How did Woodrow Wilson’s Background as a Historian Influence his Decision-Making as President?

High School Level Reading and Worksheet

Woodrow Wilson, 1918. Library of Congress

Many people point to President Woodrow Wilson's devout faith to explain his perspective on international affairs. As the son of a Presbyterian minister, he was seemingly on a quasi-religious mission with his "Fourteen Points." Historian Erez Manela however argues that it is also important to look at Wilson through the lens of the one thing he had that no other U.S. president did: a Ph.D. in history.

The excerpt on the attached right side bar explores the idea of how President Woodrow Wilson's awareness that he was in office during a "historical moment" influenced his reactions to World War I and European politics. Students are also asked in this activity to think of a current issue and analyze it in a similar fashion: How will this event be remembered in years to come and what type of response would therefore be appropriate?

The text for the worksheet is taken from Erez Manela's portion of a May 2019 Carnegie Council/Macaulay Honors College panel entitled "100 Years After Versailles." A video of the excerpt is also available on YouTube.