History

Woodrow Wilson's Legacy

|

Writing in the Boston Globe, Harvard historian Erez Manela has a very flattering review of John Milton Cooper Jr.'s new biography Woodrow Wilson. In addition to the predictable praise for the failed League of Nations and Wilson's "vision of a liberal international order with the United States at its core," Manela highlights the book's attention to Wilson's progressive legacy, which includes passage of the Federal Reserve Act and a "fight against Wall Street" which Manela says "offers poignant parallels with our own time." But what about Wilson's notorious shortcomings? Manela gives us one paragraph of mild rebuke:

Like many biographers who have spent decades with their subject, Cooper writes with great sympathy for his. He is not, however, an uncritical admirer. He judges Wilson's willful disregard for the rights of African-Americans and his consistent refusal to act against racial violence as the greatest stain on his record as president, rivaled only by his administration's repression of dissent and curtailment of civil liberties during the war years.

Since the Globe gave Manela some 900-words worth of space to review this "deeply, indeed exhaustively researched" biography, it would have been nice to hear a little more about those stains. After all, Wilson's war on dissent was hardly limited to "the war years." Even after the shooting had stopped, Wilson steadfastly refused to pardon the anti-war socialist Eugene Debs, who rotted in prison for three years for the "crime" of criticizing World War I. (President Warren Harding finally set Debs free.) And when it came to the rights of African Americans, Wilson didn't just show a "willful disregard," he waged a sustained attack. As Reason's Charles Paul Freund explained:

Wilson's historical reputation is that of a far-sighted progressive. That role has been assigned to him by historians based on his battle for the League of Nations, and the opposition he faced from isolationist Republicans. Indeed, the adjective "Wilsonian," still in use, implies a positive if idealistic vision for the extension of justice and democratic values throughout the world. Domestically, however, Wilson was a racist retrograde, one who attempted to engineer the diminution of both justice and democracy for American blacks—who were enjoying little of either to begin with….

Upon taking power in Washington, Wilson and the many other Southerners he brought into his cabinet were disturbed at the way the federal government went about its own business. One legacy of post-Civil War Republican ascendancy was that Washington's large black populace had access to federal jobs, and worked with whites in largely integrated circumstances. Wilson's cabinet put an end to that, bringing Jim Crow to Washington.

Wilson allowed various officials to segregate the toilets, cafeterias, and work areas of their departments. One justification involved health: White government workers had to be protected from contagious diseases, especially venereal diseases, that racists imagined were being spread by blacks. In extreme cases, federal officials built separate structures to house black workers. Most black diplomats were replaced by whites; numerous black federal officials in the South were removed from their posts; the local Washington police force and fire department stopped hiring blacks. Wilson's own view, as he expressed it to intimates, was that federal segregation was an act of kindness.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

109 responses to “Woodrow Wilson's Legacy

  1. Woodrow Wilson seemed like one major cool dude.

    Jimmy
    http://www.web-anonymity.de.tc

  2. White government workers had to be protected from contagious diseases, especially venereal diseases, that racists imagined were being spread by blacks.

    Let’s not forget the scourge of drug adddiction endemic in the dusky populace.

    Right, Jimmay?

    1. Don’t blacks have significantly higher rates of venereal diseases? I seem to recall reading that somewhere.

  3. Like segregation has to be top down. Just become an academic librarian. It’s a sea of pale faces and sallow eyes. It’s like working in The House of Usher.

    1. You actually have black peers. It’s just the lack of sunlight and chronic consumption among librarians renders them visually indistinguishable from other librarians.

      Until you play basketball.

      1. Maybe you’re right, like the black albinos in The Omega Man.

        But in all seriousness… I work with the only black male librarian in the entire state of Kentucky. And he’s a hard-core libertarian.

        1. If you’re a librarian, you might as well be a libertarian. I mean, you only have to add a couple letters.

          1. Also, they have libraries in Kentucky?

            1. Hurr, hurr.

              1. Sorry. I really wanted to resist, but was unable.

  4. White government workers had to be protected from contagious diseases, especially venereal diseases, that racists imagined were being spread by blacks.

