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Author of
*A Week in the White House with Theodore Roosevelt'

Garden City New York



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I. — Background and Boyhood 3

II. — Boyhood m Georgia 23

III.— Off to College 43

IV. — A Student at Princeton 54

V. — Still Studying Law and Politics .... 77

VI.— "Professor" Wilson 9G

VII. — Princeton's New President 11^

VIII. — Democracy or Aristocracy ? 12^2

IX.— The Graduate College Contest 130

X.— Out of Princeton into Politics IGO

XI. — One Year of a Progressive Governor . . 185

XII. — The Presidency Looms Up 214


WooDROw Wilson Frontispiece


Judge James Wilson 20

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Woodrow 20

William Duane Wilson 20

The Rev. Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson . . 20

The Manse, Staunton, Va., where Woodrow

Wilson was born 104.

The house designed by Woodrow Wilson at

Princeton 101-

Governor Wilson and His Family . . . .192





IT WAS four years more than a century ago
that a restless youth of twenty, to whose
ears had come amazing stories of the oppor-
tunities to be found in a new land, forsook the
home of his Scots-Irish fathers in County Down,
on the Irish shores of the windy North Channel,
and sailed forth toward the baths of the Western
stars. Perhaps he had heard of the fame of a
Scotsman of his own name and without doubt
his own kin who, having migrated to America
only a generation before, had become one of the
founders of the new nation, one of the signers of
its Declaration of Independence, a member of
its Constitutional Convention, and a Justice
of its first Supreme Court. At all events, it


was on a ship bound for the city of Justice James
Wilson that young James W'ilson sailed.

The later emigrant may have been destined
to no such eminence as was the earlier, yet young
James, too, found his opportunity in the new
country — found it in a little shop full of the
smell of printer's ink and mysterious with the
apparatus of the preservative art — the shop
at 15 Franklin Court, formerly the home of
Benjamin Franklin, whence issued, to the en-
lightenment of the good people of Philadelphia,
William Duane's daily paper, the Aurora.

To their enlightenment, it is to be hoped;
certainly very much to their entertainment and
their agitation — and not only theirs, but the
whole country's as well. W^illiam Duane was
the earliest muck-raker in American journalism;
indeed, he was muck-raking on the other side
of the world before he had a chance to employ
Bunyan's celebrated tool here. Though born
on the shores of Lake Champlain, Duane was
educated in Ireland, whence he went out to
India and started a newspaper much occupied
with arrais'ninf? the British Government —


which the Government very sensibly seized and
whose editor they ordered out of the country.
Returning to Great Britain, he became par-
Hamentary reporter to London papers, including
the Times. So he was pretty well equipped to
make trouble when, in 1795, he came back to
the country of his birth and engaged himself
with Franklin Bache (grandson of the most
famous of all Philadelphia printers, and son of
Richard Bache, the Postmaster-General) on the
Aurora. Bache dying of the yellow fever,
Duane took over the widow — and the Aurora.
It was already a leading Democratic journal,
Philadelphia being then the national capital.
Duane made it the chief organ of the part}^
His were the shrieking methods of the yellowest
day journalism has ever seen, and within a year
he had been haled before Congress for a viola-
tion of the Sedition Law. However, he did a
great deal toward electing Jefferson to the
Presidency and putting the Democrats in power,
and even after he had turned into a bitter as-
sailant of President Madison and had come to
be regarded as an opposition editor, we find


Jefferson writing him (1811), calling him "Col-
onel" William Duane:

The zeal, the disinterestedness, and the abilities with
which you have supported the great principles of our
revolution, the persecutions you have suflfered, and the
firmness and independence with which you have suffered
them, constitute too strong a claim on the good wishes
of every friend of elective government, to be effaced by a
solitary case of difference in opinion.

William Duane never got any political reward,
but his son was made Secretary of the Treasury
by President Jackson. He served only a fe\^
months, refusing to obey Jackson's order to
remove the Government deposits from the United
States Bank without authority of Congress.

Duane was in financial difficulties most of
the time, but he stuck it out until 1822, when
the country had settled down into an "era of
good feeling" so paradisiacal that there was
nothing for a fighting journalist of Irish educa-
tion to do in the United States. So he closed
out the Aurora and went on a tour of South
America, then in the throes of revolution.


