During his two terms in office from 1913-21, President Woodrow Wilson had many significant accomplishments and failures, presiding over a time of sweeping progressive changes and war.
Some of his notable successes included the ratification of the 17th Amendment, which gave power to the people in their respective states to elect their senators. They had previously been selected by state legislatures, as spelled out in Constitution.
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Wilson tackled three primary reforms on business, tariffs, and banking, as he had promised during his 1912 run for president. These became known as the "New Freedom." The fruits of those efforts were the passage of the Federal Trade Act, the Underwood Tariff Act, and the creation of the Federal Reserve System, which created a U.S. central banking system and allowed the government to issue Federal Reserve Notes as legal tender.
Mother's Day became a national holiday in May 1914, after the U.S. Congress passed a law declaring the second Sunday in May as the special day. The next day, Wilson issued an edict for the first national Mother's Day.
In his second term, Wilson paved the way for social reforms. These included the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment, which began a 14-year period from 1920-33 that prohibited the manufacture, storage, transportation, and sale of alcohol, known as Prohibition. He actually attempted to veto the Act, but was overruled by Congress.
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He also signed the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote, and supported immigration rights. To that end, he vetoed a law that required a literacy test for immigrants and banned certain Asiatic workers. He was again overruled by Congress via a two-thirds majority.
Other legislative victories included the establishment of a Federal Trade Commission to stop unfair business practices. Another prohibited child labor and yet another specified that railroad workers work no more than eight hours a day.
Those accomplishments, plus the slogan "he kept us out of war," earned Wilson a narrow re-election, but he wasn't able to keep that promise. He concluded that America could no longer stay neutral and asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.
America's entrance into World War I gradually turned the tide for the Allies. Wilson appeared before Congress in January 1918 to lay out his 14 Points, the last of which would establish "a general association of nations ... affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike," according to WhiteHouse.gov.
The Germans signed the Armistice in November 1918, and Wilson travelled to Paris in hopes of forging a lasting peace. Unfortunately for Wilson, the 1918 election had given Republicans control of Congress. The Versailles Treaty failed in the Senate by seven votes.
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