    I always loved this rationale for segregation. “Once I had to share a bus with black people, there was no way I could help but fuck them and catch their diseases. Save me from my lack of sexual restraint, Bull Connor!”

  5. I just can’t believe anonymity bot’s a racist. He probably also posts regularly on Stormfront.

    1. All them white supremacists is junkies.

  6. The same people who worry about southern flags on pickups in the South think Woodrow Wilson was an American hero. Remember, since liberals rewrite history to fit the narative, anything they say about history is to be ignored.

  7. This is the time for one of the house liberals to show up to tell us that “everyone was a racist then.”

    They will, of course. have to ignore the fact that the system up until Wilson’s time, while hardly perfect, had a “large black populace” that “had access to federal jobs, and worked with whites in largely integrated circumstances.”

    1. How about a house liberal tells you that joe wilson was a scumbag and we’re all very glad he’s long dead.

      Debs was a liberal with principles and convictions motivated by his inability to watch others suffer needlessly. That guy I’ll defend all day, though i shouldn’t need to.

      Wilson was an authoritarian who just wanted power and prestige and could give a fuck how he got it. By fiat or governmental process, it made no difference to him.

    2. Great article, learned a few things about my man Woodrow

  8. The same people who worry about southern flags on pickups in the South think Woodrow Wilson was an American hero.

    He was just looking out for their best interests, you know.

  9. How ironic. During lunch, I just read this in Robert Remini’s “A Short History of the United States:”
    “For the first time in American history, African-Americans voted in large numbers for Wilson because he had promised them fair treatment and greater police protection. He won the support of W.E.B. DuBois, who had founded the NAACP….”

    1. He won the support of W.E.B. DuBois, who had founded the NAACP….”

      That was because WEB Dubois was a hard-line lefty Progressive who agreed with Wilson in almost every respect, except (obviously) racial equality – not that WEB DuBois new for sure, but I do not think Wilson’s racial intentions were unknown or unclear.

      1. Dubois is no firm marker of progressive racial equality. While he founded the NAACP he didn’t agree with them about segregation. He was the forerunner to the Malcom X, separate but better philosophy.

  10. So universal agreement that Wilson was the worst president? Or, at least, in the finals?

    1. Pretty much. Although, he did have a few good points that people seemed to agree with.

      Matt is a master at relationships and getting people back together. If you’re wondering how to get your ex boyfriend back, he’s the man to contact for the best methods for getting your ex back.

  11. Let’s not forget that by Wilson also helped destroy the “racial equality” clause our then Japanese Allies favored post-World War One.

    The resulting anti-American/anti-West sentiment played a pretty direct role in helping hardliners, who argued the West would never negotiate or deal fairly with people of other races, rise to power and influence in Japan, convinced that Japan could only prosper by proving itself militarily.

    Oops. Nice going, racism.

  12. So universal agreement that Wilson was the worst president? Or, at least, in the finals?

    I’m pretty sure he’d be a Final Four shoo-in.

    1. Nixon, Wilson, Buchanan and Adams would be my final four with Jackson and Andrew Johnson just barely missing out.

      1. What about Saint Franklyn? Wilson was playing John the Baptist compared to FDR.

        1. He won World War II. Had FDR left office in 1940 and never been President during the war, he would bump Buchanan from the list.

          1. FDR didn’t win WWII. American production, British perseverance, and the Red Army won WWII.

            FDR’s a definite final four shoe-in.

      2. My four would be the same, except that Adams would be replaced with LBJ.

        Even with all his flaws Adams does not deserve to be that far down the list.

        1. REally? What about the Alien and Sedition Acts? Adams was a civil rights nightmare. And LBJ for all his faults did sign the Civil Rights Act.

          1. Which Civil Rights Act. The early reasonable good one or the last horribly bad one?

            Im pretty sure he singed the last, not the others.

