Skip to Main Content

Handout D: Three Views on America’s Role

Three Views on America’s Role

Directions: Read the excerpts below and think about the different views represented. Then answer the questions that follow.

An evident principle runs through the whole program I have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak. Unless this principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of international justice can stand. …The moral climax of this, the culminating and final war for human liberty, has come…
—Woodrow Wilson, 1918 Fourteen Points speech to Congress

We [should] not have our politics distracted and embittered by the dissensions of other lands. We [should] not have our country’s vigor exhausted, or her moral force abated, by everlasting meddling and muddling in every quarrel, great and small, which afflicts the world….
—Henry Cabot Lodge, 1919 speech explaining his objections to the League of Nations

America has arisen to a position where she is respected and admired by the entire world. She did it by minding her own business… the European and American systems do not agree.
—William Borah, 1919 speech in Brooklyn opposing the League of Nations


  1. On what important ideas do all speakers agree?
  2. How do they differ in their interpretations of the best ways to achieve these principles?