant issue. He imagined and sometimes pretended he was healthy enough for the effort, but several times admitted that he knew he could not survive a campaign. No one around the President dared tell him that he was incapable and that the campaign for the League was already lost. At the Convention in late June, 1920, some Wilson partisans made efforts on his behalf and sent Wilson hopeful reports, but they were quashed by Wilson's wiser friends.[101]

[edit] Incapacity


Woodrow Wilson's first posed photograph after his stroke. He was paralyzed on his left side, so his wife Edith holds a document steady while he signs. June 1920.The immediate cause of Wilson's incapacitation was the physical strain of the public speaking tour he undertook to obtain support for ratification of the Covenant of the League of Nations. In Pueblo, Colorado, on September 25, 1919[102] he collapsed.[103]

Then, on October 2, 1919, he suffered a serious stroke that almost totally incapacitated him, leaving him paralyzed on his left side and blind in his left eye.[104] He was confined to bed for weeks, sequestered from nearly everyone but his wife and his physician, Dr. Cary Grayson.[105] For at least a few months, he used a wheelchair. Later, he could walk only with the assistance of a cane. The full extent of his disability was kept from the public until after his death on February 3, 1924.

With few exceptions, Wilson was kept out of the presence of Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, his cabinet and Congressional visitors to the White House for the remainder of his term. His wife, Edith, served as his steward, selecting issues for his attention and delegating other issues to his cabinet heads. Eventually, Wilson did resume his attendance at cabinet meetings, but his input there was perfunctory at best.[106] This was one of the most serious cases of presidential disability in American history and was later cited as an argument for the 25th Amendment.[citation needed]

[edit] Administration and Cabinet

Wilson's chief of staff ("Secretary") was Joseph Patrick Tumulty 1913–1921, but he was largely upstaged after 1916 when Wilson's second wife, Edith Bolling Wilson, assumed full control of Wilson's schedule. The most important foreign policy advisor and confidant was "Colonel" Edward M. House until Wilson broke with him in early 1919.[107]

The Wilson Cabinet

Office Name Term


President Woodrow Wilson 1913–1921

Vice President Thomas R. Marshall 1913–1921


Secretary of State William J. Bryan 1913–1915

Robert Lansing 1915–1920

Bainbridge Colby 1920–1921


Secretary of Treasury William G. McAdoo 1913–1918

Carter Glass 1918–1920

David F. Houston 1920–1921


Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison 1913–1916

Newton D. Baker 1916–1921


Attorney General James C. McReynolds 1913–1914

Thomas W. Gregory 1914–1919

A. Mitchell Palmer 1919–1921


Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson 1913–1921


Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels 1913–1921


Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane 1913–1920

John B. Payne 1920–1921


Secretary of Agriculture David F. Houston 1913–1920

Edwin T. Meredith 1920–1921


Secretary of Commerce William C. Redfield 1913–1919

Joshua W. Alexander 1919–1921


Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson 1913–1921

[citation needed] [edit] Supreme Court appointments

Wilson appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

James Clark McReynolds in 1914. He served more than 26 years and established a consistent record in opposition to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Social Security Act.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis in 1916. He served almost 23 years and wrote landmark opinions in cases respecting free speech and the right to privacy.

John Hessin Clarke in 1916. He served just 6 years on the Court before resigning. He thoroughly disliked his work as an Associate Justice.


Woodrow Wilson and his cabinet in the Cabinet Room

[edit] Civil Rights


Quotation from Woodrow Wilson's History of the American People as reproduced in the film The Birth of a Nation.[edit] African Americans

Wilson did not interfere with the well-established system of Jim Crow and backed the demands of Southern Democrats that their states be left alone to deal with issues of race and black voting without interference from the North, ensuring there would be no challenge to the raft of laws passed to disenfranchise African Americans across the region.[108]

While president of Princeton University, Wilson discouraged blacks from even applying for admission, preferring to keep the peace among white students than have black students admitted.[109]

Many black leaders supported Wilson in the 1912 election. However their rejoicing over Wilson's victory was short-lived as segregationist white Southerners took control of Congress and many executive departments.[4] As President of the United States, Wilson ignored complaints that his cabinet officials had established official segregation in most federal government offices, in some departments for the first time since 1863. New buildings and facilities were built to house black workers separately.[110] "His administration imposed full racial segregation in Washington and hounded from office considerable numbers of black federal employees."[111] Wilson and his cabinet members fired many black Republican office holders in political appointee positions, but also appointed a few black Democrats to such posts.

