Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Woodrow Wilson's Birthday

Today is the birthday of Thomas Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States -- wartime leader, two-term president, internationalist, progressive, governor, academic administrator, Ph.D., racist, author, stroke victim, Noble Prize winner and more.

In Woodrow Wilson (1958), Arthur Walworth describes Wilson's coming into the world in antebellum Staunton, Virginia: "In the ground-floor chamber of the Wilson manse, near midnight on the third day after the Christmas of 1856, Jeanie Wilson gave to her Joseph his first son. They named him Thomas Woodrow, after his maternal grandfather.

"The baby was put into a well-fashioned crib and was cared for and fed by free Negroes who cooked in the cellar over an open fire, baked in a brick oven, and drew water from a well. Before the child was a month old, arctic winds swept down upon Staunton and drove snow through the cracks of less substantial houses. The town was cut off from the world for ten days.

"But in his snug home the infant was safe and warm, and grew larger and fatter than his sisters had been. In four months Jeanie Wilson was writing to her father that she had a baby whom everyone called 'beautiful,' and that he was 'just as good as he can be,' that Joseph's congregation was growing and there was 'no desirable thing' that God had not done for her."

By a curious coincidence, today is also the anniversary of the death of First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the president's second wife and either "steward" of the presidency (her term) or conniving de facto president (critics' characterizations) during her husband's illness in late 1919 and early 1920.

Edith died at age 89 on what would have been Woodrow's 105th birthday in late 1961, having lived long enough at attend John Kennedy's inauguration.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

poor guy