28th U.S. President: Woodrow Wilson

About the twenty-eighth President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, his birth, death, biography, description, facts and quotes.

28th President WOODROW WILSON

Born: December 28, 1856, Staunton, Va.

Died: February 3, 1924, Washington, D.C.

He had been in poor health and partially paralyzed since suffering a stroke while President in 1919.

Career: Graduate of Princeton and University of Virginia Law School. Bored with law practice, he did graduate work in political science at Johns Hopkins, won Ph.D. in 1885. Teaching positions at Bryn Mawr, Wesleyan, and Princeton, named president of Princeton at 46, noted for his educational reforms, mentioned as possible presidential candidate as early as 1906. Elected governor of New Jersey, 1910; 2 years later won Democratic presidential nomination.

Personal Life: His devotion to his 1st wife was passionate and obsessive; when she died in the White House in 1914, he sat beside her body for 2 full days and came close to a nervous breakdown. In order to restore the President's balance, friends helped to engineer a meeting between Wilson and a beautiful Washington widow, Edith Galt. They were married in 1915--despite fears that their romance might hurt Wilson's chances for reelection. Wilson had 3 daughters from his 1st marriage; he generally preferred the company of "clever" women to that of men.

His Person: Tall, lean, with sparse iron-gray hair, blue eyes hidden behind glittering rimless glasses. Square, heavy jaw, arched eyebrows. Thought of himself as unattractive. Strong tenor voice.

Elections: As the Democratic candidate in 1912, Wilson's victory was assured by the split in Republican ranks. Though he polled only 42% of the popular vote, it was enough to beat the Progressive candidate Theodore Roosevelt (27 1/2%) and the incumbent Republican William Howard Taft (23%). The count in the Electoral College was 435-88-8. Four years later, with the Republicans once again united, Wilson faced a more difficult race against Charles E. Hughes. In the popular vote, Wilson topped Hughes 49%-46%, but a switch of some 2,000 votes in California would have made Hughes President. (The Electoral College tally was 277-254.) The theme of Wilson's reelection victory was the slogan, "He Kept Us Out of War." Just one month after his 2nd inauguration, this "Peace President" led the U.S. into W.W.I.

Term of Office: March 4, 1913-March 4, 1921 (8 years).

Little-Known Facts: In 1915, a typographical error in the Washington Post made President Wilson the object of lewd laughter. Describing an evening at the theater, enhanced by the presence of Wilson and his new fianc├łe, a reporter wrote that instead of watching the performance "the President spent most of his time entertaining Mrs. Galt." "Entertaining" came out "entering" in the newspaper's earliest edition.

Quotes from Wilson:

"It is only by working with an energy which is almost superhuman and looks to uninterested spectators like insanity that we can accomplish anything worth the achievement."

"Segregation is not humiliating but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen."

--To black leaders, November, 1913

"Why has Jesus Christ so far not succeeded in inducing the world to follow his teachings?

. . . I am proposing a practical scheme to carry out His aims."--1919

"I believe in Divine Providence. If I did not I would go crazy."--1919

Quotes about Him:

"He had to hold the reins and do the driving alone; it was the only kind of leadership he knew."--Arthur Link, Wilson's biographer

"He is an utterly selfish and cold-blooded politician always."--Theodore Roosevelt

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