History I.A. Wilson's 14 Points

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To what extent does Wilson’s fourth point in the fourteen points represent the American Government’s principles from 1914 – 1920?

Name: Matthew Monteith

To: Mr. Kitay

Course: CHA3UE

Date: Wednesday 4th April, 2012

Part A (Plan of Investigation)

Wilson’s fourteen points was a speech delivered by Woodrow Wilson (president of America from 1913 – 1921) which later turned into the basis upon which the treaty of Versailles was made. His series of points outlined what the post-war era would be like. Wilson’s points were meant to stop another war from happening and were very lenient towards the Germans, who were defeated in World War 1. It is therefore important to consider to what extent does Wilson’s fourth point in the fourteen points represent the American government’s principles from 1914 – 1920?

Fourth point: Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

When investigating this topic certain aspects must be considered. These include how much support Wilson had received for his fourteen points, whether or not Americans wanted to harshly punish Germany and if the government was willing to fight wars. This investigation will be conducted by using online, written and primary sources including Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan, The First World War by Hew Strachan and Woodrow Wilson: World Statesman by Kendrick A. Clements.

Part B (Summary of Evidence)

How much support Wilson had received for his fourteen points

• Wilson had effectively called for a Monroe doctrine of the world and in this he represented the conscience of the American people.[1]

• WW1 was largely caused in part by a pre-war ammunitions race[2]

• Wilson brought the idea of self-determination (rights and liberties of small nations) to Europe[3]

• The treaty of Versailles was based on Wilsons fourteen points

• Republicans who made up a majority in the senate generally disagreed with the points[4]

• Most Americans were wary of foreign entanglements and Wilson found little support.[5]

• European allies owed $7 billion to the American government[6]

• The idea of American exceptionalism pervaded in the US – Americans being eager to set the world to rights and ready to turn its back in contempt if its message is ignored[7]

• Wilson took no republican party advisors with him to the Paris peace conference[8]

• A poll by Literary Digest showed overwhelming support among editors of newspapers and magazines for Wilson’s fourteen points.[9]

• The fourteen points expressed the long term interests of western nations[10]

Whether or not Americans wanted to harshly punish Germany.

• Resulting from the treaty of Versailles Germany had to :

1. Withdraw its frontiers.[11]
2. Relinquish 25000 machine guns, 1700 airplanes, 5000 artillery pieces and 3,000 trench mortars. [12] 3. Demilitarize the Rhine.[13]

• France and Great Britain wanted Germany to pay extensive reparations.[14] • A German U-boat had sunk a ship (Lusitania) containing 128 Americans in 1915.[15] • The Zimmerman telegram was a message from the Germans to Mexicans telling them to incite war in southern America.[16] • Wilson concerned about Americans wanting the annihilation of Germany[17] • Wilson was under political pressure to impose absolute surrender on the Germans.[18]

If the government was willing to fight wars

• America had not gone into WW1 for territory or revenge.[19]

• America did not enter WW1 until April 1917.[20]

• America had gone to war against Spain and Mexico.[21]

• The American public had grown weary of domestic and international crusades.[22]

• Republicans believed that if the US were to join an association it...
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