Edited by Gerald Boerner
During the first vote on the ratification of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles that included the League of Nations, a coalition of Republicans lead by Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge and Democrats almost gathered the two-thirds vote to successfully ratify the treaty. This ratification would have been with the modification to Article X which related to the deployment of League of Nations peacekeeping forces without Senate confirmation. The failure to ratify left the end of World War I “hanging”.
President Wilson’s campaign for popular support for the League of Nations was cut short by a stroke. When Harding won the presidency in 1920, his isolationist stand bode poorly for another chance for ratification; the previous coalition was no longer intact. The Knox-Porter Resolution was passed the accept the terms of the armistice to formerly end our involvement in World War I. We had reentered our national cocoon!
The Treaty of Versailles was ratified by the other allies. And almost more important than the treaty was the creation of the League of Nations. Even though the latter was limited by the absence of the United States, the mandates included the protection of the French and British empires an the division of the German colonies between the two victors.
The hard lesson to learn from this experience still haunts us. We are a world power, but are somewhat capricious our exercise of that power. We have been involved in regional undeclared wars that drain our resources but don’t necessarily enhance our standing in the international community. Someday we will perhaps learn our lesson.
So, let’s start our exploration of the role of Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge in the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 3109 Words ]
Quotations Related to HENRY CABOT LODGE:
“I would rather see the United States respected than loved by other nations.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
“Recognition of belligerency as an expression of sympathy is all very well.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
“We should never suffer Cuba to pass from the hands of Spain to any other European power.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
“But it is well to remember that we are dealing with nations every one of which has a direct individual interest to serve, and there is grave danger in an unshared idealism.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
“Contrast the United States with any country on the face of the earth today and ask yourself whether the situation of the United States is not the best to be found.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
“I have loved but one flag and I can not share that devotion and give affection to the mongrel banner invented for the League of Nations.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
“If a man is going to be an American at all let him be so without any qualifying adjectives, and if he is going to be something else, let him drop the word American from his personal description.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
“Are ideals confined to this deformed experiment upon a noble purpose, tainted, as it is, with bargains and tied to a peace treaty which might have been disposed of long ago to the great benefit of the world if it had not been compelled to carry this rider on its back?”
— Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge & 2nd Rejection of Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties. Although the armistice signed on 11 November 1918 ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on October 21, 1919, and was printed in The League of Nations Treaty Series.
Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required Germany to accept sole responsibility for causing the war and, under the terms of articles 231–248 (later known as the War Guilt clauses), to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions and pay heavy reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. The total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion Marks (then $31.4 billion, £6,600 million) in 1921 which is roughly equivalent to US$ 385 billion in 2011, a sum that many economists at the time, notably John Maynard Keynes, deemed to be excessive and counterproductive and would have taken Germany until 1988 to pay. The final payments ended up being made on 4 October 2010, the twentieth anniversary of German reunification, and some ninety-two years after the end of the war for which they were exacted. The Treaty was undermined by subsequent events starting as early as 1932 and was widely flouted by the mid-1930s.
Although US President Woodrow Wilson had secured his proposal for a League of Nations in the final draft of the Treaty of Versailles, the U.S. Senate refused to consent to the ratification of the Treaty. For many Republicans in the Senate, Article X was the most objectionable provision. Their objections were based on the fact that, by ratifying such a document, the United States would be bound by international contract to defend a League of Nations member if it was attacked. Henry Cabot Lodge from Massachusetts and Frank B. Brandegee from Connecticut led the fight in the US Senate against ratification, believing that it was best not to become involved in international conflicts. Under the United States Constitution, the President of the United States may not ratify a treaty unless the U.S. Senate, by a two-thirds vote, gives its advice and consent. Because the Senate would not support ratification, the U.S. never joined the League of Nations, hampering the League’s credibility as a mediator of world conflict.
Henry Cabot Lodge (1850 – 1924) was an American statesman, a Republican politician, and a noted historian from Massachusetts. While the title was not official, he is considered to be one of the first Senate Majority leaders and was the first Senate Republican Leader, while serving concurrently as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. He is best known for his positions on foreign policy, especially his battle with President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 over the Treaty of Versailles, which the United States Senate never ratified.
United States Rejects Treaty of Versailles
The Republican Party, led by Henry Cabot Lodge controlled the United States Senate after the election of 1918, but the Senators were divided into multiple positions on the Versailles question. It proved possible to build a majority coalition, but impossible to build a two thirds coalition that was needed to pass a treaty.
