The Skeptics Guide to American History
Episode 15 Woodrow Wilson and Rating Presidents
Mark Stoler PhD (2012)
I confess Woodrow Wilson is one of my least favorite presidents. In addition to breaking his campaign promise to keep the US out of World War I, he is responsible for creating the Federal Reserve and the US income tax and invading the Soviet Union without a congressional declaration of war. In addition to breaking a second campaign promise to break up the big US trusts (“corporate monopolies”), he also opposed women’s suffrage and enacted policies that increased racial segregation. And while he claimed to be anti-imperialist, he launched more military interventions in Latin America than any other president in history.
Finally in addition to outlawing dissent through the Espionage and Sedition Act (the law under which Julian Assange has been indicted), he was responsible for the illegal Palmer raids involving the arrest, deportation and imprisonment of both immigrants and US citizens campaigning for greater social justice.
According to Stoler, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson only received 42% of the popular vote in 1912 when he was first elected. Because the popular vote was split three ways, owing to Teddy Roosevelt’s nomination by the Bull Moose Party, Wilson won the electoral college vote.
Wilson won his second term outright by promising to keep the US out of World War I. Stoler blames the 1917 US declaration of war on Wilson’s secretary of state William Jennings Bryan. Historian Alison Weir tells a much different story, blaming US involvement in the war on on secret dealings US Zionists and the British government which was suffering major casualties.*
After siding with Wilson’s critics on most of the above issues (he views the creation of the Federal Reserve and income tax** as positive achievements) Stoler goes on to enumerate Wilson’s “positive” accomplishments. These include the Federal Farm Loan Act and the Warehouse Act (to help struggling farmers), the Highway Act (to construct rural roads), the Owen-Keating Act (preventing Interstate shipment of items made with children labor), the Adamson Act (establishing the eight-hour day, but only for railroad workers) and the Kern-McGillicuddy Act (establishing a workers compensation scheme for federal workers).
*According to Weir, the secretive but powerful Zionist lobby Parushim (run by Wilson’s close friend Supreme Court chief justice Louis Brandeis), promised US entry into the war in return for Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration. The latter assured British support for a Jewish state in Palestine. (At the end of the war, control of Palestine would pass from the Ottoman Empire to Britain). See https://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/history.html and https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2021/07/16/the-hidden-history-of-the-balfour-declaration-and-the-state-of-israel/
**While I would agree that wealthy Americans should contribute more to running the government, a tax on labor, like the income tax, tends to tax the middle class more than the wealthy. In my view, a land value tax is far fairer. See https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/progress-and-poverty-a-suppressed-economics-classic/
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Capital Gains Tax plus rampant inflation creating false capital gains is already a form of Wealth Tax.
I suppose you’re right in away, Tony, but it’s my impression that both inflation and capital gains tax hurt the middle class far more than they hurt billionaires.
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I had no clue about Brandeis – OMG
I really like Allison Weir, Trace. She’s a really intrepid researcher.
I’ve read several biographies of Woodrow Wilson, partly because of the Federal Reserve Act and also because he got us into WWI. Also, he was born in Georgia, and my grandmother was a Wilson, born in Dahlonega, GA. I don’t know of any relation. In any case, periods of US, as well as world history at the turn of the 18th century and the 19th century intrigue me. I’ve found biographies of both Alexander Hamilton and of Woodrow Wilson particularly revealing about the men and the periods in which they lived. There are many parallels.
For some reason, I don’t find that surprising, Katherine.