Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source2
Newspaper extracts describing reaction in the USA to the Treaty, 29 June 1919
(The New York Times)
  • This article comes from The New York Times just after the Treaty of Versailles was signed by Germany. The New York Times was a highly respected newspaper.
  • McCumber was a senior senator. Borah was a Republican Party senator and a bitter opponent of President Wilson. (Senators are members of the Senate, the upper house of Congress. Congress is the national legislative body of the USA, a bit like a British Parliament.)
  • Shantung was a German colony in Asia, which the Treaty of Versailles gave to Japan. Americans were unhappy about this as it might allow Japan to rival American trade in the Pacific Ocean.
  • As this newspaper article shows, reactions to the Treaty in the USA were generally negative. Many people felt that the Treaty was unfair on Germany. More importantly, they felt that Britain and France were making themselves rich at Germany's expense and that the USA should not be helping them do this. This was not really the case, but many Americans believed it.
  • A bigger reason for disputes over the Treaty was that US politics were deeply divided. President Wilson led the Democratic Party. However, his rivals in the Republican Party dominated the American Congress. They used the treaty as an opportunity to criticise Wilson.
  • Wilson has to take some of the blame for this as he made little effort to consult the Republicans about the Treaty. Americans were also uneasy about Wilson's scheme for a League of Nations. They were concerned that belonging to the League would drag the USA into international disputes. In the end, the Congress rejected the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations in March 1920.
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