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Woodrow Wilson


  • Originally published 06/24/2013

    Roger Lowenstein: The Federal Reserve’s Framers Would Be Shocked

    Roger Lowenstein is writing a history of the Federal Reserve.ONE hundred years ago today, President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress and demanded that it “act now” to create the Federal Reserve System. His proposal set off a fierce debate. One of the plan’s most strident critics, Representative Charles A. Lindbergh Sr., the father of the aviator, predicted that the Federal Reserve Act would establish “the most gigantic trust on earth,” and that the Fed would become an economic dictator or, as he put it, an “invisible government by the money power.”

  • Originally published 06/04/2013

    Michael Kazin: The Forgotten President

    Michael Kazin is editor of Dissent and teaches history at Georgetown University. His latest book is American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation.The first liberal Democratic president took office exactly 100 years ago this spring. So why aren’t contemporary liberals bestowing the same praise on Woodrow Wilson as they lavish on Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson? Granted, if he were running today, Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t win a single Democratic primary and would no doubt be heckled out of the race. Raised in the South, he smiled on Jim Crow and did not object when two of his cabinet appointees re-segregated their departments. A crusading Presbyterian, he vowed to “teach the Latin American republics to elect good men” and dispatched troops to Mexico and Haiti when they didn’t follow his advice. During World War I, he enforced new laws that effectively outlawed most dissent from government policy.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Jeffrey Rosen: Obama Behaving Like Woodrow Wilson

    Jeffrey Rosen (@rosenjeffrey) is The New Republic's legal affairs editor....Obama’s rediscovery of the 1917 Espionage Act is grimly appropriate, since the president whose behavior on civil liberties he is most directly channeling isn’t, in fact, Richard Nixon or George W. Bush. It’s Woodrow Wilson. An enthusiastic supporter of Espionage Act prosecutions, the progressive, detached, technocratic Wilson was so convinced of his own virtue that he was willing to jail the Socialist candidate for president, Eugene V. Debs, for his mild criticism of the war, even as he championed progressive reforms such as the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission, both of them designed with the help of his economic advisor, Louis Brandeis.Wilson had a sorry record on civil liberties, and once Brandeis was on the Supreme Court, he eloquently criticized the Wilson administration for its betrayal of progressive values such as free speech and transparency, declaring that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and unforgettably extolling the necessity of protecting political dissent.Let’s hope today’s progressives teach the Wilsonian Obama a similar lesson.

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    A. Scott Berg: Wilson to Obama: March Forth!

    A. Scott Berg is a biographer and the author of the forthcoming book “Wilson.”“THERE has been a change of government,” declared Woodrow Wilson in his first sentence as president of the United States, one hundred years ago this Monday. Until 1937, when the 20th Amendment moved Inauguration Day to late January, chief executives took their oaths of office on March Fourth, a date that sounds like a command.Nobody heeded this implied imperative more than Wilson: the 28th president enjoyed the most meteoric rise in American history, before or since. In 1910, Wilson was the president of a small men’s college in New Jersey — his alma mater, Princeton. In 1912, he won the presidency. (He made a brief stop in between as governor of New Jersey.) Over the next eight years, Wilson advanced the most ambitious agenda of progressive legislation the country had ever seen, what became known as “The New Freedom.” To this day, any president who wants to enact transformative proposals can learn a few lessons from the nation’s scholar-president.

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