World War I officially ended on November 11, 1918 when allied leaders signed an armistice with the Triple Alliance. The armistice was signed in a railroad car in a forest in France near the front line. “The war to end all wars” was finally over. Over 6.6 million civilians and 8 million soldiers were killed. Much of Europe had been destroyed; Great Britain and France were hit especially hard. But what happened after the war?
- Leaders in Europe and the U.S. hoped to prevent wars in the future. President Wilson wrote a document called the Fourteen Points outlining his ideas for keeping peace. The Germans liked the plan; the French, British, and Republicans here in the U.S. thought it was too lenient on the Germans.
- The armistice that ended the war was based on Wilson’s Fourteen Points. It said that only elected governments could sign peace treaties. It also said that people from the same national and cultural background could create their own nation.
- It also called for the creation of a world organization, the League of Nations.
- During the Treaty of Versailles, President Wilson met with European leaders to hammer out an agreement based on the Fourteen Points. The French and the British agreed with some of the points but disagreed with others. Ultimately, a compromise was reached.
- Wilson had hoped for lenient treatment of Germany, but the country lost one-eighth of its land and all its colonies. Allied troops remained in Germany and the country was required to pay for the damage caused by the war.
- Before the war, much of Europe was part of four huge empires – the German, Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires. After the war, new countries were formed based on the national identities of the people that lived in those areas. The new countries included Finland, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Yugoslavia.
- In the United States, people were unenthused about the Treaty of Versailles. In particular, they worried that participation in the League of Nations might lead to Americans being involved in more wars. President Wilson pushed hard for America to join the league, but the Senate voted no.
- Armistice: an agreement between two warring parties to stop fighting temporarily
- Lenient: lax; not strict
- Civilian: non-military person
Questions and Answers
Question: Did the American public support President Wilson’s plan?
Answer: In general, no. Many political leaders were against America joining the League of Nations so President Wilson tried to drum up support with the American people. He visited 29 cities in 22 days talking with people about his plan. In Colorado, the president became ill and later suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed.
Visit the BBC to learn much more about World War 1.
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Tobin, Declan. (2019). Kids Facts about World War I - American During The Aftermath. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/world-war-aftermath/