Wilson and Foreign Affairs
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Woodrow Wilson tended to regard himself as an expert in domestic matters and had no real experience in diplomacy. Nevertheless, world events would dictate the administration's agenda, not the president's preferences.
Wilson was not a great admirer of William Jennings Bryan, but felt indebted to him because of Bryan's support during the 1912 nominating convention. Wilson also recognized that Bryan remained a popular figure in some areas where Wilson himself lacked broad support. As a result, Bryan was rewarded with an appointment to head the Department of State.
The new secretary was an immediate target of the hostile Republican press, especially after he announced that intoxicating beverages would not be served at diplomatic functions. Bryan, an ardent prohibitionist, was accused of trying to conduct "grape juice diplomacy." He also came under criticism for continuing to accept fees for appearing on the Chatauqua lecture circuit, where he pressed his themes of prohibition and Biblical fundamentalism.
Wilsonian diplomacy began with an effort to avoid war through arbitration treaties, but it later encountered a series of complicating challenges in both hemispheres.
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