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The documents in this volume, covering the period from January 20, 1909 to January 11, 1910, reveal momentous developments in Wilson’s thought and in the history of Princeton University. They also cast much light on Wilson the university administrator and budding politician, as well as on his personal relationships.
The preparation and delivery of a Lincoln centennial address in Chicago led Wilson to draw a conclusion that served as the theme for his political and educational actions during 1909: the strength and hope of America lies in the common people, not in those born to wealth and special privilege.
Wilson applied his egalitarian social ideals to education in 1909 through his continuing crusade for the quadrangle plan both for Princeton and for the nation’s colleges, and through his opposition to proposals for the construction of a graduate college separate from the main campus.
In political matters, Wilson continued to spurn open alliance with the rising Progressive movement, choosing instead to launch his own movement for political regeneration through the short ballot. In an address to the Democratic Club of Plainfield, he inaugurated the New Jersey gubernatorial campaign of 1910.
Thus this volume provides the background of the violent eruption of the graduate college controversy in the first half of 1910 and of Wilson’s decision of July 15 to accept the Democratic nomination for Governor of New Jersey.