The 1910s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

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The 1910s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

Newton D. Baker
Louis D. Brandeis
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Edward M. House
John J. Pershing
Woodrow Wilson

Newton D. Baker (1871–1937) As U.S. secretary of war from 1916 to 1921, Newton D. Baker handled the challenging task of mobilizing U.S. troops for the war against Germany. Baker's first significant duty was to send U.S. troops under General John J. Pershing into Mexico to capture revolutionary Pancho Villa. A pacifist, Baker was slow to develop U.S. military forces. In late 1917, his efforts were the focus of a congressional investigation, under allegations that the military build-up was being done in an inefficient manner; his work was eventually praised, however. From 1912 to 1915, Baker was mayor of Cleveland, where he instituted tax reforms and curtailed the power of utility companies.

Louis D. Brandeis (1856–1941) A millionaire before he reached the age of fifty, Louis D. Brandeis chose to sideline a successful career in corporate law to become an associate justice of the Supreme Court. He served with distinction in this capacity from 1916 until his retirement in 1939. The son of Jewish immigrants, he graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to become a tireless advocate for public interest issues such as labor reform. His liberal stance in law cases made him a target of Republican conservatives who labeled him an advocate of "radicalism." In the decades succeeding Brandeis's tenure on the Supreme Court, many of his decisions have come to be considered landmarks.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841–1935) Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. served as an associate justice on the Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932. While he wrote dissenting opinions in only seventy of six thousand cases, Holmes is remembered as "the great dissenter" for the significance of those opinions. He viewed the law as an evolving process and veered from the style of justice by which precedent dictates the only permissible decision. Instead, he believed that the U.S. Constitution was the framework by which the important issues of the day should be judged and addressed. He was among the first to acknowledge the government's move towards intervention in all facets of national life.

Edward M. House (1858–1938) As President Woodrow Wilson's adviser on European affairs during the years leading up to and during World War I, Edward M. House was one of the most influential men in America. He was instrumental in helping Wilson get elected in 1912, and then he helped the president choose his cabinet members. Prior to his political career, House managed his father's cotton plantations, which he eventually inherited; House's decision to sell the properties made him independently wealthy. At the end of the war, he gathered together a group of intellectuals and foreign policy experts known as "The Inquiry," who drafted policy for an international peace.

John J. Pershing (1860–1948) U.S. General John J. Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during World War I. He previously had distinguished himself by leading forces into Mexico in 1916 and 1917 in an effort to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (1878–1923) after his 1916 attack on Columbus, New Mexico. Pershing failed to track him down, but his efforts did serve to diminish Villa's power. Pershing's competence and determination was rewarded with his appointment, by President Woodrow Wilson, to a key military leadership position during the war. In September 1919, Pershing was named general of the armies, the highest rank in the U.S. Army. He also was army chief of staff from 1921 to 1924.

Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) Woodrow Wilson was U.S. president from 1913 to 1921. He tried to keep the United States from becoming involved in world conflicts during the mid-1910s but during his second term in office, he realized it would be necessary to prepare America for the country's inevitable entry into "The Great War," now known as World War I (1914–18). After seeing the United States through the war, Wilson attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and was a significant contributor to the terms of international peace. His plan was called the Fourteen Points. It included the establishment of the League of Nations as an institution to negotiate future conflicts. While the plan was not successful at the time, it was a precursor to the creation of the United Nations in 1945. Wilson began his political career in 1910, as the governor of New Jersey. As a young man, he had been a lawyer. Before entering politics, Wilson was a college professor and administrator, and served as president of Princeton University.

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The 1910s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

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The 1910s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers