Woodrow Wilson, The Progressive

To what extent did President Woodrow Wilson provide a “New Freedom” for the American people?

When Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat won the election of 1912 he
received only 42% of the vote. The Progressive candidates; Roosevelt,
Taft and Debs totaled 58% of the vote. Clearly America still sought
progressive change. Wilson, an educator and the son of a Presbyterian
Minister, recognized this and embarked on a program to continue
Progressive reform called the “New Freedom.”

Woodrow Wilson

I. Woodrow Wilson – The “New Freedom” reforms

A. Tariff Reform

1. Underwood Tariff of 1913

-First lowering of tariffs since the Civil War

-Went against the protectionist lobby

B. Business Reform – Wilson’s program was known as the New
Freedom. (The phrase came after the campaign, as the title of a book
of his speeches, and as the slogan for his administration’s
policies.) Wilson believed government’s role was to create a level
playing field. Then individual energy and business competition would
give Americans lives both decent and free from big-brother
intrusions. His solution for monopoly was antitrust prosecution and

1. Federal Trade Act (1914)

-Set up FTC or Federal Trade Commission to investigate
and halt unfair and illegal business practices. The FTC could put a
halt to these illegal business practices by issuing what is known as
a “cease and desist order.”

2. Clayton Antitrust Act (1914)

-Declared certain businesses illegal (interlocking
directorates, trusts, horizontal mergers)

-Unions and the Grange were not subject to antitrust laws. This
made unions legal!

-Strikes, boycotts, picketing and the collection of strike benefit
funds ruled legal

C. Banking Reform – Needed elastic currency, ability to control
the amount of $ in circulation.

1. Creation of Federal Reserve System

– Federal Reserve Banks in 12 districts would print
and coin money as well as set interest rates. In this way the “Fed,”
as it was called, could control the money supply and effect the value
of currency. The more money in circulation the lower the value and
inflation went up. The less money in circulation the greater the
value and this would lower inflation.

2. Federal Farm Loan Act set up Farm Loan Banks to support