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Wilson's 14 Points
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This refers to the proposals of President Woodrow Wilson designed to establish the basis for a just and lasting peace following the victory of the Allies in World War I. The 14 proposals were contained in Wilson's address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on January 8, 1918. The idealism expressed in them was widely acclaimed and gave Wilson a position of moral leadership among the Allied leaders. Opposition to various points on the part of the European Allies, however, developed at the conclusion of hostilities, and the attempt at practical application of the 14 points exposed a multilateral system of secret agreements between the European victors. In order to secure support of his 14th, and most important, point, which called for the creating of an “association of nations,” Wilson was compelled to abandon his insistence upon the acceptance of his full program. Wilson's 14th point was realized in the League of Nations, established as a result of the Paris Peace Conference (1919).

Wilson's points were divided into three groups. The first five points addressed issues that Wilson believed had caused the war, among them the fact that freedom of the seas should be maintained for all, etc. The next eight points dealt with specific boundary changes. Wilson believed national groups who claimed distinct ethnic identities were to decide for themselves what nations they would belong to. His fourteenth point called for the creation of an international organization to address diplomatic crises like those that had sparked the war. A League of Nations to provide a forum for nations to discuss their grievances. This was the only point accepted by the Allies.

For his peacemaking efforts, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize. Receiving the award was bittersweet, however, because he was unable to convince congressional opponents, such as Henry Cabot Lodge, to support the resolution endorsing US entry into the league. United States membership, Wilson believed, was essential to ensuring lasting world peace.

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