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Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson Woodrow Wilson[2†]

Woodrow Wilson, born December 28, 1856, in Virginia, and died February 3, 1924, in Washington, D.C., served as the 28th U.S. president from 1913 to 1921. A Democrat, Wilson was known for his legislative accomplishments and idealism. His presidency saw economic reforms and U.S. entry into World War I. He was a key figure in establishing the League of Nations, earning the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize. Wilson's term also saw the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women voting rights. His impact endures in American and global politics[1†][2†][3†].

Early Years and Education

Woodrow Wilson was born on December 28, 1856, in Staunton, Virginia[1†][4†]. He was the third of four children and the first son of Joseph Ruggles Wilson and Jessie Janet Woodrow[1†][4†]. His father was a Presbyterian minister who had moved to Virginia from Ohio, and his mother, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, had been born in England of Scottish parentage[1†][4†]. Wilson’s paternal grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland in 1807, settling in Steubenville, Ohio[1†][4†]. His maternal grandfather, Reverend Thomas Woodrow, migrated from Paisley, Scotland to Carlisle, England, before moving to Chillicothe, Ohio in the late 1830s[1†][4†].

Wilson spent his early years in the American South, mainly in Augusta, Georgia, during the Civil War and Reconstruction[1†][4†]. Much of his early education came from his father at home[1†][5†]. In 1875, Wilson entered the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton), graduating in 1879[1†][5†]. After a brief period at the law school of the University of Virginia, he studied on his own and passed the Georgia bar examination[1†][5†]. He then entered Johns Hopkins University, earning a Ph.D. in political science[1†][6†].

Wilson’s early life and education were undoubtedly influenced by his family’s religious background and the turbulent times of the Civil War and Reconstruction. These experiences likely shaped his views and his approach to politics and public service in his later years[1†][4†][5†].

Career Development and Achievements

Woodrow Wilson’s career was marked by a series of significant accomplishments and roles in academia, politics, and international diplomacy[7†][1†].

Wilson was a political science author and published several works on the subject[7†]. He served as the President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910[7†]. His tenure at Princeton was marked by efforts to raise academic standards and modernize the curriculum[7†][1†].

In 1910, Wilson was elected Governor of New Jersey[7†]. As governor, he passed several progressive legislations including bills to reduce bribery of government officials, to establish the Public Utility Commission to set utility rates, and to establish a workers’ compensation program[7†]. His work as New Jersey governor won Wilson national fame[7†].

With popular support behind him and due to his success as the governor of New Jersey, the Democratic Party nominated Wilson for the 1912 United States presidential election[7†]. Woodrow Wilson won the election to become the 28th President of the United States in 1913[7†]. He was re-elected thus serving as President till 1921[7†]. Wilson was the only president from the Democratic Party between 1892 and 1932, and the second of only two Democrats to be elected president between 1860 and 1932[7†].

During his presidency, the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law by President Wilson on December 23, 1913[7†]. It created and established the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States[7†]. It also gave the newly established system legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes (U.S. Dollar)[7†].

President Wilson pushed through Congress the Clayton Antitrust Act which was signed into law on October 15, 1914[7†]. The Act made certain business practices illegal like agreements prohibiting retailers from handling other companies’ products[7†]. It was more powerful than previous anti-trust laws since it dictated accountability of individual corporate officers and clarified guidelines[7†].

Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act in September 1914 which established the Federal Trade Commission, a five-member board, to regulate questionable business practices[7†].

Wilson led his country into World War I and became the creator and leading advocate of the League of Nations, for which he was awarded the 1919 Nobel Prize for Peace[7†][1†][8†]. During his second term, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote, was passed and ratified[7†][1†][8†].

Despite the tragedy of his last year in office, Wilson left an enduring legacy[7†][9†]. His transformation of the basic objective of American foreign policy from isolation to internationalism, his success in making the Democratic Party a “party of reform,” and his ability to shape and mobilize public opinion fashioned the modern presidency[9†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Woodrow Wilson was not only a politician but also a scholar who authored several works on political science[7†]. His writings were influential and contributed to his reputation as an intellectual. Here are some of his notable works:

These works reflect Wilson’s deep understanding of American politics and his ability to articulate complex ideas in a clear and engaging manner. They also provide valuable insights into his political philosophy and the principles that guided his presidency[7†][10†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Woodrow Wilson’s presidency was marked by a series of progressive reforms and a commitment to internationalism, which has had a lasting impact on American foreign policy[9†][11†]. His vision of America playing a central role in a league of nations, although not realized during his term, inspired many Americans and shaped much of American foreign policy for the remainder of the twentieth century[9†].

Wilson’s transformation of the basic objective of American foreign policy from isolation to internationalism, his success in making the Democratic Party a “party of reform,” and his ability to shape and mobilize public opinion fashioned the modern presidency[9†]. Under his leadership, Congress enacted the most cohesive, complete, and elaborate program of federal oversight of the nation’s economy up to that time[9†].

