Defense of the Covenant
During Wilson's absence from Europe and while the mood of the people he had wooed there turned from optimism to bewilderment and impatience, Charles Seymour viewed the situation in historical perspective. "Unless the United States undertakes the burden of helping to keep peace over here," he wrote, "another war is inevitable, and the past three years prove that we are vitally concerned in any European war.... What people at home seem to fail to realize is that the war has brought Europe, and with her the world, to the very brink of complete demoralization ; you can't realize it until you come here and read the telegrams from Central Europe. It is far worse than after any war of recent or even medieval history because of the interdependence of nations at the beginning of the twentieth century." 1.
When Wilson returned to America, however, he found that he had to contend with more than general ignorance of the extremity of Europe's plight. The president was obliged under the Constitution to be in Washington to pass upon legislation enacted during the final days of the old Congress before it adjourned on March 4. There was danger of a fatal clash between Wilson and his Republican adversaries, and in particular with Henry Cabot Lodge, who would be chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the incoming Congress. 2.
In a discussion of domestic politics on the first day of 1919 Wilson and House had agreed that their cause would be hurt if the president acceded to the Republican desire that he call an extra session of the new Congress. 3. But they differed upon an aspect of strategy that was vital. Wilson showed a belligerent determination to veto any legislation that his adversaries might propose. House, on the contrary, advised that the president say in a magnanimous way that he would leave the Republicans free to carry out the mandate that they had received from the voters in the congressional election of 1918. Thus, the colonel reasoned, the opposition would receive a large share of the blame that was, in his opinion, sure to be heaped upon men in a position of responsibility. Observing that Wilson found it hard to give up the extraordinary power that had come to him out of the necessity of winning the war, House doubted that he would act on the advice given. Actually, the president was not eager to hold out olive branches to those who questioned the practical validity of the doctrine upon which he based his leadership and power. It was hard, he wrote____________________