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Woodrow Wilson's legacy [Letter]

Fred Rasmussen's "Back Story" articles always shine through to readers of The Sun. "When Woodrow Wilson lived here" (Jan. 31) had a special brightness — this story of a brilliant scholar whose interest in the academics of government evolved from graduate study at Johns Hopkins to the halls of Princeton and, finally, the different "halls" of New Jersey and national politics.

My early learning about history and politics came my way from a grandfather, a college professor whose name I have had the joy of holding. Born in Greensboro, N.C., on the same day that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, George Stockton Wills taught for nearly 60 years at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College. Part of my early learning was about his admiration of Woodrow Wilson, a memory that still lives. I offer my thanks to Fred Rasmussen, whose "Back Story" shines more light on the Wilson legacy.

In 1912, Professor George Wills jumped briefly into politics and became a delegate to the 1912 Democratic convention, held in Baltimore's 5th Regiment Armory. That convention nominated then New Jersey Gov. Woodrow Wilson as its candidate for president. And, per the old adage, the rest is history: on to a new progressive style of national leadership and the triumphs of World War I. Those triumphs were followed by the burdens of post-war failure of the League of Nations. Part of that legacy was World War II and the challenging post-war era during the 20th century's second half.

Humor and wisdom were part of my grandfather's legacy. I especially remember asking him why he went "into politics," even briefly, in 1912 . His answer still lives and applies to 21st century government: "We needed an intelligent president and some fresh air in politics."

George S. Wills, Baltimore

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Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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