Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson are two American presidents associated with the progressive era in American history. The progressive era was the result of years of attempts to address social and economic reforms. Both presidents had their own approaches of accomplishing these reforms. Despite the difference in approach they had one goal: making America a better place by doing what was best for the American people.
As he was in office, Roosevelt introduced many reforms some of which are effective to date. Teddy Roosevelt is mostly remembered for establishing laws that made bad monopolies illegal in a bid to protect the consumer and settling the coal strike of 1902. Most of the actions he took were to protect the common man and this endeared him to many. Under his tenure, laws that guaranteed the safety of food and drugs sold in the American market were passed. The Pure Food and Drug Act together with the Meat Inspection Act were passed in 1906 in a bid to halt production of unsafe food and drugs.
Roosevelt also controlled trade between the states and helped laborers to get a fair opportunity in negotiations. He called for additional reforms, including control of the stock market, taxation on income and inheritance. He also initiated compensation for accidents that occurred while at work, an eight-hour workday. His administration also eliminated child labor and established retirement funds for the aged as well as unemployment insurance. He also encouraged the building of the Panama Canal knowing that it would improve the world trade. Since its conclusion in 1914, the canal revolutionized world travel and commerce. Although he was President so long ago, the laws that he passed and the resulting transformation in the banking business and trade sectors are still of great impact on America today.
During his time as president, Woodrow Wilson also saw the need to change the American financial institutions as a requisite for industrialization to boom. Just like Roosevelt, he was against monopolies. He was determined to see small businesses thrive and competition restored. He held the conviction that free enterprise and competition were vital for a healthy economy. He secured passage Clayton Anti-Trust Act, which declared some businesses such as interlocking directorates, trusts, horizontal mergers unlawful. This same Act did not prohibit strikes and boycotts.
Wilson supported the creation of a Federal Trade Commission that would constantly regulate trade. He also helped pass the Federal Reserve Act which regulated the banking industry and acted as the economic watchdog. The Underwood Tariff Bill which was passed soon after his inauguration reduced tariffs significantly, thus allowing more foreign competition in the market. To compensate for reduction in tariffs, Congress passed a graduated income tax Bill to boost the government’s income.
Although they served as presidents many years ago, their legacies still live on. The actions they took shaped the banking, trade and the business America we have today. An example is the spirit of capitalism which still forms the foundation of the operation of the American economy.