War by Act of Germany -To defend American interests short of war, the president asked Congress for authority to arm American merchant ships. -An obstruction of Midwestern senators was a reminder of the continuing strength of American isolationism. -The Zimmermann note was intercepted and published on March 1, 1917, infuriating Americans, especially westerners. -German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann had secretly proposed a German-Mexican alliance, tempting Mexico with veiled promises of recovering Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. On the heels of this provocation came the overt acts in the Atlantic, where German U-boats sank four unarmed American merchant vessels in the first two weeks of March. -Simultaneously came the news that a revolution in Russia had toppled the regime of the tsars. -America could not fight foursquare for democracy on the side of the Allies, without Russian despotism in the Allied fold. -On April 2, 1917, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war. -He had lost his gamble that America could pursue the profits of neutral trade without being sucked into the maelstrom. A myth developed in later years that America was dragged into war by munitions makers and Wall Street bankers, desperate to protect their profits and loans. -Yet, the weapons merchants and financiers were already thriving. -Their slogan might well have been “Neutrality Forever. ” -The truth is that British harassment of American commerce had been galling but endurable; Germany had resorted to the mass killing of civilians. -The difference was like that between a gang of thieves and a gang of murderers. -President Wilson had drawn a clear line against the depredations of the submarine. The German high command chose to cross it. Wilsonian Idealism Enthroned -It was fearful to bring America to war because of the formidable challenge it posed to Wilson’s leadership skills. -Ironically, it fell to Wilson to shatter one of the most sacred of those traditions by entangling America in a distant European war. -For more than a century, Americans had prided themselves on their isolationism from the periodic outbursts of militarized violence that afflicted the Old World. -Since 1914, their pride had been reinforced by the bountiful profits gained through neutrality. German U-boats had now roughly shoved a wavering America into the abyss, but ominously, no fewer than 6 senators and 50 representatives had voted against the war resolution. -This included Jeannette Rankin, first congresswoman of Montana. -Wilson could whip up no enthusiasm, especially in the Midwest, by fighting to make the world safe from the submarine. -To galvanize the country, Wilson would have to proclaim more glorified arms. -Radiating the spiritual fervor of his Presbyterian ancestors, he declared the goal of a crusade to make the world safe for democracy. Brandishing the sword of righteousness, Wilson virtually hypnotized the nation with his lofty ideals. -He contrasted the selfish war aims of the other belligerents, Allied and enemy alike, with America’s shining altruism. -America, Wilson preached, did not fight for the sake of riches of territorial conquest. -The Republic sought only to shape an international order in which democracy could flourish without fear of power-crazed autocrats and militarists. -In Wilsonian idealism, the personality of the president and the necessities of history were perfectly matched. Wilson believed in the principles he intoned- especially that the modern world could not afford the kind of hyper-destructive war that advanced industrial states were now capable of waging. -In this, Wilson’s vision was prophetic. -Probably no other appeal could have successfully converted the American people from their historic hostility to involvement in European squabbles. -Americans could be either isolationists or crusaders, but not both. -Wilson’s appeal worked – perhaps too well. -The president fired up the public mind to a fever pitch. Wilson’s Fourteen Potent Points Wilson quickly came to be recognized as the moral leader of the Allied cause. -He scaled a summit of inspiring oratory on January 8, 1918, when he delivered his 14 Points Address to Congress. -The first 5 points were broad in scope. -A proposal to abolish secret treaties pleased liberals of all countries. -Freedom of the seas appealed to the Germans, as well as to Americans who distrusted British sea power. -A removal of economic barriers among nations had long been the goal of liberal internationalist everywhere. -Reduction of armament burdens was gratifying to taxpayers in all countries. An adjustment of colonial claims in the interests of both native peoples and the colonizers was reassuring to the anti-imperialists. -Wilson’s pronouncement about colonies was potentially revolutionary. -It helped to delegitimize the old empires and opened the road to eventual national independence for millions of “subject peoples. ” -Other points among the 14 proved to be no less seductive. -They held out the hope of independence (self-determination) to oppressed minority groups, such as the Poles, millions under Germany and Austria-Hungary. The capstone point, number 14, foreshadowed the League of Nations – an international organization