            1. I don’t think the last one was that horrible. You have to consider the times and how awful the Jim Crow South was. Yes, it was probably unconsitutional. But, the asshole South left the rest of the country little alternative. Things could not go on as they were.

              1. Ending Jim Crow and creating public accommodation laws are two different things.

                How can an unconstitutional law ever be “good”?

                1. dammit, I need incif back.

                2. If it rights a greater Constitutional wrong, yes it can at least in the sense that it is the lesser of two evils. I would rather live with the consiquences of the Civil Rights Act than have the same race relations and laws today that we had in the 50s.

                  1. Get rid of the Jim Crow Laws and the rest fixes itself. Relations would be even better today, because morons like Lester Maddox would have never become governor of Georgia and set things back a decade or seven.

                    1. I agree. I blame the racist south for a lot of our problems. Worst of all, they make me agree with liberals on a few things. I fucking hate them for that.

                    2. Jim Crow laws were started in the north. Milwaukee, IIRC.

                  2. So you’re cool with ObamaCare?

              2. For the love of Christ, read a fucking book or two, and stop being an ignorant slut of the MSM. Start with Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell. Economic affluence for blacks increased at greater rates from Post WWII to the mid 1960s than the mid 1960’s through the late 70’s the time affected by your hero LBJ. You have a Liberal Aspirations Calender mentality, when the MAN declares a day that is your liberation day, you jump up and yell, ‘yayyyy!’.

                1. I agree. I blame the racist south for a lot of our problems. Worst of all, they make me agree with liberals on a few things. I fucking hate them for that.

                  Probably thinks it is some kind of social progress that Disney animators are shading in their next animated princes with brown instead of pink. Idiot.

                2. For the love of Christ go talk to someone who actually lived in the South under Jim Crow. Go see what it was actually like for black people in the early 60s in this country.

                  I have read Sowell and Williams and they miss the forest for the trees. Yes, blacks were doing better, but it was still fucking awful. It is very easy for white people to sit around and say how important limited government is and how blacks should have just waited for a few more years.

          2. As bad as the AASA was, it had very little lasting damage. Medicaid and Medicare on the other hand

            1. True. And Medicaid and Medicare did more damage to the country than 10 Vietnams would have.

              1. Except, you know, for the violent killing thing.

    2. By intervening in World War I, Wilson not only got 100+ thousand Americans killed in France, but also allowed the Brits and the French to win the war and dictate the disasterous peace on Germany. Granted, Imperial Germany was a bunch of assholes who started the war and deserved to lose it. But in retrospect, the world would have probably been better off if the war had ended in a draw and Hitler remained a beer hall crank.

      1. Imperial Germany was a bunch of assholes who started the war

        Hi.

        1. Just because you killed the Arch Duke Ferdinand, didn’t mean Germany had a right to invade neutral Belguim on its way to France.

          1. “The Most Gratuitous Use of the Word “Belgium” in a Serious Screenplay. It’s very prestigious.”
            “The most gratuitous use of which word?” asked Arthur, with a determined attempt to keep his brain in neutral.
            “Belgium,” said the girl, “I hardly like to say it.”
            “Belgium?” exclaimed Arthur.
            A drunken seven-toed sloth staggered past, gawked at the word and threw itself backward at a blurry-eyed pterodactyl, roaring with displeasure.
            “Are we talking,” said Arthur, “about the very flat country, with all the EEC and the fog?”
            “What?” said the girl.
            “Belgium,” said Arthur.
            “Raaaaaarrrchchchchch!” screeched the pterodactyl.
            “Grrruuuuuurrrghhhh,” agreed the seven-toed sloth.
            “They must be thinking of Ostend Hoverport,” muttered Arthur. He turned back to the girl.
            “Have you ever been to Belgium in fact?” he asked brightly and she nearly hit him.
            “I think,” she said, restraining herself, “that you should restrict that sort of remark to something artistic.”
            “You sound as if I just said something unspeakable rude.”
            “You did.”
            In today’s modern Galaxy there is of course very little still held to be unspeakable. Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that, were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and in extreme cases shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech and writing is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed and totally un****ed-up personality.
            So, for instance, when in a recent national speech the Financial Minister of the Royal World Estate of Quarlvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another and the fact that no one had made any food for a while and the king seemed to have died and most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy was now in what he called “one whole joojooflop situation,” everyone was so pleased that he felt able to come out and say it that they quite failed to note that their entire five-thousand-year-old civilization had just collapsed overnight.
            But even though words like “joojooflop,” “swut,” and “turlingdrome” are now perfectly acceptable in common usage there is one word that is still beyond the pale. The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the Galaxy except for use in Serious screenplays.
            There is also, or _was_, one planet where they didn’t know what it meant, the stupid turlingdromes.
            “I see,” said Arthur, who didn’t, “so what do you get for using the name of a perfectly innocent if slightly dull European country gratuitously in a Serious Screenplay?”

