Presidency Chart – Woodrow Wilson (28th) (1913 1921)

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Presidency Chart – Woodrow Wilson (28th) (1913 - 1921)
The Election of 1912


Wilson = (Progressive) Democrat

Taft = (Conservative) Republican

T. Roosevelt = Progressive (Bull Moose)

Debs = Socialist

Chafin = Prohibition Party

Issue: How progressive should the gov’t be?

Wilson = moderate reform = Wilson's New Freedom advocated antimonopoly policies and a return to small businesses.

T.R. = major reform = Roosevelt's New Nationalism called for an interventionist government with robust regulatory powers.
Not a close election: Republican vote split – easy victory for Demo.

The Election of 1916


Wilson = (Progressive) Democrat

Charles Hughes = Republican

****T.R. supported Hughes!!!!!!!****

Benson = Socialist
Issue: WWI

Wilson = U.S. will stay neutral in WWI as long as we can; “He kept us out of war;” Hughes will get us into war.

Hughes = Anti-war too; Wilson hasn’t remained neutral in the war.
Close election: Wilson won b/c he carried California


Domestic Policy
Foreign Policy

Underwood Tariff and income tax (1913)

-lowered tariffs on hundreds of items that could be produced more cheaply in the United States than abroad. The tariff reduced the rates of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff (1909) by about 10 percent. As the first bill since the Civil War to lower tariff rates, the Underwood Tariff included an federal income tax to make up for the loss in revenues caused by the lower tariffs.

Federal Reserve Act (Glass-Owen Act) (1913)

-created the de-centralized banking system of the United States. The most important job of the Federal Reserve System, also known as the Fed, is to manage the country's supply of money. The president appoints a Federal Reserve Board of seven members to staggered terms of fourteen years to supervise the conduct of the banks in the Federal Reserve System. The act divided the nation into twelve districts, each with a Federal Reserve bank.

Sixteenth Amendment (1913)

Federal government can tax income. 

**[In response to Supreme Ct. case Pollock v Farmer's Loan and Trust (1895), where the Court disallowed a federal income tax.]
Seventeenth Amendment (1913)

Direct election of U.S. Senators

***[In response to the “Millionaire Congress” being bought off by business/trusts.]
Eighteenth Amendment (1919)

Prohibition – illegal to sell, transport, manufacture or consume alcohol. 

***[Anti-patriotic during WWI]

***Volstead Act = enforcement legislation 

Nineteenth Amendment (1920)

Women’s Suffrage =  The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

***[NAWSA; NWP; Women’s effort in WWI]
Clayton Anti-Trust Act (1914)

-Anti-Trust law 

-an amendment to clarify and supplement the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The act prohibited exclusive sales contracts, local price cutting to freeze out competitors, rebates, interlocking directorates in corporations capitalized at $1 million or more in the same field of business, and intercorporate stock holdings. Labor unions and agricultural cooperatives were excluded from the forbidden combinations in the restraint of trade. The act restricted the use of the injunction against labor, and it legalized peaceful strikes, picketing, and boycotts. It declared that "the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce."

Federal Trade Commission (1914)

-Anti-Trust law 

-It is an independent federal agency whose main goals are to protect consumers and to ensure a strong competitive market by enforcing a variety of consumer protection and antitrust laws. These laws guard against harmful business practices and protect the market from anti-competitive practices such as large mergers and price-fixing conspiracies.

-The FTC deals with complaints that are filed regarding unfair business practices such as scams, deceptive advertising and monopolistic practices. It reviews these complaints to determine if businesses are in fact engaging in harmful practices.

-Generally speaking, the FTC does not have the ability to directly enforce its “cease & desist” rulings, but it can go to the courts to have them enforced.


Child Labor Laws

1. State Laws: Many states passed child labor laws during the Progressive error banning child labor. 
2. Federal Law: Keating Owen Child Labor Act (1916)

The tireless efforts of reformers, social workers and unions seemed to pay off in 1916 - at the height of the progressive movement. This federal law prohibited interstate commerce of any merchandise that had been made by children under the age of 14, or merchandise that had been made in factories where children between the ages of 14 and 16 worked for more than 8 hours a day, worked overnight, or worked more than 6 days a week. (The act was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court just two years later.  )

3. Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)

Issue: Does Congress have the right to regulate commerce of goods that are manufactured by children under the age 14, as specified in the Keating-Owen Act of 1916, and is it within the authority of Congress in regulating commerce among the states to prohibit the transportation in interstate commerce of manufactured goods by the child labor description above?

Answer: No; No.

