Populist Nationalism: Republican Insurgency and American Foreign Policy Making, 1918-1925

Populist Nationalism: Republican Insurgency and American Foreign Policy Making, 1918-1925

Populist Nationalism: Republican Insurgency and American Foreign Policy Making, 1918-1925

Populist Nationalism: Republican Insurgency and American Foreign Policy Making, 1918-1925

Synopsis

An examination of the skillful political maneuvering of William Borah and Hiram Johnson, two of the post-war leaders of Republican progressivism, this study analyzes efforts to prevent U.S. entry into the League of Nations despite overwhelming support for the organization among both Democrats and Republicans. Following the debacle of the 1912 election, the leadership of the Republican Party embarked on a strategy of reconciliation designed to end the acrimony between progressive and conservative factions so that it could unite against the Democratic Party. A small group of progressive Republicans quickly realized that they could threaten to resume infighting and could, thus, influence policy making on important foreign policy issues.

Excerpt

The Republican party's foreign policy program at the end of World War I was marked by a paradox. Most Republican politicians favored U.S. entry into the League of Nations, albeit an entrance limited by moderate reservations. These supporters of the international organization included the luminaries of the party. Those who had participated in the prewar construction of a Republican foreign policy, such as William Howard Taft, Elihu Root, and Henry Cabot Lodge, built a partnership with the postwar architects of Republican foreign policy, Charles Evans Hughes and Herbert Hoover. These policy makers understood that U.S. membership in the League would enhance the nation's influence in international relations and strengthen the popular appeal of the Republican party. Entry into the League of Nations was endorsed by Will Hays, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, as well as the members of the platform committees for both the 1920 and 1924 conventions. Yet, the United States did not join the League of Nations. How was it that despite the overwhelming support of the leadership of the party, the Republicans failed to secure full American participation in the League?

The question of United States membership in the League of Nations was introduced in the hostile environment of a divided government. Partisan conflict poisoned relations between the Democratic White House and the Republican Senate, rendering ratification of the Versailles Treaty impossible. However, partisan hostility does not provide a complete explanation for the absence of American participation in the League of Nations. After the election of 1920, the Republican Senate majority leader, Henry Cabot Lodge, and the Republican secretary of state, Charles Evans Hughes, supported entry into the League under the guidelines of Republican reservationism.

These two men molded an activist foreign policy marked by cooperation with international organizations. the U.S. government cooperated in the postwar occupation of Germany, maintained observer status in most League agencies, and . . .

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