TwHP Lessons

Woodrow Wilson:
Prophet of Peace

[Cover Photo] Woodrow Wilson House (Woodrow Wilson House)

For two painful weeks he had prepared for this moment. Now, on November 10, 1923, the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Armistice that concluded World War I, Woodrow Wilson was ready to deliver a commemorative address by radio from the library of his brick home on S Street in Washington, D.C. Frail and weak, Wilson rose that morning from a replica of the Lincoln bed in the White House. Above him hung a large picture of the American flag; an old mahogany desk from his days as president of Princeton University stood in the corner. On the mantel above the fireplace a tarnished brass shell fired by the American artillery against the Germans in 1917 was a constant reminder of the thousands of lives sacrificed to that European war.

Wilson then began the long process of dressing for the occasion, his butler helping him fit his paralyzed left side into his clothes. The president relied on the strong arm of his servant and his cane to walk to the elevator, which carried the two men down to the second floor. Wilson passed the drawing room that displayed the mosaic of Saint Peter, a gift of Pope Benedict XV, and a Gobelin tapestry, a gift of the people of France, and entered the library. Though it was filled with books, it still could not hold his entire collection of more than 8,000 volumes. On one shelf was a special case containing his own published works.

Today the library was even more full. Across the floor ran the cables necessary for the radio broadcast, and Wilson's wife, Edith, stood by with a script, ready to prompt him should his voice fail. As an announcer introduced the nation's former president, Wilson stood before the microphone holding pages he could barely read. His short speech focused on one of the defining events of his life: he urged the nation to finish the peace process by joining the League of Nations as a way to prevent the return of the rivalries that had ignited World War I.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Washington, D.C., 1914
 2. Presidential Tour, 1919

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Wilson's Passion for the League of Nations
 2. The Collision of Ideals and Policy
 3. Wilson's Final Campaign

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Origin of the League of Nations
 2. The Covenant
 3. The Wilson house
 4. Wilson's library and drawing room
 5. "Three Little Elephants"

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Public Speaking
 2. Current Events and Wilson's Peace
 3. Partisan Political Cartoons
 4. The Power of Mankind

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Woodrow Wilson House and Museum

This lesson is based on the Woodrow Wilson House, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.




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