Why was Woodrow Wilson such a bad president?

I always hated him and still do. He was a racist, a segregationist who supported the seperating of our military by race, created the federal income tax, and created the federal reserve.

While, I did like that he stood up for the freedom of seas by going to war, and that he passed the Espionage and Sedition acts and that Eugene Debs was arrested.

Although Libertarians will completely disagree with those.

What other bad things has Wilson done? Why do you hate him?

Oh, I also hated how his involvement in the Treaty of Versailles led to WW2, and I would have opposed the League of Nations.

He had locked up about 175,000 people that spoke out against him. Harding had to release a couple that really pissed him off. Look up the Palmer raids.

Yea. He sucks almost as bad as FDR…My schools textbook love him to death.

Of all the things one can criticize Wilson on, Versailles is not one; he was not a fan of some of the harshest measures of the treaty, and many of the Europeans thought that he was naive.

…I thought the Palmer Raids were a legally creative way to deal with foreign Communist’s and Anarchist’s who were blowing things up. I was under the impression that this was done entirely through the Dept. of Immigration and focused on non citizens.

I am sure mistakes were made and citizens got caught up in error and probably some foreigners that did not support the overthrow of the U.S. With the broad scope of these raids it would have been a miracle if there were no errors especially in those days, but this was no small threat. After Germany lost the war and was screwed in the aftermath it was not just on German streets that outrage was building. The U.S. was hated by these Communist and Anarchist’s as much or more than Britain after the war and this migration of angry Communist’s had to be dealt with.

I never credited Wilson with this as he neither expressed support or condemnation of Palmer. Palmer was a rabid opponent of Communism and Unions but Wilson embraced both.

I have always thought of Palmer like a turn of the Century McCarthy, it seems history has proved both men were right.

Wilson was responsible for more long term destruction of our Founders vision for America than any single President before or since but many of his ideas were just stupid.
The League Of Nations was his idiotic idea but the GOP never let the U.S. join it.
His entry into WW1 was necessary unless you think American ships being sank by German subs operating out of Mexican ports is acceptable.

This may be controversial but since I support Palmer I have to credit Wilson with not replacing him as head of the D.O.J.
I guess if you opposed the Palmer raids then this is just one more thing to pile on the mountain of garbage that Wilson screwed up.

Yes Palmer went mostly after aliens, “where he could”. Wilson knew exactly what was going on and turned his head. He wasn’t as fond of Communism as FDR was, he was just a big Government Progressive.

Wilson harshly suppressed dissent and resistance among citizens and the press.
At Wilson’s urging, a Sedition Act (not unlike the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 ) forbade Americans from criticizing their own government in a time of war. Citizens could not “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the government or the military. The Postmaster General was given the authority to revoke the mailing privileges of those who disobeyed. About 75 periodicals were were shut down by the government in this way and many others were given warnings.

In the fashion of a police state, the Department of Justice arrested tens of thousands of individuals without just cause. One was not safe even within the walls of one’s own home to criticize the Wilson administration. A letter to federal attorneys and marshals said that citizens had nothing to fear as long as they “Obey the law; keep your mouth shut.” In fact, the Justice Department created the precursor to the Gestapo called the American Protective League. Its job was to spy on fellow citizens and turn in “seditious” persons or draft dodgers. In September of 1918 in NYC, the APL rounded up about 50,000 people. This doesn’t even include the infamous Palmer Raids (named after Wilson’s attorney general) that occurred after the war.

In 1915, in his address to Congress, Wilson declared, “The gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags…who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes….”

All in all it is estimated that about 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another.

Woodrow Wilson: America’s Worst and First Fascist President « Conservative Colloquium

Palmer recruited J. Edgar Hoover as his special assistant and appointed him chief of the GID. By the fall of 1919 Hoover reported that radicals posed a real threat to the U.S. government. He advised drastic action be taken against a possible revolution. Under intense pressure from Congress and the public, Palmer clamped down on political dissent and agreed to deport many alien (foreign) radicals. Because the peace treaty had not yet been signed, Palmer decided that he could make use of extraordinary wartime powers under the Sedition Act of 1918 and the Espionage Act of 1917.

