Describe the results of the Treaty of Versailles. Why did America refuse to ratify the treaty and join the League of Nations?
The Treaty of Versailles was a peace arrangement entered into by the Allied Powers at the end of World War One. It re-established Poland as an independent nation with access to the sea, restored territorial claims of Britain and France, and provided for the establishment of a worldwide peace organization known as the League of Nations. It also imposed harsh terms on Germany including assumption of guilt for the war, steep reparations, and severe limits on military forces.
Although Woodrow Wilson, then President of the United States was a party to the Treaty, and the League of Nations had been his dream, Wilson made a number of mistakes along the way which doomed the treaty from the start.
- Wilson, a Democrat, carried no Republicans with him to Paris to negotiate the Treaty. This embittered many Republicans, especially Henry Cabot Lodge, then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who disliked Wilson anyway.
- When the Treaty was submitted to the Senate for ratification, Lodge expressed reservations about the possible surrender of U.S. sovereignty to the League of Nations, and suggested amendments to the Treaty. Wilson refused, as he believed it needed no modification.
- Neither Wilson nor Lodge would budge, so Wilson went on a nationwide speaking tour to promote the Treaty's ratification. While in Pueblo Colorado, he suffered a stroke which left him an invalid. Following his stroke, he became even more stubborn than before. When compromise was mentioned to him, his reply was "let Lodge compromise.
Since neither man would budge and the Democrats held a majority in the Senate, the Treaty failed to obtain ratification. The U.S. never joined the League of Nations which itself proved short-lived.