“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”–Woodrow Wilson #quotes #wilsonquotes
June 17, 1890–“Leaders of Men: An Address”
Wilson accepted an invitation of the faculty of the University of Tennessee to deliver an address during the 1890 commencement exercises. This was to be Wilson’s first commencement speech. The UT speech was a slight revision of a successful lecture given many times before, and this speech was no different. In the next day’s Knoxville Journal, journalists reported that Wilson delivered an excellent oration for over an hour and a half to a fully entranced crowd. The speech itself is an excellent example of Wilson’s high level of academic accomplishment and reveals the early thoughts of Wilson as he builds his political career.
The speech delivered at UT was repeated four subsequent times: Yale Law School’s Kent Club, Oberlin College’s commencement, at a church benefit in Princeton, and at a boys’ school in Connecticut.
“The constituent habit of a people inheres in its thought, and to that thought legislation–even the legislation that advances and modifies habit–must keep very near. The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people. He cannot be of the school of the prophets; he must be of the number of those who studiously serve the slow-paced daily demand.”
Arthur S. Link, editor. The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Vol. 6. Pp. 646-671. Specific quote on p. 660.