Almost 100 years since a Virginian was on presidential ballot

Posted at 1:17 AM, Nov 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 01:17:39-05

Richmond, Va. – Virginia is often called the mother of presidents, because eight commanders in chief were born here. But it`s been nearly 100 years since a Virginian has been on the presidential ticket of a major party.

Tim Kaine was born in the Midwest but considers the Commonwealth home – with years of public service to measure his dedication.

Woodrow Wilson, the nation’s 28th president,  was born in 1856, in Staunton, Virginia.

“I think he was a complicated guy and I think his legacy was complicated,” said University of Richmond professor Eric Yellin. Part of that complication begins with Wilson`s Virginian credentials.

Wilson`s family moved from Virginia to Georgia when he was only a year old.

Other than brief stops, Wilson didn`t return to Virginia until the town of his birth threw him a victory party in 1912.

“He would say my home is the south, but I’m an American,” Yellin said. “That sort of Virginian element came out when Staunton threw him a party, but otherwise, he wasn`t here very long.”

Yellin says Wilson`s legacy was mixed.

He has been criticized for the way he handled race relations, and his administration was responsible for segregating the federal government.

But Wilson also championed numerous laws that helped workers and consumers, fought to end child labor, and signed the act that established the National Park Service.

“What makes him an interesting and even remarkable president is that he was incredibly articulate about our system,” Yellin said. “What works, what doesn`t work, and where it comes from.”

As for what Wilson would think of our current system, Yellin thinks Woodrow would be highly critical of today’s partisan gridlock.

“Wilson talked about a politics of parlay; a politics of talk,” Yellin said. “That we can just keep talking, and we`ll work our way through this. In the sense that these branches aren`t talking to each other, Wilson would have been highly critical."

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