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Wilson and the Treaty of Versailles

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1 Wilson and the Treaty of Versailles

2 Objective Why was the Treaty of Versailles not ratified by the Senate?
Because of conservative opposition in the Senate? Because of Wilson’s stubbornness? Both?

3 In early 1919, President Wilson traveled to Versailles, France for a peace conference.
He met with European leaders and presented a plan for peace based on his Fourteen Points. Wilson’s vision of a postwar world was grounded in the idea of “peace without victory.”

4 Wilson’s Fourteen Points made specific proposals to promote future peace.
Practice open diplomacy. Allow freedom of the seas. Encourage free trade. Reduce arms stockpiles. Scale back colonialism. Encourage self-determination of nations. Establish a League of Nations.

5 Wilson traveled to France and was greeted like a hero!
The Europeans loved him and the U.S. for making the world “safe for democracy” and ending the war.

6 Wilson brought many of his closest advisors with him to Versailles, but he did not bring along any Republicans. In the following months, this would prove to be a major political faux-pas which would prevent the passing of the Treaty of Versailles through the American Senate. Republican Senators like Henry Cabot Lodge vowed to thwart all of Wilson’s plans

7 The Big Four Respond While many members of the European public were supportive of Wilson’s plan, the other political leaders who made up the “Big Four” were not so pleased… David Lloyd George (Britain), Vittorio Orlando (Italy), and Georges Clemenceau (France) had different plans for the Treaty of Versailles….

8 Allied leaders at Versailles wanted reparations.
European leaders did not share Wilson’s vision of peace without victory. They wanted Germany to pay for war damages. They also wanted to protect European colonialism and expand their countries’ territories. 8

9 Georges Clemenceau (France)
We have to keep our empire strong and maintain our dominance of the seas! David Lloyd George (Britain) We want lots of land, even though we didn’t contribute much to the war effort because we wanted to find out who would win… Vittorio Orlando (Italy) The Germans must be punished, and never be able to invade our precious France again! Evil baby-eaters! Who came up with those stupid hats anyway? Thank God for French fashion designers! Georges Clemenceau (France)

10 II. Treaty of Versailles (1919)
In summary, the Treaty provided for… A reduced German military Cessation of Alsace-Lorraine to France Reparations/War Guilt Mandates League of Nations Many American liberals were disgusted with the Treaty

11 Signing the Treaty of Versailles

12 and pay a $32 billion USD reparation bill
Reparations Furthermore…Germany was forced to admit responsibility for the war, give up any sort of non-defensive military, and pay a $32 billion USD reparation bill

13 The German Perception:


15 The Big Four Respond

16 Screw that sissy Wilson and his 14 Points!
The Big Four Respond YAH! Wah! Nobody likes me! Screw that sissy Wilson and his 14 Points!

17 Ultimately, the League of Nations was
the only part of the 14 Points in the Treaty of Versailles

18 III. League of Nations Based on the premise of “collective security”
Attack on one an attack on all

19 Aims of the League: Stop war and international aggression by discussing problems Disarmament Encourage cooperation amongst nations Improve economic and social conditions



22 II. The Big Four negotiate a treaty
A. Woodrow Wilson (President of the US) David Lloyd George (Prime Minister of Britain) Georges Clemenceau (Prime Minister of France) Vittorio Orlando (Prime Minister of Italy) B. Europeans ignored most of the 14 Points (except League of Nations) C. Germany blamed for the war, stripped of a military, and required to pay reparations D. Treaty signed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles on June 28, 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand E. Wilson returned home to the U.S. frustrated, but still supportive of the Treaty

23 Wilson left the conference frustrated, but still supportive of the Treaty. He was greeted with a hero’s welcome. Hooray again!

