President Woodrow Wilson Remembered His Mama

Share Now

On Saturday, May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day to be a national observance to be celebrated on the second Sunday of May each year. Several years ago, Ray and I visited the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Virginia, which includes Wilson’s birthplace. The home was a manse when Woodrow was born. His father, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, was then serving as a Presbyterian minister in Staunton.

The manse is a grand home. The rear of the house is even more impressive than the front.

We enjoyed walking in the garden behind the house which the Garden Club of Virginia created to commemorate his birthplace.

Ray and I visited in May when the museum had installed a 100 Years of Celebrating Mothers exhibit, co-sponsored by Hallmark Cards. The exhibit explained the origin of Mother’s Day in the U.S. and included a timeline of Mother’s Day cards from each decade beginning around 1930.

We learned about Wilson’s love for his own mother, Janet “Jessie” Woodrow Wilson, who is pictured below in a frame the future president made when he was about 14 years old.

Jessie Wilson gave birth to Woodrow three days after Christmas in 1858. On display was a dress that he wore as an infant.

In 1888, Wilson was 29 years old and serving as a professor of political science of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. His parents were living in Clarksville, Tennessee, where his father was a professor at Southwestern Theological University.

When Jessie became gravely ill that spring, her son Woodrow rushed to be at her side. Upon his arrival, he learned that his mother had just died. He wrote to his wife Ellen whom he had married three years before:

My heart is filling up with the tenderest memories of my sweet mother, memories that seem to hallow my whole life . . . . I remember how I clung to her (a laughed at mamma’s boy) till I was a great big fellow: but love of the best womanhood came to me and entered my heart through those apron strings.

Woodrow Wilson must have thought of his own mother when he proclaimed the first Mother’s Day on May 9, 1914. Wilson knew the peace that comes from a mother’s love.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Psalm 131:2

Share Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *