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A Man of Contradictions

June 29, 2017

His paternal grandmother gave birth to ten children, two of whom became generals in the Union Army.  His paternal grandfather edited a Midwestern newspaper.  This generation of the family was based in a Northern town that saw traffic on the Underground Railroad.

But his father was not one of the sibling generals, and our protagonist did not grow up in the North or the Midwest.  When he received the news that Lincoln had been elected President, he did not see the people in his town celebrating.  Instead, they prepared for war.  During the Civil War his father was a strong supporter of the South.  After the Civil War his father served as interim pastor of a Southern church where an eminent former pastor had once defended slavery.

Although he grew up in the South, he did not speak with a Southern accent.  He believed the South had every right to secede from the Union, but as President he worked to join dozens of nations into a grand international union.

He had always wanted to become a U.S. Senator, but he was not the sort of man who would normally be appointed by a state legislature.  He probably could have won a popular election to the U.S. Senate, but by the time the 17th Amendment was ratified, he had already been elected President.

He had studied politics all his life and had written books on government, but he was too often stubborn when compromise would have served him better.  Historians of his generation called him a great liberal, but later generations have noticed he was also a white supremacist.  He was a man of great intellect and ambition, and he spent himself in the pursuit of lofty goals, but his second term as President ended in great disappointment.  That’s just how it was for Woodrow Wilson.






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