President Woodrow Wilson Biography

President Woodrow Wilson regarded himself as the personal representative of the people. “No one but the President,” he said, “seems to be expected … to look out for the general interests of the country”(Internet 1). He developed a program of progressive reform and asserted international leadership in building a new world order. In 1917 he proclaimed American’s entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world “safe for democracy.” Wilson had seen the difficulties of war. He was born in Virginia in 1856. The son of a Presbyterian minister who during the Civil War was a pastor in Augusta, Georgia, and during Reconstruction a professor in the charred city of Columbia, South Carolina. After graduation from Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) and the University of Virginia Law School, Wilson earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and entered upon an academic career. In 1885 he married Ellen Louise Axson. Wilson advanced rapidly as a conservative young professor of political science and became president of Princeton in 1902. His growing national reputation led some conservative Democrats to consider him Presidential material. First they persuaded him to run for Governor of New Jersey in 1910. In that campaign he asserted his independence of the conservatives and of the machine that had nominated him, endorsing a progressive platform, which he pursued as governor. He was nominated for President at the 1912 Democratic Convention and campaigned on a program called the New Freedom, which stressed individualism and states’ rights. In the three-way election he received only 42 percent of the popular vote but an overwhelming electoral vote. Wilson dealt with Congress very effectively in his presidency. On April 2,1917, he asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany. Massive American effort slowly tipped the balance in favor of the Allies. Wilson went before Congress in January 1918, to pronounce American war aims through a a series of ideas he had known as the Fourteen Points, this would establish a general association of nations indubitably guaranteeing political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike. After the Germans signed the Armistice in November 1918, Wilson went to Paris to try to build an enduring peace. He later presented to the Senate the Versailles Treaty, containing the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Versailles Treaty was seven votes shy of being ratifid by the senate. The President, against the warnings of his doctors, had made a national tour to mobilize public sentiment for the treaty. President Wilson had aswell have many interventions in countries such as: New Mexico, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua Exhausted, he suffered a stroke and nearly died. Tenderly nursed by his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt, he lived until 1924.

The League of Nations was a former international organization that was formed after WORLD WAR I to promote international peace and security. The League of Nations was provided int he use of the Fourteen Points. The basis of the League, the Covenant, was written into the Treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties and provided for an assembly, a council, and a secretariat. A system of colonial mandates was also set up. The U.S., which failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, never became a member. Based in Geneva, the League proved useful in settling minor international disputes, but was unable to stop aggression by major powers, Japan’s occupation of Manchuria (1931), Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia (1935-36), and Germany’s seizure of Austria (1938). It collapsed early in World War II and dissolved itself in 1946. The League established the first pattern of permanent international organization and served as a model for its successor, the UNITED NATIONS.

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The Treaty of Versailles, signed on 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian War by Bismarck. France was forced to give up most of Alsace and Lorraine, pay a large indemnity, and accept a German army of occupation. The Versailles Treaty of 1919 is the most famous of the treaties because it was the chief one ending World War I. The Big Four negotiating it were President WIlson, Premier Clemenceau, Prime Minister Llyod George, and Premier Oralndo. The treaty called for the creation of the League of Nations. It forced on Germany the burden of reperations and placed limits on German armed forces. It restored Alsace and Lorraine to France, gave Prussian Poland and most of West Prussia to Poland, made Danzig a free city, put Germany’s colonies under the League of Nations, placed the Saar under French administration, called for plebiscites in various territories newly freed from the Central Powers, mand called for the demilitarization of the Rhineland. American opposition to the League of Nations resulted in the refusal of the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty. In 1935, Adolf Hitler unilaterally abrogated most of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Treaty of Paris was one of the most important treaties signed at or near Paris. The Treaty of 1763 was signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain. Together with the Treaty of Hubertusburg it ended the Seven Years War. “France lost Canada to Britain, Cuba and the Philippines were restored to Spain, and India in effect passed to Britain”(Internet 2). From this treaty dated the colonial and maritime supremacy of Britain. In the Treaty of 1783 Great Britain formally acknowledged the independence of the Thirteen Colonies as the U.S. The treaty also fixed the boundaries of the new nation. In addition, the warring European powers-Britain against France and Spain, with the Dutch as armed neutrals-effected a large-scale peace settlement. Spain reacquired the Floridas and Minorca from Britain, and Britain relinquished its restrictions on the French port of Dunkirk. Otherwise, the territorial dispositions of the 1763 Treaty of Paris were reaffirmed. The Treaty of 1814 was concluded between France on the one hand and Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia on the other after the first abdication of NApoleon I. Its provisions never went into effect owing to the return of Napoleon from Elba and the resumption of the war. The Treaty of 1815 was signed after Napoleon’s final surrender. Many provisions of the treaty of 1814 and the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna remained binding. France was reduced to its 1790 borders and was forced to pay 700 million francs in reparations plus the costs of an army of occupation for five years. After World War I severeal treaties were signed (1919-20) in or near Paris, the most important of which was the Treaty of Versailles After World War II separate treaties were signed (1947) by the Allies at or near Paris with Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Finland.

