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Woodrow Wilson (The American Presidents, #28)
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > #28 (US) WOODROW WILSON (PRESIDENT) 1913 - 1921

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 05, 2010 09:05PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Woodrow Wilson

Like Roosevelt before him, Woodrow Wilson regarded himself as the personal representative of the people. "No one but the President," he said, "seems to be expected ... to look out for the general interests of the country." He developed a program of progressive reform and asserted international leadership in building a new world order. In 1917 he proclaimed American entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world "safe for democracy."

Wilson had seen the frightfulness of war. He was born in Virginia in 1856, the son of a Presbyterian minister who during the Civil War was a pastor in Augusta, Georgia, and during Reconstruction a professor in the charred city of Columbia, South Carolina.

After graduation from Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) and the University of Virginia Law School, Wilson earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and entered upon an academic career. In 1885 he married Ellen Louise Axson.

Wilson advanced rapidly as a conservative young professor of political science and became president of Princeton in 1902.

His growing national reputation led some conservative Democrats to consider him Presidential timber. First they persuaded him to run for Governor of New Jersey in 1910. In the campaign he asserted his independence of the conservatives and of the machine that had nominated him, endorsing a progressive platform, which he pursued as governor.

He was nominated for President at the 1912 Democratic Convention and campaigned on a program called the New Freedom, which stressed individualism and states' rights. In the three-way election he received only 42 percent of the popular vote but an overwhelming electoral vote.

Wilson maneuvered through Congress three major pieces of legislation. The first was a lower tariff, the Underwood Act; attached to the measure was a graduated Federal income tax. The passage of the Federal Reserve Act provided the Nation with the more elastic money supply it badly needed. In 1914 antitrust legislation established a Federal Trade Commission to prohibit unfair business practices.

Another burst of legislation followed in 1916. One new law prohibited child labor; another limited railroad workers to an eight-hour day. By virtue of this legislation and the slogan "he kept us out of war," Wilson narrowly won re-election.

But after the election Wilson concluded that America could not remain neutral in the World War. On April 2,1917, he asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.

Massive American effort slowly tipped the balance in favor of the Allies. Wilson went before Congress in January 1918, to enunciate American war aims--the Fourteen Points, the last of which would establish "A general association of nations...affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike."

After the Germans signed the Armistice in November 1918, Wilson went to Paris to try to build an enduring peace. He later presented to the Senate the Versailles Treaty, containing the Covenant of the League of Nations, and asked, "Dare we reject it and break the heart of the world?"

But the election of 1918 had shifted the balance in Congress to the Republicans. By seven votes the Versailles Treaty failed in the Senate.

The President, against the warnings of his doctors, had made a national tour to mobilize public sentiment for the treaty. Exhausted, he suffered a stroke and nearly died. Tenderly nursed by his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt, he lived until 1924.


Source: The White House Biographies

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presi...


message 2: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) On my to-read list, one of the things that intrigues me about past Presidents is their relationship with each other and other world leaders.
Paris 1919 Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan by Margaret MacMillan
goodreads review:
Between January and July 1919, after "the war to end all wars," men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for the first time in history, was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who with his Fourteen Points seemed to promise to so many people the fulfillment of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security concerns and wildly idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations that would resolve all future conflict peacefully, Wilson is only one of the larger-than-life characters who fill the pages of this extraordinary book. David Lloyd George, the gregarious and wily British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam.

For six months, Paris was effectively the center of the world as the peacemakers carved up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews.

The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; above all they failed to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made the scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. She refutes received ideas about the path from Versailles to World War II and debunks the widely accepted notion that reparations imposed on the Germans were in large part responsible for the Second WorldWar.

A landmark work of narrative history, Paris 1919 is the first full-scale treatment of the Peace Conference in more than twenty-five years. It offers a scintillating view of those dramatic and fateful days when much of the modern world was sketched out, when countries were created--Iraq, Yugoslavia, Israel--whose troubles haunt us still.



message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
That sounds like a great book Alisa.


Bryan Craig I enjoyed this book, thanks Alisa.

I hear good things about this new bio:
Woodrow Wilson A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr. by John Milton Cooper Jr.

He also wrote:
The Warrior and the Priest Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt by John Milton Cooper by John Milton Cooper


message 5: by Arminius (new)

Arminius Paris 1919 is a great book.


