THE PARADE OF PREJUDICE
"We of all peoples in the world. . . ought to be able to underderstand the questions of this treaty. . . for we are made up out of all the peoples in the world." WOODROW WILSON, at Columbus, Ohio, September 4, 1919.
THE UNWARY observer is apt to conclude that during the summer and autumn of 1919 the one consuming interest of the American people was the treaty with its League of Nations. This is not true. If it had been, the story might well have been different.
Only a sprinkling of Americans had more than the foggiest notions as to what the treaty was all about. The pact itself, of which the League was the very first section, filled a bulky book of 268 large quarto pages. If a copy had been placed in the hands of each voter, it still would not have been read. It was too long, and the language was so technical as to be largely incomprehensible to the lay mind. "This is a strange world," lamented the Peoria Transcript. "Nobody is competent to discuss the Versailles Treaty until he has read it, and nobody who would take the time to read it would be competent to discuss it."
The League of Nations Covenant was of course much less technical. It was written in simple language and could be read in about twenty minutes. Hundreds of thousands of copies were scattered broadcast by newspapers and interested pressure groups, but we have no way of knowing how many people read them. One observer took an informal poll of the voters of a middle western city and found that only one in twentyfive had done so. This seems like a high percentage, certainly if we stipulate a comprehending reading.