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Woodrow Wilson: 28th President During WWI

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.

Painting of Woodrow Wilson.

Painting of Woodrow Wilson.

Schoolmaster of Politics

Woodrow Wilson, nicknamed the Schoolmaster of Politics, was a brilliant man with quite an 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 our country and 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 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.

School Years

He was born on December 28, 1856, in Staunton, Virginia, to Joseph Ruggles, a Presbyterian minister. His mother, Janet Woodrow, nicknamed Jessie, was also the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. He adored his mother and named his middle daughter after her. Woodrow, born Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was the third oldest, with only one younger brother and two older sisters. For most of his life, his nickname was Tommy, but later on, in adulthood, 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. 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 and the debate club.

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

President of Princeton University

Although he went to school to become a lawyer, he found his cases incredibly dull 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 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, which would end up leading him to become Governor of New Jersey in 1910. He had many ideas while Governor, including reducing tariffs, strengthening anti-trust laws, and 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 and a new currency.

Taken after World War I on May 27, 1919.

Taken after World War I on May 27, 1919.

His Presidential Slogan Was "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 angered many Americans, but Wilson remained calm and followed his promise. He also continued to work on many of the goals he had set up as governor.

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, 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 in WWI.

Fourteen Points Plan

During his Presidency, he gave a speech called the Fourteen Points, 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 war leaders 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.

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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 horrible 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.

Basic Facts

Question Answer

Born

December 28, 1856 Staunton, Virginia

President Number

28th

Party

Democratic

Military Service

none

Wars Served

none

Age at Beginning of Presidency

57 years old

Term of Office

March 4, 1913 - March 3, 1921

How Long President

8 years

Vice-President

Thomas R. Marshall

Age and Year of Death

February 3, 1924 (aged 67)

Cause of Death

stroke and other heart related problems

Woodrow Wilson Documentary

Fun Facts

  • The first president to have a doctorate 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 on 5/7/1914.
  • Before joining politics, he spent 30 years as a college student, professor, and university president.
  • He 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."

Citations

  • 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

© 2011 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on October 19, 2011:

He really was. And surprisingly good looking.

Nolen Hart from Southwest on October 17, 2011:

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

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