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Wikipedia Summary for Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As President, Wilson changed the nation's economic policies and led the United States into World War I in 1917. He was the leading architect of the League of Nations, and his progressive stance on foreign policy came to be known as Wilsonianism.

Wilson grew up in the American South, mainly in Augusta, Georgia, during the Civil War and Reconstruction. After earning a Ph.D. in political science from Johns Hopkins University, Wilson taught at various colleges before becoming the president of Princeton University and a spokesman for Progressivism in higher education. As governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913, Wilson broke with party bosses and won the passage of several progressive reforms. To win the presidential nomination he mobilized progressives and Southerners to his cause at the 1912 Democratic National Convention. Wilson defeated incumbent Republican William Howard Taft and third-party nominee Theodore Roosevelt to easily win the 1912 United States presidential election, becoming the first Southerner to do so since 1848.

Wilson allowed the continuing imposition of segregation inside the federal bureaucracy. His first term was largely devoted to pursuing passage of his progressive New Freedom domestic agenda. His first major priority was the Revenue Act of 1913, which lowered tariffs and began the modern income tax. Wilson also negotiated the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, which created the Federal Reserve System. Two major laws, the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act, were passed to promote business competition.

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the U.S. declared neutrality as Wilson tried to negotiate a peace between the Allied and Central Powers. He narrowly won re-election in the 1916 United States presidential election, boasting how he kept the nation out of wars in Europe and Mexico. In April 1917, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany in response to its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare that sank American merchant ships. Wilson nominally presided over war-time mobilization and left military matters to the generals. He instead concentrated on diplomacy, issuing the Fourteen Points that the Allies and Germany accepted as a basis for post-war peace. He wanted the off-year elections of 1918 to be a referendum endorsing his policies, but instead the Republicans took control of Congress. After the Allied victory in November 1918, Wilson went to Paris where he and the British and French leaders dominated the Paris Peace Conference. Wilson successfully advocated for the establishment of a multinational organization, the League of Nations. It was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles that he signed. Wilson had refused to bring any leading Republican into the Paris talks, and back home he rejected a Republican compromise that would have allowed the Senate to ratify the Versailles Treaty and join the League. Wilson had intended to seek a third term in office but suffered a severe stroke in October 1919 that left him incapacitated. His wife and his doctor controlled Wilson, and no significant decisions were made. Meanwhile his policies alienated German and Irish Democrats and the Republicans won a landslide in the 1920 presidential election. Scholars have generally ranked Wilson in the upper tier of U.S.presidents, although he has been criticized for supporting racial segregation. His liberalism nevertheless lives on as a major factor in American foreign policy, and his vision of ethnic self-determination resonated globally.

Gossips are only sociologists upon a mean and petty scale.

--Woodrow Wilson

Power consists in one's capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.

--Woodrow Wilson

A man may be defeated by his own secondary successes.

--Woodrow Wilson

One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils. The thing is to supply light and not heat.

--Woodrow Wilson

Longer Version:

One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils. The thing to do is to supply light and not heat. Ay any rate, if it is heat it ought to be white heat and not sputter, because sputtering heat is apt to spread the fire. There ought, if there is any heat at all, to be that warmth of the heart which makes every man thrust aside his own personal feeling, his own personal interest, and take thought of the welfare and benefit of others.


The spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into every fiber of our national life.

--Woodrow Wilson

Without dependability one's ability may be a liability instead of an asset.

--Woodrow Wilson

The only place in the world that nothing has to be explained to me is the South.

--Woodrow Wilson

Scholarship cannot do without literature.... It needs literature to float it, to set it current, to authenticate it to all the race, to get it out of closets and into the brains of men who stir abroad.

--Woodrow Wilson

No people are true Christians who do not think constantly of how they can lift their brother and sister, how they can assist their friends, how they can enlighten mankind, how they can make virtue the rule of conduct in the circle in which they live.

--Woodrow Wilson

Has justice ever grown in the soil of absolute power? Has not justice always come from the ... heart and spirit of men who resist power?

--Woodrow Wilson

We grow through our dreams. All great men and women are dreamers. Some, however, allow their dreams to die. You should nurse your dreams and protect them through bad times and tough times to the sunshine and light which always come.

--Woodrow Wilson

I confess my belief in the common man.... The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.... The man who is in the melee knows what blows are being struck and what blood is being drawn.

--Woodrow Wilson

Liberty does not consist in mere declarations of the rights of man. It consists in the translation of those declarations into definite action.

--Woodrow Wilson

They the children live in a world of delightful imagination; they pursue persons and objects that never existed; they make an Argosy laden with gold out of a floating butterfly, -- and these stupid grown-up people try to translate these things into uninteresting facts.

--Woodrow Wilson

The whole purpose of democracy is that we may hold counsel with one another, so as not to depend upon the understanding of one man.

--Woodrow Wilson

Thought cannot conceive of anything that may not be brought to expression. He who first uttered it may be only the suggester, but the doer will appear.

