(2/12) Wilson, by A. Scott Berg

Nov 18, 2018, 02:29 AM

Photo: The Wilson Homestead, Dergalt, Ireland. James Wilson left this house for America in 1807 when he was 20. The Wilsons still occupy the modern farmhouse next door and are full of stories about the fascinating Wilson photographs and artifacts. The Tyrone cottage – once owned by the family of Woodrow Wilson – is now owned by the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh.

Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the US, from 1913 to 1921. According to the author Billy Kennedy, James Wilson (grandfather of the president) was 20 years old when he emigrated from Dergalt to Philadelphia in 1807. He had recently completed a printer’s apprenticeship at Gray’s Printing Shop. The printer John Dunlap printed the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.

To visit the house: Open April-Sept Mon-Sun 2-6 pm. Adult 25p, child 15p. - not very expensive!

Permissions: © Copyright Kenneth Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence: you are free to Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially; under the following terms: Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. Credit: many thanks to the above-credited photographer, Kenneth Allen. May he be blessed with a lifetime of good fortune and happiness, and his name ever be uttered with praise.


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Wilson, by A. Scott Berg; reviewed by Kevin Baker, published in the New York Times.

No American president was more improbable than Thomas Woodrow Wilson. None better embodied how we like to think of ourselves in the greater world.

A Princeton University president and political economy professor given to making high-minded speeches and advocating a parliamentary system, Wilson held no public office until he was 54 years old. Recruited to run for governor of New Jersey in 1910 by a Democratic machine boss who thought he would be easily controlled, the prof schooled the pro in practical politics, passing a reform agenda that curbed the power of parties and corporations alike. “After dealing with college politicians,” he gibed, “I find that the men with whom I am dealing with now seem like amateurs.”

Adroitly riding the progressive wave breaking over the country, Wilson took the presidency two years later, only the second Democrat to capture the White House since the Civil War. He possessed a rare instinct for power and how to use it. Once in Washington he put his theories to the test, audaciously choosing to rule more as a prime minister than a traditional chief executive. Within 10 months he had passed a progressive agenda that had been stalled for a generation, slashing tariff rates that protected monopolies, passing the first permanent federal income tax and creating the Federal Reserve system to end the bank panics that continually ravaged the American economy. More reforms — to bolster antitrust laws, discourage child labor and inaugurate the eight-hour day and workers’ compensation — followed.

Handsome and charismatic, Wilson was our first modern president, holding regular news conferences, complaining about having to live in Washington and delighting in popular distractions like baseball games, detective stories, golf and especially the new moving pictures. He adored women and had remarkably modern partnerships with them, sharing every aspect of his work and his ideas with his wife, Ellen, and, after she died, with his second wife, Edith. He also had a longtime — and apparently platonic — female friend.

A. Scott Berg tells the story of Wilson, the man, very well indeed. The author of four previous prizewinning, best-selling biographies, he has a novelist’s eye for the striking d...