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Woodrow Wilson as "Corporate-Liberal": Toward a Reconsideration of Left Revisionist Historiography

Alan L. Seltzer
The Western Political Quarterly
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Jun., 1977), pp. 183-212
DOI: 10.2307/447405
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/447405
Page Count: 30
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Woodrow Wilson as "Corporate-Liberal": Toward a Reconsideration of Left Revisionist Historiography
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Abstract

Questioning an important left revisionist interpretation of Woodrow Wilson, this study argues that Wilson was apprehensive about the growing predominance of large corporations in America. While Wilson did accept the internal expansion of businesses, his opposition to artifical combination made him the adversary of the "good trusts." Differing fundamentally from his political opponent, Theodore Roosevelt, President Wilson supported a vigorous antitrust policy. Scholars have overlooked his Justice Department's antitrust prosecutions, their attention arrested by New Freedom legislative reforms or by government-business cooperation during World War I, and their hindsight telling them that those prosecutions ultimately failed. Radical scholars in particular have not adequately explained Wilson's relationship to the rise of big business. Regarding Wilson's foreign trade policies, while they broadly served American business, he intended them to benefit smaller firms. Finally, his speeches on foreign trade show him giving priority to moral considerations as against corporate capitalism's economic "imperatives."

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