What are we to make of Woodrow Wilson?

What are we to make of Woodrow Wilson?


*Note: This post is part of an assignment for my AP US History students. You are welcome to comment even if you are not a student.

Woodrow Wilson still holds the distinction of being the only president in US history with a Ph.D. Most presidents in the previous century were war heroes, so the election of an intellectual president like Wilson was an anomaly to say the least. Keep in mind, Wilson’s opportunity to take office was largely a result of Theodore Roosevelt splitting the Republican vote and sinking his former friend William Taft.

Wilson only received 41% of the popular vote in the election of 1912. Clearly a minority president, Wilson’s strategic decisions literally changed the course of US history.

During his first term in office, Wilson successfully implemented a plan to attack “the triple wall of privilege.” Wilson’s second term was marked by a centralization of government that would be almost impossible to reverse.

So students, friends, and fellow historians…what are we to make of Woodrow Wilson?

Before responding, take a few minutes to contemplate some key Wilson quotes included below. Consider the implication of each idea.

– I admit the popularity of the theory that the trusts have come about through the natural development of business condition in the US…I answer, nevertheless, that this attitude rests upon a confusion of thought…[Trusts] have been artificially created; they have been put together, not by natural processes, but by the will, the deliberate planning will, of men who were more powerful than their neighbors in the business world, and who wished to make their powers secure against competition.

– America was created in order that every man should have the same chance with every other man to exercise mastery over his own fortunes.

– The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.

– America was established not to create wealth but to realize a vision, to realize an ideal – to discover and maintain liberty among men.

– Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world.

38 Comments

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  1. 1
    Jordan Driskill

    Wilson is the epitome of big government. His goal of expanding the government to lead to a smaller, more compact government is like using a nuclear weapon to remotely detonate a landmine to lead to a safer country. In other words, Wilson’s plan was just illogical. Big business– well, all that was remaining– should have desperately fought against and feared Wilson’s hand. Wilson went into office armed with socialist and progressivist ideals that were based more on morality than on intelligence. To say Wilson was an intellectual is to say that those who act on their own morality are intellectuals. This is a common misconception; morality is independent of intelligence. How is Wilson more a man of his own morals than a man of his own intelligence? Well, I ask, where is the logic behind a graduated income tax? Where is the logic behind trust busting? Where is the logic behind Wilson’s racial discrimination? All of these concepts are based on Wilson’s feelings toward certain subjects. Trusts must be bad because the poor workers suffer. A graduated income tax is just because the rich make too much money anyway. The Ku Klux Klan is merely a natural reaction to a lawless period. In the end, all of these concepts were based more on morality than on intelligence. Intelligence is an attained ability to think logically; however everything that Wilson achieved seemed to be based on the public thermometer.

    A prime example of a seriously misguided policy was Wilson’s quelling of the public during World War I. It can be argued that World War I was largely a propaganda war. Wilson claimed that World War I was a “war to end all wars,” which, in fact, was not true. Wilson was so scared of minority groups like the Irish and Germans in America that he began to persecute them. Wilson once ignorantly claimed, “Any man who carries a hyphen around with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of the republic.” Wilson passed the Espionage Act of 1917 that made it illegal to “willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States,” Wilson also created the American Protection League that made it illegal to criticize the war in any way. Then, George Creel was hired as head of the Committee of Public Information that spread bad propaganda toward Germany and extolled the war. Does this sound familiar? It reminds me of an article I read a week ago about China banning Google because Google refused to censor websites. Thus, here were America’s first steps toward a Soviet Union and a People’s Republic of China.

    One of Wilson’s most socialistic moves was his nationalization of the railroads during World War I. Imagine that you own a popular restaurant in your home town. Your restaurant is very successful, and you are making a very comfortable income from your hard work on the restaurant. Now, imagine that there is a “restaurant shortage” in your hometown and that the government decides that travelers need a place to eat as they move from town to town. The government seizes your restaurant and begins to take the income from your business. The government gives you a small income equal to that of “comparable careers” in your town in return for your starting the business. Now, logically, what is going to be your next move? The collectivist view, that of Wilson, suggests that you should be thrilled that the government is taking your business and supporting wayward travelers. However, what is the more logical response? Most likely, the person whose business is seized will be furious at the government for seizing his hard-earned income. This person will decide that work by itself is merely futile without an incentive. The world runs on a cost-benefit system.

    Therefore, Wilson’s ideas of taking from those who have and giving to those who have not sparked a revolution in the wrong direction. The taking of businesses from the wealthy and then taxing the wealthy for their success is a seriously misguided policy. Trust busting seems completely illogical when looking at companies like U.S. Steel Corporation that made the United States the first to have a billion dollar corporation. The loss of these big businesses put America at an economic downturn that led to America having to seek superiority by other methods: for example, imperialism. Ideals of men like Wilson merely disrupt the incentive system and tell those who have the potential for success that success is not what they want it to be. Success is modernistic for one’s earned wealth will be seized.

    How can an “intellectual man” make so many logical fallacies? In the end, the public support that Wilson desperately sought was lost when he tried to create the League of Nations. These “permanent alliances” with other countries for the sake of peace urgently scared Republicans. Wilson ended up causing his own Fourteen Points to be rejected by creating a deadlock in Congress. In many ways, Wilson deserves some blame for the start of World War II. Wilson led America into the fray in World War I but could not lead them out of it. The punitive damages enacted on Germany by the Europeans were a large cause toward the second World War, and Wilson had a large say in the consequences of Germany in the Big Four. However, Wilson was so focused on his League of Nations that the other parts of the Treaty of Versailles were unimportant and thus Germany was punished harshly. Therefore, it has to be concluded that Wilson wasn’t a very successful president. His progressivist ideals were misguided, and, in many cases, Wilson did not know who to support. Success should not be judged by the number of regulations, laws, and agencies one president has passed, but rather success should be judged by the impact that that president’s creations have. Because Wilson started the country on a very socialistic move, I must say that Wilson was not a beneficial president for the capitalistic America.

  2. 2
    Joe Yuhasz

    Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    These are the three rights guaranteed to me by my government. Let’s evaluate them.

    -Life: The guarantee that I will not be persecuted for any reason. Seems simple enough.
    -Liberty: The *opportunity* to think, say, and do what I want. This inherently carries the responsibility of respecting others’ liberty as well; a system based on mutual respect.
    -The pursuit of happiness: The *opportunity* to seek a comfortable lifestyle. It’s hard to define happiness, but I think comfort is the closest synonym.

    Focus on the last two rights, because the first is pretty agreeable. These two grant me opportunities. The only requirement among these two rights is that my liberty/pursuit of happiness doesn’t infringe upon or impede the ability of my fellow citizens to pursue happiness. This is where monopolies become relevant. I will cite two different examples to show how monopolies are malevolent to both individual citizens and the county as a whole, respectively.

    Let’s say I live in a large city and work for a factory. I get paid minimum wage. My wages enable me to buy food, water, and basic hygienic items, but hardly anything else. I’m completely content and happy with my life. I work my hours in the factory and then I’m free to do anything I want. I can go paint the beautiful cityscape because that’s my passion. I don’t care that it’ll never make me money because I don’t ascribe to the status quo that money is necessary to succeed and lead a fulfilling life. If I wanted more, I could work harder, but I don’t, because I don’t find satisfaction in material things. Imagine that.

    Anyway, one day the city water supplier decides to double the price of water, a necessity for life. This price discrimination prevents me from purchasing enough food and water to live. No one can start a competitive water business because the company owns all the pipes and is so tightly integrated with the government. I have no options, all because I was living my American Dream. My right to live was violated because I disagreed with the status quo. When the government dismantles this trust, I feel no pity for the leader of the movement. Wilson didn’t ask him to be happy about becoming less dominant; Wilson punished him because he obstructed my right to live.

