Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source5
Foreign Office report on reactions in the USA to the Treaty, 29 July 1919
(Catalogue ref: FO 608/175)
  • One task of the Foreign Office has been to keep British leaders informed about what is happening in the rest of the world. Every week, British officials all over the world sent back reports on what the politicians, press and people in various countries were saying and thinking about important issues.
  • This source is reporting on French concerns about developments in the USA.
  • As this report 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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