The issue of American ratification resurfaced in during the Presidential election in the autumn of 1920. The Republicans, led by candidate Warren G. Harding, opposed the League, while the Democrats, led by James M. Cox, supported it. The Republicans won that year by an overwhelming majority and thus sealed the fate of American involvement in the League of Nations. Wilson's work, however, did not go entirely unrecognized: in 1919 he became the second President, after Theodore Roosevelt, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Wilson spent the remainder of his life in retirement in Washington, D.C. Shortly after he stepped down as President, he returned to practicing law. Along with Bainbridge Colby, his third Secretary of State, he founded a law firm in the city. However, his paralysis continued to prevent him from seriously working. He gave his last speech on November 11, 1923, again pledging his support for the League of Nations. Then, on February 23, 1924, Wilson died in his sleep, and was buried in Washington two days later. He was sixty-seven years old.