Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, was born on this day in 1856.
So on this 155th Anniversary, and as we enter 2012, there is a lot to say and comment about Woodrow Wilson.
Wilson has been under constant attack by conservatives and Republicans and by conservative talk radio show hosts. George Will of ABC’s This Week and Glenn Beck, formerly of Fox News Channel and still on talk radio, have led the attack, but there are many followers.
The attack is based on the fact that Wilson was a promoter of Progressive reform, including the Federal Reserve Banking system, the Federal Trade Commission, the Clayton Anti Trust Act, and the Underwood Simmons Tariff, which promoted free trade.
Wilson also promoted labor reforms and agricultural credits, so his administration became the most activist, interventionist national government we had yet seen.
This was followed up by the creation of massive government agencies to promote our efforts in World War i. And Wilson also advocated internationalism through the League of Nations, after having formed the first foreign military alliances in American history to fight the war.
Wilson, of course, also had controversial views, including opposition to women’s suffrage, and advocacy of a hard line racial segregation in unison with the Old South. He also advocated restrictions on civil liberties during wartime, and showed no tolerance for dissent, all very disturbing trends that he has rightfully been condemned for by anyone who has belief in basic values of fairness and tolerance.
Wilson was a very complicated person, and is being analyzed more now by all sides of the political spectrum, due to his relevance to present discussions and debates over the role of national government, and American involvement in world affairs after our tragic interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And, of course, we are coming up to the centennial of the Presidential Election of 1912, when Woodrow Wilson won over President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt, in what became a four way race including Socialist Eugene Debs, an election often referred to as the “Triumph of Progressivism”!
So we will be hearing a lot about Woodrow Wilson over the next year!