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Woodrow Wilson - Essay Example

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Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the 28th President of the United States, has been continuously ranked in top ten of the greatest US Presidents as one of the most influential and leading intellectuals of his era (Hines, 2008). From the critical perspective, historians have analyzed Woodrow Wilson's policy, and the basis for his political decisions for more then eight decades…
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Download file to see previous pages From the economic perspective, Woodrow Wilson established several successful policy reforms. In 1913, as a part of economic reforms, Underwood tariff has been lowered from 40% to 25% (Clements, 1992). Wilson provided compensation for this decrease in the form of federal income tax, supported with the Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. In addition, Wilson initiated complex reforms supporting farming business in the United States, including programs of educational support and initiatives providing farmers with low-cost long-term mortgages (Clements, 1992). Woodrow Wilson also became famous for his support for small and medium business and enactment of antitrust policies.
Recent scholarship has emphasized the importance of ideology in understanding Woodrow Wilson's politics. While Wilson scholars have examined his idealism, few have traces ideological and religious roots of principles that formed his mindset. Practically, during the period of American neutrality from 1914 to 1917, he made numerous public speeches that afford insight into his religious beliefs, their relationship to his understanding of presidential leadership, good government, and especially foreign policy (Knock, 1992). Wilson believed that good leaders used oratory to inform people of important issues and guide them to support the best practices. As the importance of the issue or policy at stake rose, so did the importance of speaking on it. Wilson's speeches reflect what he thought the public need to know to approve his plans and undertakings, and the concepts he used to gain that approval.
Wilson continuously stressed his impartiality in the exercise of his duties. As chief executive, he claimed to express the opinion of American citizens, rather than his own. He clarified that he did not confuse the opinion of newspapers editorials and the popular view. "With all due respect to editors of great newspapers, I have to say to them that I never take my opinions of the American people of their editorials" (Link, 32:29). Being president denied him expression of his opinion, as his job required he focus exclusively on the country's interests and not his own. Wilson's stress on national opinion reflected his need to interact with the people beyond the confines of Washington, D.C. As he stated during a Flag Day celebration: "I felt caught up and buoyed along by the great stream of human purpose which seemed to flow in front of me by the stand at the White House, and I shall go away from this meeting, as I came away from that parade, with all the deepest purposes of my heart renewed" (Link, 37:224).
Wilson's expressions of his desire for contact with non-politicians and government functionaries reinforced the image he cultivated of a common man elected to serve the people. He regularly described himself as an average man, despite Ph.D., a brief period as a lawyer, and years spent as a college professor and president (Clements, 1992). As a common man, Wilson operated as an associate, servant or helper. He explained the function of both Congress and the President as servants of the people. By arguing that public officials needed to confer with their people ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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