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Apr 22, 2010 12:49PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Hello Arminius...thank you for the add.

As you might not be aware we have a rule/guideline on how all citations need to be made. Please check the guidelines for details and if you need some assistance - we have a thread called Mechanics of the Board.

Here is the way your book should have been cited:

Paris 1919 Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan Margaret MacMillan

We always include the book cover first (book covers are cited first), then the photo of the author if available - the photo of MacMillan in this case was not available, and then finally the author's link.

If you need any help, we are all here to help you. Without adding the citations, it is impossible for the Goodreads software to populate our site.

Thank you for your addition and post.

Bentley


Bryan Craig This looks good:

The Will to Believe Woodrow Wilson, World War I, and America's Strategy for Peace and Security (New Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations) by Ross A. Kennedy by Ross A. Kennedy

Part of a review of from Presidential Studies Quarterly:

Ross A. Kennedy, associate professor of history at Illinois State University, has produced a well-written narrative about the debates over American national security during and just after the First World War. The author identifies three major groups within the United States that held distinct views on the state of international affairs as the Great War beckoned. Two groups, pacifists and liberal internationalists, stated their concerns over diplomacy as it was practiced by European countries as World War I began. In particular, individuals who identified themselves as pacifists and liberal internationalists saw that a balance of power system as conducted by the Europeans could lead to militarism, arms races, and secret alliances. All of these by-products of the existing international system caused pacifists and liberal internationalists to think that this would undermine the democratic institutions that had arisen in the United States. Because of the growing interdependence of the world and technological advances, America would have to abandon its traditional isolation and be drawn into this balance of power system.


Bryan Craig A discussion of Wilson must include the material written by one of Wilson's greatest biographers and editor of his papers (v. 1 cited below):

Arthur S. Link

Woodrow Wilson Revolution, War, and Peace by Arthur S. Link

The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Vol. 1 by Woodrow Wilson

The progressive era and the First World War, 1900-1920

He also wrote a 5 volume history for the Princeton University Press (1947-1965). They are out-of print but worth a look:

Wilson, Vol. 1 The Road to the White House by Arthur S. Link
Wilson, Vol. 2 The New Freedom by Arthur S. Link
Wilson, Vol. 3 The Struggle for Neutrality, 1914-1915 by Arthur S. Link
Wilson, Vol. 4 Confusion and Crises, 1915-1916 by Arthur S. Link
Wilson, Vol. 5: Campaigns for Progressivism and Peace, 1916-1917


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Some great adds Bryan.


message 11: by Bryan (last edited May 11, 2012 07:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Wilson's influence on anti-colonialism:

The Wilsonian Moment: Self Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism

The Wilsonian Moment Self Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism by Erez Manela Erez Manela

Synopsis

During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, while key decisions were debated by the victorious Allied powers, a multitude of smaller nations and colonies held their breath, waiting to see how their fates would be decided. President Woodrow Wilson, in his Fourteen Points, had called for "a free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims," giving equal weight would be given to the opinions of the colonized peoples and the colonial powers. Among those nations now paying close attention to Wilson's words and actions were the budding nationalist leaders of four disparate non-Western societies--Egypt, India, China, and Korea. That spring, Wilson's words would help ignite political upheavals in all four of these countries.

This book is the first to place the 1919 Revolution in Egypt, the Rowlatt Satyagraha in India, the May Fourth movement in China, and the March First uprising in Korea in the context of a broader "Wilsonian moment" that challenged the existing international order. Using primary source material from America, Europe, and Asia, historian Erez Manela tells the story of how emerging nationalist movements appropriated Wilsonian language and adapted it to their own local culture and politics as they launched into action on the international stage. The rapid disintegration of the Wilsonian promise left a legacy of disillusionment and facilitated the spread of revisionist ideologies and movements in these societies; future leaders of Third World liberation movements--Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Jawaharlal Nehru, among others--were profoundly shaped by their experiences at the time.

The importance of the Paris Peace Conference and Wilson's influence on international affairs far from the battlefields of Europe cannot be underestimated. Now, for the first time, we can clearly see just how the events played out at Versailles sparked a wave of nationalism that is still resonating globally today.


