Tuesday, November 29, 2005


A professor of political science at Princeton University before entering politics as a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson won the presidency in 1912 on a platform of moderate, cautious reform. He introduced a graduated federal income tax, approved anti-trust legislation, banned child labour and limited railway workers to an eight-hour day.

He reaffirmed American neutrality in August 1914 and won re-election in 1916.American opinion was strongly isolationist in 1914, but the United States drew progressively closer to the Allies as a result of Germany's aggressive submarine policy, its campaign of subversion within the United States and, finally, its bizarre attempt to incite war between Mexico and the US. Shortly after details of German Foreign Minister Arthur telegram were published in the US press (and Zimmermann confirmed its authenticity), the United States declared war on Germany . In January 1918, Wilson articulated the United States' war aims in his speech to Congress.
Wilson represented the United States at the Paris Peace Conference, but his idealistic aspirations won only partial support. The principle of national self-determination was applied only to Europe (with qualifications), but he did win support for his idea to establish a League of Nations. The Germans had expected Wilson to assume a relatively lenient posture during the peace talks, but Wilson ended up by adopting a fairly tough and punitive stance towards Germany.By the time he returned home, the Republicans had gained control of Congress, and the Senate refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty.
Wilson embarked on a national tour to garner support for it, but suffered a serious stroke that effectively ended his political life. His wife nursed him for four years until his death in 1924 and the United States never became a member of the League of Nations.


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