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Faith and the PresidencyFrom George Washington to George W. Bush$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195300604

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300604.001.0001

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 Woodrow Wilson

 Woodrow Wilson

Presbyterian Statesman

(p.159) Chapter Five Woodrow Wilson
Faith and the Presidency

Gary Scott Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

His contemporaries, subsequent historians and biographers, and Woodrow Wilson himself have all agreed that his religious convictions are crucial to understanding the Democrat’s political thought and actions. Wilson revered the Bible, wore out several of them during his life, quoted it frequently, and sought to use its principles to guide his work as president. He prayed every day on his knees and followed Presbyterian standards in his personal life. While concurring that Wilson’s faith is pivotal to understanding him, scholars disagree over whether it had a positive or negative impact on his performance as president and his policies. Wilson’s firmly rooted and fervently cherished Calvinist faith significantly influenced his thought and actions as president. Clearly America’s preeminent Presbyterian statesman, Wilson’s faith is evident in his philosophy of government, his view of America’s mission in the world, and many of his major domestic and foreign policies, especially his attempts to mediate among the combatants in World War I, his decision to involve the United States in the war, and his role in devising the Paris Peace treaties and the League of Nations.

Keywords:   America’s mission, Bible, Calvinism, faith, League of Nations, philosophy of government, Paris Peace treaties, prayer, Presbyterian, World War I

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