Woodrow Wilson had interventions with New Mexico. President Wilson had two fronts to worry about; Mexico and Europe. Below his country, the Mexican Revolution was in full swing. Wilson had made his moves in accordance to what he had felt was best for his country and its people. The same went for Europe. He was doing all he could do by just keeping the United States out of the war. However, in relation to Europe and the World War, Wilson knew that the United States was not going to be able to stay out of the war forever. After all, the Germans were taking a greater toll on the merchant ships in the Atlantic. To truely see the situation, one must look back at the election of 1916. Presidents don’t win elections by telling the people what they don’t want to hear. Wilson was up for re-election that year. He had been campaigning on the platform of peace. His opponent, Charles Hughes, had favored teh idea of the United States getting involved into World War I. Wilson used every political tactic he knew to bring Hughes down. Hughes was called the “war candidate”(Biography of Woodrow Wilson). Later, Wilson would even use the slogan “Wilson and Peace with Honor, or Hughes with Roosevelt and War?(Internet 1)” So Wilson did what he had to do in order to stay in office. By 1916, Wilson began to realize where his country stood in relation to those that were fighting. He had been paying attention to the press to see the results of the events that were unfolding. In particular, the Battle of the Somme struck President Wilson with deep concern. At this battle, the British were on the offensive against the Germans. The British command called for a five day assualt with heavy cannon. After the shelling, the soldiers were expected to simply walk over claim the land. The offensive failed and as a result, the British suffered casualties near 70,000 in just a few days time. At that time, the United States military personel numbered less than 150,000. The United States, at that rate, would have only been able to last for a few days if they entered the war. This brings us to the main point of this article; Wilson had to get his armed forces up in numbers without breaking his campaign promise to his people. How was Wilson suppossed to do this? The answer was Pancho Villa. Pancho Villa was a very predictable man. After the events down in Agua Prieta, Villa was on a one course action, death to all Americans. Villa made his first move in January of 1916. Engineers from El Paso were on their way to open up a mine down in Mexico. They had been given assurances that there was nothing to fear. While enroute by way of rail, the engineers were stopped and pulled off the train. All were put down on their knees and shot in the back of the head. Villa had begun to deliver his promise to the Americans. Wilson was aware of this. All he had to do was to wait for the right moment. Wilson’s chance came in early March of 1916. Sometime around the 6th of March, U.S. intelligence began to send reports to Washington that Villa and his men had been seen along the border near Columbus. These reports would continue up until the 9th of March when Villa finally made his attack. Although history plays the attack as a suprise, events leading up to the attack suggest that the U.S. government knew of Villa’s location and intentions. Just prior to the attack, Lieutenant George Patton, who was being stationed at Columbus, was ordered, along with the remaining officers, to leave for a polo match near Deming, New Mexico. Patton would later remark in his diary that he had never played the sport before. Also, when the attack did occur, the press made a big deal about the machine guns being still in their storage cases. Had Columbus known of Villa’s location, it would have been likely that the machine guns would probably had been readied.

