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New Jersey's U.S. Presidents

Grover Cleveland - Early Career

Grover Cleveland - Presidency

Woodrow Wilson - Early Career

Woodrow Wilson - Presidency



Woodrow Wilson - Presidency
February 2004

Wilson focused his campaign for president on a platform he called New Freedom. New Freedom promoted states' rights and individualism. During his first term, Wilson signed three major pieces of legislation:

  • The Underwood Act lowered tariffs but also established the federal income tax.
  • The Federal Reserve Act set up 12 federal banks across the nation and addressed problems with the money supply.
  • The Federal Trade Commission was created to deal with unfair business practices.

During his first term, Wilson also made major strides in labor laws. He signed laws prohibiting child labor and limiting railroad workers to an eight-hour workday.

Tragedy struck the Wilson family in 1914 when Wilson's wife passed away. He remarried the next year to Edith Bolling Galt.

At the same time, World War I was dragging on across Europe. Wilson kept the United States out of the war and won re-election in 1916.

After the election, however, Germany began interfering with and attacking neutral U.S. sea vessels. Congress, at Wilson's request, declared war on Germany in 1917.

With the help of American forces, the Allies were able to defeat Germany. Wilson set about creating what he hoped would be a lasting peace. In 1918, he delivered his Fourteen Points speech, calling for a League of Nations. The League of Nations would protect and recognize the independence of all nations, large and small.

Wilson traveled to Paris with representatives from the other warring nations to develop the Versailles Treaty. Wilson returned to the U.S. to get congressional approval of the treaty, but it did not pass in the Senate. Ultimately, a separate peace was negotiated between the United States and Germany.

Still, Wilson believed in the treaty very strongly and toured the nation to promote it. For his efforts, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize. He was known in Europe as a savior of peace. However, during the tour, Wilson had a stroke and nearly died. He never fully recovered and was unable to campaign again. He retired in Washington, D.C., and died in 1924.

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