Woodrow Wilson Presentation


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Slide 1:
• 28th president (1913-1921)
• Born on December 28th, 1856 in Staunton, Virginia
o Born five years before the outbreak of the American Civil War
o Known as “Young Tommy” as a child (Thomas Woodrow Wilson, later dropped the Thomas)
• Father: Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Mother: Jessie Janet Woodrow Wilson
o His family was very religious. His father was a Presbyterian minister and then later became a seminary professor. His mother was of Scottish descent.
o Because of his father’s duties, Wilson’s family moved frequently. When he was just two, the family moved to Georgia, and then later to Columbia, South Carolina. Fortunately, none of the family members had to fight during the war. But, the Wilson home and church was often times used as a camping ground for the Confederate soldiers.
o The war made a deep impression on Wilson from childhood
o As he grew up, people said that Wilson got all his personality traits from his father. He had a domineering personality and expected loyalty from all his family and friends. And although he later went to Princeton, he wasn’t able to read till he was 12 because of dyslexia. Wilson always imagined himself to be a great captain who lived on sea to battle the pirates.
• Highly educated
o Wilson originally enrolled in Davidson College in 1873, but withdrew the next year because of digestive disorders (which effected him throughout his life). He later enrolled in the College of New Jersey, which today we know as Princeton. He was very successful in college. He won many public speaking contests, founded the Liberal Debating Club, and became the managing editor of the Princetonian, which was the campus newspaper. After his graduation from Princeton in 1879, Wilson joined the law school at the University of Virginia. He dropped out due to health, but passed the bar in 1882. However, Wilson wanted to solely study politics. He pursued graduate work at Johns Hopkins University and earned his PhD in political science. He was the only president to have earned a PhD.
• Married Ellen Louise Axson in 1885
o Had three daughters. Ellen had bouts of depression and Wilson had a brief affair with Mary Allen Peck. Ellen died in August 1914 of bad health. Wilson was devastated.
• Married Edith Bolling Galt in 1915
• Wilson died on February 3rd, 1924 in Washington, District of Columbia
Slide 2:
• Wrote book: Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics (1885)
o First doctoral thesis (turned into a book)
o Compared American and parliamentary government and suggested reforms
o Wrote many books about American politics (4 books, some with many volumes)

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• Taught at Bryn Mawr in 1885, and Wesleyan University in 1888
• Went to teach at Princeton- became most prominent faculty member
o In 1902, became president of Princeton
o However, he continued to reform the school system which caused lots of opposition
o The publicity Wilson obtained attracted men from the Democratic Party.

Slide 3:
• 1910: Governor of New Jersey
o Implemented reform programs such as direct primary law, a law regulating public utilities, a corrupt-practices act, and a workman’s compensation act
o Gained national reputation which made him a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination
• Victory in three-way race for president
o Running against Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft
o Roosevelt was affiliated with the Bull Moose Party, which had split the dominant Republican Party
• As a result, Wilson was only elected with 42% of the popular vote, but had a grand total of 435 votes to Roosevelt’s 88 and Taft’s 8
• First southern-born president since the Civil War
• Appointed William Jennings Bryan as secretary of state

Slide 4:
• Kept Congress in session from April 1913 to October 1914
o Longest continuous session. That had never happened before
o Later, he actually went to Congress to present his thesis, something no president had done since John Adams
• 1913: Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act
o Lowered unfair tax rates of imported goods such as wool, sugar, iron ore, steel rails, and many other important items
• Federal Reserve Board (Federal Reserve System)
o Created to help control money policies in the United States to ensure the fairness in all transactions
o Stabilize currency and prevent “panics” such as the one that occurred in 1907 and basically destroyed Wall Street
o Most powerful government agency in economic affairs
• Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
o Established to halt unfair business trade practices
• Clayton Anti-Trust Act
o Passed to police unfair practices in business
o Strengthened existing laws against anticompetitive business actions and gave labor unions relief from court injunctions
• Adamson Act
o 8-hour work day for railroad employees
• Child Labor Act
o Limited the work hours of children

Slide 5:
• 16th Amendment (1913)
o Congress gains the power to lay and collect income taxes
• 17th Amendment (1913)
o Direct election of Senators instead of by state legislatures
• 18th Amendment (1919)
o Prohibition
• Enacted under Wilson
• The ban on imports, production, and sales of alcohol
• 19th Amendment (1920)
o Women Suffrage
o Proposed in 1919, ratified in 1920

