Woodrow Wilson; From Passive Progressive to War-time President
Woodrow Wilson was a great president. His early administration was very much a part of stabilizing the disinergrating American economy at the time, as well as channeling foreign concerns, with peaceful realities. He was elected president in both 1912, and 1917, both trips to Whitehorse meant something different to Wilson. The country was also in different moods and circumstances. Looking at Wilson’s first and second Innagurational addresses, as well as his well schemed fourteen points peace treaty, one can get a good understanding of the change Wilson went through from one term to the other.
Bring 1912. The country is growing as a world economic contender, but at what cost? Children were being put to work as young as 7 years old, because of the size of their fingers, and hands to get where grown men couldn’t. America was loosing its innocence to the textile, and machinery factories that developed out of reconstruction. Woodrow Wilson was an up and coming progressive Democrat that believed strongly in workforce reform, as well as economic renewal. His competition in the election of 1912 brought a very famous and also progressive Theodore Roosevelt, running as an independent. The Republican Party nominated William Taft as their vote for the president. Wilson won because of his realistic, down to earth ideas of workplace reconstruction. In his first Inaugural address, it is apparent to see his views. Through the first part of the speech, Wilson recognizes the nation is looking for a good laize-faire president. “No one can mistake the purpose for which the nation now seeks to use the Democratic Party.” Roosevelt, a Progressive Party candidate, and Taft, a Republican, believed in the big business plan. Woodrow Wilson believed that this was a threat to liberty, in many cases he’s right. Wilson recognizes the need for change. In the forth part of his first address, he glorifies our nation, but his demeanor soon changes to worry upon saying,” But the evil has come with good, and much fine gold has been corroded.” He shows his anti-big business attitude by speaking of,” the great contributions of Industry, but at the cost of human lives, and family time.” The first Inaugural speech was basically a plea for the American people, and indeed big business bosses, to believe in humanity, and stop dreaming of personal gain. He brings up that,” in our thirst for technology, man has forgotten about his neighbors.” Wilson’s statement,” while we reared giant machinery which made it impossible that any but those who stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look out for themselves.” This analogy shows his belief in reuniting mankind, and Americanism.
Towards the end of Wilson’s first administration, the United States could know longer ignore the growing boiling point in central Europe. Though his re-election campaign geared on the idea of American isolationism, Wilson knew that war with Europe was eminent. This in fact, was the basis for his re-election in 1917. His campaign slogan,” Vote Wilson! He kept us out of war!”, won over the hearts of the American people. His second Inaugural address was a very sentimental one. You can almost hear the distress in his voice, as he addresses his people, in a time of breaking point. Wilson immediately goes into the conflicts overseas. His first response is to hold his ground as a progressive, peaceful president by saying,” we have been deeply wronged upon the seas, but we have not wished to wrong or injure in return; have retained throughout the consciousness of standing in some sort apart; intent upon an interest that transcended the immediate issues of war itself.” An interesting point is made in paragraph number six. He is flipping the responsibility of protecting freedom of the world onto the American people. Basically this means he is asking if war is such a bad idea, to instill democracy. His statement,” As some of the injuries done us have become intolerable, we have still been clear that we wished nothing for ourselves, that we were not ready to demand for all mankind-fairdealing, justice, the freedom to live and to be at ease against organized wrong,” The end of his speech clarifies his position to, “stand firm in armed neutrality”.
The difference is there. Wilson is directly becoming a wartime president, and learning from it. These transformations are important to study, because it gives us an insight to as how he developed the fourteen point’s peace agreement with the powers in Europe. Wilson sent the points before congress on Jan. 18, 1918. After releasing the points to the powers, the allies considered the points a source for central power war propaganda, and turned their nose up at the idea. In reality, the points were an appeal for peace for the central powers. Wilson wanted it to become a framework for peace discussions in the future. The allies soon realized the points were right, and Wilson used this to his advantage. The actual Treaty of Versailles was considered a defeat for the first five points, and questioned the reality of peace. The fourteen points, themselves are great tools to understanding wartime peace negotiations. The first point removed open covens between the warring countries. The second point directly pointed at Germany declared the oceans, and seas of the world free in peace and wartimes. The third point called for a removal of barriers of blockade, and refugee placement form in between nations. Reduction of armaments, and the demilitarization of the Rhineland, and other parts of Europe was the forth point. The fifth point asked for an adjustment of colonial intentions with the interests of the inhabitants in mind. Point number six called for the evacuation and restoration of Russia. Point seven wanted to reserve the Belgium country, and point eight influenced that are asking for a laize-faire settlement. Point nine wanted to realign the Italian frontiers. Point ten asked for a division of Austria-Hungary into northern Baltic States. The eleventh point called for the recall of the present Balkan boundaries. The twelfth point, took Turkish control over any region otherwise Turkey, out of Ottoman hands. Poland was established in point number thirteen. And, the present League of Nations was designed as the fourteenth point.
In conclusion, Woodrow Wilson was a very strict, and idealistic man, capable of turning the disastrous work place into a normal thriving environment, as well as grasping the world by the lease, and putting a muzzle on those who wish to manipulate peace.