Lodge Reservations

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Henry Cabot Lodge

United States Senator Henry Cabot Lodge from Massachusetts was the Republican Majority Leader and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. In response to the Treaty of Versailles, Senator Lodge penned twelve reservations to the proposed post-war agreements. The Treaty called for the creation of a League of Nations in which the promise of mutual security would hopefully prevent another major world war. The League charter which Wilson primarily wrote let the League set the terms for war and peace. If the League called for military action all members would have to join in. Lodge wanted to join the League of Nations with reservations. The Democrats in the Senate, following Wilson's direction, rejected Lodge's proposal to join the League with his reservations. Republicans opposed joining under Wilson's terms of no reservations which meant the League could force the U.S. to enter a war without approval of Congress. In the end the Senate voted down the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and never joined the new League of Nations.[1] Lodge won in the long run—his reservations were incorporated into the United Nations in 1945, where the U.S. had a veto.[2]

The Lodge Reservations[edit]

Gave a lot of power back to the United States of America in control over how it interacts with other nations, and how they interact with it. Almost all of the Reservations granted the United States more authority over its place within the League of Nations, or when the League of Nations was allowed to make decisions involving the United States.

Reservation One[edit]

The United States reserves the right to determine when it can withdraw from the League.

Reservation Two[edit]

Nothing compels the United States to ensure border contiguity or political independence of any nation, to interfere in foreign domestic disputes regardless of their status in the League, or to command troops or ships without Congressional declaration of war. This apply it would be to destroy the mutual security provided by articles 10–17 in the Treaty of Versailles. Articles 10–17 ensured "independence and territorial integrity" (Arthur Link) by stating that any attack on a League nation would be seen as an attack on all League nations. This would highly discourage any League or non-League nations from attacking the League nations. In this way, the sections of the Treaty of Versailles that dealt with the right to declare war themselves "[...] were almost ironclad guarantees of mutual security[...]" (Arthur Link). However, these articles would also take constitutional rights away from Congress, in the form of the right to declare war, which was given to Congress by article 1 section 8 of the Constitution. Instead, the power to declare war would be given to the League of Nations, which would, if a League nation was attacked, automatically blockade the offending country, using the armies and navies of the League nations.

Reservation Three[edit]

The United States retains sole control over foreign issues.

Reservation Four[edit]

The United States retains its right to decide which questions are within its own domestic jurisdiction and says that all political and domestic questions relating to its internal affairs (immigration, labor, coastal traffic, the tariff, commerce, the suppression of traffic in women, children, and dangerous drugs such as opium) are purely within the jurisdiction of the United States and are not to be required to be reviewed or approved by the League of Nations.

Reservation Five[edit]

The United States is not to be questioned about the Monroe Doctrine, or Its interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine.

Reservation Six[edit]

The United States reserves the right to take either side if China and Japan start a war against each other.

Reservation Seven[edit]

Congress will elect U.S. Representatives in the League of Nations and have total control over any representatives.

Reservation Eight[edit]

Trade between Germany and the United States can only be interfered with approval from Congress.

Reservation Nine[edit]

The United States is not obligated to pay any money to the League of Nations.

Reservation Ten[edit]

If the United States builds down its military might because of an order by the League of Nations, it can at any time, without warning, build up again if threatened.

Reservation Eleven[edit]

The United States reserves the right to allow peoples of states which break the Treaty of Versailles who live in the United States to continue their lives in the United States.

Reservation Twelve[edit]

Nothing in the Treaty of Versailles shall approve of anything illegal or compromise the rights of U.S. Citizens.

Reservation Thirteen[edit]

If the League of Nations is to create any future organizations, the United States is not bound to join so no matter as to how the League of Nations wishes concerning their involvement. Instead, Congress has the right to make the decision as to whether or not the United States chooses to be involved and the terms of their involvement.

Reservation Fourteen[edit]

The United States will not be bound by any vote in the League of Nations in which a nation has voted twice. Neither will it be bound by a vote which concerns and affects a voting party.

Henry Cabot Lodge and Republicanism[edit]

The Treaty of Versailles posed ideological problems for many Republicans, including Henry Cabot Lodge. Most contentious of its propositions was the Covenant that called for the creation of a League of 46 nations which would arbitrate international law and maintain peace for the indefinite future. The contents of Article 10 specifically required that the United States Congress relinquish its authority over whether the United States commits itself to warfare. Lodge even recorded his personal position on August 11, 1919, stating that:

if there had been no proposition such as is included in Article 10, but a simple proposition that it would be our intention to aid France, which is our barrier and outpost, when attacked without provocation by Germany, I should have strongly favored it for I feel very keenly the sacrifices of France and the immense value her gallant defense was to the whole world. But they have made the French treaty subject to the authority of the League, which is not to be tolerated. If we ever are called upon to go to the assistance of France as we were two years ago, we will go without asking anybody's leave. It is humiliating to be put in such an attitude and not the least of the mischief done by the League is that Article 10 will probably make it impossible to do anything for France as Root recommends and as many of our Senators desire.

