Wilson and the Peacemakers: Combining Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace and Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal

By Thomas A. Bailey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE

JOVE STEPS DOWN FROM OLYMPUS

"When he [Wilson] stepped from his lofty pedestal and wrangled with the representatives of other states upon equal terms, he became as common clay." COLONEL HOUSE, June 29, 1919.


1

THE OCTOBER appeal was sensational; the November election no less so. But the sensations did not end here. On November 18, 1918, less than two weeks after Wilson's presumed repudiation at the polls, the White House made the startling announcement that the President was going to attend the Peace Conference in person.

A heated debate immediately started as to the wisdom of this move, and it continues in an academic way down to the present time. But one thing is certain. The critics of Wilson are virtually unanimous in agreeing that the trip abroad was one of his most serious blunders -- perhaps the most serious in a long sequence of blunders. If he had not gone, they say, the peace would have been a more lasting one, and it undoubtedly would have been accepted by the United States Senate.

At precisely what time Wilson made this momentous decision it is difficult to say. But we do know that from an early date he thought of himself as an important influence at the peace table. His futile attempts to mediate between the Allies and the Central Powers late in 1916 showed him how difficult it was to exert effective pressure while the United States was a mere spectator of the great events which were then unfolding. Reluctant as he was to accept the arbitrament of war, he found some consolation in the thought that as an active belligerent, and as a leader of the strongest of the victor nations, he would have a far better opportunity to remake the world along the lines of a just and permanent peace. As he told Jane

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