| Woodrow Wilson Legacy
"Partnering for World Peace"
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The mission of The Woodrow Wilson Legacy Foundation is to perpetuate the memory of America's 28th President by empowering leaders to champion a program of the world's peace through effective relationship building.
What is the Woodrow Wilson Legacy?
To arrive at an honest evaluation of Woodrow Wilson’s legacy, it is necessary to avoid the romantic tendency to ignore his failures while considering only his accomplishments. As a complex mixture of southern child, northern scholar, family man, poet, politician and President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson’s life defies simple caricaturization. To this end, a list of seven simple words have been assembled here to mirror and to preserve the unique nature of Woodrow Wilson’s historical legacy:
Woodrow Wilson was clearly ahead of his time. He saw the future in present terms and allowed an idealistic view of human potentiality to inform his political objectives. For Woodrow Wilson, the glass was always half full and he looked to the future to solve the problems facing humankind. He was not beyond dreaming big dreams with global outcomes. Woodrow Wilson absolutely believed that it was possible to extend American ideas of justice and democratic values throughout the world. Without question, Woodrow Wilson was also the first President of the United States to view foreign affairs from the foreigner’s perspective and he had the grand vision of a legal system—erected on a global scale—that would eventually level the playing field between legal entities and provide justice for weaker nations and smaller people.
Although clearly prejudiced by his upbringing in the antebellum American South, and compromised by the executive responsibilities of leading his country into war, Woodrow Wilson was animated by a innate sense of justice and fairness for all. If he had personal limitations in consistently applying the higher principles of justice at home, these same limitations did not preclude him from offering a plan of justice to the world. Centered upon the establishment of a transnational institution that allows member nations to deliberate and to negotiate disputes on an equal basis, Woodrow Wilson’s vision for the League of Nations was finally embraced by the international community with the formation of the United Nations in 1948.
For most of his adult life, Woodrow Wilson was consistently involved in one controversial project or another requiring patience and great political poise necessary to appease conflicting interests. As a consequence, high levels of stress plagued Woodrow Wilson for many years and through it all he learned to balance pain with pleasure and action with repose. At the highest levels of government and foreign affairs, another word for balance is equilibrium; and Woodrow Wilson’s legacy reflects his personal ability to manage economic, social and military forces often aligned, irreconcilably, to the possibility of political compromise. One example of this balanced approach to public affairs was Wilson’s determination, on the one hand, to limit the power of large corporations in favor of small business, and his establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank, on the other. He certainly maintained this same sense of balance long enough to sell his concept of a League of Nations to the European powers who included it in the Versailles Peace Treaty following WWI. But, at home the stakes were too high, and eventually the pressure became so intense, that Woodrow Wilson’s body betrayed him with a paralyzing stroke in the 7th year of his presidency, and his delicate equilibrium was lost.
No one is perfect—least of all politicians—and Woodrow Wilson is no exception. Certainly, failure is a natural part of leadership. Failure is a natural part of life. Therefore, in favor of an honest evaluation of the historical facts, Woodrow Wilson’s relatively few failures as a leader must be included in a fair assessment of his legacy. In as much as he was successful in persuading others to consider his various viewpoints regarding progressive political policies in the American tradition of democratic liberalism, Woodrow Wilson also amassed certain failures along his public trajectory, not the least of which was the total loss of a bi-partisan compromise that was needed in the U.S. Senate to establish the borders of greater Armenia by ratifying the treaty of Sevres at Versailles. In domestic politics, while there is no evidence that he was guilty of any racist behavior, Woodrow Wilson certainly failed to withstand the racist impulse of Southern bureaucrats who swept into the nation’s capital as a part of his presidential administration. As a result, certain appointments and limited opportunities for advancement that were provided for African-Americans in federal jobs under previous presidents came to an end during Woodrow Wilson’s tenure.
Fortunately, failures alone do not constitute the entirety of one’s historical legacy. In Woodrow Wilson’s case, his accomplishments far outnumber his shortcomings. As a global leader, Woodrow Wilson made numerous contributions, but none are so great as the development of international humanitarianism in response to the Armenian Genocide and his vision for the League of Nations which found its current manifestation in the United Nations. On the home front, however, Woodrow Wilson’s list of successful domestic policies is equally as impressive. To name just a few, such memorable contributions include: the Federal Reserve Act (creating the Federal Reserve), the Federal Trade Commission Act (stopping unfair trade practices), affordable federal farm loans, landmark anti-trust legislation, women’s right to vote, and worker’s support policy that imposed 8-hour workdays for railroad employees. He even introduced the historic bill to Congress which created Mother’s Day as a national holiday in 1914. In each case Woodrow Wilson is remembered for his strong leadership skills as a seasoned networker who knew the power of convening meetings of consequence to get things done. He also devoted thousands of hours each year to personal communication with others who partnered with Congressional leaders to pass his legislation.
Throughout history, many public figures have feigned sensitivity to the plight of the weak and the underprivileged; but, Woodrow Wilson is not one of them. Although limited by his own personal prejudices to recognize all those who suffer, America’s 28th President was clearly a compassionate person both inside and outside of the Oval Office. As the archive of his hand-written letters to colleagues, friends and family reveal, Woodrow Wilson carried deep sentiments for those who were less fortunate than most, and he felt a duty to support those whom he considered worthy of assistance. In no small way, this compassionate and heroic sense of a shared duty to recognize the other, and a willingness to assist the weak—that Woodrow Wilson carried with him at all times—grounded his personality and informed his personal approach to doing politics.
Perhaps the word PEACE best embodies Woodrow Wilson's life-long legacy in service to humankind. As a young boy living in the Confederate States of America he had witnessed at a tender age, the carnage and ravages of The American Civil War. Later, in his adult years, as a result of this early impression, Woodrow Wilson was motivated by a strong desire to end all wars as a benefit to those who suffer the most. Although it proved to be unpopular among other world leaders, he was also inspired to achieve peace by championing the cause of smaller nations and weaker people against the aggressive attitude and behaviors of powerful bullies. Historians and psychologists agree that Woodrow Wilson was highly motivated by a personal desire to bring about world peace.
|"The Woodrow Wilson Legacy Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit, non-political organization established to teach networking skills and partnership strategies that reflect the moral principles of freedom, mutual respect and peace as demonstrated by Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. President. The WWLF mission is to perpetuate the memory of America's 28th President by empowering leaders to champion a program of the world's peace through effective relationship building."|
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