that Wilson dreamed would provide a system of collective security. -Wilson prayed that this new scheme would guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of all countries, whether large or small. -Wilson’s points did not appeal to everyone. -Certain leaders of the Allied nations, with an eye to territorial gains, were less than enthusiastic. -Some Republicans did not like it. Creel Manipulates Minds -Mobilizing people’s minds for war, both in America and abroad, was an urgent task facing the government. For this purpose, the Committee on Public Information was created. -It was headed by George Creel. -His job was to sell America on the war and sell the world on Wilsonian war aims. -The Creel organization proved that words were weapons. -It sent out 75,000 four-minute men who delivered countless speeches containing patriotic prep. -Creel’s propaganda took varied forms. -Posters were splashed on billboards. -Millions of leaflets and pamphlets were showered like confetti upon the world. -Propaganda booklets with red-white-and-blue covers were printed by the millions. Hand-the-Kaiser movies, carrying titles such as The Kaiser, the beast of Berlin, and to Hell with the Kaiser, revealed the helmeted Hun at his bloodiest. -Conductors led huge audiences in songs that poured scorn on the enemy and glorified the boys in uniform. -The entire nation burst into song. -This was America’s singingest war. -Most memorable was George M. Cohan’s Over There. -Creel typified American war mobilization, which relied more on aroused passion and voluntary compliance than on formal laws. -He oversold the ideals of Wilson and led the world to expect too much. When the president proved to be a mortal and not a god, the resulting disillusionment both at home and abroad was disastrous. Enforcing Loyalty and Stifling Dissent -On the whole, Germans in America proved to be loyal to the United States. -Rumormongers spread tales of spying and sabotage; even epidemics of diarrhea were blamed on German agents. -A few German Americans were tarred, feathered, and beat; a German Socialist in Illinois was lynched by a drunken mob. -As emotion mounted, hatred of Germans and things Germanic swept the nation. Orchestras found it unsafe to present German-composed music, like that of Wagner and Beethoven. -German books were removed from library shelves, and German classes were canceled in high schools and colleges. -Both the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 reflected current fears about Germans and anti-war Americans. -Especially visible among the 1,900 prosecutions pursued under these laws were antiwar Socialists and members of the Industrial Workers of the World. -Eugene V. Debs was convicted under the Espionage Act in 1918 and went to jail for 10 years. -IWW Leader William D.
Haywood and 99 associates were also convicted. -Virtually, any criticism of the government could be censored and punished. -Some critics claimed the new laws were bending the First Amendment. -In Schenck v. United States (1919), the Supreme Court affirmed their legality, arguing that freedom of speech could be revoked when it was a clear danger to the nation. -These prosecutions form an ugly chapter in the history of American civil liberty. -With the dawn of peace, presidential pardons were rather freely granted, including President Harding’s to Eugene Deb’s in 1921. -A few victims stayed in jail into the 1930s.
The Nation’s Factories Go to War -Victory was no foregone conclusion, especially since the Republic was unready for its leap into global war. -Wilson had only backed some mild preparedness measures beginning in 1915, including the creation of a civilian council of National Defense to study problems of economic mobilization. -He also launched a shipbuilding program and endorsed a modest beefing-up of the army. -It would take a big effort to marshal America’s daunting but disorganized recourses and throw them into the field quickly enough to bolster the Allied war effort. Towering Obstacles confronted economic mobilizers. -Sheer ignorance was among the biggest roadblocks. -No one knew precisely how much steel or explosive powder the country could produce. -Old ideas also proved to be liabilities, as traditional fears of big government hamstrung efforts to orchestrate the economy from Washington. -Democrats and businesspeople balked at federal economic controls, even though the nation could ill afford the freewheeling of the peacetime economy. -Late in the war, Wilson succeeded in imposing some order on this economic confusion. In March 1918, he appointed Bernard Baruch to head the War Industries Board. -The War Industries Board never had more than feeble powers, and it was disbanded within days of the armistice. -Even in a global crisis, the American preference for laissez-faire and for a weak central government proved strong. Workers in Wartime -In part, Americans were driven by the War Department’s “work or fight” rule of 1918, which threatened any unemployed male with being immediately drafted – a powerful discouragement to go on strike. -For the most part, government tried to treat labor fairly. The National War Labor Board, chaired by Taft, exerted itself to head off labor disputes that might hamper the war effort. -While