J. Edgar Hoover - The Palmer Raids - Radicals, Threat, Political, Public, Department, and Series

For about a year, the attorney general held the country hostage. He launched raids on suspected radicals and used immigration laws to deport people. Victims suffered beatings, bad prison conditions, and threats from the government. Eventually, Palmer did not bother getting warrants. In the end, Palmer overreached and his support collapsed as quickly as it appeared.

The Palmer Raids - National American history | Examiner.com

Yeah I know many in the press reported the worst of these raids as the norm and publications like the Washington post went to the other extreme and fully defended the effort.

I have always been under the impression that Hoover had a lot more power than subsequent FBI heads so it was not that uncommon for him to push policy that Presidents opposed, I thought they were all a little afraid of him.

Not saying that Wilson could not have stopped him, it just seemed like Wilson was as close to a Communist as we had ever had in the White House up to that point and he stayed pretty mute through it all.

I try to imagine what it would have been like to make these decisions “in the day” as opposed to hindsight.

I hated FDR but I am the only person I know today that does not have a big problem with the Japanese internment camps. In time of war the highest agenda is victory, not choosing to err on the side of civil rights.

In school we were taught that these actions were horrible but the concerns that were trumpeted by Hoover/Palmer and later McCarthy all materialized as soon as our leadership decided it was much ado over nothing.

I think earlier in our history we had more men who believed a significant destructive threat was posed by having enemies of our principles come across our borders and use our Liberties to drum up support against us and have access to our everyday lives.

I also think that while Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson were probably the closest to Communist’s we had ever put in the big chair they dealt with a fairly Patriotic government entrenchment when they won the White House. Much like today where a solid Conservative would still be faced with a deeply entrenched Communist believing bureaucracy the day he was sworn in.

I am referring to the non elected positions in government that remain as administrations come and go.

After 9/11 I have to say that if I was around when Palmer was on a tear and we were coming off of a World War I would probably have been supporting him. If I had been around when Pearl Harbor was attacked I would have supported the Internment Camps as well.

I am certainly glad that we made restitution afterward but at the time a war is going on I want all errors to be on the side of victory, not civil rights.

My thinking is, if there is no victory we all lose our civil rights forever.

Wilson was one of the first ‘progressives’ but isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? Remember there were certain cultural differences between then and mow and he faced the ‘then’ culture, which included racism. That was a fact of life. There was a major lack of communication, the media was not as nearly as extensive as it is now. Life was different and he would have been a man for his time, good, bad or indifferent.
A lot of presidents had their issues, made their mistakes, played politics and had enemies.

Yea, I realize that. But, I won’t back down on calling FDR a racist. He set up internment camps, while we were fighting against:

  1. a country that tried to obliverate my religion
  2. another country that tried to take over China and other countries.

We fought against evil, yet our President promoted it at home.

With all due respect, I disagree because Japanese-Americans don’t eqaul traitors. Many of these people were TRUE Americans and didn’t deserve prison time. Why didn’t the germans get thrown into internment camps in WW1 or WW2? Racism that’s why.

I realize I’m only picky about this because my religion lost 6 million because of internment camps, but that helps me realize it was stupid an immature to assume all Japanese Americans were traitors, or spies for Japan.

Woodrow Wilson: America’s Worst and First Fascist President « Conservative Colloquium

this is a short but pretty comprehensive article. I’m disappointed that he was a Virginian.

You stole my link! lol it happens


I hated FDR but I am the only person I know today that does not have a big problem with the Japanese internment camps. In time of war the highest agenda is victory, not choosing to err on the side of civil rights.

And now you know one other. There is a such thing as it being good to err on the side of caution; especially when your very country’s sovereignty is at stake.

The internment camps in themselves weren’t the biggest issue - it was the confuscation of property of American citizens that was never returned to them at the end of the war.

I’m sorry. I did look quite quickly and didn’t think i saw it. Sometimes I just don’t see for looking. Great link. :smile:

“The War between the States established . . . this principle, that the federal government is, through its courts, the final judge of its own powers.”

~ Woodrow Wilson

There’s a great book on 1920, “the year of the six presidents.” Though Wilson obviously didn’t run in '20, it contains a lot of interesting stuff on the man. Kind of creepy, actually.