Plotting to Kill the President: Assassination Attempts from Washington to Hoover

By Mel Ayton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
The Stalking of Woodrow Wilson

There is nothing that can be done to guard against such attacks. It seems to me
that the police and Secret Service guards are useless if a madman determines to
attack a man in public life.

—Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Party nominee of 1912, benefited greatly from a split in the Republican Party in the presidential election of that year. When former Republican president Teddy Roosevelt was beaten by Taft for the Republican nomination, he formed the new Bull Moose Party. During the November election he took votes away from Taft, and Wilson won with just 42 percent of the popular vote. Though his political personality was more understated than Roosevelt’s, Wilson also took a “big stick” approach to governing and used the powers of the presidency to rein in big business. He helped create the Federal Trade Commission and signed the Clayton Antitrust Act, both of which gave regulators authority to limit the power of large corporations.

When acts of sabotage by German spies and sympathizers broke out in the United States and losses were inflicted on its shipping by German U-boats, it forced America’s hand, and Wilson declared war against Germany in 1917.

Although Wilson has been judged by most historians as a “great president,” his conception of himself, according to historian Forrest

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