W. E. B. Du Bois, 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 he failed his Army physical and did not serve.[112] Wilson drafted hundreds of thousands of blacks into the army, giving them equal pay with whites, but kept them in all-black units with white officers.[113] When a delegation of blacks protested the discriminatory actions, Wilson told them "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, "If the colored people made a mistake in voting for me, they ought to correct it."[114]

Wilson was highly criticized by African Americans for his actions. He was also criticized by such hard-line segregationists as Georgia's Thomas E. Watson, who believed Wilson did not go far enough in restricting black employment in the federal government. The segregation introduced into the federal workplace by the Wilson administration was kept in place by the succeeding presidents and not officially ended until the Truman Administration.[115]

Woodrow Wilson's "History of the American People" explained the Ku Klux Klan of the late 1860s as the natural outgrowth of Reconstruction, a lawless reaction to a lawless period. Wilson noted that the Klan "began to attempt by intimidation what they were not allowed to attempt by the ballot or by any ordered course of public action".[116]

[edit] White ethnic groups

Wilson had harsh words to say about immigrants in his history books, but after he entered politics in 1910, Wilson worked to integrate immigrants into the Democratic party, the army, and American life. During the war, he demanded in return that they repudiate any loyalty to enemy nations. Irish Americans were powerful in the Democratic party and opposed going to war as allies of their traditional enemy Great Britain, especially after the violent suppression of the Easter Rebellion of 1916. Wilson won them over in 1917 by promising to ask Great 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 lack of popular support for the League of Nations, saying:[117]

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.

Wilson nominated the first Jew to the Supreme Court, Louis Brandeis, starting a long line of Jewish justices who would serve on the nation's highest court in the future.

Death and legacy

In 1921, Wilson and his wife retired from the White House to a home in the Embassy Row section of Washington, D.C. Wilson continued going for daily drives and attended Keith's vaudeville theater on Saturday nights. Wilson was one of only two Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt was the first) to have served as president of the American Historical Association.

Wilson died in his S Street home on February 3, 1924. He was buried in Washington National Cathedral. He is the only president buried in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Wilson stayed in the home another 37 years, dying on December 28, 1961. It was the day she was to be the guest of honor at the opening of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge near Washington, D.C. She died with her favorite dog, Rooter, at her bedside.

Mrs. Wilson left the home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to be made into a museum honoring her husband. The Woodrow Wilson House opened as a museum. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

Wilson wrote his one page will on May 31, 1917, and appointed his wife Edith as his executrix. He left his daughter Margaret an annuity of $2500 annually for as long as she remained unmarried and left what had been his first wife's personal property to his daughters. The rest he left to Edith as a life estate with the provision that at her death his daughters would divide the estate among themselves. In the event that Edith had a child, her children would inherit on an equal footing with his daughters. As the second Mrs Wilson had no children from either of her marriages he was providing for the child of a possible subsequent third marriage on her part.

Less than a year after the death of Woodrow Wilson the U.S. Post Office on December 28th 1925 issued the 17-cent stamp in his honor. On January 10, 1956, the 7¢ Liberty Issue postage stamp honoring Wilson was also issued.

The USS Woodrow Wilson (SSBN-624), a Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Wilson. She later was converted into an attack submarine and redesignated SSN-624.

The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs was founded at Princeton in 1930, created in the spirit of Wilson's interest in preparing students for leadership in public and international affairs.

Shadow Lawn, the Summer White House for Wilson during his term in office, became part of Monmouth University in 1956. The college has placed a marker on the building, renamed Woodrow Wilson Hall, commemorating the home. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985.

In 1929, Wilson's image appeared on the $100,000 bill. The bill, now out of print but still legal tender, was only used to transfer money between Federal Reserve banks.

In 1944, Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox produced a film titled Wilson. It looked back with nostalgia to the commander-in-chief of World War I.

A section of the Rambla of Montevideo, Uruguay, is denominated Rambla Presidente Wilson.

--------------------

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States. A leader of the Progressive Era, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. With Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft dividing the Republican Party vote, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912.

