The Brutally Unjust Woodrow Wilson

Probably the nicest thing about writing for American Greatness—as opposed to my usual gig of writing for my own site (wokecapital.org)—is the presence of a copy editor. I am unusually predisposed to typos, and not even Grammarly can spare my readers from frequently having to decipher what it was I really meant to write. In my nearly six months of writing weekly for AG, however, not a single typo has slipped past its eagle-eyed editors. Or at least that was the case until last week.

Last week, I wrote a sentence that was linguistically and grammatically correct but still contained an appalling typo. Because it was technically correct, the blame is 100% my own. Neither the most advanced software in the world nor the most attentive editor could have caught it. Not that I would blame an editor for missing my screw-up in the first place, but in this case, no one could possibly have known “what I really meant to write.”

As submitted and as originally published, the sentence in question began as follows: “He [Woodrow Wilson] was a just guy, albeit a guy with an important job….” What I meant to say was that Wilson was “just a guy.” The difference is subtle grammatically but nevertheless immense in terms of meaning. You see, Woodrow Wilson was not a “just guy.” There was nothing remotely just about him. Indeed, he was one of history’s greatest monsters—and I say that without even a hint of sarcasm.

For starters, Wilson was a proto-totalitarian and, as such, was the father of the overweening, all-encompassing American administrative state. He believed that God had put him on earth to accomplish certain things. As a result, he also believed that he had no choice but to achieve those ends, regardless of the means necessary to do so. He had been given a mandate by heaven, after all.

The unifying theme of Wilson’s career, from his early days in academia to his time as a politician, was his absolute and unflappable detestation of “the people.” The people, Wilson believed, were ignorant and weak. They needed government—they needed him in particular—to ensure that their lives were not wasted and pointless. They—the savage masses—were not God’s chosen, while he truly believed that he was.

In his first significant academic work, the rightly famous “The Study of Administration” (which was published in 1887 in the newly founded Political Science Quarterly), Wilson spelled out the primary tenets of American government as he saw them going forward. He noted that “it is the object of administrative study to discover, first, what government can properly and successfully do, and, secondly, how it can do these proper things with the utmost possible efficiency and at the least possible cost either of money or of energy.” He then explained why such “study” was necessary. “In government, as in virtue,” he wrote, “the hardest of hard things is to make progress. Formerly the reason for this was that the single person who was sovereign was generally either selfish, ignorant, timid, or a fool, —albeit there was now and again one who was wise. Nowadays the reason is that the many, the people, who are sovereign have no single ear which one can approach, and are selfish, ignorant, timid, stubborn, or foolish with the selfishnesses, the ignorances, the stubbornnesses, the timidities, or the follies of several thousand persons.”

Wilson was also an inveterate racist. A child of the old Confederacy, he believed that blacks were inferior to whites and that they should, therefore, be treated differently as lesser people. As president, he oversaw the resegregation of the federal civil service (a civil service he helped to create). As a “man of God,” Wilson insisted that what he was doing—the way he treated the “inferior” race—was, in fact, a kindness he was doing for them. “Segregation,” he told black newspaper editor Monroe Trotter, “is not humiliating, but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

In keeping with his racism, Woodrow Wilson was an ardent supporter of eugenics. As the governor of New Jersey, Wilson signed one of the nation’s first and most draconian state eugenics laws, a law that was drafted by none other than Dr. Katzen-Ellenbogen, who would later turn against his fellow Jewish prisoners and become a notorious killer-doctor in Hitler’s Buchenwald death camp. Among other things, Wilson’s law created a special three-man “Board of Examiners of Feebleminded, Epileptics, and Other Defectives,” which the historian Edwin Black described as follows:

The Board would systematically identify when ‘procreation is advisable’ for prisoners and children residing in poor houses and other chari­table institutions. The law included not only the ‘feebleminded, epileptics [and] certain crimi­nals,’ but also a class ambiguously referred to as ‘other defectives.’

In 1917, as the United States headed into World War I, Congress passed the Espionage Act, which it expected the Executive Branch to use to pursue actual espionage. Instead, Wilson used it to weed out political enemies and all pockets of domestic opposition—real or perceived. The following year, Congress passed and the Wilson administration again abused the Sedition Act and the Alien Act, arresting and fining all those who opposed the president and his goals in any public way.

Additionally—and perhaps most significantly, long-term—he used these laws to destroy all opposition on the left to his hallowed Progressives. He had Victor Berger, the first socialist in Congress, arrested and sent to prison for twenty years. He had trade unionist and five-time presidential nominee of the Socialist Party of America Eugene Debbs arrested for making an anti-war/anti-draft speech and sentenced to ten years in prison.

America’s 28th president was, by most accounts, a raving lunatic. He was a devotee of and profound believer in Hegel’s historicism. He was obsessed with the power of the federal government to “do good.” He openly attacked the Constitution and did all he could to weaken it. He hated “the people” in general and black people specifically. And he used any means available to him to intimidate and defeat his political enemies.

He was, in other words, the opposite of a “just” man.

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About Stephen Soukup

Stephen R. Soukup is the Director of The Political Forum Institute and the author of The Dictatorship of Woke Capital (Encounter, 2021, 2023)

Photo: circa 1915: Portrait of U.S. president Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) sitting at a desk, holding a letter. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. Woodrow Wilson was the beginning of the Deep State. He was responsible for the Versailles Treaty which created WWII and many horrific constitutional amendments.

    1. 17th amendment which changed the senate election to popular election - which lost state’s representation in DC.
    2. 16th amendment - income tax
    3. Got us into WWI after promising not to
    4. Had a stroke in which his wife ran all affairs - but never was elected

    Just a few horrible things about this guy.

    Great article on this monster.

  2. Don’t forget the 18th Amendment, and given the insanity of liberal white women, I’d also include the 19th.

    Yup, Wilson was a monster.

  3. Thank you - well said. My husband often says that women ruined this country and sadly, I agree.

    In fact, even James Carville agrees with that.

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