Woodrow Wilson Birthplace And Presidential Library Offers Apology And “Reckoning” On Race
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Earlier: Reconstruction Victim/Critic Woodrow Wilson’s Boyhood Home Turned Into “Museum of the Reconstruction Era”

Apropos of James Fulford’s post about the “Museum of Reconstruction,” which used to be the Woodrow Wilson Family Home—like Black History Month used to be February—the Wilson birthplace and presidential library in Staunton, Virginia, apologizes for his past.

The website features a “Statement on Wilson and Race,” which explains that the library “make[s] no excuses for Woodrow Wilson’s racist beliefs”:

Our organization stands against racism, hatred and bigotry in all forms and we are committed to being a resource for honest, transparent and inclusive history. We learn from our past. The beliefs and actions of past presidents are particularly fertile areas of study by historians and the general public. This study should be encouraged because the knowledge gained can help us all better address issues that face us today and that will face us in the future.

[The] Museum is not a statue or a building named as a memorial to him. It is an educational institution devoted to the study of his life and the times in which he lived.

For this nation to heal, careful study of Wilson—and of all presidents—must continue.

What a commentary on the state of modern America that a museum feels compelled to say it “stands against racism.” Without the disclaimer, would we conclude that the library stands for racism?

Anyway, the library has also created a website, Reckoning: A Series on U.S. Presidents and Racial Inequality, which opens with Abraham Lincoln front and center, and so far includes eight presidents. The entry on Warren G. Harding is incomplete.

As for VDARE’s signature issue, Wilson was pro-immigration and in 1915, as Fulford reminded us in 2001, Wilson vetoed literacy tests for immigrants. He vetoed the Immigration Act of 1917 that included a literacy test and barred immigrants from the Middle East through Asia. Congress wisely overrode the veto.

Wilson’s veto message on the 1917 bill sounds like it was written by a Treason Lobbyist last week. Literacy tests are unfair because the illiterate might have “natural capacity,” and “the right of political asylum has brought to this country many a man of noble character and elevated purpose who was marked as an outlaw in his own less fortunate land, and who has yet become an ornament to our citizenship and to our public councils.”

Then again, Wilson might have opposed the act because his mother and paternal grandparents were immigrants.

In the library’s video on Wilson, historian John Cooper offered an interesting observation on that point: Wilson was not a deep-rooted Southerner, and not just because his mother and paternal grandparents were immigrants. He spent most of his life in the North, and so his racial beliefs were not typically Southern.

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