The End of the War
Many of those who'd survived the war died of influenza, as a worldwide epidemic struck. But victory was at hand. From January through June of 1919, the Allies discussed the treaty, which came to be known as the Treaty of Versailles. Members of the Big Four — Georges Clemenceau of France, Vittorio Orlando of Italy, David Lloyd George of Britain, and Woodrow Wilson of the United States — met in the Hall of Mirrors at the French palace.
The Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles changed the map of Europe. One provision was the formation of a League of Nations, based on President Wilson's ideas to achieve lasting peace and world justice. However, for the League of Nations to truly effect peace, it required all members' assistance. If some withheld their cooperation, the league had no way of enforcing its will.
The Allies gave Germany the ultimatum to either sign the agreement or return to battle. As a result, protests broke out in Germany and Hungary, but Germany was strong-armed into signing the treaty. Although the Treaty of Versailles solved some of Europe's problems, it created others; the Allies had come to Versailles looking to extract the cost of the war from the Central Powers.
Over time, the League of Nations would observe the world stage as Germany rekindled the flames of another conflict. Even worse, the United States Senate didn't ratify the treaty, and the United States didn't join the League of Nations — this alone guaranteed the League's failure.
Checklist: Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points
The Fourteen Points was the name given to the proposals of President Woodrow Wilson to establish a lasting peace following the Allied victory in World War I. Wilson outlined these points in his address to a joint session of Congress in January 1918, giving further evidence of his moral leadership. To summarize, Wilson's fourteen points included:
Peace agreements, openly arrived at, and abolition of secret diplomacy
Freedom of the seas in peace and war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or part by international action for enforcement of international covenants
Removal of international trade barriers wherever possible and establishment of an equality of trade conditions among the nations consenting to the peace
Reduction of armaments consistent with public safety
Adjustment of colonial disputes consistent with the interests of both the controlling government and the colonial population
Evacuation of Russian territory, with the proviso of self-determination
Evacuation and restoration of Belgium
Evacuation and restoration of French territory, including Alsace Lorraine
Readjustment of Italian frontiers along clearly recognizable lines of nationality
Autonomy for the peoples of Austria-Hungary
Evacuation and restoration of territory to Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania, ranting of seaports to Serbia, and readjustment and international guarantee of the national ambitions of the Balkan nations
Self-determination for non-Turkish peoples under Turkish control and internationalization of the Dardanelles
An independent Poland, with access to the sea
Creation of a general association of nations under specific covenants to give mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity
In order to secure support for his plan to create an association of nations, the president abandoned his insistence on accepting the full program. It was perhaps no surprise that Wilson's plan was ridiculed to some extent, with Clemenceau commenting that “the good Lord had only ten” points to make while Wilson insisted on more.