Why?:  Congress has no power under the Commerce Clause to regulate labor conditions. It is a right enumerated (given) to the states in the 10th Amend.

[**** Hammer v. Dagenhart will be overruled in 1941 in the case of United States v. Darby.]

Schenck v. US (1919)

During WWI Congress passed the Espionage Act, outlawing any attempt to cause insubordination or obstruct the draft. Charles Schenck, general secretary of the Socialist Party, was arrested for conspiring to print and circulate leaflets that would obstruct and hinder the enlistment service of the United States. Schenck argued that the Espionage Act violated his rights to freedom of speech and press. The Supreme Court held that in a time of war, extraordinary conditions may take effect where Congress has the right to forbid printed materials or speech aimed at hindering the war effort. The test for "a clear and present danger" was formulated to deal with questions regarding freedom of speech.


Abrams v. US (1919)

-Jacob Abrams and other anarchists distributed leaflets attacking the U. S.'s decision to send troops to Europe to defend Czarist Russia against the Bolsheviks. This violated the Sedition Act (1918).

-The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Sedition Act of 1918.

-Why? The Defendants' criticism of U.S. involvement in World War I was not protected by the 1st Amendment, because the speech advocated a strike in munitions production and the violent overthrow of the government during war time & presented a clear & present danger for U.S. security.

[***This case is overturned during the Vietnam War***]

Mexican Revolution and US intervention (1914)

  • In early 1913, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico was involved in plotting the coup d'état that overthrew the Mexican president, Francisco Madero, and installed Victoriano Huerta.

  • The United States then began its involvement in the Mexican Revolution in 1913 with President Wilson's decision to later remove Huerta, leader of a military junta that overthrew and murdered Mexico's president, Madero.

  • In 1914, diplomatic actions failing, Wilson sent a powerful American naval force and seized Mexico's principal seaport, Veracruz, cutting off Huerto’s supplies from abroad and occupied the city for six months. Yet, all the while, Mexico and the United States were technically at peace.

  • In May 1916, six American soldiers led by Lieutenant George S. Patton, Jr., surrounded a building near Rubio, Chihuahua. When the occupants burst out of the door, guns blazing, Patton and his men cut them down. A month later 70 American troopers charged into a strong Mexican position at Carrizal; 10 were killed and 23 taken prisoner.

  • When in 1916 the legendary bandit Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico, Wilson sent General John J. Pershing into Chihuahua to capture him. While American troops performed well, U.S. intervention had no effect on the outcome of the Mexican Revolution. The American army had a taste of battle and Pershing went on to become the greatest American hero of the First World War.

Interventions in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic & Haiti

Nicaragua = 1907 U.S. sent there; "Dollar Diplomacy" protectorate set up; (1912-1933) 20-year occupation, fought guerrillas

Dominican Republic = 1916-1924; U.S. Marines occupied it for 8 years

Haiti = U.S. troops occupied it from 1914-1934 after Haitian revolts; U.S. Marines occupy Haiti to restore order, and establish a protectorate which lasts till 1934. The president of Haiti is barred from the U.S. Officers' Club in Port-au-Prince, because he is black.
Purchase of Virgin Islands (1917)

The islands remained under Danish rule until 1917, when the United States purchased them for $25 million in gold in an effort to improve military positioning during critical times of World War I. St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John became the US Virgin Islands. 


Road to World War I

Major causes for WWI in Europe:

  1. Nationalism

  2. Rivalry over colonies

  3. Arms Race

  4. Military Alliances

****Spark = assignation of Austrian-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Major Causes the U.S. joined WWI:

  1. Wilson’s Moral Diplomacy Policy

  2. British propaganda

  3. Lusitania

  4. Zimmerman Note

  5. German Unrestricted submarine warfare

Lusitania (1915)

US Reaction


Zimmermann Telegram (1917)

The Zimmermann Telegram was dispatched by the Foreign Secretary of the German Empire, Arthur Zimmermann, on January 16, 1917, to the German ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt, at the height of World War I. It instructed the ambassador to approach the Mexican government with a proposal to form an alliance against the United States. If they joined the Germans, Mexico would get back its lost territory from the Mexican War in return when if the Germans won. It was intercepted by the British and its contents hastened the entry of the United States into the war.


Fourteen Points (1918)

Pres. Wilson delivered a speech to Congress on January 8, 1918, outlining Fourteen Points for reconstructing a new Europe following World War I. While many of the points were specific, others were more general, including freedom of the seas, abolishing secret treaties, disarmament, restored sovereignty of some occupied lands, and the right of national self-determination of others. The speech, that was made without prior coordination or consultation with his counterparts in Europe, reached for the highest ideals, and was a precursor to the League of Nations (14th Point). However, history shows that despite the idealism, the post-war reconstruction of Europe adopted only a few of the points.

