The Treaty of Versailles was the peace treaty signed at the end of World War I between Germany and the Allies. It was negotiated during the Paris Peace Conference in Versailles, beginning in early 1919. Four major powers were represented at the conference- the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. Not present, however, was Germany who had been excluded from the meeting. President Wilson desired the war treaty to be guided by his Fourteen Points plan. The Fourteen Points called for free trade through lower tariffs and freedom of the seas; a reduction of arms supplies on all sides; and the promotion of self-determination, both in Europe and overseas. The plan also sought to create the League of Nations, which would provide international cooperation. Wilson’s Fourteen Points served as a foundation for the initial stages of negotiations; however, the negotiations took a different route. The European Allies wanted a peace settlement that punished Germany for the atrocities it had apparently cause in the war. Although Europeans eventually reached a settlement to punish Germany, the treaty and the United States’ participation in the League of Nations were rejected. The explanation for the defeat of the treaty can be substantiated on the basis of the strength and perspective of the opposition forces in the Senate, rising self-interest, and Wilson’s illness.
... the war was even over, President Woodrow Wilson developed the Fourteen Points. Wilson thought that the Fourteen Points would bring a fair peace settlement. The Fourteen Points consisted ... punished. They were forced under the Treaty of Versailles to except full responsibility for the war. Germany was forced to give up territory ...
The defeat of the Versailles Treaty is primarily the cause of the opposing factions in the U.S. Senate. Wilson had virtually total support from the Democratic Senators, but he needed to win over a number of Republicans to satisfy the two-thirds majority necessary for ratification. The Republicans were divided into three sections, one of which comprised of the irreconcilables. William E. Borah was the leader of the group. Borah was a highly uncompromising isolationist who would persistently vote against the League. The irreconcilables would not support a plan that would entangle the United States in European affairs. They believed that the proposition of the treaty was force to destroy force, conflict to prevent conflict, militarism to destroy militarism, and war to prevent war (Doc A).
Their views, however, contradicted with the views of the other two factions. The “mild” reservationists were in favor the League but hoped to implement minor alterations, chiefly for political purposes. On the contrary, the “strong” reservationists, led by Senator Lodge, advocated major changes. Lodge considered Wilson excessively idealistic. Lodge insisted that the country’s right to determine its own best interests in every situation be protected. He proposed the Lodge Reservations, which limited the United States’ obligations to the League and stated the right of Congress to decide these obligations. The most important reservation in the Lodge Reservations involved Article X. It committed signatories to protect the political independence and territorial integrity of all members of the League. “When you read Article X, therefore, you will see that it is nothing but inevitable, logical center of the whole system of the Covenant of the League of Nations…”(Doc C).
The preceding was Wilson’s perspective of Article X. He adamantly favored Article X, but completely disagreed to the other Lodge Reservations. He would not accept the treaty with the Lodge Reservations implemented. The two main groups of opposition, the reservationists and the irreconcilables ended up splitting the votes in the Senate so that a majority could not be reached in order to ratify the Treaty of Versailles.