Bryan Craig This looks interesting:

Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies

Ellen and Edith Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies by Kristie Miller Henry Irving

Synopsis

The wives of Woodrow Wilson were strikingly different from each other. Ellen Axson Wilson, quiet and intellectual, died after just a year and a half in the White House and is thought to have had little impact on history. Edith Bolling Wilson was flamboyant and confident but left a legacy of controversy. Yet, as Kristie Miller shows, each played a significant role in the White House.

Miller presents a rich and complex portrait of Wilson's wives, one that compels us to reconsider our understanding of both women. Ellen comes into clear focus as an artist and intellectual who dedicated her talents to an ambitious man whose success enabled her to have a significant influence on the institution of the first lady. Miller's assessment of Edith Wilson goes beyond previous flattering accounts and critical assessments. She examines a woman who overstepped her role by hiding her husband's serious illness to allow him to remain in office. But, Miller concludes, Edith was acting as she knew her husband would have wished.

Miller explains clearly how these women influenced Woodrow Wilson's life and career. But she keeps her focus on the women themselves, placing their concerns and emotions in the foreground. She presents a balanced appraisal of each woman's strengths and weaknesses. She argues for Ellen's influence not only on her husband but on subsequent first ladies. She strives for an understanding of the controversial Edith, who saw herself as Wilson's principal advisor and, some would argue, acted as shadow president after his stroke. Miller also helps us better appreciate the role of Mary Allen Hulbert Peck, whose role as Wilson's "playmate" complemented that of Ellen--but was intolerable to Edith.

Especially because Woodrow Wilson continues to be one of the most-studied American presidents, the task of recognizing and understanding the influence of his wives is an important one. Drawing extensively on the Woodrow Wilson papers and newly available material, Miller's book answers that call with a sensitive and compelling narrative of how private and public emotions interacted at a pivotal moment in the history of first ladies.


message 13: by Alisa (last edited Jul 29, 2012 09:53AM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bryan wrote: "This looks interesting:

Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies

Synopsis

The wives of Woodrow Wilson were strikingl..."


This certainly looks interesting indeed. I don't know that much about Woodrow Wilson but this multiple first lady situation looks more like a fiction plot. Another one for the TBR list. Thanks Bryan, good find.

Ellen and Edith Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies by Kristie Miller by Kristie Miller


Bryan Craig I'm happy to oblige; there is not much out there on Ellen, his first wife, so I'm happy this was written.


message 15: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) I'm becoming increasingly interested in books about First Ladies. I have not done an exhaustive search but keeping my eyes open when they come along.


Bryan Craig It's coming....

New biography on Wilson by A. Scott Berg:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/201...

A. Scott Berg


message 17: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I read this book a couple of months ago and liked it very much. A good examination of Wilson's behind the scenes machinations at the Versailles Treaty Conference.

Woodrow Wilson and World War I

Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917-1921 by Robert H. Ferrell by Robert H. Ferrell

Synopsis
The entry of the US into WWI in the last year of the war resulted in the defeat of Imperial Germany....not necessarily due to the leadership of the American military (which was poorly prepared) but because of the addition of two million men to the Allied armies, numbers that Germany could not overcome. But when President Woodrow Wilson began to take the leadership of the armistice treaty and negotiating with Germany without consulting England, France or Italy, the in-fighting among the Allies began. His major objective was to develop the League of Nations which he believed would go down in history as his greatest accomplishment. This book follow the machinations of Wilson as he attempted to dominate the treaty and his ultimate failure when his own country refused to ratify the League. This is a well researched book which is not particularly complimentary to Wilson but is unbiased in the presentation of the facts.


Bryan Craig Thanks, Jill, I will have to read this one.


message 19: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) It doesn't paint Wilson in a very favorable light, Bryan but I think it is unbiased and factual.


message 20: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom From what I know, an unbiased look at Wilson couldn't paint him in a very favorable light.... But I am not an expert


Bryan Craig Wilson certainly isn't perfect and I think recent scholarship has helped to round out him out (that includes his darker side).


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 05, 2013 07:03AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
I think that Wilson may have been more naive about the political arena and had folks around him who did not do him any service. I think he was more misguided rather than some of the accusations coming his way - very much like Chamberlain I am afraid. Not being politically savvy and having too much faith in his own abilities as well as having a big ego certainly did not help the man. He wanted to be remembered well and it just did not pan out for him. He ignored his doctors and tried to gain support for the treaty bringing about his own stroke.