pressing employers to grant concessions to labor, including high wages and the 8 hour day, the board stopped short of supporting labor’s most important demand: a government guarantee of the right to organize into union. -Samuel Gompers and his American Federation of Labor supported the war, though some smaller and more radical organizations, including the IWW, did not. The Wobblies were victims of some of the shabbiest working onditions in the country. -When they protested, many were beaten, arrested, or run out of town. -Mainstream labor’s loyalty was rewarded. -At war’s end, the AF of L had more than doubled its membership and in the most heavily unionized sectors – coal mining, manufacturing, and transportation – real wages had risen more than 20% over prewar levels. -A new day seemed to be dawning for the union movement. -Labor harbored grievances. -Recognition of the right to organize still eluded labor’s grasp. -Wartime inflation threatened to eclipse wage gains. Not even the call of patriotism and Wilsonian idealism could defuse all labor disputes. -In 1919, the greatest strike in American history rocked the steel mill. -More than a quarter of a million steelworkers walked off their jobs in a bid to force their employers to recognize their right to organize and bargain collectively. -The steel companies resisted. -They refused to negotiate with union representatives and brought in 30,000 African American strikebreakers to keep the mills running. -After bitter confrontations, the steel strike collapsed, a setback that crippled the union movement for more than a decade. The black workers who entered the steel mills in 1919 were only a fraction of the many southern blacks drawn to the North in wartime by the magnet of war-industry employment. -These migrants made up the small-scale beginnings of a great northward African American trek that would grow to massive proportions. -Their sudden appearance in previously all-white areas sometimes sparked interracial violence. -A riot in East St. Louis, Missouri, in July 1917 left nine whites and at least 40 blacks dead. -An equally gruesome race riot occurred in Chicago. Chicago was taut with racial tension as a growing black population expanded into white working-class neighborhoods and as African Americans found jobs as strikebreakers in meatpacking plants. -Triggered by an incident at a bathing beach in July 1919, a reign of terror descended on the city for nearly two weeks. Suffering Until Suffrage -Women also heeded the call of patriotism and opportunity. -Thousands of female workers flooded into factories and fields, taking up jobs vacated by men who left the assembly line for the frontline. -The war split the women’s movement deeply. Many progressive-era feminists were pacifists, inclined to oppose the participation both of America in the war and women in the war effort. -This group found a voice in the National Woman’s party, led by Alice Paul. -The larger part of the suffrage movement, represented by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, supported Wilson’s war. -For Wilson’s justification for fight, Leaders argued that women must take part in the war effort to earn a role in shaping the peace. -The fight for democracy was women’s best hope for winning true democracy at home. War mobilization gave new momentum to the suffrage fight. -President Wilson endorsed woman suffrage as a vitally necessary war measure. -In 1917, New York voted for suffrage at state level, and so did Michigan, Oklahoma, and south Dakota. -In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving all American women the right to vote. -Woman’s wartime economic gains proved brief. -Although a permanent Women’s Bureau did emerge after the war in the Department of Labor to protect women in the workplace, most women workers soon gave up their jobs. Congress affirmed its support for woman in their traditional role as mothers when it passed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act of 1921, providing federally financed instruction in maternal and infant health care. -Feminists continued in politics in the 1920s, especially in campaigns for laws to protect women in the workplace and prohibit child labor. -Complete success often eluded them in those crusades, but the developments of the World War I era foreshadowed a future when women’s wage-labor and political power would reshape the American way of life. Forging a War Economy -Mobilization relied more on patriotism than on the laws. The largely voluntary and somewhat haphazard character of economic war organization testified to ocean-insulated America’s safe distance from the fighting – as well as to the still-modest scale of government powers in the progressive-era Republic. -As the larder of democracy, America had to feed itself and its allies. -Herbert Hoover headed the Food Administration. -He was already considered a hero because he had successfully led a massive charitable drive to feed the starving people of Belgium. -In common with other American war administrators, Hoover preferred to rely on voluntary compliance rather than on compulsory edicts. He rejected issuing ration cards, a practice used in Europe. -He waged a propaganda campaign through posters, billboards, newspapers, pulpits, and