Study Notes

Aims of the United States at Versailles


Last updated 17 Jul 2018

Going into Versailles the United States, in the form of their President, Woodrow Wilson had a set of ideas about how the Treaty of Versailles should deal with Germany. Wilson wanted to build a better world in which to live which would not need to resort to war to deal with problems. Wilson was determined to work to get a fairer world, and would use all different kinds of leverage to get his way. This included using Britain and France’s debts as a bargaining tool to get what he wanted.

Wilson did not think that Germany should be punished for the war, and therefore he did not want to treaty on Germany to be too harsh. It was a worry of Wilson that if Germany was treated particularly badly then it could provoke another war. Wilson believed that countries should be working together to solve problems and that democracy should be the prevailing ideas in running countries. He stated that a League of Nations, a meeting place for all countries to talk about their problems and solve them, should be created.

In the spirit of democracy, Wilson wanted countries to be able to rule themselves. He detested the idea of Empire and wanted countries and colonies to be able to control their own futures. This idea was known as self determination. He wanted to see an end to the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish Empires.

Wilson’s ideas were not universally popular. Britain and France in particular disagreed with Wilson’s views on self determination and an end of empire. They argued it would be almost impossible to allow this to happen.

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