Woodrow Wilson By Denis Mueller

When asked about President Woodrow Wilson, the answer usually is that he led the country, quite reluctantly, into World War One and that he was the former President of Princeton University. He is thought of as an idealist who after "the Great War" led a courageous attempt to get the U.S. Senate to ratify his vision for a "League of Nations." The rejection of Wilson's polices in the 1920 election is reflected as a reac- tion to Wilson's idealism. We were tired of the reforms of the so-called progressive era and the electorate longed for a return to a simpler time. What is left out is that it was also a reaction against Wilson's racism, reactionary domestic activities, foreign intervention and lies.

Under President Wilson the United States intervened in Latin America more than at any other time in its history. In fact, after Wilson's term, the U.S. sought better relations with Mexico under the guise of a good neighbor policy. During his term we landed troops in Cuba, Haiti, Panama, the Dominican Republic and ten times in Mexico. Both sides condemned Wilson's intervention in Mexico in the Mexican Revolution. Wilson may have said that he believed in self-determination but his actions tell another story. In Haiti, U.S. marines invaded and forced the legislature to install our candidate as President. Later, when the Haitians refused to declare war on Germany, we got rid of the Haitian legislature. It is not that Wilson failed to bring democracy to Haiti. The problem was that he never tried.

On the domestic front, we have Wilson to thank for creating segregation within the Federal government. When Congress re- fused to pass his racist legislation, Wilson went ahead and refused to appoint blacks to federal offices even those jobs that had historically gone to African-Americans. He used his power to segregate the Federal government and when blacks in the government protested, he had them fired. In 1914, D.W. Griffith made his ode to the Ku Klux Klan, "Birth of a Nation." It was screened at the White House afterwards Wilson said, "It was like writing history with lightning."

Woodrow Wilson campaigned as a peace candidate in the 1916 elections and by 1917 we were at war. During the war, President Wilson attacked all those who opposed him. He passed into law the Espionage Act in 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. This gave Wilson the mandate to arrest anyone who spoke out against the war. It went to absurd lengths.

Once a filmmaker was arrested for making a film about the American Revolution. In it, the British were accurately por- trayed as the enemy, but this logic did not faze Wilson's justice department who said that it was anti-British and there- fore in violation of the Sedition Act. The court upheld the decision. Wilson's government refused to mail publications that were critical of his policies, he jailed suffragettes when they asked for the vote, and his justice department broke into the homes of citizens across the country. By the 1920's many were tired of Wilson and he was hated in his time. So why do we revere him?



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