--Woodrow Wilson

We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction.

--Woodrow Wilson

Longer Version:

We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.


Just what is it that America stands for? If she stands for one thing more than another it is for the sovereignty of self-governing people.

--Woodrow Wilson

Longer Version:

Just what is it that America stands for? If she stands for one thing more than another, it is for the sovereignty of self-governing people, and her example, her assistance, her encouragement, has thrilled two continents in this western world with all those fine impulses which have built up human liberty on sides of the water. She stands, therefore, as an example of independence, as an example of free institutions, and as an example of disinterested international action in the main tenets of justice.


Such a mind we must desire to see in a woman, -- a mind that stirs without irritating you, that arouses but does not belabour, amuses and yet subtly instructs.

--Woodrow Wilson

In the last analysis, my fellow country men, as we in America would be the first to claim, a people are responsible for the acts of their government.

--Woodrow Wilson

A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American. And the man who goes among you to trade upon your nationality is no worthy son to live under the Stars and Stripes.

--Woodrow Wilson

The Government of the United States would be constrained to hold the Imperial German government to a strict accountability for such acts of their naval authorities.

--Woodrow Wilson

We grow by our dreams.

--Woodrow Wilson

Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little... We must strive for normalcy to reach stability.

--Woodrow Wilson

Only a peace between equals can last. Only a peace the very principle of which is equality and a common participation in a common benefit.

--Woodrow Wilson

The way to be patriotic in America is not only to love America, but to love the duty that lies nearest to our hand, and to know that in performing it we are serving our country.

--Woodrow Wilson

What is at the heart of all national problems? It is that we have seen the hand of material interest sometimes about to close upon our dearest rights and possessions.

--Woodrow Wilson

If you would be a leader of men you must lead your own generation, not the next. Your playing must be good now, while the play ison the boards and the audience in the seats.... It will not get you the repute of a good actor to have excellencies discovered in you afterwards.

--Woodrow Wilson

Scholarship cannot do without literature.... It needs literature to float it, to set it current, to authenticate it to all the race, to get it out of closets and into the brains of men who stir abroad.

--Woodrow Wilson

Justice has nothing to do with expediency. Justice has nothing to do with any temporary standard whatever. It is rooted and grounded in the fundamental instincts of humanity.

--Woodrow Wilson

We are expected to put the utmost energy, of every power that we have, into the service of our fellow men, never sparing ourselves, not condescending to think of what is going to happen to ourselves, but ready, if need be, to go to the utter length of self-sacrifice.

--Woodrow Wilson

Surely a man has come to himself only when he has found the best that is in him, and has satisfied his heart with the highest achievement he is fit for.

--Woodrow Wilson

Science has won for us a great liberty in the physical world, a liberty from superstitious fear and from disease, a freedom to use nature as a familiar servant; but it has not freed us from ourselves.

--Woodrow Wilson

I am not one of those who have the least anxiety about the triumph of the principles I have stood for. I have seen fools resist Providence before, and I have seen their destruction, as will come upon these again, utter destruction and contempt. That we shall prevail is as sure as that God reigns.

--Woodrow Wilson

The world can be at peace only if the world is stable, and there can be no stability where the will is in rebellion, where there is not tranquility of spirit and a sense of justice, of freedom, and of right.

--Woodrow Wilson

Settlements may be temporary, but the action of the nations in the interest of peace and justice must be permanent. We can set up permanent processes. We may not be able to set up permanent decisions.

--Woodrow Wilson

If Germany won it would change the course of our civilization and make the United States a military nation and it would check his policy for a better international ethical code.

--Woodrow Wilson

Today's greatest labor-saving device is tomorrow.

--Woodrow Wilson

I am all kinds of a democrat, so far as I can discover but the root of the whole business is this, that I believe in the patriotism and energy and initiative of the average man.

--Woodrow Wilson

The welfare, the happiness, the energy and spirit of the men and women who do the daily workis the underlying necessity of all prosperity.... There can be nothing wholesome unless their life is wholesome; there can be no contentment unless they are contented.

--Woodrow Wilson

There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized peace.

--Woodrow Wilson

Whate'er my doom;
It cannot be unhappy: God hath given me
The boon of resignation.

--Woodrow Wilson

The Constitution of the United States is not a mere lawyers' document. It is a vehicle of life, and its spirit is always the spirit of the age. Its prescriptions are clear and we know what they arebut life is always your last and most authoritative critic.

--Woodrow Wilson

Fear God and you need not fear anyone else.

--Woodrow Wilson

An evident principleis the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak.

--Woodrow Wilson

It would be the irony of fate if my administration had to deal chiefly with foreign affairs.

--Woodrow Wilson

And while you bring all countries with you, you come with a purpose of leaving all other countries behind you -- bringing what is best of their spirit, but not looking over your shoulders and seeking to perpetuate what you intended to leave behind in them.

