Progressive Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson

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The Progressive Movement that occurred during the early 20th century was a time of major reform in the United States of America. During this time, there was a group of activists that referred to themselves as the Progressives, and they sought to change society for the people. The way that they intended to do this was change through their ideals of democracy, efficiency, regulation, and social justice. With this movement came the election that changed the course of America’s history “…demonstrating a victory for progressive reforms as both Progressive candidates accounted for 75 percent of all the votes” (Bowles). The candidates in this election were Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. While both of these men considered themselves to be part of the progressives and shared some similar opinions, they also differed from each other greatly and were apparent in their views during this time. These two candidates believed strongly that rising power should come with the presidency, economic improvement, opposition of monopolistic businesses, and they both advocated steering away from the isolationism that the country once upheld. The campaigns of the two men spoke of New Nationalism and New Freedom, and the two campaigns had some commonality between the two of them. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both expressed their concerns about the wrongs of corruption and what roles could be served by increased government control and regulation over businesses. This was apparent with Wilson’s platform of New Freedom, which called for “tariff reform, creation of the federal reserve, and antitrust laws” (Bowles). In an article from The Diplomat, James Holmes pointed out major commonality between our Warrior and Priest presidents: Both wr... ... middle of paper ... ...ples rather than the selfish materialism that they believed had animated their predecessors’ programs”(, n.d.). While Roosevelt believed more in the philosophy of “Speak softly and carry a big stick”, Wilson hoped “to cultivate the friendship and deserve the confidence of the Latin American states” (, n.d.). Given these similarities and differences between these two Progressive presidents, it is easy to see how the idea of “Progress” and Progressivism can mean so many different things, while still encompassing the same general set of ideas and principles. Both men aimed to improve the American economy in a time when corporate monopolization was rampant, however, they both set out to achieve the heavier regulation of corporate monopolies in different ways. Two progressive thinkers, two completely different ways of achieving progress.
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