Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

WOODROW WILSON remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. As an activist president, he aroused both praise and scorn. Opposing editors often labeled him a Puritan in politics, a Presbyterian priest, an unprincipled opportunist, and worse. But to his friends in the press, he was a gifted world statesman, a second Abraham Lincoln. Some editors considered him a prophet, in the sense that he was an inspiring leader whose passionate vision for a new and harmonious world order was contagious. Amid the international...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to write history without the help of many people, too numerous to mention. I do, however, want to recognize those to whom I am especially indebted. Gordon W. Prange, my inspiring teacher and mentor at the University of Maryland, first directed my interest to Woodrow Wilson and enthusiastically supported my work in the field until his death some years later.
I owe a special thanks to several of Wilson’s biographers. Anyone who chooses to write about him will soon realize the debt owed to Arthur S. Link. Most of all,...

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1. The President and the Press

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pp. 1-15

NO PRESIDENT ever had a greater need to engage the press and to encourage its support than Woodrow Wilson. His theories of executive leadership, advanced in his scholarly writings dating back to 1885, challenged and reinterpreted the ideas of the founding fathers. Fearing demagoguery, they established brakes on public opinion about such things as the electoral college. By the doctrine of separation of powers, they created a structure in which each of the three branches of government, while overlapping one another in some instances,...

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2. The War, the Press, and Propaganda

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pp. 16-37

AS EUROPE gravitated toward war in the fateful summer of 1914, Wilson was grappling with problems far removed from the impending conflict. The brilliant legislative victories he won during his first eighteen months in office failed to mollify his present difficulties.1 Republicans still considered the antitrust law he pushed through Congress a source of controversy. In Colorado, conflict between coal miners and mine operators had led to a strike and then to violence, which the National Guard could not contain. Wilson’s efforts to mediate the...

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3. Neutrality Tested, 1915

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pp. 38-53

BY THE WINTER of 1914–15, the quick victory that the major combatants once anticipated became an illusion. The nature of war changed. Stalemate replaced movement on the main battlefronts, and in the West where the Allies had blunted the German offensive, five million weary entrenched soldiers faced one another across a battle line running from Switzerland to the sea. The tremendous loss of life on both sides at this point assured that the war would continue until some dramatic breakthrough or military collapse occurred. Moreover, the...

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4. National Anxieties, 1915

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pp. 54-72

THE NATION’S attention in 1915 focused not only on neutrality but also on two related issues: preparedness and disloyalty. Having gained momentum in the fall of 1914, the preparedness movement continued to raise doubts about the state of US military readiness throughout the following year. Wilson opposed the movement and on December 7, 1915, made it the subject of his Third Annual Message. Claiming that the country was at peace and had no need to prepare for war, he contended that the United States should not compromise the...

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5. Politics under the Shadow of War, 1916

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pp. 73-96

BY 1916 the European war had become an epic struggle, and Americans were never distant from it. Daily news reports, war correspondence, and maps about the titanic battles raging in Europe filled the American newspapers. To some readers the war seemed like a vortex that the United States could not avoid; to others, one to be avoided at all costs. From the first of the year, Republican spokesmen and editors endeavored to make the administration’s foreign policy the keynote of their campaign against Wilson in the upcoming presidential...

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6. Peace and War in the Balance, 1916–17

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pp. 97-119

CIRCUMSTANCES appeared to favor Wilson’s decision to renew his efforts to mediate peace. In 1916, massive armies clashed in two of the epic battles in modern history, Verdun and the Somme, but in both cases the great offensives ground to a halt. Afterwards stalemate and attrition returned to the Western Front. The battles had caused appalling losses on both sides, with combined casualties reaching nearly two million men. Conditions were worse on the Eastern Front, where, in March 1917, the weight of staggering losses in battle, demoralization,...

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7. Managing the Media in Wartime

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pp. 120-137

PRAISE FOR Wilson’s war address echoed throughout the press as his administration braced itself for the challenges ahead. After the great campaigns of 1916, the belligerent powers despaired as stalemate followed in their wake, but Germany’s ability to battle on seemed greater than that of the Allies. Aside from the early campaigns in East Prussia, Germany had been able to carry the war to the soil of other countries while leaving its own virtually untouched, a fact that suggested an invincibility not present among the Allies. In addition, the...

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8. Criticism on the Home Front

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pp. 138-167

THE HUGE CHALLENGE Wilson and his colleagues faced in mobilizing the country for war cannot be minimized. Before the United States entered the war, its army of 107,641 men ranked seventeenth in size in the world. Even after adding one hundred thirty-two thousand men in the national guard and fifteen thousand five hundred men in the US Marine Corps, it was no match for the massive armies engaged on the European battlefields. The country had not participated in any large-scale military operation in fifty years, not since the...

