What general features of earlier American history worked against American involvement in European affairs and participation in the League of Nations?
besides immediate factors (such as the Lodge-Wilson antagonism)
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The primary feature of history that kept America out of involvement in European affairs was a self imposed policy of Isolationism. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had both warned the U.S. against involvement in foreign affairs. American Geography was also a factor, as the Atlantic Ocean separated the country from Europe and thereby provided a strong buffer. The strength of the British Navy provided considerable comfort for those who feared invasion from Europe. This policy of Isolationism had only been broken, briefly, during the Spanish American War. Then too, aside from the antagonism between Wilson and Lodge was the fear of the surrender of United States sovereignty. The belief was that the U.S. had no interest or concern with European affairs, and that the arrangement should be continued.
The major feature of earlier US history that worked to keep the US out of the League of Nations was the idea that it had tended to get burned by involvement with Europe. In other words, when it got involved in European struggles, things tended to go badly for the US.
One example of this would have been the US involvement in the Napoleonic Wars between France and England. When the US got sucked into this dispute, it ended up almost going to war with France and finally actually going to war with England in the War of 1812. A similar thing happened in WWI.
So the US did not want to be involved with European affairs because it did not want to be dragged into another war.
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