            1. Belgium; a country created so that Britian and Germany would have a place to settle their differences.

      2. Not to mention redrawing the borders and creating countries out of whole cloth in the Middle East. Look how that turned out.

        1. Good point.

  13. Wilson’s historical reputation is that of a far-sighted progressive. That role has been assigned to him by historians based on his battle for the League of Nations [among other Contitution-violating titbits]

    Is that supposed to be a compliment? Is being a far-sighted Progressive supposed to be a good thing?

  14. So universal agreement that Wilson was the worst president? Or, at least, in the finals?

    Worst, hands down.

  15. Also, they have libraries in Kentucky?

    All the books are in “as new” condition, strangely.

    1. Not true. I saw a few that were partially colored in.

      1. Only partially because eventually the crayons get eaten.

  16. So universal agreement that Wilson was the worst president? Or, at least, in the finals?

    Definitely in contention.

  17. Re: John,

    By intervening in World War I, Wilson not only got 100+ thousand Americans killed in France, but also allowed the Brits and the French to win the war and dictate the disasterous peace on Germany. Granted, Imperial Germany was a bunch of assholes who started the war and deserved to lose it. But in retrospect, the world would have probably been better off if the war had ended in a draw and Hitler remained a beer hall crank.

    Actually the US lost “only” around 50,000 men (in just a few short months, granted) and 150,000 wounded/missing.

    You are absolutely right that Wilson pushed the US into a war Americans did not want or need, which is an especially egregious fact if you consider he ran on a supposed anti-war leitmotif during his reelection campaign.

    The only thing achieved through this venture of his, apart from the dead Americans, was a bigger and more encroaching State, a big-ass deficit, a recession (which lead to a Depression in 1920) thousands of conscientious objectors and other political undesirables jailed or bullied, and a Progressive network of bureaucrats that lead directly to the New Deal and American Fascism.

    His new peace for democracy lead to a far more destructive war and the radicalization of the left in the form of the Fascist, Nazi and Socialist movements. It was alrady mentioned that he was a raving racist who imposed segregation on an already integrated army, a policy that was not lifted until well after WWII.

    He was probably the worst of the worst when it comes to US presidents.

    1. Truman lifted the segregation policy in 48 I believe. That did as much to change racial attitudes in this country as anything. A lot of white people changed their minds and admitted blacks deserved fair treatment after serving with them in the military. It also opened up the military as a pathway to the middle class for blacks. Blacks were treated horribly by the military during World War II. They were allowed to be truck drivers and cooks and that is about it.

      As far as World War I, we will never know what would have happened had the US not intervened. Germany was becoming a spent force as it was. The naval blockaide was really taking its toll. The UK and France might have won without the US. But it would have taken at least another year longer. The addition of the US divisions in the 1918 allied offensive is what really made it the death blow to Imperial Germany. But, had those divisions not been there, Germany probably holds on for another year but no more. Impossible to say if the UK and France hold on long enough to outlast Germany.

