Credit: Courtesy of American Memory (Library of Congress
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 part of the curriculum unit, The Debate in the United States Over the League of Nations. This curriculum unit may serve as a sequel to the complementary EDSITEment lesson U.S. Entry into World War I: A Documentary Chronology.
What was Woodrow Wilson's role in and vision for peace and the League of Nations after World War I?
After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to:
XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
I. Open treaties
II. Freedom of navigation upon the seas
III. Removal of economic barriers
IV. Reduction of arms
V. Free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims
XIV. (See above.)
THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES, In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another, agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.
Students wanting more detail about the origins and History of the League of Nations can read this brief essay on From Revolution to Reconstruction, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website American Studies at the University of Virginia.
In writing or through oral response to questions, students should be able to describe President Wilson's role in creating the League of Nations. They should understand the basic issues covered in Wilson's Fourteen points, and compare those with the tenets in the Covenant of the League of Nations.
2-3 class periods