However, Wilson’s idealism sometimes led him astray. His commitment to self-determination led him to set the Philippines on the road to independence, but his desire to promote the benefits of democracy in Latin America produced the invasion and military occupation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic[9†]. His administration also pursued regressive policies on the civil rights front, working with Southern Democrats to segregate the federal government[9†][11†].

Despite these shortcomings, Wilson’s presidency is seen as a significant transitional period in American history. His progressive reforms aimed to improve the lives of Americans and reduce the power of big businesses[9†][12†]. His wartime mobilization program became a model for the New Deal’s fight against the Great Depression in the 1930s and for Franklin Roosevelt’s mobilization policies during World War II[9†].

In conclusion, while Wilson’s presidency had its flaws, his impact and legacy on American politics and foreign policy are undeniable[9†][11†][12†].

Personal Life

Woodrow Wilson was born as Thomas Woodrow Wilson to parents Joseph Ruggles Wilson and Jessie Janet Woodrow[2†][13†]. His father was a Presbyterian minister[2†][14†][13†], and he grew up mainly in Augusta, Georgia, during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era[2†].

In 1885, Wilson married Ellen Louise Axson[2†][15†]. The couple had three daughters: Margaret, Jessie, and Eleanor[2†]. His wife, Ellen, died in 1914, and the following year, Wilson married Edith Bolling[2†]. Edith played a significant role in Wilson’s presidency, especially after he suffered a stroke in 1919[2†].

Wilson’s personal life was marked by hardship. He suffered from a form of dyslexia as a child[2†][14†], and later in life, he suffered a paralytic stroke while seeking American public support for the Treaty of Versailles in October 1919[2†][1†][2†]. This caused the worst crisis of presidential disability in American history[2†][1†][2†].

Wilson passed away on February 3, 1924, in Washington, D.C[2†][1†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Woodrow Wilson’s legacy is complex and multifaceted. Despite the tragedy of his last year in office, Wilson left an enduring legacy[9†][16†]. His transformation of the basic objective of American foreign policy from isolation to internationalism, his success in making the Democratic Party a “party of reform,” and his ability to shape and mobilize public opinion fashioned the modern presidency[9†][16†].

Under his leadership, Congress enacted the most cohesive, complete, and elaborate program of federal oversight of the nation’s economy up to that time[9†]. These programs helped the United States begin to catch up with what was happening in other industrial states around the world[9†]. They reflected a deep commitment to the humanization of the industrial system and laid the basis for the modern welfare state[9†].

His wartime mobilization program became a model for the New Deal’s fight against the Great Depression in the 1930s and for Franklin Roosevelt’s mobilization policies during World War II[9†]. He was the first statesman of world stature to speak out not only against European imperialism but against the newer form of economic domination sometimes described as “informal imperialism”[9†].

For repressed ethnic and national groups around the world, his call for “national self-determination” was the herald’s trumpet for a new era[9†]. Domestically, he was perhaps the most important transitional figure among the presidents since Lincoln[9†].

However, Wilson’s idealism sometimes led him astray[9†]. His commitment to self-determination led him to set the Philippines on the road to independence, but his desire to promote the benefits of democracy in Latin America produced the invasion and military occupation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic[9†].

Despite these controversies, Wilson’s legacy continues to generate lively debate to this day[9†][16†]. His influence on American politics and foreign policy, as well as his impact on the modern presidency, remains significant[9†][16†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Woodrow Wilson: president of United States [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Woodrow Wilson [website] - link
  3. The Nobel Prize - Woodrow Wilson – Biographical [website] - link
  4. Wikipedia (English) - Early life and academic career of Woodrow Wilson [website] - link
  5. Miller Center - Woodrow Wilson: Life in Brief [website] - link
  6. Britannica Kids - Woodrow Wilson [website] - link
  7. Learnodo Newtonic - 10 Major Accomplishments of US President Woodrow Wilson [website] - link
  8. Britannica - What were Woodrow Wilson’s accomplishments? [website] - link
  9. Miller Center - Woodrow Wilson: Impact and Legacy [website] - link
  10. Goodreads - Author: Books by Woodrow Wilson (Author of On Being Human) [website] - link
  11. Khan Academy - The presidency of Woodrow Wilson (article) [website] - link
  12. Totallyhistory.com - President Woodrow Wilson's Progressive Reforms [website] - link
  13. Simple Wikipedia (English) - Woodrow Wilson [website] - link
  14. The Famous People - Woodrow Wilson Biography [website] - link
  15. The White House - Woodrow Wilson [website] - link
  16. PBS - American Experience - Wilson's Legacy [website] - link
  17. History - Woodrow Wilson - Presidency, Facts & Foreign Policy [website] - link
  18. Britannica - Woodrow Wilson Facts [website] - link
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