Woodrow Wilson

 

 

What was Wilsonís idea of New Freedom.?What were his attitudes toward immigrants, African Americans and women. Who held the cabinet positions of treasury, post office, state, and labor?What impact did post office and treasury have on African Americans.Why was the Sec. of Laborís background significant for his position?What reforms did Wilson introduce?

 

New Freedom Ė The central theme was economic social mobility. Reforms included legalization of unions, regulation of working conditions, protection of workers health and safety

 

Immigration - In his History of the American People in l902, Wilson lamented that the sturdy stocks of north of Europe had been replaced by those who had neither skill nor energy nor initiative of quick intelligence. This was used against him in the election ofl912, but by then he had modified his views and opposed excluding anyone of sound morals and mind.Later, he proved his change of heart when he vetoed immigration restriction bills.

 

Racial views- Wilsonís views were shapedby his southern heritage.Although not a rabid racist, he did believe that African Americans would have an inferior place in society.It never occurred to him to speak for ethnic or racial minorities because he was convinced that American had similar ideas and aspirations. Five of Wilsonís ten cabinet members were from the South and some espoused the segregationist policies in place in the region..††

The Treasury and Post Office department s segregated, transferred, and demoted black workers. The Postal Department. transferred blacks to city post office in Washington. By the end ofl913, only one black man remained among the thousand white employees.The NAACP protested these actions. Wilson appointed Robert Terrell, a black graduate of Harvard Law School, to the municipal court bench in Washington. Confirmed despite opposition, Wilson supported the appointment.However, Wilson refused to change the policy of segregation in the Treasury and Post Office. William Monroe Trotter, Bostonian Harvard graduate, challenged racial policy at a meeting with Wilson.Willson exploded and ordered Trotter and delegation out of the office.He had the premier ofD.W. Griffithís film, The Birth of a Nation, shown in the White House.The film was based on the book, The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon, who was one of Wilsonís students at John Hopkins in the 1890ís. When shown, Wilson did not know the content, but he did not criticize the film or question its authenticity.The time period witnessed

 

Although the South experienced a progressive movement and many of the reforms in Wilsonís administration were pushed through with Southern progressive help, the reforms did not reach African Americans.For the most part, the Progressive movement in the South was for whites only and Wilsonís administration reflected that attitude.

 

Women Ė Wilson eventually supported the Suffrage Amendment

 

Cabinet members

Edward M. House- close would not accept cabinet position but was more influential as a free lance adviser to president.

Postmaster General- Albert Burleson

Secretary of Treasury - William McAdoo

Secretary of State - William Jennings Bryan

Secretary of Labor - William Wilson(former leader of UMWA)

 

Wilsonís Four Point Plan - conservation program, all raw materials obtainable to all, credit available to all, and freedom from monopoly.

 

Wilsonís Reforms:

 

 

Underwood Tariff of l913- The tariff lowered tariffs on hundreds of items.Sponsored by Representative Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama, the tariff reduced the rates of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff (l909) by about ten percent.It was the first bill since the Civil War to lower tariff rates.The Underwood Tariff included an income tax to make up for the loss in revenues caused by lower tariffs. Wilson told reporters that lobbyists and senators with personal interests would try to defeat the bill.†† Wilson offered to supply names of lobbyists and opened hearings to investigate personal interests.The Overman Committee asked each senator to disclose his investments and financial holdings. It was evident that a good many senators stood to gain personally from continued protection. The Committee also unearthed a five million dollar lobbying effort by the beet sugar industry. Protection was actually becoming unnecessary for the largest American firms and except for the sugar trust no other major corporation opposed the tariff reduction but the glare of publicity wilted opposition. Most opposition came from small and medium sized businesses whose representatives insisted that the Underwood bill would ruin them by adding foreign competition to the existing trust competition. Authors of the Underwood bill realized that the sharp reduction of duties would cut government revenue and included a federal income tax, taking advantage of recently approved 16th Amendment to raisehundred million dollars a year. The bill levied one percent on personal and corporate incomes of 4,000 or more a year to maximum of three percent on incomes over one hundred thousand dollars.

