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than what was said in the council chamber. His strongest political weapon, he believes, has been the appeal over the heads of politicians to public opinion. His dislike of cliques and his strong prejudice against anything that savors of special privilege shone clear in his attack upon the Princeton club system, and the same light has not infrequently dazzled his vision as President. Thus, while by no means a radical, he instinctively turned to the support of labor in its struggles with capital because of the abuse of its privilege by capital in the past and regardless of more recent abuse of its power by labor. Similarly at the Peace Conference his sympathies were naturally with every weak state and every minority group.
Such tendencies may have been strengthened by the intensity of his religious convictions. There have been few men holding high office in recent times so deeply and constantly affected by Christian faith as Woodrow Wilson. The son of a clergyman and subjected during his early years to the most lively and devout sort of Presbyterianism, he preserved in his own family circle, in later years, a similar atmosphere. Nor was his conviction of the immanence and spiritual guidance of the Deity ever divorced from his professional and public life.
We can discover in his presidential speeches many indications of his belief that the duties he had undertaken were laid upon him by God and that he might not deviate from what seemed to him the straight and appointed path. There is something reminiscent of Calvin in the stern and unswerving determination not to compromise for the sake of ephemeral advantage. This aspect of Wilson has been caught by a British critic, J. M. Keynes, who describes the President as a Nonconformist minister, whose thought and temperament were essentially theological, not intellectual, "with all the strength and weakness of that manner of thought, feeling, and expression.” The observation is exact, although it does not in itself completely explain Wilson. Certainly nothing could be more characteristic of the President than the text of a Baccalaureate sermon which he preached at Princeton in 1907: “And be ye not conformed to this world.” He believed with intensity that each individual must set up for himself a moral standard, which he must rigidly maintain regardless of the opinions of the community.
Entirely natural, therefore, is the emphasis which he has placed, whether as President of Princeton or of the United States, upon moral rather than
material virtues. This, indeed, has been the essence of his political idealism. Such an emphasis has been for him at once a source of political strength and of weakness. The moralist unquestionably secures wide popular support; but he also wearies his audience, and many a voter has turned from Wilson in the spirit that led the Athenian to vote for the ostracism of Aristides, because he was tired of hearing him called "the Just.” Whatever the immediate political effects, the country owes to Wilson a debt, which historians will doubtless acknowledge, for his insistence that morality must go hand in hand with public policy, that as with individuals, so with governments, true greatness is won by service rather than by acquisition, by sacrifice rather than by aggression. Wilson and Treitschke are at opposite poles.
During his academic career Wilson seems to have displayed little interest in foreign affairs, and his knowledge of European politics, although sufficient for him to produce an admirable handbook on governments, including foreign as well as our own, 7 was probably not profound. During his first year in the White House, he was typical of the Democratic party, which then approved the political isolation of the United States, abhorred the kind of
commercial imperialism summed up in the phrase "dollar diplomacy,” and apparently believed that the essence of foreign policy was to keep one's own hands clean. The development of Wilson from this parochial point of view to one which centers his whole being upon a policy of unselfish international service, forms, to a large extent, the main thread of the narrative which follows.
DESPITE the wars and rumors of wars in Europe after 1910, few Americans perceived the gathering of the clouds, and probably not one in ten thousand felt more than an ordinary thrill of interest on the morning of June 29, 1914, when they read that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria had been assassinated. Nor, a month later, when it became obvious that the resulting crisis was to precipitate another war in the Balkans, did most Americans realize that the world was hovering on the brink of momentous events. Not even when the most dire forebodings were realized and the great powers of Europe were drawn into the quarrel, could America appreciate its significance. Crowds gazed upon the bulletin boards and tried to picture the steady advance of German field-gray through the streets of Liège, asked their neighbors what were these French 75's, and endeavored to locate Mons and