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 THREE

THE PALL OF
PARTISANSHIP

"No party has a right to appropriate this issue [the treaty] and no party will in the long run dare oppose it." WOODROW Wilson, March 4, 1919.


1

BLINDPARTISANSHIP, as much as any other single factor, ruined the League of Nations in the United States. This is not to condemn any one individual or group of individuals; it is merely to state a fact which, in the circumstances, was as inescapable as the law of gravitation.

The treaty was too much bound up with Wilson, and especially with Wilson's League of Nations, to leave any room for hope that the issue could escape the reefs of partisanship. One. competent writer has estimated that four-fifths of the opposition to the League was nothing more than unreasoning hatred of Wilson. This is probably an exaggeration, but there can be no doubt that the Republican leaders, and many of the Republican rank and file, hated the President with a consuming bitterness, and were prepared to stop at nothing to bring about his downfall and at the same time (so they claimed) save the Republic.

The Republicans could not forgive Wilson for having beaten them in 1912, especially since his victory was their own fault. They could not accustom themselves to the role of a minority party: this was contrary to the natural order of things since 1861. They could not forgive Wilson for having won again in 1916, by the narrowest of margins and with the slogan, "He kept us out of war." It was in fact the first time an incumbent Democrat had been elected since the redoubtable Andrew Jackson, in 1832.

-38-

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