Senator Lodge in fact favored many of the clauses of the Treaty and similar proposals by League supporters. It could be said that Lodge's beliefs resembled the features of the peace program of French Premier Georges Clemenceau, because he voiced admiration for said program in his memorandum. The underpinnings of Lodge's acceptance of this peace program and reservations to the Treaty of Versailles highlight President Wilson's opportunity to compromise with a Senator who shared similar if not identical ideals. (memorandum, [Dec. 2, 1918,] Henry Cabot Lodge Papers (Massachusetts Historical Society); Congressional Record, 65 cong., 3 Sess., 724-28 (Dec. 21, 1918).) One of these ideals was the control of military states, especially in reaction to Germany. During negotiations with diplomat Henry White over the impending peace settlement, Lodge emphasized that "the first and controlling purpose of the peace must be to put Germany in such a position that it will be physically impossible for her to break out again upon other nations with a war for world conquest." As was common among political leaders of the time, Lodge believed that Germany should pay the maximum indemnity which it could afford. Moreover, he believed that post-war matters mustn't be muddled by an indefinite covenant. This belief contrasts some previous statements Senator Lodge made, such as his commencement address at Union College, Schenectady, New York, on June 9, 1915, in which he said "in differences between nations which go beyond the limited range of arbititrable questions peace can only be maintained by putting behind it the force of united nations determined to uphold it and prevent war." Statements like these imply possible inconsistency within Lodge's views, however many interpret Lodge, especially considering his correspondences, as a nationalist who simply disfavored aspects of the Covenant. In correspondence to Senator Lodge, Senator Knox and Senator Root sent one letter that explained the distinction between the League and an alliance. The three Senators shared an aversion to the commitments of Article 10 as they generally accepted that Article 10 would impel the United States into the enforcement of all international law. Senator Lodge and future President Calvin Coolidge also exchanged over 400 letters from 1888 to 1924, the bulk of which centers on the 1919–1920 conflict over the League of Nations. These letters document 20 years of Lodge's expansionism and nationalism—especially in his opinions U.S. foreign policy in Latin America during the administrations of President Taft and President Wilson—calling into question the claims that Lodge was strictly an isolationist.

Defeat of the treaty by senatorial debate[edit]

On September 16, 1919, Senator Lodge called the treaty up for consideration by the full Senate. On November 15, the chamber was still considering the treaty when, for the first time in its history, the Senate voted to invoke cloture – to cut off debate – on the treaty. Four days later, the Senate voted on Lodge’s resolution to advise and consent to ratification subject to the reservations. The vote was 55 in favor and 39 opposed. A two-thirds vote being required, the resolution failed. The Senators who favored ratification of the treaty without reservations had joined with the “irreconcilables,” those who opposed the treaty under any circumstances, to defeat the reservations. The Senate then considered a resolution to advise and consent to ratification of the treaty without reservations. The vote was 53 in favor and 38 opposed. A two-thirds vote being required, the resolution failed. After 55 days of debate, the Senate had rejected the Treaty of Versailles by eight votes.[3]

The final blow to the Treaty and the Reservations occurred on March 19, 1920, when the treaty was defeated by seven votes.

Many historians attribute the Treaty's failure to President Wilson's diminished health at the time of the defeat and to his total unwillingness to compromise. On October 2, 1919, Wilson suffered a massive stroke that affected the left side of his body. He gradually recovered from this stroke, but took its toll on his health. Thomas A. Bailey, wrote that "Wilson's physical and mental condition had a profoundly important bearing on the final defeat of the treaty." Several prominent thinkers believed that if Wilson had been functioning at his pre-stroke level, he would have been able to bridge the discrepancies between the two forms of Reservations concerning the Treaty of Versailles. Wilson's doctor, Edwin A. Weinstein, felt that "had Wilson been in full health, he would have found the formula to reconcile the differences between the Lodge and Hitchcock Reservations." (Arthur Link) His illness affected him in that it incapacitated part of his left side. After the stroke, Wilson would distance himself from his paralyzed arm by referring to the arm as "it". His stroke also seemed to polarize his emotions (Arthur Link), causing him to become even more stubborn when dealing with the reservations.[4]

Another factor in the defeat of the Treaty was Wilson's staunch belief that the people supported him. He refused to compromise and thereby, says Bailey, betrayed the League. His refusal led him to formulate his "Jackson Day" letter, in which he calamitously made the treaty an issue of the upcoming 1920 presidential election. This letter sealed the fate of the Treaty by converting a nonpartisan issue into a hostage of party loyalty and politics.[5]


  1. ^ David Mervin, "Henry Cabot Lodge and the League of Nations." Journal of American Studies 4#2 (1971): 201-214.
  2. ^ Leo Gross, "The Charter of the United Nations and the Lodge Reservations." American Journal of International Law 41.3 (1947): 531-554. in JSTOR
  3. ^ http://www.senate.gov%7Cretrieved 01-05-11
  4. ^ John Milton Cooper, Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations (Cambridge UP, 2001.
  5. ^ Thomas A. Bailey, Woodrow Wilson and the great betrayal (1945).

Further reading[edit]

  • Ambrosius, Lloyd E.. "Woodrow Wilson's Health and the Treaty Fight, 1919–1920." International History Review 9.1 (1987): 73-84. in JSTOR
  • Bailey, Thomas A.. Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal (1945).
  • Cooper, John Milton. Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations (Cambridge University Press, 2001).
  • Garraty, John A. Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography (1953).
  • Graebner, Norman A., and Edward M. Bennett, eds. The Versailles Treaty and its legacy: the failure of the Wilsonian vision (Cambridge UP, 2011).
  • Gross, Leo, "The Charter of the United Nations and the Lodge Reservations." American Journal of International Law 41.3 (1947): 531-554. in JSTOR
  • Hewes, James E. "Henry Cabot Lodge and the League of Nations." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 114.4 (1970): 245-255. in JSTOR
  • Link, Arthur. "Woodrow Wilson's Perspective." MPH Intranet. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2010. <http://web.mph.net/academic/history/ecurtis/20thc-us-for-policy/readings/wilson%20era/arthur_link.htm>.
  • Mervin, David. "Henry Cabot Lodge and the League of Nations." Journal of American Studies 4#2 (1971): 201-214.

Primary sources[edit]