Reform Under Wilson During the Progressiver Era
Reform Under Wilson
Wilson was determined to lower tariffs. In 1913, he signed the Underwood Tariff Act, which reduced tariffs to their lowest levels in fifty years. Next, he addressed banking reform. Democrats and Progressives favored a banking sys- tem run by the government; Conservatives argued that private banks should have more control. Wilson compromised by signing the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. This created a national board to run the banking system and twelve Federal Reserve banks under combined federal and private control. It did not alter the status of all the private banks, which could borrow money from the Federal Reserve banks when necessary.
Like Roosevelt and Taft, Wilson believed in regulating big business. In 1914, he signed the Clayton Antitrust Act, which clarified the nebulous Sherman Antitrust Act by stating specifically what corporations could and could not do. It protected small businesses from being swallowed up by larger ones.
Under Wilson, Congress passed the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916. This law, which was greeted with jubilation by farmers across the country, set up a special banking system for farmers only. Any farmers could borrow from one of the federal farm loan banks at a low rate of interest.
Like Roosevelt, Wilson believed in the arbitration of labor strikes. A national railroad strike in 1916 led to the passage of the Adamson Act, which reduced the workday for railroaders from 10 to 8 hours, but maintained wages at their existing levels. The strike was averted, with the workers gaining an important victory. Wilson also supported congressional legislation that, for the first time, offered financial compensation to workers injured on the job.
Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:
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