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Historical Glossary

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Wisconsin idea

This term referred to Robert La Follette's program to make state government more efficient and more responsive to voters than to special interests. It was the most influential model for political reform in the Progressive Era. To reform government, La Follette advocated placing greater legal constraints on political bosses, giving voters more power to circumvent bosses through direct primaries (see direct primary) and other opportunities for public opinion to express itself (such as the recall and initiative), and bringing disinterested technical experts from outside politics to staff regulatory commissions or highly specialized agencies.

Wolff Packing Company v. Court of Industrial Relations

In 1923 the Supreme Court held that states could not regulate business activities unless they concerned a vital public interest, like anticompetitive practices. The ruling, which was reaffirmed in Tyson and Brothers v. Banton (1927), greatly limited the scope of state business regulation, until its reversal by Nebbia v. New York.

Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)

An organization led by Frances Willard to stop the abuse of alcohol, it joined forces with other groups in the movement for the prohibition of alcohol to reduce such problems as wife abuse.

women's suffrage

The first instance of female participation in elections occurred in N.J. (1776–1807), where women property owners were allowed to vote on the same basis as men. The movement to win female voting rights began at the Seneca Falls convention in 1848. The leading suffragettes were Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton, and Lucy Stone. In 1854 Washington's territorial assembly considered making women voters. Women first gained the right to vote in 1869 in Wyoming Territory, then Utah Territory (1870), Washington Territory (1883), Colo. (1893), and Idaho (1896). An attempt to win female suffrage through the courts failed in Minor v. Happersett. By 1917, women enjoyed full suffrage in 15 states and partial rights in another 13. The Nineteenth Amendment made this right universal.

Woolen Act

(4 May 1699)    Intended primarily to protect English woolen manufacturers from Irish competition, this law restricted the clothing industry in Ireland. It also attempted to curtail the production of clothing in the colonies by limiting its sale to the province in which it was made, so that British manufacturers would enjoy the greatest possible market for their goods.