movies. -To save food for export, he wanted wheatless Wednesdays and meatless Tuesdays. -The country broke out in a rash of vegetable “victory gardens,” as patriots hoed their way to victory in backyards and vacant lots. -Congress severely restricted the use of foodstuffs for manufacturing alcoholic beverages, and the spirit of self-denial helped accelerate the wave of prohibition that was sweeping the country. Many leading brewers were German, and this made the drive against alcohol more popular. -The 18th Amendment was passed in 1919, which started prohibition. -Hoover’s voluntary approach worked. -Farm production increased and so did food exports to the Allies. -Hoover’s methods were imitated in other war agencies. -The Fuel Administration exhorted Americans to save fuel. -The Treasury Department sponsored huge parades and invoked slogans to promote four great Liberty Loan drives, followed by a Victory Loan campaign 1919. -Pressures of various kinds were used to sell bonds. The German American who could not display a Liberty Bond button might find their house with yellow paint. -A number of reluctant investors in war bonds were roughly handled. -Despite the Wilson administration’s preference for voluntary means of mobilizing the economy, the government on occasion reluctantly exercised its sovereign formal power, notably when it took over the nation’s railroads. -Washington also hustled to get its hands on ships. -It seized enemy merchant vessels trapped in America’s harbors and orchestrated a gigantic drive to construct new tonnage. -A few concrete vessels were launched, including one called Faith. A wooden ship program was undertaken. Making Plowboys into Doughboys -Most citizens did not dream of sending a might force to France. -As far as fighting went, America would us its navy to uphold freedom of the seas. -It would continue to ship war materials to the Allies and supply them with loans. -European associates confessed they were scraping the bottom not only of their money chests but of their manpower barrels. -A huge American army would have to be raised, train, and transported, or the whole western front world collapse. -Conscription was the only answer to the need for raising an immense army with all possible speed. Wilson disliked a draft, but he eventually accepted and supported conscription as a disagreeable and temporary necessity. -The proposed draft bill ran into criticism in Congress. -Congress, 6 weeks after declaring war, passed the conscription. -The draft act required the registration of all males between the ages of 18 and 45. -No one could buy their way out, but it exempted men in key industries, such as shipbuilding. -The draft machinery worked effectively. -Registration day proved to be a day of patriotic pilgrimages to registration centers, and there was no bloodshed. Within a few months, the army grew to over 4 million men. -For the first time, women were admitted to the armed forces. -African Americans also served in the armed forces, though in segregated units and usually under white officers. -Military authorities hesitated to train black men for combat, and the majority of black soldiers were assigned to construction battalions or put to work unloading ships. -Recruits were supposed to receive six months of training in America and two more months overseas. -The urgency was so great that many doughboys were put into battle scarcely knowing how to handle a rifle.
Fighting in France – Belatedly -Russia’s collapse underscored the need for haste. -The communistic Bolsheviks withdrew Russia from World War I in 1918. -This sudden defection released many Germans from the eastern front for the western front in France, where they were developing a dangerous superiority in manpower. -Berlin’s calculations as to American tardiness were accurate. -Germany planned on taking out Britain 6 months after declaration of unlimited submarine warfare, long before America could intervene. -No really effective American fighting force reached France until about a year after Congress declared war. Berlin had also reckoned on the inability of the Americans to transport their army, assuming that they were able to raise one. -Shipping shortages did plague the Allies. -France began to bustle with American doughboys. -They first trainees to reach the front were used as replacements and were deployed in quiet sectors. -American operations were not confined to France; small detachments fought in Belgium, Italy, and Russia. -Major American purposes were to prevent Japan from getting a stranglehold on Siberia, to rescue marooned Czechoslovak troops, and to snatch military supplies from Bolshevik control. The Bolsheviks resented the capitalistic interventions, which they regarded as high-handed efforts to suffocate their communist revolution. America Helps Hammer the “Hun” -The German drive on the western front exploded in the spring of 1918. -The enemy rolled forward with terrifying momentum. -The Allied nations, for the first time, united under a supreme commander, French marshal Foch. -Until then, the Allies had been fighting imperfectly coordinated actions. -At last, the ill-trained Americans were coming. -Late in May 1918, the German juggernaut threatened to take out France. American troops were thrown