What were the main ideas of Woodrow Wilson's 14 points?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Woodrow Wilson proposed his plan for a peace treaty that would end World War I.  His plan was called the Fourteen Points.  Wilson believed the peace treaty should go easy on the defeated Central Powers. He believed a harsh treaty, which was being proposed by Britain, France, and Italy, would come back and haunt the Allies.  His fourteen-point plan can be divided into five major themes.  First, Wilson believed secret treaties needed to end.  It was a huge embarrassment for the Allies when the Russians, after pulling out of the war in 1917, revealed the secret plans the Allies had made for Europe once World War I had ended.  Wilson didn’t want a repeat of that. The second main point was to create independent countries after the war ended based on the concept of self-determination. One reason why World War I began was because people of one ethnic group ruled people from a different ethnic group. He wanted new countries to be formed where people of one nationality would rule people of the same nationality. (For example, Polish people would rule Polish people.)  A third major feature of his plan was to establish the concept of freedom of the seas. One reason why we joined World War I was because the Germans weren’t respecting our rights as a neutral nation. The Germans were using submarines to sink our merchant vessels without warning.  A fourth component of the plan was to reduce the number of weapons that countries had.  Wilson knew that when countries had weapons and armies, they tended to use them.  Finally, Wilson wanted an organization where countries could come to discuss problems and to propose solutions without going to war. This organization was called the League of Nations.  It was the centerpiece of his Fourteen Point program.  Many of Wilson’s idealistic goals were reflected in his plan to end the war, the Fourteen Points.

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