The Foreign Policy of Woodrow Wilson, Part I: The First World War

Esmond Wright offers a study of the steps by which the political moralist, who was President of the United States between 1912 and 1920, found himself reluctantly drawn from high-principled neutrality into a crusading intervention on behalf of democracy.

Esmond Wright | Published in History Today

One of the most curious phenomena in the writing of recent American history is the failure of American historians to agree on a verdict on Woodrow Wilson. This is the more surprising since for two decades now American Presidents have been, in their varied and at times conflicting ways, world leaders.

Isolationism is no longer fashionable, nor indeed tenable; those who in the past might have been its foremost advocates have recently been found on the Far Right, supporters of McCarthy, MacArthur or of brinkmanship in varied forms.

Historians, prompt to reflect the preoccupations of their own times—one has to understand the present, it is now fashionable to say, in order to understand the past—have in any event long been doubting the accuracy of isolationism as a description of American foreign policy.

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