    Monopolies are also very detrimental to the progress of industry in America and around the world. What if Microsoft put Apple, Linux, and all other competitors out of business? Well, they’d be able to charge any price they want for computers. Now, by no means is Bill Gates not worthy of his fortune. He revolutionized the world. But if Microsoft controlled the computer market, then their control of price would eliminate competition because they could just buy off any companies that developed new software. The people at the top of the company who make all the decisions could buy all new software and they may or may not release it; they don’t have to, after all, because no one else will be able to either. Innovation would cease. Suppose this happened 10 years ago. Would you really want to still be running Windows 98 right now? Wilson’s policies insured that America would advance at the same pace as other nations with regard to industry.

    Wilson’s goal was not to crush every successful business. It was to stop those businesses that became powerful enough to violate human rights or stop industrial progress. In his own words:

    “Big business is no doubt to a large extent necessary and natural. The development of business upon a great scale, upon a great scale of cooperation, is inevitable, and, let me add, is probably desirable. But that is a very different matter from the development of trusts, because the trusts have not grown. They have been artificially created; they have been put together, not by natural processes, but by the will, the deliberate planning will, of men who were more powerful than their neighbors in the business world, and who wished to make their power secure against competition.”

    Wilson forged the path for the middle class in America. He understood that life had more purpose than just earning money, and provided the opportunity for Americans to pursue happiness without the requirement of pursuing the shallow goal of wealth as well.

  3. 3
    Kate Garber

    I think that the way we view Wilson largely depends on our own idea of what American government and economy should be based on. Jordan cleary vouches for a capitalist nation and that in turn makes his view of WIlson one that resents him for his “turning back the clock” strategies. In my opinion, I would have to agree with Joe in saying that Wilson really did stick up the common folk,the majority.

    His policies were designed to level the playing field. I think this is really the most fair way to go about things. Now, of course if you are one of the big business owners, this is not really going to be your cup of tea. But in this industrialist time, workers and average laborers far outnumbered these tycoons of big business. How is it logical to condemn the majority? I think based on America’s democratic principles, everyone deserves that chance for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Everyone being every single person, no matter their unfortunate situation or lazy behavior, they deserve that chance.

    Now, as far as Wilson’s presidency is concerned, I am convinced that his intentions were more noble than most of our past US presidents. Wilson’s strong religious convictions were his justification in many things. He can be seen as proud for his mindset of always being right, no doubt about it. But, as a leader, isn’t that necessary to certain extent?

    Becuase of his firm beliefs in his ideals, WIlson was confident enough to be able to even change his party associations. He went from a Conservative during Cleveland’s presidency to become a Democrat under the “New Freedom” campaign. It takes some intellect and confidence to make this complete 180 while in the spotlight of a very critical nation. This confidence enabled Wilson to break with tradition in ways that would have positive reverberations for America. He nominated the first jew, established the much needed Federal Reserve, and implemented Daylight Savings Time. All things that we respect and still rely on today! I also admire Wilson’s resourcefulness during WWI. The creation of countless administrations and conservation efforts are to be admired in such a dire world crisis. I think Wilson had his heart in the right place when he attemped to put America ahead in this “War to end all wars”. His confidence in the idea that what is right is more precious than peace was a truly valiant cause. I think this idea is criticized much more today due to Bush’s usage of the idea in the war in Iraq, but in retrospect, Wilson’s coinage of this idea was quite brilliant in my opinion. This is where the Ph.D comes in. Wilson was a lover, not a fighter. He was a thinker and whether or not this was a bad thing, I think is up for debate. In ways America needed this intellectual and reasoning man, and in ways, WWI may have called for a more ‘get the job done’ kind of leader. I am not really sure which exactly is true.

    Now, I don’t want to make Woodrow Wilson out to as confident as it sounds. Not at all. On the contrary, Wilson’s insecurities contributed to the criticism we place on his presidency now. As you know, he wasn’t the most personable or social guy, and in America, lack of those qualities make a person vulnerable. And this exactly, is what hurt Woodrow Wilson. He was vulnerable. This was really out of his control too. His personality was not quite the most approachable and this refusal to compromise really hurt him when it came to Versaille and his 14 points. Also, his clearly showed a lack of confidence in his desire for a woman to fill a void. He was desperate for that support, and this also shows his vulnerability. But really, what did this man in was his sickness. Wilson’s health really, really held him back. Towards the end of his second term, it became his demise as it totally wrecked his rationality. I truly pity this man because I think he really knew what he was doing. I think people forget that he was only human, and being just about mentally ill does not provide good conditions to lead a nation. His will to defeat this sickness at the beginning was admirable because he learned to write with his lefthand and even overcame dyslexia. To me, he redeemed himself for his mistakes on that day in 1923, when the real Wilson shone through on his front porch. I think this guy deserves some credit, don’t you?

    Overall, I don’t think it is fair to give Wilson a bad wrap. He was somewhat thrust into office as a minority president with big ideas. WWI was probably not the best match for a peace-driven intellectual man, but he did his best given the circumstances. I don’t think illogical is the word to describe this man. Really, he was unfortunate as far as wars and sickness are concerned. Overall, I admire Woodrow Wilson as a individual, more importantly as a leader, who had the right idea. Just because he was imperfect in leading the nation, does not him a bad leader, only a human being.

  4. 4
    Seth Austin

    Idealists are characterized by thinking and planning based on ideas that are fit for a perfect world. Unfortunately, this is not, and never has been nor ever will be, a perfect world. Woodrow Wilson was an idealist, and he sincerely believed that he could implement plans and action fit for a perfect world in an imperfect world. He believed he could reduce the amount of federal action in every day life by using a lot of federal action to set that up. If everyone was cooperative and understanding, this may have worked; however, he misjudged his supporters and his presidency ended with a lot of question.
    He was a brilliant man and very capable as a president, but he was wrong in thinking that he could create his idea of a perfect government and country. The League of Nations failed because he thought it was perfect, and was unwilling to compromise as the People wanted. He was so convinced he was right, he refused to compromise. Idealists have the right ideas and are usually brilliant and visionary people. However, they are martyrs in that they fail to realize the impossibility of their plans. Only in a Utopian society would they be completely successful, but there is no such place. Wilson falls into this category of people: he wasn’t necessarily wrong or misguided, he was simply in a different state of thinking than everyone else in his time. That discrepancy is the reason he left office surrounded by question and accusation.
    So, what are we to make of him? He was brilliant, capable, visionary, and well-intentioned. He was a great president in an era that misunderstood his decisions and action. It is beyond our ability to judge him as a person, but it is fair to say as a president, his tragic flaw was his idealism. It made him an arrogant and ignorant president and person, but it also made him a strong-willed leader. The most influential event nf his presidency was World War I, which was beyond his control. As an idealist, he struggled to decide the best course of action and contradicted his root beliefs throughout that period. The biggest questions were if he handled the war in the right manner. In that case, he was a victim of circumstance. He cannot be judged for that. He was well-intentioned, and despite his failures, he was a good president.

  5. 5
    Ben Teachey

    President Woodrow Wilson was a very interesting person and leader. He was a man of great intellect, being the only president to obtain a PhD, and even obtained the Nobel peace prize. However, as a president he was somewhat of a idealist who thought every promise and elaborate plan would work. As we have learned he was known as the president who kept us out of war, as he swore he would, this promise did not last. His thought of peace and staying out of the way was quickly destroyed as he made the decision as he put the US into World War I, trying to end any thoughts of German threats. Thisn would be a common theme through out his second term. His promises would break and his plans such as the league of Nations would never pan out as he thought they would.

    So as a whole Woodrow Wilson was more of an intellect than a leader. His mind set and idealistic ways were not totally suited for being a political leader.n His early successes were due to his passive ways and just holding to his principles but as his term continued his weaknesses were shown.

  6. 6
    DeMoss

    Wilson’s strive to eradicate “the triple wall of privilege” and monopolies was agreeably beneficial for the American public, but I am not convinced that it was justified. If I was a business owner who had the wit and ability to manipulate a supply and demand economy into one where I owned all of a particular product/service, I would not want my hard work and time to be revoked simply for the benefit of others, who arguably had the same opportunity I did.

