- NAME: Woodrow Wilson
- OCCUPATION: Educator, U.S. President
- BIRTH DATE: December 28, 1856
- DEATH DATE: February 03, 1924
- EDUCATION: Davidson College, College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), Law School of the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, Bryn Mawr College, Wesleyan University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Staunton, Virginia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Washington, D.C.
- Full Name: Thomas Woodrow Wilson
- AKA: Tommy Wilson
- AKA: Thomas Wilson
- AKA: Woodrow Wilson
Best Known For
Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. resident, led America through World War I and crafted the Versailles Treaty's "Fourteen Points," the last of which was creating a League of Nations to ensure world peace. Wilson also created the Federal Reserve and signed the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote.
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Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th president of the United States on March 4, 1913, following one of the nation's more unusual elections: Wilson ran on the Democratic ticket opposing incumbent William Howard Taft, but Theodore Roosevelt, disgruntled with his successor, launched a third party run, splitting the Republican vote and coming in second,
ensuring Wilson's win.
The new president's inauguration was marked by a huge parade for women’s suffrage the day before, upon his arrival in Washington, D.C. The 19th Amendment, extending voting rights to women, was passed during Wilson's second term, on August 18, 1920.
Wilson’s New Freedom platform favored small businesses and farmers: He went after what he termed the "Triple Wall of Privilege"—signing in 1913 the Underwood-Simmons Act, which reduced tax rates that had previously favored industrialists over small business; and approving the Federal Reserve Act, making loans more accessible to the average American. He also further enforced anti-trust legislation in 1914 with the Clayton Antitrust Act, which supported labor unions, allowing for strikes, boycotts and peaceful picketing.
At the outbreak of World War I in Europe on July 26, 1914, Wilson declared America neutral, believing that "to fight, you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fiber of our national life"—producing a second campaign slogan: "He kept us out of war." Wilson tried to dispense a peace protocol to Great Britain along with the money and munitions they asked for, but was rebuffed. He finally asked Congress to declare war in April 1917, when Germany repeatedly ignored U.S. neutrality and sunk American ships.
When the war was declared over nearly a year and a half later, Americans were perceived as heroes. (The "Great War" was also meant to be the last war.) Wilson proposed the "Fourteen Points" as the basis for the peace treaty at Versailles, with the last point being the creation of a League of Nations to ensure world peace.
While adopted by Europe, Congress did not approve joining the League of Nations. Wilson suffered a second stroke while touring the nation, in an effort to curry public support for the League, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920 for his efforts.
Wilson had fallen in love with Ellen Louise Axson, an accomplished artist, at church while traveling and working at his Atlanta law practice in 1883. Ellen was an educated woman, and a cousin of hers had actually feared she’d never marry because men didn’t like smart women, but Wilson did. The couple had three daughters together, and Wilson relied on Ellen a great deal for shared decision-making.
In 1907, Wilson broke Ellen’s heart when he had an affair while visiting Bermuda on a restorative trip. The couple moved on from the incident, however, and remained together. When Ellen died of kidney disease during Wilson's first year in the White House (1913), he reportedly walked around in a daze for days, whispering, "My God, what am I to do?"
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