Wilson's "New Freedom

President Wilson, who served two terms, began a program of reform that was quite similar to that proposed by the progressive Republicans. The phrase "the New Freedom" was used by Wilson to describe his general purpose—to create conditions of greater economic opportunity for labor, farmers, and small business.

Under Wilson's vigorous prodding, Congress for the first time in years substantially reduced tariffs, particularly on necessities. The Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act of 1913 also provided for taxation of incomes—the beginning of the modern federal income tax system, which had been made possible by the 16th Amendment to the Constitution (1913). The national banking system was reformed drastically by passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.

Several measures on behalf of labor were enacted. The Adamson Act established the eight-hour day for railway workers. The La Follette Seamen's Act set minimum standards for food and living quarters on merchant ships subject to regulation by the federal government. The Clayton Act exempted labor unions from antitrust prosecution.The 17th Amendment (1913) provided for election of United States senators by popular vote instead of by the state legislatures. The 18th Amendment (1919) prohibited the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors, and began the Prohibition era that lasted until 1933. The 19th Amendment (1920) guaranteed to women in all states of the Union the right to vote.

Suffrage parade.Suffrage parade. The Progressive Era was marked by widespread demands for reform. Public demonstrations were common tactics among reformers of the era. Women on horseback participated in a suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., in 1914, shown here. Women gained the right to vote in 1920.