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

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Renewed submarine warfare and sinking of ships with Americans on board forced the United States to join the first World War on the side of the Allies. However, President Woodrow Wilson was already anticipating the situation after the War. He felt the need to justify the United States’ entry, the country’s main objective, and the values guiding the nation’s participation. He also hoped to provide solutions to end the war and stop such events from happening in the future.

We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence.

Wilson addressed the issues that he believed caused the World War, and he narrowed them down to secret treaties, lack of democracy, economic barriers, and stockpiling of armaments. In his speech he asserted that nations should engage in open agreements and treaties. He also urged nations to make provisions for open trade and allow freedom of navigation. Additionally, he asked nations to keep armaments sufficient for interior safety.

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