Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939

Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939

Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939

Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939

Synopsis

Following the Senate rejection of US membership in the League of Nations, diverse groups of American internationalists launched a campaign to reverse this defeat of their ideals. This text traces their efforts during the interwar period; their political struggle and massive public opinion lobbying.

Excerpt

I N 1969,WARREN KUEHL published Seeking World Order: The United States and International Organizations to 1920. In that work, Kuehl provided "a study of an idea and an ideal," tracing the "continuous efforts, particularly between 1890 and 1920, to create an international organization" (vii). This book represents its sequel. Keeping the Covenant. American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939 traces the continued efforts of "the internationalists" from 1920, when they saw their dream for U.S. membership in the League of Nations defeated in the Senate, until the onset of World War II.

Tragically, Warren Kuehl could not see this work through to publication. Although he completed the research and produced a full-length manuscript in rough draft, death claimed him before he could complete revisions and sharpen the focus of the book. When I agreed to undertake those tasks, I received a typescript of 535 pages, divided into fifteen chapters. Those pages represented a prodigious amount of research and a remarkable, career-long commitment to narrating the activities of an oft-overlooked group of dedicated people.

In the original introduction, Kuehl stated his objective clearly. He wanted to detail the activities of the group of people he labeled "the internationalists" between the years 1920 and 1939. Warren admitted that he found defining the group difficult, stating forthrightly that it did not fit the polity internationalist-organizational supporter category developed in Seeking World Order. He was reluctant, however, to provide a new definition that would in any way detract from the group's diversity, complexity, and disarray.

Professor Kuehl went on to assert that both contemporary observers and historians had oversimplified the debate by portraying it within a commitment versus noncommitment context. He suggested, rather, that prevailing concepts of sovereignty and nationalism stood as the chief barriers to the realization of internationalist goals, and that advocates of world cooperation and involvement had to be highly imaginative in their response to those . . .

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