Treaty of Versailles
World War I is considered the first global conflict, claiming between 9 and 13 million lives. The war ended through the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 by the Allied Forces and Germany. However, the formal end of the war did not occur until Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. Prior to the end of the war, United States President Woodrow Wilson gave a speech to Congress on January 8, 1918, outlining fourteen points for peace. Wilson intended to get support for his vision of the postwar world, hoping that World War I would be "the war to end all wars."
Purpose of the Fourteen Points
The United States (US) reluctantly entered World War I on April 6, 1917, in support of the Allies. Unlike many European countries involved, the war did not reach US soil, and therefore the US was not fighting for territory. President Wilson wanted the war to end and to bring lasting peace for the world. In early January 1918, Wilson, together with British Prime Minister David Lloyd, explained to the public what they hoped to achieve through a victory over Germany and the Central Powers. Wilson, along with several advisors including Colonel Edward House, put together a peace plan that came to be known as the Fourteen Points. The plan outlined strategies for ending the war and what the president hoped to achieve. The first five points were concerned with the international issues, while eight touched on specific territorial concerns.
List of the Fourteen Points
1. Open diplomacy: President Wilson proposed that there be no private agreements between countries and that diplomacy was to proceed frankly and in public view.
2. Freedom of the Sea: That there be freedom to navigate the sea both in times of peace and war.
3. Removal of trade barriers: All economic or trade barriers be removed, as far as possible, and equality of trade conditions be established among nations that have consented to peace.
4. Reduction in weapons and army: An adequate guarantee that the national armament be reduced by all countries to the lowest level consistent with domestic safety.
5. Fair colonial claim: All colonial claims over lands and regions be impartially adjusted, putting into account the interest of inhabitants and colonial powers.
6. Conquered Russian territories: All conquered Russian territories be evacuated and all German troops to leave Russian soil in order to allow Russia to determine its form of government.
7. Restoration of Belgian sovereignty: German troops to evacuate Belgium, and the country be restored and allowed to enjoy its sovereignty as an independent country.
8. Restoration of all French territories: France to regain all of its territories without exception, including Alsace-Lorraine.
9. Readjusting the Italian borders: All of Italy's boundaries to be readjusted, clearly drawn, and recognized so that all Italians can be within their borders.
10. Independence of Austria-Hungary: Austria-Hungary to be allowed to continue existing as an independent country and its people be accorded free opportunity for development.
11. Reestablishment of Balkan boundary: The Central Powers to immediately evacuate Montenegro, Serbia, and Romania, and leave them as independent countries. Serbia to be allowed free access to the sea.
12. Independence and protection of the Turkish People: The minority group to be protected and allowed to have their own country.
13. Independence for Poland: Poland to be established as an independent country and the territory to include all areas inhabited by the Polish population.
14. League of Nations: A general association of countries, or League of Nations, to be formed to safeguard the independence of all nations.