AP US History - Defeat of the Treaty of Versailles

Essay by SolidusHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2007

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Although the strength of the opposition forces, both liberal and conservative, contributed somewhat to the Senate defeat of the Treaty of Versailles through Lodge's fourteen reservations and political partisanship, it was to a greater extent the ineptitude and stubbornness of President Wilson, such as being unreasonable and hateful causing the Wilson-Lodge personal feud, which destroyed the treaty.

On November 11, 1918, the exhausted Germans surrendered to the Allied forces, ending World War I. Woodrow Wilson, having helped win the war, now wanted to shape the peace. Wilson's first inept mistake was deciding to go in person to Paris to help make the treaty; at that time no president had traveled to Europe, and Republicans were infuriated at his seemingly flamboyant grandstanding. He further ruffled Republican feathers when he snubbed the Senate in assembling his peace delegation and neglected to include a single Republican senator in his official party. He even excluded the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Henry Cabot Lodge.

President Wilson planted the seeds of Senate opposition to the treaty when he became a known Lodge-hater. The two now grew to be political enemies.

Wilson's ultimate goal was a world parliament to be known as the League of Nations, and he forced through a compromise between naked imperialism and Wilsonian idealism. Unfortunately, due to Wilson's unreasonable treaty, thirty-nine Republican senators or senators-elect - enough to defeat the treaty - proclaimed that the Senate would not approve the League of Nations in its existing imperfect form. William Borah explained in his speech to the United States senate in December 1918 that nobody will advocate the fact that "our people shall be submitted to a tribunal created other than by our own people and give it an international army subject to its direction and control to enforce...