Should the US Have Joined the League of Nations: Argumentative Essay

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For the most part of the 1800s, the United States was mostly an isolationist nation overall. The United States then eventually started to get involved with foreign affairs and turned into more of an interventionist nation. After this occurred, there were many people who disagreed with the change and argued against it. Since there were people arguing against the change, that then created the need for supporters of the change from isolationism to interventionism to speak out and defend it. The switch from isolationism to interventionism was a necessary step in order for the United States to become the global leader that it is today because it allowed the United States to show its power when getting involved with affairs around the globe.

During World War I, after staying out of the war for nearly three years, President Woodrow Wilson came to realize that would no longer be an option after Germany attacked American ships and killed innocent American people. When he was talking about how Germany attacked and sank ships during his “Address to Congress” in 1917, he said, “The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it” (Wilson 71). He decided that Germany cannot go unpunished for the act of war that they committed against America. This decision is important because it shows that America will not stand idly by when it is being attacked. It also set a strong precedent for what to expect from America when another country has committed acts of war against them. President Wilson, who was reelected during the election of 1916 off of the platform of “he kept us out of war”, went on to state “With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragic character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than the war against the government and the people of the United States” (Wilson 71). This goes to show that if President Wilson, who started off his presidency as an isolationist, believed that America had to intervene in the war, then it was quite necessary to do so.

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Though America’s own President believed intervening was the right thing to do during World War I, not everyone did. One person who still believed isolationism was the better call, even in the aftermath of the war, was Senator William Borah. He believed that the United States should not join the League of Nations. In his “Senate Speech on the League of Nations”, he states that joining the League of Nations would be “in conflict with the right of our people to govern themselves free from all restraint, legal or moral, or foreign powers” (Borah 74). He goes on to say that not only would the League of Nations just pull in America to Europe’s problems, but it would pull in all the people of America as well into having to deal with European affairs, therefore stripping them of their independence. This argument seems fairly flimsy in that it is quite a reach to say that a citizen of a country who is involved in foreign affairs is no longer independent. He then also states that if America were to join the League of Nations and try to change Europe, then America “will end by becoming Europeanized in our standards and in our conceptions of civilization or we will fall into disintegration and as a Republic die” (Borah 74). In the end, he is warning that if America does join then “we shall return as our President returned from Versailles, stripped of our principles and shorn of our ideals” (Borah 74). In this statement, he is talking about how President Wilson had to compromise to get what he wanted most out of the Fourteen Points at the Paris Peace Conference. This argument that he is saying is quite weak. He is saying that if a person cannot force their desired solution on everyone involved in a conflict and they end up having to compromise, then they are totally changed and have different ideals.

In conclusion, it was necessary for the United States to make the swap from staying out of foreign affairs, such as it did throughout the 1800s, to intervening in them when it was necessary, like during World War I. This change allowed America to show how strong of a nation it truly was when it came down to getting involved with foreign affairs. This showing of power has definitely helped America in becoming the global leader that it is today. America’s intervention in World War I certainly affected America and the whole world for the better. If the United States would have stayed as an isolationist nation throughout everything, then it surely would not have ended up as powerful as it is today.

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Should the US Have Joined the League of Nations: Argumentative Essay. (2023, August 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
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