The biography of Woodrow Wilson, an American politician and academic who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921.
He is best known for leading the country through World War I and for his efforts to establish the League of Nations, an international organization that aimed to prevent future wars.
Early Life and Education of Woodrow Wilson
He was born in Staunton, Virginia, on December 28, 1856. His father, Joseph Wilson, was a Presbyterian minister, and his mother, Janet Woodrow Wilson, was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister.
Wilson was the third of four children, and his family frequently moved during his childhood as his father took on different pastoral positions.
Wilson received his early education at home from his father and later attended Davidson College in North Carolina for a year before transferring to Princeton University.
At Princeton, Wilson excelled academically and graduated with honors in 1879.
He then attended the University of Virginia School of Law but dropped out after a year to study political science at Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1886.
Wilson began his academic career as a history and political economy professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.
He later taught at Wesleyan University and became a jurisprudence and political economy professor at Princeton University in 1890.
Wilson wrote several influential books at Princeton, including “Congressional Government” and “The State: Elements of Historical and Practical Politics.”
In these works, Wilson argued that the U.S. government should become more democratic and that the President should take a more active role in policymaking.
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Political Career of Woodrow Wilson
Wilson entered politics in 1910 when he was elected governor of New Jersey.
During his two-year tenure, he implemented several progressive reforms, including a state income tax and an eight-hour workday for women.
In 1912, Wilson ran for President as the Democratic candidate. He won a landslide victory, defeating the incumbent Republican President, William Howard Taft, and the former President, Theodore Roosevelt, who was running as a third-party candidate.
As President, Wilson implemented several progressive policies such as;
- Creating the Federal Reserve System,
- Establishing the Federal Trade Commission to regulate businesses,
- Introducing the Clayton Antitrust Act,
- Strengthening the government’s ability to break up monopolies.
World War I
The outbreak of World War I in Europe in 1914 dominated Wilson’s presidency.
Initially, Wilson tried to keep the United States out of the conflict, but as the war dragged on and German aggression intensified, he became more involved in finding a solution.
In 1917, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany, and the United States entered the conflict on the side of the Allied powers.
Wilson was personally involved in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war.
He also advocated for creating the League of Nations to prevent future wars.
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Legacy of Woodrow Wilson
The biography of Woodrow Wilson would not be complete without discussing how he influenced American history.
Wilson’s presidency was marked by several significant achievements. These include creating the Federal Reserve System and introducing progressive policies regulating big business.
However, his advocacy for the League of Nations proved controversial, and the U.S. Senate ultimately rejected the Treaty of Versailles, which prevented the United States from joining the organization.
Despite this setback, Wilson’s ideas about international cooperation and the need for a more democratic government continue to be influential.
His legacy can be seen in the creation of the United Nations, which was established after World War II and aimed to promote peace and cooperation among nations.