    Lets take Joe’s example:

    “But if Microsoft controlled the computer market, then their control of price would eliminate competition because they could just buy off any companies that developed new software. The people at the top of the company who make all the decisions could buy all new software and they may or may not release it; they don’t have to, after all, because no one else will be able to either. Innovation would cease.”

    He mentions that once a business controls a monopoly, there would be no use attempting to counter or outdo that monopoly, simply because it is so supported and stolid in foundation that it cannot be broken down by means of competition. I disagree. In the above example, if Microsoft DID control a monopoly, and I invented a system that had more astute features and performance, I fail to see how Microsoft would simply be able to “buy off” my patent and ultimately cease innovation. Regardless of whether there is a monopoly or not, there will always be competition on some level (which usually isn’t significant enough to detriment the monopolizing company) but I disagree that a monopoly ceases innovation and/or the existence of future companies.

  7. 7
    Nick Rodammer

    To demonize or idealize a man to superhuman proportions after their death is unjust. However, to analyze Woodrow Wilsons actions on America is to see a strongly convicted man striving in absolute certainty for his country.

    By eliminating the trusts of the day was not only a moral calling, but an economic necessity. Stagnation and decay face every empire, from Rome to the Soviet Union. The United States was threatened by this serious delliema with the growth of trusts that prohibited competition and the expansion of business. By dismanteling these conglomerates, Wilson was opening the door for new industries to build up and become relevant. As citizens were suddenly able to build and create their own private enterprises again, endeavors into automobiles and refridgerators became possible. Wilson created an economy based on non-permenant groups as opposed to massive collectives of power hungry monopolies. By doing this, he not only provided for the consumer to be protected, but he also ensured Americas long term financial future.

    Wilson should be remembered for his deliberation before acting. Unlike brash and headstrong generals before him, Wilson attempted to weigh out each possible consequence of his actions. This forethought kept us out of WWI until it was deemed necessary, and saved unknown numbers of American lives. The legacy of Wilson is one of thought and sheer determination to do his duty in a moralistic yet thought induced manner.

    Also, here is the RickRoll I was telling Mr. Waldron about:

    http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=US#/watch?client=mv-google&AdsControl2=AdsControl2&v=oHg5SJYRHA0

  8. 8
    AI intelligence

    What are we to make of Woodrow Wilson is a vague, generalized question. To make things easier I’ll start with the question: “What did Wilson accomplish and where was this on the political spectrum?”

    Here are some key notes:

    Each will be evaluated according to one or more of the following:
    a. domestic or international
    b. minor, moderately important, or immensely important
    c. where it is on the political spectrum
    d. did the action or act promote big business

    -Wilson’s attack on the triple wall of privilege:
    1. the tariff
    2. the banks
    3. the trusts

    This is against big business and could therefore be liberal, i.e. giving more equality.

    -Wilson’s Underwood Tariff:
    This tariff apparently cut tariffs in half
    1. The Tariff is a major liberal progressive reform.

    -Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914 was progressive, liberal, largely important and favored the demotic order over the domestic business

    The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 created the Federal Reserve Bank which gave more public control to the Federal Reserve Board yet still had enough power to issue paper money and the like in times of depression. This Act was liberal, as it gave people a say in the board.

    -Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 created the Federal Trade Commission and inspected business’s engaged in unfair interstate trade practices. This Act was obviously domestic, liberal, moderately important, and helped regulate trade and therefore constrain big business.

    a. lengthened the Sherman’s Antitrust Act list of business practices unacceptable and b. exempted labor unions from being persecuted as a trust.

    -Wilson’s Fourteen Points:
    a. these points were very liberal, and therefore on the left side of the political spectrum.
    a1. one point was a removal of economic barriers.
    a2. another point is freedom of the seas
    a3. the abolishment of secret treaties
    a4. readjustment of colonial claims

    -Wilson sent around 5,000 troops to Archangel, Russia and to Serbia. The Bolsheviks now controlling Russia after seizing power in 1917, saw the infiltration of American troops as conservative effort, not liberal, to extinguish its communist growth.

  9. 9
    THE PAULSTER AREJAMAN

    LETS DISCUSS SOME CRAZY ACTS:

    1. THE ESPIONAGE ACT OF 1917.
    WELL FIRST OF ALL ESPIONAGE MEANS SPYING AND STUFF, AND THE DATE GIVES LIGHT ON THE FACT OF THE END OF THE WAR. NOW IF WE REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE END OF THE WAR WE CAN FIGURE THIS OUT. BUT LETS REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED NEAR THE END OF THE WAR. SO RUSSIA DROPPED OUT DUE TO THE BOLSHEVIK COMMUNIST UPRISING WHICH ISN’T TOO GOOD. AND THEN WE ATTACKED THEM TO GAIN THEIR ARMAMENTS. SO OBVIOUSLY WERE NOT IN LOVE WITH THESE COMMIES SO HERE WE GO: THE ESPIONAGE ACT DID THE FOLLOWING:
    1. made it a crime to interfere with the operation or success of the military
    WELL THIS IS AGAINST THE FIRST AMENDMENT, WHATS UP WITH THAT?

    2. COMING OUT OF NOWHERE ONE YEAR LATER, TO DOMINATE THE COMPETITION AND THE HUSH THE PLAYING FIELD (QUITE LITERALLY) IS THE SEDITION ACT OF 1918 WHICH DID THE FOLLOWING ACCORDING TO THE WIKIPEDIA GODS:

    1. forbade Americans to use “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States government, flag, or armed forces of the United States during war

    ALRIGHT SO THESE TWO ACTS, ONE IN 1917 THE OTHER IN 1918 BOTH VIOLATED THE FIRST AMENDMENT. AND THE MITCHELL PALMER RAIDS IN 1919-1920 INSTIGATED FEAR OF BEING A COMMIE, NOT TO MENTION THE FIRST RED SCARE, WHICH WAS NEVER GOOD AND IS OVERALL A RIGHTIST MOVEMENT. REMEMBER FOLKS, COMMUNISM IS ON THE LEFT AND FASCISM IS ON THE RIGHT. SO THE PEOPLE ON THE RIGHT HATE COMMUNISM. YEA!

  10. 10
    Joseph Bryant

    Wilson was a smart guy who had many ideals. He changed the world and america in his two terms as president. Woody was unlike all other presidents in the sense of his resume. The guy was the president of princeton, gov. of new jersey, and was the only president to have a PhD. Although he had great ideals, did many things for the country, and was an overall good president, he was a racist. Not only was he racist but he wouldn’t exactly practice what he preached. He wanted equality but yet in the same breath he wanted the country to be segregated. Quite the opposite of what you would think a president is supposed to be like. I believe that like all humans his ideals were developed as a child. When he was a child his family owned several slaves, so at an early age his segregationalist ideas had already been engraved in his mind.

    While he had his faults and failures, he still was able to accomplish the goals that he set out to complete, but sadly because he is human he made some contradictory decisions and went against his morals.

    So what I’m trying to point out is that humans have good intentions, but in the end we are still corrupt at the core just like Woodrow Wilson.

  11. 11
    Kari Washburn

    Overall I believe that Woodrow Wilson was a good President. He had many faults, but every human does and when a person is put in the position of President, every action and mistake is magnified and examined. This makes the person seem worse than they are, when in reality, we are all only human.

    Personally, I do not see the big deal with Wilson’s PhD. Yes, it is a great degree that requires a lot of work and dedication, but does it honestly affect him as a leader and the way he ran our country? I say no. It is merely an educational achievement glorified by historians who are just looking for a random fact to set him apart.

    I do commend Wilson for his leadership in World War One. Though he promised to keep the U.S. out of war and failed to keep such promise, I still believe his actions were wise. He did a great job of getting the entire country to support the war. He was creative to form committees and groups to focus on certain needs during wartime such as food and fuel shortages. Also, Wilson’s plan for Fourteen Points and a League of Nations were incredible and so ahead of his time. He really understood the importance of peace and unlike many, actually set goals and steps to achieve it.