Such was the employer from whom young
Jimmie Wilson got his first notions of American
Hfe. Wilson appears to have taken aptly to the
printing trade, and to his employer, as his em-
ployer did to him. The young man prospered.
He moved from a room in the rear of Fourth
Street, which he had taken on landing, to 45
Gaskill Street. And he married — married
Anne Adams, an Irish girl, four years his junior,
who had come over on the ship that brought
him. To her latest days she used to love to
talk of their North of Ireland home, from which
she said they could see the white linen flying
on the line in Scotland; so she must have been a
County Down or a County Antrim lass. There
was more than the glint of wind-blown linen that
came across to them from Scotland, for James
Wilson's wife was a blue-stocking of a Pres-
byterian to the day of her death, and brought
up her ten children in the nurture and admoni-
tion of the Lord in the strictest sect of Pres-
byterianism. They began life together, No-
vember 1, 1808, by going to the Rev. Dr. George
C, Potts, pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian


Church, to be married. When their first child
was born, they called him ''William Duane."
That year they moved up town to the corner of
Tenth and Spruce streets; it must have been
either the northeast or the northwest corner.

W^ilson now became nominally publisher of
the Aurora. Duane, when the W^ar of 1812
broke out, was made Adjutant-General of the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and it seems
that he left the management of the paper to

W ith the Peace of Ghent, a new movement
westward set in. The Federal Government was
pushing the National Road over the Alleghanies
on the first stage of its journey to the plains.
The steamboat, which had appeared on the
Hudson in 1808, was now screeching on the
Ohio. W'ilson determined to try his fortunes
in the hinterland. He went to Pittsburg, just
growing into a city. Then his fancy was taken
by the little town of Lisbon, just across the line
in the new state of Ohio; but soon he found a
better location in Steubenville, a little below,
on the river, county seat of Jefferson, nobly


named. Here he started a paper of his own —
the Western Herald it was called — and it was
destined to a long and measurably influential

Behold, then, at the close of the first quarter
of the nineteenth century, the immigrant James
Wilson a settled citizen of the state of Ohio,
influential, prosperous, and at the head of a
thriving family.

James Wilson, first and last, must be held
responsible for a goodly portion of the printed
wisdom and folly of the early nineteenth century.
He printed in Philadelphia; he founded a news-
paper in Steubenville, and in its office he trained
every one of his seven sons to be an expert com-
positor; in 1832 he founded a paper at Pittsburg
— the Pennsylvania Advocate. The first number
of the Pennsylvania Advocate was printed in
Ohio, at the Steubenville press. Very soon,
however, a fine Washington hand-press was
installed in a Pittsburg office, to the wonder of
the city, for it was the first press set up west of
the mountains that was capable of printing a
double-page form of a newspaper at one impres-


sion — that is, one side of a whole sheet at once.
Mr. Wilson started the Advocate with the aid
of four of his sons and two apprentice boys, but
when it was fairly on its feet he left it in the
immediate charge of his eldest son.

During the remaining twenty-five years of
his life James Wilson, an editor to the end,
divided his time between Steubenville and

James Wilson was a man of extraordinarily
positive opinions; furthermore, he was very out-
spoken in them. His paper was a very vigor-
ous publication indeed, discussing the questions
of the day — and they had pretty big questions
in the first half of the nineteenth century —
with fearless conviction and bluntness. The
editor was a Justice of the Peace, and was
ordinarily addressed as "Judge" Wilson. He
was, for a term, a member of the Ohio State
Legislature. During his absence at Columbus
Ids wife, with the aid of the sons, edited the
paper and boarded the hands.

One of Wilson's political aversions was the
person of Samuel Medary, a frequent candidate


for public office. The Western Herald habitually
referred to him as "Sammedary" — though
exactly why, no one remembers. A sample of
the Judge's caustic remarks about this candi-
date was:

"Sammedary's friends claim for him the
merit of having been born in Ohio. So was my
dog Towser."

