Woodrow Wilson had many significant accomplishments during his two terms as president of the United States from 1913-1921. Some of those led many to place him among the finest men to ever serve.
Below are eight accomplishments that defined Wilson's presidency.
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Wilson wasted little time making sweeping changes. In May 1913, the 17th Amendment was ratified, which allowed for senators to be elected by the people in their respective states, rather than chosen by state legislatures, as stipulated by the Constitution. The idea to elect senators by popular vote was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 1826, but didn't gain momentum until the late 19th century.
During his presidential campaign in 1912, Wilson had pledged three primary reforms on business, tariffs, and banking. These eventually became known as the "New Freedom." The results of his efforts were the passage of the Federal Trade Act, the Underwood Tariff Act, and the creation of the Federal Reserve System.
The Federal Reserve Act created a central banking system in the U.S. and afforded the right to issue Federal Reserve Notes — now known as the U.S. dollar — and Federal Reserve Bank Notes as legal tender. It also required that all nationally chartered banks become members of the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve Act passed in December 1913.
In May 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The next day, President Wilson issued a proclamation for the first national Mother's Day, according to The National Archives
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Wilson's second term paved the way for the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment, which started Prohibition, a 14-year period from 1920-33 that prohibited the manufacture, storage, transportation, and sale of alcohol. He actually tried to veto the National Prohibition Act, but was overruled by Congress.
In 1920, Wilson also signed the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote.
Wilson supported immigration rights and vetoed a law that required a literacy test for immigrants and banned Asiatic workers, except those from countries with special agreements with the United States. Despite his efforts, Congress passed the Immigration Act with more than a two-thirds majority.
Despite Wilson's attempts to keep the U.S. out of World War I — he was re-elected with the campaign slogan, "He kept us out of war" — the country entered the conflict in 1917. Later, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiation of a peace treaty and plan for the League of Nations. Though a popular concept, Wilson failed to convince the U.S. to become a member.
Following the precedent set by William H. Taft, Wilson became the second U.S. president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch of the baseball season. The Washington Senators defeated the New York Yankees, 2-1 on April 10, 1913.
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