Woodrow Wilson

Electable or not?

Early Life

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born near the end of December 1865, in Staunton, Virginia, to parents Joseph R. Wilson and Janet Woodrow Wilson. Interestingly, the exact date of his birth is not known for certain. When he was born, it was recorded in the family Bible that he was born at "twelve and three- quarters o'clock" at night on December 28. This was the date that Wilson himself used throughout his life. Thomas Woodrow was the third child of four and grew up with the nickname "Tommy", a name he eventually dropped after graduating from college. In 1873 Tommy entered Davidson College in North Carolina, the most distinguished Presbyterian college in the Carolinas. Like many colleges in the South, Davidson had been hit hard by the war and was still struggling to survive even almost a decade later. Young college students had to chop their own firewood, carry their own water, and eat whatever happened to be on hand. Tommy was not the most rugged individual and therefore left Davidson after his first year to return home to his family. After taking a year off from school, Tommy–by this time known by his middle name, Woodrow– was accepted to Princeton University (then known as the College of New Jersey) and enrolled in 1875. Although he was not the most exceptional student at Princeton, he graduated with both academic and extracurricular honors.

Career before becoming President

Soon tired with the practice of law, Wilson decided that the second best way to become a great statesman and policy maker was to further his education. Within two days of becoming engaged to Miss Ellen Axson in 1883, young Woodrow headed off to Johns Hopkins University. The school was small compared to other older American universities, but many of the nation's best and brightest flocked to its campus in Baltimore. Wilson himself had heard of the school through close friends, and had decided to apply to receive some postgraduate training. Wilson found that the academic challenge at Hopkins lived up to its reputation, and he studied as he never had before. His studies included American history, international law, political economy, jurisprudence, constitutional history, and German. On June 24, 1885, Wilson married his fiancée, Ellen. The two were married in Savannah, Georgia, by Wilson's father and by Ellen's grandfather, who was also a Presbyterian minister. Afterwards, they honeymooned briefly in a cottage in the woods in North Carolina, and then finally settled in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where Woodrow had just accepted the post as the first professor of history at the newly-founded Bryn Mawr College for women. Founded by the Society of Friends, the school was modeled after Johns Hopkins and designed to provide young women with the best education possible. While at Bryn Mawr, he began working onThe State, the first textbook on comparative government–one that would eventually be regarded as one of the finest examples of Wilson's scholastic abilities, if not his best work. He left Bryn Mawr after three years to take up a teaching position at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1888. n 1900, after two years of teaching at Wesleyan University, Woodrow Wilson and family packed their bags and moved to New Jersey, where he accepted a professorship at his alma mater, Princeton University.

Campaign Slogans

  • "It Takes time to remove Grime" 1912
  • "He proved the pen mightier than the sword." 1916


The presidential election of 1912 in the U.S. was a contest between four candidates. President William Howard Taft, the incumbent at the time, was nominated again by the Republican Party. The former president Theodore Roosevelt was one of the candidates. Eugene Debs was the fourth contender during the said United States presidential elections. It was an easy election victory for Wilson, the Democratic Party nominee, after a bitter campaign. The presidential bid of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 was supported by an unprecedented number of African Americans. These so called black Americans deserted the Republican Party to support a Democratic nominee for the White House. Despite that, there seemed to be an unofficial racial segregation in federal civil service positions during the administration of former President Wilson.

The United States presidential election in 1916 was held when Europe was being devastated by war. Charles Evans Hughes of the Republican Party challenged incumbent Woodrow Wilson in the presidential election. Wilson narrowly defeated Hughes banking on the policy of neutrality in the European war. Wilson presidential initiative for mediation was ignored by the warring groups.

Life After Presidency

In virtually complete seclusion in the White House following his stroke in 1919, Wilson left office on March 4, 1921, after riding to the Capitol with his successor, Warren G. Harding. He did not stay for the inaugural, however, and rarely appeared in public from that day until his death three years later. He retired to his recently purchased home at 2340 S Street in Washington, D.C., where he formed a short-lived law partnership with his former secretary of state, Bainbridge Colby, which was dissolved when it became obvious Wilson was unable to do the work. Although he was nearly blind and remained partially paralyzed, he fantasized about running for a third term in 1924 to seek a referendum from the American people on the League. In August 1923, he published a brief plea for a more enlightened foriegn policy entitled "The Road Away from Revolution," and in November he labored through a short Armistice Day address on a nationwide radio network, but he could not manage any real public role. He died quietly at his home on February 3, 1924, and is buried in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Wilson's last home, on S Street in Washington, which was filled with mementos of his public career and kept largely unchanged by Edith Wilson until her death in the 1960s, is now a museum maintained by the National Trust. His birthplace in Staunton, Virginia, has been a museum for many years and will become the basis of the planned Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. Other family homes, in Augusta, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina, are also open to the public.

Major Accomplishments

  • Passed a slew of domestic reforms, including the Federal Reserve Act (creating the Federal Reserve), Federal Trade Commission Act (stopping unfair trade practices), Clayton Antitrust Act (making certain business practices illegal), Federal Farm Loan Act (providing issuance of low-cost long-term mortgages to farmers), Adamson Act (imposing 8-hour workdays for railroads) and an income tax
  • Became a major advocate for women's suffrage
  • Led the US into WWI (the Great War) in 1917
  • Passed the Espionage Act and Sedition Act to shore up wartime support and suppress anti-war opinion.
  • Frequently exercised military force in Latin America, including seizing the port of Veracruz to aid Mexican counterrevolutionaries and maintaining troops in Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic
  • Sponsored the League of Nations following WWI and introduced his Fourteen Points address outlining an organization with a stated goal of helping to preserve territorial integrity and political independence among large and small nations alike

Major Failures

  • Wilson failed to convince the U.S. to join the League of Nations, which he helped establish.

  • As president of Princeton, Wilson refused to admit black students.

  • Wilson was an avid supporter of segregation in the federal government.

  • Wilson promised to ask Britain to give Ireland its independence. He did not full-fill this promise, which angered Irish-Americans.

  • Wilson was suspicious of all immigrants, especially those from Ireland. He felt they were not fully loyal to the U.S.

Cabinet Members

Secretary of State William J. Bryan, 1913 Robert Lansing, 1915 Bainbridge Colby, 1920

Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, 1913 Carter Glass, 1918 David F. Houston, 1920

Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison, 1913 Newton D. Baker, 1916

Attorney General James C. McReynolds, 1913 Thomas W. Gregory, 1914 A. Mitchell Palmer, 1919

Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, 1913

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, 1913

Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, 1913 John B. Payne, 1920

Secretary of Agriculture David F. Houston, 1913 Edwin T. Meredith, 1920

Secretary of Commerce William C. Redfield, 1913 Joshua W. Alexander, 1919

Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson, 1913

100% Electable