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WOODROW WILSON: A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Woodrow Wilson, the twenty-eighth president of the United States, was born at Staunton, Virginia, on December 28, 1856, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His grandfather, James Wilson, came to Philadelphia from Ireland in 1807 and became the publisher of a chain of newspapers. His wife was Anne Adams, an Ulster girl. Woodrow Wilson's father, Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson, was the youngest son of James Wilson, and was born in Steubenville, Ohio. He married Janet Woodrow, of Chillicothe, Ohio, daughter of Reverend Thomas Woodrow, a Scotch Presbyterian minister. In 1855 Reverend Joseph Wilson became pastor of a Presbyterian church in Staunton, Virginia, and here Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born. i
The Wilson family removed to Augusta, Georgia, before Woodrow was two years old. Thus his childhood was spent in the South during the Civil War. His first teacher was a Confederate veteran who had returned from four years of soldiering. In 1870 the family moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where Woodrow attended a local academy. At the age of seventeen he entered Davidson College, North Carolina, where he remained less than a year, because of ill health. In 1875 he entered Princeton College and graduated in 1879. He was noted in his college days for his debating and literary ability and was editor of the Princetonian. In 1881 he graduated in law from the University of Virginia, and practiced law for a
year in Atlanta, Georgia. Then he entered Johns Hopkins University for post-graduate work in political science. He received the degree of Ph. D. in 1886, his thesis on “Congressional Government” being at once accepted as authoritative. For three years (1885-1888) Mr. Wilson taught at Bryn Mawr College, going then to Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, for two years (1888– 1890). He was called to Princeton in 1890 as Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy. In 1902 he was made president of Princeton University, his term of office being noted for many important reforms, all of which were in the direction of the democratization of the institution.
In 1910 Mr. Wilson was urged to become a candidate for governor of New Jersey. He was elected as a Democrat in a state which had been Republican for sixteen years. As governor of New Jersey he was able to put into operation many reforms which his long study of political philosophy had convinced him were wise. Among these were a direct-primary law and a corrupt-practices act which have since met with general acceptance in our political system. A law creating a public-utilities commission and establishing stringent control over corporations has generally been regarded a most salutary reform in dealing with the difficult matter of relationship between the state and the corporations. Mr. Wilson's success in bringing about these reforms was so marked that he soon became a leading candidate for the presidency. At the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore in 1912 Mr. Wilson was nominated on the forty-sixth ballot. A split in the Republican party that year made his election in November almost inevitable. Mr. Wilson received 435 electoral votes out of 531.
As president, Mr. Wilson has acted along the same lines of progressive and constructive statesmanship which made him so successful as president of Princeton and governor of New Jersey. He was reëlected in November, 1916, for a second term.
HIS LITERARY WORK
The most remarkable and significant accomplishment of Woodrow Wilson's undergraduate college days was an article on “Cabinet Government in the United States,” published in the International Review for August, 1879. The article is marked by a breadth of knowledge, range of vision, and independence of thought rarely found in a young man of twenty-three. The Princeton University library has an incomplete bibliography of the published writings and addresses of Woodrow Wilson. This list shows seventy-five titles for the twenty-five years between 1875 and 1900.
The following list includes some of the most important of his books and magazine articles :
Congressional Government, A Study of American Politics. 1885.
Review, May, 1908.