Forming a League of Nations

Forming a League of Nations
Edith Wilson: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two to three class periods


   During World War I, which was a particuarly brutal war, Woodrow Wilson and other statesmen in Europe developed the idea for some kind of international body that could help preserve the peace once the war was over.  After the war, Wilson proposed, as part of the peace treaty (the Treaty of Versailles), that a League of Nations be established.  The United States refused to ratify the treaty, and thus, the League.  Hoping to rally the nation in his cause, Woodrow and Edith Wilson brought the idea to the people, traveling across the United States by train.  The Wilsons were ultimately unsuccessful, and the country had to wait a quarter of a century for the United Nations to be born.


Students will research the original language as composed by Woodrow Wilson in his League of Nations proposal.  Students will learn about the revisions of the original League of Nations as the United Nations was created.  

Materials Required:

Word processor (or paper and writing utensil) Internet access (If needed to further resources) League of Nations timeline link  Research materials and tools (books, websites, articles, etc.) Computer(s) Printer (to print final papers) PowerPoint for presentation  


1.  Introduce the historical era to the students and ask them to research some background on the League of Nations, using the first two websites listed below, as well as any print resources (texts) there are on hand.  

2.  Several student groups should continue the research, paying particular attention to the following questions:

  • What was Wilson's involvement in planning the League of Nations?
  • What enemies in the U.S. did Wilson have, who helped "torpedo" the League in the Congress?
  • What were the arguments for and against the League?
  • Why did the League ultimately fail?
  • What are some differences between the League and the United Nations?
  • Are the arguments against the League similar to today's arguments against the United Nations?


Extending the Lesson:

Students might use their knowledge to stage a mock United Nations meeting on a current topic.

Sources & Resources:




This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University