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Taft. So cordial and free from partizanship was Taft's support that men thought more and more of him as the proper Republican candidate for President at the next election. What many sensible folk cared for most was the fact that a satisfactory and workable League had been agreed upon, and that a great endeavor to organize the world for peace had been crowned with success.
As to what had been the cause of the intense hostility to President Wilson that had seemed to increase ever since the Peace Conference began its sessions, many explanations were offered by psychologists and other observers wishing to be impartial. Probably a small group had opposed the League covenant, as supported by him, from little more than partizan motives, but a still larger group had sincerely distrusted it because they disliked the responsibilities and surrender of sovereignty which it might impose upon the United States. The great body of the American people believed in at least the principle of a League, and that a League was necessary in order to maintain international peace and justice. Of this body one-half probably supported the Paris plan because of the President; but the other half supported its principle in spite of him. It was from the latter large group, which included thousands of patriotic and intelligent citizens, that criticism and distrust mainly came. The underlying causes, as the Outlook saw them, were at least four in number. First, were the President's words and deeds during the period of our neutrality in 1915 and 1916, when he had been opposed to action which would have made the country better prepared for resisting Germany when war became inevitable, and had uttered such phrases as “Too proud to fight.” This group did not, and could not, be neutral in thought; they did not believe that the aims of the belligerents on both sides were similar; they had a profound interest in and real convictions as to causes and responsibilities in the war; and, after the sinking of the Lusitania, were not “too proud to fight." While the President and his Administration had performed a great feat in organizing and transporting an army of two million men to Europe, some of the failures of the Administration at home were thought to have been lamentable, if not inexcusable, owing to the President's refusal, either to accept criticism or to associate with himself men of the highest efficiency and governmental skill. His “Too Proud to Fight” speech was perhaps the most criticized of all his utterances, but his real meaning in the speech was sometimes, and in fact, immediately after its delivery, universally, distorted. He did not say directly that this country was too proud to fight. What he did say was this—in a speech on March 10, 1915, made three days after the Lusitania was sunk, to a group of newly naturalized citizens in Philadelphia :
“There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.
Before he went to France, moreover, that is in November, 1918, the President, in an appeal unprecedented in the history of the country, had assumed to ask Americans to vote the Democratic ticket, the result being that the country not only resented the request, but elected a Republican Congress. If this had happened in England, Lloyd George would have ceased automatically to be Prime Minister; but our system of government was such that the President remained our Chief Executive for his elected term, even after the country had registered its disapproval of him. At the Paris conference before he came home the first time President Wilson had set himself against criticism of details and proposals for amendments of the plan for a League and had done it in such a manner as to rouse resentment in the Senate, which, under our Constitution, is a part of the treatymaking power; that is, the Senate must ratify a treaty, altho it does not participate in negotiating one. The President had cabled from Paris, before he returned for his February visit, requesting Congress to refrain from discussion of the League and it was then supposed that he would discuss it himself when he arrived, but he did not do so, except in general terms, and did not relieve the natural anxiety of many people and of Senators and Representatives by dissipating, as many thought he might have done, the validity of criticisms that had been publicly made of certain details of the plan. Not only did he decline to take the Senate into his confidence, but pursued a policy and adopted methods which seemed to indicate lack of confidence in, if not respect for, the power and judgment of the Senate. So that, in addition to some party feeling and considerably more honest patriotism in criticism, we had, at least in the Senate, wounded pride as a cause of criticism, and no differences are deeper than those into which wounded pride enters.
When afterward the terms of the Peace Treaty were made publicly known, in an abstract given out by the Conference, including the modifications made in response to American criticism, the resentment did not cease. In fact, it was further increased when true and complete copies of the treaty, a document of more than 70,000 words, were known to have been received in New York, and to be in possession of New York bankers, while no one in the Senate had been furnished with a copy. An investigation was called for and witnesses were summoned, among them former Senator Root, who disclosed to the Senate the fact that a copy had been in his possession in New York, as received from Mr. Henry P. Davison of the house of J. P. Morgan and Company, Mr. Davison having received it from his
partner, Thomas W. Lamont, who was attached to the American delegation to the Paris Conference in an advisory capacity on economics, while Mr. Davison had been at the head of the Red Cross in Europe. Mr. Lamont had passed this copy on to Mr. Davison, Mr. Davison in turn had passed it on to Mr. Root, and Mr. Root had shown it to Senator Lodge. When asked it had not been the duty of President Wilson to keep the Senate informed as to negotiations taking place at the Conference, Mr. Root replied that it had not. He thought, however, that it would have been better had Mr. Wilson furnished the Senate with information from time to time. Mr. Root also wrote a letter setting forth what he thought the Senate ought to do with the treaty and the League. It was too late, he said, to separate one from the other, but he thought a ratification of the treaty by the Senate should include certain reservations. There was in the covenant "a great deal of very high value, which the world ought not to lose,” but he was disappointed that nothing had been done to provide for "strengthening a system of arbitration, or judicial decisions upon questions of legal right.” In addition, he complained that nothing had been done "toward providing for the revision or development of international law.”
