The Fourteen Points
“Neutrality is a negative word. It does not express what America ought to feel. We are not trying to keep out of trouble; we are trying to preserve the foundations on which peace may be rebuilt” - Woodrow Wilson (Wilson).
Near the end of WWI Woodrow Wilson, the president at the time, wanted the United States to become more involved with international affairs so that the nation could help maintain peace in the world. By creating guidelines and rules he hoped to end the war and allow peace to happen. He made rules that would stop another war from starting over existing territorial problems. He needed to ensure that war never broke out again (Simkin) He proposed a plan for world peace on January 8th, 1918 in his speech to Congress known as the Fourteen Points (Duffy). In the Fourteen Points he addressed war, territorial problems, and the association of nations. The Fourteen Points allowed the possibility that world peace could happen.
The first five points addressed war and steps to prevent it (Simkin). President Wilson wanted to create a peace treaty that would formally end WWI and create open covenants between countries. Wilson wanted freedom of the seas so that free trade could happen between peaceful countries (Simkin).Written in the fourth and fifth point, he asks that peaceful nations should give up power by only having enough weapons to control domestic problems (Duffy). That makes those nations more vulnerable to attacks and imperialism but at the same time less threatening to other nations. This could cut back the chance that they would engage in war, leading to world peace.Points six through thirteen addressed specific territorial problems between various countries to allow world peace (Duffy). Wilson narrowed down what the biggest problems were and wrote points to address them. His first problem he found was that the German Army needed to be removed from Russia. Russia needed to be left to develop its own political set-up, not influenced by Germany’s Army. Belgium and France needed to be restored where it was necessary for example: Belgium needed to become independent like they were before the war while France needed to be fully liberated(Simkin). By eliminating the existing territorial problems, he allowed each country to become at peace with each other leading to his goal of world peace.
The fourteenth point is by far the most important. Woodrow Wilson wrote that a League of Nations should be set up. The League of Nations had a very simple task, to ensure that war never broke out again. After seeing all the terror in WWI, the League of Nations made their sole purpose to maintain world peace and to sort out international disputes as and when they occurred to stop them from getting out of hand. The League of Nations gained support quickly because people were desperate after seeing the devastations in the war. The League of Nations was set up to guarantee the political and territorial independence of all states (Trueman). The fourteenth point allowed world peace to not only be achieved but also maintained.
The Fourteen Points were written to allow world peace to be a possibility by targeting the major problems and finding solutions to them. President Woodrow Wilson changed history with his Fourteen Points because without his idea’s WWI would have not ended how it ended. He then allowed the possibility that world peace could happen.
Bibliography(1) Simkin, John. "Fourteen Points." Spartacus Educational - Home Page. Web. 6 Oct. 2010. <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWwilsonP.htm>.
(2) Wilson, Woodrow. "Woodrow Wilson Quotes." Famous Quotes and Quotations at BrainyQuote. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/woodrow_wilson_2.html>.
(3) Trueman, Chris. "League of Nations." History Learning Site. 8 Jan. 2000. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/leagueofnations.htm>.
(4) Duffy, Micheal. "First World War.com - Primary Documents - Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" Speech, 8 January 1918." First World War.com - A Multimedia History of World War One. Feb. 2000. Web. 7 Oct. 2010. <http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/fourteenpoints.htm>.
(5) Expired. File:Woodrow Wilson 1913-20.jpg. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. 26 Jan. 2008. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodrow_Wilson_1913-20.jpg>.