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The Contender
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Woodrow Wilson was a bad president.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,934 times Debate No: 23841
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




First round is acceptance.


I'll accept although I don't know much about him but the World War I stuff he did and Child Labor.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks, Tyler!


Those who assess the quality of presidents are often impressed by communication skills and charisma. Both of those characteristics account for President Woodrow Wilson’s standing in several lists of good presidents. However, Wilson, like other presidents should be judged not on charisma, but on how his policies affect the nation and the world during his presidency and over the course of history. The policies were catastrophic.

The “ruler” with which I will categorically evaluate Wilson’s presidency are the criteria of peace, prosperity, and freedom. Peace allows human beings to be free from unnecessary suffering at the hands of other men and lays the foundation for sound economics and the protection of civil liberties. Prosperity increases the standard of living of humans within its scope and of trading nations. Freedom allows a human to exercise his protected rights in any manner he chooses (so long as it does not interfere with the exercise of the rights of others), and is a fundamental aspect of human nature’s desires. Wilson is scored negatively on all of these criteria; thus, making him a bad president.

Peace 1: Wilson decided to enter World War I.
In 1916, he ran for reelection of the slogan, “He kept us out of war,” but in April 1917, shortly after his narrow reelection and second inauguration, he asked Congress to declare war on Germany. As early as December 1916, the Germans desired peace talks, while wanting to keep the land they occupied in Belgium and France. But because Britain and France expected that United States entry into the war was likely and would turn the tide of the war in their favor, they rejected Germany’s settlement. If the US had stayed out, the French and British would have been forced to take this settlement and end the war. As a result of US entry into the war, millions more men were killed in combat and billions of dollars was wasted in an effort to “win” the war. Because of the harsh reparation payments forced on Germany to get the US war loans from Britain and France, the the usurpation of its foreign lands, and the stringent control of Germany’s industry, World War II was essentially created by the Treaty of Versailles. Many historians trace the roots of World War II to the Treaty of Versailles of which he was an integral supporting member.

Peace 2: His military policies instigated decades of aftermath.
While generating support for the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations, was oblivious to the fact that he would be held largely responsible for the largest, costliest, and bloodiest war in world history: World War II. World War I brought to power three monstrous dictators: Stalin, Lenin, and Hitler.
He also played a role in triggering the Russian Revolution and then meddles in the ensuring Russian Civil War, i.e. he inadvertently helped the communists take power initially in Russia and then made them hate the United States; thus, paving the way for a Cold War that lasted more than forty years. In that Cold War, two confirmed false nuclear launch signals from both countries was received which could have ended civilization in a nuclear holocaust.
He was the most interventionist president in United States history. He ordered military interventions in Mexico in 1914 and 1916, Nicaragua in 1914, Haiti in 1915, the Dominican Republic in 1916, Cuba in 1917, and many other military operations that have generated lasting animosity against the United States.
As a result of World War I and II, the Russian and Chinese revolutions, and civil wars and conflicts spawned by the Cold War (most of which can be traced to US entry into WWI) the twentieth century was by far the bloodiest century in world history. Even in the 21st century, people are still losing their lives in conflicts ( e.g. Iraq) indirectly generated by the US entry into WWI. If the loss of approximately 110 million lives is not enough to make you think Wilson was a bad president, we still have two more categories to go.

Prosperity 1: Promoted pre-war economic interventions.
Even before Wilson mobilized the entire economy to fight World War I, he was pursuing an activist domestic agenda contrary to the history of the Democratic Party, which had been a bastion of small government. Like Wilson’s faith-based foreign policy, which included total war,religion also fueled his missionary ardor for the progressive movement at home. He is among the three most legislatively active presidents in the 20th century, and with this came disastrous consequences of both progressive politics and its economic intervention. Decades after the idea of a national bank was buried, his “New Freedom” legislative agenda created the Federal Reserve System, which Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman showed to be the cause of the Great Depression, as it excessively expanded the money supply during the 1920’s. The Federal Reserve has also been proven to be the cause of the boom and bust business cycle, the financial crisis and the housing bubble among other economic fiascoes.

In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which allowed the return of the income tax. At first the tax was minimal, but then he (with inspiration from the Ten Planks of Communism) decided to get a more sharply graduated income and inheritance taxes passed. In a classic example of the “ratchet effect” (going up, but not going down), some of the high taxes on incomes and corporate profits were retained after the war extended. The tax continues to progress today, and is one of the primary causes of unemployment and economic sluggishness and deadweight loss.
His programs laid the groundwork for expanded government with his setting precedents of the FDA, Overman Act, Enemy Act, Fuel Control Act, and Railroad Administration, etc. His creation of agencies to try to fix problems inspired FDR’s New Deals which prolonged and exacerbated the great depression.

Freedom 1: Undermined constitutional check and balances.
Wilson used World War I to vastly enlarge the president’s powers. Under the National Defense Act of 1916, he could appoint all commissioned and noncomission officers of the National Guard. This encroachment subverted the states’ constitutional right to appoint the officers of the militia. The act effectively increased the president’s authority over the military and undermined the constitution’s provisions for ensuring some state control over militia as a counterbalance to federal power.

