Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Day in Presidential History....

Today in 1913, the Wilson Administration certified the 17th amendment. The 17th amendment changed the election of senators to a direct popular election (before that most were appointed).

The Wilson administration actually saw THREE constitutional amendments: the 17th, 18th, and 19th. The 18th enacted prohibition and the 19th gave women the right to vote. There were also many other important legislative acts passed during Wilson's tenure:

Federal Reserve Act (1913)
The banking system was put under governmental supervision, loosening Wall Street's grip on the nation's finances. This act is considered Wilson's most significant accomplishment.

Federal Trade Commission Act (1914)
The Federal Trade Commission was charged with enforcing antitrust laws and preventing the unlawful suppression of competition.

Clayton Antitrust Act (1914)
The trusts were attacked and labor unions protected under this act. This law prohibited interlocking directorates and clearly defined unfair business practices. Labor unions were exempted from antitrust considerations. Benefiting labor further was the legalization of peaceful strikes, picketing and boycotts.

Keating-Owen Child Labor Act (1916)
The child labor act limited the work hours of children, forbade the interstate sale of goods produced by child labor, and began a new program of federal regulation in industry.

Adamson Act (1916)
This legislation established an eight-hour workday for railroad employees, and dramatically averted a potentially crippling railroad strike.

Workingmen's Compensation Act (1916)
With this act the government provided financial assistance to federal employees injured on the job.

If you go to the link above, you will find even more! History tends to remember Wilson as a wartime president - the president who sent our boys to Europe to fight in World War I. But Wilson's real strength was in domestic policy:
During his first two years as president, Wilson demonstrated his political acumen in accomplishing one of the most impressive strings of domestic legislative victories in history.

David Kennedy, a historian, wrote: "The first two years of Wilson's first term are one of the most remarkable moments in modern American politics. There's more reform agenda accomplished in that brief moment that in virtually any other two year period in the 20th century."

Wilson was a scholar (he was a professor!) and highly idealistic - look at his goals for peace in 1918 and the League of Nation. Unfortunately, the US and the rest of Europe were not ready for any of this, but we see the weight of his domestic policy even today with things like workman's comp.

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