Woodrow Wilson's Presidency Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

What were the biggest differences between Wilson's 14 points and the Treaty of Versailles?

Expert Answers info

brettd eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write4,576 answers

starTop subjects are History, Social Sciences, and Literature

Wilson's Fourteen Points were extremely idealistic, in that he felt Britain and France would embrace his plans to permanently do away with war by following his prescription for peace.

Ultimately, only four of the fourteen were adopted into the final Treaty of Versailles:

1) Freedom of the Seas

2) National Self-Determination (the idea that Poles should be able to live in  Poland, not as part of a larger empire.  Czechs in Czechoslovakia, etc.)

3)  Open Covenants, openly arrived at (no secret treaties)

4) a League of Nations

While these were positive steps and good ideas to promote a more peaceful world and reduce the risk of future wars, they did little to stop the onset of World War II, and some historians argue, may have actually contributed to it.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

In general, the big difference is that Wilson's 14 Points were all about being kind to other nations and things like that while the Treaty of Versailles was very anti-Germany.

In the 14 Points, Wilson laid out the idea of having nations not really try to take advantage of other nations -- it was very idealistic.  But the Treaty of Versailles was really meant to punish Germany in a lot of ways. For example, it took a lot of land way from Germany even though the people living on those bits of land were German (this goes against the idea of ethnic groups ruling themselves).

So, the major difference is that the 14 Points were idealistic and conciliatory while the Treaty of Versailles tried to punish Germany harshly.

I guess one other thing to mention is that the Treaty of Versailles did not do away with colonies the way Wilson would have liked.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

fashionableb1 | Student

Wilson's Fourteen Points was a more peaceful and gentle way of reprimanding Germany and it pleaded to create a League of Nations. The Treaty of Versailles was a way for the British, French, and other allies to get back at Germany for all the expenses caused by getting involved in the war.

atyourservice | Student

The 14 points is a bit more peaceful, it was made as a way to try to solve problems, such as giving sovereignty to countries that are fighting for freedom from colonist countries. The treaty of Versailles on the other hand seems more as a way to punish Germany for WW1, and it was also the main reason for WW2