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Wilson

Wilson(1945)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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In 1909, Woodrow Wilson, president of Princeton University and a renowned author of historical and political books, is visited by Democratic political bosses Edward Sullivan and Senator Edward H. Jones. After praising Wilson's fight to abolish the special privilege of social clubs on campus and his advocacy of democratic ideals, they ask him to run for governor of New Jersey. Wilson defers to his beloved wife Ellen and three daughters, who encourage him to champion his principles of democratic equality. At the New Jersey Democratic convention, Wilson's integrity is challenged by Joseph Tumulty, a critic of the state's political machine. To demonstrate his convictions, Wilson coerces Jones into promising not to run again. Wilson wins the election, and after taking office, is outraged to discover that Jones is planning to stand for re-election. After Jones sneers at Wilson and reminds him that he elected him, Wilson stages a campaign to successfully smash Jones's political bid. As the 1912 presidential election approaches, Wilson For President clubs, overseen by Tumulty, the governor's new secretary, spread throughout the country. As Wilson watches from the New Jersey state house, the convention convenes and his name, along with two others, is placed in nomination. Although the front runner appears to be Champ Clark, a candidate supported by Tammany Hall, Wilson stands fast and is rewarded with the nomination after the convention deadlocks in forty-five consecutive ballots. Campaigning on a platform of equal opportunity for all and against the privileges of big business, Wilson sweeps the nation and defeats the Republican incumbent, William Howard Taft, and the independent candidate, Teddy Roosevelt. Buoyed by his mandate, Wilson takes up residence at the White House and passes the Anti-Trust Act and establishes the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve Bank Act. Wilson's refusal to compromise wins him the enmity of the Senate, led by Henry Cabot Lodge. When Ellen falls ill and her health steadily deteriorates, a melancholy Wilson finds himself unable to concentrate on political affairs. Soon after Ellen's death, Germany declares war on France, and when the Germans torpedo the Lusitania , Congress clamors for war. Wilson refuses to declare war, however, arguing that only by maintaining complete neutrality can the U.S. hope to influence a lasting peace. Adrift without the support of his wife, Wilson nevertheless forces Germany to desist from submarine warfare. One year after Ellen's death, Wilson meets widow Edith Bolling Galt and soon proposes to her. Edith asks him for more time to get to know him, but when the town begins to gossip about their relationship, she finally agrees to marry him. Wilson's refusal to fight weakens his support, and in 1916, he nearly loses to Charles Evans Hughes, but is narrowly re-elected by the electoral votes of the state of California. Soon after, Wilson is notified by Count Von Bernstorff, the German ambassador, that Germany intends to reinstate submarine warfare. Incensed, Wilson denounces Germany and expels Von Bernstorff from the country. Wilson's subsequent declaration of war is greeted by cheers, and soon American troops are being shipped to France. At a railroad station, a group of soldiers bound for Europe detrains and is greeted by Wilson. While serving refreshments at a Red Cross booth, Wilson extolls the virtues of universal peace to the departing troops. Then in a speech to Congress, Wilson unveils his fourteen-point peace proposal, the centerpiece of which is the establishment of a League of Nations, an international peace-keeping force that would insure lasting peace. As U.S. casualties mount, word comes that Germany has accepted Wilson's proposal, and Germany formally surrenders on 11 Nov 1918. Against the advice of his Cabinet, which feels that the idealistic President is no match for the pragmatic politicians he must face, Wilson decides to represent the U.S. at the peace conference in Paris. As Wilson convenes the talks in Paris with Georges Clemenceau, the premiere of France, King George of England and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, Prime Minister of Italy, a group of U.S. Senators, led by Lodge, who resents his exclusion from the conference, introduce a resolution to veto U.S. participation in the League of Nations. When Clemenceau questions the Senate's opposition, Wilson guarantees American ratification of the League and the Versailles Peace Treaty is then signed. Upon returning to Washington, Wilson mounts a political battle to save the League, and Lodge, who has a vendetta against Wilson, withholds approval of the Treaty. Despite ill health, Wilson begins to canvas the country in support of the League of Nations, delivering forty speeches over seventeen states in twenty-two days. After collapsing from exhaustion in Pueblo, Colorado, Wilson returns to Washington and suffers a debilitating stroke, forcing Edith to act as a conduit to the bedridden President. In 1920, the democrats nominate Cox of Ohio to run for President against Warren G. Harding, an opponent of the League. After Harding wins an overwhelming majority, U.S. participation in the League goes down in defeat. Wilson then bids his Cabinet farewell, confident that the ideals of a League of Nations will one day triumph.