World War I was called the War to End all Wars. It claimed the lives of eight and a half million men, another twenty-one million wounded, and seven million missing in action. The United States had fought in the war for just over a year. As the war was closing down President Woodrow Wilson began planning his new League of Nations.
The League of Nations had one single purpose; to prevent the destruction of peace and the outbreak of another world war. Unfortunately for Wilson, America was not able to look upon the league with acceptance. The reason America did not join the league was because of the "well known" article 10, which stated that the League would perform any action deemed necessary to restore peace.
The League of Nations existed from 1920 until 1946, when the United Nations replaced it. This occurred after the Second World War, and America accepted membership. Why was the United States able to accept the UN while they rejected the League of Nations time and time again?
During the time period of World War I the United States remained as isolated as possible. They only fought in the war because they were directly threatened by Germany in the Zimmerman Telegram. When the war was over, America wished to stay to themselves. Wilson was seen as a dreamer and the citizens saw no future in his idea of a "League of Nations." America also did not want to be held to Article 10 and be forced to fight another nation's war.
After the conclusion of World War I, Germany was driven farther and farther into poverty by the Allied Powers who demanded over thirty-six billion dollars in damage payments. Different countries seized parts of Germany's territory as a penalty. France was the most guilty of this act by taking large areas of the Rhine area and controlling all of Germany's colonies in Africa. Because of Germany's social state the people looked for someone who could save them. The person they saw was Adolf Hitler.
When World War II broke out it marked the failure of the League of Nations. This was later blamed on the United States, saying if they had joined the League would have succeeded. The American's joined the war in December of 1941. By the time the war was over the United States was exhausted. For almost four years American soldiers had been fighting. Women worked in factories to produce ammunition and artillery for the war purpose. All of the United States industry was producing war materials. When the war ended it was a great celebration for the US.
In late 1945 when the idea of the United Nations was mentioned America paid little attention. They were glad the war was over, the soldiers were home, and the economy was rising. The war had ended America's Great Depression and for the first time ever America was referred to as a Super Power. The new United Nations became a comfort to other countries against the atomic scare.
America felt little need to neither agree nor disagree with the function of the UN. When it was decided that the United Nations would be located at home in New York, America felt it would do no harm. Because there was no major disagreement with the UN it was accepted by the United States. With the power for the Security Council to veto any military action, America had little to lose by joining the United Nations. The simple act of veto made the difference between the League of Nations and the United Nations.