Bryan Craig Well summarized, Bentley. I also agree he had a big ego that got in the way of compromise.


message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Yes, I hate to see him made the villain even though his inability to control the political theatrics and his ego led him down the path where that could happen.


Bryan Craig Wilson

Wilson by A. Scott Berg A. Scott Berg

Synopsis

One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson--the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently-discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details--even several unknown events--that fill in missing pieces of Wilson’s character and cast new light on his entire life.

From the scholar-President who ushered the country through its first great world war to the man of intense passion and turbulence , from the idealist determined to make the world “safe for democracy” to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity and the subterfuges around it were among the century’s greatest secrets, the result is an intimate portrait written with a particularly contemporary point of view – a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson’s life, accomplishments, and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon – but Wilson the man.


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Sounds like a book to read. Thanks for the add.


Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "Sounds like a book to read. Thanks for the add."

A great contender for the presidential reads discussion.


message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
I am very convinced that a scholar would not do very well as president under any circumstances. Very bright scholarly men try to look for logic and in Washington's political circus - they are ill equipped to look for logic where there isn't any. And circular arguments are intolerable to these kind of men. That is why lawyer after lawyer turned politician love the fray and become president. It is not an accident that we get the leaders we deserve at the time. Lawyers love to argue for arguments sake and love confrontation - that is what they are trained for.


message 29: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom Well, Jefferson was certainly a scholar, although not an academic in the modern sense. Other than that.... well, besides Wilson, what scholars have we had? The closest may be Obama, who was a professor for a while. But a law professor.


message 30: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 05, 2013 11:16AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Well, Jefferson was certainly a scholar, although not an academic in the modern sense. Other than that.... well, besides Wilson, what scholars have we had? The closest may be Obama, who was a profe..."

And though I like him - we can see how well that is going. And Jefferson was not comfortable in the role either. Nor would have been Washington (though a military man - they have done better I think coping), then Adams (litigator, but not really a politician) - Madison was a Princeton grad and he had his issues (very bright guy). All of the founding fathers were well read and would never understand what has been spawned by their creation (and all of the gridlock). Look they formed a country and got all of these separate colonies to join in. We can't get anything through Congress even what the American people say they want.

I am convinced we need another Lyndon Johnson - somebody who can get things done no matter what he has to do. Poor Kennedy was another bright star, bright and full of style but he could not get anything done either.

And Wilson was no slacker either; but alas an academic.


message 31: by Bryan (last edited Mar 05, 2013 11:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Peter wrote: "Well, Jefferson was certainly a scholar, although not an academic in the modern sense. Other than that.... well, besides Wilson, what scholars have we had? The closest may be Obama, who was a profe..."

Off the top of my head: James Garfield was president of Hiram College. TR wrote many scholarly material.


message 32: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Yes, he did that for a stint when he was young, then became a general and then Lincoln talked him into going to Congress. Then as president he was shot by a disappointed job seeker so he did not fare well at all. 6 months as president.

TR liked a good challenge and I could see him in the job of president. Adventuresome.


message 33: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom TR was an amazing individual - like him or not, he stood out in many fields.


message 34: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Yes, I agree Peter.


Bryan Craig Wilson did not have a smooth Princeton tenure, either. He brought a lot to Princeton, but he also missed opportunities to compromise where he could have done more.


message 36: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 07, 2013 07:45AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
His popularity as a professor was unequaled at the time. He was offered the presidency at numerous top notch schools but chose to stay at Princeton. He revolutionized the budget when he took over Princeton and many other universities have followed suit utilizing his methods even today. He had his work cut out for him at Princeton and much of what Princeton is today is due to Wilson's changes. He was a workaholic and came near to exhaustion working on the changes he believed in. He became Governor of NJ and was able to cut through a lot of red tape. And that allowed his political capital to climb sky high. He had a lot of charisma then and had accomplished all of his goals in office that he had set out to do. He could not have picked a better year for becoming a presidential candidate than 1912. There were slim pickings and the populace liked his no nonsense attitude. Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican party in two which allowed Wilson to advance and won the Electoral College votes. He accomplished his domestic tasks but I think it was the war which ended up giving him his black eye. And during the same time he lost his wife to tb and kidney failure. He probably should have not sought re-election since his health was not what it should be either. But he was not a slacker or a quitter and I think that is what killed him in the end. I understand why some thought he had become cold and unfeeling; but I think the opposite was true; I think he was grieving deeply for the loss of his wife, etc.