Throughout his presidency, Wilson showed a pattern of bullying and deception, and great desire to involve the American people in wars that they had no desire to get into. The first example is Mexico. Wilson had an intense personal hatred of Mexico’s President, General Victotiano Huerta, because he had suppressed a left-wing revolution. This hatred led Wilson to try to provoke a war with Mexico. He got his chance when a small number of Americans where arrested in Mexican port of Tampico. Knowing that Wilson was looking for an exuse for war, Huerta immediately ordered the release of the Americans, and personally apologized to them for the incident. But Wilson would not let the situation end at that. He demanded more apologies, and even worse demanded that some of the Mexicans involved salute the American flag! Imagine if you were a soldier in the American Army and were ordered by a foreign leader to salute a foreign flag. Of course the Mexicans refused, so Wilson got his chance to start a war, and launched a surprise attack on the barely defended Mexican city of Vera Cruz. Fortunately for the youth of both countries, Huerta was not as eager for war as Wilson. So he got several Latin American governments to intercede. Wilson demanded that any peace be on the condition of Huerta stepping down as president of Mexico. Showing how much more of a man Huerta was than Wilson, Huerta agreed to Wilson’s demands rather than allowing the war to continue. The results of Wilson’s warmongering were disastrous for Mexico. The Wilson-backed regime who came to power after Huerta stepped down was too weak to hold his country together, and Mexico fell into civil war. In a five month period Mexico City changed hands six times. The notorious Mexican bandit Pancho Villa almost got control of Mexico in the struggle. Eventually the Wilson-backed regime of Venustiano Carranzo emerged on top, but it was too weak to suppress Villa, who led multiple raids into the United States. Wilson, ever the mummer of Mars, used Villa’s raids into the United States to justify savage incursions by the US Army into Mexico, which did little more than make Villa a hero to the people of northern Mexico.

The Spanish-American War is often offered up as an example of American imperialism. But Haiti is a much better one. Haiti also vividly illustrates Wilson’s true character which he was so effective in hiding from the public. Wilson thought France and Germany were becoming too influential in Haiti, and for this reason invaded that sovereign republic that neither did nor wanted to do any act hostile to the United States. Soon after the marines had secured control of Haiti, Wilson had a puppet government set up, and forced it to elect Phillippe Dartiguenave president. Next, Wilson tired to force his puppets to sign a treaty that would essentially cede Haitian sovereignty to the United States. But the puppets would not submit, so Wilson declared martial law and made Admiral Caperton the absolute dictator over all of Haiti. Wilson again tried to force the Haitian government to submit to the same humiliating treaty by withholding the salaries of all government employees until they complied. They finally gave in. Wilson then held a show election for a constitutional assembly. When the assembly met, Wilson simply had his military commanders order the delegates to ratify his own constitution. They bravely refused, and are heroes as much as those who took the Tennis Court Oath more than a century earlier; but the American general in command, General Cole, dissolved the assembly, and decided to hold a referendum on it. It was absurd, a type of election that Stalin would have approved of, with armed soldiers at every polling place, making sure every Haitian that might try to vote against the American imposed constitution saw the error of his decision. So much for Wilson the lover of democracy. Afterwards Haiti became an dictatorship under the American military. The corvee was soon revived, and slavery returned to our Hemisphere. The American military commanders used Haitian slave labor mainly to build roads, which would allow them to quickly move troops to suppress any resistance to American rule. During a revolt against the American system of forced labor and military occupation, the Marine Corps reports it killed 3250 Haitians(History of Haiti).

President Wilson in 1916 established a military dictatorship over the Dominican Republic. Wilson also had the marines occupy and subdue large part of Nicaragua at that government’s request.

President Woodrow Wilson has been marked for his great issue of foreign poilicy. Latin America was effected greatly by all the policies that were promoted by President Wilson. Although some of his ideas were denied, such as the League of Nations, his effort to unite the nations has made a big impact on American and Latin American history. Woodrow Wilson is the president wit hthe greatest intervention in Latin America

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President Woodrow Wilson Biography. (2018, Jun 15). Retrieved from