In his first term, Wilson persuaded a Democratic Congress to pass the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and America's first-ever federal progressive income tax in the Revenue Act of 1913. Wilson brought many white Southerners into his administration, and tolerated their expansion of segregation in many federal agencies.

Narrowly re-elected in 1916, Wilson's second term centered on World War I. He based his re-election campaign around the slogan "he kept us out of the war", but U.S. neutrality was challenged in early 1917 when the German government proposed to Mexico a military alliance in a war against the U.S., and began unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking, without warning, every American merchant ship its submarines could find. Wilson in April 1917 asked Congress to declare war.

He focused on diplomacy and financial considerations, leaving the waging of the war primarily in the hands of the Army. On the home front in 1917, he began the United States' first draft since the US civil war, raised billions in war funding through Liberty Bonds, set up the War Industries Board, promoted labor union growth, supervised agriculture and food production through the Lever Act, took over control of the railroads, enacted the first federal drug prohibition, and suppressed anti-war movements.

In the late stages of the war, Wilson took personal control of negotiations with Germany, including the armistice. He issued his Fourteen Points, his view of a post-war world that could avoid another terrible conflict. He went to Paris in 1919 to create the League of Nations and shape the Treaty of Versailles, with special attention on creating new nations out of defunct empires. Largely for his efforts to form the League, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1919, during the bitter fight with the Republican-controlled Senate over the U.S. joining the League of Nations, Wilson collapsed with a debilitating stroke. He refused to compromise, effectively destroying any chance for ratification. The League of Nations was established anyway, but the United States never joined.

A Presbyterian of deep religious faith, he appealed to a gospel of service and infused a profound sense of moralism into Wilsonianism. Wilson's idealistic internationalism, now referred to as "Wilsonianism", which calls for the United States to enter the world arena to fight for democracy, has been a contentious position in American foreign policy, serving as a model for "idealists" to emulate and "realists" to reject ever since. Because of his leadership in World War I he is ranked as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents. [6]

Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia on December 28, 1856 as the third of four children of Reverend Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson (1822–1903) and Jessie Janet Woodrow (1826–1888).[1] His ancestry was Scottish and Scots-Irish. His 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, born in Paisley, Scotland and Marion Williamson from Glasgow.[7] His grandparents' whitewashed house has become a tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. Descendants of the Woodrows still live in the farmhouse next door to it.[8]

Wilson's father was originally from Steubenville, Ohio, where his grandfather published a newspaper, The Western Herald and Gazette, that was pro-tariff and abolitionist.[9] Wilson's parents moved South in 1851 and identified with the Confederacy. His father defended slavery, owned slaves and set up a Sunday school for them. They cared for wounded soldiers at their church. The father also briefly served as a chaplain to the Confederate Army.[10] 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 Robert E. Lee's side and looking up into his face.[10]

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 in 1861. Joseph R. Wilson served as the first permanent clerk of the southern church's General Assembly, was Stated Clerk from 1865–1898 and was Moderator of the PCUS General Assembly in 1879. Wilson spent the majority of his childhood, up to age 14, in Augusta, Georgia, where his father was minister of the First Presbyterian Church.

Wilson was over ten years of age before he learned to read. His difficulty reading may have indicated dyslexia,[12] but as a teenager he taught himself shorthand to compensate.[13] He was able to achieve academically through determination and self-discipline. He studied at home under his father's guidance and took classes in a small school in Augusta.[14] During Reconstruction, Wilson lived in Columbia, South Carolina, the state capital, from 1870–1874, where his father was professor at the Columbia Theological Seminary.[15]

In 1873, he spent a year at Davidson College in North Carolina, then transferred to Princeton as a freshman, graduating in 1879, becoming a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Beginning in his second year, he read widely in political philosophy and history. Wilson credited the British parliamentary sketch-writer Henry Lucy as his inspiration to enter public life. He was active in the undergraduate American Whig-Cliosophic Society discussion club, and organized a separate Liberal Debating Society.[16]

In 1879, Wilson attended law school at the University of Virginia for one year. Although he never graduated, during his time at the University he was heavily involved in the Virginia Glee Club and the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, serving as the Society's president.[17] His frail health dictated withdrawal, and he went home to Wilmington, North Carolina where he continued his studies.[18]