Samuel Medary afterward became Governor
of Ohio, and (ironically enough) it came about
that Judge Wilson's son Henry married the
Governor's daughter. The old Judge attended
the wedding, and there were greetings amicable,
but possibly not of unrestrained cordiality,
between the ancient antagonists. Judge Wilson
died in Pittsburg during a cholera epidemic,
in 1837.

Judge James Wilson had ten children: seven
boys and three girls. The daughters married
well, and the sons all attained considerable
distinction. Henry, Edwin, and Margretta
were triplets. Henry (he who married Gover-
nor Medary 's daughter) became, during the
Civil War, Commissary-General on the staff of


General Burnside, stationed at St. Louis. Edwin
studied law with Edwin M. Stanton, at Steuben-
ville, practised law at Franklin, Pa., and became
Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania under Gov-
ernor William F. Packer.

Edwin and Henry bore a remarkable resem-
blance to each other; throughout their lives the
two men were so much ahke that few^ outside
the family could distinguish one from the other.
Once, Governor Packer happened to meet Henry
at the Girard House in Philadelphia, and thinking
all the time he was wath his Adjutant-General,
Edwin, spent several days with him. On the
other hand, once, when Edwin was at the old St.
Nicholas Hotel in New York, General Burnside
came along and proceeded to administer a
reprimand to the officer whom he took to be
his Commissary-General for having left head-
quarters without leave. Edwin let Burnside
exhaust himself, and then asked:

"General, when did you see me last!"

Burnside replied: "W'hy, I left you at St.
Louis, last w^eek."

Edwin retorted: "You are mistaken.'*


"Aren't you General Wilson?" asked Burn-

"I am so called," replied Edwin, "but I am
very thankful that I am not your Conmiissary-

Before Burnside could be persuaded of his
mistake, a visit had to be made to the hotel
register; the writing of the two men was totally
unlike, and Burnside was familiar with the hand
of Gen. Henry Wilson. General Henry and
General Edwin distinguished themselves to
their acquaintances by the manner in which
they wore their watch guards: Henry wore a
chain about his neck, while Edwin wore a fob.

One of the earliest photographs made in
Columbus was a portrait of Gen. Henry Wilson.
Henry sent it to General Edwin, at Harrisburg,
and he, by way of practical joke, sent it home
to his wife, as a likeness of himself. Mrs.
Wilson hung it on the parlor wall and proudh'
called the attention of callers to the excellent
photograph of her husband.

Judge Wilson's youngest son was Joseph


Ruggles — through whom runs the special cur-
rent of this story.

Joseph was born at Steubenville on February
28, 1822; he got his first schooHng in his father's
shop. Like all the other sons, he learned the
printer's trade — not one of them but could, to
the day of his death, "stick type" with any

It is recorded of Edwin Wilson that, later in
life, he made a wager with the proprietor of the
Venango Spectator that he could set the longest
"string of type in an hour." At it they went,
and the General was an easy winner — and he
was not the fastest "sticker" in the family,
either. Joseph was allowed, as a boy, to get
out a little paper of his own from the Western
Herald oflSce.

Joseph, from the start, was marked for the
scholar of the family. There was a good
academy at Steubenville, and he attended it.
At eighteen he went to Jefferson College, a
Presbyterian institution at Canonsburg, Pa.
(now merged in Washington and Jefferson
College), where he was graduated in 1844 as


valedictorian. He engaged in teaching for a
year, taking charge of an academy at Mercer,
Pa. But the call was clear to a higher life work.
Before he had left home for college he had made
a public profession of his faith in the First
Presbyterian Church of his native town. Now
he took his way to the Western Theological
Seminary, at Allegheny, Pa., remained a year,
and then went to spend another year at Prince-
ton Seminary. He went home, and was licensed
to preach, although not yet ordained; he taught
for two years in the Steubenville Male Academy.
To the fact that there was another Steuben-
ville academy is due the necessity of telling this
story. There was another, not for males, and
to it there came, among other girls of the Ohio
Valley, a damsel from Chillicothe, the pretty
town which was Ohio's first capital, lying be-
tween the pleasing hills behind which the sun
still rises on the state seal. Janet Woodrovv'
was her name, though most people called her
"Jessie," and she was the daughter of a great
and famous Presbyterian minister of the day,
but neither did that nor her Enolish birth forbid


her having a gleeful laugh and an eye for fun.
One afternoon, the lessons at Doctor Seattle's
school being over, Janet Woodrow took a walk;
passing by the Wilson house, she spied, through
the pickets of the garden fence, the young theo-
log, raking, in a pair of kid gloves. On the
7th day of June, 1849, Joseph R. Wilson and
Janet Woodrow were legally joined in marriage
by Thomas Woodrow, minister of the Gospel
— so attests an entry preserved in the marriage
records of the Probate Court of Ross County,
Vol. F., page 91.