An angry bloc of 12-18 "Irreconcilables", mostly Republicans but also representatives of the Irish and German Democrats, fiercely opposed the Treaty. One block of Democrats strongly supported the Versailles Treaty, even with reservations added by Lodge. A second group of Democrats supported the Treaty but followed Wilson in opposing any amendments or reservations. The largest bloc, led by Senator Lodge, comprised a majority of the Republicans. They wanted a treaty with reservations, especially on Article X, which involved the power of the League Nations to make war without a vote by the United States Congress. All of the Irreconcilables were bitter enemies of President Wilson, and he launched a nationwide speaking tour in the summer of 1919 to refute them. However, Wilson collapsed midway with a serious stroke that effectively ruined his leadership skills.
The closest the Treaty came to passage, came on November 19, 1919, as Lodge and his Republicans formed a coalition with the pro-Treaty Democrats, and were close to a two thirds majority for a Treaty with reservations, but Wilson rejected this compromise and enough Democrats followed his lead to permanently end the chances for ratification.
Among the American public as a whole, the Irish Catholics and the German Americans were intensely opposed to the Treaty, saying it favored the British.
After Wilson’s successor Warren G. Harding continued American opposition to the League of Nations, Congress passed the Knox-Porter Resolution bringing a formal end to hostilities between the United States and the Central Powers. It was signed into law by Harding on 21 July 1921.
Wilson’s former friend Edward Mandell House, present at the negotiations, wrote in his diary on 29 June 1919:
I am leaving Paris, after eight fateful months, with conflicting emotions. Looking at the conference in retrospect, there is much to approve and yet much to regret. It is easy to say what should have been done, but more difficult to have found a way of doing it. To those who are saying that the treaty is bad and should never have been made and that it will involve Europe in infinite difficulties in its enforcement, I feel like admitting it. But I would also say in reply that empires cannot be shattered, and new states raised upon their ruins without disturbance. To create new boundaries is to create new troubles. The one follows the other. While I should have preferred a different peace, I doubt very much whether it could have been made, for the ingredients required for such a peace as I would have were lacking at Paris.
Henry Cabot Lodge and the Treaty of Versailles
The summit of Lodge’s Senate career came in 1919, when as the unofficial Senate majority leader, he tried to secure approval of the Treaty of Versailles and clear the way for American entry into the League of Nations, despite his personal reservations. Lodge made it clear that the United States Congress would have the final authority on the decision to send American armed forces on a combat or a peacekeeping mission under League auspices.
Lodge maintained that membership in the world peacekeeping organization would threaten the political freedom of the United States by binding the nation to international commitments it would not or could not keep. Lodge did not, however, object to the United States interfering in other nations’ affairs, and was in actuality a proponent of imperialism (see Lodge Committee for further explanation). In fact, Lodge’s key objection to the League of Nations was Article X, the provision of the League of Nations charter that required all signatory nations to make efforts to repel aggression of any kind. Lodge perceived an open-ended commitment to deploy soldiers into conflict regardless of it being relevant to the national security interests of the United States. He did not want America to have this obligation unless Congress approved. Lodge was also motivated by political concerns; he strongly disliked President Wilson and was eager to find an issue for the Republican Party to run on in the presidential election of 1920.
Senator Lodge argued for a powerful American role in world affairs:
The United States is the world’s best hope, but if you fetter her in the interests and quarrels of other nations, if you tangle her in the intrigues of Europe, you will destroy her powerful good, and endanger her very existence. Leave her to march freely through the centuries to come, as in the years that have gone. Strong, generous, and confident, she has nobly served mankind. Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance; this great land of ordered liberty. For if we stumble and fall, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin.
Lodge appealed to the patriotism of American citizens by objecting to what he saw as the weakening of national sovereignty: "I have loved but one flag and I can not share that devotion and give affection to the mongrel banner invented for a league."
The Senate was divided into a "crazy-quilt" of positions on the Versailles question. It proved possible to build a majority coalition, but impossible to build a two thirds coalition that was needed to pass a treaty. One block of Democrats strongly supported the Versailles Treaty. A second group of Democrats supported the Treaty but followed Wilson in opposing any amendments or reservations. The largest bloc, led by Lodge, comprised a majority of the Republicans. They wanted a Treaty with reservations, especially on Article X, which involved the power of the League Nations to make war without a vote by the United States Congress. Finally, a bi-partisan group of 13 "irreconcilables" opposed a treaty in any form. The closest the Treaty came to passage came in mid-November, 1919, was when Lodge and his Republicans formed a coalition with the pro-Treaty Democrats, and were close to a two thirds majoriy for a Treaty with reservations, but Wilson rejected this compromise. Cooper and Bailey suggest that Wilson’s stroke on Sept 25, 1919, had so altered his personality that he was unable to effectively negotiate with Lodge. Cooper says the psychological effects of a stroke were profound: "Wilson’s emotions were unbalanced, and his judgment was warped….Worse, his denial of illness and limitations was starting to border on delusion." The Treaty of Versailles went into effect but the United States did not sign it, and made separate peace with Germany and Austria-Hungary. The League of Nations went into operation, but the United States never joined. The League was ineffective in dealing with major issues, which some observers attribute to the American failure to join. In 1945 it was replaced by the United Nations, which assumed many of the League’s procedures and peacekeeping functions, although Article X of the League of Nations was notably absent from the UN mandate. That is, the UN was structured in accordance with Lodge’s plan, with the United States having a veto power in the UN which it did not have in the old League of Nations. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Lodge’s grandson, served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1953 to 1960.