    Wilson was a great man and a good President. He set his goals, such as attacking the triple wall of privilege, and accomplished them. Though Wilson rarely was willing to compromise it also showed that he was strong and confident in his opinions.

  12. 12
    Sarah Kate Gottschalk

    Wilson is set apart as a president and a leader in large part because of his impressive and distinguished academic record, but his fame reaches far beyond that. It is fair to say that Woodrow Wilson helped shape the first World War; he certainly led his country through it with wise decisions, like Kari said. Even though Wilson’s successes are plentiful, many denounce him because he was a racist. I personally think Wilson’s racism is inconsequential and was merely a product of his era. Anyone who judges Wilson fairly would see the good that was done due to his specific ideals and morals.
    Wilson wanted better chances and equal opportunites for minorites and small businesses, and he did much to change American society in those ways. He saw the unfairness in trusts and he sought to bring America back to what it was originally established for- equal opportunity. He saw the great difference between wealth and opportunity and stressed his belief that everyone is entitled to oppotunity, not wealth. Wilson not only had great ideals, he effectively implemented his course of actions, much like President Polk did. He wasn’t just all talk. Regardless of his high academic achievements, Wilson was an influential president who stood for what he believed in and truly made a difference, not just in his country, but in the world.

  13. 13
    Jennifer Heyward

    I believe Woodrow Wilson was a president who made big things happen for America. He set goals for his term and he knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish. A lot of these goals he even completed. However, at the same time he was very inflexible with his ideas. When he created his idea of the League of Nations, he wanted his plan to be accepted exactly as he had made it. He may have been willing to lose some of the fourteen points, but he even destroyed the chance of passing the treaty after WWI rather than see his ideas for a League of Nations altered.

    Also with the League of nations, Wilson was very much an idealist. In the beginning he thought everyone (Americans and foreign nations alike) would like his idea of creating a allied force of the major nations in the world and that the League of Nations would mean a start towards world peace. When he discovered that he was wrong, he was distraught that his ideas had failed.

    Wilson also had great leadership during WWI. I especially appreciate his attempts to keep America out of the war. He only joined in when it was absolutely necessary to help the allied powers win. Even though he faced a lot of criticism for his attempted isolationism, Wilson held strong to his idea (perhaps some of his stubbornness coming out again).

    Overall, I feel that Wilson was a good president. Though he fell to disgrace in the end, he did a lot of good for America as a county and attempted to do good in the world as well. I believe he had very good ideas and intentions, the ideas just didn’t play out as well as he had hoped on some occasions.

  14. 14
    Ashton Knighton

    Wilson was a good president in my opinion. He had many goals for America, and tried to implement them. A lot of bad luck, and bad tactics caused many of his goals to not work out as planned. Wilson was president during a crucial time and he was criticized for every mistake he ever made. Humans have the natural tendency to find the bad in others easier than they can find the good.

    Wilson had many great ideas such as his government ideals that it was the president’s job to oversee everything and his fourteen points. Unfortunately Wilson didn’t have the “people skills” of Roosevelt to gain public support. He appeared too confident and cocky, because he was not very personable and didn’t just share his emotional side with America.

    Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations was one of the most idealistic planned out goals in American History. The idea of all nations trying to prevent war is a great thing, but Wilson lacked the leadership skills necessary to make others envision what he did.

    One of the most controversial issues of Wilson is his mysteriousness or contradictoriness. He would polish his own shoes and in his Fourteen Points he fought for freedom of oppressed minority groups. Yet many people wondered why he was a segregationist, and didn’t try to improve lives of African Americans in his own country.

    All in all, I believe Wilson was a good president with many idealistic goals that could have improved American in the world. He was just hindered by his lack of people skills and appealing to the general public. If he would have had those people skills, I believe he would have been a lot more popular during his time and his legacy would have been remembered in a better light.

  15. 15
    Rebecca Eldredge

    What are we to make of Woodrow Wilson? The same we make of any person. He was a man with accomplishments and faults; he was a human. But his level of determination sets him apart as an admirable leader. He saw corruption in America, particularly in the banks, trusts, and tariff. But rather than letting the corruption naturally dissolve, Wilson forced change. He practiced his executive power for the common good of American citizens through the passing of the Federal Reserve, Underwood Tariff, and Clayton Anti-Trust acts. His determination serves as an example to anyone searching for ways to make change. He also followed in the footsteps of intelligent presidents like Washington to pursue neutrality, despite Republican criticisms.

    This pursuit soon ended though, considering he declared war in 1917. However, after defeating the Central Powers as a member of the Allied Powers, Wilson tried his best to establish a system of peace among nations called The League of Nations. He was honored by these peaceful attempts with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919, even though he fought opposition from many Democrats of his own party. Wilson compromised poorly with the other nations in the Treaty of Versailles, giving him many enemies both in America and abroad. His second term proved to be a struggle due to this opposition and additional health problems.

    So what do we make of Wilson based on these good deeds and struggles? I think it’s fair to say that Wilson tried his best to pursue democracy in America, off of his own knowledge of the subject. He did what he thought was best for the country, even if America didn’t always agree, and for that he should be honored. As he was quoted above: “The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.” Wilson had this goal and chased it. His unique motivation and determination, I believe, outweigh his faults to compromise with and completely please the opinionated country.

  16. 16
    Zach Showalter

    What do I think of Woodrow Wilson? I consider him to be an excellent leader who possessed concrete goals and the resolve to accomplish them. Truly a progressive president, Wilson brought about further change in the United States through his tackling of the “triple wall of privilege” during his first term in office, as well as trying to bring about change in the world government through the formation of the League of Nations.

    Wilson’s major fault as a president is that he was too idealistic for his own good. Even his attack on the “triple wall of privilege” represented his turning America into the country that he wanted it to be (though let it be known his intentions were never malevolent). His true downfall came with his mediation of the Versailles Treaty and the formation of the League of Nations. Wilson’s proposed Fourteen Points for the Treaty, as well as his idea of a united council of the great world powers, did not sit well with many of the imperialist European powers, as well as the Republicans in America. However, Wilson was too blinded by his vision to realize that they were designed for a “his” world, and not the world that other people and other countries desired. When the Allied Powers demanded reparations and land from Germany, Wilson tried to promote peace. When a large portion of America (mainly Republicans) wished to remain isolated from the Old World, Wilson attempted to form the League of Nations. However, Wilson’s unwillingness to compromise his ideals gave him many enemies both at home and abroad, and this eventually led to the defeat of the Democratic Party in the following presidential election and the dissolving of the League of Nations.

    I think that Wilson should be commended for his efforts to promote peace and democracy. However, he failed to realize that even if he thought his ideals were the proper ones to impose, the rest of the world may not agree. Even so, he was more than willing to go in the face of opposition in order to see his dream realized, and that is truly laudable.

  17. 17
    Noah Rodammer

    How do we determine the worth of a man? Do we use his personal beliefs as a factor? Where do his actions fit in? Can one be blamed for having good intentions yet poor follow through? In order to determine the worth of Woodrow Wilson, one must examine his iron-strong idealism, his cold and uncompromising personality, his strong faith in both God and people, and his attempts to make the world a better place. Woodrow Wilson is not a man who can be taken at face value at any sense of the phrase, as one must look past his persona as president to begin to understand the person behind the mask. Woodrow Wilson was one of the most intelligent, idealistic, diligent, and contradictory characters ever to fill the roll of United States President, and it is definitely a challenge to assess his success.

    Woodrow Wilson’s intelligence is admirable to say the least. As a child of Staunton, VA, young Thomas Woodrow Wilson was taught to make every word uttered to mean precisely what he imagined. Through this practice, Wilson was able to connect with others, as he was unable to emotionally connect with others as presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt could. Although a Ph.D. does not necessarily prove that a man is intelligent, the fact that he was the only president ever to be a doctor along with the fact that he was president of Princeton University says a lot. While analyzing Wilson’s intelligence, one quickly realizes that while Wilson was undoubtedly mentally intelligent, he was socially inept. This contradiction would definitely be a challenge to a president of the United States, but it is one which Wilson faced head on. So how does his intelligence determine his worth? In reality, intelligence does nothing to provide an answer to this question, but it serves as context to his actions. Each of his speeches to the American public or Congress would be well thought out and executed, making him at least a strong authoritative figure.

