President Woodrow Wilson

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President Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson was the first Southerner to be elected president after the Civil War. Born on December 28, 1856 in Staunton, Va., he was the son of a Presbyterian minister who supported the Confederates. Wilson assumed the presidency after a whirlwind career as a college professor, university president and New Jersey governor. However, Wilson left the Oval Office just as heartbroken as the Confederate soldiers that returned home when he was a boy.

Woodrow Wilson was born as Thomas Woodrow Wilson – the son of Janet Woodrow and Joseph Ruggles Wilson, a Presbyterian minister. Thomas began using the first name of Woodrow in 1881 to honor his mother’s side of the family. Although Wilson would become a talented writer and esteemed professor, he did not learn to read until he was 9-years-old and was a backward child. He was more interested in daydreaming than studying. He was admitted to Columbia’s First Presbyterian Church in 1873 – the same year he entered Davidson College in North Carolina. Wilson was deeply religious throughout his life. He enrolled at The College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton University) in the autumn of 1875. There, he pursued an interest in debating and journalism, becoming managing editor of the Princetonian in 1876. He became the paper’s chief editor and was also elected to athletic associations.

Wilson came into his own during the magical years at Princeton and was interested in politics even then. In an article entitled "Cabinet Government in the United States" that was published in The International Review when Wilson was a senior, he wrote, "Congress is a deliberative body in which there is little real deliberation. A legislature which legislates with no real discus...

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...the Senate refused to accept the Treaty of Versailles. Wilson, for his part, refused to resign because of his sickness. Despite America’s refusal to sign the peace treaty, Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 1919. He finished his term and left the White House on March 4, 1920, moving to a nearby home on S Street. Despite his poor health, Wilson did what he could to lobby for the league in retirement. In May of 1923, he sent in essay entitled "The Road Away from Revolution" to the Atlantic Monthly. He described it as an "essay in the form of a challenge." It addressed capitalism and the Russian Revolution and was enormously painful for him to write. Surprisingly, Wilson outlived his successor, President Warren Harding, who died while in office. Wilson died on February 3, 1924. He remains one of the most controversial presidents the United States has ever had.

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