When the decade of the 1920s began, Americans were anxious to forget the world war they had recently fought and eager to roll back the clock to an era of innocence, a time that doubtless never existed. The reluctance of the Senate to ratify the Treaty of Versailles—which officially ended the war with Germany and established the terms of the peace that followed—loomed large in the early months of the new decade. Reflecting popular opinion the Senate resisted President Woodrow Wilson's proposed League of Nations. Isolationist sentiment also prevailed in the Senate debate over the ratification of the treaty, revealing Americans' unwillingness to accept the responsibilities of world leadership. Americans sought to keep the world at bay, clamoring for immigration restrictions to protect their culture against the perceived threat of foreign radicals, to reduce economic competition from immigrant workers, and to...
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