The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 37: Individual Citizens to the Rescue

THE United States had disowned its own child, the League of Nations. But the child went on living without its parents.

The Treaty of Versailles stipulated that its provisions would enter into force as soon as it had been ratified "by Germany on the one hand and three of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on the other hand." This condition was fulfilled on January 10, 1920, two months before the final veto in the United States Senate. When the blow fell, what could Britain and France and the other "Members of the League" do but carry on as best they could? There were 32 "original Members of the League," owing their status to the fact they had signed the Treaty of Peace; in the case of China, who refused to sign the German Treaty, because of the Shantung question, signature of the Austrian Treaty did duty for the occasion. There were also 13 states "invited to accede" to the Covenant; these were states which had been neutral in the war.

Careful arrangements had been made during the previous year to prepare the League machinery and the new institutions were rapidly set up. The first meeting of the Council took place on January 10 itself and the first meeting of the Assembly in the following September. Meanwhile the Secretary-General, Sir Eric Drummond, an experienced British official with nineteen years of foreign office service behind him, had been busy in picking the best men that he could find for the secretariat-and on excellent team they were. There was nothing to prevent his extending invitations to citizens of the United States. Mr. Raymond Fosdick, who had been the chief civilian adviser of the American Commander in Chief in France, was offered the post of Under-Secretary-General, which he felt himself unable to hold after the Senate's action; other Americans accepted posts on a somewhat lower level and continued to occupy them for many years. This was at

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