Woodrow Wilson's Presidency Questions and Answers

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How were the goals of Wilson's New Freedom similar to or different from Roosevelt's New Nationalism? 

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The goal of Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom was similar to Theodore Roosevelt's New Nationalism in that both of these were programs for change. In essence, they both sought to change the status quo when it came to how government, the economy, and society operated and interacted.

The goals of Wilson’s New Freedom were similar to Roosevelt’s New Nationalism in that the average worker and small businesses and small farmers were an essential part of a vision for the country. Woodrow Wilson desired to see small business and the everyday common worker flourish, without being pawns of the banks, the trusts, as well as tariffs.

“Tariffs protected the large industrialists at the expense of small farmers.” (U.S. History – Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium – 43g. Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom - http://www.ushistory.org/us/43g.asp).

Therefore, Wilson sought to give “new freedom” to such as small farmers, among others. He did not want them to be slaves of policies that protected huge corporations, while they languished away on their farm properties. In addition, The Clayton Antitrust Act Of 1914 was instituted to help the average laborer in the nation. The Act exempted labor unions from antitrust suits. In addition, the Act proclaimed boycotts, strikes, as well as peaceful picketing legal.

Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism was his approach to molding an effective business, social, political, and economic integrated environment within the U.S. Roosevelt’s concern was putting a stop to corrupt practices by special interest groups. He was, overall, looking for an overhaul of civil society, economics, and politics. Roosevelt believed in regulating corporations somewhat.

Roosevelt sees human history as a Darwinian struggle between “the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess”…The essence of the struggle then “is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth.” (The Heritage Foundation - Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism - http://www.heritage.org/initiatives/first-principles/primary-sources/teddy-roosevelts-new-nationalism)

Therefore, one can see that their respective platforms sought to provide for the average American worker who did not have the power and resources of the large industrialists. However, Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism had a focus that included more government oversight and control. His was a more intrusive platform, whereby the federal government would have control over the economy, family, education, and the military. Nonetheless, Woodrow Wilson did yield to progressives in that he did approve the formation of a federal trade commission to act as a supervisory body over business.

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In theory, at least, the New Nationalism and the New Freedom were very different approaches to achieving the same goal.  In practice, they ended up being very similar.

Both Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt wanted the government to bring about progressive ends.  They wanted the government to help the common people against the power of the big businesses.  This was the major goal that they hand in common.

However, the two meant to go about this very differently.  Roosevelt’s ideas can be described as “Hamiltonian means to achieve Jeffersonian ends.”  What that means is that Roosevelt wanted a bigger government on a permanent basis (this is Hamiltonian) so as to bring about more equality among all Americans (this is Jeffersonian).  By contrast, Wilson did not want bigger government on a permanent basis.  He wanted the government to act temporarily to break up the monopolies and create more competition.  After that, however, the government should shrink and Jeffersonian ends should be achieved through competition in the private sector.

In practice, Wilson was not able to pull government back.  Instead, his policies ended up looking much more similar to Roosevelt’s than they were supposed to be in theory.

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