The Final Nail: Warren Harding Wins in 1920
Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865 — 1923) was the 29th President of the United States (1921-1923). A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate (1899–1903), as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio (1903–1905) and as a U.S. Senator (1915–1921). He was also the first incumbent United States Senator and the first newspaper publisher to be elected President.
His conservativism, affable manner, and ‘make no enemies’ campaign strategy made Harding the compromise choice at the 1920 Republican National Convention. During his presidential campaign, in the aftermath of World War I, he promised a return of the nation to "normalcy". This "America first" campaign encouraged industrialization and a strong economy independent of foreign influence. Harding departed from the progressive movement that had dominated Congress since President Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1920 election, he and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge, defeated Democrat and fellow Ohioan James M. Cox, in the largest presidential popular vote landslide in American history (60.36% to 34.19%) since first recorded in 1824.
President Harding rewarded friends and political contributors, referred to as the Ohio Gang, with financially powerful positions. Scandals and corruption eventually pervaded his administration; one of his own cabinet and several of his appointees were eventually tried, convicted, and sent to prison for bribery or defrauding the federal government. Harding did however make some notably positive appointments to his cabinet.
In foreign affairs, Harding spurned the League of Nations, and signed a separate peace treaty with Germany and Austria, formally ending World War I. He also strongly promoted world Naval disarmament at the 1921–22 Washington Naval Conference, and urged U.S. participation in a proposed International Court. Domestically, Harding signed the first child welfare program in the United States and dealt with striking workers in the mining and railroad industries. The nation’s unemployment rate dropped by half during Harding’s administration. In August 1923, President Harding suddenly collapsed and died during a stop in California on a return trip from Alaska. He was succeeded by Vice President, Calvin Coolidge.
Polls of historians and scholars have consistently ranked Harding as one of the worst Presidents. His presidency has been recently evaluated in terms of presidential record and accomplishments in addition to the administration scandals. The most recent Presidential rankings have had various low results for President Harding.
Please take time to further explore more about TREATY OF VERSAILLES,
HENRY CABOT LODGE, KNOX-PORTER RESOLUTION, UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE PHILIOOINES, STAB-IN-THE-BACK LEGEND, WOODROW
WILSON, and WARREN G. HARDING by accessing the Wikipedia
articles referenced below…
Other Events on this Day:
Edward Smith steals $245,000 from the City Bank in downtown New York, the first recorded bank robbery in American history.
The first U.S. air combat mission begins as the First Areo Squadron takes off from Columbus, New Mexico, in the expedition to catch Pancho Villa.
The U.S. Senate votes 49-35 to reject the Treaty of Versailles for the second time, largely because of objections voiced by Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge over the potential for the League of Nations to involve the United States in wars contrary to its own national interest.
The one millionth Jeep, originally produced as a “general purpose” vehicle for the U.S. Army, is manufactured.
With Bob Hope hosting, the Academy Awards ceremony is televised for the first time. Thirty-four million Americans watch as Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth takes home the award for best picture during the NBC television broadcast.
The U.S. House begins televising its day-to-day business on C-SPAN.
President George W. Bush announces in a televised speech that Operation Iraqi Freedom has begun, an American-led coalition launches a war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the bombing of Baghdad.
Dates and events based on:
William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Treaty of Versailles…
Wikipedia: Henry Cabot Lodge…
Wikipedia: Knox-Porter Resolution…
Wikipedia: United States Senate Committee on the Philippines…
Wikipedia: Stab-in-the-back Legend…
Wikipedia: Woodrow Wilson…
Wikipedia: Warren G. Harding…
WikiQuote: Henry Cabot Lodge…
Brainy Quote: HENRY CABOT LODGE Quotes…
Other Posts on related Topics:
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Senate Fails to Ratify Treaty of Versailles & League of Nations…
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Woodrow Wilson: Navigating U.S. into International Waters…
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: League of Nations: Enforcing Peace in the New World Order…