We have another immigration to observe:
The Woodrows (or Wodrows, as they spelled it
in Scotland) are an ancient family originally
out of England, who trace their Scottish histor^^
back 600 years. Among them flourished min-
isters, scholars, and men of substance, with
a Presbyterian martyr or two. The Rev. Dr.
Thomas Woodrow, born at Paisley in 1793, a
graduate of Glasgow University, recrossed the
Tweed to become minister of the Independent
Congregation at Carlisle, England. After hav-


ing served there sixteen years and begotten
eight children he felt the call to become a mis-
sionary in the New World.

Accordingly he embarked, the 21st of October,
1835, on a ship bound for New York. All his
family was with him: his wife, Marion (born
Williamson), and their children: Robert, John,
Thomas, William, Janet, George, and Marion,
ranging from fifteen years of age down to three.
One day little Janet was on deck; she happened
to be clutching a rope when a big wave hit the
ship, buried her bow in the water, and sent the
little maid far out over the sea; however, she
held on fast and escaped with a good wetting.

All landed safely after a passage of ten weeks,
having spent Christmas and New Year's Day
at sea. Shortly after the landing, however, we
find this passage in the Doctor's diary:

New York, U. S., February 23, 1836.
Little did I expect that the first death I should have to
record on my arrival in this country should be that of my
dear wife. How mysterious and distressing often are the
ways of God. I landed in this country on the 12th day
of January, 1836, with my dear wife and family, and on


the 16th inst. the faithful and affectionate companion of
my travels was taken from me by a sudden and unex-
pected stroke. I had the melancholy satisfaction yester-
day of committing her dear, sweet body to the cold and
silent tomb. Her body was interred in the Oliver Street
Church (Baptist) Burial Ground in a dry, sandy grave,
where it lies until the morning of the Resurrection, when
at the sound of the last trumpet it shall be raised up a
glorious and incorruptible body, and when I hope I shall
meet my dear love and join with her and all the redeemed
in praising God and the Lamb.

However, the good man went on to his desti-
nation — Canada — where, with headquarters
at Brockville, on the St. Lawrence, he fulfilled
for a while the duties of a missionary through a
wide circuit of country. In a year came an
invitation to the pastorate of the First Presby-
terian Church of Chillicothe, and the Woodrows
came into the States. The Doctor's ministry
at Chillicothe stretched from 1837 to April,
1849. While there he married a second time,
in 1843, the bride being Harriet L. Renick,
widow of Asahel Renick. From Chillicothe
he went to Columbus, where he was pastor of
the Hogg First Presbyterian Church. He died


at Columbus April 27, 1877, and was buried in
Greenlawn Cemetery.

The history of the Presbytery of Chillicothe
says of the Rev. Dr. Woodrow that he

Was a fine scholar, a good preacher, and especially
powerful in prayer. He was conservative in his views and
thoroughly presbyterian in his belief. His sermons
were always instructive and pointed. He loved to dwell
on the great cardinal doctrines of the Gospel and to pro-
claim them in their simplicity and fulness.