      1. But Germany held most of Ukraine and Belarussia by 1918. That would have mitigated the effects of the blockade -Germany was about to get access to the bread basket of Russia. If the US had stayed out, the European powers probably would have had to find some way to come to terms.

      1. Don’t sell yourself short…you deregulated the airlines.

    2. Well, let’s not leave Germany off the hook for pushing America into war. Early in 1917, Imperial Germany declared unrestricted u-boat warfare against all ships carrying cargo to the allies and subsequently sunk three American-flagged cargo ships. Wilson asked Congress to declare war, and on April 6th the House – controlled by the Republican Party – voted 373 to 50 to declare war.

      1. True. Germany was totaly loathsome. World War I is really the root of most of the evils in the world. Take it away and the incredible growth of freedom and wealth that happened in the 19th Century continues for who knows how long into the 20th. Instead, we got Communism, Fascism and later Democratic Socialism. UGH

        1. There wasn’t anything particularly loathsome of Germany, compared to England or France. Actually Germany treated their colonial populations much better than the British or the Belgians, the last being extremely brutal against the Congolese.

          It is true that Germany kidnapped and enslaved many able-bodied men in Belgium and France to work in the factories, but that is not particularly barbarous compared to enslaving their own populations to fight in the trenches, as all did.

          1. Germany started the war. There was no reason to do it. They convinced themselves that Russia and France were destined to overtake it and that they either had to start the war now from a position of strength or lose it later from a position of weakness. It was insanity. The Austrians thought they were going into a war in the Balkins. The Germans instead started a World War. The Imperial German government was entirely responsible for the seminal tragedy of the 20th Century. That makes them much more loathsome than Brittian, Russia or France.

            1. But the war plans were all based on train schedules requiring the quick defeat of France, capitulation of England and then turning all the divisions East! What else could I have done?

            2. It wasn’t France, Germany was worried about, it was Russia. And it wasn’t insane from the German point of view to start a war with Russia in 1914. From 1890-1913 Russia made tremendous strides in economic growth, was liberalizing politically, and was quickly modernizing the military that performed so disastrously against Japan. The Russian Empire was becoming a world leader in many cultural and scientific spheres as well. The German military leaders feared that by the 1920s Russia would be unbeatable and would really start swinging its weight around in Eastern Europe and in the Near East. At its root WWI and WWII are really a 40 year struggle between Germany and Russia for dominance of Europe, with France and Britain just sideshows already in decline even by 1913. Ironically it was the US that benefitted the most from these European powers bashing each others heads in.

          2. Per Barbara Tuchman in “The Guns of August”, the Germans had a deliberate policy of murdering civilians in order to terrorize the population as they passed through the low countries during the invasion. Incredibly loathsome.

            1. Barbara Tuchman is biased and very anti-German.

  18. As for “Worst President Evaaaaaar!” competition:

    Each President has laid the groundwork for the depredations and outrages which followed.

    Our current President could not be causing the sort of harm he is, without the assistance of his immediate predecessor.

    1. I say this to people all the time. After protesting the antics of GHWB, then The Impeached, and then GWB again, I started getting questions like “Isn’t there a president or party you do like?” to which I would respond much as you said above; “my problem is less with what this president is doing now so much as what the next president is going to do with it.”

      I see a fairly direct path of system growth and expansion that, aside from partisan window dressing, is largely internally consistent on its aim to control me.

  19. Can we all agree William Henry Harrison was the best president?

    1. “We are the mediocre presidents.
      You won’t find our faces on dollars or on cents!
      There’s Taylor, there’s Tyler, there’s Fillmore and there’s Hayes.
      There’s William Henry Harrison, “I died in thirty days!”
      We… are… the… adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable
      Caretaker presidents of the U-S-A!”

  20. Which is worse, a do-nothing president that allows the country to go to hell in a handbasket (Buchanan) or a progressive president?

