Wilson's Role Of The United States In The 20th Century

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The United States entered the 20th Century “a great power, but not yet [a] participant in the great-power system.” A burgeoning economic superpower, the United States had yet to assert itself politically on the international stage. Reluctant at first, the United States entered World War I (WWI) in 1917 and assumed a leading role negotiating the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. President Woodrow Wilson hoped to use the negotiations to promote American ideals, a lasting peace, and prosperity. However, instead of fostering economic and political stability the Paris peace negotiations produced a vindictive settlement seen as achieving little more than “sowing the seeds for the next major war.” Political and public opinion within the United States …show more content…
influence and the willingness of other nations to embrace his idealistic principles. Although the United States emerged from the war more powerful it still lacked the military might or economic wherewithal to impose its will. Great Britain and France were not persuaded by Wilson’s vision; both insisting on reparations and annexations that would cripple Germany’s ability to wage war. Wilson rejected attempts to place the entire cost of the war on Germany, but he acquiesced to a clause assigning guilt to Germany and imposing extensive reparations. The Treaty of Versailles imposed a vindictive peace that rejected the ideals Wilson had championed. Furthermore, it fueled a feeling of “intense dissatisfaction among three of the four strongest Continental states (Germany, Russia and Italy).” The victor’s peace imposed severe economic hardship on war devastated European countries that all but assured another war would follow. Magnifying Wilson’s failure to achieve his progressive goals was the rejection of the treaty by the U.S. Senate and the nation 's failure to assume the leadership role in the world he had envisioned, particularly an economic …show more content…
Similar to Great Britain in the 1840s, the United States were transitioning from an economy dominated by agriculture to one driven by industrial production. Agricultural interests favor protectionist measures that discourage competing imports, whereas the industrial sector prefers low tariffs that promote international trade and expanding markets. Recovering European agricultural production became increasingly competitive with American domestic agricultural producers in the 1920s. Despite its place as the post-war world’s largest industrial economy, agricultural interests in the United States retained sufficient influence on American trade strategy to prevent the United States from instituting more liberal policies. Stabilizing world markets was not yet a role the U.S. was prepared to assume, and despite growing opinion that urged greater engagement around the world, short-term domestic economic security remained the prevailing

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