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was his right vocation, and he accordingly decided to supplement his Princeton course by further study in the law school of the University of Virginia. After little more than a year his health broke down, as it had done when he was at Davidson six years earlier. In consequence he spent the year 1881 at home, and in May 1882 established himself as a practising lawyer at Atlanta, Georgia, in association with a partner named Renick.
It is necessary thus to sketch the outlines of the President's education, but the bare facts themselves are of little interest or importance. Preferring deliberately to read discursively and make his explorations in fields of his own choosing, he sacrificed with small regret the prospects of purely academic distinction.
Wilson's bent was definitely historical and political. At Princeton he read widely and wisely, studying particularly Chatham and Burke, Brougham and Macaulay. Bagehot was an inexhaustible mine of suggestion and inspiration. But the first serious stimulus to political thought and investigation came from a less classic source. In the Chancellor Green library at Princeton was a set of bound volumes of the Gentleman's Magazine, the later issues of which numbered among their leading features a running commentary on the proceedings of the British House of Commons by “The Member for the Chiltern Hundreds," one of the many pseudonyms of that veteran political journalist Sir Henry Lucy. St. Stephen's in the seventies was the arena of rhetorical battles
well calculated to arrest and hold the interest of any observer capable of appreciating the niceties of constitutional theory or the triumphs of parliamentary oratory and the victories of debate. The great duel between Gladstone and Disraeli was at its height. Dizzy had just “ dished the Whigs” over the Reform Bill of 1867 and gone out of office on Irish Church Disestablishment. The Disestablishment Act had followed in 1869 and Forster's Education Act in 1870 ; Cardwell was carrying through his Army reforms ; the Ballot Act was being put on the Statute Book. In 1874, the year before Wilson entered at Princeton, Gladstone had gone out and Disraeli gone in, and though within the next two years one of the two protagonists had withdrawn into nominal retirement and the other into the tranquillity of the House of Lords, they had left behind them in the elective Chamber traditions of controversy that speakers like Bright and Lowe, Stanley and John Russell had done hardly less than themselves to establish. Debates sustained by men of such calibre could lack nothing in inspiration to an eager student of politics in a country whose political history, apart from the great movements led by Washington and Lincoln, and the Webster-Clay-Calhoun controversies, was comparatively uneventful. Mr. Wilson himself has testified in later years to the influence Lucy's pictures of the Chamber at Westminster had on his broadening thought.
The ideas thus absorbed found early expression. At Princeton Wilson wrote and debated. In the latter field he was a little slow in coming to the front, though in his second, or sophomore, year he was awarded a second prize in Whig Hall, one of the two rival debating societies (the other was the Cliosophic) that flourished at Princeton. But by his fourth year he was recognized as the foremost speaker in Whig Hall, and was, as a matter of course, chosen to represent it in the annual Lynde Debate between the two college societies. The subjects on these occasions were not announced beforehand, the speakers being required to discourse extempore on a topic drawn from a hat. The topic in this particular year was Tariffs, and the chance of the draw condemned Wilson to champion Protection against Free Trade. That settled his part in the contest. Rejecting flatly any sophistic endeavour to make what he conceived to be the worse cause appear the better, he tore up the slip and retired from the debate. A substitute hastily enlisted by the Whigs proving unequal to the occasion, victory went to the Cliosophic.
lies in the evidence it affords of the depth of Wilson's political convictions at the time. Further proof of that comes from his casual writings at the same period, notable among them an essay on Chatham, for which he was awarded a prize in 1879, others on John Bright and Gladstone printed in the magazine of the University of Virginia in 1880, and an article on “ Cabinet Government in the United States," over the signature Thomas W. Wilson,
in the International Review of August 1879. The acceptance of such a contribution by a serious review of national reputation was a notable event for a writer still in his undergraduate stage. The essay consisted of a sober and critical discussion of the element of irresponsibility in American government, due to the severance of the executive and the legislative authorities and the growing power of the numerous secret committees of Congress. There is undiminished force to-day in the contention that an essential condition of efficient government is a closer association between the legislative and the executive, and particularly in the conclusion that “there must needs bie, as a binding link between them, some body which has no power to coerce the one and is interested in maintaining the independent effectiveness of the other. Such a link is the responsible Cabinet."
This article appeared in August 1879. In the same year the writer took his A.B. degree at Princeton, and, as has been stated, entered the law school at the University of Virginia. With his interrupted course at the latter foundation the period of his formal education would normally have ended, had not the bad judgment of the people of Atlanta in their choice of lawyers led to an unpremeditated change in the young attorney's plans. The establishment of the firm of Renick and Wilson in the Georgian capital has already been mentioned. The partners “hung out their shingle," as the vernacular expression has it, and waited for clients. After a year of waiting the younger partner had had
enough. If there was no opening for him to practice law he could at least teach it, and to qualify himself the better he entered, in the autumn of 1883, on a two years' post-graduate course at Johns Hopkins. University, Baltimore. In 1886 he gained the degree of Ph.D. for a notable thesis on Congressional Government, to which it will be necessary to refer again. A year earlier he had accepted his first teaching post, a lectureship in history and political economy at Bryn Mawr, a women's college on the outskirts of Philadelphia. He remained at Bryn Mawr three years, lecturing at the same time at Johns Hopkins, and in 1888 was elected to the chair of history and political economy at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. Wesleyan was less sectarian than its name would suggest. There was an able faculty and a large nucleus of students (of both sexes) who had come to the university for serious work. But it hardly gave the Professor of History the platform his growing reputation qualified him to occupy, and after two years, in 1890, he was offered, and accepted, the chair of jurisprudence and politics at his old university, Princeton. There the next twenty years of his life were to be spent.