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The United States At The Paris Peace Conference

The United States At The Paris Peace Conference The United States at the Paris Peace Conference The First World War had lasting effects on almost every aspect of our society. Empires and monarchies collapsed, democracy began to rise, capitalism was affected, and inflation resulted from the cost of war. It became apparent that an agreement must be reached which would clearly outline the steps necessary to repair the damages done by the war. Even more importantly, a method must be devised which would, in theory, prevent such a horrific war from occurring ever again. The Paris Peace Conference was held in the winter of 1919, predominantly at the infamous Palace of Versailles, and was intended to realize these goals.

Twenty-seven nations were present at the Conference, although only four of these countries had a true voice in the matter at hand. These four countries, the Great Powers, were Italy, France, England, and the United States. Represented by Vittorio Orlando, Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, and Woodrow Wilson, respectively, these men held the vast majority of power and influence present at the Conference. President Wilson represented the United States at Versailles. He believed that World War I should end in a treaty based on democracy rather than on politics of power, and he was present to see to it that the Treaty of Versailles was written accordingly. Wilson embodied the success of the democratic, liberal, progressive and nationalistic movements of the past century, and represented what society wished for the future.

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His idealistic views and goals for the reparation of society were made evident through his presence at the Conference, as well as Blake 2 through the plans that he brought with him. In a talk with newspaperman R.J. Bender of the United Press, Wilson states what is basically his attitude towards the entire conference: A statement that I once made that this should be a peace without victory holds more strongly today than ever. The peace that we make must be one in which justice alone is the determining factor. Wilson demonstrates the visionary approach with which he viewed the Peace Conference precisely in this remark.

President Wilsons presence at the conference has been debated from many angles. It was possible, was he not present at the conference, that the Allies would insist on a resolution rooted in force and vengeance between the European countries. Wilson felt that this method would be ineffective in the long run. He believed that only on a peace reached through justice could a stable society be rebuilt. Wilson personally felt that the best way to attain a genuine peace among all countries would be to create a bond of nations that had entered into an agreement to prevent the reoccurrence of such a Great War, although he recognized the likeliness of opposition to his plan. He predicted correctly that there would be a demand for immediate peace terms and a postponement on an association of nations.

Because Wilson felt so strongly that his plan was the most sensible and definite way in which to proceed with the Peace Conferences, he felt obligated to be present in Paris. This enabled him to defend his views and thus protect what he felt was in the best interest of the United States. It has been argued that this was not a wise choice for the President. Many say that had he remained in Washington and carried on negotiations through his Commissioners, he would have retained his place as superior and powerful. This would have allowed him to dictate the terms of the treaty as he wished. The fact that he attended the conference resulted in the loss Blake 3 of the position of power that he held.

This forced Wilson to submit to the wills of the European countries, many of which harbored feelings of hostility towards the conquered countries. While it seems apparent that the most beneficial move the President could have taken was to remain in the United States, his idealistic belief in the promise of the bond of nations led him to disregard advice and sail to France to secure the Treaty of Versailles. Wilson had extremely specific goals in mind when he departed for France. The 14 Points, which he had written the previous year, were what Wilson referred to as principles upon which to build peace. These points included open covenants and agreements, freedom of the seas, removal of economic barriers, reduction of resistance by all Powers, and evacuation of occupied territory.

Also included in these goals were colonial claims readjustments, self- determination of nationalities, redrawing of European boundaries along national lines, and lastly, several goals stating what was to happen to each country as far as its boundaries, frontiers and occupation by other countries . Wilsons most important goal was, however, his idea for a League of Nations. He felt that the existence of such a group would be the source of world peace for all time to come. This League was to be an organization in which it would be possible for countries to get together and talk amongst themselves, ideally with the ability to prevent their differences from escalating into war. Wilson felt that this would be more productive than the idea of balance of power, in that it would be a more organized forum for everyone to express their opinions and have equal opportunity to do so. Each country that had a grievance towards another would submit the dispute to arbitration and would be required to respect the decision reached.

Should they not Blake 4 do so, the other countries would take economic or military measure to enforce order. Wilson felt that the only way to ensure even the possibility of world peace was to interweave the ideals of his 14 Points with the concept for a League of Nations. I want to save the whole world from repetitions of such disasters as the world has experienced during the last four years. I know that you men are going the wrong way about it, and I know that I am right, because I know human nature and the processes of war. Wilson faced much opposition to his plan.

Two such instances include France, under Clemenceau, ordering the Germans to pay for the damage they had caused during the war. Also, Britain was opposed to the freedom of the seas, as they had fought so valiantly against Germany to be in command, and thus wished to eliminate that from the 14 Points. And yet, so firmly did Wilson stand behind his belief in the League that his desire to see it realized began to take over the Conference. Various interests were at stake throughout the duration of the peace proceedings. When the question arose of what Germany would pay for war damages, concession was necessary. While France and England proposed to demand Germany pay the total expenses incurred during the war, Wilson was forced to take into consideration the outcome of such a charge.

Where else but through German export could Germany produce enough money to pay for total damages? Wilson recognized that this would only further conflict with the Allies own economic interests. In an effort to appease both France and England, however, the treaty required that Germany surrender much of its merchant marine, make coal deliveries, and give up all property privately owned by German citizens abroad. In addition, the war guilt clause was written into the treaty, forcing Germany to formally accept responsibility for the war. Wilson also put what he felt to be the best interest of the United States at heart Blake 5 when he made concessions to Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Orlando, and the Japanese. With these compromises in place, it was agreed that the League of Nations would be included in the treaty. Wilson in exchange conceded to modify his 14 Points from the original ideals that they maintained. Wilson, representing the United States, pushed hard for his League Covenant.

This was a modified version of his original League of Nations, and had been revised by the League of Nations Commission, which Wilson himself headed. These modifications discussed religious equality, minority rights, the mandate system, and the organization of a League of Nations to monitor these and other aspects of the covenant. Wilson presented this to a plenary session of the conference. His …


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