Editor's note: With the election season winding down and a new president about to take office, the Deseret News has decided to review the presidents who have visited Utah and explain what they did while they were on their trip through the Beehive State.
Utah was one of the last states Thomas Woodrow Wilson saw before he died.
Wilson came to the Beehive State on Sept. 23, 1919. Two days later, after leaving Utah, Wilson fell victim to a stroke.
“The stroke was a turning point for Wilson's presidency and, many argue, the world,” The Washington Post reported. “Wilson collapsed Oct. 2 in the White House after a national tour seeking support for the Treaty of Versailles and America's entrance into the League of Nations. He went into seclusion for the remainder of his presidency. The treaty he had so strongly championed was rejected by the Senate in March 1920.”
Wilson visited Utah all for the sake of pushing along the “League of Nations” — a predecessor to the United Nations in that it was an organization started after World War I that looked to resolve international issues. Though publicized by Wilson, the U.S. never officially became a member of the group.
Wilson gave two speeches while in Utah, one at the Rear Platform in Ogden, and the other at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
His speech in Ogden called for the state to support his motion of the U.S. joining the League of Nations as a way to honor American soldiers who fought in World War I.
“I for my part am in to see this thing through,” he said, “because these men who fought the battles on the fields of France are not now going to be betrayed by the rest of us; we are going to see that the thing they fought for is accomplished, and it does not make any difference how long the fight, it is going to be won, and triumphantly won.”
He echoed those statements when he spoke in Salt Lake City, charging for Americans to support the idea of aligning with overseas allies.
In fact, he said an alliance established by the League of Nations would include friendly behavior, and not lead to more bloodshed and war.
“We want to be friends of each other as well as friends of mankind. We want America to be united in spirit as well as the world,” he said. “We want America to be a body of brethren, and if America is a body of brethren, then you may be sure that its leadership will bring the same sort of comradeship and intimacy of spirit and purity of purpose to the counsels and achievements of mankind.”
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.