  21. First, I’m not sure that many liberals have much Wilson love. Check out the treatment of him by folks like Chomsky and Howard Zinn.

    1. Is Erez Manela not a liberal?

      1. I’ve frankly never heard of him, so I don’t know. Certainly he’s not as big of a name on the left as Chomsky and Zinn, right?

    2. I’m not sure that many liberals have much Wilson love. Check out the treatment of him by folks like Chomsky and Howard Zinn.

      Are Dr. Chomsky and Dr. Zinn to be counted as American liberals?

      Is describing them as so similar to describing Eugene Debs or William Haywood as a liberal?

      1. No, Dr.Zinn was an evil Chinese super scientist who chased after Johnny Quest in a giant laser spewing mechanical crab.

    3. It is funny that the far left actually has more integrity then the center left.

      Of course looking at David Brooks you could say the same thing about the far right and the center right.

      1. It is easy to have integrity when you are not involved in governing. Give the far-left like Chomsky the power of government in this country, and then see how much integrity they have…

    4. Chomsky and Zinn are both further left than establishment liberals, though, and the far Left is much more consistently critical of American militarism and interventionism than the mainstream. There was plenty of support for the Iraq invasion in the Democratic Party, for instance, whereas in the Chomsky region of the political spectrum opposition to it was more or less unanimous.

  22. Can we dig up Coolidge?

  23. Second, as liberalism tends to be a philosophy of pushing the envelope as you go back in the past you inevitably find “liberals” who have some conservative beliefs. Wilson may have been foward thinking in terms of, say, nominating the first Jewish SCOTUS justice or on economic matters but may have had the racial views of his time and place, a very conservative thing to do I might say (accepting the mores and beliefs of your time and place).

    1. Re: MNG,

      Even at that time, there was nothing conservative about being a racist and a white supremacist. Actually, white supremacism came hand in hand with the Eugenics movement, which was though as very forward-looking. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a racist of the highest order, and an Eugenicist.

      1. There was nothing conservative about being a racist in the South at that time? Really?

        Wilson lived in Virginia and Georgia during his early days. He did what every good conservative did: he uncritically accepted the social mores of his environment.

    2. No, as noted in the parent post, Wilson reversed the policies of previous administrations on racial matters.

      Many people of the time considered it right and proper that blacks should be able to advance economically and socially. They may have been far more paternalistic on racial matters than we consider proper today. Some may have even thought blacks inferior despite a generally benevelont attitude towards them.

      Wilson was an extreme segregationist who believed that blacks were forever to be kept in total subjugation.

      1. It’s hardly remarkable that the first Southern president elected post-Civil War adopted a more Southern attitude on race. Does that have to do with his liberalism or his Southernness?

        In accepting the social mores that were dominant where he grew up was Wilson being a liberal radical or social conservative?

        1. You could argue he was reactionary, but not conservative.

          1. How could I not argue he was conservative? Is not accepting and defending the traditional social mores one is born into a conservative thing to do? It certainly isn’t a radical liberal thing to do.

            1. con?serv?a?tive??/k?n?s?rv?t?v/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] Show IPA
              Use conservative in a Sentence
              See web results for conservative
              See images of conservative
              ?adjective 1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

              Again robc, so Wilson, who was reared in the South of the time and adopted it’s ugly racial views uncritically, was he being conservative or liberal to do so? Was he “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change” in social mores on race or not? It strikes me he was indeed disposed to preserve the existing conditions and institutions re: race he grew up with, and where he came across changed conditions, as when he came to DC as President, he “to restore” the mores to more “traditional ones” for a man who had been reared in the post-civil war South.

              So the whole Wilson=liberal racist meme is one big fat fail.

  24. Re: John,

    Regarding what would have happened in WWI without the entry of the US, there are a few considerations:

    1) The blockade of Germany would probably not have been possible with a hostile US towards any nation blocking her commerce, if Wilson had stick to the Constitution. Before the war, there was a great deal of commerce between the US and Germany, whic was halted after the UK started their blockade.

