Critical Essay on Characteristics of American Democracy

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After raging tensions between two alliances, the triple entente and the triple alliance, World War I began. The main causes of World War I had an effect on the path the war would take us. Woodrow Wilson kept America out of the war for years but soon joined with multiple reasons that America would not tolerate. There were over 10 million military personnel casualties with Germany left in ruins. America is called the place of freedom, justice, and equality. They are known as the place of opportunity and the “land of the free.” Democracy is defined as,” a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”(Merriam Webster Dictionary) During the War, America tried to spread democracy as well as promote it there. While it is true America used its military sources to make the world safe for democracy, we failed to validate the rights of African Americans and refused to give women voting rights early on.

It is true that the United States had a good impact on fostering democracy during the war, and was able to end it within a year of joining. Before they entered, they fostered democracy throughout the countries. In Woodrow Wilson's speech ‘The Meaning of Liberty’ he says,” Now nobody anywhere would dare to doubt that we are independent and can maintain our independence.” Countries will now look at America as a strong government with democracy, and other countries would want to apply democracy to their government for how effective it is. America joined the war because of resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, the interception of the Zimmerman telegram, the sinking of the Lusitania, and the Russian Revolution. When America entered the war, it showed countries what a stable democratic government looks like, but World War I endangered the survival of democracy. In order to solve that Woodrow Wilson gave a speech titled ‘14 Points’ outlining an effective solution for lasting peace different from ‘The Treaty of Versailles’ which took a more non-democratic approach to create peace. He says,” Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas” and goes on to say,” The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers”, trying to spread and foster democracy throughout the nations. As Wilson does a good job broadening democracy outside of America, he protects democracy at home when he gives his ‘Declaration of Neutrality speech. The ‘Declaration of Neutrality’ was the formal statement given by Woodrow Wilson on August 4, 1914, that declared that America will remain neutral between any of the conflicts in Europe. Wilson says,” The spirit of this nation in this critical matter will be determined largely by what individuals and society and those gathered in the public meeting do and say”. Wilson is protecting democracy by allowing the people to have a say in the future of America. While Wilson protected democracy by allowing individuals to determine the spirit of the nation, he also grants women the right to vote through the 19th Amendment. In 1918 Wilson delivered a speech on Women's Suffrage and says,” it is now certain that other great free nations will enfranchise them”. Now that America has granted women the right to vote, other countries will think it is appropriate to enforce the right as well. He has once again made the world safe for democracy by letting all genders have equal rights through voting and teaching other countries that this is the change that should be made.

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However, America failed to give women voting during the war. Women should have been given the right to vote along with men when America wrote the Declaration of Independence. By delaying this right Wilson threatened democracy by not giving 50% of citizens a say in the government. He has also failed to foster democracy by other spreading the idea that women deserve the right to vote. They have treated women as if they need to be taken care of and can’t make decisions of their own. Sojourner Truth was a former African American slave who spoke publicly about women’s suffrage. Truth gave the speech ‘Ain’t I a Woman’ in 1827 and says,” That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches and to have the best place everywhere.” Truth expresses how America failed to give women the same amount of responsibility as men get. Sojourner Truth was also a former African American slave. African Americans also were not given the full rights of Americans.

So I maintain that America failed to protect and foster democracy because of the lack of rights given to women and African Americans. African Americans play a big role in our army yet we still discriminate against the in unjust ways. In W.E.B DuBois ‘Returning Soldiers’ from May 1919, he talks about how African Americans defend France from the Germans to the “last drop of blood”, and for “American and her highest deals”. He talks about how this country has good souls and times, but currently, it is “yet a shameful land”. DuBois goes on to say the country “steels from us”. He tries to say that America is stealing from its own citizens. At the end he states, “We return, We return from fighting, We return fighting, Make way for democracy”. Now the African Americans, after all of their hard fighting, will return to a home where they are discriminated against and mistreated. (W.E.B.DuBois,” Returning Soldiers”, the crisis, May 1919) America has failed to validate the rights of African Americans, failing to protect, foster, and make the world safe for democracy. They did the same to women again in the London anti-Slavery Convention held in 1840. In this convention women “could watch and listen from the spectator's gallery”. The men abolitionist objected to the participation of women which is failing to protect democracy, and let all humans despite gender have a say in the government's decisions.

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Critical Essay on Characteristics of American Democracy. (2023, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
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