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Extract of sample "Robert A. Pastor, Woodrow Wilson: Father of the Future"
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Article information. Article Information Volume: 33 issue: 4, page s : First Page. Sign Out. Email required Password required Remember me Forgotten your password? Need to activate? Institutional Access does not have access to this content. Open Athens. In , World War I began in Europe, and with the United States trying to remain neutral, foreign policy played an important role in the presidential election.
In foreign affairs, Wilson sought to revise the imperialist practices of earlier administrations, promising independence to the Philippines and making Puerto Ricans American citizens. His administration intervened militarily more often in Latin America than any of his predecessors.
In the European war, American neutrality ended when the Germans refused to suspend submarine warfare after Americans were killed aboard the British liner Lusitania and a secret German offer of a military alliance with Mexico against the United States was uncovered. In , Congress voted overwhelmingly to declare war on Germany.
With the nation at war, Wilson set aside his domestic agenda to concentrate on a full-scale mobilization of the economy and industry. During the war, industrial production increased by 20 percent, daylight saving time was instituted to save fuel, the government took over the railroad system, and massive airplane and shipbuilding programs were launched. Americans began paying a new income tax and buying Liberty Bonds to pay for the war. Although most of the power the federal government acquired over the economy during the war was based on voluntary cooperation by businesses and individuals, conformity and aggressive patriotism became the order of the day.
Private patriotic organizations persecuted dissenters and anyone suspected of political radicalism. Likewise, the administration sponsored Espionage and Sedition Acts that outlawed criticism of the government, the armed forces, and the war effort. The government imprisoned or fined violators of the law and even censored or banned mainstream publications. Believing that this revolutionary program required his personal support, Wilson decided that he would lead the American peace delegation to Paris, becoming the first president ever to go to Europe while in office.
Despite Wilson's best efforts, however, the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June , departed significantly from the Fourteen Points, leaving both the Germans and many Americans bitterly disillusioned. Following his return to the United States in July , Wilson presented the treaty to the Senate and spent much of the summer trying to build bipartisan support among senators for its approval, arguing that although imperfect, it was better than the sort of punitive treaty the British and French would have imposed on Germany.
In September, having little success in winning Senate votes, Wilson began an arduous speaking tour to build public interest in the treaty and to promote US participation in the new League of Nations. Near the end of the tour, Wilson collapsed from exhaustion, and a few days later, after returning to the White House, he suffered a massive stroke. For the last seventeen months of his term, he was essentially incapacitated, prompting an unprecedented constitutional crisis over presidential disability.
Wilson became an isolated figure, seeing almost no one except his doctors and his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, who became a kind of surrogate president through whom he conducted public business.
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Refusing to compromise with the Senate on amendments to the treaty, Wilson eventually told his supporters to vote against it. The Senate voted twice on the treaty—in November and March —defeating it both times. Thus, the United States never joined the international organization that Wilson had viewed as the keystone of his new world order. Though he left office broken and defeated, Wilson believed firmly that the American people would eventually embrace his vision of America leading a world community of nations. What did the soldiers on the front lines do for the holidays?
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