Woodrow Wilson Stroke

95th Anniversary Of Woodrow Wilson’s Death: The Decline In Historical Reputation, Although Still In Top Quarter Of All Presidents

On February 3, 1924, Woodrow Wilson, who had been in retirement only for nearly three years, died in his home, the Woodrow Wilson House, in Washington DC, at the age of 67.

Wilson had never fully recovered from the massive stroke he suffered on October 2, 1919, and he was unable to gain support of the US Senate for the Versailles Treaty and American membership in the League of Nation that he had fought for when he attended the Peace Treaty negotiations in France, the first President to travel overseas as America’s diplomat.

Wilson had accomplished much domestic legislation that was memorable, including the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, and the first federal labor laws.

But his record on racial segregation was horrendous, and he opposed the woman suffrage movement for a long time. He also presided over massive attacks on civil liberties during the First World War, totally intolerant of dissent.

And his mission to the Versailles Peace Conference ended in failure, as America did not join the League of Nations, and ratified its own peace treaty with Germany and the other nations on the losing side of the war.

Wilson’s reputation for his accomplishments kept him in the top ten of all Presidents for many decades, but lately he has come under fire, and his spot in the Presidential polls of scholars has declined. He is now out of the top ten at number 11 in the C Span Presidential Poll of historians conducted in 2017, after having earlier been number 6 in 2000, and number 9 in 2009. The American Political Science poll of Political Science professors had pegged Wilson at number 10 in 2014, and in 2018, he slipped to number 11, the same as the most recent C Span poll.

The troubling part is that Wilson fell behind Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson in the recent polling, and is only 15 points ahead in the C Span 2017 poll over number 12, Barack Obama, just as he left the Presidency.

So do not be surprised that Wilson will likely slip to number 12 in the next polling, with Obama surging ahead of him, as Obama looks ever better in comparison to Donald Trump, who ended up at the bottom of the APSA 2018 poll as number 44 out of 44.

Troubled Second Terms Of Presidents Common Theme

Sadly, it is much more likely that a second term in the Presidency will downgrade the historical image of that President, no matter how successful he might have been in the first term.

Below is a list of second term Presidents— including those who succeeded to the Presidency during the term, and then were elected on their own—who faced adversity big time in that last term in the Presidency, indicating the negative developments.

Thomas Jefferson—-The Chesapeake Affair, and the Embargo Act.

James Madison—The War of 1812, and burning of the White House and the US Capitol by the British.

Abraham Lincoln—Assassinated within six weeks of starting second term of office.

Ulysses S. Grant—-Exposure of Credit Mobilier Scandal, and the Panic of 1873.

Grover Cleveland (non consecutive terms)—Panic of 1893, Pullman Strike, Cancer surgery on the President’s jaw in secret.

William McKinley—Assassinated after six months of his second term in office.

Woodrow Wilson—-Controversy over Versailles Treaty and League of Nations, the Red Scare, and the stroke which paralyzed him in his last 18 months in the Presidency.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—-Split in the Democratic Party over the Supreme Court “Packing” plan, attempted “Purge” of Southern Democrats, Recession of 1937-1938, and controversy over isolationism and World War II.

Harry Truman—After finishing the term of FDR, facing the Second Red Scare and the Korean War controversy.

Dwight D. Eisenhower—The Soviet move into space with Sputnik, and the U-2 Spy Plane Incident with the Soviet Union.

Lyndon B. Johnson—The escalation of the Vietnam War, and the invasion of the Dominican Republic, both highly controversial.

Richard Nixon—The Watergate scandal and the move to impeach, and the resignation.

Ronald Reagan—The Iran Contra Scandal

Bill Clinton—The Monica Lewinsky Scandal, and the Impeachment Trial.

George W. Bush—The Hurricane Katrina disaster, and the Great Recession.

Let us hope for better fortunes for Barack Obama in his second and last term!