Portraits: Woodrow Wilson   7 comments

Woodrow Wilson, 1902Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924)

The 28th President of the United States, 1913 – 1921

AKA: The Phrasemaker, The Schoolmaster

From: Virginia

College: Davidson College (transferred), Princeton University, University of Virginia School of Law (withdrew), Johns Hopkins University (Ph. D.)

Married to: Ellen Axson, 1885 – 1914 (her death), Edith Bolling

Children: Margaret, Jessie, Eleanor

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, Professor, Football Coach, President of Princeton University, Governor of New Jersey

In His Words:

“Adventurers swarmed out of the North, as much the enemies of one race as of the other, to cozen, beguile and use the negroes. The white men were aroused by a mere instinct of self-preservation — until at last there sprung into existence a great Kuklux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

President Woodrow Wilson, seated at desk with his wife, Edith Bolling Galt, standing at his side. First posed picture after Mr. Wilson's stroke partially paralyzed his left side, White House, June 1920. Mrs. Wilson holds a document steady while the President adds his signature.

President Woodrow Wilson, seated at desk with his wife, Edith Bolling Galt, standing at his side. First posed picture after Mr. Wilson’s stroke partially paralyzed his left side, White House, June 1920. Mrs. Wilson holds a document steady while the President adds his signature.

“There are two beings who assess character instantly by looking into the eyes,—dogs and children. If a dog not naturally possessed of the devil will not come to you after he has looked you in the face, you ought to go home and examine your conscience; and if a little child, from any other reason than mere timidity, looks you in the face, and then draws back and will not come to your knee, go home and look deeper yet into your conscience.”

“The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. By the time a man has grown old enough to have a son in college he has specialized. The university should generalize the treatment of its undergraduates, should struggle to put them in touch with every force of life.”

“America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses.”

“Liberty is its own reward.”

“I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”

“No nation is fit to sit in judgment upon any other nation.”

“The only excuse that America can ever have for the assertion of her physical force is that she asserts it in behalf of the interests of humanity.”

“I have long enjoyed the friendship and companionship of Republicans, because I am by instinct a teacher and I would like to teach them something.”

Not true: Conspiracy theorists love this one.

Wilson allegedly said, after signing the Federal Reserve into existence, “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

HOWEVER, the underlined sentences appear to be a fabrication of the anti-fed movement.  There is no evidence that Wilson wrote, or said, “I am a most unhappy man.  I have unwittingly ruined by country.”

True: Woodrow Wilson is the only President to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.).

Woodrow Wilson was President when World War I began. He tried to keep our country out of the war. Then, when we had to go to war, Wilson said he hoped it would be the “war to end all wars.”

Two of Wilson’s daughters were married in the White House while he was President.

President Wilson was the first President to host a press conference.

His 1913 State of the Union Address was delivered live – he was the first President to do so since Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice in 1801.

Wilson is one of two Presidents to be widowed while in office (President Tyler was the other).

Wilson pushed the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 through Congress, effectively throttling anti-war or pro-German opinions. The US Post Office, following the instructions received from the Justice Department, refused to carry any materials deemed critical of the US war effort … 60 newspapers lost their 2nd class mailing rights, and were effectively banned from the US mail.  Freedom of the Press?  Not 100 years ago!

Freedom of Speech?  During the war, criticism of the Democratic Wilson administration became grounds for arrest and imprisonment.

He was the first President to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

President Wilson’s first wife, Ellen Axson, died in the White House during the summer of 1914.  Wilson married again in December 1915, to Edith Bolling Galt  After Wilson suffered a stroke while in office, Edith controlled access to the President, igniting a debate that still remains over how much power she exerted.

In 1920, President Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

He is the only President buried in Washington, DC.

The Official Portrait:  F Graham Cootes painted this 1936 portrait of Woodrow Wilson.  The painting hangs above the Grand Staircase in the White House, along with portraits of other 20th century Presidents. It shows an academic President, with a book in hand.

Woodrow Wilson, Official White House Portrait


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