Woodrow Wilson, Progressivism
in America, and World War I
Election of 1912:
• “New • “New Freedom”
Nationalism” • unregulated
• social economy-
• minimum wage, competition (on
• woman small scale),
suffrage, • no social-
• increased welfare,
regulations • lower tariffs
Election of 1912
• Wilson gets
• Roosevelt and Taft
• Socialist Eugene
Debs gets over
• Prohibition Party
• Progressivism was
the clear winner.
Under the Gun
• Progressive Wilson targets:
• 1) Banks- Federal Reserve Act of 1913
• 2) Trusts- Federal Trade Commission,
and Clayton Antitrust Act
• 3) Tariffs- Lowered tariffs, began
income tax (16th Amendment allowed).
• Federal Reserve
Wilson’s Foreign Policy
• Teddy Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” =
• Taft’s “Dollar Diplomacy” =
• Wilson seen as a moralistic anti-
imperialist everywhere except in the
Western Hemisphere (Monroe
• Sent U.S. forces to intervene in Haiti,
Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and
Intervention in Mexico
• Pancho Villa
• 1916- Columbus,
NM: kills 19.
• U.S. responds-
• Comes up empty.
World War I-Origins
As Fate Would Have It?:
The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
• Bungled security
• Traveled in an open car-slowly
• First attack failed
• Instead of leaving town, after the town hall event he
goes to visit hospital
• Left by the same route they traveled on before
• Drivers not informed of the unscheduled visit to the
• Driver of Archduke’s car braked sharply, the gears
locked and the car stalled- right in front of the assassin
World War I- Summarized
• 1914- August: War is declared in
Europe. Austria-Hungary attacks
Serbia. Germany attacks France
• 1915 and 1916: Heavy fighting
continues. Little territory gained.
Already millions of lives lost.
• 1917: German offensive knocks
Russia out of war. Bolshevik
communist revolution begins.
• 1918- March: German offensive
American Troops Go “Over There”
• American policy of not taking sides in
the war is “neutrality.”
• German submarine attacks:
• Lusitania- British passenger ship sunk May
• Arabic- British ship sunk August 1915
• Sussex- French vessel torpedoed March
• “Sussex pledge” by Germany not to attack
passenger/ merchant vessels without warning
• January 1917, Germans began unrestricted
submarine warfare- 4 American vessels
were destroyed soon after.
• April 2, 1917- Wilson asks Congress to
declare war 11
American Home Front
• Civil Liberty Restrictions:
• Espionage Act- forbade obstructing the operation
and success of the armed forces.
• Sedition Act- illegal to use “disloyal, profane,
scurrilous, or abusive language about the
government, flag, or military during war.
• Used to jail Socialist leader Eugene Debs. Used
against labor unions, pro-German organizations,
Socialist newspapers and magazines, etc., - seen
as radical forces in society and threats to
• Compare to today
Americans Fill the Gap
• Took almost a year to send a sizable
American force to Europe.
• U.S. forces made a difference defending
against the German spring offensive in
• Germans wear out, despair at prospect of
millions more Americans coming to fight.
• Look to Wilson’s 14-Point plan for the
war’s end, surrendered according to its
terms, exiled the Kaiser.
• German surrender took effect on Nov. 11,
1918 at 11pm. Today that is Veterans’
Making the Peace
• President Wilson went to Paris Peace
Conference in 1919 with 14 Points in mind.
• British and French opposed these as too
generous, sought revenge by making losers
pay massive reparations and cede (give up)
territory. Germany was further singled out
and forced to accept guilt for starting the
war and limit the size of its military. (war
• Opposition in the United States to some of
Wilson’s 14 Points undermined Wilson’s
bargaining position at the Conference.
• Treaty of Versailles became largely a 14
League of Nations
• Although League of Nations was approved
in Treaty of Versailles, U.S. Congress
• Many Americans still held onto belief that
America could and should avoid
entanglement in problems of Europe.
• Wilson campaigned around the country for
League approval by Congress.
• Suffered serious stroke.
• His wife became the gatekeeper for him for
the remainder of his term.
Map of the League of Nations
Election of 1920
• Republican Party reunited
• Democrats had issues:
• Wilson’s Democratic successor, James Cox, strongly
supported the League
• Lacked charisma
• Women’s vote largely went for Republican ticket of
Warren Harding and his VP Calvin Coolidge
• After years of turmoil and conflict, Americans
were voting for a “return to normalcy.”