Woodrow Wilson in Progressive Era Politics
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was the 28th President of the United States, serving two terms from 1913-1919. As president of Princeton University and later as governor of New Jersey, Wilson was a leading Progressive, arguing for a stronger central government and fighting for anti-trust legislation and labor rights. As president of the United States, he passed important legislation on those and many other issues, narrowly winning reelection in 1916 after pledging to keep America out of World War I. Wilson's foreign policy was noted for its idealistic humanitarianism; his Fourteen Points—a statement of national objectives that envisioned a new international order after World War I—ultimately failed, but was one of the clearest expressions of interventionist American values. Wilson suffered a severe strokes during his second term in office and died in 1924.
Wilson ran in 1912 under a platform known as the "New Freedom," in which he pledged to reintroduce real competition to the marketplace by destroying monopolistic economic trusts. In practice, however, his actions quickly came to resemble the "regulated monopoly" of Republican candidate Theodore Roosevelt, and few trusts were dissolved during his tenure. Though he achieved passage of a 1914 measure to create a Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the regulatory body became co-opted by business interests just like the Interstate Commerce Commission before it. Wilson lowered the tariff, introduced the income tax, and instituted the Federal Reserve System to reform the national economy.