By Trudy A. Martinez
Populism is a cry of reform from rural America as a result of economic expansionism and urbanization. When times are bad for the farmers in the mid-west (the new rural America), they call for reform for themselves and the working class in the eastern factories and industries (the new urban America). The Populist effort to alter the status quo reveals a strong desire for reform, a sense of fair play, and a sense of hope. Their determination to correct a dream of false optimism on the verge of reaching hopelessness presents political overtures. However, reform and enforcement will only be made through the Steward of the rich, the President, through Progressivism.
The restructuring to come will produce a new hope for the rising, so the rich can continue on with the purpose of their nation, their religion, their goal in life, to bring America and eventually the world under their control.
The laws government places on the books for Progressivism are mere building blocks for future reorganization, clarification, and enforcement; they are utilized only if there is a need to give an influx of hope in the prevention of revolution.
The Regulatory laws are supposed to STOP corporation corruption and monopolies in the process. The purpose of the regulatory laws is to give a sense of purpose. It forbids railroads from engaging in discriminatory practices, requires them to publish their rate schedules, prohibits them from entering pooling agreements for the purpose of maintaining high rates, and declares the rates shall be reasonable and just. The purpose of controlling such actions is prohibited through vague and obscure language. Regulatory laws assert the governments right to regulate private enterprise, but give only a sense of purpose, an exerted means of dominance, allowing the elite to prosper and gain control of the largest businesses and corporations while government turns its back; this action (or inaction) by the government, allows the owners of the means of production to capitalize at the expense of the working class.
America is now urban, not rural. The rural Populist want government control of savings accounts, women rights, income tax reform, more silver in circulation, and elimination of the gold standard. The Knights of Labor, the urban working class reform agency, call for the recognition of labor unions and an eight (8) hour work day.
The Populist reform movement raises some legitimate demands. However, the rural American farmers, the Populist, and the urban American workers, the Knights of Labor, the common man, wouldn’t and couldn’t join together to defeat the money elite during the period 1865 – 1900. We are lead to believe the reason no changes occur for the good of the common man is because of this factor.
The Populist, William Jennings Bryan, ran on the Democratic ticket for three elections. The Democrats lost all three elections. East versus West is the name of the game. Divide, conquer, and control is the method in use to keep the common man’s demands from becoming reality.
Years later the same reforms will finally be given to the common man, but by the Progressives, the Stewards of the rich.
The Progressive movement, controlled by the social elite, begins to emerge in 1901 with the death of President McKinley. Theodore Roosevelt emerges as the Steward of the people, bringing Conservationism and a New Nationalism. Roosevelt chose his successor to the Presidency, Howard Taft. Roosevelt got angry with Taft, when he is unable to control him. As a result, he breaks from the party and runs against him on a progressive ticket (the Bull Moose Party). William Jennings Bryan, the Populist, has little hope of winning as he is now running against an eastern Progressive Taft and a western Progressive Taft. This split leads to the election of Woodrow Wilson in the election of 1912 and a change in progressive measures from Conservationism and the New Nationalism of Roosevelt to the New Freedom of Wilson.
Wilson stresses individualism and state’s rights. “No one but the President,” he said, “seems to be expected . . . to look out for the general interest of the country.” He develops a program of progressive reform and asserts international leadership in building a new world order. In 1917 he proclaims American entrance into World War I, a crusade to make the world “safe for democracy.” Wilson maneuvers reform legislation through congress, the Underwood Tariff Act, 1913; attached to the measure is a graduated income tax, the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, 1914. Wilson also gets passage of the Federal Reserve Act which provides for a more flexible money supply and the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit unfair business practices. Later legislation prohibits child labor, and establishes the eight (8) hour work day. Wilson’s action towards these reforms and the slogan, “he kept us out of war”, insures his re-election to office in 1916.
Did Wilson know and plan our entrance into the World War? Was the legislation he passes for the benefit of the common man or to get the common man’s support for him so that he can lead them to war for his purpose?
Wilson asserts his international leadership in building a new world order. In doing so, the Clayton Anti-trust Act of 1914 suspends and trade is given to big business to produce war materials and continues the big business spending into the 1920’s with military expenditures and exports. The Underwood Tariff Act of 1913 drastically reduces tariffs on import goods allowing consumers low-cost goods, but the action proves invalid because in time of war there are no imports.