World War One (1914-1918)

-WWI, also known as the First World War and (before 1939) the Great War, & War to End All Wars was a world conflict lasting from August 1914 to the final Armistice (cessation of hostilities) on November 11, 1918.

-Allied Powers vs. Central Powers; resulting in eventual victory for the Allies.

-No previous conflict had mobilized so many soldiers or involved so many in the field of battle.

-U.S. fought in WWI from 1917-1918 to “make the world safe for democracy”

-The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was the peace treaty which officially ended WWI.

Domestic Polices to run the war

War Industries Board (Baruch)

  • Created by Pres. Wilson & headed by Bernard Baruch

  • To increase industrial production & coordinate different industries

  • The gov’t took over all factories & ran them like on big factory

  • The Board instructed the factories on what to produce, how much to produce, and the costs of the items

  • The WIB aids in the uprise of many unions because of the war's demand for products. The government cannot argue prices and cannot handle worker strikes so they regulate the two to decrease tension by stopping strikes with wage increases to prevent a shortage of supplies going to the war in Europe.

  • Women’s blouse factories made signal flags; Radiator manufacturers made guns; Automobile factories made airplane engines; Piano companies made airplane wings

  • Under the WIB industrial production in the U.S. increased 20 %.

Food Administration (Hoover)

  • Headed by future President Herbert Hoover.

  • It never imposed specific rations but relied upon voluntary participation


  • Famous slogan: “FOOD WILL WIN THE WAR – DON’T WASTE IT”

  • The U.S. had to provide food for its own citizens as well as the Allied countries

  • This was the most successful of the wartime administrations.

Fuel Administration (Garfield)

  • Headed by Harry A. Garfield, son of the murdered President

  • Designed to control America’s use of fuel since it was needed overseas

  • As with the Food Administration, Americans were asked to voluntarily conserve their use of fuel

  • Lightless nights & gasless days were observed

  • Daylight Savings Time was observed for the first time in U.S. history in order to cut back on the use of fuel & electricity

RR Administration (McAdoo)

  • Headed by William McAdoo, Pres. Wilson’s son-in-law.

  • The nation's railroads proved inadequate to the task of serving the nation's war efforts.

  • So, Pres. Wilson took federal control over the railroads creating the United States Railroad Administration (USRA).

  • The USRA was name of the nationalized railroad system of the United States between 1917 and 1920.

  • The Railroad Control Act guaranteed the return of the railroads to their former owners within 21 months of a peace treaty.

  • It was possibly the largest American experiment with nationalization, and was undertaken against a background of war emergency.

National War Labor Board (Taft)

  • Headed by Ex-President Taft

  • Formed to unify labor policies and serve as the court for labor disputes.

  • Hoped to prevent strikes as they could stop production of much needed goods for the war.

  • During the war there were over 6,000 strikes, and the NWLB heard over 1,000 cases. (many Wobblie strikes)

  • The NWLB also worked to improve working conditions: an 8 hour work day was est. in some areas, and standards for employment of women & children were est.

Espionage Act (1917)

  • A federal “spy” law passed shortly after entering World War I. It made it a crime to help wartime enemies of the United States.

  • A crime, punishable by a $10,000 fine and 20 years in jail, for a person to convey antipathy with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the U.S. or to promote the success of its enemies.

  • The legislation was passed at the urging of President Wilson, who feared any widespread dissent in time of war constituted a real threat to an American victory.

  • The law was later extended by the Sedition Act (1918).

  • The laws were ruled constitutional in the U. S. Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States (1919)

Sedition Act (1918)

  • It made it a federal crime to utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the United States' government, or armed forces during war.

  • It was an amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917.

  • The act also allowed the Postmaster General to deny mail delivery to dissenters of government policy during wartime.

  • Socialist Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison under this law.

  • Both the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act were repealed in 1921.

Treaty of Versailles (1919)

  • It was created to solve problems made by World War I.

  • Germany was forced to accept the treaty. It was composed of only four of the original points made by Pres. Wilson.

  • The treaty punished Germany and did nothing to stop the threat of future wars. It maintained the pre-war power structure.

  • It had 4 main part:






League of Nations

In 1919, after the war, Wilson proposed the League in the 14th point of his peace plan. He envisioned it as an Assembly with seats for all nations and a special council for the great powers. The US voted not to join the League because in doing so, it would have taken away our self-determination, and Congress could not decide whether to go to war or not.

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