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Woodrow Wilson, who served from 1913 until 1921, was the last of the Progressive presidents. Before WWI started, he helped pass a number of reforms that can be seen as having helped the working class. I will discuss three of these reforms in this answer.
First, Wilson supported the Clayton Antitrust Act. This law was very important to labor unions. Under the previous antitrust law, the Sherman Antitrust Act, courts could and did declare that unions were illegal combinations that were meant to “restrain trade.” Ironically, a law meant to break up monopolies was used to hurt unions. The Clayton Antitrust Act protected unions from this sort of prosecution, thus helping workers by allowing unions to have more power.
Second, Wilson supported the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Labor. This was something completely new in American government. It signaled that the government was going to be responsible for protecting workers in various ways. Thus, Wilson helped workers by putting the government behind them and giving them a way to get help for various problems.
Finally, Wilson supported the passage of the Adamson Act. This law said that railroad workers could only work 8 hours per day. This came at a time when many workers were forced to work 10 or 12 hour days. By supporting this act, Wilson helped workers gain better working conditions that let them have more of a life outside of their jobs.
President Wilson’s legacy is tied to several things, first he shaped the Democratic party as the “party of reform” this would serve the democrats well by giving it tools to shape public opinion. The second legacy that Wilson gave was the Federal Reserve System/Federal Reserve Act of 1913. This act was to serve as a means to smooth over the boom-bust cycles that hit the United States economy. The Federal Reserve modernly has served as a contentious argument on its effectiveness. Third was possibly the set up towards the United Nations with the League of Nations charter. Although the League of Nation treaty failed to be ratified in the United States it set up a pathway to the United Nations after World War II. These are just stronger aspects of Wilson’s legacy in the importance of American History.
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