In 1856, on this day 28th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia.
"Open Covenants, Openly Arrived At"
Co-written with Jeff ProvineA leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. Running against Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, Socialist Party of America candidate Eugene V. Debs, and former President Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912.
During his second term a conspiracy to prevent the ratification of the Covenant of the League of Nations was foiled in the nick of time when First Lady Edith Wilson prevented the White House physician Dr. Cary Grayson from adminstering a stroke-inducing poison to her husband Woodrow Wilson.
A coast-to-coast public speaking tour in support of the League had over-exerted the President. He collapsed from exhaustion in Pueblo, Colorado on September 25th and was forced to return to the White House for medical attention.
Almost overwhelmed by the force of opposition, Wilson was fully aware that the list of Grayson's possible conspirators was endless including inter alia:
- Theodore Roosevelt who as President had negotiated secret treaties to open Pacific trade routes that had not only sold out Korea to Japan but abrogated the first of Wilson's fourteen points ("Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view").
Radical differences of opinion over America's future had turned to personal acrimony when Wilson refused to authorise TR to lead his ageing Rough Riders to Flanders.
- William Jennings Bryan who as Secretary of State was humiliated by his career-ruining decision to resign in protest over Wilson's response to the sinking of the Lusitania, a position which left him politically isolated.
- Robert M. La Follette, Sr. a prominent Senator who was strongly opposed to American involvement in World War I and who promoted defense of freedom of speech during wartime. Teddy Roosevelt called him a "skunk who should be hanged" when he opposed the arming of American merchant ships; one of his colleagues in the Senate said he was "a better German than the head of the German parliament" when he opposed the Wilson Administration's request for a declaration of war in 1917.
Refusing to waste further energy on investigating the conspiracy, Wilson devised a fresh strategy to sell the League to America and the rest, as they say, is alternate history..