Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both made their mark on United States history as presidents. One president was a wild, violent "Rough Rider" who was also insecure. The other was a deeply religious, sentimental traditionalist who stood firmly on his ground. Both presidents made changes in American life, whether it be business or social. By examining domestic policies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, one can see that although they differed greatly, both were effective presidents.
Theodore Roosevelt was a sickly child. His father helped him train to overcome his debilitation, and set him on his way to be a "Rough Rider. Woodrow Wilson"s father was a Presbyterian minister, and his mother a daughter of one; they instilled a stolid set of morals that Woodrow Wilson carried with him his whole life. Both presidents came from socially secure backgrounds that gave them distinguishing characteristics. Both presidents, however, dramatically changed their public view to support the ideals of the common man in America. Theodore Roosevelt started off his presidency say that he "shall go slow" in the process of investigating large corporations. He was insecure, afraid that some of his policies upset the corporations.
However, as his terms went on, the president gained a reputation for being a Progressive. According to Hofstadter, "[Reform] was meant to heal only the most conspicuous sores on the body politic. " Roosevelt wrote that he did not know what, if anything, should be done about trusts. The main reason he distrusted and despised bigness in business was because he was a "big politician facing a strong rival in the business of achieving power. " Roosevelt proposed reforms and blasted dishonesty in business with "the showiest language that had ever been used in the White House.
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His use of language caused the public image of him to be a reformer and it contributed real weight to that side. However, Roosevelt did do his share of trust busting. A brilliant stroke of publicity was the prosecution of the Northern Securities Company. A gigantic railroad monopoly in the Northwest was organized, and Roosevelt had practically no choice but to prosecute; the public branded him the reputation of being a major reformer. Woodrow Wilson was the president of Princeton University. He gained large support, and was approached by Boss Jim Smith and his associates to run for New Jersey governor.
Wilson accepted and decided he could cooperate with them on righteous terms. Progressives started to complain almost immediately. The Hoboken Observer wrote against Wilson, saying that he was "induced to enter the race by a combination of the very elements which the Progressives are fighting . . . and these elements have assumed charge of his candidacy. " He responded by changing to please the people. It had been necessary to please the capitalists and the bosses to get a foothold in politics, but now it seemed that he must enter the governorship "with absolutely no pledges of any kind. "
Wilson became a spokesman for the common man. When the people had expressed preference for a man running for the Senate, Wilson opposed the Bosses by endorsing the man the people wanted instead of the man that would have won. Wilson did not let his private obligations override his public ones. He believed in principles over personality, and the man became increasingly stronger as a reformer. Endorsement of the progressive creed by Wilson created a break with his original sponsor when running for president, and a complete change in his support followed after he dumped Harvey and befriended Bryan.
For both of these presidents, these events show that not only did they change their public image, they also gained popularity by being ambiguous in their speeches and actions; the ambiguity only furthered their popularity. Morals was also a large factor in the two presidencies. The role in which Roosevelt imagined himself was that of a moralist. He told Lincoln Steffens that the real need in American public life was "the fundamental fight for morality. " Roosevelt told Ray Stannard Baker that although economic issues would become increasingly important, his "problems are moral problems, and [his] teaching has been plain morality.
Woodrow Wilson, the son of the minister and the minister"s daughter, ate, drank and slept morals. The solution to controlling business must be found in a movement of moral regeneration, according to him. Punishment should fall on individuals and not on whole corporations. In one of Wilson"s most frequently used metaphors, the maleficent corporation official was the irresponsible driver of the corporate automobile. He said, "One really responsible man in jail . . . would be worth more than one thousand corporations mulcted in fines.
This contradicts with Roosevelt, who wanted to punish whole corporations, but the same message upholds; morals are the root of the solution, and the main objective is to regulate business by keeping them under the State. Both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were effective presidents. Theodore Roosevelt persecuted the Northern Securities Company, launching a trust-busting crusade, and he became the first president to intervene in a labor-management dispute when the anthracite coal miners struck.
The Hepburn Act strengthened the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission over railroads, and an employer"s liability law were put into action. Woodrow Wilson 's administration produced a huge number of achievements. A downward tariff revision was secured, the public controlled the nation"s banking and credit system under the Federal Reserve Act, and farmers were pleased with the Federal Farm Loan Act and the Warehousing Act.
The Clayton Act implemented the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and the Federal Trade Commission was created to enjoin what Wilson had called "illicit competition. " An eight-hour day for railroad workers in interstate commerce, a child-labor act, and a compensation law for Civil Service workers were all created under the Wilson administration. So although Roosevelt and Wilson differed, there effectiveness is clearly present while comparing their domestic policies as presidents.
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