Significant effects of World War I for Kids Illustration

Significant effects of World War I for Kids


For Kids

On January 8, 1918, US President Wilson gave a speech to the US Congress. His speech was about war aims and suggested peace terms to be used at the Paris Peace Conference, a conference called to create the treaty that would end the Great War, the Treaty of Versailles. Wilson wanted these points to be used as a blueprint for world peace and in Wilson's words, to "make the world safe for democracy". 

  • Points #1-5 (I-V) were recommendations for new international laws.
  • Points #6-13 (VI-XIII) were suggestions for the restructure of European nations' boundaries. 
  • Point #14 (XIV) was a recommendation to form the League of Nations.

Wilson's 14 Points, simplified for kids

I. No more secret treaties

II. Freedom of navigation upon the seas

III. Freedom of trade across borders

IV. Reduction of military and arms of all nations consistent with domestic safety.

V. Colonies should rule themselves

VI. Germany needs to get out of Russia, and Russia should rule herself

VII. Germany needs to get out of Belgium and Belgium should rule herself

VIII. All French territory should be freed, France liberated, and France should be allowed to recover Alsace-Lorraine

IX. All Italians are to be allowed to live in Italy

X. Self-determination should be allowed for all those living in Austria-Hungary

XI. Self-determination and guarantees of independence for the Balkan states and its borders re-drawn; Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea

XII. The Turks should rule Turkey

XIII. Poland should become independent and given a safe and free access to the sea

XIV. A League of Nations should be formed with all nations as members, great and small states alike

Were these 14 Points adopted by the US Congress? No.

Congress never voted to accept or reject Wilson's 14 Point Plan. This was not something that the US Congress could decide. Wilson's 14 Points was a plan or an outline of what Wilson believed would help to establish world peace. He wanted these points incorporated into a peace treaty to end the Great War.

Which of the 14 Points were included in the Treaty of Versailles? Almost none, and those that were adopted were twisted or limited.

According to the Treaty of Versailles, the peace treaty that ended the Great War (World War I,) some colonies were given independence but they all belonged to Germany. Armies were reduced, but only the Germany army, and the German navy was limited to 15,000 men. The Treaty of Versailles required Germany to give land back to Belgium, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Denmark. The formation of the League of Nations was included in the peace treaty, but Germany was not allowed to join.

The Allies wanted Germany punished. A hatred permeated the peace conference. Germany was not allowed to attend. Germany had to accept whatever the conference decided was fair. What the conference decided was fair was that the entire war was to be blamed on Germany. Per the terms of the treaty that Germany was forced to sign, Germany had pay for all damages. Germany was limited to a standing army of no more than 100,000 men and 15,000 men in the navy. Germany could not own any heavy artillery, tanks, submarines, military airplanes or poison gas. The Kaiser and others were to be treated as war criminals. As well, the Allies wanted borders rearranged to satisfy their personal goals, not borders that made sense based on ethnic groups. The treaty also stated that England and America would come to the aid of France if Germany were to attack again.

The US Congress did not agree with the terms of this treaty and did not approve it because Congress did not want to see the US pulled into European problems in the future. Congress voted against the US joining the League of Nations, and the US never joined.  

The treaty was approved by other Allies.

Why do we study Wilson's 14 Points if they were not implemented? Because ...

President Wilson tried to get other countries to accept a plan for world peace. It was idealistic. Even if adopted by the countries of the world, it might not have worked or might not have worked for long. But it was an attempt that had never been made before. Instead of a plan for peace, the representatives at the Paris Peace Conference, led by Britain and France, designed a cruel treaty based on their hatred of Germany and their belief that Germany should be severely punished. As a result, Germany found herself unable to recover economic stability after the Great War. The most significant effect of World War I was World War II.

The 14 Points, animation

Causes of World War I, how the 14 points were designed to correct those causes

The League of Nations debate, Wilson vs Lodge

The League of Nations (BBC Bitesize)

Problems with the 14 Points and the League of Nations (milestones, primary documents)

Which of the 14 Points were included in the Treaty of Versailles?

Reaction to the Treaty of Versailles (UK)

Wilson's 14 Points (Ducksters)

Wilson's 14 Points, Response from Congress and the World (AP)

Wilson's 14 Points, 1918 (US Office of the Historian)

The Treaty of Versailles for Kids

Effects of World War I


For Teachers: 14 Points Lesson Plan (mrdonn)