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Paul Vickery, Oral Roberts University history professor, will portray President Woodrow Wilson at 7 p.m. tonight at Lawton City Hall as part of the ongoing Oklahoma Chautauqua series. The free event is open to the public.

Reluctant Warrior

Chautauqua to tell story of Woodrow Wilson

“We are still having that debate about how much involvement we should have overseas.” PAUL VICKERY PORTRAYS WOODROW WILSON AT CHAUTAUQUA

Lawtonians will have the chance to hear from the United States' 28th president, "reluctant warrior" Woodrow Wilson, at 7 p.m. tonight in the city hall auditorium as part of the ongoing Oklahoma Chautauqua.

Oral Roberts University history and cultural geography professor Paul Vickery will portray Wilson as he was toward the end of his second term, when he was seeking public support for the Treaty of Versailles and his proposed League of Nations.

Vickery, a former counter-intelligence officer, has taught at ORU for 23 years and portrayed characters including H.L. Mencken, Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Henry Ford among others in Chautauquas across the nation.

Wilson, a Democrat, was president of the U.S. from 1913-1921.  He was known for his progressive reforms, including the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act, and instituting a national income tax and presiding over women's suffrage, among other new initiatives that expanded the role of the federal government and sought to protect individual Americans from the excesses of unregulated capitalism. 

However, he was also known for his racist policies, such as re-segregating federal offices that had previously been desegregated, and adding requirements that made it harder for African-Americans to get government jobs. He also persecuted anti-war protesters and nationalized the coal and railroad industries, using the excuse of war to exercise very broad and potentially unconstitutional presidential authority.

Vickery said he chose Wilson to portray partly because of the fact he ran for re-election in 1916 on the platform of having kept the U.S. out of World War I. Then, in 1917, Wilson led the U.S. into the war against Germany.

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