DEBATE IN THE US OVER THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS

This material is taken from the EDSITEment lesson plan entitled "Debate in the United States over the League of Nations."


EDSITEment Debate in the U.S. over the League of Nations
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=475

Curriculum Unit Overview
“Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American . . . America is the only idealist nation in the world.”
—President Woodrow Wilson
“National I must remain and in that way I, like all other Americans, can render the amplest service to the world.”
—Senator Henry Cabot Lodge

Introduction

American foreign policy continues to resonate with the issues surrounding the debate over U.S. entry into the League of Nations-collective security versus national sovereignty, idealism versus pragmatism, the responsibilities of powerful nations, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals, the idea of America.
Understanding the debate over the League and the consequences of its ultimate failure provides insight into international affairs in the years since the end of the Great War and beyond.
In this lesson, students read the words and listen to the voices of some central participants in the debate over the League of Nations.

Guiding Questions:
What was Woodrow Wilson's role in and vision for peace and the League of Nations after World War I?
What were the central issues in the debate in America over the League of Nations?

Learning Objectives
After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to:
  • Describe Wilson's concepts for peace and the League of Nations and efforts to foster American support for it.
  • Discuss the opposition to the League in the Senate.

Unit Lessons

Lesson 1. League of Nations Basics
Lesson 2. Disagreement Over the League
Lesson 3. Five Camps: From Voices of Consent to Voices of Dissent

Extending the Lesson

o The EDSITEment resource Digital Classroom offers a lesson on Churchill and FDR, a portion of which discusses the Atlantic Charter and its relationship to the Fourteen Points. When the class studies World War II, this lesson would be a good follow-up to earlier lessons on the Fourteen Points and the League of Nations.

o The EDSITEment-reviewed website Links to the Past offers a lesson entitled Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (from the Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plan), inspired by the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C. It features some excellent archival documents and activities, some of which are used in this lesson, for teaching about Wilson and especially his fight for the League of Nations.

o Students interested in World War I poetry and prose can consult the following EDSITEment resources:
  • The Academy of American Poets
  • An Anthem for Doomed Youth, on Great War Primary Documents Archive, offers short accounts of and some pieces from WWI writers.
  • Prose and Poetry on First World War.com, a link from Great War Primary Documents Archive

o In the mid-1930s, the Nye Committee investigated the relationship between the munitions industry and foreign policy. Though its conclusions are still disputed today, the committee's report had a profound influence on American isolationism between the World Wars and on the peace movement. A principal Nye Committee Report on the growth and influence of the munitions industry after World War I is accessible from Documents of World War I, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website Great War Primary Documents Archive.

o President Wilson established the Committee for Public Information to influence public opinion, encourage enlistment, demonize the enemy, and increase the sale of war bonds. Students interested in studying the propaganda produced by the CPI can consult:
  • Propaganda Posters - United States of America, with six pages of posters and the essay Domestic Propaganda During The First World War, on First World War.com, a link from the EDSITEment resource Great War Primary Documents Archive.
  • Propaganda Leaflets also on Great War Primary Documents Archive
  • Links to Archival Audio: World War I Propagandaon the EDSITEment-reviewed website American Memory

Selected EDSITEment Websites

The Academy of American Poets
[http://www.poets.org/]
  • Rupert Brooke, A Soldier
[http://www.poets.org/poems/poems.cfm?prmID=1591]

American Memory
[http://memory.loc.gov/]
  • American Memory audio for World War I proaganda
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@band(World+War,+1914-1918--Propaganda.--United+States)]
  • Henry Cabot Lodge's Case Against the League of Nations (text and archival audio)
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000014+90000015))]
  • James M. Cox: Prevention of War (text and archival audio)
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field
(DOCID+@range(90000078+90000079))]
  • Senator Warren G. Harding: An Association of Nations(text and archival audio)
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000051+90000052))]
  • The Trouble with Senators Who Oppose The League of Nations (text and archival audio)
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000047+90000048))]
  • Today in History: November 11, 1918. Allied powers sign armistice
[http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/nov11.html]
  • William G. McAdoo: Revise Taxes
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000015+90000016))]
  • American Memory: Sources
[http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/sources.html]
  • PBS History
[http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/]
  • Woodrow Wilson (American Experience)
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/index.html]
  • Wilson—A Portrait: The League of Nations
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/portrait/wp_league.html]
  • Wilson's Fourteen Points
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/filmmore/fm_14points.html]
  • The Covenant of the League of Nations (Signed June 28, 1919)
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/filmmore/fm_nations.html]

