The turn of century was an important time for pre- WWI America. National and international affairs were in full swing, just as ever. America was trying hard to remain with its Isolationism, yet could in no way thoroughly do so. Yet with this isolationist ic stance, that was deteriorating daily, much emphasis was put onto national affairs of the United States by the government. Woodrow Wilson, the third president of this new century, also had great concern with the national affairs of the U. S.
Elected in 1912, Wilson strongly believed in a government more concerned about human rights than property rights (Compton's). Through these strong idealistic views, Wilson was in fact the president of the common people. He proved this through his efforts for farmers and other laborers. This also seen through his New Freedom basis of government, as opposed to President Roosevelts New Nationalist form of government. On top of this, Wilsons flood of social welfare legislation proved that he was definitely president of the common people. One thing must be known about Wilson before anything else.
That is the fact that he was a strong idealist. He had great visions of how to make the U. S. a better nation for all. This is illustrated trough his many Acts that he sent through congress. He put in place many systems that help benefit all the common people.
Though he did not always follow all the way through with his plans (he more or less put them in place and left them), his strong devotion to the common people being treated equally cannot be overseen. The fact is that Wilson truly cared about the farmer and the working man. For example, it is known that he promised to return state government to the people (Bailey 703). He believed in the struggles of people as a whole, rather than individually. One ac that he put into place was the Federal Farm Loan Act. Here, Wilson made credit very easily accessible to those farmers in need.
This law divided the country into twelve regions and opened a Federal Land Bank inn each one of these regions (McDuffie 139) Wilson also made the rate of interest towards these farmers very low and affordable. Wilson realized the importance of the farmer upon American society, a fact that many other politicians of the time easily ignored. So with his idealistic visions, Wilson brought a little ease upon the farmers of America. In 1916, Wilson helped get the Warehouse Act into effect.
This act authorized loans on the security of staple crops (Bailey 709). Both of these acts were in essence Populist ideas that the Populists wanted into effect for some number of years. And it was only President Wilson who brought these issues to light and made a difference for these common people. It is obvious that Wilson was concerned of the farmers and he therefore acted upon the concerns and made life that much easier for them. Wilson was also very concerned with the average workers of the U. S.
His flood of social welfare programs was clearly send and felt by hard working American citizens all around the country. The combination of new acts being put in place targeting business in general, along with those targeted specifically for the betterment of the welfare of working Americans. In 1916, Wilson imposed the Workingman's Compensation Act. Under this Act, assistance was given to federal civil service employees in the time of disability. Also, Wilson put into place the Child Labor Act in the same year.
Though this law was declared unconstitutional in 1918, it was a definite step in the right direction. For it did not allow the shipment of products that had been made by those under the age of fourteen or the age of sixteen (the age limit was different for different products). Also in that same year, the Adamson Act was put into effect. This law required a maximum of no higher than an eight hour work day.
This law was mainly meant for railway workers. This law was considered a major victory for railroad unions, a averted a railroad strike in September 1916. Wilsons whole form of government during his first term was based on his New Freedom. In this New Freedom, Wilson put in effect a program to liberate American economic energies by drastic tariff reduction, strengthening the antitrust laws, and reorganizing of the banking and the credit system (Cink). This was in opposition to Teddy Roosevelts New Nationalism which looked toward sweeping extension of federal regulation and welfare activity (Cink).
This New Freedom form of government started right off the bat when Wilson reached office. Wilson immediately made an amazing effort to attack what is called the triple wall of privilege (Bailey). The three components of this were the tariff, the banks, and the trusts. His first step, with working with the tariffs, included making an appearance to the Congress in 1913. There, he the Underwood Tariff Bill was proposed and later passed. This bill helped in lowering tariffs greatly; a task in which Wilson had promised to his common people.
The Underwood Act lowered general rated from about 40% to 26% (Cink). Through this Act, the first income tax was presented under the 16 th Amendment. This was a graduated income tax which started on incomes over $3000. This $3000 was much higher than the average mans salary, so most had nothing to worry about. He next attacked the severely suffering banking system.
He put into place the Federal Reserve Act. Like with the farming act, this Act split the U. S. into twelve regions with a Federal Reserve bank in each region. The Federal Reserve Banks would be owned by corporations that bought stock in that bank. These banks could issue paper money.
Many believe that it was this system that helped keep Americas economy so strong during the years of war. The trusts were the final part of Wilsons triple wall of privilege. After much convincing, the Federal Trade Commission Act was passed in 1914. To help out all companies, this Act seemed to crush monopolies.
The Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914 also helped in achieving this goal. This Act basically added on to the list made within the Sherman Act of things companies cannot legally do. This Act also started the long overdue benefits of labor. Wilson successfully cracked down on all of these things which in turn made him symbolize exactly what he stood for; the president of the common people. Yet kind of ironically, after implementing this New Freedom based government in his first term, Wilson drastically changed into a more Roosevelt New Nationalist base government for his second election. Sho basically, in his first term, he cracked down on all the improper laws and regulations through his New Freedom, and later built new laws and regulations through his New Nationalism.
He worked from the ground up, always thinking about the common people. Overall, it is definitely known that Wilson was a major idealist. He was constantly thinking of grand ways to make the U. S. a better place for all to live. Though he probably could have done more, Wilson took huge leaps towards helping the average working and farming American.
He was at the base of countless Acts and Amendments that bettered the life of many. He stood for the struggle of the people, and understood their struggle, from a philosophical view. Woodrow Wilson clearly was the president of the common people. This was shown through his efforts to better the conditions for farmers and laborers.
This was also shown through his flood of social welfare programs on the middle / lower class working America. On top of all that, Wilsons New Freedom, later turning into Roosevelts New Nationalism, helped to deteriorate unfair systems in the U. S. (New Freedom) and then to build positive ones later on (New Nationalism). Wilson carried the United States with their chins up high through this crucial time right before the U.
S. actually entered the war. And the mere stability that the working class Americans felt through Wilsons plans was so crucial to the country at the time. And Wilson did just that. He brought the comfort back to the homes of the everyday working Americans. He was, in fact, the president of the common people..