Why Woodrow Wilson Shouldn’t be Celebrated on WWI Anniversary

About 116,000 Americans died in the conflict.

Woodrow Wilson
Portrait of Woodrow Wilson seated at his White House desk in 1919. (Getty Images)
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Woodrow Wilson made a series of serious mistakes while serving as president during World War I that should “never be forgotten,” according to a major authority on the subject.

That’s the opinion of presidential historian, Michael Beschloss, who wrote in The Washington Post over the weekend that Wilson won reelection on the basis of promising to not enter the war, while knowing he soon would. And while exhibiting startling racism towards African Americans, to boot. Beschloss claims that Wilson abandoned his one positive trait — that of public speaking — when his citizens required it most of him.

“He spent much of 1917, the first year of U.S. engagement in the war, in kingly isolation,” Beschloss wrote, “rarely using his luminous oratorical gifts to explain to his countrymen why they needed to make severe sacrifices for a conflict that wasn’t an obvious, direct threat to America’s national security.”

Wilson initiated the long-standing practice of demonizing those who criticize the president during wartime, according to Beschloss, and spreading that criticism past the White House and into the trenches where U.S. troops fought and died for this country.

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