Wilson vs conservative and Liberals
It was the strength of the opposition forces, both liberal and conservative, rather than the ineptitude and stubbornness of President Wilson that led to the Senate defeat of the Treaty of Versailles. Using the documents and your knowledge of the period 1917-1921, assess the validity of this statement. The statement “It was the strength of the opposition forces, both liberal and conservative, rather than the ineptitude and stubbornness of President Wilson that led to the Senate defeat of the Treaty of Versailles.
Is only somewhat valid. While the strength of the opposition forces played a large part in the defeat of the Treaty of Versailles, but the fact that Wilson was the leader of one side of the opposition and he told his side not to compromise could serve as testament that his stubbornness was what cause the defeat for the treaty. It was Wilson’s stubbornness that led to the formation of such strong opposition forces, which ultimately led to the defeat of the the treaty of Versailles.
In order to understand the situation that led to the defeat of the treaty, it is necessary to identify what the sticking point was. In this case it was Article X of the Treaty which would commit US troops to involvement in foreign affairs if another member of the league was threatened. While President Wilson called this a war of keeping the world safe for democracy so he could justify having sent troops over to Europe in the Great War (Document C) many viewed it was a marriage of America to Foreign entanglements (Document E).
However Document E shows a figure labeled “US Senate” bursting through the window trying to stop this marriage. The main issue in the senate was the commitment of US troops to foreign conflicts. This issue caused Henry Cabot Lodge to lead the Republicans in the house to demand that Wilson edit this provision of the treaty. In response to this demand Wilson urged Democrats in the Senate to accept no compromises and to only offer to ratify the treaty as it was.
If the Republicans had accepted the treaty as it was, then the League of Nations might have been more successful but American troops may have died in conflicts that with out the treaty, the United States would not have been part of, on the other hand had Wilson accepted this revision, it might show that the United States did not put faith in the League of Nations, but the United State’s failure to ratify would, in the end, doom the League of Nations to fail.
In conclusion the statement of “It was the strength of the opposition forces, both liberal and conservative, rather than the ineptitude and stubbornness of President Wilson that led to the Senate defeat of the Treaty of Versailles. ” is not entirely valid. Had the two sides worked together to try to reach some middle ground, then maybe the treaty might have been ratified, but Wilson and Lodge were unwilling to compromise and therefore set the League of Nations up for failure, and put the world one step closer to a second world war.