    2) Unrestricted submarine warfare would have probably not make much of a difference – the Imperial German Navy did not invent wolf-pack tactics.

    3) Germany would not have been in such a hurry to defeat the Allies in 1918, possibly dragging the war to 1919 and a more advantageous peace negotiation. Think the Korean War 1951-1953.

    4) The Allies, instead, would not have felt as bold as they did in 1918 and would have tried to seek an armistice. In fact, they were already thinking about it after the 1918 Spring Offensives by Germany. Without the US, Germany, France and England would probably have stopped the war with the ante bellum frontiers.

    There is no evidence at all that a stronger Imperial Germany would have been worse than the Wilsonian peace that was imposed on that nation.

    1. No question, imperial Germany would have been a lot better than Fascist Germany.

      As far as the blockade goes, for the US to stop it, they would have had to have engaged the British fleet in the North Sea. I can’t see that ever happening. But, I do think you are right that Britian and France would have sued for peace in 1918 had the US not gotten involved.

      The problem is that I am not sure Germany would have accpeted antebellum borders. They made peace offers earlier in the war and all of them involved them keeping most of France. The UK and French governments could have taken a peace with antebellum borders and justified the costs of the war by saying the expelled the Hun. But the German Imperial govenrment would have been stuck explaining to its populace how it started a war that killed millions and resulted in pre-war borders. There would have been a revolution.

      1. Re: John,

        Yes, but remember that Germany already had the treaty of Brest-Litovks, which gave part of the Ukraine to Germany. If it weren’t for Wilson and his foolishness, Germany could have made peace with France and Britain, giving back their gains in France in exchange to keep the borders as indicated in Brest-Litovks. As it was, Wilson simply gave away those lands back to a Soviet Russia.

        1. Good point. It should be noted also that Wilson never really acted as much of a peace maker in Europe when the war was going on. Doing so would have required a real threat of force towards both sides. Instead, like a typical liberal, showed up a day late and a dollar short at Versailles with a bunch of utopian ideas that were promptly ignored by the parties involved.

      2. Yes, it is true that the German government had its hand tied by domestic, pro-war lobbies…And at this point in time the German government was basically being run by the pro-war General Staff. Nevertheless, it is unclear if any of the combatants in 1918 would have accepted a restoration of the pre-war borders in the near future, save perhaps some of the smaller, combatants such as the Romanians and Serbs. (The latter, incidentally, -really- started the war through their long-term sponsorship of terrorism within the Austro-Hungarian empire).

        1. Those smaller countries probably being willing only because they’d been conquered at that point in time.

      3. No question, imperial Germany would have been a lot better than Fascist Germany.

        This is actually interesting. In WWI were the Germans really the bad guys? Or simply the guys who lost? As far as i can tell they were far less expansionist and had far less colonies then France or England did. My suspicion has always been that the US joined the side we did had very little to do with justice but rather simply because we had such close trade ties with England. Plus we spoke the same language.

    2. While I don’t disagree that an Imperial Germany would not have been any worse for the world than what came later, bear in mind that there was a famine throughout the Central Powers during the winter of 1917-18 and the Germans (who dominated the other powers) were pushing to defeat the western allies while they still had the chance in 1918 due to that and the withdrawal of the Russians from the war. They might still have been in a hurry to win the war in 1918 even without the entry of the U.S. into the war.

  25. Bush Jr., FDR, and Wilson pretty much shredded the entire Constitution during their reign. I’ll pass on reading much more about it.

  26. So universal agreement that Wilson was the worst president? Or, at least, in the finals?

    He directly and indirectly caused more death than any president, so I’d have to say he’s the worst. Plus, he totally let his wife be president after he had a stroke like a fag.

  27. Wilson was a fucking asshole.

    Love,

    -Gene

  28. hi,
    everybody, take your time and a little bit.fgsgdwatw

  29. Like many biographers who have spent decades with their subject, Cooper writes with great sympathy for his.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.