Slide 6:
• Nominated Louis Brandeis to a justiceship on the Supreme Court
o Brandeis served until 1939
o First Jewish justice and became a major force on the Supreme Court
• Muller v. Oregon
o Oregon enacted a law that limited women to ten hours of work in factories and laundries. The question was, did Oregon’s law violate women’s freedom and liberty? Fourteenth Amendment. However, it was ruled that there was no constitutional violation.
• Olmstead v. United States
o Federal agents installed wiretaps in the basement of Olmstead’s building. Olmsted was convicted with evidence obtained from the wiretaps. The question was, does the use of evidence disclosed in wiretapped private telephone conversations violate the party’s fourth and fifth amendment? The court said that the 4th and 5th amendments were not violated.
• Schenck v. United States
o Schenck mailed circulars to draftees. The circulars suggested that the draft was one with bad intentions by the capitalist system. Schenck was charged with conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act. The question was, does the First Amendment protect Schenck’s actions? The Court ruled against Schenck saying that his words were not protected in this situation.

Slide 7:
• Racial views towards African Americans
o Despite his Southern upbringing, Wilson had racial views about the African Americans
o His cabinet members demanded he do something about segregation
o The most blatant discriminatory measures were dropped such as “white” and “colored” restrooms
o Number of African Americans in the federal workforce was reduced
• The Birth of a Nation- 1915
o Wilson further ruined his relations with the African Americans by allowing the screening of D.W. Griffith’s racist film “The Birth of A Nation” at the White House
• July 1918: Condemned Lynching
o Only move made to improve relations




Slide 8:
• Latin America was a trouble spot
o Wilson occupied Haiti and the Dominican Republic and governed them as protectorates
• Mexico
o Sent troops into Mexico to support U.S interests, neutrality, and nonintervention
o Was the most vexing of all
o The overthrow of Victoriano Huerta (military dictator) dragged the US into interventions by the navy at Veracruz in 1914
o Wilson eventually pulled out of Mexico
• World War I (1914-1919)
o On May 7th, 1915, a U-boat sank the British liner Lusitania, which killed over 1,100 people of which 128 were American.
o Wilson originally told his men to show restraint, declaring “There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight”
o Germans pledged to curtail submarine warfare in April 1916

Slide 9:
• Re-elected for Second Term in 1916
o First democrat to win a second consecutive term since Andrew Jackson
o Barely won (277-254 Charles Evans Hughes)
o The campaign cry “He kept us out of war” played a huge role in his re-election
• April 2, 1917: Went before Congress to declare war on Germany
• Selective Service Act
o Helped raise the strength of the armed forces to five million men and women
• German Armistice
o Germans sued for peace and laid down their arms with the Armistice of November 11, 1918
• Fourteen Points Speech
o Given on January 8th, 1918
o Promised a liberal peace and a league of nations
• League of Nations
o An organization for international cooperation established at the initiative of the victorious Allied Powers at the end of World War I
o The United States never joined
• Failure of Treaty of Versailles
o The treaty failed to gain two-thirds of the votes, which was necessary for ratification (Happened two times, November 19th 1919 and March 19th, 1920)
o Wasn’t ratified by U.S. Senate

Slide 10:
• Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920
o Used the money to purchase a townhouse in Georgetown
• Wilson left office in March 1921
o Lived in Washington for almost three years after leaving office
o Still believed that the United States would eventually join the League of Nations
o Still had a keen interest in politics
o Died in his sleep at his Washington home in 1924
• Bad health, suffered from lots of strokes
o His remains are at the National Cathedral: He is the only president buried in the capital city
o His reputation suffered due to the ascendancy of the Republicans, but during WWII his reputation soared
o The United Nations and collective security pacts are viewed as fulfillment of Wilson’s internationalist vision





Rating: 4/5
Wilson was the first president to receive a ph.D. He had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920, and used the money to purchase a townhouse in Georgetown Wilson’s ideals were translated into many important innovations, like the institution of an income tax, suffrage for women, and reforms to the fiscal system. He also guided the nation through World War I. His first administration successfully enacted many of the progressive federal laws that controlled outrageously high tariffs, illegal industrial practices, and the federal control of the banking system. At the early stages of his presidency, Wilson was also successful in achieving progressive legislation to stabilize the balance between business interests and the interests of American workers, both industrial and agricultural. However, Wilson’s inability to compromise resulted in the Senate’s failure to ratify the Treaty of Versailles





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