In January 1882, Wilson started a law practice in Atlanta. One of his University of Virginia classmates, Edward Ireland Renick, invited him to join his new law practice as partner and Wilson joined him in May 1882. He passed the Georgia Bar. On October 19, 1882, he appeared in court before Judge George Hillyer to take his examination for the bar, which he passed easily. Competition was fierce in the city with 143 other lawyers, and he found few cases to keep him occupied.[19] Nevertheless, he found staying current with the law obstructed his plans to study government to achieve his long-term plans for a political career. In April 1883, Wilson applied to the Johns Hopkins University to study for a doctorate in history and political science and began his studies there in the fall.[19]

Personal life

Wilson's mother was possibly a hypochondriac and Wilson himself seemed to think that he was often in poorer health than he really was. He did suffer from hypertension at a relatively early age and may have suffered his first stroke at age 39.[20]

In 1885, he married Ellen Louise Axson, the daughter of a minister from Rome, Georgia. They had three daughters: Margaret Woodrow Wilson (1886–1944); Jessie Wilson (1887–1933); and Eleanor R. Wilson (1889–1967)[1]. Axson died in 1914, and the following year Wilson married Edith Galt, a direct descendant of the famous Native American Pocahontas.[21] Wilson is one of only three presidents to be widowed while in office.[22]

Wilson was an early automobile enthusiast, and he took daily rides while he was President. His favorite car was a 1919 Pierce-Arrow, in which he preferred to ride with the top down.[23] His enjoyment of motoring made him an advocate of funding for public highways.[24]

Wilson was an avid baseball fan. In 1915, he became the first sitting president to attend a World Series game. Wilson had been a center fielder during his Davidson College days. When he transferred to Princeton he was unable to make the varsity team and so became the team's assistant manager. He was the first President to throw out a first ball at a World Series game.[25]

He cycled regularly, including several cycling vacations in the English Lake District.[26] Unable to cycle around Washington, D.C. as President, Wilson took to playing golf, although he played with more enthusiasm than skill.[27] Wilson holds the record of all the presidents for the most rounds of golf,[27] over 1,000, or almost one every other day. During the winter, the Secret Service would paint golf balls with black paint so Wilson could hit them around in the snow on the White House lawn.[28]

Academic career

He began his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in 1883 and three years later he completed his doctoral dissertation, "Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics", and received a Ph.D. in history and political science. For his doctorate, Wilson had to learn German.[29] He received academic appointments at Bryn Mawr College (1885–88) and Wesleyan University (1888–90).[30]

At Wesleyan, he also coached the football team and founded the debate team – it is still called the T. Woodrow Wilson debate team. He then joined the Princeton faculty as professor of jurisprudence and political economy in 1890. While there, he was one of the faculty members 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.[31]

Wilson delivered an oration at Princeton's sesquicentennial celebration (1896) entitled "Princeton in the Nation's Service". This phrase became the motto of the University, later expanded to "Princeton in the Nation's Service and in the Service of All Nations".[32] In this 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".[33]

Wilson was 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."[34]

Writings on government and politics

Government systems

Under the influence of Walter Bagehot's The English Constitution, Wilson saw the United States Constitution as pre-modern, cumbersome, and open to corruption. An admirer of Parliament, Wilson favored a parliamentary system for the United States. Writing in the early 1880s:[35]

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 he was impressed by Grover Cleveland, and Congressional Government emerged as a critical description of America's system, with frequent negative comparisons to Westminster. He said, "I am pointing out facts—diagnosing, not prescribing remedies."[36]

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. If government behaved badly, Wilson asked:[37]

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.

Wilson singled out the United States House of Representatives for particular criticism:[38]

... 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.

Wilson said that the Congressional committee system was fundamentally undemocratic in that committee chairs, who ruled by seniority, determined national policy although they were responsible to no one except their constituents; and that it facilitated corruption.[39]

Evolving views

By the time Wilson finished Congressional Government, Grover Cleveland was President, and Wilson's faith in the United States government was restored. When William Jennings Bryan captured the Democratic nomination from Cleveland's supporters in 1896, however, Wilson refused to support the ticket. Instead, he cast his ballot for John M. Palmer, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party, or Gold Democrats, a short-lived party that supported a gold standard, low tariffs, and limited government.[40]

After experiencing the vigorous presidencies of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson no longer entertained thoughts of parliamentary government for the United States. 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 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."[41]

