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What is Woodrow Wilson's Triple Wall of Privilege?

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Quick Answer

Woodrow Wilson saw three industrial obstacles to his 1912 New Freedom plan: tariffs that harmed small farmers; the gold standard, which made it difficult for small business owners to get bank loans; and trusts. Wilson called these obstacles the Triple Wall of Privilege.

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Full Answer

Wilson's New Freedom plan sought to topple the Triple Wall of Privilege and build a nation of small farmers and businesspeople. While tariffs benefited wealthy industrialists by raising domestic demand and prices, they did so at the expense of small farmers. Wilson reduced the rate of tariffs in 1913 by ratifying the Underwood-Simmons Act.

The Gold Standard hurt small farmers and business owners by reducing the value of currency, making bank loans difficult to acquire for those without considerable wealth. Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, which established the Federal Reserve system and a new monetary policy throughout the United States. This ultimately made currency more stable and flexible.

In 1914, Wilson passed the Clayton Antitrust Act, which made certain anti-competitive business tactics illegal. The act also declared as legal peaceful protesting such as boycotts and strikes, while absolving labor unions from any antitrust suits. Wilson considered all types of trust to be unlawful and anti-competitive and strove to create fairer business practices in his pursuit of the New Freedom.

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