Thomas Woodrow Wilson
1913 - 1921
Both of his paternal grandparents, James Wilson and Annie Mills Wilson, were from Ireland.
Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia on December 28, 1858.
Woodrow Wilson did not learn his letters until he was nine years old and didn't learn to read until he was eleven. His problems with reading might have been due to his eyesight or dyslexia.
Baseball was one of his favorite sports when he was young.
He was a Presbyterian.
Wilson entered Davidson College in North Carolina when he was 16.
Tommy/Woodrow was 5' 11" tall and weighed 185 pounds.
He went my the name Tommy Wilson until 1883. He then wanted everyone to call him Woodrow Wilson.
In June, 1885 he married Ellen Axson.
Wilson taught at server al universities including Princeton. He was voted the most popular professor at Princeton for six consecutive years. In 1902 he became president of Princeton. He added three woman professors and Booker T. Washington to his college inauguration.
He was the only president with a Ph.D. He graduated from the University of New Jersey which is now called Princeton.
He served as Governor of New Jersey before he became president. In two years he was elected governor and then president.
At the 1912 Democratic Convention it took 42 ballots before Wilson was nominated for President.
The people ran for president in 1912. Wilson for the Democrats, Taft for the Republicans and Teddy Roosevelt as a third party (the Progressive Party) candidate. Wilson won the election with only 42% of the popular vote. Roosevelt beat Taft. It was the only time a third party candidate got more than a nominee from a major party.
He was one of 15 Presidents who became President without winning the popular vote.
Wilson did not support Woman's Suffrage (Women's right to vote.) for most of his career. He changed his position much later. He also didn't to much to help African Americans. He recommended that a young African American not apply to Princeton, but rather go to a Negro College in the South.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920. He was the second president to win the prize.
When Wilson gave speeches he spoke from notes or from jottings in short hand. In more formal occasions he would write them in short hand and then he would type them on his type writer. (He was one of the last presidents to write his own speeches. Hoover was the last president to write his own speeches.)
Woodrow Wilson broke the tradition of not appearing in person before Congress. No president had spoke before congress since Thomas Jefferson.
He kept Congress in session longer than any other congress in American History. They met continuously for all most 18 months. Wilson got most of the bills he wanted passed by Congress. As far as getting legislation passed, he ranks with F. Roosevelt with the New Deal and L. Johnson and the Great Society.
During Wilson's presidency the government were mostly segregated. African Americans were never made to be a boss over white people.
On May 7, 1915 a German submarine sunk the Lusitania. It sunk in 18 minutes and 1,198 people including 128 American were killed. People at that time remembered the event like later generations would remember Pearl Harbor, the Assassination of Kennedy or 9/11.
Woodrow was married to his second wife while he was President. His wife was Edith Bolling Galt Wilson.
Woodrow Wilson's Vice President was Thomas R. Marshall (1913-1921).
Wilson started playing golf after he became president.
Woodrow Wilson was the first president to attend a World Series game. He also continued the tradition started by Taft of a president throwing out the first ball of the season.
Wilson fought to have the first Jewish person, Louis Brandeis, appointed and confirmed to the Supreme Court.
In 1915, President Wilson designated that Mother's Day would be on the second Sunday in May.
He was the first president to hold regular news briefings. (Press Conferences)
Though he never met Wilson, Sigmund Freud wrote a psychological study of the president in which he asserted that Wilson unconsciously identified himself with Jesus Christ.
In March of 1916 Pancho Villa led several hundred Mexican in an attack of Columbus, New Mexico. Wilson was worried about a war with Mexico and a war with Germany.
President Wilson did not support woman suffrage in his time as governor and when he became president. In 1917, knowing that it would help the with the election he issued a statement in favor of giving women the right to vote.
Election returns were broadcast by radio for the first time by WWJ of Detroit, MI.
In the election of 1916, his campaign used the slogan "He kept us out of war."
He won reelection to the presidency over Hughes in 1916. It was a close election. Wilson had 277 electoral votes to Hughes's 254 electoral vote. Wilson won California by only 3,806 votes. If he lost California he would have lost the election. It was one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. History.
On February 1, 1917 the Germans declared unlimited use of their submarine fleet. It moved the U.S. towards entering WW I.
The "Zimmerman Telegram" was sent from Germany to Mexico asking the Mexicans to join in the war if the U.S. entered the war. In exchange Mexico would regain Texas and other lands it had lost to the U.S.
Between 350,000 and 400,000 African Americans fought in WWI.
During World War I, when the government clamped down on the fledgling radio industry in the interests of security, the U.S. Navy had a corner on radio. In 1919, Wilson became the first U.S. president to make a radio broadcast to when he spoke from a ship to World War I troops aboard other vessels and was it was picked up by some people in America.
