The Versailles Treaty, Essay Example

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Essay

While the Versailles Treaty ended conflict with Germany, it created much debate within the United States Senate. The conclusion and outcome of the U.S. Senate debate over ratification of the Versailles Treaty had a great impact on the world at large. The Versailles Treaty was set in place by an international body called the League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference and established a set of punishments against Germany that included limiting Germany’s military fleet, monetary reparations, and forcing Germany to return disputed territories. (Dictionary of American History, 2003)  After six months of debate and negations, the treaty was registered on October 21, 1919.

France, Britain and the United States all sought to achieve separate aims with the Versailles Treaty and debate over the exact terms of the treaty was intense. Perhaps the most stubborn debate over terms of the treaty was the U.S. Senate’s debate on ratification of the treaty. One of the most controversial provisions of the treaty required Germany to pay reparations to countries that had formed the Entente powers in an amount equal to $442 billion today. British economist John Maynard Keynes argued that this measure was too harsh. Many American leaders felt the same as Keynes. The U.S. Senate itself was split into three major blocs; one bloc comprised mostly of Republicans firmly opposed the Versailles Treaty in any form, one bloc of Democrats supported the treaty but without any amendments or reservations, and the largest bloc supported a treaty with added reservations concerning the power of the League of Nations to declare war without a vote by the U.S. Congress. (Widenor, 1980)

Eventually, the largest bloc, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, joined with the Democratic bloc in support of the treaty and achieved a two-thirds majority vote for a Treaty with reservations. Wilson rejected it and support by Democrats against the treaty effectively killed it. The Knox-Porter Resolution was passed signed into law on July 21st, 1921 under Wilson’s successor, Warren G. Harding. (Wimer, 1967)

References

Dictionary of American History. (2003). Versailles, Treaty of. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Treaty_of_Versailles.aspx

Great Projects Film Company, Inc. (1999). Timeline. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from PBS: http://www.pbs.org/crucible/tl17.html

Guiseppi, R. (2007). The Spanish-American War. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from History World: http://history-world.org/Spanish%20America%20War.htm

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