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 THIRTEEN

THE BIRTH OF A SOLEMN
REFERENDUM

"Personally, I do not accept the action of the Senate of the United States as the decision of the Nation." WOODROW WILSON, Jackson Day letter, January 8, 1920.


1

THE SENATORS scattered to their homes for a brief vacation prior to the opening of the second session of the 66th Congress, on December 1, 1919. The treaty was left behind, suspended in mid-air. The mountain had labored for more than four months, and had not even brought forth a mouse.

Two days after the last futile vote, Lodge issued a statement to the press, throwing the blame on Wilson and declaring that the reservations were simple, direct, American. There was no more room for compromise. "I wish," Lodge asserted, "to carry those reservations iiato the campaign." In a word, let the people decide between simple Americanism and overweening Wilsonism.

This was an ominous note indeed. Senator Borah had long been urging that the question be thrust into national politics; Senator Johnson had already begun his bid for the presidency on the treaty issue. But the Republican leaders, not sure about the temper of the country, did not relish the prospect of having to defend themselves against the charge of being treaty-killers. So why not make one more attempt at compromise, and clear the explosive issue away?

Senator Hitchcock publicly rebuked Lodge for his latest maneuver, and declared that the Massachusetts senator was thinking more of politics than of patriotism. Reservations were inevitable, admitted Hitchcock, but they must be framed by the friends of the treaty for the purpose of securing its ratifi-

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