President Woodrow Wilson held the strong belief that the government could play a significant role in promoting the welfare of laborers, while still protecting the fundamental rights of business. However, he felt that the government should always side on protecting the needs of labor if business owners were not open to compromise. He explained much of his feelings on the matter in his book The State. In this work, Wilson championed several progressive measures, notably the end of child labor, protections for the health of working women, and a shorter workday. When he became president, Wilson went about using the government's authority to put these ideas into practice.
As president, Wilson signed a number of progressive measures into laws designed to protect the rights of workers. Although he publicly said that he hoped the private business would make these changes on their own, he held little faith that they would actually do so. Wilson signed the first child labor regulations into law. The first-of-its-kind Adamson Act was largely designed by Wilson to create a shorter workday for railroad workers. He also promoted legislation to create an eight-hour workday in many other industries. Wilson believed that the government could play an active role in mediating labor disputes. He tasked the Labor Department with mediating a number of these disputes. He even sent federal soldiers into Colorado to put an end to the bloody Colorado Coalfield War in 1913.
Wilson felt that the government could help promote innovation. He helped draft and promote the Smith-Lever Bill, which provided federal subsidies to farmers who experimented with new crops and agricultural techniques. He also supported programs that gave low-interest loans to small businesses and farmers. These measures supported independent laborers who otherwise could not have competed with big business.
Wilson believed that it was the government's duty to place checks on monopolies. He signed several anti-trust laws and programs to this effect. He was also responsible for creating the Federal Trade Commission, which was specifically tasked with enforcing antitrust regulations.