Political Platforms of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

A new reform movement began to captivate the nation early on in the first decade of the new century. The Progressive Movement of the early 1900s was similar to the Populist movement of the 1880s and 1890s, only it was larger and had much more of an effect on American life and politics. Muckraking journalists, reform-minded politicians, women, socialists, and more were all classified as Progressives; those who wished to use the government as an instrument for the betterment of society. They were simply looking to clean up business and government while giving the lower classes the help that they deserved. Progressivism reached the White House in 1901 when Theodore Roosevelt assumed the office left vacant by the late President McKinley. Roosevelt attacked big business with his 'Square Deal.' When Woodrow Wilson won the election of 1912, a different type of Progressivism sat in the Oval Office in the form of the President's 'New Freedom.' While, Wilson portrayed himself as a conservative, some of his actions while in office were as progressive as any. Both men’s platforms had significant differences, but also significant similarities. Only through consideration of both can we decide who’s approach to reform was the most effective.

$45 Bundle: 3 Expertly Crafted Essays!

AI-Powered Writing

Expert Editing Included

Any subject

Get 3-Essay Package

Surprisingly, Roosevelt was not always a fan of Progressivism. He initially viewed laborers and the working class as people who complained before attempting to work hard for their own gains. Roosevelt looked to defend the public interest from corruption while at the same time, avoided spoon-feeding the American people. He wanted to give everybody a fair shot to make something of their life. As President, Roosevelt's Progressive platform was dubbed the 'Square Deal' for capital, labor, and the public at large. Roosevelt tamed several corporations, while leaving alone companies such as US Steel which he believed were essential to the American economy. He then protected all American consumers in passing legislation such as the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act to ensure that the citizens of the United States would remain healthy. Throughout his two terms, Teddy believed he embodied Progressivism in fighting for the common man and backing off big business. He wanted to bring the confidence to the people, that if they worked hard, they could fight against other social problems. When Roosevelt ran for the presidency in 1912, he upgraded his Progressive platform to 'New Nationalism.' He wanted people to see the nation over the individual. What could the people do to improve their country; not what could the nation do to improve its people. He looked to continue to battle trusts, bring peace to unions and management, introduce new regulation and extend the vote to women. During his time in the political spotlight, Roosevelt clearly became more progressive over time and fought to reform most of societies issues.

Woodrow Wilson was raised in a conservative, religious background, making it tough for him to embrace reforms. However, Wilson listened and was very open minded. After receiving the Democratic nomination in the election of 1912, Wilson drew up his 'New Freedom' program to fight against Roosevelt and Taft. Wilson preached for small business and entrepreneurship. After an electoral landslide, Wilson entered his term with confidence ready to battle the tariff, banks, and trusts. In seemingly little time, Wilson held three special sessions of Congress where he pushed through a lower tariff, reform of the banking system with the Federal Reserve Act, and the Clayton Anti-Trust Act. He even nominated the first Jew to the Supreme Court. Wilson promoted causes for the common good, but it became a bit harder when it came to the African American population. The one flaw of Wilson was his refusal to halt the growing segregation.

In debating the ideals of Roosevelt and Wilson, they shared many similarities. Both men were for laissez-faire economics. Both believed that they stood for the common man and that they had the public's interest at heart. They both became more progressive as their careers dragged on. In terms of action, Wilson might have been the more progressive candidate. While his isolationism approach to the war differed from the progressive T.R, he passed the 19th Amendment granting the vote to women. He also passed many types of legislation that could be seen as progressive. However, if Roosevelt would have won the election of 1912 he might have done the same. Lastly, it can be said that without Roosevelt, there may have been no Wilson. Theodore Roosevelt was the first progressive president and in a sense; he had to warm the country to the idea of reform. It may be true that during his time in office, he didn't accomplish as much as Wilson, but he began the fight on corruption and on protecting the common man.

Get quality help now


Verified writer

Proficient in: Presidents of The United States

4.9 (455 reviews)
“He was an absolute wonderful writer and had a great amount of patience with me as well as following all directions very accordingly. ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Theodore Roosevelt Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.


This feature is still in progress, but don't worry – you can place an order for an essay with our expert writers

Hire writer

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.