American Studies at the University of Virginia
[http://xroads.virginia.edu/]
  • From Revolution to Reconstruction
[http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/index.htm]
  • Chapter Nine: The League of Nations
[http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch9_p3.htm]
  • History of the League of Nations
[http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/E/league/leaguexx.htm]
  • United States Enters World War I
[http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch9_p2.htm]
  • War and Neutral Rights
[http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch9_p1.htm]

Digital Classroom
[http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/index.html]
  • Churchill and FDR
[http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/fdr_churchill_documents/fdr_churchill.html]

Great War Primary Documents Archive
[http://www.gwpda.org]
  • An Anthem for Doomed Youth (WWI literature site with examples.)
[http://www.lib.byu.edu/~english/WWI/main.html]
  • President Wilson's Fourteen Points
[http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918/14points.html]
  • Documents of World War I
[http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/ww1.htm]
  • The Senate and the League of Nations
[http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/doc41.htm]
  • First World War.com
[http://www.firstworldwar.com/]
  • Newton Baker on the League of Nations
[http://www.firstworldwar.com/audio/ontheleagueofnations.htm]
  • Prose and Poetry
[http://www.firstworldwar.com/poetsandprose/index.htm]
  • Second Inaugural Address of President Woodrow Wilson 4 March 1917
[http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/wilson1917inauguration.htm]
  • Reservations drawn up by Republican Senators
[http://www.unog.ch/library/archives/lon/library/Docs/usres.html]
  • Map of the World Showing Nations at War, August 1st, 1918
[http://freepages.military.rootsweb.com/~worldwarone/WWI/TheGeographyOfTheGreatWar/images/Figure36-Page36.jpg]
  • Map of the World Showing Nations at War: December 31st, 1914
[http://freepages.military.rootsweb.com/~worldwarone/WWI/TheGeographyOfTheGreatWar/images/Figure9-Page11.jpg]
  • Map of the World Showing the Possessions of the US, Britain, France, and Germany
[http://freepages.military.rootsweb.com/~worldwarone/WWI/TheGeographyOfTheGreatWar/images/Figure1-WorldAtlas.jpg]
  • The Geography of the Great War
[http://freepages.military.rootsweb.com/~worldwarone/WWI/TheGeographyOfTheGreatWar/index.html]
  • Woodrow Wilson
[http://raven.cc.ukans.edu/~kansite/ww_one/photos/bin02/imag0141.jpg]

History Matters
[http://historymatters.gmu.edu/]
  • The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
[http://www.gliah.uh.edu/index.cfm]
  • World War I Chronology
[http://www.gliah.uh.edu/historyonline/ww1_chron.cfm]

Internet Public Library
[http://www.ipl.org/]
  • United Nations
[http://www.un.org/]
  • Basic History
[http://www.un.org/aboutun/history.htm]
  • Index to UN Web Site
[http://www.un.org/aboutun/index.html]

Links to the Past
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/]
  • Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (From Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plan)
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14wilson.htm]
  • Activities
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14putting.htm]
  • Cartoon: GOP and the League
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14images/14cart1bh.jpg]
  • Lodge and Borah on the League of Nations
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14facts2.htm]
  • Map: Members and Non-Members of the League
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14images/14ill2bh.jpg]
  • The Covenant and Members of the League of Nations
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14visual2.htm]
  • The League of Nations: A Pictorial Study (circa 1920)
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14images/14ill1h.jpg]
  • Wilson's Final Campaign (November 10, 1923)
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14facts3.htm]
  • Wilson's Passion for the League of Nations
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14facts1.htm]


Lesson One: The Debate in the United States over the League of Nations: League of Nations Basics

Introduction
American foreign policy continues to resonate with the issues surrounding the debate over U.S. entry into the League of Nations-collective security versus national sovereignty, idealism versus pragmatism, the responsibilities of powerful nations, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals, the idea of America.

Understanding the debate over the League and the consequences of its ultimate failure provides insight into international affairs in the years since the end of the Great War and beyond.

Guiding Question:
What was Woodrow Wilson's role in and vision for peace and the League of Nations after World War I?

Learning Objectives
After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to:
  • Describe Wilson's concepts for peace and the League of Nations and efforts to foster American support for it.

Share with the class the card The League of Nations: A Pictorial Study on the PBS website Woodrow Wilson, a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory.

Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • Why is Wilson pictured at the center of the card?
  • Look at the text surrounding Wilson's image. What is its significance?
  • Why is the Fourteenth Point printed at the bottom of the card?
XIV. 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.
  • The League of Nations printed this card. How might the card's contents and design serve the interests of the League?
Review President Wilson's Fourteen Points (found within the text of Wilson's January 8, 1918, address to a joint session of Congress) on the EDSITEment resource Great War Primary Documents Archive.

Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • Which points were about specific territorial issues in Europe and elsewhere?
  • Review points 1-5 and 14:
I. Open treaties
II. Freedom of navigation upon the seas
III. Removal of economic barriers
IV. Reduction of arms
V. Free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims
XIV. (See above.)
  • Which, if any, would be of little benefit/great benefit to powerful nations like the U.S.?
  • Which, if any, would be of little benefit/great benefit to weaker nations?
  • Which, if any, would likely be regarded as taking away some of the power of the U.S. as a sovereign nation?

Now share with students The Covenant and Members of the League of Nations on the EDSITEment-reviewed website Links to the Past.
Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • Which nations were not members of the League?
  • What were the basic tenets of the Covenant? (If desired, look at the complete text of the Covenant of the League of Nations available on the PBS website Woodrow Wilson, a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory.)
  • Look at the introduction to the Covenant. Compare it to the Fourteenth Point.
THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES, In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another, agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.
Students wanting more detail about the origins and History of the League of Nations can read this brief essay on From Revolution to Reconstruction, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website American Studies at the University of Virginia.

Assessment
In writing or through oral response to questions, students should be able to describe President Wilson's role in creating the League of Nations. They should understand the basic issues covered in Wilson's Fourteen points, and compare those with the tenets in the Covenant of the League of Nations.

Selected EDSITEment Websites

American Memory
[http://memory.loc.gov/]

o PBS History
[http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/]

o Woodrow Wilson (American Experience)
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/index.html]

o Wilson—A Portrait: The League of Nations
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/portrait/wp_league.html]

o Wilson's Fourteen Points
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/filmmore/fm_14points.html]

o The Covenant of the League of Nations (Signed June 28, 1919)
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/filmmore/fm_nations.html]

American Studies at the University of Virginia
[http://xroads.virginia.edu/]

o From Revolution to Reconstruction
[http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/index.htm]

o History of the League of Nations
[http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/E/league/leaguexx.htm]

Great War Primary Documents Archive
[http://www.gwpda.org]

o President Wilson's Fourteen Points
[http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918/14points.html]

Links to the Past
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/]

o The Covenant and Members of the League of Nations
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14visual2.htm]


Lesson Two: The Debate in the United States over the League of Nations: Disagreement over the League

Introduction

American foreign policy continues to resonate with the issues surrounding the debate over U.S. entry into the League of Nations-collective security versus national sovereignty, idealism versus pragmatism, the responsibilities of powerful nations, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals, the idea of America.

Understanding the debate over the League and the consequences of its ultimate failure provides insight into international affairs in the years since the end of the Great War and beyond.

Guiding Question:
What were the central issues in the debate in America over the League of Nations?

Learning Objective
After completing this lesson in this unit, students will be able to:
  • Discuss the opposition to the League in the Senate.

Share the Cartoon: GOP and the League on the EDSITEment resource Links to the Past. (NOTE: Lodge, Knox, and Borah were all Republican senators.)

Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • What message does the cartoon communicate?
  • Article 10 of the Covenant was the most controversial point in the U.S. Senate. Why?
The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.

Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • What were the basic objections to the League?
  • What would Wilson need to have done to assure acceptance of the League by the Senate?

Selected EDSITEment Websites

American Memory
[http://memory.loc.gov/]

o Woodrow Wilson
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/index.html]
o Wilson—A Portrait: The League of Nations
[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/portrait/wp_league.html]

Links to the Past
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/]

o Cartoon: GOP and the League
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14images/14cart1bh.jpg]


Lesson Three: The Debate in the United States over the League of Nations: Five Camps: From Voices of Consent to Voices of Dissent

Introduction

American foreign policy continues to resonate with the issues surrounding the debate over U.S. entry into the League of Nations-collective security versus national sovereignty, idealism versus pragmatism, the responsibilities of powerful nations, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals, the idea of America.