Another complex man who the public turned on and as they say - the rest is history. But despite these complexities and contradictions, he has always been considered as one of the top ten presidents on most listings.


message 37: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Browne Peter wrote: "From what I know, an unbiased look at Wilson couldn't paint him in a very favorable light.... But I am not an expert"

I agree Peter. Wilson is one of those presidents that I feel like I should like but it is not easy. He does have some solid accomplishments to his credit but if I were voting in 1912, I think I would have voted for TR or more likely, Debbs. TR was far more progressive than Wilson and since the U.S. ended up in the war anyway and Wilson lost the league because of his own obstinance, he just seems the better choice.


message 38: by R.M.F. (new)

R.M.F. Brown Was Wilson a racist or was he so reliant on southern democrats that he had to play along to gain their political support? I ask this because I read something about General Pershing's attempts to introduce African Americans into front line service during the great war. Pershing dropped the idea due to Wilson's concerns...


message 39: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom R.M.F wrote: "Was Wilson a racist or was he so reliant on southern democrats that he had to play along to gain their political support? I ask this because I read something about General Pershing's attempts to in..."

From what I've read, Wilson was a racist. A bit of Googling found that, in a book he wrote, Wilson said that Blacks were not suitable for citizenship. He also wrote admiringly of the Ku Klux Klan and, after seeing "Birth of a Nation" said "my only regret is it is all so true".


message 40: by James (new)

James (jbgusa) | 53 comments Colleen wrote: "Wilson is one of those presidents that I feel like I should like but it is not easy. He does have some solid accomplishments to his credit but if I were voting in 1912, I think I would have voted for TR or more likely, Debbs. TR was far more progressive than Wilson and since the U.S. ended up in the war anyway and Wilson lost the league because of his own obstinance, he just seems the better choice. "

Theodore Roosevelt is in a category of Presidents I would class as either "great" or "near-great." Close to Lincoln, Washington, Reagan or Truman. Think what one wants about Wilson, he was nowhere near that category.


message 41: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 07, 2013 07:52AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
I do not believe that Wilson was a racist at all. Could he have done more with and for the civil rights movement. Yes, but then that was the climate of that time period (whether it be considered good or bad).

I think he did a lot for minorities (women) and freedom but not necessarily for the African Americans at that time. The same can be said for the founders of this country aside from Adams - the majority owned slaves yet spoke of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

He was born in Virginia and was from the South originally (like Jefferson); but he was a worldly man so we cannot say that he had to rely heavily on the Southern Democrats to gain political support but certainly to be president he would need some of that support.

In the constitution, Article 1, section 2 - for taxation African Americans were considered chattel and there was the abhorrent 3/5's rule and then the 13th amendment helped begin the change of all of this but that was not until 1865 - so many of our previous presidents were slave owners or after the civil war former slave owners - so old habits and biases die hard. Both Washington and Jefferson owned and had slaves.

He did draft the blacks and did give them equal pay with whites (World War I) which was quite a step forward although they were to be in separate units which by the way continued through World War II and beyond.

He also despite a serious backlash nominated Brandeis to be on the Supreme Court and in that time it would be like a President putting Ralph Nader on the one today. That began a long line of Jewish magistrates that would serve on the Supreme Court. So he was a brave, bold man - I think as the time period and the mores of the country allowed him to be and to become president of all of the people.

Remember do not be too harsh - different times bring about different reactions in people including Presidents.

Why didn't America do more for the blacks especially after the Civil War. You have to ask that too. I always try to be careful about assigning labels found in Wikipedia or on the internet. And as far as solid accomplishments, he got more through Congress than most Presidents and he has always been considered to be in that group of the top 10 presidents so I would give him a little slack.

Think of Churchill and his reactions to Gandhi and Indians in general. Was it the right attitude and did he say the right things at the time - no. But the time period was different and the attitudes were different as much as we wish they were not at the time. And we try to see the man as a whole despite his flaws and attitudes reflective of many at that point in history. It does not make the attitudes correct but they were made in a different time in history.

We may have to be more tolerant of historic figures because of the time period in which they lived as hard as that might be for us to understand. Every human if examined has things they would rather have done over in hindsight.


message 42: by Bryan (last edited Mar 07, 2013 08:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Some great points, Bentley. He was a product of his time and certainly was proud of being a Virginian. He had slaves at one of his homes growing up, so he probably had certain biases, no doubt.

These are great topics that I hope we will see in our next book read.


message 43: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
I hope so too; so that we can read about all of the contradictions and influences. I am not surprised about his having slaves at one of his homes growing up since he was a Virginian. I am sure that his background shaped him - it always does.


message 44: by R.M.F. (last edited Mar 07, 2013 08:58AM) (new)

R.M.F. Brown Bentley wrote: "I do not believe that Wilson was a racist at all. Could he have done more with and for the civil rights movement. Yes, but then that was the climate of that time period (whether it be considered ..."

Excellent post. I understand what you are saying about Wilson being a man of his time, but the fault is mine for not making my point clearer. My view of Wilson is somebody who was too ready to compromise rather than stick to his guns. Now, you could say that about most politicians, but the Pershing example is something Wilson supported in principal, but not for the first time, he was reluctant to upset his political backers.


message 45: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 07, 2013 09:09AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
I think he delegated as did FDR after him and for that especially for what we consider repugnant policies today - both are castigated - maybe wrongly or depending upon your viewpoint - correctly. It is alway up to the individual to decide I guess. But I realize that history, ethics, morality, empathy for minorities is always an evolving process and look at immigration reform today - what a donnybrook.

Wilson was quite bold actually and did stick to his guns many times and was doggedly persistent - like a dog on a bone. It just is as abhorrent as this is to say - he did not see the blacks as his top priority at the time. He placed the emphasis on women and he promoted other ethnic backgrounds or religious backgrounds like Brandeis for the Supreme Court. But actually good or bad he seemed to reflect the attitudes of that period in time.

He let a lot of things that he considered unimportant in the scheme of things be handled by others. Was that right - I wasn't there so I cannot judge with a realistic perspective. Was slavery wrong - yes, was treating African Americans with less respect than whites received and giving them different opportunities wrong - nobody today could say that this was right either (although some folks in the South still I think regret losing the Civil War) - so maybe that is debatable. But morality wise - civil rights and the civil rights bill should have been championed long before LBJ (a Southerner and Texan by the way).

So I guess what I am saying is that there are no cut and dry answers on some of this because we were not living during that period of time.

Should have, would have, could have are all things historians rightly ask and ponder and everybody's viewpoint is valid whether folks agree or disagree. It is fun pondering all of these points and asking why even if all of the answers are not self evident.


message 46: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 07, 2013 09:52AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Woodrow Wilson school - 100th anniversary celebration of Wilson's inauguration - just this month I might add: (hard to believe that it is 100 years ago - a very long time)

http://wws.princeton.edu/coverstories...

He was the 28th president - it would be 100 years just on March 4, 2013. (this past Monday)


message 47: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 07, 2013 09:58AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod


Woodrow Wilson House in DC

The Woodrow Wilson House is the home to which President and Mrs. Wilson retired from the White House in 1921. President Wilson lived here until his death in 1924, and Mrs. (Edith) Wilson lived in the home until her death in 1961, at which time she bequeathed the home and its furnishings to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The house and gardens were designed by architect Waddy Butler Wood and completed in 1915. In 2013, the Woodrow Wilson House is celebrating its 50th year as a historic site museum



Lovely Gardens

Woodrow Wilson House:

http://www.woodrowwilsonhouse.org/hou...


message 48: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Wilson House

The Woodrow Wilson House

The Woodrow Wilson House is the home to which President and Mrs. Wilson retired from the White House in 1921. President Wilson lived here until his death in 1924, and Mrs. (Edith) Wilson lived in the home until her death in 1961, at which time she bequeathed the home and its furnishings to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to serve as a monument to President Wilson.

The home and gardens were designed by architect Waddy Butler Wood and were completed in 1915. The Woodrow Wilson House is situated in the Kalorama – Embassy Row area that has long featured stately mansions and town homes. The home is executed in a Georgia Revival style and is sympathetic in design to two adjacent buildings constructed in the same era, one designed by John Russell Pope and the other by Mr. Wood. The home was originally built as a private residence of Henry Parker Fairbanks, an executive of the Bigelow Carpet Company.

