Why were members of Congress so resistant to some of the ideas Wilson presented as part of his Fourteen Points?
President Woodrow Wilson's approach to ending World War I was disliked by many members of Congress. Wilson expected the postwar settlements to be based on his Fourteen Points. His critics thought his Fourteen Points were too idealistic and impractical. In addition, they decried his decision to personally attend the postwar peace conference in Paris. The president spent months in Paris and lost touch with events at home. Wilson, a Democrat, did not have any Republicans on his team in Paris, and Republicans resented this apparent snub.
Wilson exacerbated the rift with Republicans by urging voters to elect Democrats in the midterm elections of 1918. Republicans believed they had supported the president during the war, so they were offended by Wilson's blatant partisan politics. Unfortunately for Wilson, Republicans won both chambers of Congress, and they were in no mood to grant concessions.
Wilson had powerful enemies. Theodore Roosevelt, a former president, joined with Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in thwarting Wilson. Lodge was the Republican leader of the Senate, and he believed Wilson was arrogant and inflexible.
Wilson's Fourteen Points were watered down in Paris. The leaders of Britain, France, and Italy wanted revenge, so they opposed Wilson's idealism. The president was disappointed, but he believed the last of the Fourteen Points was the most important one: the clause that called for a League of Nations.
Lodge's Republicans vehemently opposed American participation in the League of Nations. They believed joining it would lead to a loss of American sovereignty and American participation in a future war. Wilson would not compromise, so he went on an exhausting speaking tour of the nation. Wilson collapsed from stress and fatigue: his health was ruined. He had lost because America never did join the League of Nations.
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