Gregg Lange admirably summarizes the reasons why — as Professor Eddie Glaude said in a televised interview — Princeton would not be Princeton without Wilson. There are both positive and negative aspects to his legacy. In deciding that the School of Public and International Affairs should not bear his name, the trustees acknowledged that his racism (not just in thought, but also in deed) disqualified him from that honor. That decision, correct and inevitable in our time, does not extinguish his record as one of the two (with Eliot of Harvard) most consequential figures in American higher education in the late 19th century; nor does it alter the fact that he set the basic parameters of U.S. foreign policy, for better or worse, that prevailed for the following 70 years (active internationalism, alliance with western Europe, multilateral institution-building). A mature understanding of history is most often tinted in shades of gray. Nicely done, Dr. Lange.
In Response to: Rally ’Round the Cannon: Wilson Decommission