Woodrow Thomas Wilson, twenty-eighth president of the United States, might have suffered from dyslexia. He never could read easily, but developed a strong power of concentration and a near-photographic memory. By 1912 times were good for most Americans. Farmers were enjoying their most prosperous period in living memory, the cost of living rose slightly, unemployment was lower than it had been for several years, and working conditions were improving. By 1913 when Wilson was inaugurated, American industries were in a flood of consumer goods, including automobiles, telephones, and movies. He sought ways to build patriotism and to reshape the federal government to govern the nation more effectively. Wilson was a conservative, in his books and articles, he often displayed hostility to reformers and rebels. Although Woodrow Wilson is mostly remembered for his success in foreign affairs, his domestic reform and leadership abilities are notable as well. .
The progressive movement backed by Wilson called for some government control of industry and for regulation of railroad and public utilities. Among its other goals were the adoption of primary elections and the direct election of United States senators. Wilson called Congress into special session to consider a new tariff bill; he personally delivered his legislative request to Congress. Moved by Wilson's aggressive leadership, the House swiftly passed the first important reform measure, the Underwood Tariff Bill of 1913, which significantly reduced the tariff for the first time in many years and reflected a new awareness that American businesses were now powerful enough to compete in the markets of the world. In the end the Underwood Tariff had nothing to do with trade but the importance was the income tax provision (later the 16th amendment) which would replace the revenue lost when duties were reduced. It also showed that America was powerful enough to compete without protection from the government.