Woodrow Wilson, legal name Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was the 28th President of the United States. Born in Virginia on December 28, 1856, the majority of his youth was spent in Augusta, Georgia, before moving to Columbia, South Carolina during his teenage years.
After graduating from Princeton University, known then as the College of New Jersey, Wilson earned a Ph.D. in History of Government from Johns Hopkins University. He returned to Princeton in 1890 as a professor before being named President of the university in 1902. In 1910, Wilson was elected Governor of New Jersey, earning him the nickname “The Schoolmaster in Politics.” Within two years, he entered the race for the presidency in the election of 1912.
After securing the Democratic nomination, Wilson defeated incumbent William H. Taft, and third-party candidate, Theodore Roosevelt, to win the election of 1912. Wilson’s policy initiatives included reducing tariffs, implementation of a federal income tax, and passage of the Federal Reserve Act. As World War I raged on in Europe, Wilson maintained a policy of neutrality, using the slogan, “He Kept Us Out of War,” during his successful reelection campaign in 1916.
Germany’s policy of unlimited submarine warfare prompted Wilson to ask Congress to declare war in order “to make the world safe for democracy” on April 2, 1917. Wilson’s “Fourteen Points,” outlined to Congress in 1918, explained the guidelines for peace negotiations and rebuilding after the war. US involvement in World War I helped turn the tide toward victory for the Allied Powers, and Wilson was heavily involved in the peace negotiations, particularly for the establishment of the League of Nations. His efforts earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919.
Wilson’s first wife, Ellen, with whom he had three daughters (Margaret, Jessie, and Eleanor), passed away in 1914. On December 18, 1915, he became the third president to marry while in office when he wed Edith Bolling Galt, who played a significant role in Wilson’s presidency after his debilitating stroke.
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