Woodrow Wilson (2460 words) Essay

Woodrow Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson regarded himself as the personal representative of the
people. “No one but the President,” he said, “seems to be
expected … to look out for the general interests of the country”(Internet
1). He developed a program of progressive reform and asserted international
leadership in building a new world order. In 1917 he proclaimed American’s
entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world “safe for
democracy.” Wilson had seen the difficulties of war. He was born in
Virginia in 1856. The son of a Presbyterian minister who during the Civil War
was a pastor in Augusta, Georgia, and during Reconstruction a professor in the
charred city of Columbia, South Carolina. After graduation from Princeton (then
the College of New Jersey) and the University of Virginia Law School, Wilson
earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and entered upon an academic
career. In 1885 he married Ellen Louise Axson. Wilson advanced rapidly as a
conservative young professor of political science and became president of
Princeton in 1902. His growing national reputation led some conservative
Democrats to consider him Presidential material. First they persuaded him to run
for Governor of New Jersey in 1910. In that campaign he asserted his
independence of the conservatives and of the machine that had nominated him,
endorsing a progressive platform, which he pursued as governor. He was nominated
for President at the 1912 Democratic Convention and campaigned on a program
called the New Freedom, which stressed individualism and states’ rights. In the
three-way election he received only 42 percent of the popular vote but an
overwhelming electoral vote. Wilson dealt with Congress very effectively in his
presidency. On April 2,1917, he asked Congress for a declaration of war on
Germany. Massive American effort slowly tipped the balance in favor of the
Allies. Wilson went before Congress in January 1918, to pronounce American war
aims through a a series of ideas he had known as the Fourteen Points, this would
establish a general association of nations indubitably guaranteeing political
independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike. After
the Germans signed the Armistice in November 1918, Wilson went to Paris to try
to build an enduring peace. He later presented to the Senate the Versailles
Treaty, containing the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Versailles Treaty
was seven votes shy of being ratifid by the senate. The President, against the
warnings of his doctors, had made a national tour to mobilize public sentiment
for the treaty. President Wilson had aswell have many interventions in countries
such as: New Mexico, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua Exhausted,
he suffered a stroke and nearly died. Tenderly nursed by his second wife, Edith
Bolling Galt, he lived until 1924. The League of Nations was a former
international organization that was formed after WORLD WAR I to promote
international peace and security. The League of Nations was provided int he use
of the Fourteen Points. The basis of the League, the Covenant, was written into
the Treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties and provided for an assembly,
a council, and a secretariat. A system of colonial mandates was also set up. The
U.S., which failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, never became a member.

Based in Geneva, the League proved useful in settling minor international
disputes, but was unable to stop aggression by major powers, Japan’s occupation
of Manchuria (1931), Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia (1935-36), and Germany’s
seizure of Austria (1938). It collapsed early in World War II and dissolved
itself in 1946. The League established the first pattern of permanent
international organization and served as a model for its successor, the UNITED
NATIONS. The Treaty of Versailles, signed on 1871 at the end of the
Franco-Prussian War by Bismarck. France was forced to give up most of Alsace and
Lorraine, pay a large indemnity, and accept a German army of occupation. The
Versailles Treaty of 1919 is the most famous of the treaties because it was the
chief one ending World War I. The Big Four negotiating it were President WIlson,
Premier Clemenceau, Prime Minister Llyod George, and Premier Oralndo. The treaty
called for the creation of the League of Nations. It forced on Germany the
burden of reperations and placed limits on German armed forces. It restored
Alsace and Lorraine to France, gave Prussian Poland and most of West Prussia to
Poland, made Danzig a free city, put Germany’s colonies under the League of
Nations, placed the Saar under French administration, called for plebiscites in
various territories newly freed from the Central Powers, mand called for the
demilitarization of the Rhineland. American opposition to the League of Nations
resulted in the refusal of the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty. In 1935, Adolf
Hitler unilaterally abrogated most of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The
Treaty of Paris was one of the most important treaties signed at or near Paris.