 

Federal Reserve Act of l913 - About 7,000 independent banks were supervised loosely by the comptroller of the currencyThere was no uniformity of interest rated or discounts rates that banks charge each other. Unable to support each other, even the soundest banks were vulnerable to recurrent bank panics. The most recent had occurred in l907.†† The country also needed some way to expand and contract circulation of money in proportion to growth or contraction of the economy.After the Panic of l907,the Aldrich Committee was formed to study the problems and four years later the committee recommended the establishment of privately controlled central bank with fifteen branches around the country. The central bank wouldholda portion of each member bankísreserves.The bank would set discount rates and paper money based on gold and commercial paper. The volume of commercial paper increases when business is booming and decreases in slack times.Bankers and businessmen liked the Aldrich plan.but reformers feared the power of a private bank. Wilson believed that the financial power was too concentrated in New York and needed to be equalized and he also thought that the government should have a supervisory position to protect the public interest.In 1913, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and crafted a regional, rather than fully centralized, approach to banking reform. Carter Glass of Virginia headed matters in the House and Robert L. Owen of Oklahoma did so in the Senate. The final legislation created 12 Federal Reserve Banks* that would act as central banks for all national banks and other member state institutions. The Banks would not be federal bodies, but private ones owned by the member banks. A Federal Reserve Board was formed to oversee the system and establish policy. Members of the Board would be appointed by the president, providing a considerable measure of federal direction over the system. The greatest power bestowed on the new Federal Reserve System was establishment of the discount rateóthe rate of interest charged by the Banks when lending to member institutions. The ability to raise the discount rate was to have the tendency to slow down the economy, while dropping rates would tend to stimulate economic activity.

Federal Reserve Board consists of seven members, including the Secretary of the Treasury and the Comptroller of the Currency, who are members ex officio, and five members appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

 

Clayton Antt-trust Act of l914 - Henry Clayton of Alabama, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sponsored the bill.law enacted in 1914 by the United States Congress to clarify and strengthen the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890). The vague language of the latter had provided large corporations with numerous loopholes, enabling them to engage in certain restrictive business arrangements which, though not illegal per se, resulted in concentrations that had an adverse effect on competition. Thus, despite the trust-busting activities of both the Roosevelt and Taft administrations under the Sherman Act, it appeared to a congressional committee in 1913 that big business had continued to grow bigger and that the control of money and credit in the country was such that a few men had the power to plunge the nation into a financial panic. When President Woodrow Wilson asked for a drastic revision of existing antitrust legislation, Congress eagerly accommodated by passing the Clayton measure. The provisions relating to corporate activities declared illegal such practices as local price-cutting to freeze out competitors, exclusive selling or leasing, and other forms of price discrimination. The law also forbade inter-corporate stock holdings that allow one firm to gain control over another, thereby lessening competition, and certain interlocking directorates, in which a few persons control an industry by serving simultaneously as directors of related corporations.The act permitted individual suits for damages from discrimination or exclusive selling or leasing, and made directors or officers of corporations responsible for infractions of the antitrust laws. Appeals were directed to the Federal Trade Commission, which was, in part, created to enforce the antitrust provisions of the act and which was empowered to issue cease-and-desist orders when illegal activities had been proved.The act also affirmed the right of unions to strike, boycott, and picket. Its provisions dealing specifically with labor matters limited use of the federal injunction in labor disputes; at the same time, unions were explicitly excluded from the restrictions of antitrust laws. Unfavorable court interpretations weakened the act, however, and additional legislation was required finally to carry out its aims

Federal Farm Loan Act of l916 - Farmers had long been a neglected segment of American society, but their votes were always important and the Democrats feared that a new third party movement might emerge to serve rural needs. The legislation established 12 regional Farm Loan Banks that would grant loans to farm cooperative associations. Farmers could borrow from their local institution, using their land and improvements as collateral.

Keating-Owen Act of l916 - This measure made it illegal to ship across state lines any product manufactured by child labor (a child being defined as under 14 years of age). This issue had earlier caught public attention through the activities of some of the muckrakers, but was highlighted again by a report issued by the Department of Labor's Children's Bureau. The impact of this law was not lasting. The U.S. Supreme Court in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) declared Keating-Owen unconstitutional, reasoning that the law had been designed to regulate manufacturing conditions, not interstate commerce. (This latter position would stand until reversed again in United States v. Darby (1941).)

Workingmen's Compensation Act of l916 - The effort to extend financial assistance to injured workers was a prime concern of many progressives. The 1916 legislation extended partial coverage to federal workers who were injured on the job.

Adamson Act of 1916 - This measure established the eight-hour day and overtime pay guidelines for railway workers who were employed in interstate runs. The Adamson Act was passed in September 1916, due largely to appeals by the president. Railway unions were preparing for a strike and Wilson feared a potential crippling of the economy; his concerns were not far-fetched in an age before the development of a long distance trucking system. The last thing Wilson wanted was to see the economy in turmoil as the country drifted toward entry into the European war.