Woodrow Wilson   (1856-1924)

By Pach Brothers Studio, 1912. Courtesy of Library of Congress

Twenty-eighth President, 1913-1921

Woodrow Wilson brought a brilliant intellect, strong moral convictions, and a passion for reform to his two terms as president. The ideas he brought with him had been developed during an earlier career as professor of political economy, president of Princeton University, and governor of New Jersey. On the domestic front, Wilson established economic reforms and presided over two Constitutional amendments: the 18th, which instituted the prohibition of alcohol, and the 19th, which granted women the right to vote. His strong belief in peace and international cooperation could not keep the United States from entering World War I, and though Wilson provided effective wartime leadership, he put equal effort into crafting the postwar peace agreement and providing the vision for a new League of Nations. Though his efforts won him a Nobel Peace Prize, his dogged pursuit of an idealistic moral vision was not universally popular and was thwarted by Congress. After suffering a debilitating stroke in 1919, Wilson relied heavily on his wife, Edith, to help run the White House for the remainder of his term.