Treaty of Versailles DBQ

8 August 2016

While Woodrow “Woody” Wilson was president of the United States, he managed to accomplish some unthinkable feats, such as fighting for the passage of the 19th Amendment (chartering women’s suffrage) and establishing order in the entropic territories such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic by dispatching US Marines in these places. However, due to weak judgement and intuition, as well as inexperience, “Woody,” made a feeble, manipulatable diplomat.

During the Paris Peace Conference and throughout the ratification process for the Treaty of Versailles, Wilson’s ineptitude and stubbornness towards the Republican Party ultimately led the US senate to shoot down the Treaty. Wilson’s perception of a necessary League of Nations and his ever present stubbornness weren’t the only factors in Wilson’s demise, he also was unable to predict failure brought on by an exclusively Democratic group of diplomatic advisors.

Treaty of Versailles DBQ Essay Example

Wilson completely excluded the Republicans when he failed to communicate with the Senate Majority Leader and the head of the Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs, Henry Cabot Lodge. A man Wilson could’ve potentially brought as an advisor, yet refused to even consult with before departing for his trip. When it was time for ratification, this proved to be a major hurdle for Wilson. Especially after the Republicans won the majority in the midterm elections in 1918. In Paris, representatives from foreign nations exploited Wilson’s vision for a necessary and proper League of Nations.

Foreign diplomats (Vittorio Orlando, David Lloyd George, George Clemenceau) began to dissect Wilson’s beloved 14 points, knowing that he will not be disturbed unless the provision for a League of Nations is removed. Many of his 14 points were dismissed without thought in the creation of the War Guilt Clause. It impeded Germany’s self determination in many variations, placed an economic barrier on Germany for they were burdened with paying for the war, and it took land from Germany. John Maynard Keynes detailed how frustrating Wilson’s Malleableness was to the US Senators and Civilians in Economic Consequences of Peace (Doc F).

The negotiation took place in Paris, which rendered the Senate useless in attempts to influence compromises. In Paris, Wilson’s stubbornness and diplomatic inexperience led to compromises that barely resembled his original 14 points, and ultimately led to the failure of the Treaty against the Senate. Wilson gave the Senate one ultimatum: reject the Treaty of Versailles, due mainly to the fact came into the US in late 1919 and disregarded reservations made by Senators as well as choosing to neglect popular sentiment.

Spending a majority of 1919 in Europe, Wilson didn’t realize that most Americans had moved passed the Treaty of Versailles and were more concerned with things like lynching and race-riots. Yet Wilson could’ve easily passed this magical Treaty through the Senate so long as he accommodated the “reservationist” senators by agreeing to manipulate Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations, preserving Congress’ power to declare war and approve of such declarations (Doc E).

Reservationist Senator, William Borah, actually pushed for engagement with the League of Nations in a speech given to the Senate in 1918 (Doc A). Although Wilson claimed the Article X wasn’t flawed and didn’t need changing (Doc C). Wilson then set out to use the bully pulpit in an attempt to make the Senate ratify the treaty using his “Appeal to the Country” speech (Doc G). A majority of Americans cared less about these speeches due to the frenzy of arising domestic/social issues.

Herbert Hoover, the leader of the Food Administration, recognized the quickly fading support that Wilson had. He urged President Wilson to accept the treaty with reservations before his support ran out (Doc D). Hoover’s predictions soon became reality, and Wilson lost support from congress. After suffering a stroke in 1920, Wilson told his wife to send a message to the Democratic Senators demanding they shan’t yield to the reservations Henry Cabot Lodge introduced. Three votes were initiated through Senate, and all three times the Treaty had no success.

Wilson’s inability to compromise with any others aside from his advisors made it impossible to find common ground within the Senate and ratify the Treaty. Wilson selfishly and boastfully selected his own, bias advisors before his travels to the Paris Peace Conference. Creating a rift between the ideals of Wilson and the ideals of the Senate as a whole. Wilson had multiple opportunities to be less inept. He could’ve consulted with Henry Cabot Lodge, which would’ve given him the support of reservationist Senators. Wilson ultimately was the main factor in the failure of the Treaty of Versailles.

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