Woodrow Wilson

— 28th President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery


March 4, 1913 to March 3, 1921

BORN: December 28, 1856
Staunton, Virginia
February 3, 1924, Washington, D.C.
Educator, lawyer
Ellen Axson, 1885;
Edith Galt, 1915
Margaret, Eleanor, Jessie

Wilson used to say that his first memories as a child were the election of Lincoln and the talk of war. The impressionable youth witnessed the defeat of the South; he saw General Robert E. Lee pass through Augusta, Georgia under Union guard in 1865; and he endured the trying times immediately following the Civil War, known as the Reconstruction.

Throughout his adult life, Wilson believed that the South was justified in seceding from the Union and that white people were superior to other races.

Wilson suffered from a variety of illnesses throughout his life, so much so that as a child he was thought to be a slow learner. Illness forced him to drop out of college at one point, but he fought back to graduate 38th in his class from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).

Golf was about the only exercise Wilson participated in regularly while president, and he wasn't very good at it. He called the sport "an ineffectual attempt to put an elusive ball into an obscure hole with implements ill-adapted to the purpose."

Wilson's two terms as president were highlighted by his support of laws to limit child labor, the establishing of the Federal Trade Commission to allow small businesses to compete with larger corporations, and improving relations with Mexico.

Wilson's presidency encompassed World War I, where the United States joined forces with Britain, France, Russia, Italy, and others against Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria among others. Wilson originally wanted the country to remain neutral in the war, but repeated submarine attacks by Germany on American ships prodded the United States to join the Allies.

In retirement, Wilson was the first president to address the country on radio. He died at his home in Washington on February 3, 1924.

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