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Ryan Cook

February 13, 2015
Professor Cardwell
Wilson
Many sides to any story make for a difficult time to come to a full understanding of a
situation, certain people will say what they believe is right, while others say no, this is what
actually happened. It is the job of us the reader/ historian to put together both sides of an
argument and determine which one has more evidence to back it up and which one logically
sounds more convincing. Trying to do this objectively and not trying to be subjective in your
decision is hard, but can be done. Wilsonianism is named after President Woodrow Wilson and is
foreign policy that he dealt with in the First World War as well as his relations with all other
countries that he came in contact too. There are many different views on whether or not what he
did was right or whether how he conducted his power was just downright stupid and wrong. Jan
Wilheim Schulte-Nordholt in an essay titled “Peace Advocate out of Touch with Reality” and “A
Passionate Visionary Stumbles into War” by Robert Tucker, both look at Wilson and talk about
what came of his policies.
Jan Schulte believes that we are really the heirs of what Wilson did almost a century ago
and because of what he did, we have felt the ripple effect of it throughout time. She flat out says
that he did not do a good job with what he had been given right at the beginning of her essay, and
stated that Wilson “in the end [he] failed.” She talks about in the first part that he had a very
paradoxical personality, while politically he was neutral to WW1 he emotionally was very
troubled by what was going on in Europe. After a few years of being neutral Wilson and the
United states realized that their peace without victory was not something that could be done. The

realists and conservatives knew that if the US did not participate in the war they could not take
part in the peace operations afterward. Wilsons changed his political mindset from neutral to
know believe that “mediation through participation would be more effective than neutrality.”
Americans mentality of giving freedom to all through our interactions and foreign policy,
showed up heavily in Wilson’s 14 points, and Schulte explained it as, “he did not see the
difficulties and he did not want to see them, this would in the end bring his downfall…” She
ends her essay by looking at how Wilsons idealist thoughts may have been right and in the future
worked out but in reality for that time and what was going on it was a complete and utter failure
which may or may not be the cause of the war twenty years later…
The war in Europe was inevitable anyway you looked at it, and Americas long stance of
being neutral was never really on the table according to Robert Tucker on his essay of Wilson. It
was a way of life and how Americans had always stood, and thus being neutral would send a
strong message to the rest of the world that through our neutrality we were having self-control
unlike the other nations that went to war. As his presidency goes along Tucker said that Wilson
talked about the American people and how it was not that they did not want to go to war but the
fact that they wanted to only do it in cases of bringing peace and justice to the world. He also
stated that the main reason why Wilson said we should go to war, was because in the end we
wanted to create a League of Nations to keep peace throughout, not to show the dominance of
one country over another. The overarching theme of Tuckers essay can be seen in his title and
seen as Wilson not wanting war but in the end it was inevitable that it happen to maintain justice
in the world instead of a struggle for power.
Looking at both these articles I am torn because the article by Tucker is something that I
personally would believe if you were to just say what both thesis’ were. However, looking at

what they say and how exactly they portray it, the article by Jan Schulte hands down made more
of an impact on me and convinced me the most. I will start out with explaining why the Tucker
argument was not as impactful. To begin with there was not an obvious thesis statement, you
kind of had to look deeper and even when you did that, to me it was not as clear and bold on
what its stance was. Tucker explains that Wilson more so stumbled into the war because it was
inevitable rather than seeking it out and then adding the League of Nations at the end was just a
bonus that came with going to war. He then does not go on to explain too much that happened in
the aftermath of the war with the treaty and Wilsons 14 points. All of this, very briefly, made me
not as convinced with Tuckers argument.
When I look at Schulte’s argument it looks a lot more thought out and has more evidence
available to make a convincing argument. Starting out in document 1 with the submarine warfare
you can see America and Wilson trying to be as neutral as possible all while still trying to insert
ourselves as a world power. The whole thing sounds so polite and us really trying to sound like
we will not offend the Germans for doing what they are doing all while still in the back of our
minds thinking if these, “lying scum don’t stop attacking us we will destroy them!” (put in my
own words) Sending the note to Germany just goes to show the paradoxical views we had as a
nation because we sent that note as a sort of a warning to hopefully stop the attacks but deep
down knew that we were going to have to act upon it if they were to attack us again.
Wilson’s 14 points in document 4 go over all the points and outcomes of the war. They
range from diplomacy happening in open view, readjustment of boundaries, and a vague
description of the beginning of the League of Nations. Schulte argues that Wilson went into
WW1 not in order to gain economic interests or similar ideas, but with the ideology that the
League of Nations and Americas involvement in the war would cement world peace and

America’s involvement in keeping that peace. “Mediation through participation would be more
effective than neutrality” (Schulte 454) was something that Wilson had thought to be one of the
reasons to go to war. His personal ambition and revolving everything around his 14 points after
the war blinded him to see the reality of the situation and what the 14 points truly meant. Senator
Follette in article 3 really voiced his distaste of what Wilson was doing and even went so far as
to say that without the forcible military bills the US would not have been able to gain enough
troops to fight for something that most US citizens had no information on and would most likely
choose not to fight in. A democracy is supposed to be ran by the people and by Wilson forcing a
war upon the culture of the US and abroad and then forcing the demands of what the great and
powerful US demanded was not something that sat well with Follette and Schulte.
In document 5 we find more laws that are part of what the League of Nations must do to
hopefully maintain peace. From article 10 to 16 it talks about how nations in the league must go
about having wars for nations outside of the League as well as if there are disputes with nations
amongst the League. If a nation defies any article 12-15 the nations of the league will then decide
how they, together will fight that nation and what needs to be done about it according to article
16. This League is pretty much just trying to create a whole bunch of alliances, so that no one
single country can just go to war on their own, because they will then have to face all the other
nations from that league. This goes right in line with what was going on with all the nations that
were aligned before WW1. Serbia wanted to fight Austria-Hungary which brought the Germans,
the Russians, the British, and then any other countries with alliances with another country going
to war. This whole alliance situation was put into effect so that countries would be deterred from
going to war with each other but after the war we realized that it did not work and decided to try
the exact same thing but with the US as the one staging the whole operation. The United States

assumed that since we had come into help that with our guidance and our wise leadership it
would work out this time. With all of that said we then had a senator propose reservations to the
League of Nations in document 7. We thought we were so high and mighty that we created the
League of Nations but then were like “you know what we really don’t want to abide by
everything they stand for.” Throughout the reservations Senator Henry Cabot states that the USA
has the right to “withhold its assent to articles 156-158”, or that the USA “shall not be obligated
to contribute to any expenses of the League of Nations.” This goes back to Schulte’s idea that
Wilson and Americans had a very paradoxical/ hypocritical view of the whole situation in
Europe. How can a country believe that the League of Nations be the best result for the world but
then go back and say that it works for them but we choose to not abide by what it says. That is
why in the end Schulte says that Wilson and his “ideas in the end fail.”
Wilsonianism and the World War 1 has views stemming from both sides of the argument.
Some people believe that the cause and outcome of WW1 are just while others feel that the
outcomes and/or the way that the United States dealt with the pre, during, and post war was very
wrong and can possibly be to blame for a lot of things. Jan Schulte and Robert Tucker both had
their opposing views and ways in which they looked at Wilson. In the end however, Jan Schulte
definitely made a much more convincing argument on Wilson and how he personally dealt with
everything that the war brought to the US and the rest of the world.