Understanding the debate over the League and the consequences of its ultimate failure provides insight into international affairs in the years since the end of the Great War and beyond.

Guiding Questions:
What was Woodrow Wilson's role in and vision for peace and the League of Nations after World War I?
What were the central issues in the debate in America over the League of Nations?

Learning Objectives
After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to:
  • Describe Wilson's concepts for peace and the League of Nations and efforts to foster American support for it.
  • Discuss the opposition to the League in the Senate.

Student Activity:
Working in either a whole-class setting or small groups, students should listen to and/or read the texts listed above, then fill in the chart "The Debate Over the League of Nations" on page 1 of the PDF file (see Preparing to Teach This Lesson, in the curriculum unit overview, for download instructions).

There were five basic viewpoints about the League of Nations:

President Wilson, a strong internationalist, was unequivocally in favor of the League. His position is represented by the address he gave to an audience in the City Auditorium of Pueblo, Col., on September 25, 1919 (see Wilson's Passion for the League of Nations on the EDSITEment resource Links to the Past). He was supported by 27 Democrats in the Senate. Other strong internationalists included Newton Baker (see Newton Baker on the League of Nations on First World War.com, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website Great War Primary Documents Archive), Democratic presidential candidate James M. Cox (see James M. Cox: Prevention of War, text and archival audio on the EDSITEment resource American Memory), and former Secretary of Treasury William G. McAdoo, who saw a different side to the story (see William G. McAdoo: Revise Taxes, text and archival audio also available on American Memory).

Former President William Howard Taft was a limited internationalist. Though wary of putting the U.S. in a position where it could be forced into a war, he supported the League.

Senator Gilbert M. Hitchcock had mild reservations about the League (see The Trouble with Senators Who Oppose the League of Nations, text and archival audio available on American Memory). Twenty Republicans and an equal number of Democrats agreed.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge had strong reservations about the League, but was willing to support it with changes to the covenant (see Henry Cabot Lodge's Case Against the League of Nations, text and archival audio available on American Memory). He had the support of seven Republican senators, including future President Warren G. Harding (see Senator Warren G. Harding: An Association of Nations, text and archival audio also available on American Memory).

Senator William E. Borah could never agree to the League. He was one of 14 irreconcilable Republican senators and one Democrat. His position is represented by a speech to the Senate delivered on November 10, 1919 (see Borah on the League of Nations, on the bottom half of the page, available on Links to the Past).

In the end, the Senate adopted 14 changes. If desired, review with the class the Reservations drawn up by Republican Senators, available via a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website Great War Primary Documents Archive. For more detail about the Senate debate, consult The Senate and the League of Nations on Documents of World War I, another link from Great War Primary Documents Archive (NOTE: The document begins with Lodge's 14 reservations, but quite a bit of additional material follows.)

Wilson's Final Campaign
On November 10, 1923, one day before his last public statement, former President Wilson delivered a speech, the text of which is available at Wilson's Final Campaign on the EDSITEment resource Links to the Past.

Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • In what ways were Wilson's predictions proven correct by events occurring after 1923?
  • Given the harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles (to which Wilson agreed in order to ensure that the League of Nations would be part of the agreement), is there any reason to believe the League of Nations could have prevented World War II had the U.S. joined?

Selected EDSITEment Websites

American Memory
[http://memory.loc.gov/]

o James M. Cox: Prevention of War
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000078+90000079))]

o William G. McAdoo: Revise Taxes
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000015+90000016))]

o The Trouble with Senators Who Oppose the League of Nations
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000047+90000048))]

o Henry Cabot Lodge's Case Against the League of Nations
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000014+90000015))]

o Senator Warren G. Harding: An Association of Nations
[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nfor:@field(DOCID+@range(90000051+90000052))]

Great War Primary Documents Archive
[http://www.gwpda.org]

o First World War.com
[http://www.firstworldwar.com/]

o Newton Baker on the League of Nations
[http://www.firstworldwar.com/audio/ontheleagueofnations.htm]

o Reservations drawn up by Republican Senators
[http://www.unog.ch/library/archives/lon/library/Docs/usres.html]

o Documents of World War I
[http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/ww1.htm]

o The Senate and the League of Nations
[http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/doc41.htm]

Links to the Past
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/]

o Wilson's Passion for the League of Nations
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14facts1.htm]

o Borah on the League of Nations
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14facts2.htm]

o Wilson's Final Campaign
[http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/14wilson/14facts3.htm]