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Woodrow Wilson. The absence of the United States in the League of Nations led to its failure and quite possibly, the Second World War. Why did the man who had invented the League fail to persuade the Senate to ratify it? In the modern time period, histori

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Introduction

After the First World War, American President Woodrow Wilson travelled to Paris to try and make peace. He later presented the Treaty of Versailles to the United States Senate containing the Covenant of the League of Nations and asked "Dare we reject it and break the heart of the world?" 1 The Senate rejected the Treaty and together, they did in fact break the heart of the world. The absence of the United States in the League of Nations led to its failure and quite possibly, the Second World War. Why did the man who had invented the League fail to persuade the Senate to ratify it? In the modern time period, historians have examined and debated the reasons why Woodrow Wilson failed to gain the United States' membership into the League of Nations. Historians such as Ralph A. Stone believed it was American foreign policy violations and the politics of the United States and its Senate that caused the entrance to fail. However, it is possible that it was Wilson's inflexibility to compromise with Senator Henry Cabot Lodge's fourteen reservations that led to the United States Senate to decline membership into the League of Nations? Stone argues Wilson stated many times that Article 102 was "the very backbone of the Covenant." ...read more.

Middle

It was not. Historian Stone argued that American isolationists in the past had equal responsibility of defeat of the League as men who were still alive.12 Wilson claimed that the moral influence of what he was trying to accomplish should be enough to persuade the Senate to support him. Perhaps it was the ambiguity of Article 10 that allowed its opposition to stand against it, if Wilson had explained the nature of the obligations of Article 10 with more clarity, the Senate might have agreed to it. Article 10 was known by historians as "the stumbling block" 13 that prevented America's membership to the League. The Democratic President had a disadvantage from the very beginning having minority seats in the Senate. The different parties had opposite ideologies of isolationism and were abrupt to oppose each other. Wilson might have had a better chance of persuading the Republicans if he had brought a senior party member to Paris with him. Moreover, no steps had been taken by the Democrats to reach an understanding with the Republicans wanting mild reservations on Article 10. There was no way the two parties could have made an agreement, in that case the majority Republicans overrode the Democrats. Furthermore the fact that a majority of the Congress can declare war but two-thirds of the Senate votes required to end a war is completely absurd. ...read more.

Conclusion

Traditional foreign policies such as isolationism and written in the Monroe Doctrine all opposed Article 10 of the Covenant. Wilson failed to make the wording clear. The Republican majority in the Senate opposed Article 10. Wilson failed to persuade them to his own mindset. However, the most notable error that Wilson made; the issue that he had the most control over was compromising with Lodge's reservations. He failed to do so and the vote for the Treaty of Versailles was not enough for ratification. If Wilson did accept the reservations, it would have partially satisfied most of the politicians and pleased the majority of the American people. By being idealistic and stubborn, Woodrow Wilson was the League's most devoted defender but also its worst enemy. Appendix Appendix A Article 10 The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled "The Avalon Project: The Versailles Treaty June 28, 1919." Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy. Yale Law School. 10 Apr. 2009 <http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/parti.asp>. ...read more.

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