Who Were The Big Four?
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The term “Big Four” is most commonly used in history to refer to the leaders of the allied countries who had the most input at the peace conference following World War I. These men had the most influence over the eventual shape of the Treaty of Versailles.
Three of these men were the leaders of countries that were heavily involved in the war. These were the American President, Woodrow Wilson, the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, and the French Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau. The British and the French had borne the brunt of the fighting during the war. The US was an important country because its entry into the war in 1917 changed the balance of powers and allowed the Allied Powers to win the war.
The fourth member of the Big Four was less important. This was the leader of Italy Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando. Italy had not played a very important part in the war. This made it much harder for Orlando to get the provisions he wanted included in the treaty. It was difficult enough that he left the peace conference in protest for a period of time.
These men are commonly known as the Big Four.
The Big Four were the Allied leaders who met at the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919, after World War I (1914–18). They were President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) of the United States, Prime Minister David Lloyd George (1863–1945) of Britain, Premier Georges Clemenceau (1841–1929) of France, and Premier Vittorio Orlando (1860–1952) of Italy. The Allies included twenty more nations and representatives from all the countries attended the conference. The decisions, however, were made by these four heads of state. Other representatives formed committees to work out the details of treaties signed by each of the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire): the Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany; the Treaty of St. Germain, with Austria; the Treaty of Neuilly, with Bulgaria; the Treaty of Trianon, with Hungary; and the Treaty of Sevres, with the Ottoman Empire.
Further Information: Halsall, Paul, ed. "Treaty of Versailles." Modern History Sourcebook. [Online] Available http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1919versailles.html, October 25, 2000; Martin, Gilbert. The First World War: A Complete History. New York: Henry Holt, 1994; "Treaty of Versailles." Electric Library. [Online] Available http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/13429.html, October 25, 2000.
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