December 28, 1856 at 12:45 AM (Birthtime accuracy: good)
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924), better known as Woodrow Wilson, was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Born in Staunton, Virginia, he spent his early years in Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina. Wilson earned a PhD in political science at Johns Hopkins University, and served as a professor and scholar at various institutions before being chosen as President of Princeton University, a position he held from 1902 to 1910. In the election of 1910, he was the gubernatorial candidate of New Jersey's Democratic Party, and was elected the 34th Governor of New Jersey, serving from 1911 to 1913. Running for president in 1912, Wilson benefited from a split in the Republican Party, which enabled his plurality of just over forty percent to win him a large electoral college margin. He was the first Southerner elected as president since Zachary Taylor in 1848, and Wilson was a leading force in the Progressive Movement, bolstered by his Democratic Party's winning control of both the White House and Congress in 1912. In office, Wilson reintroduced the spoken State of the Union, which had been out of use since 1801. Leading the Congress, now in Democratic hands, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. Included among these were the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, and the Federal Farm Loan Act. Having taken office one month after ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, Wilson called a special session of Congress, whose work culminated in the Revenue Act of 1913, introducing an income tax and lowering tariffs. Through passage of the Adamson Act, imposing an 8-hour workday for railroads, he averted a railroad strike and an ensuing economic crisis. Upon the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Wilson maintained a policy of neutrality, while pursuing a more aggressive policy in dealing with Mexico's civil war. Wilson faced former New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes in the presidential election of 1916. By a narrow margin, he became the first Democrat since Andrew Jackson elected to two consecutive terms. Wilson's second term was dominated by American entry into World War I. In April 1917, when Germany had resumed unrestricted submarine warfare and sent the Zimmermann Telegram, Wilson asked Congress to declare war in order to make "the world safe for democracy." The United States conducted military operations alongside the Allies, although without a formal alliance. During the war, Wilson focused on diplomacy and financial considerations, leaving military strategy to the generals, especially General John J. Pershing. Loaning billions of dollars to Britain, France, and other Allies, the United States aided their finance of the war effort. Through the Selective Service Act, conscription sent 10,000 freshly trained soldiers to France per day by the summer of 1918. On the home front, he raised income taxes, borrowing billions of dollars through the public's purchase of Liberty Bonds. He set up the War Industries Board, promoted labor union cooperation, regulating agriculture and food production through the Lever Act, and granting to the Secretary of the Treasury, William McAdoo, direct control of the nation's railroad system. In his 1915 State of the Union, Wilson asked Congress for what became the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, suppressing anti-draft activists. The crackdown was intensified by his Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to include expulsion of non-citizen radicals during the First Red Scare of 1919–1920. Following years of advocacy for suffrage on the state level, in 1918 he endorsed the Nineteenth Amendment, whose ratification in 1920 provided equal right to vote for women across the United States, over Southern opposition. Wilson staffed his government with Southern Democrats who believed in segregation. He gave department heads greater autonomy in their management. Early in 1918, he issued his principles for peace, the Fourteen Points, and in 1919, following armistice, he traveled to Paris, promoting the formation of a League of Nations, concluding the Treaty of Versailles. Following his return from Europe, Wilson embarked on a nationwide tour in 1919 to campaign for the treaty, suffering a severe stroke. The treaty was met with serious concern by Senate Republicans, and Wilson rejected a compromise effort led by Henry Cabot Lodge, leading to the Senate's rejection of the treaty. Due to his stroke, Wilson secluded himself in the White House, disability having diminished his power and influence. Forming a strategy for reelection, Wilson deadlocked the 1920 Democratic National Convention, but his bid for a third-term nomination was overlooked. A devoted Presbyterian, Wilson infused morality into his internationalism, an ideology now referred to as "Wilsonian"—an activist foreign policy calling on the nation to promote global democracy. For his sponsorship of the League of Nations, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize, the second of three sitting presidents so honored.
Birth time credit:Blackwell / Accuracy: good Updated: 2023-10-11
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