One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, won the U.S. presidential election, becoming the second Princeton alumnus to earn the nation’s highest office. The next issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, dated Nov. 6, 1912, described the scene on election day:
“The election of Ex-President Woodrow Wilson ’79 to the Presidency of the United States was jubilantly celebrated in Princeton. President Hibben ordered the bell rung and the national flag raised on Nassau Hall, suspended the exercises of the University and made Wednesday a holiday, and sent the following message to the President-elect: ‘In the name of Princeton University I extend to you the congratulations and best wishes of your Alma Mater upon your election to the Presidency of the United States.’ ”
Faculty, students, and local alumni awaited election updates in Alexander Hall, and when the telegraphs began to indicate that Wilson’s victory was secure, the undergraduates embarked on a campus parade, first calling on Hibben at Prospect and then marching on to Cleveland Lane, where Wilson and his family were receiving the returns. Wilson greeted his supporters from the front porch, speaking with the professorial eloquence that had served him well on the campaign trail.
“The lesson of this election is a lesson of responsibility,” Wilson said, according to PAW. “I believe that a great cause has triumphed, but a cause can not go forward by the activities of a single man or a single Congress; it must be done by prolonged efforts. I summon you for the rest of your lives to work to set this government forward by the processes of justice, equality, and fairness.”
Wilson’s election earned top billing but shared PAW’s cover with another important event: the Princeton-Harvard football game.