Woodrow Wilson photo

Remarks to Princeton University Students and Neighbors on the Election Victory

November 05, 1912

Gentlemen, I am sincerely glad to see you. I got up on this chair so that you couldn't see the patch on my head. When I see the crowds gather it carries me back to the days when I labored among you. I can't help thinking this evening that something has only just begun which you men will have a great part in carrying forward.

Prosperity has taken us into devious paths. There is so much to reconstruct, and the reconstruction must be undertaken so justly and by slow process of common counsel, that a generation or two must work out the result to be achieved.

The lesson of this election is the lesson of responsibility. I believe that a great cause has triumphed for the American people. I know what we want, and we will not get it through a single man or a single session of Congress, but through the long process extending through the next generation.

I have no feeling of triumph tonight, but a feeling of solemn responsibility. I know the great task ahead of me and the men associated with myself. I look almost with pleading to you, the young men of America, to stand behind me in the administration. The purest impulses are needed. Wrongs have been done, but they have not been done malevolently. We must have the quietest temper in what we are going to do. We must not let any man divert us. We must have quiet temper and yet be resolute of purpose. But let us hear them all patiently, and yet, hearing all, let us not be diverted.

You men must play a great part. I plead with you again to look constantly forward. I summon you for the rest of your lives to support the men who like myself want to carry the nation forward to its highest destiny and greatness.

Source: Arthur S. Link, ed., The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 25, 1912 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 520-521.

Woodrow Wilson, Remarks to Princeton University Students and Neighbors on the Election Victory Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/345980