President Wilson was an emotionally complex man, one who craved affection and demanded unquestioned loyalty. He once described his nature as a struggle between his Irish blood – “quick, generous, impulsive, passionate, always anxious to help and to sympathise with those in distress” – and his Scottish blood – “canny, tenacious and perhaps a little exclusive”.
Paradoxically, before large crowds, he was supremely self-confident and a gifted moving orator; with small groups of strangers he was often shy and awkward. He was married twice. First, to Belle Louise Axson, daughter of a Presbyterian minister from Savannah, Georgia, and, after her death 29 years into the marriage, he wed widower Mrs Edith Bolling Galt, who survived him by 37 years.
Religion was Woodrow Wilson’s driving force and he said his life would not be worth living were it not for faith, pure and simple. He asserted: “I have seen all my life the arguments against it without ever having been moved by them. Never for a moment have I one doubt about my religious beliefs.”
Wilson read his Bible daily in the White House, said grace before meals and prayed on his knees each morning and night. He belonged to Central Presbyterian church in Washington and regularly attended the midweek prayer meetings. He firmly believed in providence and predestination and that God had pre-ordained him as President. His devout Calvinistic upbringing remained throughout his life.