Wilson vs. Roosevelt: the Better Progressive President?

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Wilson vs. Roosevelt: the Better Progressive President?

By | April 2002
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In the first two decades of the twentieth century the national political scene reflected a growing American belief in the ideas of the Progressive movement. This movement was concerned with fundamental social and economic reforms and gained in popularity under two presidents. Yet Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson espoused two different approaches to progressive reform. And each one was able to prevail upon congress to pass legislation in keeping with his own version of the progressive dream. These two people, although they had different principles in mind, had one goal: to make changes to the nation for the better of the people and the country. Setting out to reach this goal, Roosevelt came to be a president of the common man while Wilson became the "better" progressive president. Even though they were both progressives, the two presidents had different paths in mind for the future of the United States. Their different perspective and priorities were evident in their speeches: New Nationalism by Roosevelt and New Freedom by Wilson. Wilson's New Freedom looked to the destruction of all trusts to promote economic competition and permit small businesses once again to flourish. While the federal government was to use its power on a one-time basis to bust all trusts, the federal government was to have no role in regulating business. Any regulation would have to be done by state governments. This contrasted markedly with Roosevelt's New Nationalism, which called for an even stronger role for the president and the federal government in regulating the economy and curbing the abuses of corporate power. New Freedom and New Nationalism differed primarily, then, in their views of federal governmental power. Roosevelt wanted to use it while Wilson did not. Roosevelt became the president of the common man, gaining immense popularity and appeal from the citizens. This was because many of the actions that he has taken toward progressivism were for the common people,...

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