Woodrow Wilson - The significance of the wilson presidency

Wilson and Warren Gamaliel Harding rode together from the White House to the Capitol for the latter's inauguration on 4 March 1921. Wilson, aged and infirm, was a living mind in a dying body; Harding, majestic in appearance, looked every inch a leader. Appearances were never more deceiving. Harding would soon reveal his moral and intellectual bankruptcy, and Wilson lived to attend his funeral services.

Wilson, who died at his home in Washington on 3 February 1924, set an example of leadership, both of public opinion and of Congress, that challenges every incumbent of the White House. His reconstruction of the American political economy still survives in all its important features. Wilson's conviction that the state and federal governments should work actively to protect the weak and disadvantaged remains the main theme of Democratic politics.

The Wilsonian legacy in foreign policy is clear, but the degree to which it continues to guide American foreign policy is ambiguous. Wilson believed very deeply that the United States was called to serve mankind through leadership for peace, democracy, and the uplift of the peoples of the world. But this leadership had to be essentially of the spirit, not of the sword. It may be that the Wilsonian legacy is now only the conscience of American foreign policy.

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