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 TWELVE

A LIVING THING IS BORN

"It is the spirit back of the Covenant that counts more than the text." COLONEL HOUSE, February 7, 1919.


1

A GREAT many people still think of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles as two separate instruments. This, of course, is incorrect. The League of Nations Covenant was incorporated in the Treaty of Versailles as Section I. Not only was, it placed at the very first, but considerable portions of the rest of the pact were so interwoven with it that the United States Senate could not cut out the Covenant without unraveling the whole fabric.

This is of vast importance, for it is clear that the League of Nations, with its vulnerable Article X, was what defeated the Treaty of Versailles in the United States. To put it another way, if the Covenant had been a separate instrument the treaty would almost certainly have been approved by the Senate.

We have already seen that Wilson won two great diplomatic victories during his first month in Paris. The first was wringing from the Conference an acceptance of the mandate principle. The second was forcing the detailed Covenant of the League of Nations into the text of the treaty. This represented a triumph over those who wanted to postpone consideration of the League to the indefinite future, notably the French, and those who wanted merely to outline the general principles of a League in the Treaty. This latter view initially commanded much support from the British.

Wilson regarded the League as the "key to the whole settlement," and from the start he favored the bodily incorporation of the Covenant in the Treaty. He encountered some opposition, chiefly from the French, but in the end he was able to

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