December 13, 1918 – President Wilson Arrives in France to Negotiate For The Treaty of Versailles

On this day in history, Woodrow Wilson became the first U.S. President to visit Europe while in office. He came to France to participate in treaty negotiations to end World War I. In preparation, he compiled “Fourteen Points” which he advocated to be included in the treaty. Most of Wilson’s Fourteen Points were abandoned, but the resulting Treaty of Versailles did include his proposal for the establishment of a world organization to provide a system of collective security for all nations; this organization came to be known as the League of Nations. You can read the full text of the Fourteen Points here.

President Wilson in Paris with French President Raymond Poincaré, December 14, 1918

President Wilson in Paris with French President Raymond Poincaré, December 14, 1918

The Treaty of Versailles was only one of the peace treaties that concluded World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers and was signed on June 28, 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties.

393px-Treaty_of_Versailles,_English_version

The treaty was so-named because it was signed at the Versailles Palace near Paris. The Palace was considered the most appropriate venue because of its size – hundreds of people were involved in the process, and the Hall of Mirrors could accommodate all the relevant dignitaries for the final signing ceremony. You can read the text of the Treaty of Versailles here.

Versailles Hall of Mirrors

Versailles Hall of Mirrors

The U.S. Senate refused to adopt the treaty or join the League of Nations. Instead, the U.S. negotiated its own settlement with Germany in 1921. You can read the text of that treaty, signed between Germany and the U.S., here.

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