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World War I

World War I

Woodrow Wilson in World War I

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was the 28th President of the United States, serving two terms from 1913-1919. As president of Princeton University and later as governor of New Jersey, Wilson was a leading Progressive, arguing for a stronger central government and fighting for anti-trust legislation and labor rights. As president of the United States, he passed important legislation on those and many other issues, narrowly winning reelection in 1916 after pledging to keep America out of World War I. Wilson's foreign policy was noted for its idealistic humanitarianism; his Fourteen Points—a statement of national objectives that envisioned a new international order after World War I—ultimately failed, but was one of the clearest expressions of interventionist American values. Wilson suffered a severe strokes during his second term in office and died in 1924.

Though he pledged to keep America out of World War I, Wilson was obliged to declare war on Germany after the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917. He was relatively uninterested in military affairs, but was able to organize the American economy to provide the food and munitions the army needed to fight in France. At the end of the war, Wilson became the first American president to leave the country during his administration when he sailed for Paris to negotiate the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Most of Wilson's Fourteen Points advocating for human and democratic rights were not adopted in the treaty, due to France and Britain seeking punishment for Germany. However, the most important of the Fourteen Points—the creation of the League of Nations—was adopted. Wilson proved unable to get the Treaty of Versailles ratified by the U.S. Senate, and ironically, America never joined the League of Nations.

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