--Woodrow Wilson

The cure for bad politics is the same as the cure for tuberculosis. It is living in the open.

--Woodrow Wilson

If you've made up your mind you can do something, you're absolutely RIGHT.

--Woodrow Wilson

Some people have a large circle of friends while others have only friends that they like.

--Woodrow Wilson

Never murder a man when he's busy committing suicide.

--Woodrow Wilson

The allied nations with the fullest concurrence of our government and people are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundations of a Jewish Commonwealth.

--Woodrow Wilson

I believe in human liberty as I believe in the wine of life. There is no salvation for men in the pitiful condescension of industrial masters. Guardians have no place in a land of freemen.

--Woodrow Wilson

Your enlightenment depends on the company you keep. You do not know the world until you know the men who have possessed it and tried its wares before you were ever given your brief run upon it.

--Woodrow Wilson

To fight, you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fibre of national life.

--Woodrow Wilson

I believe very profoundly in an over-ruling Providence, and I do not fear that any real plans can be thrown off the track. It maynot be intended that I shall be President -- but that would not break my heart.

--Woodrow Wilson

Opinion is the great, indeed the only coordinating force in our system.

--Woodrow Wilson

While we are fighting for freedom, we must see, among other things, that labor is free.

--Woodrow Wilson

There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight.

--Woodrow Wilson

Longer Version:

lThere is such a thing as man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.


Benevolence does not consist in those who are prosperous pitying and helping those who are not. It consists in fellow feeling that puts you upon actually the same level with the fellow who suffers.

--Woodrow Wilson

I have the feeling that he would rather see a good cause fail than succeed if he were not the head of it.

--Woodrow Wilson

Let it be your pride to show all men everywhere not only what good soldiers you are, but also what good men you are.

--Woodrow Wilson

If Freud had worn a kilt in the prescribed Highland manner he might have had a very different attitude to genitals.

--Woodrow Wilson

When I think of the flag.... I see alternate strips of parchment upon which are written the rights of liberty and justice, and stripes of blood to vindicate those rights, and then, in the corner, a prediction of the blue serene into which every nation may swim which stands for these great things.

--Woodrow Wilson

A living thing is born.

--Woodrow Wilson

Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at.

--Woodrow Wilson

Any man that resists the present tides that run in the world, will find himself thrown upon a shore so high and barren that it will seem he has been separated from his human kind forever.

--Woodrow Wilson

Where the great force lies, there must be the sanction of peace.

--Woodrow Wilson

If you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing; if you lose your health, you have lost something; but if you lose your character, you have lost everything.

--Woodrow Wilson

I am not one of those who believe that a great standing army is the means of maintaining peace, because if you build up a great profession those who form parts of it want to exercise their profession.

--Woodrow Wilson

As a matter of fact and experience, the more power is divided the more irresponsible it becomes.

--Woodrow Wilson

The greatest and truest models for all oratorsis Demosthenes. One who has not studied deeply and constantly all the great speeches of the great Athenian, is not prepared to speak in public. Only as the constant companion of Demosthenes, Burke, Fox, Canning and Webster, can we hope to become orators.

--Woodrow Wilson

The difference between a strong man and a weak one is that the former does not give up after a defeat.

--Woodrow Wilson

There is a price which is too great to pay for peace, and that price can be put in one word. One cannot pay the price of self-respect.

--Woodrow Wilson

We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.

--Woodrow Wilson

Government ought to be all outside and no inside... Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.

--Woodrow Wilson

What every man seeks is satisfaction. He deceives himself so long as he imagines it to lie in self-indulgence.

--Woodrow Wilson

The Bible is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God and spiritual nature and need of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation.

--Woodrow Wilson

This little world, this little state, this little commonwealth of our own.

--Woodrow Wilson

I do not want a government that will take care of me, I want a government that will make other men take their hands off me so I can take care of myself.

--Woodrow Wilson

We are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the 30 months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back.

--Woodrow Wilson

Whatever may be said against the chewing of tobacco, this at least can be said of it, that it gives a man time to think between sentences.

--Woodrow Wilson

I could see now that a literary education did not fit one for the popular novelist's trade.Once you had started using words like flavicomous or acroamatic, because you liked the sound of them, you were lost.

--Woodrow Wilson

The presidential office is not a rosewater affair. This is an office in which a man must put on his war paint.

--Woodrow Wilson

I firmly believe in Divine Providence. Without belief in Providence I think I should go crazy. Without God the world would be a maze without a clue.

--Woodrow Wilson

To be free is not necessarily to be wise. Wisdom comes with counsel, with the frank and free conference of untrammeled men united in the common interest.

--Woodrow Wilson

A right is worth fighting for only when it can be put into operation.

--Woodrow Wilson

I am so glad that I am young, so that I may give my youth to you.

--Woodrow Wilson

You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.

--Woodrow Wilson

We are not here merely to make a living. We are here to enrich the world.

--Woodrow Wilson


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