Compare and contrast the foreign policies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Which do you think was a more effective president? Why?
In foreign affairs, the "white man's burden" helped to justify Roosevelt's "New Imperialism" in foreign policy. Uncivilized nations would gain eventual independence once they had conformed to the American model of government and democracy. Roosevelt's corollary to the Monroe Doctrine set up the U.S. as policeman in the western hemisphere. Under TR, the U.S. empire extended to include the Philippines, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. He also oversaw the building of the Panama Canal, a tremendous feat that enhanced U.S. commerce immeasurably.
On the other side, Wilson was determined to revise the imperialist practices of earlier administrations, promising independence to the Philippines and making Puerto Ricans American citizens. But Wilson's own policies could sometimes be high-handed. His administration intervened militarily more often in Latin America than any of his predecessors. In the European war, American neutrality ended when the Germans refused to suspend submarine warfare after 120 Americans were killed aboard the British liner Lusitania and a secret German offer of a military alliance with Mexico against the United States was uncovered. In 1917, Congress voted overwhelmingly to declare war on Germany.
With the nation at war, Wilson set aside his domestic agenda to concentrate on a full-scale mobilization of the economy and industry. During the war, industrial production increased by 20 percent, daylight saving time was instituted to save fuel, the government took over the railroad system, and massive airplane and shipbuilding programs were launched. Americans began paying a new income tax and buying Liberty Bonds to pay for the war. Although most of the power the federal government acquired over the economy during the war was based on voluntary cooperation by businesses and individuals, conformity and aggressive patriotism became the order of the day. Private patriotic organizations persecuted dissenters and anyone suspected of political radicalism, and the administration sponsored Espionage and Sedition Acts that outlawed criticism of the government, the armed forces, and the war effort. Violators of the law were imprisoned or fined, and even mainstream publications were censored or banned.
In January 1918, Wilson made a major speech to Congress in which he laid out "Fourteen Points" that he believed would, if made the basis of a postwar peace, prevent future wars. Trade restrictions and secret alliances would be abolished, armaments would be curtailed, colonies and the national states that made up the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires would be set on the road to independence, the...