Wilson’s League of Nations: Collective Security and National Independence

  • Lloyd E. Ambrosius


Historians of President Woodrow Wilson’s role in the creation of the League of Nations generally have agreed that he sought to revolutionize American foreign policy. They have argued that he abandoned the tradition of isolationism in favor of active participation in world affairs. Noting the system of collective security that he attempted to establish through the League, they have concluded that the president departed radically from the historic policy of the United States.1 This widely held interpretation has overemphasized Wilson’s departure from traditional American diplomacy. He abandoned American isolationism in part—but only in part. By his personal participation in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and by his vision of future American participation in the League of Nations, the president obviously altered the traditional policy. Never before had the American government shown such direct and extensive concern for the political and military situation in Europe and elsewhere in the world.


Military Force World Affair Collective Security Positive Obligation Peace Settlement 
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  1. 1.
    For explicit statements of this thesis, see John Chalmers Vinson, Referendum for Isolation: Defeat of Article Ten of the League of Nations Covenant (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1961), 1–2, 35, 96;Google Scholar
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© Lloyd E. Ambrosius 2002

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  • Lloyd E. Ambrosius

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