Versailles Peace Conference: A meeting of Allied Leaders

Woodrow WilsonDavid Lloyd George

On January 18, the “Big Four” leaders from the United States, President Woodrow Wilson; British Prime Minister David Lloyd George; French Premier Georges Clemenceau and Italian Premier Vittorio Orlando arrived in Paris to become the dominant players in the 1919 Paris Peace Conference – a meeting to settle issues following the end of World War I. Russia had withdrawn from the fighting and was not invited. Because Allied leaders held Germany responsible for the war, German leaders attended only the conclusion of the discussions.

Georges ClemenceauVittorio Orlando

 The conference ended approximately one year later when the League of Nations, an international organization adapted from one of President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points plan for peace, was organized.

"Big Four"

Wilson’s idealistic Fourteen Points generated heated opposition from Clemenceau and Lloyd George in particular as each disagreed on the details of how to proceed. Eventually, however, the League of Nations was formed in 1919-20 as an alternative to traditional diplomacy. The United States did not join, in part because of opposition and disagreement among a group of powerful U.S. senators led by Foreign Relations Committee Chair Henry Cabot Lodge. The discussions also resulted in the 1919 signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, the Treaty of Saint-Germain with Austria, and the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria.

Courtesy of The United States Library of Congress