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adventurous course of action which could not be controlled by Congress. The chief opposition to the treaty and covenant, however, probably resulted from the personal dislike of Wilson. This feeling, which had always been virulent along the Atlantic coast and in the industrial centers of the Middle West, had been intensified by the President's apparent disregard of Congress. More than one man of business argued that the treaty must be bad because it was Wilson's work and the covenant worst of all, since it was his pet scheme. One heard daily in the clubs and on the golf-courses of New England and the Middle Atlantic States the remark: "I know little about the treaty, but I know Wilson, and I know he must be wrong."
And yet the game was probably in the President's hands, had he known how to play it. Divided as it was on the question of personal devotion to Wilson, the country was a unit in its desire for immediate peace and normal conditions. Admitting the imperfections of the treaty, it was probably the best that could be secured in view of the conflicting interests of the thirty-one signatory powers, and at least it would bring peace at once. To cast it aside meant long delays and prolongation of the economic crisis. The covenant of the League might not be entirely satisfactory, but something must be done to prevent war in the future; and if this League proved unsatisfactory, it could be amended after trial. Even the opposing Senators did not believe that they could defeat the treaty outright. They were warned by Republican financiers, who understood international economic conditions, that the safety and prosperity of the world demanded ratification, and that the United States could not afford to assume an attitude of isolation even if it were possible. Broad-minded statesmen who were able to dissociate partisan emotion from intellectual judgment, such as ex-President Taft, agreed that the treaty should be ratified as promptly as possible. All that Senator Lodge and his associates really hoped for was to incorporate reservations which would guarantee the independence of American action and incidentally make it impossible for the President to claim all the credit for the peace.
Had the President proved capable of coöperating with the moderate Republican Senators it would probably have been possible for him to have saved the fruits of his labor at Paris. An important group honestly believed that the language of the covenant was ambiguous in certain respects, particularly as regards the extent of sovereignty sacrificed by the national government to the League, and the diminution of congressional powers. This group was anxious to insert reservations making plain the right of Congress alone to declare war, defining more exactly the right of the United States to interpret the Monroe Doctrine, and specifying what was meant by domestic questions that should be exempt from the cognizance of the League. Had Wilson at once combined with this group and agreed to the suggested reservations, he would in all probability have been able to secure the twothirds vote necessary to ratification. The country would have been satisfied; the Republicans might have contended that they had “Americanized” the treaty; and the reservations would probably have been accepted by the co-signatories. It would have been humiliating to go back to the Allies asking special privileges, but Europe needed American assistance too much to fail to heed these demands. After all America had gained nothing in the way of territorial advantage from the war and was asking for nothing in the way of reparations.
It was at this crucial moment that Wilson's peculiar temperamental faults asserted themselves. Sorely he needed the sane advice of Colonel House, who would doubtless have found ways of placating the opposition. But that practical statesman was in London and the President lacked the capacity to arrange the compromise that House approved.
President Wilson alone either would not or could not negotiate successfully with the middle group of Republicans. He went so far as to initiate private conferences with various Senators, a step indicating his desire to avoid the appearance of the dictatorship of which he was accused; but his attitude on reservations that altered the meaning of any portion of the treaty or covenant was unyielding, and he even insisted that merely interpretative reservations should not be embodied in the text of the ratifying resolution. The President evidently hoped that the pressure of public opinion would compel the Senate to yield to the demand for immediate peace and for guarantees against future war. His appearance of rigidity, however, played into the hands of the opponents of the treaty, who dominated the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate. Senator Lodge, chairman of the committee, adopted a stand which, to the Administration at least, did not seem to be justified by anything but a desire to discredit the work of Wilson. He had, in the previous year, warmly advocated a
League of Nations, but in the spring of 1919 he had given the impression that he would oppose any League for which Wilson stood sponsor. Thus he had raised objections to the preliminary draft of the covenant which Wilson brought from Paris in February; but when Wilson persuaded the Allies to incorporate some of the amendments then demanded by Republican Senators, he at once found new objections. He did not dare attack the League as a principle, in view of the uncertainty of public opinion on the issue; but he obviously rejoiced in the President's inability to unite the Democrats with the middle-ground Republicans, for whom Senator McCumber stood as spokesman.
On the 19th of August a conference was held at the White House, in which the President attempted to explain to the Foreign Relations Committee doubtful points and to give the reasons for various aspects of the settlement. A careful study of the stenographic report indicates that his answers to the questions of the Republican Senators were frank, and that he was endeavoring to remove the unfortunate effects of his former distant attitude. His manner, however, had in it something of the schoolmaster, and the conference was fruitless. Problems which had been studied for months by