Woodrow Wilson: WWI’s Reluctant Warrior AP US History Why did is take three years for Wilson to support US involvement in WWI? What happened to force Wilson to take action? How did the Reluctant Warrior make a significant impact to the world, post WWI? Click here to begin!
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Why take this tutorial? The purpose of completing this tutorial is to learn about Woodrow Wilson and his reluctant participation in WWI. You will learn: • Whatinfluenced his position of neutrality • Whatevents influenced America to go to war • HowPresident Wilson influenced the post-war world with his 14 Points speech and the League of Nations
Why did America get involved in a terrible war if it never touched American shores? Before beginning, consider who Woodrow Wilson was and what kind of policies got him elected as president. Woodrow Wilson was a president for the people. He was a progressive, which meant that he spent his first tem as president passing laws that reduced tariffs, reformed banking, and weakened strong corporations. He restored economic competition, placed controls on big business, and supported labor unions. Wilson’s “New Freedom” reforms helped the American worker and strengthened the US economy.
Why study President Wilson’s role in WWI? You may think that learning about things from the past in a waste of time or that the relevance in questionable… BUT, do you know why there are international organizations today like the UN? WWI made a huge impact on the world, both then and now, and Woodrow Wilson’s legacy is alive and well today. One cannot fully comprehend the world around them without first understanding the events that led to the current state of things.
Can you recall: 1. The election of 1912? 2. Wilson’s progressive policies? 3. The reason for Wilson’s popularity?
The Election of 1912 William Taft was the progressive president after Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt thought that Taft wasn’t doing a great job at continuing his reforms, so Roosevelt decided to run again under the short-lived “Bull-Moose” party. This split the vote and the underdog Governor from New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson, won the election with 42% of the popular vote. William Taft Woodrow Wilson Theodore Roosevelt
Wilson’s Progressive Policies Woodrow Wilson was a progressive president. This meant that he was focused on passing legislation that broke up corporations, supported labor unions, and provided certain protections for the American worker. He passed a large number of extremely influential laws that still influence the American economy today.
The American Worker President Wilson was primarily focused on making life better for Americans. His policies focused on life in America and not in foreign affairs. He didn’t believe in war, and was not interested in getting involved in WWI for years after the war broke out in Europe.
Woodrow Wilson’s Background Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia to the son of a Presbyterian minister. He was raised in a devoutly Christian home and become one of the United State’s most religious Presidents. Wilson was President during a time of isolationism in America. Also, because of his religious convictions, he believed in peace and was very hesitant to get involved in wars. As president, he took a position of neutrality in foreign affairs, and he was more interested in diplomacy, and facilitating peace talks between foreign nations.
The Reasons for War Click on the video
President Wilson’s Speech On January 8, 1918, President Wilson gave his Fourteen Points Speech to a joint session of congress. The 14 points were Wilson’s plan to end the war, and all future wars, and they became the basis for the terms of German surrender. The 14th point was a proposal for an association of nations. Wilson hoped that by creating an international organization aimed at achieving peace, the world would be able to avoid war. This idea would create the League of Nations, a predecessor to the UN, in 1919.
The Fourteen Points: Click on the points to learn more! 1. Open Diplomacy 8. Restoration of French Territory 2. Freedom of the Seas 9. Redrawing of Italian Frontiers 3. Removal of Economic Barriers 10. Division of Austria-Hungary 4. Reduction of Armaments 11. Redrawing of Balkan Boundaries 5. Adjustment of Colonial Claims 12. Limitations on Turkey 13. Establishment of an Independent Poland 6. Conquered Territories in Russia 7. Preservation of Belgian Sovereignty 14. Association of Nations
