Woodrow Wilson's Major Achievements

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Woodrow Wilson – a brilliant politician

In the past 230 years there have been forty-three presidents of the United States of America. Most of them had average political skills, many of them were outstanding, and only a few are considered to be great historical figures. During the first half of the twentieth century, perhaps the most extraordinary president was Woodrow Wilson. The 28th president of the United States of America was a brilliant politician and president because he did not only know how to skilfully handle economical and social affairs, but also had great impact in terms of foreign politics.

Before the analysis of Wilson’s impact on the United States economy, society and politics, it is important to briefly depict Wilson’s way to his presidency. Wilson was born in Virginia in 1856, the son of a Presbyterian minister who during the Civil War was a pastor in Augusta, Georgia, and during Reconstruction a professor in the charred city of Columbia, South Carolina. After graduation from Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) and the University of Virginia Law School Wilson earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and entered upon an academic career, in 1685 he married Eiien Louise Axson. Wilson advanced rapidly as a conservative young professor of political science and became president of Princeton in 1902. His growing national reputation led some conservative Democrats to consider him Presidential timber. First they persuaded him to run for Governor of New Jersey in 1910. He was nominated for President at the 1912 Democratic Convention and campaigned on a program called the New Freedom, which stressed individualism and states' rights. In the three-way election he received only 42 percent of the popular vote but an overwhelming electoral vote.

After this quick review of Wilson’s pre-residential career, the upcoming analysis will provide prove for Wilson’s fundamental impact on the economy, society and foreign politics. First, former president Wilson had a huge impact on the United States economy. The New Freedom policy of President Wilson promoted antitrust modification, tariff revision, and reform in banking and currency matters and had a great impact on the American economy. During his administration the Federal Reserve System was instituted in 1913. The Federal Reserve Act provided the Nation with the more elastic money supply. In 1913, the Underwood tariff lowered the tariff. The revenue thereby lost was replaced by a new federal income tax authorized by the 16th Amendment. Furthermore, the Seaman's Act of 1915 improved working conditions for merchant sailors. As response to the RMS Titanic disaster, it also required all ships to be retrofitted with lifeboats. Moreover, the Smith Lever act of 1914 created the modern system of agricultural extension agents sponsored by the state agricultural colleges. The agents taught new techniques to farmers. Also, the 1916 Federal Farm Loan Board issued low-cost long-term mortgages to farmers. Child labour was curtailed by the Keating-Owen act of 1916, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1918. Additional child labor bills would not be enacted until the 1930s. Also important to mention, is the Adamson Act, passed in 1916 that established an eight-hour workday, with additional pay for overtime work, for railroad workers. This was the first federal law that regulated the hours of workers in private companies. In addition, Wilson pushed through Congress the Clayton Antitrust Act making certain business practices illegal (such as price discrimination, agreements forbidding retailers from handling other companies’ products, and directorates and agreements to control other companies). More importantly, the new laws set out clear guidelines that corporations could follow, a dramatic improvement over the previous uncertainties.

Second, Woodrow Wilson influenced the society in a positive and negative way. On the one hand, in January 1918,...
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