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Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

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Published by Suj
Analysis of Wilson's Presidency
Analysis of Wilson's Presidency

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Published by: Suj on May 21, 2008
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Section XIIIPresidential Analysis of Woodrow WilsonSujeeth NarraHonors Modern America – Period 8February 9, 2002
 
Woodrow Wilson was able to bring about great changes to the economic and sociallandscape of the United States using his visions and experience from his positions as President of Princeton and governor of New Jersey during his administration, which lasted from 1913 to 1921.Generally, Wilson succeeded in increasing the ranking of the United States as an economic, social,and industrial power through his actions before and during World War I, but failed in establishingthe United States as a purveyor of strong, well-based ideas and as a nation capable of influence andsuccess. These limitations prevent Wilson from earning a higher rating than a 8.Some of Wilson’s successful goals include were tariff reductions, introduction of a federalincome tax, stimulate business, allow for the direct election of senators, eliminate monopolies,support unions, and disentangle the United States from the image of an imperialist nation. Wilsonsucceeded in reducing the tariff and introducing a graduated federal income tax with the UnderwoodAct of 1913. Wilson was able to stimulate the nation’s economic growth with the introduction of the Federal Reserve System in 1914. This system served as the backbone of the banks of the UnitedStates and regulated banks to help stabilize the national banking system. Wilson also establishedthe Federal Trade Commission in 1914 to prevent the monopoly of an entire industry by any one or group of companies. The Clayton Antitrust Act acted as a compliment to the Federal TradeCommission as well as the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Clayton Antitrust Act also ensured the rightof unions to strike, boycott, and picket.Wilson was aided in his quest to elevate the status of the United States by such cabinetmembers as Williams J. Bryan, William Gibbs McAdoo, Carter Glass, Newton Diehl Baker, andJames Clark McReynolds. Wilson’s cabinet assisted Wilson in executing his New Freedom plan.William Jennings Bryan (Secretary of State: 1913-1915) had helped Wilson during his nominationfor the Presidency in 1912 and continued to aid Woodrow Wilson during his administration bynegotiating 30 treaties of arbitration with foreign countries. Bryan resigned his position in 1915 in protest against the hostile attitude towards Germany, which he found contradictory to his neutralistattitude. Bryan was replaced by Robert Lansing (1915-1920). Aiding Wilson in the arena of economic reform were William Gibbs McAdoo (Secretary of Treasury: 1913-1918) along withCarter Glass (Secretary of Treasury: 1918-1920) through their creation of the Federal ReserveSystem through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. This system continues to act as the basis for all banks throughout the United States and allowed the government to stabilize the national bankingsystem. During the wartime, Wilson was helped by Newton Diehl Baker (Secretary of War: 1916-1921). Baker assisted Wilson in mobilizing forces to Mexico, France, and Europe. Baker also2
 
administered the draft law, selected commanding officers to head the US expeditionary forces, andsupervised the expenditures of the war. The final significant support to Wilson was provided byJames C. McReynolds (Attorney General: 1913-1914). McReynolds assisted Wilson in eliminatingsuch key trusts as the Union and Southern Pacific Railroad Merger and enacting antitrust suitsagainst American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) as well as the New York, New Haven,and Hartford Railroad.During Roosevelt’s administration, the Senate had a majority of Democrats from 1913 to1919 while the House of Representatives had a Democratic Majority only from 1913 to 1917.Wilson worked fairly well with Congress, as he was able to pass three major legislations during hisadministration: the Underwood Act, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and the 1914 anti-trustlegislation that created the Federal Trade Commission. Although the occasional disagreement was brought to light, Wilson was able to work around it fairly easily. Wilson was able to execute his New Freedom plan with the assistance of Congress and his cabinet.Wilson was very capable in handling any shortcomings that had presented themselves duringhis administration. With his prowess and knowledge, Wilson was able to tackle any complicationwith ease. Wilson was able to eliminate many harmful monopolies when they presented themselvesas harmful to expansion of the economy. Both of Wilson’s terms were overshadowed by World War I, which presents itself as the major difficulty of his terms. Even though WWI was a difficult andmulti-faceted situation, Wilson handled the event smoothly. On the domestic front, Wilson had tohandle resistance to American participation in WWI. He relieved this by creating a propagandacampaign that developed American pride and set up a draft. Wilson also appointed George Creel asthe government’s official propagandist for the war; Creel set up a Committee on Public Informationthat sponsored public speakers to persuade Americans the necessity of the war. Wilson also had tohandle uprising from Socialists around the country, which he responded to by passing the Espionageand Sedition Acts of 1917, helping to quiet those who protested against the war by threateningimprisonment. George Creel was also responsible for creating the American Alliance for Labor andDemocracy, which united labor unions to create support for the war effort. Even before Congresshad declared war, Wilson was preparing for that moment. Woodrow Wilson began by creating alarge ship-building effort in preparation for this event. Wilson also had the government take controlof the economy, labor, and industry to begin a massive campaign for U.S. involvement. The nextstep was to encourage men to enroll themselves into the army. Wilson had Creel and his departmentcreate propaganda posters that created support for the draft. Wilson’s greatest success must be3

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