Senate Rejects Treaty of Versailles

1919

President Woodrow Wilson personally negotiates the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I and creating the League of Nations to foster international cooperation. Wilson, a Democrat, does not take any senators to the peace talks, offending the Senate. Republicans win control of the Senate in 1918 and oppose the League of Nations, arguing that it gives away too much American sovereignty. When Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge offers a series of “reservations” to make the treaty more acceptable, Wilson rejects them. Wilson takes his case to the American people, but suffers a stroke that leaves him incapacitated. Without his leadership, the Senate twice rejects the treaty, by votes of 38-53 in 1919, and 49-35 in 1920. The United States never joins the League of Nations.