Shortly after Wilson’s re-election, he concludes that America cannot remain neutral in the world war. With congress’s concurrence, America declares war on Germany, swinging the pendulum of balance in favor of the Allies.
The Treaty of Versailles reflects the winner of the First World War’s attempt at a peace conference with everyone in attendance, but the loser; this is a big mistake. The main four (4) writers of the treaty are Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America; Lord George, Prime Minister of Britain; Orlando of Italy; and George Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France. The big three are no match for Woodrow Wilson who comes to the Treaty with his famous fourteen (14) points already written, but then again, Woodrow Wilson is no match for them; he comes to the conference with the attitude that he is the savior of the world, relinquishing his responsibilities of the Presidency in favor of this grand vision. The other big three are men of the world, ruthless, greedy, domineering, authoritarians with a stubborn revengeful streak. The personal traits of the big four exhibit greed, and /or a lack of foresight on their part concerning the Treaty of Versailles. Their attitude and actions will instill the spark of the Second World War in the treaty of the first.
The French, the Italians, and the English will not accept some of the fourteen (14) points Woodrow Wilson wrote and brings with him to the conference. Instead, they insist on excluding five (5) of the points promoting open diplomacy and then, to top it off, refuses the admittance of Germany, the loser, to the conference. The big three, George, Orlando, and Clemenceau force feed an additional paragraph to the end of the treaty. The guilt clause places all the blame and responsibility for the war on Germany, requiring Germany to pay 33 billion in restitution and only allows them a 100,000 man security force; it cannot fortify its boarders, and the rivers are to maintain a free status, whereas, anyone can use them, not just Germans.
No one bothers to get input from Germany or their side on any of the issues. As a result of the winner’s ignorance by disregarding the loser, by not including the loser in the peace conference, by not clearing up all the issues on both sides (the winner’s and the loser’s) and the treaty’s assigning guilt of the war solely on Germany, the treaty serves as the spark that will generate and unleash the Second World War some twenty years later.
Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America (a Democrat) not only makes the mistake of going to Paris for six months, leaving America without a President to guide it, but also fails to appoint an influential Republican to the American delegation at the peace conference at Paris. This is a critical error on his part. Wilson is so set on doing everything himself, and of getting all the credit for a peaceful resolution to the war, he fails to see he is in error with his totalitarian attitude. Wilson ignores the obvious. Although he is a brilliant historian and an intelligent man, Wilson is not strong enough to go up against men like George, Orlando, and Clemenceau. When President Wilson takes the treaty back to the United States to get the Senate to sign it, the Senate refuses, mainly because they had not been advised. Therefore, the U. S. officially stays at war with Germany until 1921, when congress puts some insignificant thing through that ultimately determines that no state of war exists. This is an embarrassment to Wilson.
The Treaty of Versailles births the League of Nations; the fore runner of the United Nations, a brain storm of Wilson’s which gives the nations of the world a method, a way, and a place to discuss its problems. The League of Nations will help to prevent wars by using reason as an alternative, gaining membership of all nations, except that of his own nation, the United States of America.
In conclusion, and in my opinion, our destiny was and is guided by diversion. Populism is a means of recognizing the need for reform in America, giving only a sense of hope for reforms, whereas Progressivism is actions taken by the Steward of the rich, the President, an approach to appeasing the masses with reforms that are only temporary measures that will prove worthless. The failures of the Treaty of Versailles may have been avoided and the Second World War prevented had President Wilson stayed at home, leaving the negotiation of the peace treaty to others who were more qualified in influencing and handling men like the big three. Had President Woodrow Wilson sent his famous fourteen (14) points to the conference with equal representation of the two main political parties in America in delegation, the out-come of the conference and the injustices of the Treaty of Versailles may have been avoided. The treaty as written in Versailles is the spark that ultimately brings on the Second World War and the rises of power in Germany of Adolph Hitler. Hitler uses the guilt excursion of the treaty as basic fuel for the buildup of emotions of the German people, an unsurpassed hatred which gives rise to the Nazi Party, the Third Reich, and the unheard of destruction and death that follows.
Rosenberg, Dr. Cerro Coso Community College (CCCC). Ridgecrest, California. History 17B. Summer 1990