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Position:Home>History> Why Were the Fourteen Points Rejected by The US Senate?

Question:and Why didn't the Senate like them?

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker: and Why didn't the Senate like them?

First, a little bit of clarification. Your question makes a false equation. The US Senate never voted on the "14 Points", only on the Treaty of Versailles, which they did indeed reject. The two were NOT the same.

Briefly, many of the 14 points (from Wilson's 1918 speech) which he submitted as a basis for peace in Europe and used in the 1919 treaty discussions in Paris, were rejected by ALLIED leaders. In the end, only four of them survived in tact (though these included the one Wilson thought most important --the establishment of a League of Nations).

As for the Treaty of Versailles -- here are three reasons Wilson failed to gain passage :

1) Wilson refused to accept ANY of the Senate's fourteen proposed "reservations"/modifications... with which it most certainly would have passed.

Henry Cabot Lodge told the story of the ratification vote and detailed some of his party's concerns in a book mentioned here:

Note especially this point:
"Senator Lodge, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and de facto majority leader, was troubled by the peace treaty, taking particular exception to Article Ten of the League Covenant, which he and others felt required all League members to come to the aid of any member state under attack."

To clarify: passing a treaty "with reservations" is not at all unusual. These would then have gone back to the other nations who were party to the treaty for their approval.

2) The President's choice of negotiating team - esp. failed to involve ANY Republican Senators in the treaty negotiations (even though they were the majority in the Senate, whose support he needed for ratification)

It was not an issue of simply "offending" people (by leaving them out), but that by leaving them out Wilson failed to make sure their CONCERNS about specifics (such as that reflected in #1 above) were addressed. It is also arguable that such a team would have had a bit more savvy to negotiate more strongly and gain a treaty that better protected AMERICAN foreign interests.

3) Wilson 'burnt himself out' with his travels around the country to drum up support, so was weakened, less able to engage in constructive discussions with the Senate (This activity, against expert advice, may well have contributed to his debilitating stroke... it is possible, however, that underlying health issues help explain his stubbornness at this time.)

What are the fourteen points

The rejection of membership in the League of Nations And the 14 points enumerated by President Wilson were rejected by the senate because of political differences with Wilson. They felt he was a romantic dreamer whose dreams would forever tangle the USA in the problems of Europe. We became isolationalist and felt that that would protect us from future wars in Europe. The fact that it did not neither means that the action was wrong or right. The world just turne out to be to complicated and our futures to connected to ignore the vast potential for harm should WW11 have resulted in a Nazi triumph.

Basically ignorance.
AmericanPopular opinion as well as US politicians ignorance about world affairs.
Had Wilson been able to implement the 14 points, World War II, would probably had not taken place.
All the Germans wanted was "fair treatment"
in the peace conditions after having been defeated in WW I.
The "Treaty of Versailles" was a revengefull treaty, that unjustly put all the blame of WW I on Germany.
Versailles created such a situation on Germany that facilitated the ascension of Hitler to power.
Wilson was so upset about the ignorant rejection of his 14 points that the US did not sign the "Treaty of Versailles" and separately signed the "Treaty of Berlin" with Germany.