Tags: Presidential History | flu | spanish | war | quarantine

Over 100 Years Ago Woodrow Wilson Botched a Pandemic

wilson at versailles

The Conference for Peace on Jan. 19, 1919 shows leaders of the "Big Four" (Four Nations) David Lloyd George (L), Britain's Prime Minister, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (2nd L), Italian Council President, Georges Clémenceau (2nd R), French council President, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (AFP via Getty Images)

By Thursday, 23 April 2020 11:13 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There is no silver lining found in the coronavirus crisis of 2020; however, for historical grounding, it forces many to step back to the last time America faced a plague of epic proportions.

They are finding that Woodrow Wilson handled the Spanish Flu — the pandemic of 1918 killing millions of Americans — as poorly as a president could.

Combined with his rampant racism and his insistence we enter a European war in which we had no business, one must come to the inescapable conclusion that Wilson was one of our poorest presidents, alongside Richard Nixon, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, and Millard Filmore.

A direct result of Wilson’s interference in World War I was the rise of Adolf Hitler and his plague of human genocide. The European countries had been fighting for years.

They would have fought and settled things once again, but America’s entry tipped the balance, which lead to the disastrous Treaty of Versailles, which in turn led to the rise of Hitler and National Socialism.

Wilson signed the Executive Order creating "separate but equal" mandates in the federal government. He loved the racist 1915 movie, D. W. Griffith's, Thomas Dixon, Jr.'s, and Frank E. Woods', "Birth of a Nation."

Wilson showed it frequently in the White House.

He fired blacks, employed in the government, while hiring overt racists. One employee he hired said that the only place for African Americans was "in the corn field."

Liberal historians have been seduced by the fact that Wilson was the president of Princeton University and that his erudite-looking pince nez glasses gave him a sophisticated look.

Nonetheless, Ivy League institutions have been known to graduate some true failures over time.

After all, the uber-Neo Con, Henry Kissinger, the architect of so many foreign policy disasters, once taught at Harvard.

Jeffrey Skilling of Enron and Cell Block C infamy attended Harvard Business School.

"A favorite of progressives, Wilson has been hailed for expanding the federal government and celebrated for his commitment to international institutions," one recent article touted.

Hence, Wilson was America’s first globalist president. But, he did nothing about the Spanish Flu on which so little an effort could have saved so many lives.

More people died — 20 to 40 million globally in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 than in the four years of the Black Plague during the Middle Ages. It was a global disaster of epic proportion, due mostly to the incompetence of Woodrow Wilson.

In October of 1918, 195,000 Americans died.

Thought to have sprung from an Army base in Kansas, the flu quickly spread among the troops in America and headed to Europe via troop transport — on Wilson’s insistence —and from there, it spread globally.

At no time did Wilson order "social distancing" or the standard "quarantine" which Americans periodically went through.

Americans had the foresight to take steps of their own, but never in the two years, according to Wilson archives and newspapers, did he ever cry a word of caution, advice or concern.

Even his own historians have said Wilson never gave the flu or the suffering a thought.

"Frankly, I don’t think Wilson gave much attention to the flu," said John M. Cooper, a leading Wilson historian. Another Wilson historian said he never uttered a word about the deadly flu, publicly.

Wilson’s attention was on Wordl War I, to the exclusion of everything else.

Cooper elaborated, "The military and civilian leadership were hell bent on getting troops to Europe." They didn’t seem concerned about the troops arriving "sick or dead."

And Wilson "knew very well the price that was being paid in sickness and death." 

By the estimates of the War Department the flu “sickened 26 percent of the Army — more than one million men — and killed almost 30,000 before they even got to France. "On both sides of the Atlantic, the Army lost a staggering 8,743,102 days to influenza among enlisted men in 1918." Twenty to 40% of all American military became sick. Over 16,000 American troops died from the flu in Europe and another 30,000 soldiers died, stateside.

The Spanish Flu was so deadly that it killed more Americans Doughboys than died in Flanders and other fields of World War I. The trench warfare of World War I was the perfect Petri dish for the incubating and spreading of the deadly disease.

Resources that could have been used for wounded soldiers were instead devoted to the infantry, sick with the virus, thus prolonging the war, thus costing more lives.

The one fed the other.

The flu fed the trenches and the trenches fed the flu and it became a global epidemic.

Wilson was a racist; Wilson failed at World War I and he failed at the League of Nations when his own Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, embarrassing him on the world stage.

Because of him, millions died as he did nothing to stop a world-wide plague.

A consequence of Woodrow Wilson’s impassivity was that young American doughboys, through no fault of their own, had a rendezvous with death.

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Read Craig Shirley's Reports — More Here.

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Combined with his rampant racism and his insistence we enter a European war in which we had no business, one must come to the inescapable conclusion that Wilson was one of our poorest presidents.
flu, spanish, war, quarantine
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2020-13-23
Thursday, 23 April 2020 11:13 AM
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