Woodrow Wilson and the 14 Points

Woodrow Wilson and the 14 Points

Woodrow Wilson and the 14 points

President Wilson unveiled the 14 points in his speech to Congress 10 months before the Armistice was signed (before WWI ended). He was hoping that the 14 points would ensure lasting peace in the World. His 14 points were intended to eliminate the issues that caused the War.Wilson hoped that the 14 points would become the peace treaty after WWI ended.

Wilson was an “Idealist”. He believed that WWI was going to end all wars. He also believed that the League of Nations which was a peace keeping organization and one of the14 points would prevent all future wars by forcing countries to negotiate with each other instead of jumping into a war.

Fourteen Points

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

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

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.


  1. What was the 14 points?
  1. Why did some people call President Wilson an idealist?
  1. Based on your knowledge of Wilson’s idealism what do you think is the main idea of the cartoon below?


  1. Is the cartoonist supportive of the League of Nations? Explain
  1. Read the 14 points on the previous page. Indicate which point each description belongs to.

Freedom of the Seas
_#______/ End secret alliances
Reduction of arms
#______/ Respect for National Self Determination
Fair adjustment of colonies
#______/ A League of Nations

The Treaty of Versailles 1919

This is the actual treaty that ended WWI. The big 4 played a key role in this Treaty.

David Lloyd-George

Great Britain

Georges ClemenceauVittorio Orlando Italy


In January 1919, delegates to the peace conference began deliberation in Paris. Delegates representing thirty-two nations attended. The agreement they wrote is called the Treaty of Versailles because the official signing for the Allies was in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles near Paris. This treaty was a treaty with Germany only. Other combatant nations signed separate treaties.

Germany and Russia were not at the conference..

Decisions Made:

• Germany was forced to admit guilt for starting the war and she was assessed reparations (payments) to be paid to Allied nations for damages incurred during the war. (the cost of the war).

• Germany lost significant amounts of territory (Alsace-Lorraine/Poland and overseas colonies) and was forced to have an army of occupation in Germany until all reparations were paid.

• Germany was forced to demilitarize which included abolishing its military draft, stopping the manufacture of all weapons and military equipment, and limiting the size of its army and navy.

• The political map of Europe was redrawn and new countries were created

• The League of Nations was established to promote international cooperation and to keep peace among nations.

oThe League consisted of an assembly, a council and a secretariat. It also established a world court that would rule on cases involving international law.

  1. Which country got heavily blamed for WWI?
  1. How did the reparations affect the German economy?
  1. How many of the 14 points became part of the Treaty of Versailles? Which ones were they?

9. Explain how the weaknesses of the Treaty of Versailles led to WWII.

The War Guilt Clause of the Treaty of Versailles

“The Allied and Associated Governments affirm, and Germany accepts, the
responsibility of Germany and her Allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associate Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of a war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her Allies."

Article 231

10. Read the paragraph above. Who does the war guilt clause find guilty for all war damages?

11. Do you think it was fair to blame this country? Why or why not?

The US refuses to sign the Treaty of Versailles

The US does not join the League of Nations

Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles to the Senate. He was met with stiff opposition. The Republican leader of the Senate, Henry Cabot Lodge, was very suspicious of Wilson and his treaty. Article X of the League of Nations would require the United States go to war every time one of the member nations goes to war.

Many believed the League was the sort of entangling alliance the United States had avoided since George Washington's Farewell Address.

Lodge sabotaged the League’s covenant by declaring the United States exempt from Article X. He attached reservations, or amendments, to the treaty to this effect. Wilson, bedridden from a debilitating stroke, was unable to accept these changes. He asked Senate Democrats to vote against the Treaty of Versailles unless the Lodge reservations were dropped. Neither side budged, and the treaty went down to defeat.

12. What was Henry Cabot Lodge afraid would happen if the US joined the League of Nations?