PISCATAWAY, NJ—For those who are interested in learning more about Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, a county-sponsored program provides an opportunity to learn more about his history.
On Sunday, February 26, all are welcome to attend a “President’s Day” program hosted by the Middlesex County Office of Culture and Hertiage.
Neill Hartley of the American Historical Theatre will be portraying Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, at the free event taking place at the Indian Queen Tavern in East Jersey Old Town Village, located at 1050 River Road in Piscataway.
The program will have two shows, with the first commencing at 1 p.m. and the second occurring at 3 p.m.
Wilson won the Presidential election in 1912, running for office as a Democrat against incumbent Republican William Howard Taft, as well as a third-party candidate: Taft’s predecessor Theodore Roosevelt.
Wilson prevailed in the electoral college, but the victory was far from a landslide; he won only 42% of the nationwide popular vote, the third-lowest winning tally in history.
He won re-election in 1916, defeating Republican Charles Evans Hughes in an election that took several days before the outcome was clear.
Wilson had run on a campaign focused on keeping the country out of the evolving military conflicts between warring nations in Europe.
But he ultimately led the country into the first “World War,” sometimes called “Wilson’s War,” in April 1917.
His wife, Edith Wilson, ultimately became the First Lady in United States to assume many key presidential responsibilites after a stoke left Woodrow Wilson partially paralyzed in 1919.
“This is the first of a series of [World War I] commemoration events to be held at East Jersey Old Town and the Cornelius Low House through 2018,” said Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, chair of the County’s Business Development and Education Committee.
Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios added: “If you’re looking for a way to learn about history that goes beyond looking things up online or in a book, this program offers the feeling of live theater combined with expert historical research. I urge all those interested in history or curious to learn more about our nation’s presidents to attend this event.”
Like Armwood and Rios, Wilson was a Democrat from New Jersey.
Wilson’s backstory is well-known, but controversial, among New Jersey citizens because of his previous positions as President of Princeton University, and the state’s Governor.
While Grover Cleveland is actually the only President of the United States to be New Jersey native, he launched his political career in New York.
Likewise, Wilson was born on December 28, 1856 in Staunton, Virginia, but made his political career in New Jersey.
While his relationship to New Jersey is exciting for some people, Wilson’s legacy continues to stir controversy.
Wilson was known for being extremely racist, even for a time when racism was rampant.
His association with Princeton is a topic of heated debate because Princeton was known to be a bastion of racism in the past, with its legacy of being one of the last colleges to allow students to bring their slaves to school with them.
With Wilson’s link to racism during his era, the tradition of buildings and institutions at that university being named in his honor has been hotly contested by current students.
Princeton is home to the Woodrow Wilson School of Planning and International Affairs, as well as the Woodrow Wilson College, one of six residential colleges that make up the university.
In April 2016, Princeton’s Board of Trustees decided not to change the names of those entities, after students staged a 32-hour sit-in that forced a discussion of the issue.
New Brunswick is home to an elementary school named after Woodrow Wilson, located in its most affluent neighborhood. The name has not sparked much controversy here.
Interested people can register for the Woodrow Wilson event by calling (732) 745-3030, ext. 310, or sending an email to [email protected].
Persons with hearing disabilities may dial (732) 745-3888 (TTY users only) or 711, the New Jersey Relay System.
East Jersey Old Town Village is an accessible site and an “Assistive Listening System” will be in use during programs.
Funding for “President’s Day 2017” was provided in part by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Historical Commission.
Gisselle is a reporter at New Brunswick Today and a proud Rutgers University Alumni. She has a passion for writing, investigating and bringing attention grabbing news to the local community.