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I have long enjoyed the friendship …

02/10/2012

… and companionship of Republicans because I am by instinct a teacher, and I would like to teach them something. [Woodrow Wilson]

Woodrow Wilson was one of those unsung but effective Presidents, grey by contrast with the ebullient perpetual motion machine that was Teddy Roosevelt, his predecessor but one. His first term was notable for a variety of far-sighted legislation, some of it struck down by the short-sighted Supreme Court, and he was a keen advocate of women’s suffrage. He was an intellectual (having been President of Princeton), a cool legislative strategist and he also wrote beautifully clear and controlled English.

With the customary freedom enjoyed and exercised by Presidents in their second term, he took the USA into WW1 because it was the right thing to do, and his subsequent work in establishing the League of Nations earned him the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize, a distinction he shares with Teddy Roosevelt and one other (although Obama didn’t earn it, so much as have it handed to him for just being a nice guy full of hope). Who knows what more Wilson might have achieved, had he not suffered a series of punishing strokes in September 1919, which rendered him all but useless for the remaining 18 months of his presidency.

He does, however, hold the distinction of being the only US President (to date) to have been married to two women while in office. He lost his first wife to kidney disease in 1914, and was so disconsolate that he was for a while on suicide watch. Edith Bolling Galt helped to snap him out of it, and also helped to win him an honourable mention here in the blog. From U.S Presidents for Dummies:

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