The Woodrow Wilson House includes many remarkable features, including a marble entryway and grand staircase, Palladian window, book-lined study, dumb waiter and butler’s pantry, and solarium overlooking the formal garden. The home has been maintained much as it was in 1924, including furniture, art, photographs, state gifts, and the personal effects of President and Mrs. Wilson. The drawing room includes a century-old Steinway piano that President Wilson had in the White House, a framed mosaic that Wilson received on his trip to Italy in 1919 from Pope Benedict XV, and a wall-sized Gobelin tapestry presented by the people of France following World War I.

President and Mrs. Wilson moved into the home on the last day of his presidency, March 4, 1921, having moved out of the White House that morning. President Wilson is the only President to have made Washington his home following his term in office. In retirement, President Wilson received dignitaries and guests at the home, including former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and former French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau.

The Woodrow Wilson House is the site from which President Wilson made a radio address to the American People on November 11, 1923, the fifth anniversary of Armistice Day – the first nationwide remote radio broadcast. The microphone used in that broadcast is on display at the Woodrow Wilson House.

The Woodrow Wilson House opened as a museum in 1963 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964. In 2013, the Woodrow Wilson House is celebrating the centennial of the inauguration of President Wilson and its 50th year as a museum.

Kalorama

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson described a section of northwest Washington called “Belair” to his friend Joel Barlow as “a lovely seat … on a high hill commanding a most extensive view of the Potomac.” Barlow, America’s first popular author and a diplomat, purchased the estate in 1807 and renamed it “Kalorama” — Greek for “beautiful view.” Barlow lived on his Kalorama estate until he traveled to France in 1811 as the United States Ambassador. He died in Poland in 1812 of pneumonia, the first American diplomat to die at his post. The land had originally been part of a 600-acre land grant made to John Longworth by King Charles II of England. After Barlow’s widow sold the property it changed hands many times. During the Civil War there was a hospital for smallpox patients on the property which took advantage of the cooling breezes and the good view on the hillside overlooking Washington. In the 1890s developers began putting large homes in the area. Over the years the neighborhood held the homes of several Presidents in addition to Woodrow Wilson, including Herbert Hoover, William Howard Taft and a young Franklin Roosevelt, as well as Supreme Court Justices, Members of Congress, writers, and other luminaries.

The neighborhood also became a home for diplomats. The first embassy, Thailand, was built in 1920. Today Kalorama is part of Embassy Row and is known for having many embassies and diplomatic residences as well as private homes and museums.

Kalorama is bordered by Connecticut Avenue, Florida Avenue, 22nd Street, P Street, Rock Creek Park and includes part of Massachusetts Avenue. It is easily accessible from Washington’s Metro system.


message 49: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom I think it's clear Wilson was a racist. Dictionary.com defines racism thus:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

Wilson clearly believed this, he pretty much said so in nearly those exact words.

The real question is whether he was more racist than the typical man at that time. I think a good case could be made that he was this, as well, although it is hard to get a handle on just how racist most people were at the beginning of the 20th century.

"Birth of a Nation" (which Wilson thought wonderful) was controversial, even at the time. The Klan (which Wilson supported) had detractors, even then. That is, of course,different from being anti-Semitic or misogynistic - for his time, Wilson did well on both those issues.


message 50: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 07, 2013 01:52PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Peter, I think that Wilson reflected the attitudes 100 years ago - so let us go a little easy on the man. I think we had an entire country not doing much about civil rights. Were they all racists. By the definition you gave, I have to say that many were as guilty.

But I still do not think that Wilson or others around him at that time were perceived as such. He was born in the South and his wife was Southern so maybe he had Southern attitudes as they might have been at that time. Let us not get carried away with that term.

It is heavily loaded and I think when we read about Wilson; there will be plenty of time to discuss his life in balance and to take away more of an outlook of what it was like for all Americans at that time (immigrants, Northerners, Southerners, industrialists, Congress, women and other minorities, etc.). Were they all treated well or was there a pervasive undercurrent of unfairness even if you were simply a woman never mind an African American? I suspect that there was an unlevel playing field for a lot of minorities not just the African Americans.

You are entitled to your views.


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