    Perhaps most notable about Wilson is his idealism. One cannot get past a single book, writing, or post about Woodrow Wilson without stumbling across the word. In short, idealism is when a person has a precise and beautified view of how the world should be. Generally, an idealistic person works hard to produce the world he or she envisioned. This proved to be a great quality for Wilson to possess in several situations. Wilson’s idealism promoted his progressivism which earned him the job of president (along with the rift in the Republican Party). In America, his well conceived notion of what his nation should look like brought about great change in the issues plaguing America, most notable among those being the issues involving trusts. Abroad, Wilson’s steadfast idealism promoted the novel idea of an international council, the League of Nations, which would serve as a mediator for global conflicts. Although that council failed, the United Nations, with a very similar purpose, continues to aid the nations of the world today. Unfortunately, idealism does come at the price of an inability to compromise. Wilson could not concede any section of his beloved League until the entire thing crumbled. Because his idealistic view of America made Wilson believe that America should remain isolated, several people in ships, such as the Lusitania, perished before Wilson finally sent America into war. The only way Wilson could internally justify going to war was to make it a grand cause, and World War I became “the war to end war” and “the war to promote democracy.” So what do we conclude about his idealism? It overall benefited the nation more than it harmed it. It may have failed him occasionally, but he should generally be respected for his strong beliefs.

    Diligence is a very impressive attribute of Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson was a lot like James K. Polk. Both came into the White House with a goal, Polk trying to settle territories and economic issues and Wilson trying to conquer the triple walls of privilege, and more importantly both had a plan to conquer the issues. Wilson would look at each issue plaguing America and concoct a solution. The tariff was solved by a lower tariff, the Underwood Tariff, money became more accessible through the Federal Reserve, and trusts were reduced through the Clayton Anti-Trust Act. Rather than sitting still during the Great War, Wilson thought up the famed Fourteen Points, most notable among those being his League of Nations. Wilson proceeded to tirelessly push for this international entity to the European powers as well as those in Congress and the American public. Wilson worked so hard to get his dream reached that he actually had a stroke. Just like James K. Polk, Wilson barely outlived his presidency and died just a few short years after his term ended, both falling to overworking. Wilson’s dedication was commendable, to say the least. Although it proved to be his downfall, one cannot help but admire the president for his efforts. He may not have succeeded in all of his goals, such as the failed League of Nations, but no one can deny he tried.

    A final thought about Wilson, which is more an interesting point rather than a selling point on his character, was his contradictions. Just like Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson contradicted himself in several areas of his life. Wilson was a Southern segregationist, yet he respected his black servants enough to clean his own shoes. Wilson was cold and harsh in public, yet genial and polite to close friends. Wilson seemed to hate and disrespect individuals, yet he loved the human race as a whole. Indeed, Wilson was no doubt a man of great contradictions.

    So what do I conclude about Wilson based on all of this information? There is no question in my mind that Wilson should be respected and admired for his actions. His idealism and diligence greatly benefited America in an era in which a book-smart president was definitely the way to go. True, he messed up along the way with his racism and his inability to compromise, but no man is perfect, and I believe it is the thought that counts. Because of his strong efforts, we should approve of Wilson’s role in the White House and respect him as a man with concrete beliefs.

  18. 18
    John Miller

    Is Woodrow Wilson a great man? Well, first of all we must define “great” and how we measure “greatness”. From a statistical standpoint, Wilson was ranked the 7th overall most popular president with Lincoln topping the chart. His average approval rating was an 8. To put that in perspective, FDR was given a 10 and Andrew Johnson was given a 1. Well this may give us the average feeling of what the people of the time may think about a man, but a man may just be either ahead of behind his time. This means that he may have been perfectly suited for another time period, but just happened to come into power in a time where his gifts were not well appreciated. This fact makes the approval system a very relative judge because of the flux in people’s opinions and just how loud that vocal minority may happen to be. However, judging a president by their accomplishments and the longevity of their projects turned out to be. This must still be considered relative because some presidential plans are just band-aids until something more appropriate may be put into place by a successor. This forces us to measure a president by what they accomplished with the intent of that being the standing solution. Another slight modification could be some plan that had an unintended lasting effect. An example of this would be the Iraq war. This war has haunted Bush long outside of his terms in office and even follows Obama around. This ghost was created by Bush and so he must be seen as such.

    Now that we have what makes a “great president” we may compare the model to Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was a man who faced the beginning of his life much like Teddy Roosevelt. He began in social isolation, but that isolation was at least generally self imposed. Wilson had no crippling ailments that forced him away from others. I think the inhibition is what forced Teddy to develop an extremely extroverted nature and Wilson to remain fairly reclusive. This shyness in a small personal group shows in his lack of connection with his peers. While he may be able to move a massive crowd he cannot do the same with a small dinner party. This means that Wilson had immeasurable power with Congress as a whole, but lacked the one on one skills to work individually with senators and representatives. This can be shown with the failure of the Treaty of Versailles. When Wilson introduced his Fourteen Points to Congress, he had immense success and the rest of the world also liked what it saw within Wilson. However, when it became time to get support, Wilson was unable to get the individuals behind the movement to get it passed. The Treaty did pass in the rest of the world and went into effect for all intensive purposes. This must be counted as only half a success. If it were a complete failure, his Fourteen Points would have been rejected on the spot, but if it was a complete success, then we would have the League of Nations rather than the United Nations today. The second of Wilson’s successes comes from his blows to the “Triple Wall of Privilege”. While this success may be regarded as a failure to some because they were inside the walls, we must remain objective and simply see that Wilson completed what he set out to do.

    Now, let’s take a big step back and look at the general overview of the “Doctor President”’s administration. He set America into much more of a free market system, he led the nation through the first global conflict, and he solidified the powers of the branches of government. So how many of these achievements lasted? The relatively free market system has stayed with small protection of the industries except for special occasions of economic warfare and other relatively small incidents. The first global conflict was soundly resolved under the steady and firm hand of Wilson. He managed to unite a nation in conserving everything for the war effort and fielded an army which was unimaginable to the other world powers. He set forth a precedent for America’s future military might and readiness. Finally, his consolidation of power within the central government has remained relatively consistent. No major changes have been made to his system to my knowledge.

    So, on all major points of contention, Woodrow Wilson did what he set out to do and completed his work with an astounding lasting effect. Wilson proved to be a resolute and strong leader with a way with the masses that would not be invoked again until FDR takes the stage. Wilson deserves his high post among the best presidents and will remain one of the best in my opinion for a long time to come.

  19. 20
    Christopher Campaigne

    A chocolate bar, and a soda later, I decided to research Mr. Woodrow Wilson. After all, I never knew much about the old man. I didn’t hear any stories about him like i did with other presidents. He didn’t have wooden teeth like George Washington, or he wasn’t freakishly tall like Abe Lincoln. So what is so special about this man?

    Well, in all honesty, not much. I don’t really care about this man’s childhood, and how he struggled as a teenager, and loved basketball. And I could care less that he had a PHD, but the thing about Wilson that really made an impression is the fact that he stuck to his word. He wanted to reform trustees, banks, and tariffs, and, surprisingly, he set out and took matters into his own hands. He was brave enough to approach congress with an idea, and follow through with it, by establishing the Underwood Tariff Bill.

    After researching tirelessly on this man, I turned to the holy pages of Wikipedia, and alas, I found a valid argument on Wilson’s weakness. Apparently, he struggled during the beginning of World War I, and took a “soft stance,” making others view him as a weak president. However, not all presidents are perfect, I mean, look at Bill Clinton.

    In all seriousness, Wilson, in my opinion, was a strong president. He set a goal, and worked hard to achieve it. And even if his views were too strong or idealistic, at least he had views, and a vision to carry our nation. He accomplished many things, such as carried us to victory during WWI, established The Fourteen points, and proposed the “League of Nations.” And, just like Mrs.America, he wanted world peace, and if that doesn’t make him the greatest thing to grace this planet, then I don’t know what is.

