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Woodrow Wilson

Study Questions and Essay Topics

Fighting the Senate and Final Days: 1919–1924

Review Test

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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