Tommy Has a Tummy-Ache

Published:December 10, 2008 by Brendan Wolfe

One would do well to be skeptical of Sigmund Freud’s historical writings. So I don’t suggest this passage from his biography of Thomas Woodrow Wilson (written in 1939, published in 1967) to be anything but kind of funny:

The University of Virginia was then, as it has been since its foundation by Thomas Jefferson, a distinguished institution. It was founded by Jefferson in the hope that it would be the most liberal seat of learning in the world. Tommy Wilson disliked Jefferson intensely. The life and principles of Jefferson were not Presbyterian. So great was this dislike that while Wilson was at the university he never once visited Jefferson’s home, Monticello, although it stood nearby in all its beauty. He went to Jefferson’s university merely because at that time it had as good a law school as there was in the United States, and was not far from his father’s Manse. At once he found himself “most terribly bored by the noble study of law.” He joined a second-rate fraternity and made speeches in the debating societies. Throughout his residence at the University of Virginia, he was harassed by indigestion. It became so acute in December 1880 that he left the University without a degree.

Poor Dr. Freud seems genuinely appalled that the only reason someone might attend the University of Virginia is because its law school was among the best in the country. And then to join a second-rate fraternity!

Who had the worse tummy-ache, I wonder, biographer or subject?

IN ADDITION: Find Encyclopedia Virginia’s full entry on Woodrow Wilson here.