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  20. 21
    Meredith Figgatt

    In the election of 1912, Roosevelt and Taft split the Republican vote, ensuring a win for the Democratic President Wilson. Although he was a minority president, Wilson came into office with a clear set of goals, (like President Polk). He managed to attack the ‘Triple Wall of Privilege’- the bank, the tariff, and trusts.

    Personality wise, Wilson is most remembered for his intellect and idealism. He was the first president to receive a Ph.D. In addition, he was known as the moral leader around the world during WW1. However, his idealistic views also caused stubbornness in some situations. He was unable to accept the reality in the world, and therefore, failed to compromise in desperate situations, (the Treaty of Versailles).

    Based on the quotes above, it is obvious that Wilson put a large amount of effort into solving one thing in particular- the issue of trusts. He believed that America was created under the principle of freedom. He asserted that destroying the trusts would create fair competition and equal chances for all Americans. And, the only way to do this was to allow the government to regulate the trusts. Through this logic, freedom is only achieved through equality.

    So, what are we to make of Woodrow Wilson? As a person, I truly admire Wilson. He was intellectual and idealistic. Therefore, he was able to think logically and follow morals. He was also very organized and hardworking- which helped him to achieve his goals. However, I do not think that Wilson made a good president. Idealism can be destructive in certain situations. Presidents have to be realistic and ready to compromise. Wilson believed that America was a true democracy, (or had the potential to be); which is incorrect. There are aspects of the country that completely contradict democratic nature- like imperialism- and all presidents must be able to accept that. The idealistic Wilson was unable to grasp that complete democracy is impossible- and sometimes, democracy is not what is best for America.

  21. 22
    Allison Graves

    Like Charley Sheen in modern day times, I would say that back then Woodrow Wilson was winning. His qualifications for president were unlike ones before as he was the first with a PhD. I feel that a electing a president should not be a popularity contest and In Wilson’s case it was not. After only receiving 41 percent of the popular votes, Wilson has something to prove, which he did. By the end of his presidency he demonstrated that careful and structured planning will always be victorious. Between his “triple wall of privilege” and “Fourteen Points”, Wilson deserves to be remembered as a great president and nothing less.
    Okay, first things first Wilson’s “triple wall of privilege” was an overall success and was a high point of his presidency. He was the wrecking ball that knocked down tariffs, banks, and trusts. Under him, The Underwood Tariff Bill was passed and that significantly lowered tariffs. Also, the Federal Reserve Act allowed for the creation of 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks that the public got some say in! Then he dealt with the trusts in true wrecking ball fashion when he persuaded congress in passing the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 and then the Clayton Anti-Trust Act. The passing of all these acts showed that Wilson was looking out for the common people and that he was good at meetings his goals.
    I really want to commend Wilson and his neutrality at the beginnings of World War I. He took the advice of many great leaders before him including Washington and Monroe who both suggested straying away from foreign entanglements. Unfortunately, after a bad mixture of events, Wilson was forced to ask congress for a war of declaration. Wilson was left with the hard task of persuading the public approval of war which he did by declaring it was “a war to end war”.
    Wilson’s Fourteen Points were based upon idealistic appeals for peace. His loftiest and perhaps most emphasized goal was the hinted at League of Nations. Although a complete failure, the League of Nations was framework for what is now the United Nations. The UN main goal is to establish international peace of a number of levels so in a way the League of Nations was a success.
    I’m not a presidential or Wilson expert but I have noticed something admirable about Wilson. I think the best part about Wilson was his goal for democracy. “The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty,” as Wilson once said. He might be the first president to even mention democracy. Democracy is what America was founded it on and Wilson seemed to be the first president to even mention something about it.
    All in all, I think Wilson was a great president and he might even rank among my favorite historical figure list which is very prestigious and sought-after. He joins the list with Aaron Burr, so that in and of itself is an accomplishment!

  22. 23
    Victoria O'Leary

    Not having read any of my fellow classmates responses, I’m not quite sure how to approach the question, “What are we to make of Woodrow Wilson?”
    Initially I would say that Wilson is an idealist, like his quote says. However, we, as the audience, must ask ourselves if he truly believed whole-heartedly in what he was saying. I will argue that he does believe in the ideas he speaks about, as proven by his actions. Moving on from there, we may question whether his ideas were truly American, as he so professed to be. (That’s a little pun, because he was a professor, get it? Hehe.)Once again, I will say yes. Wilson argued that America was a place where the common man could work his way up the economic ladder, if he dared to climb. The only thing obstructing this man’s climb was a group of men- trusts! Wilson agreed that these men could form into groups, but they could not block the ladder from others trying to reach success. In that way, he looked at himself as being a true patriot, although rejecting Jefferson’s ideals for the time.
    Elaborating on the third and fourth quotes, Wilson viewed the United States as the perfect place where all men (except blacks) could be equal. During the first World War, he wanted to spread this national ideal to try and free colonies and prevent the controlling of any man by another involuntarily, once isolationism was broken. This ideal, I believe, is still held by Americans to this day. In places like Egypt and Iraq, we as a nation encourage democracy.
    So, what ARE we to make of Wilson? I believe he was our vision of an American- analytical, democratic, passionate, humanitarian, idealist.

  23. 24
    Ledley Swain

    What are we to make of Woodrow Wilson? It depends on your view. I do not care for his personality, he seems rather bland. However I admit his accomplishments and contributions to the growth of the United States as a piece of the international puzzle and his efforts towards pushing for peace were astounding.
    Woodrow Wilson was just another man with ambitions and dreams that involved changing the world. Small task, no? He began his path towards recognition in college as he assembled an impressive academic resume. Starting with this education- his legacy began.
    We remember Woodrow Wilson as a president. But he was more than a president- he was a scholar and more importantly, a peace-maker. Wilson forever changed the world’s view of peace. Though his League of Nations was a failure, he exposed the world to the option of Peace. I believe future Presidents should take Mr. Wilson’s view regarding peace into mind and apply it to the problems the world faces today.
    Almost equally as important as Wilson’s peacemaking skills was his ability to bring the United States onto the international stage. He pulled America away from isolationism and thrust her into the international forefront. Thus showing her off as a token of liberty, establishing her as a superpower, illustrating her pleas for peace and ultimately sending a warning that America will not back down when threatened.

  24. 25
    Chris Ciszek

    Woodrow Wilson was an idealistic president that knew how to implement his true ideals. His ideals were to create the perfect environment for all Americans and not just wealthy fat cats that lived off of the Trusts. He planned out exactly what he would do to make the nation a better place for the common man and when he became elected, he followed his plan and was able to finish it within his own term and the issues that also arose during his time. Was he a competent president? It all truly depends on whether you want a president that cares about the people and thus the ideals that founded the nation, or the continued growth of the commercial sector that exploits as much as it can to create profit that generally stays with the head.
    It is true that he was a horrible racist and was a supporter of segregation, but not everyone is perfect. Personally I would gladly accept a racist in the government that would push through bills and legislation that would ultimately benefit me as a working class citizen who wants feel like I actually have a chance at wealth in the land of the free. Taking down the triple wall of privilege showed the high and mighty corporations that they could no longer get away with hiding behind closed doors and commanding with the authority of the trusts what the public could or couldn’t do based solely on their control of prices.
    Wilson not only focused on the economic policies that formed during this time, but he was clearly focused on a more original viewing of the United States on the World scale that the founders used. He saw the nation as separate from the affairs of the Old World and to strive to keep things that way, but the deaths of innocent Americans at the hands of Germany couldn’t be ignored with isolationist thinking.
    Overall, I believe that since Wilson was a scholar, he focused less on the current agenda of the nation, but more on the long term goals that the nation should have and the principles it should have to ensure it. With him being southern, he was brought up not believing that whites and blacks were equal and he was given no reason to believe so since none that he knew could measure up to his own level of intelligence. Given his circumstances and power, he did the absolute best that he could for the nation and should be praised for his determination and accomplishments.

