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Woodrow Wilson and the Treaty of Versailles

55 min
  • What impact did President Woodrow Wilson’s approach to “advice and consent of the Senate” have on the fate of the Treaty of Versailles?

Students will:

  • Understand how the Constitution’s separation of powers influenced writing and debate on the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Analyze constitutional principles in primary source documents.
  • Evaluate political cartoons about the Treaty of Versailles ratification debate.
  • Assess Wilson’s approach to “advice and consent of the Senate.”

• Handout A: Woodrow Wilson, the Great War, and the Fourteen Points
• Handout B: Setting the Scene
• Handout C: Political Cartoon Analysis
• Handout D: Three Views on America’s Role

To create a context for this lesson, students complete Constitutional Connection: The President as Chief Diplomat.

Have students read Handout A: Woodrow Wilson, the Great War, and the Fourteen Points and answer the questions.

Assign three good readers to act out the scene on Handout B: Setting the Scene for the class. Encourage students to read dramatically.

Using available technology and/or by printing hard copies, project or distribute the political cartoon “Seein’ Things” found at Woodrow Wilson Speaking Tour Map: sos.oregon.gov/archives/exhibits/ww1/Pages/try-isolation.aspx.

Distribute Handout C: Political Cartoon Analysis. Have students analyze as a large group the political cartoon on their own paper using the questions on the Handout and any other ideas students have. See the Answer Key for suggested responses.

Follow the same process for the cartoons “Interrupting the Ceremony” and “The Lamb from the Slaughter.”

Using available technology and/or by printing hard copies, project or distribute the map of Wilson’s speaking tour through the United States.

Remind students what a departure from tradition was Wilson’s 8,000- mile, twenty-two day attempt to increase popular support for the Treaty of Versailles.

Ask the class: How did Wilson’s actions shape the President’s role as Chief Diplomat?

Have students complete Handout D: Three Views on America’s Role.

Have students write two to three paragraphs in response to the question: With respect to his role as chief diplomat and the Treaty of Versailles, what was Wilson’s greatest achievement? What was his greatest failure?

The League of Nations was formed, and the world’s leaders—minus the United States—attempted with no success to settle international crises. In 1945, at the end of World War II, the United States took the lead in establishing the United Nations. Have students research the history of the United Nations and assess that body in terms of its effectiveness as well as what Wilson might have said about it.