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The Treaty of 1763 was signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain. Together with
the Treaty of Hubertusburg it ended the Seven Years War. “France lost
Canada to Britain, Cuba and the Philippines were restored to Spain, and India in
effect passed to Britain”(Internet 2). From this treaty dated the colonial
and maritime supremacy of Britain. In the Treaty of 1783 Great Britain formally
acknowledged the independence of the Thirteen Colonies as the U.S. The treaty
also fixed the boundaries of the new nation. In addition, the warring European
powers-Britain against France and Spain, with the Dutch as armed
neutrals-effected a large-scale peace settlement. Spain reacquired the Floridas
and Minorca from Britain, and Britain relinquished its restrictions on the
French port of Dunkirk. Otherwise, the territorial dispositions of the 1763
Treaty of Paris were reaffirmed. The Treaty of 1814 was concluded between France
on the one hand and Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia on the other after the
first abdication of NApoleon I. Its provisions never went into effect owing to
the return of Napoleon from Elba and the resumption of the war. The Treaty of
1815 was signed after Napoleon’s final surrender. Many provisions of the treaty
of 1814 and the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna remained binding. France was
reduced to its 1790 borders and was forced to pay 700 million francs in
reparations plus the costs of an army of occupation for five years. After World
War I severeal treaties were signed (1919-20) in or near Paris, the most
important of which was the Treaty of Versailles After World War II separate
treaties were signed (1947) by the Allies at or near Paris with Italy, Romania,
Hungary, Bulgaria, and Finland. Woodrow Wilson had interventions with New
Mexico. President Wilson had two fronts to worry about; Mexico and Europe. Below
his country, the Mexican Revolution was in full swing. Wilson had made his moves
in accordance to what he had felt was best for his country and its people. The
same went for Europe. He was doing all he could do by just keeping the United
States out of the war. However, in relation to Europe and the World War, Wilson
knew that the United States was not going to be able to stay out of the war
forever. After all, the Germans were taking a greater toll on the merchant ships
in the Atlantic. To truely see the situation, one must look back at the election
of 1916. Presidents don’t win elections by telling the people what they don’t
want to hear. Wilson was up for re-election that year. He had been campaigning
on the platform of peace. His opponent, Charles Hughes, had favored teh idea of
the United States getting involved into World War I. Wilson used every political
tactic he knew to bring Hughes down. Hughes was called the “war
candidate”(Biography of Woodrow Wilson). Later, Wilson would even use the
slogan “Wilson and Peace with Honor, or Hughes with Roosevelt and
War?(Internet 1)” So Wilson did what he had to do in order to stay in
office. By 1916, Wilson began to realize where his country stood in relation to
those that were fighting. He had been paying attention to the press to see the
results of the events that were unfolding. In particular, the Battle of the
Somme struck President Wilson with deep concern. At this battle, the British
were on the offensive against the Germans. The British command called for a five
day assualt with heavy cannon. After the shelling, the soldiers were expected to
simply walk over claim the land. The offensive failed and as a result, the
British suffered casualties near 70,000 in just a few days time. At that time,
the United States military personel numbered less than 150,000. The United
States, at that rate, would have only been able to last for a few days if they
entered the war. This brings us to the main point of this article; Wilson had to
get his armed forces up in numbers without breaking his campaign promise to his
people. How was Wilson suppossed to do this? The answer was Pancho Villa. Pancho
Villa was a very predictable man. After the events down in Agua Prieta, Villa
was on a one course action, death to all Americans. Villa made his first move in
January of 1916. Engineers from El Paso were on their way to open up a mine down
in Mexico. They had been given assurances that there was nothing to fear. While
enroute by way of rail, the engineers were stopped and pulled off the train. All
were put down on their knees and shot in the back of the head. Villa had begun
to deliver his promise to the Americans. Wilson was aware of this. All he had to
do was to wait for the right moment. Wilson’s chance came in early March of
1916. Sometime around the 6th of March, U.S. intelligence began to send reports
to Washington that Villa and his men had been seen along the border near
Columbus. These reports would continue up until the 9th of March when Villa
finally made his attack. Although history plays the attack as a suprise, events
leading up to the attack suggest that the U.S. government knew of Villa’s
location and intentions. Just prior to the attack, Lieutenant George Patton, who
was being stationed at Columbus, was ordered, along with the remaining officers,
to leave for a polo match near Deming, New Mexico. Patton would later remark in
his diary that he had never played the sport before. Also, when the attack did
occur, the press made a big deal about the machine guns being still in their
storage cases. Had Columbus known of Villa’s location, it would have been likely
that the machine guns would probably had been readied. Throughout his
presidency, Wilson showed a pattern of bullying and deception, and great desire
to involve the American people in wars that they had no desire to get into. The
first example is Mexico. Wilson had an intense personal hatred of Mexico’s
President, General Victotiano Huerta, because he had suppressed a left-wing
revolution. This hatred led Wilson to try to provoke a war with Mexico. He got
his chance when a small number of Americans where arrested in Mexican port of
Tampico. Knowing that Wilson was looking for an exuse for war, Huerta
immediately ordered the release of the Americans, and personally apologized to
them for the incident. But Wilson would not let the situation end at that. He
demanded more apologies, and even worse demanded that some of the Mexicans
involved salute the American flag! Imagine if you were a soldier in the American
Army and were ordered by a foreign leader to salute a foreign flag. Of course
the Mexicans refused, so Wilson got his chance to start a war, and launched a
surprise attack on the barely defended Mexican city of Vera Cruz. Fortunately
for the youth of both countries, Huerta was not as eager for war as Wilson. So
he got several Latin American governments to intercede. Wilson demanded that any
peace be on the condition of Huerta stepping down as president of Mexico.

