Taft, Wilson, and World Order

Taft, Wilson, and World Order

Taft, Wilson, and World Order

Taft, Wilson, and World Order

Synopsis

"Taft and Wilson followed different callings, in public affairs and higher education, but each career in its own way contributed to their conviction that peace, not war, was possible to attain among the Great Powers. Taft's practical idealism grew out of his experiences as governor of the Philippines, Secretary of War, and the presidency itself, and it mated readily with the moral idealism of Wilson, the student of history, law, and government. The awesome destruction of life and property growing out of the Great War convinced them of the need to establish some form of institutional machinery designed to avoid war, lest Western Civilization be brought to its knees. Neither man was completely at ease with the other as they worked toward a common goal. At one point Taft described Wilson as "mulish" on the issue of the League covenant without reservations. And Wilson was highly, and rightly, suspicious of the Roosevelt-Lodge wing of the Republican party. But more important to both men was what a league could mean for generations yet unborn. Taft, who was without an official position and therefore lacked political power, insisted in public and privately that he did not care who received credit for bringing a league into being. Wilson was prepared to risk his life to win senatorial approval in the cause of international peace. How and why they failed to make their dream a reality becomes the climax of this account of the lost league and the lost peace." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This is a study of the relationship at a critical time in twentieth century history of two of the most farsighted statesmen of their generation. Born but a year apart, learned men, presidents of the United States, and apostles of world peace, they were similar but distinct in their public philosophies. Trained in the law and utterly devoted to it, Taft stood in contrast to Wilson who wrote widely about government and history in keeping with a university career. Their respective backgrounds and experiences in public service were the foundations upon which they built their proposals for peace amongst and between nations. At the time of their occupancy of the White House the great powers in the West were divided into rival camps. Immediately before 1914 and acting in their presidential capacity they had proposed treaties of arbitration between the United States and other nations. With the onset of World War I Taft and Wilson advanced their singular ideas along the lines of a league of nations, to be established once the war was over, in order to promote peace in the years to come. How their league conceptions differed and how they were similar in their objectives, what they did in public and in private to put in place an instrument to work for world order, and the reasons for their ultimate failure combine to identify the theme and the purpose of the study.

This account does not propose to compare and/or contrast the rationales of the two league advocates to the advantage of either Wilson or Taft. Its purpose, rather, is to demonstrate how each man arrived at his prescription for curing the ills besetting the international community. For Taft it was a question of law, backed by the military, lessons he had first learned while civil governor of the Philippines.

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