Dr. Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 February 3, 1924) was
the 28th (1913 - 1921) President of the United States. He was the second
Democrat to serve two consecutive terms in the White House after Andrew
Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia, with ancestry in Strabane, Northern
Ireland. He grew up in Augusta, Georgia .
Wilson attended Davidson College for one year and then transferred to
Princeton University , graduating in 1879 .He was a member of the Phi Kappa
Psi fraternal organization . Afterward, Wilson studied law at the University
of Virginia for one year. After completing and publishing his dissertation,
Congressional Government, in 1886 , he received his Ph.D. in political
science from Johns Hopkins University . Wilson remains the only American
president to have earned a doctoral degree.
Wilson served on the faculties of Bryn Mawr College and Wesleyan University
before joining the Princeton faculty as professor of jurisprudence and
political economy in 1890 . A popular teacher and respected scholar, Wilson
delivered an oration at Princeton's sesquicentennial celebration ( 1896
) entitled "Princeton in the Nation's Service." In this famous speech,
he outlined his vision of the university in a democratic nation, calling
on institutions of higher learning "to illuminate duty by every lesson
that can be drawn out of the past."
Woodrow Wilson was unanimously elected president of Princeton on June
9 , 1902 . In his inaugural address as Princeton's president, Wilson developed
these themes, attempting to strike a balance that would please both populists
and aristocrats in the audience.
As president, Wilson began a fund-raising campaign to bolster the university
corporation. The curriculum guidelines he developed during his tenure as
president of Princeton proved among the most important innovations in the
field of higher education. He instituted the now common system of core
requirements followed by two years of concentration in a selected area.
When he attempted to curtail the influence of the elitist "social clubs,"
however, Wilson met with resistance from trustees and potential donors.
He believed the system was smothering the intellectual and moral life of
the undergraduates. Opposition from wealthy and powerful alumni further
convinced Wilson of the undesirability of exclusiveness and moved him towards
a more populist position in his politics.
Through his published commentary on contemporary political matters, Wilson
developed a national reputation and, with increasing seriousness, considered
a public service career. In 1910 , he received an unsolicited nomination
for the governorship of New Jersey , which he eagerly accepted. As governor,
he developed a platform of progressive liberalism in matters of domestic
In the election of 1912 , the Democratic Party nominated Wilson as their
presidential candidate. William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt split
the Republican Party by running against each other, allowing Wilson's victory.
On the day before Wilson's inauguration in March 1913, members of the
Congressional Union , later known as the National Women's Party , organized
a suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. to siphon attention away from inaugural
events. It is said that when Wilson arrived in town, he found the streets
empty of welcoming crowds and was told that everyone was on Pennsylvania
Avenue watching the parade.
Suffrage was only one of the volatile issues Wilson faced during his
presidency. Domestically, his generally progressive measures for reform
often met with opposition, although he did succeed in passing a bill instituting
the Federal Reserve . His attitude to racial issues is generally regarded
as a stain on his reputation. His administration enforced segregation in
many Federal offices and required photographs from job applicants to determine
In foreign policy he faced greater challenges than any president since
Abraham Lincoln . Determining whether or not to involve the U.S. in World
War I severely tested his leadership.
He kept the United States neutral in the early years of World War I
, which contributed to his popular re-election in 1916 . However, with
increased pressure, the United States entered the conflict with a formal
declaration of war against Germany on April 6 , 1917 .
After the Great War, Wilson worked with mixed success to assure 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 that would strive to help preserve
territorial integrity and political independence among large and small
Wilson intended the Fourteen Points as a means toward ending the war
and achieving an equitable peace for all the nations. He worked tirelessly
to promote his plan at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference . The charter of
the proposed League of Nations was incorporated into the conference's Treaty
of Versailles , but most of the other Fourteen Points fell by the wayside.
For his peacemaking efforts, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace
Prize . Receiving the award was bittersweet, however, because he was unable
to convince congressional opponents, such as Henry Cabot Lodge , to support
the resolution endorsing U.S. entry into the League. United States membership,
Wilson believed, was essential to ensuring lasting world peace.
On October 2 , 1919 Wilson suffered a stroke and was seriously incapacitated
his final year in office, although the extent of his disabilities was kept
from the public until after his death. While Wilson was incapacitated,
his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson , served as steward, selecting
issues for his attention and delegating other issues to his Cabinet heads.
In 1921 , Wilson and his second wife retired from the White House to
a home in the Embassy Row section of Washington, D.C. Wilson died there
on February 3 , 1924 . Mrs. Wilson stayed in the home another thirty-seven
years, passing away on December 28 , 1961 .
Woodrow Wilson was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternal organization
Woodrow Wilson's ancestral home is at Strabane , Northern Ireland .
Woodrow Wilson grew up in Augusta, Georgia .
Woodrow Wilson was president of the American Political Science Association
from 1910 to 1911.
Wilson sailed for Versailles on December 4 , 1918 for the World War
I peace talks, which made him the first US president to travel to Europe
while in office.
On October 2 , 1919 Wilson suffered a massive stroke, leaving him partially
Wilson House, an undergraduate dormitory at Johns Hopkins University
, is named in his honor.
While a student at Hopkins , Wilson carved his initials (WW'86) into
the underside of a massive oak table in the History Department. Dark with
age, they can still be seen today.
Wilson's portrait appeared on the U.S. $100,000 bill from 1928 to 1946.
This bill was used only for transactions between the Federal Reserve and