During WWI a flock of sheep was raised on the White House lawn. The wool was used to raise money for the Red Cross.
World War I ended on November 11, 1918. The cease fire was issued at 11 pm on the 11th day of the 11th month.
Woodrow was the first President to cross the Atlantic Ocean and/or leave the country while he was in office. He visited Europe to present his "14 Points" to the League of Nations. He not only was the first president to leave the country, but he stay out of the county longer than any other president. He was out of the country for more than six months negotiating the peace treaty.
He was the first president to invite a congressional committee, Foreign Relations, to the White House for dinner. He did this to side step the Construction that left the signing of treaties to the congress.
Woodrow Wilson was the first president to present a treaty to an open session of the Senate.
Wilson campaigned across the country for the League of Nations. His speeches were sent to 1,400 smaller newspapers across the county at a cost of $1,000.00 per day. Henry Ford the auto tycoon paid for the costs for Wilson.
One of his speeches was in San Diego. He spoke to 30,000 people. He used an electronic microphone to deliver his speech.
Wilson's attempt to get the treaty aloud with the League of Nations passed was the biggest battle of his career. The US never joined the League of Nations and the US never approved the joint treaty with the other allies.
On his speaking tour he suffered from an stroke and had to cut his trip short.
Partially paralyzed and nearly blind from a massive stroke, Wilson was protected by his wife, Edith, who ran what was called the "Petticoat Government." As the government limped along, she was also called the Iron Queen, the Presidentress, and the Regent.
There had never been a president that became disabled during his term of office. Others had died or been shot. Only Garfield who live for two months after he was shot was close to being disabled. Garfield did remain alert and able to talk. There was still a year and a half left in his term. Many people thought Wilson should resign.
He lived for four more years. There were signs of recovery and he was able to meet with the cabinet, write papers and great guest. He could walk short distances with a cain.
Wilson even thought of running for a third presidential term.
The Republicans and Warren Harding won the 1920 election by a landslide vote. This killed any chance for ratifying the treaty and the League of Nations.
At the Inauguration Wilson road with Harding in an open car from the White House to the Capitol. The Hardings and Wilson's had dinner the night before the inauguration. Edith Wilson work with Florence Harding on the domestic transition. Wilson did not attend the swearing in ceremony because the stairs were to steep.
After he left the office of president he started a law office with Bainbridge Colby. He was admitted to the bar (right to practice law)in the District of Columbia. He was not very active in the law practice and later withdrew.
He enjoyed going for rides around Washington, DC. Some friends gave he and edith a Rolls-Royce with a removable top and was monogrammed with W.W. on the doors. The cost of the car was estimated at $15,000.00.
Wilson finally died at 11:15 on February 3, 1924, a year after his supposedly more vigorous successor, Warren Harding. Wilson had attended Harding funeral.
His last word was Edith the name of his wife.
President Coolidge and his wife attended the funeral.
He is the only president buried in Washington, D.C. He is buried in the National Cathedral. Wilson is the only president buried in the National Cathedral. The Cathedral was under construction. Thirty years later his moved to a tomb within the church. On his birthday a wreath is placed at his tomb by a military honor guard.
The only military involved was a bugler played taps outside of the church and another burglar play taps at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
He was 67 years and 37 days old.
President and Mrs. Coolidge attended his funeral service.
Quotes from W. Wilson:
"Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting."
Wilson, Sept. 28th, 1912.
"The only thing that has ever distinguished America among the nations is that she has shown that all men are entitled to the benefits of the law." (New York, Dec. 14, 1906.)
"The world must be made safe for democracy." Wilson in his speech asking congress to declare war on Germany.
"If you want to make enemies, try to change something."
Speech in Detroit, MI July 10, 1916.
His vice president, Thomas Riley Marshall, uttered the immortal words: "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar."
"The day of conquest and aggrandizement has gone by." January 8, 1918
"When the representatives of "Bib Business" think of the people, they do not include themselves."
In his speech announcing the U.S. entry into WWI, Wilson said" "the world must be made safe for democracy."
The Presidents of the United States. 22 September 2004 <http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/>
Davis, Gibbs and Ilus. David A. Johnson. Wackiest White House Pets. New York: Scholastic Press, October 2004
James, Barber and Amy Pastan. Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies. New York: DK Publishing, 2002
Harnsberger, Caroline Thomas. Treasury of Presidential Quotations. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1964
Kane, Joseph Natan. Facts about the Presidents from Washington to Johnson. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1964.
National Park Service Web Site on Presidential Trivia: http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/pres/trivia.htm.