Aims of the Participants and the Peacemakers : Wilson and the 14 Points

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11th Grade IB DP History (SL)|
Research Paper|
Aims of the participants and the peacemakers : Wilson and the 14 points.| Word Count: 1495|

I. Introduction

On January 8, 1918, during the Joint Session of the American Congress, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, announced his Fourteen Points to try to ensure permanent peace, bring a speedy end to the World War I (WWI) avoid another cataclysmic conflict as such.[1A] The other allied powers tacitly and cautiously accepted Wilson’s plan as a template for the postwar treaty. It was on the back of the Fourteen Points that Germany and her allies agreed to an armistice in November 1918. However, due to specific aims of numerous nations in post-war period, the terms of Treaty of Versailles, that were finally agreed on incorporated only a fraction of the provisions he wanted.   Were Woodrow Wilson's 14 points a realistic target for the Treaty of Versailles to live up to? Were his 14 points were too idealistic or over-ambitious? Was the peaceful world that he wished to create, too utopian, unrealistic and impossible in that day and time? This paper aims to answer these questions by taking a close look at the war and its aftermath through the eyes of Wilson and other nations.

II. Thomas Woodrow Wilson - The Man Himself
A. Early Life

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, born in Staunton, Virginia on December 28 ,1856 to Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson and Jessie Janet Woodrow [2] , was the 28th President of the United States of America who served his term from March 4 1913  to March 4 1921.[3A]

At the Princeton University, where he was the president from 1902 to 1910, that Wilson rose to fame with his ideas on reforming education. In pursuit of turning his ideas into reality, he entered politics as governor of the State of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913.[4]

B. Presidency

In 1912, he won the presidential election and commenced his reforms which included revision of banking systems, cleansing of monopolies and fraudulent advertising, and preventing unfair business practices. Wilson was narrowly reelected to presidency in 1916, with the legislation of laws such as prohibiting child labour and limiting the working hours of railroad workers to 8 hours a-day, and the mere slogan “He Kept Us Out Of War”. [3B]

During WWI, Wilson determinedly worked to maintain neutrality. He questioned and barred Acts/Pacts of the European Powers such as the British and Germans. He offered mediations for both sides but failed on various occasions.

C. Post-War

He worked tirelessly at the post-war Paris Peace Conference to build an enduring peace based on the principle of The Points. Thus, 1919, he brought home the Treaty but it had incorporated only part of the provision he wanted. Upon, the failure of the ratification of the Treaty by the Senate, he set out on a nation-wide campaign to gain public support for the Treaty.

D. His Life’s End

Unfortunately, while campaigning, after a speech in Pueblo, Colorado, on September 25th 1919, he collapsed because of a severe stroke that nearly killed him and never fully recovered thereafter. He died peacefully under the care of his second wife in 1924. [3C] III. The Fourteen Points

A. The Speech

In his 1918 speech to the Joint Session of the American Congress, President Wilson brought forward the Fourteen Points which he hoped were to be used for peace negotiations after WWI.

The speech was formed based on reports generated by a group of about 150 political and social scientists , named ‘The Inquiry’, which was organized by Edward M House, President Wilson’s adviser and close friend. The Inquiry worked secretly, studying Allied and American policies in virtually every region of the world and analyzing the economic, social and political facts that were likely to be brought out during the post-war conference.[1B]

B. The Perception of Causes

It was through their findings, that President Wilson concluded, what he perceived to...
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