into the breach at Chateau-Thierry, right in the teeth of the German advance. -This was a historic moment – the first significant engagement of American troops in a European war. -French soldiers watched as the roads filled with American doughboys, singing New World songs, a flood of fresh youth. -With their arrival, it was clear that a new American giant had arisen in the West to replace the dying Russian titan in the East. -By July 1918, the German drive had spent its force, and American men participated in a Foch counteroffensive in the Second Battle of the Marne. This engagement marked the beginning of a German withdrawal that never reversed. -The Americans had meanwhile been demanding a separate army. -General John J. Pershing was finally assigned a front of 85 miles, stretching northwestward from the Swiss border to meet the French lines. -As part of the last might Allied assault, involving several million men, Pershing’s army undertook the Meuse-Argonne offensive. -One objective was to cut the German railroad lines feeding the western front. -This battle, the bloodiest in American history so far, lasted 47 days and engaged 1. 2 million American troops. The slow progress and severe losses from machine guns resulted in part from inadequate training, in part from open-field tactics, with the bayonet employed. -Alvin C. York became a hero when he single-handedly killed 20 Germans and captured 132 more. -Victory was in sight, and fortunately so. -The slowly advancing American armies in France were eating up their supplies so rapidly that they were in grave danger of running short. -Germany was still willing to fight. -Germany’s allies were deserting them, the British blockade was causing critical food shortages, and the blows of the Allies pummeled them relentlessly. Propaganda leaflets rained upon their crumbling lines. The Fourteen Points Disarm Germany -Berlin was now ready to surrender. -Warned of imminent defeat by the generals, it turned to Wilson in October 1918, seeking a peace based on the 14 points. -Wilson made it clear that the Kaiser must be thrown off before an armistice could be made. -The Kaiser was forced to flee to Holland. -The Germans were through. -They laid down their arms on November 11, 1918, and a silence fell upon the western front. -America burst into rejoicing, as streets were jammed with celebration. -The war to end wars had ended. The United States’ main contributions to the ultimate victory had been foodstuffs, munitions, credits, oil for this first mechanized war, and manpower – but not battlefield victories. -America fought only two major battles, at St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne, both in the last two months of the 4 year war, and they were still at the Meuse-Argonne when the war ended. -It was the prospect of endless U. S. troop reserves, rather than America’s actual military performance, that demoralized the Germans. -General Pershing in some ways depended more on the Allies than they depended on him. His army purchased more of its supplies in Europe than it shipped from the United States. -Britain and France transported a majority of the doughboys to Europe. -The United States was no arsenal of democracy in this war; that role awaited it in World War II. Wilson Steps Down from Olympus -Woodrow Wilson had helped to win the war. -As World War I ended, Wilson towered at the peak of his popularity and power. -No other man had ever occupied so dizzy a pinnacle as moral leader of the world. -Wilson also had behind him the prestige of victory and the economic resources of America. His sureness of touch deserted him, and he began to make a series of tragic fumbles. -Under the slogan “Politics Is Adjourned,” partisan political strife had been kept below the surface during the war crisis. -hoping to strengthen his hand at the Paris peace table, Wilson broke the truce by personally appealing for a Democratic victory in the congressional elections of November 1918. -It backfired when voters returned a Republican majority to Congress. -Wilson went to Paris as a diminished leader. -Unlike all the parliamentary statesmen at the table, he did not command a legislative majority at home. Wilson’s decision to go in person to Paris to help make the peace infuriated Republicans. -At that time, no president had traveled to Europe, and Wilson’s journey looked to his critics like flamboyant grandstanding. -He further irritated the Republicans when be snubbed the Senate in assembling his peace delegation and neglected to include a single Republican senator in his official party. -The logical choice was the new chairman of the Senate committee on foreign Relations, Henry Cabot Lodge. -Including Lodge would have been problematic for the president. Wilson loathed him, and the feeling was reciprocated. -An accomplished author, Lodge had been known as the “scholar in politics. ” An Idealist Battles the Imperialists in Paris -Woodrow Wilson, the great prophet arisen in the West, received welcomes from the masses of France, England, and Italy late in 1918 and early in 1919. -They saw in his idealism the promise of a better world. -The statesmen of France and Italy were wary of him. -He might arouse the people as to prompt them to overthrow their leaders and upset