24 IV. Ratification Debate
Many Americans were concerned with the constitutionality of the League Washington’s Farewell Address Monroe Doctrine

25 IV. Ratification Debate
The Treaty/League caused a stir in the US Senate. Democrats (Wilson/Internationalists) Irreconcilables (Progressive Republicans) William Borah (Idaho) Hiram Johnson (California) Robert Lafollette (Wisconsin) Reservationists (Republicans) Henry Cabot Lodge

26 The Republicans in the Senate were not nearly as welcoming as the American public.
I don’t think we should get involved with Europe again. And I’m suspicious of this whole League of Nations thing! I don’t want to sign the treaty! Senator Henry Cabot Lodge

27 Quick! What’s that called?
I don’t think the US should ever get involved in another European war again. We should just mind our own business over here in the Western Hemisphere… Quick! What’s that called? Isolationism! WOOT!

28 Also, Article X of the League of Nations concerns me
Also, Article X of the League of Nations concerns me. It states that all members are required “to respect and preserve against external aggression the territorial integrity” of all other member nations. That sounds like we have to commit our military to foreign wars all the time! The Republicans who refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles became known as the “Irreconcilables.”


30 This is no good! No good at all! Maybe if I ride around the country on a train giving speeches I will be able to convince people that the Treaty of Versailles rocks!

31 You can’t go on a speaking tour
You can’t go on a speaking tour! You just got back from six months of hard work in Europe. You’re getting too old for this! I advise against this!

32 I MUST go, for the good of the nation and the good of the world
I MUST go, for the good of the nation and the good of the world! Stupid doctor…

33 Refusing to compromise with the Republicans (as always, Wilson felt he alone knew what was best), and ignoring his doctor, Wilson went on a speaking tour of the U.S. to attempt to gain popular support and pressure Senators into ratifying the Treaty of Versailles. The Senate must ratify the Treaty for the same reason we went to war…which I seem to have forgotten…can you remind me?


35 He gave 37 speeches in 29 cities in 3 weeks.
The American people supported him, especially when he promised them that American soldiers would never again have to die in a foreign war.

36 At a speech in Pueblo, Colorado…
The League of Nations will make the world safe for…for…uh, I’m not feeling so well…. <collapse on the ground>

37 Wilson returned to Washington where, a few days later, he suffered a massive stroke. He spent the next year and a half (until the end of his presidency) completely incapacitated. His wife Edith and a circle of close advisors ran the government for him and kept his condition secret from the public.

38 IV. Ratification Debate
In an attempt to sway public opinion, Wilson suffered a stroke. When the Reservationists proposed an amended version of the Treaty, Wilson instructed Democrats to reject it. As a result, the US never signed the Treaty of Versailles, and did not join the League.


40 In March of 1920, the U.S. Senate officially rejected the Treaty of Versailles, including U.S. entry into the League of Nations. The U.S. later signed separate peace treaties with each of the Central Power.

41 Wilson left office in 1921. He died in 1924.
Because of his failure to get the Treaty of Versailles ratified, he felt like a total failure and came to believe that joining World War I had been in vain.




45 Why the League failed French and British self interest Absent powers - USA Ineffective sanctions Lack of enforcement of decisions Unfair treaty Reaching decisions unanimously European club

46 III. Wilson pushes for ratification of the Treaty of Versailles
A. Irreconcilables (Republicans such as Henry Cabot Lodge and Robert La Follette) objected to the Treaty 1. Did not want to get the U.S. involved in another European war 2. Wanted to return to isolationism 3. Objected to Article X of the League of Nations which required all members to commit troops to protect other member nations

47 B. In 1919 Wilson went on speaking tour of the country to pressure the Senate into ratification of the Treaty of Versailles 1. Wilson collapsed and later suffered a massive stroke 2. Edith Galt Wilson (wife) and close advisors kept his condition secret and did his job for him while he was incapacitated for the next year and a half until the end of his presidency C. Senate officially rejected the Treaty in March 1920 1. U.S. never joined League of Nations 2. U.S. signed separate treaties with former Central Powers D. The rejection of the Treaty of Versailles left Wilson feeling like a failure and he came to believe that U.S. involvement in WWI had been pointless

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