Woodrow Wilson: 28th President During WWI

Updated on March 22, 2019
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

Painting of Woodrow Wilson.
Painting of Woodrow Wilson. | Source

Schoolmaster of Politics

Woodrow Wilson, who was coined as the Schoolmaster of Politics, was an exceptionally intelligent man with a quite extensive vocabulary. His claim to fame was as our twenty-eighth President, where he was elected in 1912 and stayed on for two terms. In his two terms, he accomplished much more than many of his predecessors and successors did, changing not only our country but our world, by being an influential force in joining the United Nations. Even before his Presidency, he was determined to keep our country out of the war. Though our country has far to go, to truly become peaceful, Woodrow Wilson paved the way.

This photo was taken in 1919. He grew up during the Civil War.
This photo was taken in 1919. He grew up during the Civil War. | Source

School Years

He was born on December 28, 1856, in Staunton, Virginia to Joseph Ruggles who was a Presbyterian minister. His mother was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister as well. Her name was Janet Woodrow, although nicknamed Jessie. He named his middle daughter after her. Woodrow was the third oldest with only one younger brother. He had two sisters older than him. His given name was Thomas Woodrow Wilson and was nicknamed Tommy most of his life. It was not until he was in adulthood that he gave up the name Tommy for Woodrow.

He grew up during the Civil War, and since the war closed most schools, he did not attend school until he was nine years old. After school, he attended what we now call Princeton. At that time it was still the College of New Jersey. He was very active in school and was on both the school newspaper as well as the debate club.

He married Ellen Louise Axson, unfortunately, she died while he was in office in 1914. While married to her, they had three daughters, Margaret, Jessie, and Eleanor. A year later he met his second wife Edith Bolling Galt and married her while he was still in office.

Basic Facts

December 28, 1856 Staunton, Virginia
President Number
Military Service
Wars Served
Age at Beginning of Presidency
57 years old
Term of Office
March 4, 1913 - March 3, 1921
How Long President
8 years
Thomas R. Marshall
Age and Year of Death
February 3, 1924 (aged 67)
Cause of Death
stroke and other heart related problems

President of Princeton University

Although he went to school to become a lawyer, he found his cases extremely boring and then went back to school to become a professor. While at school, he wrote his first book, Congressional Government. He graduated from John Hopkins and then worked as a professor. There he wrote many more books and articles, including a textbook in 1889 called, The State. He was such a well-liked professor that he actually later became the President of Princeton University in 1902. As President of the University, he led the school to a new way of teaching with smaller schools.

This would end up leading him to become governor of New Jersey in 1910. He had many ideas while Governor that included reducing tariffs, strengthening anti-trust laws, as well as reorganizing the banking system. He followed through with these when he became President. Before his Presidency, he created twelve new banks for the government through the Federal Reserve Act as well as created a new currency.

Taken after World War I on May 27, 1919.
Taken after World War I on May 27, 1919. | Source

"He Kept Us Out of War"

Right before he ran for President of the United States, WWI began. During his election, he promised to stay out of the war. He kept his promise during his first term. In 1915, Germany sunk the Lusitania, which angered many Americans, but Wilson remained calm and followed through with his promise. He also continued to work on many of the goals he had set up as Governor as well.

During his reelection in 1916, he used the slogan, "He Kept Us Out Of War." Although his second term, things became much tenser during the war. Wilson tried to help Europe end the war, but Germany hit quite the blow to Americans when it stated that if Germany won the war, they would give Mexico some of the United States' land. Wilson realized he could not stay on the sidelines any longer. On April 2, 1917, Congress agreed with Wilson to join the war, and the United States got involved with WWI.

Fourteen Points Plan

During his Presidency, he gave a speech called the Fourteen Points, which was a plan for peace that created the League of Nations. The Fourteen Points along with the League of Nations would theoretically prevent future wars by allowing the leaders of the war to discuss problems rather than declaring war. On November 11, 1918, also known as Armistice Day, Germany signed an agreement to stop fighting and accepted Wilson's Fourteen Points. WWI officially ended on June 28, 1919. The leaders then signed the Versailles Treaty that included some of Wilson's Fourteen Points, but most importantly the League of Nations was created.

Who Is on the 10,000 Dollar Bill?

Woodrow Wilson is on the 10,000 dollar bill.
Woodrow Wilson is on the 10,000 dollar bill. | Source

Wilson and the League of Nations

Although Europe liked the League of Nations, Americans felt that if the United States joined the League of Nations, the US's power would be weakened. Wilson would have fought to have the US join, except that during the last year of his Presidency, he had a very bad stroke that left him paralyzed. While he was hospitalized, the Senate voted against joining the League of Nations.

After his Presidency, he did not run for a third term due to his weakened health. That same year he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the League of Nations. Later, the League of Nations became the United Nations. Wilson would be happy to know that his dream came true; the United States is now one of five charter members of the United Nations. There are a total of 192 countries that are apart.

Another great accomplishment he did while President was to declare a day to observe Mother's Day. So every time we celebrate that special day with our mothers, we can thank Wilson.

He died at sixty-seven in Washington DC on February 3, 1924.

Fun Facts

  • The first president to have a doctorate, which was from Johns Hopkins University in 1886. He entitled his dissertation"Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics."
  • One of three presidents to get married while in office, his first wife died while in office.
  • The first president to travel across the Atlantic Ocean. He was to go to the Paris Peace Conference, and the journey lasted from December 4 to December 13, 1918. He road aboard the U.S.S. George Washington.
  • The only president to have two daughters get married in the White House (Jessie on 11/25/1913 and Eleanor 5/7/1914.
  • Before he joined politics, he spent 30 years as a college student, professor, and university president.
  • Won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the League of Nations. The project was ultimately turned down, but the idea was a start for the United Nations years later. Wilson was confident his idea would eventually take, which he portrayed when he stated, "Ideas live; men die."

Woodrow Wilson Documentary

List of American Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump


  • Joseph, Paul.United States Presidents: Woodrow Wilson; ABDO Publishing Company, Minnesota: 1998.
  • Green, Robert. Profiles of the President: Woodrow Wilson; Compass Point Books, Minnesota: 1969.
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-are-some-interesting-facts-about-presidents-first-ladies

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Angela Michelle Schultz


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      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        He really was. And surprisingly good looking.

      • doodlebugs profile image


        7 years ago from Southwest

        Wilson was a very intelligent man. Great job on bringing him to life for Hubbers.


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