fine-spun imperialistic plans. The Paris Conference of great and small nations fell into the hands of an inner clique, known as the Big Four. -Wilson, representing the richest and freshest great power, occupied the driver’s seat. -He was joined by Premier Vittorio Orlando of Italy and Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain. -The most realistic of the four was Premier Georges Clemenceau of France. -Speed was urgent when the conference opened on January 18, 1919. -Europe seemed to be slipping into anarchy; communism was spreading westward from Russia. Wilson’s ultimate goal was a world parliament to be known as the League of Nations, but he first bent his energies to preventing any parceling out of the former colonies and protectorates of the vanquished powers. -He forced through a compromise between imperialism and Wilsonian idealism. -The victors would not take possession of the conquered territory outright, but would receive it as trustees of the League of Nations. -Syria went to France and Iraq went to Britain. -This solution was little more than the old prewar colonialism, thinly disguised. Wilson had been serving as midwife for the League of Nations, which he envisioned as containing an assembly with seats for all nations and a signal victory over the Old World diplomats in February 1919, when they agreed to make the League Covenant, Wilson’s brainchild, an integral part of the final peace treaty. Hammering Out the Treaty -Domestic duties now required Wilson to make a quick trip to America, where storms were forming in the Senate. -Certain Republican senators, Lodge in the lead, were sharpening their knives for Wilson. -To them, the League was useless. Their head core was composed of a dozen militant isolationists, led by Senators William Borah of Idaho and Hiram Johnson of California. -39 Republican senators – enough to defeat the treaty – proclaimed that the Senate would not approve the League of Nations in its existing imperfect form. -These difficulties delighted Wilson’s Allied adversaries in Paris. -They were now in a stronger bargaining position because Wilson would have to beg them for changes in the covenant that would safeguard the Monroe Doctrine and other American interests dear to the senators. As soon as Wilson was back in Paris, Clemenceau pressed French demanded for Rhineland and the Saar Valley. -Faced with fierce Wilsonian opposition to this violation of self-determination, France settled for a compromise where the Saar basin would remain under the League of Nations for 15 years, and then a popular vote would determine its fate. -In exchange for dropping its demands for the Rhineland, France got the Security Treaty, in which both Britain and America pledge to come to its aid in the event of another German invasion. The French later felt betrayed when this pact was quickly pigeonholed by the U. S. Senate, which shied away from all entangling alliances. -Wilson’s next battle was with Italy over Fiume, a valuable seaport inhabited by Italians and Yugoslavs. -When Italy demanded Fiume, Wilson insisted that the seaport go to Yugoslavia and appealed over the heads of Italy’s leaders to the country’s masses. -The maneuver fell flat. -The Italian delegates went home in a huff, while the Italian masses turned against Wilson. -Another crucial struggle was with Japan over China’s
Shandong Peninsula and the German islands in the Pacific, which the Japanese had seized during the war. -Japan was conceded the strategic Pacific islands under a League of Nations mandate, but Wilson opposed Japanese control of Shandong as a violation of self-determination for its 30 million Chinese residents. -When Japan threatened to walk out, Wilson reluctantly accepted a compromise where Japan kept Germany’s economic holdings in Shandong and pledged to return the peninsula to China at a later date. -The Chinese were outraged by this imperialistic solution. The Peace Treaty That Bred a New War A completed Treaty of Versailles was handed to the Germans in June 1919. -Excluded from the settlement negotiations at Paris, Germany had capitulated in the hope that it would be granted a peace based on the 14 points. -Only 4 of the 23 original Wilsonian points and subsequent principles were fully honored. -Vengeance, not reconciliation, was the treaty’s dominant tone. -Loud and bitter cries of betrayal burst from German throats. -Wilson was guilty of no conscious betrayal. -The allied powers were torn by conflicting aims, many of them sanctioned by secret treaties. There had to be compromise at Paris, or there would be no agreement. -Wilson was forced to compromise away some of his less cherished 14 Points in order to salvage the League of Nations. -Wilson was not happy with the results. -He was now a fallen idol, condemned by disillusioned liberals and frustrated imperialists. -He was aware of some of the injustices that had been forced into the treaty. -He was hoping that the League of Nations – a potent League with America as a leader- would iron out the inequities. -The loudly condemned treaty had much to commend. Not least among its merits was its liberation of millions of minority peoples, such as the Poles, from the yoke of imperial dynasties. -Wilson saved the pact from being an old-time peace