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Essay/Term paper: The league of nations and it's impact on world peace

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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Through my studies and research I have come to the

following conclusion about the League of Nations: despite

all of President Woodrow Wilson's efforts, the League was

doomed to fail. I feel this was so for many reasons, some

of which I hope to convey in the following report. From the

day when Congress voted on the Fourteen Points, it was

obvious that the League had a very slim chance of being

passed in Congress, and without all of the World powers, the

League had little chance of surviving.

On November 11, 1918 an armistice was declared in

Europe. Wilson saw the opportunity to form an international

organization of peace to be formed. He acted quickly. On

January 18, 1919 he released his fourteen points. The

Fourteen Points consisted of many things, but the most

important was the fourteenth-the establishment of a league

of nations to settle international disputes and to keep the

peace. After congress had voted, only three of Wilson's

fourteen points were accepted without compromise. Six of

the others were rejected all together. Fortunately the

League was compromised.

Wilson then went to Europe to discuss the Treaty of

Versailles. Representatives from Italy, France, and Britain

didn't want to work with the nations they had defeated.

They wanted to hurt them. After much fighting and

negotiating, Wilson managed to convince them that a league

of nations was not only feasible, it was necessary.

The Senate supported most of the Treaty of Versailles

but not the League. They thought it would make the U.S.A.

too involved in foreign affairs. Wilson saw that the League

may not make it through Congress, so he went on the road and

gave speeches to sway the public opinion. Unfortunately,

Wilson's health, which was already depleted from the

negotiations in France, continued to recede. Wilson's battle

with his health reached its climax when Wilson had a stroke

on his train between speeches.

After Wison's stroke, support of the League weakened,

both in Congress and in the public's opinion. In 1920 G.

Harding, who opposed the League, was elected as president.

The League formed but the U.S. never joined.

The first meeting of the League was held in Geneva,

Switzerland on November 15, 1920 with fourty two nations

represented. During twenty-six years the League lived, a

total of sixty-three nations were represented at one time or

another. Thirty-one nations were represented all twenty-six


The League had an assembly, a council, and a

secretariat. Before World War II, the assembly convened

regularly at Geneva in September. There were three

representatives for every member state each state having one

vote. The council met at least three times a year to

consider political disputes and reduction of armaments.

The council had several permanent members, France,

Great Britan, Italy, Japan, and later Germany and the Soviet

Union. It also had several nonpermanent members which were

elected by the assembly. The council's decisions had to be


The secretariat was the administrative branch of the

League and consisted of a secretary, general, and a staff of

five hundred people. Several other organizations were

associated with the League- the Permanent Court of

International Justice, also called the World Court, and the

International Labor Organization.

One important activity of the League was the

disposition of certain territories that had been colonies of

Germany and Turkey before World War I. Territories were

awarded to the League members in the form of mandates. The

mandated territories were given different degrees of

independence in accordance with their geographic situation,

their stage of development, and their economic status.

The League, unfortunately, rarely implemented its

available resources, limited through the were, to achieve

their goal, to end war. The League can be credited with

certain social achievements. these achievements include

settlement of disputes between Finland and Sweden over the

Aland Islands in 1921 and between Greece and Bulgaria over

their mutual border in 1925.

Great powers preferred to handle their affairs on their

own; French occupation of the Ruhr and Italian occupation of

Corfu, both in 1923, went on in spite of the League. The

League failed to end the war between Bolivia and Paraguary

over the Gand Chaco between 1932 and 1935. The League also

failed to stop Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, which began in


Although Germany joined in 1926, the National Socialist

government withdrew in 1933 as did Japan, after their

attacks on China were condemned by the League. The League

was now powerless to prevent the events in Europe that lead

to World War 2. In 1940 the secretariat in Geneva was

reduced to a skeleton staff and moved to the U.S. and


In 1946 the League voted to effect its own dissolution,

whereupon much of its property and organization were

transferred to the United Nations which had resently been

founded. Never truly effective as a peace keeping

organization, the lasting importance of the League of

Nations lies in the fact that it provided the groundwork for

the United Nations. This international alliance, formed

after World War 2, not only profited by the mistakes of the

League but borrowed much of the organizational machinics of

the League of Nations.

The League of Nations and its impact on world peace

John James

Mrs. Hippe


March 7, 1996


Mothner, Ira. Woodrow Wilson, Champion of Peace. New York

Watts Inc., 1969

Mason, Lorna; Garcia, Jesus; Powell, Frances; Risinger,

Fredrick. America's Past and Promise. Boston

McDougal Littell, 1995

Albright, Madeleine. "America and the League of Nations,

Lessons for Today" Speech

United States Department of State 1994

McNally, Rand. Atlas of World History. New York

Reed International Books Limited, 1992

Microsoft. "The League of Nations."

Excarta 95. 1995


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