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March 1, 1997
Treaty of Versailles: Who was at fault for its denial?
The Treaty of Versailles, which was a peace treaty that called for the end of World
War 1(between Germany and the Allies), was defeated in the Senate by an unknown
alliance of two forces. The two forces were President Wilson?s ?all or nothing? attitude
and the strong opponents of the Treaty in the Senate.
William Borah (Sen, Idaho), one of the ?irreconcilables?, brings out a clear
weakness in the Covenant of the League of Nations in his speech to the Senate. The
weakness is that will any country really feel comfortable, or approve of, another country?s
government dealing with their domestic affairs and concerns, especially if they have an
army to support whatever they decide. He also brings up a point that no one would
approve of a tribunal, with 41 other nations in it, to settle a problem that might arise
between members of the nation because what one nation sees a vital, another nation may
see as wasteful, which might just lead to another World War. The League as he describes
it is contradictorial in all that it is to accomplish (?force to destroy force, conflict to
prevent conflict, militarism to destroy militarism, war to prevent war?) and it can?t work
like that because it has no authority to back up its own judgment. This goes against
Wilson?s idea of the League because he helped create it and it is a very important and big
step to him in creating a worldwide government (Doc A)
The Treaty as portrayed in The New Republic is useless, which is a strong reason it
shouldn?t be passed. It wasn?t useless in the sense that it would officially end the war, but
in a sense that it would not ?moralize nationalism?. The moralization of nationalism could
be achieved by ending the separation of classes and ambitions that could only be enjoyed
by some, not all, people in the country. According to the journalist the Treaty doesn?t
make even a bland attempt to solve these problems, and that it, in fact, promotes and
heightens those differences of opinion between the nations. (Doc B)
In a general speech given by Wilson, he provides that Article X, which morally
bound the U.S. to aid any member of the League victimized by external aggression, is the
?inevitable, logical center to the whole system of the Covenant of the League of Nations?.
Although he supports it, he feels he is not at fault if the Covenant isn?t correct. On
another separate occasion, Wilson defended that Article X morally, not legally, bound the
U.S. to aiding other victimized nations, ergo the U.S. didn?t have to help who they didn?t
want to help. Article X angered Congress because they wanted to reserve their
constitutional right of declaring war to themselves. Article X also enraged the great-
grandson of George Cabot, Henry Cabot Lodge (R, Idaho). He so disliked Article X that
he made his own reservation to it, which provided that the U.S. has no obligation to get
involved with the affairs of any other country. His reservation would later be turned down
by Congress. (Doc C)
Herbert Hoover correctly advises President Wilson to, in so many words, to hurry
up and do something to approve the treaty in the Senate or it will never get passed. He
gives this advice to President Wilson because he knows that Lodge is effectively using
delay tactics, such as reading the whole 264- page treaty aloud to the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, to divide and sway public opinion about the Treaty to his favor.
Although he is pleased with the concern the government is giving to the treaty, he feels
their could be improvements and if these improvements aren?t quick in happening, then
the very necessary public opinion of the Americans will start to go against the treaty
because of the many ?wrongs imposed in the Treaty? and Lodge?s active lobbyism. When
popular public opinion goes, in most cases, so does the bill. (Doc D)
The cartoon (Doc E) shows how the Republicans felt about not being involved in
the peace proceedings in Paris. When Wilson went to Paris, his delegation included not a
single Republican which greatly infuriated them. He did not even consult the Republican
leadership in the Senate about the peace negotiations, which was also an insult to the
Republicans. Among the leading Republicans was Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts,
who was also the chairman of the Senate Committee on foreign relations.
Lodge and Wilson were the two great minds of U.S. politics at the time so they were
naturally against each other because of their different partisan roots. Wilson?s decision
would prove to be fatal to his cause because the Senate majority belonged to the
Republicans, which meant that the Treaty would not probably pass without a lot of their
In his Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keyes argues that
Germany should have to repay the United States and other Allies for the damages they
caused to them during the war. This was necessary, economically, for the U.S. and the
rest of the Allies because the Allies needed the money from Germany to pay off their
wartime debts to America and America needed the money so they wouldn?t have to use
taxpayer?s dollars to pay for the debt. This would actually go against the Wilson
supported idea of Article X because America would morally have to help Germany out
because they did damage to Germany and Germany was damaged the most by the war!
(Doc G) ( This issue would later be solved by the Dawes Plan of 1924, in which
American money was cycled around the world as loans, back to the U.S. Treasury as debt
W.E.B. DuBois, editor of Crisis magazine, blamed both Wilson and his opponents
as the main reasons that the U.S. is not in the League of Nations, in his article ?The
League of Nations?. He compares the U.S. government to the other governments of the
League and the U.S. government comes out looking very silly. He makes an interesting,
but all too true point, that one nation can?t control the world or just stay out of it, which
the twin tower forces are causing to happen. (Doc H)
Jane Addams? view of the League of Nations catastrophe is actually quite similar
to DuBois?, but in a different way. She has found that the joining of the League by signing
the Treaty is a very difficult question to answer because of the multiverse of opinion. The
members of the Women?s Peace Party knew there was a lot more effort needed to push
forth for a sufficient international organization, but what type of effort would everyone
approve? The question of the Treaty was an answerless idea among her group and among
the government also, which had answers but different ones that they couldn?t agree upon.
Although Wilson and his opposing forces were clearly against each other on their
views of the whole Treaty of Versailles issue, they ended up being the main reason for the
failure of it in America. They both wanted to pass the Treaty but only with their own
certain reservations or without reservations. Either way they could never agree upon it in
America. The strong division of the public opinion and the twin towers proved to be too
much for the Treaty to be approved in the United States.
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