Woodrow Wilson




Wilson, Woodrow







Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States (1913-21), secured a



legislative program of progressive domestic reform, guided his country



during WORLD WAR I, and sought a peace settlement based on high moral



principles, to be guaranteed by the LEAGUE OF NATIONS.











Early Life and Career







Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Va., on Dec. 28, 1856. He was



profoundly influenced by a devoutly religious household headed by his



father, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, a Presbyterian minister, and his mother,



Janet Woodrow Wilson, the daughter of a minister. Woodrow (he dropped the



Thomas in 1879) attended (1873-74) Davidson College and in 1875 entered the



College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), graduating in 1879.



Wilson studied (1879-80) at the University of Virginia Law School, briefly



practiced law in Atlanta, and in 1883 entered The Johns Hopkins University



for graduate study in political science. His widely acclaimed book,



Congressional Government (1885), was published a year before he received



the doctoral degree. In 1885 he married Ellen Louise Axson; they had three



daughters.







Wilson taught at Bryn Mawr College (1885-88) and Wesleyan University



in Connecticut (1888-90) before he was called (1890) to Princeton as



professor of jurisprudence and political economy. A popular lecturer,



Wilson also wrote a score of articles and nine books, including Division



and Reunion (1893) and his five-volume History of the American People



(1902). In 1902 he was the unanimous choice of the trustees to become



Princeton\'s president. His reforms included reorganization of the



departmental structure, revision of the curriculum, raising of academic



standards, tightening of student discipline, and the still-famous



preceptorial system of instruction. But Wilson\'s quad plan--an attempt to



create colleges or quadrangles where students and faculty members would



live and study together--was defeated. Opposed by wealthy alumni and



trustees, he also lost his battle for control of the proposed graduate



college.







The Princeton controversies, seen nationally as a battle between



democracy and vested wealth, propelled Wilson into the political arena.



George Harvey, editor of Harper\'s Weekly, with help from New Jersey\'s



Democratic party bosses, persuaded Wilson to run for governor in 1910.



After scoring an easy victory, he cast off his machine sponsors and



launched a remarkable program of progressive legislation, including a



direct-primary law, antitrust laws, a corrupt-practices act, a workmen\'s



compensation act, and measures establishing a public utility commission and



permitting cities to adopt the commission form of government.







Success in New Jersey made him a contender for the Democratic



presidential nomination. Although Wilson entered the 1912 Democratic



National Convention a poor second to Speaker of the House Champ Clark, his



strength increased as Clark\'s faded, and he won the nomination after 46



ballots. Offering a program of reform that he called the New Freedom,



Wilson ran against a divided Republican party. In November, with only 42



percent of the popular vote, he won 435 electoral votes to 88 for



Progressive candidate Theodore Roosevelt and 8 for the Republican



candidate, President William Howard Taft.











Progressive as President







By presenting his program personally before the Democratically



controlled Congress, employing personal persuasion as well as patronage,



and appealing to the American public with his stirring rhetoric, Wilson won



passage of an impressive array of progressive measures. The Underwood



Tariff Act (1913), the first reduction in duties since the Civil War, also



established a modest income tax. The Federal Reserve Act (1913) provided



for currency and banking reform. Antitrust legislation followed in 1914,



when Congress passed the Federal Trade Commission Act and the CLAYTON



ANTI-TRUST ACT. In 1915, Wilson supported the La Follette Seamen\'s bill,



designed to improve the working conditions of sailors. The following year



he signed the Federal Farm Loan Act, providing low-interest credit to



farmers; the Adamson Act, granting an 8-hour day to interstate railroad



workers; and the Child Labor Act, which limited children\'s working hours.







In foreign policy, Wilson was faced with greater problems than any



president since Abraham Lincoln. He attempted to end U.S. dollar diplomacy



and promote the mediation of disputes. He rejected a loan to China on the



grounds that it impaired Chinese sovereignty, and he helped thwart Japanese



designs on the Chinese mainland. He approved Secretary of State William



Jennings BRYAN\'s efforts to minimize the danger of war through a series of



"conciliation treaties" and joined him in an unsuccessful attempt to



negotiate a Pan-American pact guaranteeing the integrity of the Western



Hemisphere. In attempting to deal with revolutionary Mexico, Wilson first



sought to promote self-government by refusing to recognize the military



usurper Victoriano HUERTA and forcing him to allow free elections. When



Huerta resisted, Wilson tried to force him out by ordering (April 1914)



limited American intervention at Veracruz and by supporting



constitutionalist Venustiano CARRANZA. Mediation by Argentina, Brazil, and



Chile helped to prevent a