AP US History

March 1, 1997

Period 4

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