The first Southerner in the White House after the Civil War grew up in Georgia, and knew the war firsthand.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia in 1856. Not long after, his family moved to Augusta, where his father pastored the First Presbyterian Church for 12 years. Young Tommy Wilson grew up in a house on the corner of Telfair Street, across from the church. His earliest memory was hearing, at age four, that Abraham Lincoln was elected, and that war was coming.
Wilson grew up steeped in the lost cause: his father served as a Confederate chaplain, and young Tommy saw wounded soldiers brought from Chickamauga in 1863 when his father’s church served as a hospital. Later, he watched Jefferson Davis paraded under guard through Augusta, after his capture by Union soldiers.
After college, Wilson practiced law in Atlanta. While visiting a relative in Rome, he fell in love with Savannah native Ellen Axson. They were married in her grandfather’s home in Savannah in 1885, and two of their three children were born in Gainesville.
The 28th president, with deep Georgia roots, was born on December 28, 1856, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.