During his term of presidency, Wilson introduced the Treaty of Versailles in order to assist in the “covenant” of the League of Nations.
The Senate defeated this treaty after a long and tiring debate. Despite the strength of the opposition forces, both liberal and conservative, the treaty could still have been passed, had a few changes been made. It was Wilsons stubbornness and ineptitude that resulted in the Senate ruling against the treaty.When Wilson first presented the treaty, the Senate posed numerous objections.
Many of the people holding a position in the Senate were not fond of Wilson to begin with, causing them to question every aspect of the treaty. “Some senators the fourteen so-called irreconcilables, many of them western isolationists opposed the agreement on principle. But other opponents were principally concerned with constructing a winning issue for the Republicans and with weakening a president who they had come to despise,” (Brinkley, 641). Henry Lodge, a senator from Massachusetts, held a powerful position is the Senate as a chairman of the Foreign Relations committee. He also held strong contempt for Wilson, and was opposed to the treaty, attempting to buy as much time as possible to convince other senators to disapprove of the treaty.
After over six weeks of public hearings to discuss public complaints about the Treaty of Versailles, the Senate finally composed a list of amendments in order to allow the constitution to pass. Had Wilson accepted these amendments, the treaty would have passed, and Wilson would have had a triumph. Wilson, however, would not accept these amendments, or any other amendments. He believed that the Treaty of Versailles was perfect as it was and needed no changes. After suffering a major stroke, Wilson was even more obstinate than ever. The more the Senate suggested amendments, the more Wilson refused to consider them. According to his Democratic allies in the Senate, Wilson sternly told them that they “must vote only for a treaty with no changes whatsoever; any other version must be defeated,” (Brinkley, 642).
The majority of the Senate was not willing to accept the treaty without the suggested amendments, resulting it the treatys defeat. It was believed that the Treaty of Versailles could have been passed if Wilson had accepted the few changes, but Wilson refused to budge. He was too proud to have allowed anyone to change his treaty. While the opposing forces may have had their share of cause, it was Wilsons inflexibility and ignorance that caused the Treaty to be defeated by the senate.Bibliography: