Why Did the United States Refuse to Join the League of Nations?

The United States entered World War One in 1917 and the country was stunned , by  the slaughter that took place in what was meant to be a civilized part of the world. In the minds of many of the countries that participated in the war, the only way to avoid repetition of another World War, was to create an international body whose purpose was to repair any international disputes and to maintain a world peace, or at the very least European peace. This international body soon became the League of Nations, which was supported as a defining factor in world peace by nations of the world. However, the United States chose to perform the act of isolationism as opposed to involving themselves in world affairs, which led to America rejecting the opportunity to join the League of Nations. In this essay I will discuss the question “Why did the United States refuse to join the League of Nations?” by looking at the reasons why the United States chose not to join, as well as analyzing if this was the correct move by the Americans. I will look at Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” and how it was received amongst European and American leaders, as well as why the United States refused to join the league of Nations and why they actively strove for the foreign policy of Isolationism. This will be done with analysis of the Fourteen Points and the analysis of the “Lodge Reservations”. The United States not joining the League of Nations was crucial as America was considered one of the most powerful nations in the world, and without the United States the League of Nations was destined to not be as strong as it could be without American support.

Woodrow Wilson gave a speech to congress that would lately be called the “Fourteen Points”, which was a speech that Wilson regarded as the only possible basis for enduring world peace and the basis of the idea of the League of Nations. In the speech, Wilson addressed what he believed to be the causes of the First World War by calling for the abolition of secret treaties, the adjustment of colonial claims, a reduction of armaments, and the freedom of the seas. Wilson would then promise to remove any economic barriers between nations, and the creation of a world organization that would protect political independence, which would later become the League of Nations. The speech was created from a set of diplomatic points made by Woodrow Wilson, and territorial points made by Inquiry general secretary Walter Lippmann. Lippman’s task according to Colonel Edward M. House, was “to take the secret treaties, analyze the parts which were tolerable, and separate them from those which we regarded as intolerable, and then develop a position which conceded as much to the Allies as it could, but took away the poison. … It was all keyed upon the secret treaties.”[1] Among the major points was the territorial issues that were occurring as a result of the movement of troops during the war. Most importantly may have been the point referring to the French territory being occupied:

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