Public administration

Wilson also studied public administration, which he called "government in action; it is the executive, the operative, the most visible side of government, and is of course as old as government itself".[42] He believed that by studying public administration governmental efficiency could be increased.[43]

Wilson was concerned with the implementation of government. He faulted political leaders who focused on philosophical issues and the nature of government and dismissed the critical issues of government administration as mere "practical detail". He thought such attitudes represented the requirements of smaller countries and populations.[citation needed] By his day, he thought, "it is getting to be harder to run a constitution than to frame one."[44] He thought it time "to straighten the paths of government, to make its business less unbusinesslike, to strengthen and purify its organization, and it to crown its dutifulness".[45] He complained that studies of administration drew principally on the history of Continental Europe and an American equivalent was required.[citation needed] He summarized the growth of such foreign states as Prussia, France, and England, highlighting the events that led to advances in administration.[citation needed]

By contrast, he thought the United States required greater compromise because of the diversity of public opinion and the difficulty of forming a majority opinion. Thus practical reform to the government is necessarily slow.[citation needed] Yet Wilson insisted that "administration lies outside the proper sphere of politics"[46] and that "general laws which direct these things to be done are as obviously outside of and above administration."[47] He likens administration to a machine that functions independent of the changing mood of its leaders.[citation needed]

Such a line of demarcation is intended to focus responsibility for actions taken on the people or persons in charge. As Wilson put it, "public attention must be easily directed, in each case of good or bad administration, to just the man deserving of praise or blame. There is no danger in power, if only it be not irresponsible. If it be divided, dealt out in share to many, it is obscured..."[48] Essentially, the items under the discretion of administration must be limited in scope, as to not block, nullify, obfuscate, or modify the implementation of governmental decree made by the executive branch.[citation needed]

President of Princeton University

Prospect House, located in the center of Princeton's campus, was Wilson's home during his term as president of the university.The trustees promoted Professor Wilson to president of Princeton in 1902, replacing Francis Landey Patton, whom the Trustees perceived to be an inefficient administrator. 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.[49] He achieved little of those ambitious plans because he was not a strong fund raiser, but he did increase 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.[50]

To emphasize the development 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's C" with serious study. Wilson aspired, as he told alumni, "to transform thoughtless boys performing tasks into thinking men".[51]

In 1906–10, he attempted to curtail the influence of social elites by abolishing the upper-class eating clubs and moving the students into colleges, also known as quadrangles. Wilson's Quad Plan was met with fierce opposition from Princeton's alumni, most importantly Moses Taylor Pyne, the most powerful of Princeton's Trustees. Wilson refused any proposed compromises that stopped short of abolishing the clubs because he felt that to compromise "would be to temporize with evil".[52] In October 1907, due to the intensity of alumni opposition and Wilson's refusal to compromise, the Board of Trustees withdrew its support for the Quad Plan and instructed Wilson to withdraw it.[53]

Even more damaging to Wilson's administration of the University 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 area with the undergraduate colleges. West wanted them to remain separate. The trustees rejected Wilson's plan for colleges in 1908, and then endorsed West's alternative in 1909. The national press covered the confrontation as a battle of the elites represented by West versus democracy represented by Wilson.[54]

But of greatest significance is a statement of his published in the High School Teachers Association of New York: "I do not wonder at it. I think it is hardly just to blame those who have brought this situation about, because this change in modern life has come upon us suddenly. It has confused us. We are in an age so changeful, so transitional, I do not wonder that this confusion has come into our education, and I do not blame anybody. I do not see how it could have been avoided, how we could have avoided trying our hands at a score of things hitherto unattempted to determine at least if they were possible or not. Therefore this is not a subject for cynical comment, this is not a subject for criticism. It is a subject for self-recognition. The present need is that we should examine ourselves and see whether this be true or not; and, if it is true, ask ourselves whether the air has cleared enough, and whether our experiment has gone far enough, to make a definite program, to make a radical change, in the things we have attempted. This is the moment for counsel. The thing that is imperative upon our conscience is that we should ask ourselves whether it be possible to do it differently and better."

