From the large number of tributes to President Wilson, the following have been selected as representative, and as especially appropriate for the columns of his Alma Mater’s alumni publication:

From President Coolidge’s Proclamation

The death of Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States from March 4, 1913, to March 4, 1921, which occurred at 11:15 o’clock today at his home at Washington, District of Columbia, deprives the country of a most distinguished citizen, and is an event which causes universal and genuine sorrow. To many of us it bring the sense of a profound personal bereavement.

His early profession as a lawyer was abandoned to enter academic life. In this chosen field he attained the highest rank as an educator, and has left his impress upon the intellectual thought of the country.

From the Presidency of Princeton University he was called by his fellow citizens to be the Chief Executive of the State of New Jersey. The duties of this high office he so conducted as to win the confidence of the people of the United States, who twice elected him to the Chief Magistracy of the Republic.

As President of the United States he was moved by an earnest desire to promote the best interests of the country as he conceived them. His acts were prompted by high motives and his sincerity of purpose cannot be questioned. He led the nation through the terrific struggle of the World War with a lofty idealism which never failed him. He gave utterance to the aspiration of humanity with an eloquence which held the attention of all the earth and made America a new and enlarged influence in the destiny of mankind.

By Dr. Henry VanDyke ’73

Ex-President Wilson’s death is a great loss to the nation, but one cannot help thinking of it as a great release to him from the pain of a long, brave, and strenuous fight for health.

His achievements put him among the greatest American presidents,” continued Dr. VanDyke. “Five of these achievements must be recognized by all fair and reasonable men. First, the wise program of national legislation, which he carried through on his entrance into his high office, including especially the Federal Reserve bill, which kept us from panic and financial disaster during emergencies of the war.

Second, the patience and firmness with which he handled the question of America’s entry into the war, refusing to go in until it was unavoidable and until he had a united country behind him.

Third, the vigor and efficiency with which he carried on the war after we were in, including the way in which he handled the great question of selective draft.

Fourth, the splendid way in which he made it clear that America’s purpose in the war was to promote the cause of liberty and peace in the world, as well as to protect her own interests.

Fifth, the fine courage with which he advocated what seemed to him the best, if not the only way, of securing a lasting peace among the nations of the earth and the absolute devotion with which he practically laid down his life for that cause.

These five things stand to his everlasting credit, and places him among out immortals. His personal greatness was shown by the way in which he met the great responsibilities of his life, and by the courage and unfaltering faith with which he endured his last long illness and faced death without a fear.

By Dean Andrew F. West ’74

The following points seem especially suitable to mention in connection with President Wilson’s career as a professor and as President of Princeton.

He had very high gifts and rare powers of expression. History and politics were the subjects for which he had the greatest aptitude and in which his abilities found their fullest expression. His favorite avocation was reading English literature. He had the fine art of vivid, graceful, and telling utterance and his power as a writer and public speaker was extraordinary. His administrative energy was revealed in many ways, and notably in the introduction of the preceptorial plan, the better organization of discipline, and the complete revision of the curriculum. He worked hard and accomplished much. His administration here forms a very important part of the academic history of Princeton.

By Cyrus H. McCormick ’79

Member of the Board of Trustees

In the death of Woodrow Wilson the nation has sustained an overwhelming loss. No man in our generation has stood for higher ideals or pursued with more unflagging zeal the path of duty as he saw that duty. He caught the vision of the nations working together for the common good. He strove with might and main against innumerable obstacles to bring that vision to a reality. He fell as falls the soldier in the conflict, fighting for a great principle. The fact that he could not fully accomplish the great results he sought does not diminish the value of his vision or the valor of his quest. His name will stand in history as an intrepid leader who strove heroically for the betterment of the world.

By Dean Henry B. Fine ’80

I am deeply grieved by Mr. Wilson’s death. It was my privilege to be closely associated with him during all his life at Princeton as undergraduate, professor, and President, and I loved him very much.

He was one of the great men of our time, a man of extraordinary intellect, intense conclusions, high courage, and powerful enough to influence the course of events in a crisis in the world’s history.

Before beginning his political career he had won distinction as a writer, professor, and President of Princeton. He gave Princeton a mighty impulse, strengthening the Faculty, increasing the facilities for research, quickening the intellectual life of the place and gaining for it for the first time the rank it now holds among the universities of the land.

He did not know how to compromise with his convictions or to do aught else than to fight for them, even, as this event proved, at the cost of his life.

By Raymond B. Fosdick ’05

Former Under-Secretary General of the League of Nations

History will undoubtedly give Woodrow Wilson a position far greater than he enjoyed in his lifetime.

…Like all the world’s prophets, his work was based upon an ideal. He never hesitated to admit that he was an idealist.

…His ideal for America, for the place that she should occupy among the nations of the world, for the contributions that she is in a position to make to the spiritual assets of the race – this was the ruling passion of his life.

We speak of Woodrow Wilson as a war President. In a far truer sense he was a peace President…He distrusted the efficiency of war as a means of settling anything…he looked upon the maintenance of peace as a task which challenged the creative intelligence of mankind. Peace could not be obtained merely by hopes and pious wishes. It must be planned for. There must be machinery established, consciously to promote understanding between nations, to remove the friction that comes from contact, to absorb the shock that arises from differing national points of view.

That was why he fought for the League of Nations. It represented a method, a technique, a considered plan. It was a way of escape from the threat of future wars.

He is dead, but he has made a lasting contribution to the thought of the world. If war can by any means be avoided in the future, if by national processes mankind can acquire the habit of cooperation and peace, it will be because the idealism and intelligence of Woodrow Wilson were laid upon the altar of sacrifice to this supreme cause.

This was originally published in the February 13, 1924 issue of PAW.