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Wilson And Roosevelt's Experiences With War

1076 words - 4 pages

The presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt were, essentially, defined by their experiences with war. Wilson, after narrowly winning a second term in office in 1916, was faced with the onset of World War I. Roosevelt – first elected in 1932, the first of his four terms – entered office while the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression and then led the United States through most of World War II. Though the two world wars began in two very different international settings, the two presidents appeared to share an ideological view and supported the proposal of an international institution that could make the world safe for American democracy. Despite their similarities, however, Roosevelt’s views on international order changed as the United States entered the war. While both presidents had an idealist, Wilsonian view in regards to the international stage and, more specifically, international institutions, Wilson and Roosevelt differed slightly. Wilson fervently believed throughout his presidency that international institutions were necessary in the developing international scene, whereas Roosevelt, towards the end of his presidency, began to question Wilsonian vision. While Roosevelt’s opinion on international institutions shifted, however, the two presidents ultimately opened up the rest of the United States to Wilsonian thinking.
Wilson and Roosevelt both greatly supported the creation of the League of Nations and lobbied for the United States to become a member. Created in 1919 at the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, the League of Nations was the brainchild of President Wilson, who believed that such an institution would prevent war and protect democracy. The League, Wilson believed, would create a world in which war would not have to be waged, because there would always be peaceful resolutions to disputes (lecture). Americans were extremely hostile to the League, wary of the article – Article X – that seemed to commit the United States to participate in military defense to protect other states (lecture). Though Wilson continued to support the League of Nations through the end of his presidency in 1921, Americans remained unwilling to participate in the League Conference (lecture). Roosevelt, who became president in 1933, ran as an isolationist in order to gain votes, but was a Wilsonian at heart – and was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Wilson’s presidency. The Good Neighbor Policy that Roosevelt enacted during his first term is one that he hoped would make the western hemisphere a model for the rest of the world to admire (Ninkovich). Both presidents believed that an international institution such as the League of Nations was necessary to perpetuate peace and democracy in the world, but both had to concede to popular opinion among Americans.
Despite their similar visions and hopes for the global community, though, Wilson and Roosevelt differed significantly in that Wilson appeared...

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