Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. ... America is the only idealist nation in the world.”
—President Woodrow Wilson
National I must remain and in that way I, like all other Americans, can render the amplest service to the world.”
—Senator Henry Cabot Lodge
American foreign policy continues to resonate with the issues surrounding the debate over U.S. entry into the League of Nations-collective security versus national sovereignty, idealism versus pragmatism, the responsibilities of powerful nations, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals, the idea of America. Understanding the debate over the League and the consequences of its ultimate failure provides insight into international affairs in the years since the end of the Great War and beyond.
In this lesson, students read the words and listen to the voices of some central participants in the debate over the League of Nations.
Note: This lesson may be taught either as a stand-alone lesson or as a sequel to the complementary EDSITEment lesson U.S. Entry into World War I: A Documentary Chronology.