Woodrow Wilson was a politician, scholar, activist, and an idealist who believed that “there is no cause half so sacred as the cause of a people. There is no idea so uplifting as the idea of the service of humanity”. Yet he was also considered a racist.
A. The Child
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born December 28, 1856 at Staunton, Virginia; one of four children to Joseph Ruggles Wilson and Janet Wilson who were of Scottish descent. His family moved to Augusta, Georgia a year after his birth and then in 1870 moving to Columbia and later moved to Wilmington in 1884. Woodrow later drop his first name, Thomas.
B. The Student
He got his early education from a few ex-Confederate soldiers who set up some schools after the Civil war and his father who taught him religion, literature and British history. At sixteen years of age, Wilson attended Davidson College, North Carolina for one year and later drop out of college due to his health. In 1875, he attended a College of New Jersey which is now known as Princeton University where he graduated in 1879. Later that year he studied law at the University of Virginia but left school again due to personal reasons. He continued his studying law on his own after returning home of Wilmington, North Carolina. He set up a legal practice with a friend from the University of Virginia in 1882 and passed the Georgia Bar Exam. Later, he left the practice of law and decided to continue his education at John Hopkins University, Baltimore. There he was enrolled as a graduate student in history and political science and earned his PH.D in 1886. With his research study, he made the dissertation known as Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics. In this dissertation, Wilson argued about the power the congressional government has over a weak postwar Presidency and for a constitutional change of separation of powers between Congress and the President to that of the British Parliament. In the final year of his graduate school, Wilson, at 28 years old, married Ellen Louise Axson, in Savannah, Georgia. They had three daughters in their life together, Margaret, Jessie, and Eleanor.
Woodrow Wilson became an instructor at Bryn Mawr College from 1885 to 1888 teaching political economy and public law. He then accepted professorship at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, teaching history for two years. After 1890, he went back to Princeton University teaching political economy and law. From 1902 - 1910, Woodrow Wilson served as President of Princeton University. Wilson’s tenure helped shape Princeton into one of America’s great universities.
C. The Governor
Wilson ran for governor of New Jersey accepting the conservative Democrats’ proposal and won the democratic nomination. He shocked the politicians by declaring independence of the political bosses and later won the decisive victory over the Republican opponent and began his reforms against the political bosses. During two year period, Wilson had pushed legislation to allow voters to choose their candidates rather than having party bosses choose as well as secure reform for campaign finances. He also made passage for Workers Compensation for families whose working member is injured or killed on the job as well as improve the public utility commission to improve rates. During his time as Governor of New Jersey, many progressive leaders took interest in Wilson as a potential Presidential candidate, especially the Democrat William Jennings Bryan.
D. The President
Woodrow Wilson narrowly won the Democratic nomination in 1912 putting him against President Taft of the Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt of the Bull Moose Party, and Eugene Debs of the Socialist Party. Wilson on his platform presented a program called the “New Freedom” which busted up corporate monopolies to allow the chance for competition to prevent monopolies from controlling the Federal government. Wilson won the election with 41.9% becoming...
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