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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Peace and a New World Order?

Even before the end of the war, Woodrow Wilson, in his "Fourteen Points" address, outlined a vision for a new peaceful postwar world order that fostered global collaboration and free trade among nations. The international conference that convened in Paris in January 1919 to negotiate a peace settlement presented the president with the opportunity to realize this vision. However, the war had transformed the world, and U.S. allies and other Americans had ideas contrary to Wilson's proposals. As the conference delegates negotiated compromises, Wilson placed his hopes in a new League of Nations, an organization where disputes between countries could be addressed. The resulting Treaty of Versailles imposed severe terms on Germany, arousing criticism within the United States, but most objections centered on the League of Nations. Ultimately, the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty or join the League. The United States would play a very different role in the postwar world from the one Wilson had envisioned.