What was President Wilson's foreign policy from 1912 to 1916?

2 Answers | Add Yours

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Woodrow Wilson proclaimed and adhered to a policy of US neutrality in World War I, as our intervention in the conflict early on was neither politically popular nor possible.  That is not to say we were not involved.

Over that same period of time, the United States sold hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons to the Allied Powers, especially Britain and France, greatly stimulating the US economy and also drawing us closer to war as German U-Boats began to target American shipping.

During that same time period, the US was still very actively involved, in an imperial sense, in Central America and the Caribbean, with troops intervening and/or occupying Haiti (supposedly to protect American lives and property during the rebellion there) and Nicaragua during these years as well as others.  The US also financial administered many Latin American economies during this time, and sent weapons and funds to rivals of bloodthirsty Mexican leader Huerta (including, of all people, Pancho Villa!).

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There were many aspects to Pres. Wilson's foreign policy during his first term.  The best known of these was his policy towards WWI, which had, of course, started in 1914.  With regard to this war, Wilson wanted to remain neutral.  He even held to this policy of neutrality after the sinking of the Lusitania.

On other fronts, Wilson tried to be idealistic.  For example, he changed the laws on rates for using the Panama Canal (which we owned back then), taking away an American advantage for the sake of free trade.  Similarly, he supported a bill that made the Philippines a territory (rather than a colony) and promised it eventual independence.

On the other hand, Wilson was also willing to use force, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.  For example, he sent Marines in and took control fo Haiti and he meddled in Mexico's civil war in order to support a contender that he thought would be better for the US.

So Wilson had a lot on his plate during these years.  His policies are usually said to have been idealistic, but not all of them actually were.

We’ve answered 317,963 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question