How Woodrow Wilson Planned To Hack His Own Election For The Good Of The American People

By Jacob Shelton
(Getty Images)

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was pretty sure that he was on his way out of the White House, and although he ran for reelection, he apparently wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. It's not that he was a sore loser or couldn't stand the sight of those carpets any longer—he felt the inauguration process was objectively too long, so he came up with a scheme that he hoped would help the country even if he wasn't the Commander-in-Chief. Basically, Wilson tried to hack the election to make sure his opponent could get to work as soon as possible.

The Inauguration Period

Today, a newly elected U.S. president has to wait about two months until they can bust down that White House door and start shaking things up. It provides time for them to put the gears of their political strategy in motion and their predecessor to empty the White House of their presence. Before 1916, however, that transition took four months, which is a lifetime in politics. Instead of strategizing and getting to know the lay of the land, the new Commander-in-Chief, plus their staff and family, had to spend that time traveling to Washington, D.C., often by horse or wagon. With the advent of modern transportation and America becoming a greater foreign power in the early 20th century, however, Wilson realized that a four-month transition was too long.