Doctor Woodrow was a stocky man, of short
stature — very vigorous in the pulpit. A man
now in middle life remembers hearing him preach
a sermon in the chapel of the Presbyterian
Church of Augusta, Ga., on a very warm day
— the church was, in fact, that presided over
by the Rev. Joseph R. Wilson, as we shall see.
Doctor Woodrow had lost or misplaced his
spectacles, and so the Rev. Mr. Wilson
canvassed the congregation for a pair that would
suit the preacher. He brought to the pulpit
a variety of spectacles. There was only one
pair through which the dominie could see his


manuscript. These were too big for him and,
as he preached, they kept shpping down his
nose, which was also the course of the perspira-
tion that gathered on the preacher's forehead.
A httle boy in a front row sat fascinated by the
sight of the spectacles slowly travelling down
the parson's nose and amazed at the dexterity
with which he managed to catch them at the
last minute, push them up and go on with the
unbroken discourse.*

Two weeks after his marriage with Jessie
Woodrow, Joseph Ruggles Wilson was ordained
by the Presbytery of Ohio. It was several years,

* Of Dr. Thomas Woodrow's children, one son, James, had a rather remarkable career:
He graduated at Jefferson College, where he was a classmate of Basil Gildersleeve, wlio
has taught Latin and Greek to most of the living generation of Americans. Then he
became a minister of the Presbyterian Church. His real interest .however, seemed to
have been in science, and he went to Heidelberg University, where he achieved such dis-
tinction that he was invited to remain as a professor in succession to the celebrated
Bunsen. Coming home, however, he became instead a professor at the Southern Pres-
byterian Theological Seminary at Columbia, S. C, his chair being denominated, in
accordance with a leading thought of that day, that of "the Relation Between Science
and Religion." His views on the subject of evolution becoming more pronounced, they
aroused dissatisfaction, and he was obliged to resign. Then he was chosen president of
South Carolina College. Later he became a bank president, and as such ended his days.

Of the other children, Robert developed phenomenal scholarship, but died in the early
twenties. Thomas was a man of considerable ability and of unusual nobility of char-
acter. He lived a quiet, self-sacrificing life. Cut out for a scholar, the necessities of the
family forced him into business, and he lived as a gentleman storekeeper. William was
a sort of rolling stone, but when, in the course of his wanderings, he reached Nebraska,
he got hold of land that proved to be of value and acquired considerable fortune. The
daughter Marion married James Bones, of Augusta, Ga. A new acquaintance, once loth
to accept the homely patronymic of Marion Wilson's husband, undertook to address him
as Mr. Bone. He was instantly rebuked with the words: "No, just dry Bones."

THE HV.V. 1>H. .losKl'll RUGGLES




however, before he undertook a pastorate of
any consequence, serving for a year as "pro-
fessor extraordinary" of rhetoric in Jefferson
College, and for four years as professor of
chemistry and natural sciences in Hampden-
Sydney College, Virginia, in the meantime sup-
plying small neighboring churches. The Rev.
Mr. Wilson had become the father of two
daughters, Marion and Annie Josephine, before
he was called as pastor to Staunton, Va., in 1855.
Staunton, where he remained for two years, was
a town of 5,000 population, beautifully situated
in the famous Valley of Virginia.

Here it was that on December 28, 185G,
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born.

The infant Wilson (to spend a moment re-
viewing his parental history) w^as born to an au-
spicious heritage. His blood was Scotch-Irish,
a strain perhaps the most vigorous physically,
the most alert mentally, the most robust morally
of all those that have mingled in the shaping of
the American character. His forebears were


men and women who had conspiciiouslj^ dis-
played the quahties of a sturdy race: they were
people imaginative, hopeful, venturesome; stub-
born, shrewd, industrious, inclined to learning,
strongly tinctured with piety, yet practical and
thrifty. On one side they were an ancient
family who had preserved the memory of a part
in large affairs, who for generations had carried
the banner of religion and learning — the para-
mount concerns of Scottish men. On the other
side they had had their share in the public
affairs of a more modern nation. The new-born
was descended from clergymen and editors;
men of strong opinions ; men likewise accustomed
to give free leave to their opinions. They were
protestants in religion, and in politics, radicals;
pioneers — a stout-hearted breed.

Such was the ancestral preparation for life
of the little son of the Presbyterian pastor who
came into the world Christmas week, 1856, in
the dawn of an ample day of national evolution
and conflict.



IN THE spring of 1858, Thomas Woodrow
Wilson being then two years old, the family-
moved to Augusta, Ga., where the father was
to be pastor of the Presbyterian Church for the
next four years.

With his entrance upon the Augusta pastorate,
the Rev. Mr. Wilson became one of the most
noted ministers in the South. Thoroughly
equipped in the theology of his denomination,

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