Comparison Of Wilson’s New Freedom And Roosevelt’s Square Deal

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Between Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal and Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom domestic programs, Roosevelt’s was more progressive. Roosevelt’s actions were able to help in many different fields. There was progress in industries, food, medicine, and the environment while under the Square Deal. Although Wilson’s New Freedom program was able to improve society, he only focused on one problem. His focus on eliminating monopoly restricted him from branching out and fixing a variety of issues in other areas. As society continues to move forward, old beliefs do not keep up with the present issues. Progressivism is a change in society to continuously keep improving as it advances. Humanity will continue to grow as well as industries and a strong government must play an important role to stabilize the improvement process.

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During Roosevelts Square Deal, he focused on the railroad industry and the safety of food, medicine, and the environment. Roosevelt stated in “The Square Deal” “There must be ever present in our minds the fundamental truth that in a republic such as ours the only safety is to stand neither for nor against any man because he is rich or because he is poor…We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less”. This quote illustrates how much Roosevelt wanted to help not only one area of problems, but in as many as he could. Therefore, he focused on multiple industries he could help reform. While president, Roosevelt ensured safety for the foods and drugs consumed by Americans. He did not allow anyone to sell medicine that was dangerous or ineffective. After inspecting the medications, Roosevelt investigated the food industry. He pushed for a Meat Inspection Act which removed many diseases that had previously been spread by impure meat. Roosevelt didn’t stop at that, he continued to reform society calling for justice in work environments. Workdays were now limited to eight hours and compensation for victims of industrial accidents was now broader. Roosevelt continued to create a positive movement by backing the National Reclamation Act to help give federal funds for the construction of dams, reservoirs, and canals. He was also concerned with preserving the beauty of the land as well as aiming to keep the wildlife safe from human impacts. Roosevelt added to programs such as the “still-young National Park System” in hopes to protect the land from development. Overall, Roosevelt made major progressive changes in many different fields of focus to help improve society.

Woodrow Wilson’s progressive program, The New Freedom, focused mainly on economics and the use of government control. Wilson stated “We have changed our economic conditions, absolutely, from top to bottom; and, with our economic society, the organization of our life. The old political formulas do not fit the present problems” (Woodrow Wilson, The New Reform 1913). He understands that the government is not what it used to be. There needed to be new progressive ideas to continue to keep society moving forward and Wilson was going to do just that. Wilson was the first one able to introduce competition into the markets by lowering tariffs. This progressive move assisted in breaking the authority trusts held. Wilson went on to reform the banking system. This was significant because it allowed funds to be transferred quickly to areas that needed them. This allowed banks to meet increased pressure for credit and protect its at-risk banks. Wilson wanted to destroy monopoly. He formed the Federal Trade Commission Act which created an agency that helped businesses determine if their actions would be accepted by the government. The agency could initiate prosecutions against “unfair trade practices” as well as investigate corporate behavior. After creating the agencies, Wilson attempted to bring attention to child labor laws by supporting the Keating-Owen Act, however, it was rejected. This law prevented goods to be shipped from state to state if the product was made by underage children. Wilson helped form a new base of how the federal power over the economy would grow from here.

The government had many regulations and much authority over both leaders’ programs throughout their precedencies. In the book “An Unfinished Nation” by Alan Brinkley, he states “The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, establishing the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), had been an early effort to regulate the industry, but over the years, the courts had sharply limited its influence”. Roosevelt created The Hepburn Railroad Regulation Act of 1906 in efforts to reestablish some regulatory power to the government by allowing the ICC the authority to oversee railroad rates. Wilson created the Federal Trade Commission Act in response to government regulations. This Act was designed to help businesses decide what would be accepted by the government in advance. Both acts helped to merge industry’s actions with government regulations, leading to a smooth reformation. Although these acts passed, the court was able to strike down acts that the presidents supported, making the problems still prevail, such as the Keating-Owen Act. The Progressive President states “The president, Roosevelt maintained, could not do efficient work if Congress were permitted to make up his mind for him”. The authority of the government made it difficult for the presidents to achieve all their goals during their time in office, however, each program achieved huge accomplishments that have led America to a progressive reform. 

16 August 2021

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