07 February 2010

Cooper's biography of Woodrow Wilson

A quote -- appropriate for a Sunday -- from Chapter 0ne. This chapter is titled "Tommy," because the real first name of the man history knows as "Woodrow Wilson" was in fact "Thomas." He started using his middle name as a first name only while in law school.

Anyway, here's the quote with which I want to leave you today:

"Still, Tommy Wilson's upbringing in one of the most liberal and sophisticated religious and intellectual environments in America at that time gave him familiarity with the basic concepts of Protestant thought, Lutheran as well as Calvinist. He believed that Christians were instruments of God's wil and must fulfill their predestined part, but his upbringing among learned Presbyterians stood in stark contrast to evangelicals who stressed emotional commitment and personal salvation. Attitudes and approaches borrowed from evangelical Protestantism had spawned the pre-Civil War moral reform movements, such as the temperance and anti-slavery crusades. These attitudes would flourish again in such varied incarnations as the Protestant Social Gospel, anti-liquor and anti-vice crusades, and an overall evangelical style of political reform. Yet despite a deep religous faith and a look and manner that would later strike some observers as preacherish, the man Tommy Wilson grew up to be would not adopt those approaches. It was not this preacher's-son-turned-president but rather his greatest rival, himself a religious skeptic, who would call their office a 'bully pulpit.' Wilson did not call the presidency by that name, nor did he think about it and politics that way, largely because his religious upbringing had inoculated him against such notions."

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