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American Government Honor Project
Transcript of American Government Honor Project
October 25, 2012 United States and the League of Nations Thesis: Background Information: America enters World War I When The United States entered World War I by declaring war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the conflict had already been going on for more than two and a half years.
(Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History) The immediate cause of America's entry into World War I was the German announcement of unrestricted submarine warfare, and the subsequent sinking of ships with Americans on board.
(U.S. State Department) In President Woodrow Wilson's War Message to Congress, he declared our objective was "to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world".
(U.S. State Department) As president, Wilson encouraged Americans to look past their economic interests and to define and set the foreign policy in terms of ideas, morality, and the spread of democracy abroad.
(U.S. State Department) When the war first started in 1914, the United States attempted to remain neutral and was a supporter of the rights of neutral states.
(Koeller) Source:http://lineagekeeper.posterous.com/lusitania-sunk-by-german-torpedoes Source:http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/zimmermann/ America did not want to put it's own people at risk by being forced to defend other nations. The United States ultimately declined membership due to Article X of its charter that committed the United States to defending any league member in the event of an attack.
(U.S. State Department) With Wilson's "crusade to end all war" (Penna) in WWI, 7.1% of the U.S.'s forces suffered casualties.
(U.S. Department of Justice) That was 323,018 casualties out of 4,355,000 total mobilized forces.
4,500 prisoners and missing
(U.S. Department of Justice) Article X committed the United States to providing military force for maintaining collective security of other nations (PBS).
Before entering WWI, the U.S. pursued a foreign policy of neutrality from the American impulse not to become involved in European conflicts, and following national interest as well as moral principals.
(Penna) Many American's still supported President James Monroe's Monroe Doctrine, implemented in 1823, which made a point that "the United States would not interfere in the internal affairs of or the wars between European powers".
(Encyclopedia Britannica) American participation in WWI resulted in the loss of lives and a tremendous output of it's financial resources.
(Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History). If that were to be done, the United States would potentially suffer the same casualties as WWI and that was to great of a risk
(Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History). President Wilson attempted to end the war with The Treaty of Versailles, which had a proposed League of Nations attached to it. The United States never ratified the Treaty, or joined the League.
(U.S. State Department) The economic downside In joining the war, Wilson encouraged American's to look beyond their economic interests.
(U.S. State Department) But the reality was that war was expensive. The total cost of WWI to the U.S. was $32 billion, or 52% of gross national product at the time.
(Lozada) When the war started, the U.S. economy was in recession but during the time it remained neutral, it created a 44 month "economic boom" because Europeans were purchasing U.S. goods for the war.
(Lozada) The United States decided not to join the United Nations because Americans felt that armed forces should not suffer more casualties by being forced to protect other nations, war should be limited because it hurt the economy, and also because there were disagreements between congress and President Wilson's ideas on foreign policy. "The long period of U.S. neutrality made the ultimate conversion of the economy to a wartime basis easier than it otherwise would have been".
(Lozada) Entry in 1917 unleashed massive federal spending.
To finance it:
22% was taken from taxes on the wealthy,
58% borrowed from the public,
and 20% in money creation.
(Lozada) The League of Nations would commit the United States to an expensive organization which would reduce the its ability to defend it's own interests.
(U.S. State Department) Instead of being committed to defending other nations, "staying neutral can allow the U.S. to do business with all sides" creating more economic growth.
(Penna) Congress and Wilson have different beliefs The League of Nations was included in Part 1 in the Treaty of Versailles.
(U.S. State Department) The struggle to ratify the treaty "created the most important political division over the role of the United States in the world for a generation".
(U.S. State Department) Congress disliked Wilson's League because he entered the war with the intent that the end would bring just and secure peace, not create a new balance of power.
(U.S. State Department) Senate opposition of the Treaty of Versailles cited Article 10, because it "ceded war powers of the U.S. Government to the Leagues Council", which would give it too much power.
(U.S. State Department) There were different classifications of senate members who opposed the League.
(Penna) There were "Irreconcilables", who refused to join the League under any circumstances regardless of any amendments that may have been made to it.
(U.S. State Department) The other group referred to themselves as "Reservationists", who were willing to ratify if amendments were made. They were led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Henry Cabot Lodge.
(U.S. State Department) Lodge's interpretation of the infamous Article 10 required U.S. to commit economic or military force to maintain security of member nations.
(PBS) President Wilson and Senator Lodge had "a personal dislike for each other that made any compromise impossible".
(U.S. State Department) "Wilson's inability to compromise made it impossible for the executive and legislative branches to come to some accord on the League".
(Edwards, 266) Senator Lodge campaigned against the League. At a speech in D.C. in August of 1919 he said "The United States is the worlds best hope, but if you fetter her in the interests and quarrels of other nations, if you tangle her in the intrigues of Europe, you will destroy her power for good and endanger her very existence. Leave her to march freely through the centuries to come as in the years that have gone".
(Duffy, primary document) In the first Senate vote to ratify Wilson's proposed Treaty, along with the League, on November 19, 1919 Senate failed to get the two-thirds majority needed.
(Hudson) Senator Lodge attached amendments to the Treaty, and tried to get the amended version passed by the Senate in September, but it failed.
(U.S. State Department) The final vote to ratify the Treaty and join the League of Nations took place on March 19, 1920. It was short of ratification by 7 votes.
(U.S. State Department) In Conclusion On August 25, 1921, the United States signed the Treaty of Berlin to officially end the war. This treaty, separate with Germany, left out any mention of The League of Nations which the U.S. never joined (U.S. State Department). The United States did not ever join the United Nations mainly because President Wilson could not come up with a compromise for the Senators who opposed it, but also because of the economic expenses created by WWI, and the loss of service members during the war. People believed it was unfair to make America suffer more war simply to defend other nations involved in the League. If the tragedies of WWI had not been so great, then maybe Americans would have had a different perspective on joining the League and defending other nations.