Showing how much more of a man Huerta was than Wilson, Huerta agreed to Wilson’s
demands rather than allowing the war to continue. The results of Wilson’s
warmongering were disastrous for Mexico. The Wilson-backed regime who came to
power after Huerta stepped down was too weak to hold his country together, and
Mexico fell into civil war. In a five month period Mexico City changed hands six
times. The notorious Mexican bandit Pancho Villa almost got control of Mexico in
the struggle. Eventually the Wilson-backed regime of Venustiano Carranzo emerged
on top, but it was too weak to suppress Villa, who led multiple raids into the
United States. Wilson, ever the mummer of Mars, used Villa’s raids into the
United States to justify savage incursions by the US Army into Mexico, which did
little more than make Villa a hero to the people of northern Mexico. The
Spanish-American War is often offered up as an example of American imperialism.

But Haiti is a much better one. Haiti also vividly illustrates Wilson’s true
character which he was so effective in hiding from the public. Wilson thought
France and Germany were becoming too influential in Haiti, and for this reason
invaded that sovereign republic that neither did nor wanted to do any act
hostile to the United States. Soon after the marines had secured control of
Haiti, Wilson had a puppet government set up, and forced it to elect Phillippe
Dartiguenave president. Next, Wilson tired to force his puppets to sign a treaty
that would essentially cede Haitian sovereignty to the United States. But the
puppets would not submit, so Wilson declared martial law and made Admiral
Caperton the absolute dictator over all of Haiti. Wilson again tried to force
the Haitian government to submit to the same humiliating treaty by withholding
the salaries of all government employees until they complied. They finally gave
in. Wilson then held a show election for a constitutional assembly. When the
assembly met, Wilson simply had his military commanders order the delegates to
ratify his own constitution. They bravely refused, and are heroes as much as
those who took the Tennis Court Oath more than a century earlier; but the
American general in command, General Cole, dissolved the assembly, and decided
to hold a referendum on it. It was absurd, a type of election that Stalin would
have approved of, with armed soldiers at every polling place, making sure every
Haitian that might try to vote against the American imposed constitution saw the
error of his decision. So much for Wilson the lover of democracy. Afterwards
Haiti became an dictatorship under the American military. The corvee was soon
revived, and slavery returned to our Hemisphere. The American military
commanders used Haitian slave labor mainly to build roads, which would allow
them to quickly move troops to suppress any resistance to American rule. During
a revolt against the American system of forced labor and military occupation,
the Marine Corps reports it killed 3250 Haitians(History of Haiti). President
Wilson in 1916 established a military dictatorship over the Dominican Republic.

Wilson also had the marines occupy and subdue large part of Nicaragua at that
government’s request. President Woodrow Wilson has been marked for his great
issue of foreign poilicy. Latin America was effected greatly by all the policies
that were promoted by President Wilson. Although some of his ideas were denied,
such as the League of Nations, his effort to unite the nations has made a big
impact on American and Latin American history. Woodrow Wilson is the president
with the greatest intervention in Latin America.


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