Wilson, (Thomas) Woodrow biographical name
(born Dec. 28, 1856, Staunton, Va., U.S.died Feb. 3, 1924, Washington, D.C.) 28th president of the U.S. (1913–21). He earned a law degree and later received his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. He taught political science at Princeton University (1890–1902). As its president (1902–10), he introduced various reforms. With the support of progressives, he was elected governor of New Jersey. His reform measures attracted national attention, and he became the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 1912. His campaign emphasized his progressive New Freedom policy, and he defeated Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft to win the presidency. As president, he approved legislation that lowered tariffs, created the Federal Reserve System, established the Federal Trade Commission, and strengthened labour unions. In foreign affairs he promoted self-government for the Philippines and sought to contain the Mexican civil war. From 1914 he maintained U.S. neutrality in World War I, offering to mediate a settlement and initiate peace negotiations. After the sinking of the Lusitania (1915) and other unarmed ships, he obtained a pledge from Germany to stop its submarine campaign. Campaigning on the theme that he had kept us out of war, he was narrowly reelected in 1916, defeating Charles Evans Hughes. Germany's renewed submarine attacks on unarmed passenger ships caused Wilson to ask for a declaration of war in April 1917. In a continuing effort to negotiate a peace agreement, he presented the Fourteen Points (1918). He led the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. The Treaty of Versailles faced opposition in the Senate from the Republican majority led by Henry Cabot Lodge. In search of popular support for the treaty and its provision creating the League of Nations, Wilson began a cross-country speaking tour, during which he collapsed. He returned to Washington, D.C. (September 1919), where he suffered a massive stroke that left him partially paralyzed. In the months that followed, his wife Edith controlled access to him, made some decisions by default, and engineered a cover-up of his condition. He rejected any attempts to compromise his version of the League of Nations and urged his Senate followers to vote against ratification of the treaty, which was defeated in 1920. He was awarded the 1919 Nobel Prize for Peace.
Woodrow Wilson.—Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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