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Failure of the U.S. to Join the League of Nations

You are required to start one “new” posting for each debate argument (i.e., one for the YES position and one for the NO position. One of two kinds of comments is expected, either: (1) a request for clarification (comment), or (2) the asking of a specific question, regarding the Position Statement. (See below for an explanation of each).
CLARIFICATION (comment): If a student is uncertain on a point, counterpoint, interpretation of data, a study, or any other portion of a presentation, the student in the audience can ask for clarification. Be specific! Whoever is explaining the concept or supporting member on the team should clear the problem up for the student as a teacher would do in any class.
QUESTION: Questioning is appropriate when a student is disturbed by an answer or has data counter to or can expand upon a position taken by a debate team.
Be sure to lay a “foundation” to your question or comment! In other words, give some background to your question or comment. Do not just “ask” a question or make a comment; what is the basis for your question. Provide a citation or URL if you can so the debaters (and the rest of the class) can see for themselves. Again, this is NOT about your opinion, but your research.
Assignment: Respond to the papers below with the above criteria.
Paper 1: Our issue: Was Woodrow Wilson Responsible for the Failure of the U.S. to Join the League of Nations?
Position: YES
Woodrow Wilson: Failure of the U.S. to Join the League of Nations
President Woodrow Wilson gave his “Fourteen Points” speech to Congress in 1918; which proposed the formation of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was established in order to mediate disputes and avoid future war established after World War I as part of the Treaty of Versailles. Wilson went back to the Senate to present the Treaty. but they ultimately decided not to ratify the treaty.The United States ultimately never joined the League of nations even though it was Wilson’s ideas that formed it. Our position is that Woodrow Wilson’s actions were responsible for the failure of the U.S. to join the League of Nations. There were major factors which led to the Senate ultimately rejecting the treaty. One being that the President was very inexperienced politically. “Certainly, no president before or since has had less formal political experience than Wilson.”(Madaras and SoRelle, pg 138). Wilson’s lack of political experience had labeled him a naive idealist and Lodge knew this (Madaras and SoRelle, Page 147). Wilson started to develope a messianic complex and believed that he could be the savior of the world. “…the United states could not save the world without being continually involved with it.”(Foner, pg 765) This caused Wilson to put more focus on foreign matters than domestic issues. He thought his popularity at the time would allow him to carry his plan forward past the Senate and into the rest of the world. Wilson also failed to come to a compromise with any Republican Senators on the issue; especially Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. According to Madaras and SoRelle, Wilson didn’t bring any Republican representatives with him to the Paris Peace Conference. (pg. 140) They also noted that “This was the first time a president was going outside the United States to conduct foreign affairs.”(pg. 140) Lodge felt as though the United States needed to deal in their own interests. He argued that “…the League threatened to deprive the country of its freedom of action”(Foner, pg 765). Lodge and a majority of Senators decided that in addition to other amendments, the treaty would be accepted under the condition that the United States “obligation to assist League members against attack did not supersede the power of Congress to declare war”.(Foner, pg. 765) This was otherwise referring to Article X from the treaty. Wilson had asked Senate Democrats to vote against ratifying the treaty if Lodge’s changes weren’t dropped. According to Foner, Wilson was very skilled in compromising as a politician but he believed that the treaty reflected “the hand of God” and he had refused to negotiate with congressional leaders.(pg.766) Another major factor in which the United States didn’t join the league was due to Wilson’s failing health. When the Senate was deadlocked and Wilson was too impatient to wait for a verdict, he chose to rally support from the people by going across the country. “…his friends urged him not to risk breaking himself down in a strenuous barnstorming campaigning”(Madaras and SoRelle, pg. 145) This amount of strain on his body caused him to have a stroke. He couldn’t continue to fight Lodge and maintain support and popularity in favor of the Treaty. Overall, Wilson’s failure to convince the U.S. to the join the League of Nations can be attributed to lack of a willingness to compromise, misrepresenting his ideals, and untimely poor health. Wilson was too concerned with the bigger picture to see that the majority of people had a favoring interest in keeping America’s interests and integrity secure. Had he not been so stubborn against the Republican majority, a compromise could have been made and the treaty would have been ratifying thus granting the United States admittance into the League of Nations.
Works Cited: Eric Foner, An American History, Give Me Liberty! Fourth Edition, Volume 2 Larry Madaras / James M. SoRelle, Taking Sides, Clashing View in United States History Volume 2: Reconstruction to the Present (Sixteenth Edition) Totally History, http://totallyhistory.com/woodrow¬wilson/ U.S. History, http://www.ushistory.org/us/45d.asp U.S. Department of State: Office of the Historian, https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914¬1920/league

Paper 2:
Debate Issue 2.3: Was Woodrow Wilson Responsible for the Failure of the U.S. to Join the League of Nations?
NO position for: Was Woodrow Wilson Responsible for the Failure of the U.S. to Join the League of Nations?
On the 8 th of January in 1918, United States President Woodrow Wilson gave his Fourteen Points Speech to a joint session of congress. Wilson’s fourteenth point stated, “A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.” [1] This was the basis for what we know today as the League of Nations. We have been asked whether or not Woodrow Wilson was responsible for the failure of the United States to join the League of Nations. We believe that it was not the fault of Wilson for the United States’ failure to join the organization that he himself called for. Europe adopted Wilson’s Fourteen Points in the Covenant of the League of Nations through the Treaty of Versailles. Therefore, Wilson obviously was heavily in favor of the Treaty and wished for everything to go through. In October, 1918, Wilson issued a letter that pressed the importance of the Democrats holding a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Democrats failed to do so in the 1918 midterm elections, and the Republicans took over the majority in both chambers. [2] As most of us know, for the President to sign or pass anything, it must receive a two thirds majority vote in Congress. The Treaty failed to receive this vote, and therefore President Wilson could not sign the Treaty to allow the United States into the League of Nations. It can also be stated that Congress failed to do its duty by failing to pass this Treaty. Congress is supposed to make its decisions based on what the American people are in favor of. A majority of the people in the United States at the time were actually in favor of the Treaty and wanted the United States to be a part of the League of Nations. However, there remained strong opposition to the Treaty in Congress and they decided that they were not going to allow the Treaty to be passed if they could do something about it. [3] Warren Harding was a leader in the opposition to the Treaty of Versailles. Alongside Henry Cabot Lodge, another leader in the opposition on the Republican side, the two were able to stir up enough support within Congress to halt the Treaty from its success. [3] When Wilson suffered his stroke in 1919, his position was taken over by Republican Warren Harding who ultimately stopped any hope of the Treaty being ratified by the United States. In conclusion, Woodrow Wilson is not responsible for the failure of the United States to join the League of Nations. If blame is to be pointed at anyone, it should be pointed at the members of Congress, as that seems to be the only place where major opposition to the Treaty existed. If the Democrats were to win House and Senate majority in 1918, if Harding and Lodge were not in a position to sway the results of the vote, or even if a President who was in favor of the Treaty were to take over Wilson’s position, there is no doubt in my mind that the Treaty would have been ratified and the United States would have joined the League of Nations.

Important Sources:
Wilsons SpeeechLeague of Nations

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