  25. 26
    Amna Adrees

    What are we to make of our 28th president, Dr. Woodrow Wilson? What are we to make of any man? These are difficult questions that are important to answer. Let’s start by answering the latter of the two questions. Understanding a person requires knowledge of his ideals, actions, as well as his intentions. When all information is combined, we can usually understand a person. With that being said, let us move on to the former question. Woodrow Wilson, in my opinion, is a great president and person, due to his ideals, actions, and intentions.

    Let me start to convince you of my position by informing you of Woodrow Wilson’s ideals. An idealist, Woodrow Wilson was a supporter of Progressivism and a deeply religious man. Wilson believed in the possibility of world peace. He supported women’s rights. He believed in pure democracy and liberty, while also believing in a strong executive branch. He was against bad trusts- trusts that had gained power illegally. Subsequently, he also believed in the “New Freedom,” which outlined a reform of banking, business, and tariff. He obviously believed in the value of education, as he was a PhD as well as President of Princeton University. While some of these ideals seem contradictory, Wilson carried them all out as well as he could, which will see in the next paragraph.

    Now let us discuss all the contributions Wilson made to America as well as the world as the President of the United States. Woodrow Wilson pushed through the Underwood Tariff Act, Clayton Anti-Trust Act, Federal Trade Act, and the Federal Farm Loan Act, and established the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Reserve System, all of which worked to implement the ideals of his “New Freedom.” Also, Wilson tried to deflect the approach of World War I onto America, but also stayed true to his people when he decided to join after much loss of American lives due to the German u-boats. He wrote the Fourteen Points to clarify his reasons for going to war. Overall, in almost all of his actions, Wilson tried to stay true to his word when making decisions as he knew that he was representing an entire nation of people, which many presidents forget.

    Moving on to his intentions, it is here that it becomes obvious that Wilson was a good president and person. I cannot think of any account of Wilson doing something with selfish or malevolent motives. His intentions always seem to be honest, peaceful, and just. A person is best understood through his intentions, and looking at these wonderful motives of Wilson reflects his character very well.

    So, all in all, Wilson seems to be a great person as well as president. His grand ideas, affirmative actions, and moral intentions let us know exactly what to make of good ol’ Woodrow Wilson. This is what my opinion is and hopefully, after reading this, it is yours as well.

  26. 27
    Jake Wells

    Woodrow Wilson was a very smart, practical president who looked out for the welfare of the nation and was dedicated to improvement. His “triple wall of privilege” and attack on tariffs, banks, and trusts, was a great movement to control business in America, to strengthen the government against corruption, and to support the people of America. Wilson was able to acknowledge the fact that America was increasing in power and influence as a nation, so he sought to make sure it was led down the right path. He wanted to make sure the practices of corporations in the economy was not taken advantage of, so that competition may flourish, prices stay reasonable, and the overall economy was stable. Along with his strengthening of the economy and the power of the government in America, he also helped strengthen America’s alliances throughout World War I. Although he was unable to remain neutral, Wilson made the right choice in going to war in order to further protect America. Furthermore, once the war neared an end, Wilson led to the formation of the League of Nations. Although the League was not very successful, Wilson had good intentions in mind and worked to promote peace and alliances between major countries. So, overall, Wilson was a very influential president who helped shape America into the flourishing nation it is today. His efforts to reform the economy, strengthen the power of government in America, and to promote peace exemplify the acts of a great president.

  27. 28
    Dani

    Obviously, I’m not an expert on Woodrow Wilson, but from what information I’ve learned about him through the last few chapters of the American Pageant and from this link, I think that he was a great leader. Yes, he had some flaws, but who doesn’t? People are so quick to criticize presidents that, a lot of the time, they won’t even give them a chance. I mean, he wasn’t a superhero, he couldn’t make everything perfect for everyone, but at least he had the nerve to try by running for president. Now the reason I think he was a good president is because he had certain goals, the “triple wall of privilege” that he used to improve tariffs, banks, and trusts, and he achieved them. This shows that he was consistent and responsible, which seems to me like two major aspects that a president should have. Also he proved to have great leadership skills shown both by his presidential accomplishments and foreign accomplishments that made world wide leaders consider him one of the most, if not the most, significant of those leaders. Another plus was his intelligence, being the first president with a phD. That’s definitely a check in my book, who wants a dumb president to run the country? Wilson was also for peace and the protection of his country. He proved this by trying to stay out of war until it was next to inevitable to keep out. It seems to me that Mr. Wilson was the whole kit and caboodle. I don’t think any other presidential candidate could have done much better than that, but then again, what do I know. Anyway, I think that what we all should realize about Wilson, whether we like him or not, is that he was a great leader, hard working, and had major accomplishments as president.

  28. 29
    Emily Via

    Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, had good intentions when it came to being a leader. He also had his share of flaws. He just pictured a perfect environment for his citizens. Wilson started with the “Triple Wall of Privilege,” improving tariffs, trusts, and banks. Being the only president with a PhD is also an accomplishment, if nothing else it showed he was determined to be the best he could possibly be. Wilson sought to construct America into a peaceful country with his peace-making skills. He kept the United States out of war as long as possible and always did what he thought was right. I think Woodrow Wilson was a good president due to his determination and hardwork.

  29. 30
    Aaron Grabinski

    Woodrow Wilson is what I call black and yellow. You see, the color black can stand for strength and or solidity. Then there is yellow, which can stand for many things, but in this case we will say it stands for his weaknesses. He had many strong points when it came to helping the country, but he also had weaknesses when it came to his personality and the way he saw things.

    All because I am calling him black and yellow does not mean that I am saying he is as cool as the hit song Black and Yellow. Personally, I do not like him. He was indeed a great president as to the nation. He helped create better education environments and passed many acts that helped the U.S. Now the part that gets me was how racist he was. He did support the KKK and other anti-black associations, but this is probably one of his only let downs is his personality. Another reason I dislike him is I can see some of my personality match up with his.

    Like I said before, he did help the country and handle foreign affairs well, or at least tried to. One thing he shouldn’t be ashamed of is the triple wall of privileged. The way he separated the banks into sectors is still used today. We even have more than twelve divisions. He also had great intentions with trying to create the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles, even if they did not come out as planned.

    So in conclusion, I do think Wilson was a good man with what he managed to do for the country, and that he should be praised for the things he did. However, I do not like his personality or the way he saw things.

  30. 31
    Adam Terry

    Woodrow Wilson definitely picked a stressful time to be president, no doubt about that. Having to lead a country like America through the first World War seems to be enough to make a person go insane. However, Wilson handled the situation very well, in my opinion. Wilson kept America out of the war for as long as possible, and when war was finally necessary, Wilson used skillful rhetoric in order to convince his people to fight. Not to mention, after the war, our text book mentions that “In Poland, starry-eyed university students would meet on the streets, clasp hands, and utter only one word: ‘Wilson'”. If you’ve got a couple of Polish kids randomly holding hands and saying your name, you must be doing something right. So, in dealing with people, Wilson was a very good president. However, after the war, Wilson seemed to fall out of favor with the public, due to some possibly poorly thought out political moves. I could be wrong here, but I believe the book said something along the lines of Wilson being unable to get congressional support with regards to the Treaty of Versailles. Don’t quote me on that, and if you do, a citation is going to be needed. Overall, Wilson was a great president when it came to idealism and dealing with the common people. However, when it came to executing policy, and getting into the “nitty gritty” of politics, he didn’t quite do as well. Nonetheless, Woodrow Wilson is undoubtedly one of the most interesting figures in American history.

  31. 32
    Chad Dean

    First and foremost, I would like to congratulate Noah on encompassing nearly the entire English dictionary in one blog post. Well done, and kudos my friend.