of grasping imperialism. -The settlement was almost certainly a fairer one because he had gone to Paris. The Domestic Parade of Prejudice -Returning for the second and final time to America, Wilson sailed straight into a political typhoon. -Isolationists protested against the treaty, especially against Wilson’s commitment to usher the United States into the League of Nations. Invoking the advice of Washington and Jefferson, they wanted no part of any entangling alliance. -Nor were the isolationists Wilson’s only problem. -Critics showered the Treaty of Versailles with abuse from all sides. -Rabid Hun-haters, regarding the pact as not harsh enough, voice their discontent. -Principled liberals, like the editors of the New York Nation, thought it too harsh – and a betrayal. -German Americans, Italian Americans, and others whom Wilson terms “hyphenated Americans” were aroused because the peace settlement was not favorable to their native lands. Irish Americans also denounced the League. -They felt that with the additional votes of the five overseas British dominions, it gave Britain undue influence, and they feared that it could be used to force the United States to crush any rising for Irish independence. Wilson’s Tour and Collapse (1919) -Despite mounting discontent, the president had reason to feel optimistic. -When he brought home the treaty, a strong majority of people still seemed favorable. -At this time – early July 1919 – Senator Lodge had no real hope of defeating the Treaty of Versailles. His strategy was to amend it in such a way as to Americanize, Republicanize, or senatorialize it. -The Republicans could then claim political credit for the changes. -Lodge used delay to muddle and divide public opinion. -He read the entire treaty aloud in the Senate Foreign Relations committee and held protracted hearings in which people of various nationalities aired their grievances. -Wilson fretted increasingly as the hot summer of 1919 wore on. -The pact was bogged down in the Senate, while the nation was drifting into confusion and apathy. He decided to take his case to the country in a speechmaking tour. -He would appeal over the heads of the Senate to the sovereign people- as he often had in the past. -The campaign was undertaken in the face of protests by physicians and friends. -Wilson had never been robust. -Wilson declared he was willing to die, like the soldiers he had sent into battle, for the sake of the new world order. -The tour got off to a lame start. -The Midwest received Wilson lukewarmly, partly because of strong German American influence. Trailing after him came two irreconcilable senators, Borah and Johnson, who spoke in the same cities a few days later. -The reception was different in the Rocky Mountain region and on the Pacific Coast. -These areas, which had elected Wilson in 1916, welcomed him with outbursts. -The high point – and the breaking point – of the return trip was at Pueblo, Colorado. -He pleaded for the League of Nations as the only real hope of preventing future wars. -On September 25, 1919, he collapsed from exhaustion. -He suffered a stroke a few days later.
Defeat Through Deadlock -Senator Lodge was now at the helm. -After failing to amend the treaty outright, he finally came up with 14 formal reservations to it – a slap at Wilson’s 14 Points. -These safeguards reserved the rights of the United States under the Monroe Doctrine and the constitution and otherwise sought to protect American sovereignty. -Senator Lodge and other critics were especially alarmed by Article X of the league because it morally bound the United States to aid any member victimized by external aggression. congress wanted to reserve for itself the constitutional war-declaring power. -Wilson, hating Lodge, saw red at the suggestion of the Lodge reservations. -He was quite willing to accept somewhat similar reservations sponsored by his Democratic followers, but he insisted that the Lodge reservations emasculated the entire pact. -Although too feeble to lead, Wilson was still strong enough to obstruct. -When the day finally came for the voting in the Senate, he sent word to all Democrats to vote against the treaty with the Lodge reservations attached. Wilson hoped that when these were cleared away, the path would be open for ratification without reservations or with only some mild Democratic ones. -Democrats did what Wilson said and rejected the treaty with Lodge reservations appended. -The nation was too deeply shocked to accept the verdict as final. -So strong was public indignation that the Senate was forced to act a second time. -In March 1920, the treaty was brought up again, with the Lodge reservations tacked on. -There was only one possible path to success. -Unless the Senate approved the pact with the reservation, the entire document would be rejected. Wilson again sent word to all loyal Democrats to vote down the treaty with the reservations. -He signed the death warrant of the treaty as far as America was concerned. -The Lodge-Wilson personal feud, traditionalism, isolationism, disillusionment, and partisanship all defeated the treaty. -Wilson must bear a substantial share of the responsibility. -He asked for all or nothing and got nothing. The “Solemn Referendum” of 1920 -Wilson had his