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Woodrow Wilson: Essential Writings and Speeches of the Scholar-President

Edited and Introduced by Mario R. DiNunzio
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 429
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  • Book Info
    Woodrow Wilson
    Book Description:

    From the Ivy League to the oval office, Woodrow Wilson was the only professional scholar to become a U.S. president. A professor of history and political science, Wilson became the dynamic president of Princeton University in 1902 and was one of its most prolific scholars before entering active politics. Through his labors as student, scholar, and statesman, he left a legacy of elegant writings on everything from educational reform to religion to history and politics.Woodrow Wilson: Essential Writings and Speeches of the Scholar-President collects Wilson's most influential work, from early essays on religion to his famous Fourteen Points speech, which introduced the idea of the League of Nations. Among the last of the presidents to write his own speeches, Wilson left behind works which offer impressive insights into his mind and his age.Deeply religious, Wilson looked to his faith to guide his life and wrote candidly about the connection. A passionate advocate of liberal learning, he broadcast his ideas on educational reform with missionary intensity. In politics he moved from a traditional nineteenth-century conservative view of government to a progressive, international vision which transformed American politics in the new century. His writings allow us to trace the intellectual struggle that took the nation from a position of neutrality in World War I to its role as a central player on the world stage.Penetrating and eloquent, the works gathered here represent the best and the most important of Wilson's writings that retain enduring interest. A rich repository of ideas on the American people and America's purpose in the world, these works reveal the thoughts of one of the most acute analysts and actors in the drama of American politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8545-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xi)
  4. Chronology
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. INTRODUCTION Woodrow Wilson: Scholar-President
    (pp. 1-40)

    The president stared at his audience in Pueblo, Colorado, in a momentary and inappropriate silence. He seemed unable to finish a reference to defeated Germany. The usually blasé reporters, who had listened to him every day of his long tour, suddenly came to attention. The president was never halting in addressing the increasingly enthusiastic crowds who came to hear his appeal for the American entry into the League of Nations. Struggling past the crippled sentence, he managed to finish his speech with a moving call for the nation to keep faith with those fallen men who would never return from...

  7. 1 On Religion
    (pp. 41-59)

    During the summer of 1873, seventeen-year-old Woodrow Wilson experienced a powerful religious awakening, a conversion experience. Thereafter, what had been a matter of routine observance became a shaping force in his life. A committed Calvinist Presbyterian, Wilson saw God’s hand in the destiny of men.During his sophomore year at Princeton, Wilson wrote a series of notes for publication in the Wilmington, North CarolinaPresbyterian. In these brief essays, a young Wilson emphasized militant faith, duty, and orthodoxy, commending them to all and particularly to the statesman. “Christ’s Army” embraced the language of warfare to describe the struggle of the Christian...

  8. 2 Biographical Sketches
    (pp. 60-105)

    Wilson won an essay prize with this sketch of William Pitt (1707–78) in the October 1878 edition of theNassau Literary Magazine. An earlier effort on Bismarck appeared in 1877 but failed to take the prize.Written while he was a senior at Princeton, the essay displays a confident command of language and maturity of style untypical in an undergraduate. Pitt was the great leader who did much to engineer the British victory over France in the Seven Years War, hugely expanding the size of the empire. Unpopular with the new king, George III, he was forced to resign on...

  9. 3 On Education and Scholarship
    (pp. 106-146)

    Throughout his life as an educator, Wilson consistently argued for broad general educationovernarrow specialization for undergraduates. One of the earliest expressions of this theme was published in the university periodicalThe Princetonianin May 1877, during his sophomore year. This brief essay reflected a student perspective on Princeton, but also a mature critique of the superficiality and narrowness of both student efforts and the “system” of undergraduate education in his day. Much remains the same. While always extremely careful in his own writing, Wilson had no patience for style over substance in education.

    A comparison of American scholarship,...

  10. 4 The Historian
    (pp. 147-217)

    Wilson began his academic career at a time when history and political science were not yet clearly distinct disciplines. His study of congressional government was heavily historical, and many of his published works throughout his academically productive years were histories. Always interested in scholarly technique, he often wrote about the process of scholarship with emphasis on the importance of style as well as precision and analysis. Much has been written debating the character of history as a science or as a literary art;Wilson saw no incompatibility in the historian’s struggle for the objectivity of scienceandthe need for graceful...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 5 The Political Scientist
    (pp. 218-312)

    Anticipating some of the ideas he would develop later in his bookCongressional Government, Wilson wrote this essay in his senior year at Princeton. In it he displayed a maturity of style and a prodigious aptitude for political analysis which was remarkable in one still an undergraduate. He proposed a transformation of the structure of Congress to permit a greater role for the executive in the legislature. Blurring the lines of separation of powers, Wilson argued for the presence of cabinet officers in Congress for a more effective and responsive governing process. The essay clearly illustrated Wilson’s admiration for the...

  13. 6 New Jersey Politics
    (pp. 313-340)

    In this discussion of government and business, Wilson did not prefigure his role as governor and president. Wilson had long held rather conservative views with regard to government, business, and labor, views which gradually shifted in a progressive direction as he became more active in politics and especially when he became a candidate for office. Here he referred to the “mania for regulation.” Business big and small had at this point little to fear from a political leader who equated government regulation with the slippery slope to socialism. He seemed to attribute the excesses of the business corporations to individual...

  14. 7 Road to the White House
    (pp. 341-365)

    Woodrow Wilson launched his presidential campaign with a Labor Day address in Buffalo, New York, on September 2, 1912.When he failed to win his party’s nomination, Theodore Roosevelt had bolted the Republican party and ran as a Bull Moose Progressive, promising a program of broad reform action. Reflecting the spirit of his own presidency and some of the ideas of Herbert Croly’sPromise of American Life, Roosevelt called for a “New Nationalism,” prosecuted by strong leaders managing a powerful government. Challenging Roosevelt in his home state with its forty-five electoral votes, Wilson here spoke with a Jeffersonian voice to attack...

  15. 8 President Wilson
    (pp. 366-420)

    On the morning of March 4, 1913, Wilson and his vice president, Thomas R. Marshall, met with President Taft at theWhite House, and from there the inaugural party motored to the Capitol. The president-elect was greeted by a cheering crowd at the east front of the building, where Chief Justice Edward D. White administered the oath of office. Only one other Democrat, Grover Cleveland, had taken the oath since James Buchanan in 1857. Taking control of the government with Democrats in the majority in both houses of Congress, Wilson recognized this rare opportunity and promised a government of reform and...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 421-422)
  17. Index
    (pp. 423-428)
  18. About the Editor
    (pp. 429-430)