    Now, on to the actual assignment (and clearly the more important matter) of President Woodrow Wilson. I believe that Woodrow Wilson was a great leader but who had a slightly skewed view on things. He was able to lead America seemingly with ease, but did he do it right? No. He said that he was going to try and avoid war, however he failed miserably in that aspect. His views are nearly too idealistic also, however we’ll get to that later because right now it’s time for war. Wilson lacked the military knowledge that comes from being a war hero. This hindered him with the way he handled the first World War because he lacked the tactical insight into the goings on of war that leaders such as Andrew Jackson had from the battle of New Orleans. But now we reach the question of whether or not the fact that he was an intellectual made up for this lack of battlefield knowledge. And the answer to this is yes, in some ways. Whereas Andrew Jackson led people easily and knew about wartime strategies, Wilson was a political scientist and therefore how to maneuver around the home front with particular insight as to what would happen. It is with this information that I reach the conclusion that Wilson was by no means a bad president, however had it not been in the time of war I believe that he would have been a great president because he could worry about things in America where he excelled.

    And now onto Wilson’s idealism. Was he too idealistic to lead a country successfully, or would his views on things and his perfectionist attitude hinder his abilities. Well, he believed that democracy was a peace unto the world, and that with democracy fewer conflicts would arise. He also believed that trusts were manufactured by men and not naturally occurring. Social Darwinism states basically that those who are more fit to survive do so, and those unfit to survive parish. Agreeing with Social Darwinism, I believe that Wilson is wrong and that trusts are a naturally occurring business “phenomena” in which Social Darwinism is at its purest: with people who are fit to govern a business do so. Also, just as a little side note, I see that Wilson believes that America was created to attain a vision, not to make money. I found this quotation trifling because the only real reason that Britain established colonies in America was to make wealth from the gold and silver that were supposed to be here, and eventually to make money from the tobbacco which seemed to thrive. It seems here that Wilson doesn’t realize this, but I could just be reading too far into things…

    In conclusion, it is my opinion that Woodrow Wilson was a good president given his position. He had a certain set of views, expressed them publicly, and never strayed from them (aside from war, which was necessary) and he was able to lead America successfully through the first World War. If the time of his presidency was not racked with War violence then I repeat it is my belief that he would be one of the most prominent and revered presidents to date.

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    Hailey Howdyshell

    President Wilson was intelligent, one of the smartest presidents so far, some would say, but he had no war experience unlike most previous presidents who did, which may have set him at a disadvantage in the public’s eyes for he hadn’t yet ‘proved himself to be a strong leader’. Nevertheless, his main idea was to create the best environment for the Americans by separating the trusts and banks (the triple wall of privilege), and trying to compose a democracy which showed he was trying to connect with the people and I believe to some extent it worked. During his presidency, he led Americans through the first World War and even kept America out of it for as long as possible. His leadership skills, I would say, came from his intelligence instead of experience and his intelligence didn’t fail him.

    So, overall, he was a good president given his circumstances and I think that he was one of the best so far.

  33. 34
    Lindsey Martin

    When answering the question “What are we to make of Woodrow Wilson,” I think it’s important that we adress two things: Wilson’s personality and his politics.

    Some people might say that Wilson is a bad person or has a bad personality because he was more reserved, shy, and racist. Although these things are true to some extent, Wilson was a passionate about his beliefs and the things he would accomplish as president. Richard Norton Smith from the video above even said that Wilson want to reach out to people, but he didn’t know how. Wilson generally cared for the public and it’s wellbeing. We also should keep in mind that his presbyterian and Scotch-Irish upbringing also played a role in his self-restrained manner. Although Wilson may not have seemed like a great person on the outside, he had the best intentions on the inside.

    When thinking about Wilson’s role as president, there were several good things that he did for the U.S., like busting the “triple wall of privilege” and establishing the Fourteen Points. There are some that may not agree with Wilson’s foreign policy, but he tried to hold off on war until it was necessary to take action. Another thing that I believe was really admirable on Wilson’s part was that he stuck to his campaign platform; he gave the people what he promised. Not only did he do everything that he said he would, but he was able to do it all in one term.

    After considering Wilson’s personality and his political moves, I’ve found that his personality affected his political decisions. So I feel that it’s almost necessary to like or maybe accept his personality in order to think that he was a good president. Personally, I think Wilson did an excellent job as Commander in Chief. He cared about the people and accomplished what he wanted to. Not many presidents have been able to achieve those things.

  34. 35
    Alec Becker

    We know Woodrow Wilson won the presidency because of Roosevelt and Taft splitting the Republican vote and that he did not win because of popularity. Similar to Harry Truman though, we can judge him based on the faith, morals and ideals he brought to the office, and the subsequent decisions made and actions taken while in the office. To help measure the man, one has to wonder how the course of America, and its relationship with European powers, might have been different had Wilson’s idealism, progressivism and internationalism not been brought to the Presidency.

    Wilson’s idealism and progressivism led to actions during his terms to create the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Trade Commission as well as pass the Clayton Antitrust Act. Although many may question his tendency to increase the size and role of government, I have to admire his idealistic fight to protect the people against big banks and trusts. With The Fed, Wilson gave the people representation at the highest levels of banking. Although the banking system is still flawed as we have recently seen, where would the country be if Wall Street had even more power? And, with the FTC and the Clayton Antitrust Act, Wilson created government oversight of fair trade practices and made a final push to break up trusts.

    Wilson’s unavoidable entry into WWI thrust his idealism onto an international stage leading to the Fourteen Points. Although slightly too idealistic in pushing for a League of Nations, the moral character and idealistic thought expressed in the points helped re-shape modern Europe and create foreign policies that are still being used today. How might the conclusion of WWI been different without the influence of Wilson’s morals and ideals? What might modern Europe look like? Without Wilsonianism as counter-balance to isolationism, how different would our foreign policy be today?

    So I may not agree with some of his politics. I also do not agree with his view on segregation. He also had several weaknesses including an inability to compromise. This weakness created enemies at both ends and eventually led to the downfall and defeat of the Democratic Party in his second election, and prevented America’s entry into the League of Nations. But as I’ve discussed, when measuring the man, I have to respect his deep Presbyterian faith and the moral character he brought to the office. I also have to respect his actions to attack the “triple wall of privilege” and fight for internationalism. I also think he’s pretty cool being the first sitting president to attend the World Series and throw out a first pitch as well as holding the record for the most rounds of golf played as President!

  35. 36
    P.J. Johnson

    Woodrow Wilson was quite the President. Although some people may find a certain dislike for him, I believe he gave America a new perspective on how to run a nation. Being the only president with a PHD, he added an intilectual swagger to the oval office. There is no argument that he was not qualified for the job. His lust for disrupting trusts demonstrated his care for the middles and lower classes. This progressive idealogy brought about the balance the nation had been longing to create between big business and the common folk. Lastly, his thoughts on peace kept America out of War World I as long as he possibly could have. However, he knew when America had reached its breaking point. He then provided much influence on the war. I strongly believe Wilson knew what needed to be done in America and when it needed to be done.

  36. 37
    Danyelle Edwards

    I believe that Wilson’s academic achievements did not improve his presidency. A lot of people think that his P.H.D set him apart from other presidents, but it seems to me that it is only a piece of paper. In fact, presidents who were war heroes, rather than P.H.D’s, would probably have been better off. The preparation for war seems like it would be a better preparation for presidency than a P.H.D does, however unfortunate that may be.

    I think in comparison to other presidents, Wilson was a good one. It is hard to decide whether a presidency is good or bad. It is human nature to make mistakes, and presidents are not exempt from this, so we have to consider the president as a whole and not highlight their mistakes. Although Wilson had his fair share of mistakes, I think he made the best of what he could do.

  37. 38
    Alex Graves

    Woodrow Wilson had many opinions on the way America should be run. He was obviously very smart with his all of his academic acomplishments, so he should get some credit for that. I think he was doing what he thought was best for the country at the time. He said he wanted to keep America out of the war in Europe and he did while he could. But after the Zimmerman note, he really had to go to war. After a threat like that he could not just stand by and let Germany win and in turn give Mexico land back. Woodrow Wilson was given a very tough task but overall I think he handled it pretty well.

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