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9. Diplomatic Realities, 1917

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pp. 168-188

WHEN PRESIDENT Wilson stood before Congress on April 2 and called for a declaration of war against Imperial Germany, he set forth the principles the America people would uphold as participants in the conflict. He assured the Allies of “the utmost practicable cooperation” both in “council and action.” Then he turned to the high purposes the United States had in the war. Wilson believed that the American people were destined to play a unique role in world affairs, that they had a mission to serve mankind. The American people, he said,...

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10. Wilson’s Peace Initiative, 1918

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pp. 189-212

THE ANNUAL Message that Wilson delivered to Congress on December 4 was no ordinary address. It began his most ambitious initiative thus far to move the belligerents toward peace, and the technical measures taken to publicize it made it different from any previous Annual Message. Wilson wanted his words to reach the world, and George Creel and the Committee on Public Information created an operation to make that possible. Locating its headquarters in New York City, Creel hired a corps of typists and translators who, working from...

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11. The End of the War

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pp. 213-233

THE PERIOD following the launching of Germany’s massive offensive was one of deadly peril for the Allies. As the German drive toward Paris began, Colonel House was inundated by “constant telephone calls from newspapermen, diplomats and others” seeking his opinion. “I see signs of panic,” he recorded in his diary. “I am trying to keep everyone’s courage up. . . . I have asked Cobb of the World to write a steadying editorial.”1 The nation’s anxiety was justified, as the Literary Digest reported that Allies were fighting with their backs to the wall...

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12. Interlude between War and Peace

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pp. 234-252

THE PARIS Peace Conference of 1919, long recognized as a pivotal event of modern history, was also a milestone in the evolution of international journalism. The last assemblage to approach the magnitude of this conference was the Congress of Vienna following the Napoleonic wars. However, the modern press had yet to emerge at that time. Circumstances now were different. Since the mid-nineteenth century, both the press and public opinion had acquired new stature. The press had become a modern institution; public opinion had become...

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13. At the Summit

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pp. 253-272

THE LONDON Times’s editor Henry Wickham Steed once wrote that it was impossible to reproduce the first six months of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 without knowledge of the atmosphere surrounding it. But that atmosphere, he added, would remain forever “incomprehensible” and impossible to reproduce.1 Any consideration of the influences affecting the proceedings bears truth to Steed’s reflection. With talk of open diplomacy, expectations ran...

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14. Return to the Summit

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pp. 273-292

ARRIVING BACK in Paris on March 14, the president discovered that the mood had changed. The French now insisted on terms that would humiliate Germany and guarantee French security into the distant future. According to the French hardliners, Germany had to reduce its army to a minimal and unthreatening level, pay reparations sufficient to cover the costs of the war for the Allies, relinquish Poland’s historic territories under German rule, and agree to readjustments of its borders that would deprive the German republic vital...

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15. Statesmanship in Abeyance

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pp. 293-309

WILSON’S RETURN from France on July 8 bore the markings of a triumphant ending to his sojourn abroad. Huge crowds, reminiscent of his reception in Europe the previous December, greeted him in New York and Washington. Nevertheless, he was about to engage in the most soul-wrenching debate in American history since the controversy over slavery. The debate would be bitter. Long-smoldering Republican grievances, particularly Wilson’s shutting them out of the peace negotiations, had stiffened their backbone against him, and...

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16. The End of the League Debate

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pp. 310-322

EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, September 28, the president’s train reached Washington’s Union Station. Summoning all of his will power, Wilson managed to walk down the long train shed to awaiting White House cars. He was a desperately sick man, and Dr. Grayson ordered a complete and prolonged “rest-cure,” as he called it, to begin at once. Wilson was not to be bothered by affairs of state, there would be no meetings with cabinet officers or other officials, and nothing would be allowed that might interfere with his recovery. For a few days he...

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Epilogue

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pp. 323-326

CHARLES SWEM once observed that however much Wilson “distrusted the daily dispatches, he never underestimated the value of press opinion.”1 How successful, therefore, was he in dealing with that which he valued? In answering that question, it is interesting to recall the scathing indictment of Wilson that Walter Weyl published in the New Republic as the Paris Peace Conference drew to a close. Entitled “Prophet and Politician,” it charged Wilson with abandoning his role of prophet during the negotiations to become an “opportunist...

Abbreviations

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pp. 327-328

Notes

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pp. 329-386

Bibliography

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pp. 387-402

Index

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pp. 403-424