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Professor and Politician

November 8, 2017

Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia and spent most of his formative years in Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina.  He was President of Princeton University from 1902-1910.  He had always hoped to become a U.S. Senator from Virginia, but his first political office was governor of New Jersey.  When he was about halfway through his term as governor,  he became the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in 1912.

Wilson had written several books on politics and government.  In a popular American history text he displayed obvious prejudice against Eastern and Southern Europeans, referring to them as “men of the lower class from the South of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland, men out of the ranks where there was neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of quick intelligence.”

Initially, this was a problem for Wilson.  When confronted, Wilson said what most politicians would say: that he had been taken out of context.  “My history was written on so condensed a scale that I am only too well aware that passages such as you [a Polish immigrant leader] quote are open to misconstruction, though I think their meaning is plain when they are fairly scrutinized.”

When confronted with his own words, Wilson gave a less than adequate answer.  Meanwhile, Speaker Champ Clark was amassing delegates for the national convention.

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