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Rejecting the United States of the World: The consequences of Woodrow Wilson's new diplomacy on the 1921 Immigration Act

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In January 1919 Woodrow Wilson attended the Paris Peace Conference to thrash out terms for the end of the world's most bloody war to that date. Wilson arrived with a plan for a permanent end to war as a means of settling international disputes. Central to this desire was a belief in international law, which would be backed by an international police body the League of Nations. During and after the Conference, Wilson's ambitions ran into increasing opposition. When domestic considerations led to the failure of his Treaty plans, the United States entered a period of introspection and isolation. This study argues that Wilson's actions in Paris and his attempts to sell his plans to America in the following months made the passage of the 1921 Immigration Act, with its quotas on Europeans, inevitable. Where other studies have placed the War itself in the central position in the change of heart behind the limitation of European immigrants, this study sees the peace as equally important.

Keywords: American history; Great War; Paris Peace Conference 1919; Woodrow Wilson; immigration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Exeter.

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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