own pet solution for the deadlock, and this partly explains why he refused to compromise on Lodge’s terms. He proposed to settle the treaty issue in the election of 1920 by appealing to the people for a solemn referendum. -This was folly, for a true mandate on the League in the arena of politics was impossible. -Republicans gathered in Chicago in June 1920 with bull moosers back in the corral and the Old Guard to. -The convention devised a platform that could appeal to both pro-League and anti-League sentiment in the party. -As the leading presidential contestants jousted with one another, the political weathervane began to veer toward Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio. A group of Senate bosses decided on him. -For vice president, they nominated Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts, who had attracted conservative support by breaking a police strike in Boston. -Meeting in San Francisco, Democrats nominated Governor James M. Cox of Ohio, who supported the League. -His running mate was Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt. -Democratic attempts to make the campaign a referendum on the League were thwarted by Senator Harding, who issued muddled and contradictory statements on the issue from his front porch. Pro-League and anti-League Republicans both claimed that Harding’s election would advance their cause, while the candidate suggested that it elected he would work for a vague Association of Nations. -With women, Harding was swept into power. -Public desire for a change found vent in a resounding repudiation of high-and-mighty Wilsonism. -People were tired of professional highbrowism, idealism, do-goodism, moral overstrain, and constant self-sacrifice. -Eager to lapse back into a normalcy, they were willing to accept a second rate president – and they got a third rate one. Although the election could not considered a true referendum, Republican isolationists successfully turned Harding’s victory into a death sentence for the League. The Betrayal of Great Expectations -America’s spurning of the League was shortsighted. -The Republic had helped to win a costly war, but it kicked the fruits of victory under the table. -The orphaned League of Nations was undercut at the start by the refusal of the mightiest power on the globe to join it. -The allies themselves were largely to blame for world War II, but they found a justification for their own shortcomings by blaming America. The ultimate collapse of the Treaty of Versailles must be laid at America’s doorstep. -This pact was a top-heavt structure designed to rest on a four-legged table. -The fourth leg, American was new put into place. -It crashed in ruins with World War II. -No less ominous events were set in motion when the Senate spurned the Security Treaty with France. -The French, fearing that a new generation of Germans world follow in their fathers’ steps, undertook to build up a powerful military force. -Resenting the presence of strong French armies, Germany began to rearm illegally. The cauldron of uncertainty and suspicion brewed and intoxicant that caused world War II. -The United States hurt its own cause when it buried its head in the sand. -Granted that the conduct of its Allies had been disillusioning, it had its own ends to serve by carrying through the Wilsonian program. -It would have been well advised if it had assumed it s war-born responsibilities and had embraced the role of global leader proffered by the hand of destiny. -In the interests of its own security, the United States should have used its enormous strength to shape world-shaking events. Instead, it permitted itself to drift toward the abyss of a second world war. Examining the Evidence -Some familiar songs were penned by known composers and have well-established scores and lyrics. -Songwriters may fit new verses to known tunes, but the songs grow out of the soil of popular culture and take on a life of their own. -This process of accretion and adaptation can furnish valuable clues to historians about changing sentiments and sensibilities, just as the ballads themselves give expression to feelings not always evident in the record.
Varying Viewpoints – Woodrow Wilson: Realist or Idealist? -Wilson was obliged to make a systematic case to the America people to justify his European intervention. -His ideals have largely defined the character of American foreign policy ever since. -Whether that Wilsonian vision constituted realism or idealism has excited scholarly debate for nearly a century. -Realists insist that Wilson was anything but a realist. -They criticize the president as a native dreamer who failed to understand that the international order was unruly. Wilson’s defenders argue that Wilson’s idealism was kind of higher realism, recognizing as it did that armed conflict on the scale of World War I could never against be tolerated and that some framework of peaceful international relations simply had to be found. -Some leftist scholars have argued that Wilson was a realists of another kind: a subtle and wily imperialist whose stirring rhetoric cloaked a grasping ambition to make the United States the world’s dominant economic power. -Other scholars emphasize the absence of economic factors in shaping Wilson’s diplomacy.