Wilson and Roosevelt's Experiences With War Essays

Wilson and Roosevelt's Experiences With War Essays

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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, ...

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...sm was growing less and less practical as World War II continued to rage on. The world had changed since Wilson’s presidency. Wilson had believed that World War I was the “war to end all wars,” that the creation of an international institution such as the League of Nations would help ensure that such a bloody, global conflict would not occur again. The onset of World War II proved that World War I had not solved the world’s problems, which Roosevelt recognized. For Roosevelt, it appeared that Wilsonian solutions were ineffective, and cooperation among the world powers was the way in which peace would be found. While Wilson had believed that the League of Nations would create a world in which war would not have to be waged, Roosevelt’s idealism turned to realism as he watched the Second World War tear apart not only the League, but the entire European continent.

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