Our 28th President: 1913-1921
Just the Facts:
- His full name was “Thomas Woodrow Wilson.”
- Wilson had pet sheep that grazed on the White House lawn.
- Wilson liked being President of the United States.
- He was the first president to have a PhD.
- He was president when the 19th Amendment was passed, which gave women the right to vote.
- His nickname was “Schoolmaster of Politics.”
- He was the first president to cross the Atlantic Ocean while in office.
Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia and moved around the South as a child. He was sickly as a child and had bad vision – he didn’t learn to read until he was nine years old! He went on to graduate from Princeton University. He practiced law for a while but became bored and missed the academic life. So, he went back to school and earned a PhD in political science. Then he went on to teach at various universities and eventually became the President of Princeton University. He had always been interested in politics and was elected as Governor of New Jersey. He was so popular that he decided to run for president.
Wilson led us through World War I. He actually tried to keep us out of the war but was unsuccessful. For the first few years of the European war, both sides wanted America to join them but Wilson insisted that America was neutral. Then, the Germans attached a number of American ships and sank the British steamer named Lusitania.
Wilson was forced to act. Americans joined the fight against Germany. Partway through the War, he gave a speech to Congress that outlined his Fourteen Points for going to war. After the war was over, Wilson traveled to Paris to negotiate the peace treaty – it was called the “Treaty of Versailles.” Wilson included many of his Fourteen Points, including a League of Nations that would keep the peace between countries. He was crushed when the Senate didn’t approve the Treaty. Wilson received the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts regarding world peace after World War I.
Wilson suffered a stroke shortly after returning from Europe. As a result, parts of his body were paralyzed and he was blind. First Lady Edith helped him with his presidential duties – she screened all his papers and decided which were important enough to bring to Wilson. Some people criticized her to taking over so much of the president’s duties.
Woodrow married his first wife, Ellen, when he was 31 years old. They had 3 daughters – Margaret, Jessie and Eleanor. Ellen loved literature and art – she even helped Woodrow with his speeches sometimes. Unfortunately, Ellen died in 1914 during Wilson’s first term as president.
A year later, Wilson married Edith. After World War I was over, we traveled across Europe to promote Wilson’s League of Nations. It was the first time that a First Lady went on a trip to another country. Wilson retired to a Washington DC suburb after his term ended. He died three years after his president term ended.
“Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting.”
“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”
“Liberty has never come from Government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.”
“The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.”