He was born to a Presbyterian family of Scottish origin. His father was a pastor. His mother was a pastor’s daughter. He graduated in law and became a professor of law and economics at Princeton University. He was a successful lecturer and researcher and served as president of Princeton University (1902-1910). It was at Princeton University where he became famous for his ideas for reforming education.
He entered into politics and became governor of New Jersey (1911-1913). In 1912, he was elected President of the United States and started implementing his programme of the so-called New Freedom. Among other things, he reformed the banking system, decreased customs tariffs, introduced antitrust regulations, granted people the right to strike and the freedom of association, combated unfair business practices, made child labour illegal and reduced working hours for workers.
During World War I, he wanted to maintain neutrality of the US. He offered mediation to the countries involved in the conflict. However, his offer was rejected. After being elected to a second term in 1916, he changed his position. He declared war on Germany in April 1917 and on Austria-Hungary on December 7. Wilson mobilised America and became the main actor in the propaganda war.
In 1918, he delivered a speech to the Congress in which he articulated America’s war aims, the so-called Fourteen Points, which became the basis for the Treaty of Versailles. After Germany capitulated, he went to Paris to advocate the implementation of his idea of ideal peace. Even though these efforts were to no avail, he still managed to convince his partners to sign the Covenant of the League of Nations.