"Let us go back and distinguish between the two things that we want to do; for we want to do two things in modern society. We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. You cannot train them for both in the time that you have at your disposal. They must make a selection, and you must make a selection. I do not mean to say that in the manual training there must not be an element of liberal training; neither am I hostile to the idea that in the liberal education there should be an element of the manual training. But what I am intent upon is that we should not confuse ourselves with regard to what we are trying to make of the pupils under our instruction. We are either trying to make liberally-educated persons out of them, or we are trying to make skillful servants of society along mechanical lines, or else we do not know what we are trying to do." [55]

Wilson served as president of the American Political Science Association in 1910. Around this time, Wilson decided to leave his post at Princeton. After considering an immediate resignation, he decided instead to take up invitations to enter New Jersey state politics.[56]

Governor of New Jersey

In 1910 Wilson ran for Governor of New Jersey against the Republican candidate Vivian M. Lewis, the State Commissioner of Banking and Insurance. Wilson's campaign focused on his independence from machine politics, and he promised that if elected he would not be beholden to party bosses. Wilson soundly defeated Lewis in the general election by a margin of more than 49,000 votes, although Republican William Howard Taft had carried New Jersey in the 1908 presidential election by more than 80,000 votes.[57]

In the 1910 election the Democrats also took control of the General Assembly. The State Senate, however, remained in Republican control by a slim margin. After taking office, Wilson set in place his reformist agenda, ignoring the demands of party machinery. While governor, in a period spanning six months, Wilson established state primaries. This all but took the party bosses out of the presidential election process in the state. He also revamped the public utility commission, and introduced worker's compensation.[58]

Election of 1912

Wilson's popularity as governor and his status in the national media gave impetus to his presidential campaign in 1912. He selected William Frank McCombs, a New York lawyer and a friend from college days, to manage his campaign. Much of Wilson's support came from the South, especially from young progressives in that region, especially intellectuals, editors and lawyers. Wilson managed to maneuver through the complexities of local politics. For example, in Tennessee the Democratic Party was divided on the issue of prohibition. Wilson was progressive and sober, but not a 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.[59]

The convention deadlocked for more than 40 ballots as no candidate could reach the two-thirds vote required to win the nomination. A leading contender was House Speaker Champ Clark, a prominent progressive strongest in the border states. Other contenders were Governor Judson Harmon of Ohio, and Representative Oscar Underwood of Alabama. They lacked Wilson's charisma and dynamism. Publisher William Randolph Hearst, a leader of the left-wing of the party, supported Clark. William Jennings Bryan, the nominee in 1896, 1900 and 1908, played a critical role in opposition to any candidate who had the support of "the financiers of Wall Street". He finally announced for Wilson, who won on the 46th ballot.[60]

In the campaign Wilson promoted the "New Freedom", emphasizing limited federal government and opposition to monopoly powers—positions that he reversed on coming to office. Wilson enjoyed the support of many black leaders including W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter. Wilson's speeches and letters expressed the sentiments of a defender of the underprivileged.[4]

In a bitter contest for the Republican nomination, President William Howard Taft defeated former president Theodore Roosevelt, but when Roosevelt walked out of the Republican convention and ran as a third party candidate, Wilson's success in the electoral college was assured. He won 41.8% of the popular vote.[61]

Presidency, 1913–1921

First term, 1913–1917

Wilson is the only President to hold a Ph.D. degree and the only President to serve in a political office in New Jersey before election to the Presidency. He was the first person identified with the South to be elected President since Zachary Taylor and the first Southerner in the White House since Andrew Johnson left in 1868.[62] Wilson had a strong base of support in the South. He was the first president to deliver his State of the Union address before Congress personally since John Adams in 1799. Wilson was also the first Democrat elected to the presidency since Grover Cleveland in 1892 and only the second Democrat in the White House since the Civil War.

In resolving economic policy issues, he had to manage the conflict between two wings of his party, the agrarian wing led by Bryan and the pro-business wing. With large Democratic majorities in Congress and a healthy economy, he promptly seized the opportunity to implement his agenda.[63] Wilson experienced early success by implementing his "New Freedom" pledges of antitrust modification, tariff revision, and reform in banking and currency matters.[64] He held the first modern presidential press conference, on March 15, 1913, in which reporters were allowed to ask him questions.[65]

Wilson's first wife Ellen died on August 6, 1914 of Bright's disease. In 1915, he met Edith Galt. They married later that year on December 18.

