Wilsons Fourteen Points were the basis for the later Treaty of Versailles. It was in fact what the Germans believed they would be signing. They were aggravated and disappointed when this was not the case. The Fourteen Points were presented to Congress on January 8, 1918. Their purpose was to eliminate the causes of WWI and avoid a conflict like it in the future.1

The Points were thus:
  • Alliances would be open as the secret alliances before WWI had drawn in many people that would have otherwise stayed out.
  • Here was to be a complete freedom of navigation as the arms race between Germany and Britain was one of the causes of WWI
  • Economic barriers between nations were to be barred.
  • Arms would be reduced as far as safe.
  • Colonial claims should be adjusted.
  • Russia should be evacuated and Russia would be able to decide its own future.
  • The same for Belgium
  • The same for France, along with returning Alsace-Lorraine to them.
  • Austria-Hungry was to be allowed to self-rule.
  • Romanian Serbian, and Montenegrin territory was to be evacuated and restored. Serbia would also be allowed to access the sea.
  • The Ottoman Empire should be broken up: Turkish areas would become Turkey, but other locations would be able to decide this for themselves. And the Straits of Constantinople would be open to all.
  • Poland would be created and be independent in areas distinctly Polish.
  • Finally, a league was to be created which gathered a group of nations together that would protect political independence and territory, which would eventually become the League of Nations.

Many of these ideas would hurt Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. And this fulfilled little of what France wanted in ways of security. Britain and France eventually agreed to everything except the freedom of seas and they wanted reparations from Germany. Germany and Austria-Hungary agreed in October 1918.2

However, there were some issues with the Fourteen Points. Dividing the Ottoman Empire into different states would not be so easily done as there were so many nationalities. Because of the certain economic problems after the war few would want to end tariffs. Countries would also be unwilling to abandon large armies. Wilson's Fourteen Points were based off of what he believed caused the war when in reality it may have been something entirely different that caused the war.3

Other powers were also not as lenient as Wilson. Italy's Prime Minister was desperate for more land to compensate its huge losses is in the war. From the Treaty of London Italy had also been promised Austria-Hungary. France's Prime Minister was more interested in ensuring France's safety from Germany and disliked what he called the 'Fourteen Commandments.'4 Britain's Prime Minister was more in agreeance with Wilson, but the press in Britain demanded the Kaiser be hanged and Germany punished. He also received a telegram that demanded Germany pay full reparations.5

In the end the only real part of Wilson’s points to follow through was the League of Nations.

1 Wolfson and Laver 142
2 Ibid 143
3 Ibid 144
4 Ibid 144
5 Ibid 144

Wolfson, Robert, and Laver, John. “Years of Change: European History, 1890-1945.” London. 2001