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Woodrow Wilson
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Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in 1856. He graduated from Princeton University in 1879 and later went on to earn a PhD from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a professor at Princeton University before going on to serve as the president of Princeton and then the governor of New Jersey.

In 1912, Wilson was elected president of the United States. While in office, Wilson sponsored legislation ranging from the Child Labor Reform Act to the Federal Reserve Act of 1912 which set a framework for regulating banks.

In 1917, Wilson also issued an Executive Order making the Public Health Service an arm of the military. This act better enabled the PHS to recruit and retain officers. Under Wilson's leadership, Congress also passed an act creating a Reserve Corps for the Public Health Service. This Reserve Corps could be called upon during the event of a national emergency. Because this act was passed in October of 1918, it did little to address the Public Health Service's shortage of physicians during the pandemic.

In October, during the height of the pandemic, Wilson was advised to halt troop deployments to Europe as the crossings simply spread influenza. Chief of Staff General March disagreed, saying that the deployment of troops was crucial to bring a speedy end to the war. While acknowledging that soldiers were dying in the thousands from influenza, March insisted that a speedy end to the war would limit deaths overall. Wilson ultimately endorsed March's plan and the deadly troop crossings continued.

In April, during the Paris Peace Conference, Wilson became seriously ill. His temperature rose to 103 degrees and he experienced diarrhea and serious coughing spasms. The President's physician first suspected poisoning; he latter diagnosed the President as suffering from influenza. While it is unclear whether this diagnosis was correct, Wilson's illness made it impossible for him to participate in key negotiations during the conference. The result was a significantly different outcome to the peace conference than Wilson had wanted.

Wilson left office in 1921 and died in 1924.

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