Federal Reserve 1913

Wilson secured passage of the Federal Reserve Act in late 1913. Wilson had tried to find a middle ground between conservative Republicans led by Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and those, especially the powerful left wing of the Democratic party led by William Jennings Bryan, who opposed all banking schemes and 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 a certain influence over the new Federal Reserve, but appeased the populists by placing controlling interest in a central, public board. This Board of Governors included members appointed by the President and approved by Congress who would outnumber the board members selected by bankers. Moreover, Wilson convinced Bryan's supporters that because Federal Reserve notes were obligations of the government, the plan met their demands. Wilson's plan also organized the Federal Reserve system into 12 districts, a structure meant to weaken the influence of the powerful New York banks, a key demand of Bryan's allies in the South and West. This decentralization was a key factor in winning the support of Congressman Glass.[66]

The final plan passed in December 1913. Some bankers felt it gave too much control to Washington, and some reformers felt it allowed bankers to maintain too much power. Several Congressmen claimed that New York bankers feigned their disapproval.[67]

Wilson named Paul Warburg and other prominent bankers to direct the new system. While power was supposed to be decentralized, the New York branch dominated the Fed as the "first among equals".[68] The new system began operations in 1915 and played a major role in financing the Allied and American war effort.[69]

Economic legislation

In 1913, the Underwood Tariff Act lowered the tariff. The revenue thereby lost was replaced by a new federal income tax (authorized by the 16th Amendment. The Seamen's Act of 1915 attempted to improve working conditions for merchant sailors. A response to the RMS Titanic disaster, it required all ships to be retrofitted with lifeboats.[citation needed]

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.[70]

Child labor was curtailed by the Keating–Owen Act of 1916, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1918. No major child labor prohibition would take effect until the 1930s.[71]

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 work 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.[72]

Antitrust

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 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 previous anti-trust laws, because individual officers of corporations could be held responsible if their companies violated the laws. 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 wages and cut working hours of railroad employees; there was no strike.[73]

War policy—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 U.S. Army in anticipation of the threat of war. Wilson won the support of the U.S. peace element by arguing that an army buildup would provoke war. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, whose pacifist recommendations were ignored by Wilson, resigned in 1915.[74]

On 18 December 1916 Wilson unsuccessfully offered to mediate peace. 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 or common ground existed, and the offer lapsed.[75]

While German submarines were killing sailors and civilian passengers Wilson demanded that Germany stop, but he kept the U.S. out of the war. Britain had declared a blockade of Germany to prevent neutral ships from carrying contraband goods to Germany. Wilson protested some British violation of neutral rights, where no one was killed. His protests were mild, and the British knew America would not take action.[74]

Segregation in the federal government

In 1912, "an unprecedented number"[5] of African Americans left the Republican Party to cast their vote for Democrat Wilson. They were encouraged by his promises of support for their issues. The issue of segregation came up early in his presidency when, at an April 1913 cabinet meeting, Albert Burleson, Wilson's Postmaster General, complained about working conditions at the Railway Mail Service. Offices and restrooms became segregated, sometimes by partitions erected between seating for white and African-American employees in Post Office Department offices, lunch rooms, and bathrooms, as well as in the Treasury and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It also became accepted policy for "Negro" employees of the Postal Service to be reduced in rank or dismissed. And unlike his predecessors Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson accommodated Southern opposition to the re-appointment of an African American to the position of Register of the Treasury and other positions within the federal government. This set the tone for Wilson's attitude to race throughout his presidency, in which the rights of African Americans were sacrificed, for what he felt would be the more important longer term progress of the common good.[5][76]

Election of 1916

Renominated in 1916, Wilson used as a major campaign slogan "He kept us out of the war", referring to his administration's avoiding open conflict with Germany or Mexico while maintaining a firm national policy. Wilson, however, never promised to keep out of war regardless of provocation. In his acceptance speech on September 2, 1916,

view all 16

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States's Timeline

1856
December 28, 1856
Staunton, Virginia, United States
1885
April 24, 1885
Age 28
Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, United States
1886
April 16, 1886
Age 29
Gainesville, GA, USA
1887
August 28, 1887
Age 30
Gainesville, GA, USA
1889
October 16, 1889
Age 32
Middletown, CT, USA
1902
1902
- 1910
Age 45
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
1911
1911
- 1913
Age 54
NEW JERSEY
1913
1913
- 1921
Age 56
United States
1915
December 18, 1915
Age 58
Washington, DC, USA
1924
February 3, 1924
Age 67
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States