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Woodrow Wilson Facts: 6 Things to Know About the 28th President

By Morgan Chilson   |   Monday, 25 Aug 2014 07:27 PM

Historians often rank Woodrow Wilson, the country’s 28th president, as one of the best presidents the country has had, and these six facts highlight what he did in office to earn him accolades from succeeding generations.

1. During his campaign for president in 1912, Wilson touted three primary reforms focused on tariff, banking, and business reform that eventually were called "New Freedom."

The results of Wilson’s push for reform in those arenas were the passage of the Federal Trade Act and the Underwood Tariff Act of 1914, along with the creation of the Federal Reserve System.

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2. In May 1913, after Wilson was in office about three months, the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified, allowing for the direct election of senators. Before that, senators were selected by state legislatures.

3. Although Wilson tried to keep the United States out of World War I, he was unable to do so and was forced to ask Congress to declare war in 1917. He later received the Nobel Peace Prize for the peacemaking efforts he made after the war to help negotiate a peace treaty and make a plan for the League of Nations.

The League of Nations was a “wildly popular” idea first discussed by Wilson as one of his Fourteen Points that delineated a path to peace after the war, the U.S. Department of State said on its website. Wilson could never convince the United States to join, though.

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4. Wilson’s presidential terms saw the passage of two constitutional amendments — the 18th Amendment that launched Prohibition, and the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. Wilson tried to veto the National Prohibition Act, but Congress overruled him.

5. Wilson supported immigration rights, information on the Woodrow Wilson House website said. He vetoed anti-immigrant legislation, and said the country had always welcomed immigrants who wanted to come here and start a new life.

6. The world was changing tremendously during Wilson’s political career, and the Woodrow Wilson House website said he “embraced and encouraged new technology.”

“He opened the Panama Canal, started air mail service, endorsed the creation of an interstate highway system, appeared in one of the first filmed campaign advertisements, used a microphone for the amplification of his voice, and witnessed the birth of radio,” the site said.

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