What were the main features or objectives of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points?

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Wilson's Fourteen Points were announced in a speech to Congress at the beginning of 1918. They were intended to be a sort of statement of principles upon which any lasting peace with the Central Powers would be based. Their main features are as follows:

  • A declared end to secret alliances and treaty agreements
  • Freedom of the seas and of trade for all nations
  • A reduction in armaments and military force
  • Settlement of colonial claims among European nations (but not independence for colonial peoples)
  • Borders of European nations should be redrawn to reflect ethnic and political realities rather than imperial influence
  • The nations of Poland and Belgium should be free and independent
  • A "general association of nations" should be formed to help maintain peace and cooperation after the war

Many of these features were written into the Treaty of Versailles negotiated after the war in 1919. But the general spirit of the Fourteen Points, which were intended to foster a spirit of forgiveness, openness, and cooperation among the nations of Europe, was not reflected in the Treaty. The United States Senate ultimately refused to ratify the Treaty because of concerns that the League of Nations violated American sovereignty. The peace that the Fourteen Points were intended to bring about lasted less than two decades.

 

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