1. Open Diplomacy 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.
2. Freedom of the Seas 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.
3. Removal of Economic Barriers 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.
4. Reduction of Armaments Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
5. Adjustment of Colonial Claims 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.
6. Conquered Territories in Russia 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.
7. Preservation of Belgian Sovereignty 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.
8. Restoration of French Territory 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.
9. Redrawing of Italian Frontiers A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
10. Division of Austria-Hungary The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.
11. Redrawing of Balkan Boundaries Romania, 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.
12. Limitations on Turkey The Turkish portions 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.
13. Establishment of an Independent Poland 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.
14. Association of Nations 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.
A Bitter-Sweet End In 1919, Woodrow Wilson met with British Prime Minister Lloyd George, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, and Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando, and together they signed the Treaty of Versailles. The war was over. By the end of WWI, Americans believed that they had made a mistake by intervening in the war. Wilson’s administration became very unpopular and the US Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles. Most heart-breaking for President Wilson was that the Senate also rejected the League of Nations. Wilson believed so strongly in the League of Nations, and felt that it would foster world peace. He started campaigning around the US to get the American people to vote in new senators who would approve the League of Nations. Ultimately his attempts would fail and the US would not become a member of the League of Nations.
President Wilson’s Death In 1919, President Wilson suffered a stroke. He left the White House in 1921 and was replaced by a conservative, Warren Harding. Wilson lived with feelings of bitterness and resignation after the war. Although he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919, he still felt like a failure for not seeing his dream of the US being head of the League of Nations come true. In 1924, Woodrow Wilson died.
Let’s Have Some Fun! Choose the best caption for the photo. “What a tragedy! 128 Americans were on board!” “I told you Italy shouldn’t get involved in the war!” “Oh no! President Wilson was on that ship!”
Right! This is a photo of the RMS Lusitania as it was sinking. The Germans were using unrestricted submarine warfare on passenger ships and 128 Americans were killed in the sinking.
Oops! Try Again! Back to the question
Choose the best caption for the photo. “Germany sure is hard at work trying to come up with a winning strategy!” “What a powerful and moving speech delivered to congress by President Wilson!” “Congress must find a way to oust the President!”
Yes! President Wilson delivered his Fourteen Points speech to congress in 1918. This speech was powerful and moving as President Wilson laid out his proposal for peace.
Try again! Back to the question
Now let’s see what you’ve learned! Go to the quiz!
In what kind of household did President Wilson grow up? Pious and religious B. Artistic and expressive C. Wilson’s parents were absent and he taught himself morals and values D. Void of education
Yes! You got it! President Wilson grew up in a pious, religious home. His father was a Presbyterian minister. Although he was a pious man, President Wilson said that morals should not be dictated by the government.
Oops! Not quite! *Hint: President Wilson’s father was a Presbyterian minister with strict values and morals. Back to the question
What personal and political traits kept President Wilson from declaring war sooner? He thought the country couldn’t afford a war. B. He was focused on improving life in America. C. He believed in peace, and wanted to stay neutral. D. Both ‘B’ and ‘C’
That’s Correct! Woodrow Wilson was a progressive president. He felt life needed to be improved in the US for the American worker. His religious beliefs affected his position of neutrality because he believed in peace.
Not quite! Try again. *Hint: Woodrow Wilson was a progressive president. He also was deeply religious and didn’t believe in war. Back to the question
Why was the sinking of the British liner, the RMS Lusitania, significant in the decision to go to war? Germany attacked our British allies. B. The ship was made by US factory workers. C. Wilson was looking for an excuse to go to war. D. 128 Americans were killed in the sinking of the Lusitania.
Right! When the Germans sank the Lusitania, 128 Americans were aboard, including one of the Rockefellers. This enraged the American people and when the Germans continued using unrestricted submarine warfare in 1918, Wilson had no choice but to declare war.
Oops! Missed it! *Hint: How do countries generally respond when their citizens are killed by another nation? Back to the question
What was the Zimmerman Note? A record of a secret meeting between Germany and Canada. B. A letter from Germany to Wilson daring the US to enter the war. C. A secret German offer of a military alliance with Mexico. D. Wilson’s secret negotiations with Congress to declare war on Germany.