Freedom 2: Eroded civil liberties.
In US history, WWI and its after math were probably the worst times for the erosion of precious and unique American civil liberties. Conscription, a form of involuntary slavery, was resurrected from the Civil War. The Congress passes the selective service act of 1917, which authorized him to draft men against their will to fight in a distant war, thereby taking away their own liberty.
The Espionage act of 1917 and the sedition act of 1918 were “probably the most serious attacks on the civil liberties of Americans since the short-lived alien and sedition acts of 1798” during the administration of John Adams. Yet the Supreme Court upheld convictions under these unconstitutional WWI-era laws.

Freedom 3: Set bad policies toward blacks and women.
To Wilson, some racial groups were more equal than others. A Democrat originally from the South and a blatant white supremacist, he sought unsuccessfully to get Congress to pass legislation to restrict the civil liberties of African Americans.
During and after his administration, racial violence spiked, in some measure because of the racist tone he had set The results were lynching, anti-black race riots, and the emergence of the second KKK to dominate the Democratic party in the southern and western states.
Similarly, Wilson had women suffragists arrested, because of his blatant misogyny. But later, under intense continuing pressure, he campaigned for the 19th Amendment.

Woodrow Wilson was a bad president.


Woodrow Wilson was one of the only president to get a legislative agenda that very few other President's have equaled. His Agenda includes, the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, Clayton Antitrust Act. While the Keating-owen Act cause Child Labor it was still fixed later on. I will admit he wasn't the best President we've had but he's certainly not the worst, for one he was able to solve World War I, maybe not in the best way but it worked did it not? In 1919 he traveled to Paris to make the League of Nations to shape up the Treaty of Versailles, which congress denied after his wife had a stroke which caused him to leave office so it was never put together and in 1920 the Republican party denounced Wilson's policies.

The Federal Reserve Act-

The Federal Reserve Act was an act of Congress that set up America's banking systems in short, which allowed them to issue reserve notes (Now known as U.S. Dollars) and made Federal Reserve bank notes a legal tender. Before this the United States had almost no banking system that worked, while this policy expanded the need for American banking systems it provided for currency and credit to expand to follow the U.S. Economy at the time.

Clayton Antitrust Act-

The Clayton Act made both substantive and procedural modifications to federal antitrust law. Substantively, the act seeks to capture anticompetitive practices in their incipiency by prohibiting particular types of conduct, not deemed in the best interest of a competitive market.

Policies toward blacks and women-

I'm not sure if he was with the Woman's Suffrage act back in 1920 or not but he did get it signed, so he helped give voting rights to woman, and to be honest I don't know much about the policies he set towards blacks, if I had more time to study on this subject I would.

Keating-Owen Act-

The keating-Owen Act was indeed horrible, it caused for child labor and for children under 16 to be working in mine's? I do agree that this one was very very dumb.

World War I-

Woodrow Wilson tried to keep the United States Neutral for 2 1/2 years and had called for neutrality "in thought and deed" (textbook answers) while many Irish Americans, German Americans, Swedish Americans and Southern farmers saw this as good. However citizenry was constantly increasing the vision that Germany was the "villian" as I'll call it, after hearing news about atrocities in Belgium. The sinking of the passenger liner RMS Lusitania in 1915 defied international law, which caused America to be angry but we did not take action until after several warnings to German submarines kept sinking cruise liners or American ships that we're thought to be carrying secret supplies of Ammo (proven they probably we're) across the ocean. Woodrow Wilson than decided to take action against them. In 1919 he received the Nobel piece prize for his achievements in trying to establish the League of Nations and his actions in World War I.

So he had some bad runs, but altogether he wasn't exactly a bad President he just didn't make all the right decisions especially when it came to the Keating-Owen Act.
He may not be the best but he definitely isn't the worst.
Debate Round No. 2
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by YYW 6 years ago
I don't personally think he (Wilson) was comparatively worse than many others. I'd give him a C+, for being above average but not especially fantastic. The only presidents I personally cannot stand are Jimmy Carter and FDR. In all fairness though, the majority of my hatred of Carter comes from the damage he has done since his not being reëlected.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 6 years ago
I should really debate other presidents I don't like now.
Posted by Onefloorhigher 6 years ago
Like I said earlier you had a lot of good points which was nice, it seems like good argument to me, but than again I'm 14 and don't know a whole lot about this stuff.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 6 years ago
I wrote an in-class 5-page paper on the failings of Reaganomics, and that afternoon my father called me to discuss the subject.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 6 years ago
I love it when that happens!
Posted by Onefloorhigher 6 years ago
This was pretty lucky to have been asked on this subject because we studied all about this stuff in school recently.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 6 years ago
Vote people :D
Posted by ConservativePolitico 6 years ago
Essentially a 1 round debate... interesting.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by YYW 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con was unsure about some of his arguments, Pro, by contrast, was observably and articulately peeved at our lost liberal internationalist. Pro expressed concerns which, when elucidated, outlined a more compelling case for Wilson being, in fact, a bad president than con sufficiently refuted. Interesting debate. Nice and short. Woodrow Wilson... what a guy.