10-5:The Great War: Woodrow WILSON’s FOURTEEN POINTS – Fact or Opinion?

Ten months before World War One ended, United States President Woodrow Wilson drew up a program he hoped would provide for a fair and “equitable” peace settlement and help prevent future wars. This came to be known as the Fourteen Points.

Wilson’s Fourteen Points had three goals. First, it called for the elimination of some of the factors that had the potential to cause war: trade barriers, secret treaties and arms races among nations. Second, it stressed the importance of self-determination, the right of peoples to live under a government of their own choice. Finally, it envisioned the establishment of an association of nations (later called the League of Nations) that would guarantee the independence of large and small nations alike and keep future wars from occurring.

Wilson’s plan was idealistic and conflicted sharply with wartime agreements made by the Allies. The major Allied nations had postwar plans of their own. Britain wanted to make Germany pay financially for starting the war. France wanted to see Germany pay through reparations (payment$ for war damages) and loss of territory. French President Clemenceau ridiculed Wilson, claiming, “Wilson’s Points bore me. Why, God Almighty only has then.” Italy, which had joined the Allies in 1915 after being promised lands controlled by Austria-Hungary, expected to receive those lands. Such demands on the part of the Allied nations conflicted with the Wilson’s ideals of an equitable “peace without victory”.

Although disillusioned by what took place at the Versailles Peace conference, Wilson did win European support for the establishment of a League of Nations. However, it is ironic that after this European triumph, he returned home only to have the Senate deny permission for the United States to join. American “isolationists” resisted participation in “entangling alliances” that would obligate them to fight in Europe to provide “collective security.” (acting as “one” to preserve the peace for “all”) Wilson’s campaign for public and political support of American participation in the League contributed to a stroke that left him an invalid the rest of his life. The League of Nations would fail to stop a second world war.
____1)Wilson’s Fourteen Points hoped to prevent future world wars.
____2)Wilson’s Fourteen Points were fair.
____3)Trade barriers, secret treaties and arms races had the potential to cause war and should be
____4)The concept of self-determination intended peoples to live under a government of their
own choice.
____5)The League of Nation would have guaranteed the independence of large and small nations
alike and keep future wars from occurring.
____6)Wilson’s idealistic plan conflicted sharply with the plans of European leaders.
____7)Italy was promised lands controlled by Austria-Hungary for joining the “allies”. It was
necessary for Italy to receive those promises.
____8)European support of the League was pointless, given the U.S. Senate’s rejection of it.
____9)The U.S. would have participated in the league if Wilson had not had a stroke.
____10)The failure of the world’s “large” nations to join the League weakened its ability to stop
World War Two.