Woodrow Wilsons Essay

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THOMAS WOODROW WILSON was the 28th president of the United States. Born on the 28th of December 1856, he was an American scholar and statesman who was best remembered for his high-minded and leading the United States into World War I.

Wilson was born to religious and well-educated people, mainly of Scottish background. Wilson's father, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, studied for the clergy at the Presbyterian directed Princeton University. He married Janet Woodrow, and early in the 1850s the Wilsons moved to Virginia, where he became minister of a church in Staunton. There, in 1856 Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born, the first son and third child.

Apparently dyslexic from childhood, Wilson did not learn to read until he was 10 and never became a…show more content…

He began his career teaching history and political science at Bryn Mawr College in 1885 and moved to Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1888. Two years later he went to Princeton, where he quickly became the most popular and highest-paid faculty member. In 1902 he was the unanimous choice to become president of Princeton. Wilson upgraded the university both financially and intellectually.

Meanwhile, the publicity that Wilson had generated as Princeton's president attracted the attention of Colonel George B. Harvey, a member of the Democratic party, and in 1906 he suggested to other party members that Wilson would make a good presidential candidate. The idea restored Wilson's political ambitions.

The people were in Wilson's favor. He was enthusiastically received by many audiences. Voters did not appear to resent Wilson's aristocratic manners, and they responded well to his speeches, which combined amusing stories with a call to action. In November, he won a landslide victory, even in areas that normally voted Republican. Once in office he put his earlier ideas about parliamentary practices to work in implementing a reform program that gave him a national reputation and made him a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Prevailing at the 1912 convention after a hard struggle against better-entrenched rivals, Wilson entered into an exciting three-way race for president. Former president Theodore Roosevelt's bolt to the Progressive Party had

Study Questions

What type of politician was Wilson? How did his policies reflect his political beliefs?

As a Democratic progressive, Wilson was a reformer. Progressivism was a bipartisan movement that demanded political, social, and economic reforms. Wilson was known as both a progressive governor of New Jersey and President. As Governor of New Jersey, Wilson initiated several reforms to eliminate machine politics in the state. He even attacked the machine bosses that had helped him win the gubernatorial election. He also created a commission to set utility prices and created workers' compensation program. As President, Wilson's domestic reforms were collectively known as the New Freedom. He accomplished all of his goals outlined in the New Freedom and even pushed additional progressive legislation through Congress, including two child labor laws and another workers' compensation program for federal employees. He also fought hard for the labor unions in establishing the eight-hour working day in many industries. Wilson's policies reflect his desire to aid the average American.

What was Wilson's New Freedom?

The New Freedom was the name given to Wilson's domestic programs during his first term as President. The New Freedom had three primary components; first, Wilson wanted to reduce the national tariff, which was then set at nearly forty percent. With the Underwood Act Wilson succeeded in bring the tariff down to twenty-five percent on most goods and even eliminated the tax altogether on staple goods such as wool, sugar, and steel. Second, the President planned to revise the crumbling national banking system. The Federal Reserve Act established the Federal Reserve Bank and its board to keep track of the nation's reserves and financial system. Finally, Wilson felt it necessary to attack the trusts. He attempted to strengthen the regulations of the 1890 Sherman Act. Wilson achieved all of his goals outlined in the New Freedom.

How was Wilson's understanding of foreign policy unique?

Wilson's understanding of foreign policy was unique because he believed that the United States had an obligation to protect democracy throughout the world. This contrasted sharply with his predecessors' notion that it was the United States' responsibility to spread democracy throughout the world. Presidents McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Taft all had rather imperialist foreign policies, and as a result, used American military might to annex or occupy various countries and territories, including Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines, and Panama. Although Wilson did agree with these Presidents that democracy was the best form of government, he also felt that all peoples of the world had a right to self-determination. Furthermore, he was also among the first to believe that the nations of the world could work together to establish and promote peace and collective security. Wilson is regarded as the father of liberalism because of these ideas.

Essay Topics

How was Wilson's devout sense of Presbyterianism reflected in his work and in his life?

In what ways did Wilson's education and years as a professor and scholar prepare him for a career as governor of New Jersey and later as President?

What prompted Wilson to withdraw his three-year pledge of American neutrality and decide to enter World War I in 1917?

How did Wilson direct the American war effort? How did he keep control of the government despite opposition against the war?

What is collective security, and why did Wilson believe it would ensure world peace and prevent future wars?

What were Wilson's Fourteen Points and why did he feel they were so important to establishing a lasting world peace?

Why did Wilson have so much difficulty convincing the Senate to ratify the Treaty of Versailles?


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