Wednesday, December 28, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 7, No. 2172


Staunton, Virginia (JFK+50) Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who was to become the 28th president of the United States, was born 160  years ago, December 28, 1856, here in Staunton*. As of today, Woodrow Wilson is the last POTUS from the state of Virginia.**

The birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, now a national historic site, is located on North Coalter Street "sitting atop the crest in...Staunton's Gospel Hill...district."  The home, at the time of Wilson's birth, was called a manse, or the residence of the town's Presbyterian minister who just happened to be Woodrow's father, Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, a founder of the Southern Presbyterian Church.

The elder Mr. Wilson came to Staunton in December 1854 and occupied the Greek Revival brick manse with 12 rooms and 4 chimneys.  The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation was founded in 1938 and the old manse underwent restoration in 1940 and 1941.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Staunton in May 1941 to dedicate Woodrow Wilson's birthplace.  FDR called it "a shrine to freedom."

Woodrow Wilson spent his childhood years in Augusta, Georgia.  He did not learn to read until the age of 10 perhaps due to dyslexia.  The family moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 1870 and Woodrow lived there for 4 years.

Woodrow was an accomplished student.  He graduated from Princeton in 1879 and attended the University of Virginia School of Law before practicing in Atlanta.   He earned his PhD in history and political science at Johns Hopkins University in 1886. Before being elected POTUS in 1912, Mr. Wilson served as president of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey.  

*Staunton, pronounced stan ton, is located in Augusta County in the NW part of Virginia.  The town is known as the "Queen of the Shenandoah Valley."

**Four of the first 5 U.S. Presidents were born in Virginia:  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison & James Monroe.  There were 3 more POTUS from Virginia in addition to Woodrow Wilson:  William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Zachary Taylor.  It is little wonder that VIRGINIA is called "the birthplace of Presidents."


Woodrow Wilson Birthplace
Staunton, Virginia 
Photo by Quarterczar
English Wikipedia (2007)