As a sort of climax to the spirit of criticism, which continued with the same intensity after Germany had signed the treaty, there was introduced in the United States Senate in May, by Senator Knox of Pennsylvania, a resolution to divorce the League of Nations covenant from the Peace Treaty, but even in Republican quarters this movement fell far short of unanimous and enthusiastic approbation. The Senators who organized this attack upon the League “will find that they have wholly misjudged the temper of the American people," declared the Republican Los Angeles Times, which proclaimed its conviction that “if the covenant were submitted to a national referendum it would carry by a three-to-one vote," and direct Republican opposition "would be tantamount to party suicide." "If Senators Lodge, Borah, and Knox and their handful of rabid anti-Wilson allies on the other side of the Chamber imagine for a moment that they are laying sound foundations for an appeal to the country they are going to have an unpleasant awakening," said the Independent Republican Philadelphia Public Ledger. The same paper deplored "the mischief” these Senators were doing and “the obstacles they were deliberately creating to the work of the Peace Conference.” Even the New York Tribune, a leading Republican paper, which had been a frank and persistent critic of the League covenant and which believed that the covenant and the peace treaty should not have been combined in the first place, doubted the value of the Knox resolution, and suggested instead ratification of the treaty "with reservations.” Other newspapers, some of them Republican, arproved of the resolution, but with reservations—a few without them.
Senator Borah had declared that if the League were submitted to a referendum vote--as he knew that it could not be—it would be voted down, but Chairman Cummings, of the Democratic National Committee, exprest a belief that between 80 and 90 per cent. of the people were heartily in favor of it. Many tests of public sentiment had been made and they all pointed one way-in favor of making an honest and thorough trial of the League. All business men's associations that had gone on record had been in favor of it and so had labor organizations; every labor organization that had taken action at all had endorsed it. The same was true of churches. Formal resolutions in support of the League had been adopted by the Presbyterian General Assembly, by the Methodists, the Baptists, and the Unitarians. Every church organization that had exprest itself on the subject had at this time exprest itself in favor of it.
There was no doubt, however, that Mr. Wilson while in Europe had suffered in his own country some loss of former prestige; this as a loss was partly personal and partly political. The high repute in which his authority was held at the signing of the armistice had been grievously diminished, and while this might not be wholly his fault, the fact was undeniable. A slight reaction in his favor came in May and June by the excess of abuse that was indulged in in the Senate, but it remained true that in coming home he had to face the fact that he had lost something of his former hold upon his fellowcitizens. People felt that he had been too headstrong, too intolerant, too oracular; they thought him secretive, out of touch with the trend of popular feeling and of Congressional temper, and this at a time when a policy of good understandings and of conciliation had been obvious wisdom.
The voices of Republican newspapers, however, especially in the West, by July were beginning to rise in more anxious protest than before, against all attempt to commit the Republican party to a policy of opposition to the League. Many people recognized that Mr. Wilson had labored whole-heartedly and unselfishly to make America a potent influence for good and the world safe from war. Controversy over his work had arisen largely through misunderstandings, deepened it might be by more than a trace of partizan feeling. It was, therefore, gratifying to learn that the President, on arriving home again on July 9, was at once to hold a conference with the Senate and that the Senate had decided to hold the conference in open session. The President had not been bound by constitutional precept, or by precedent, to consult with the Senate during the earlier stages of the negotiations in France; nor was he bound at all until the treaty had been signed. But had he consulted the Senate as if he were bound, it would have been an act of manifest wisdom. In that way he might have spared himself much embarrassment and the country a great part, if not all, of the division in counsel which had arisen. In Washington Mr. Wilson was President of the United States. At Paris and Versailles he was practically our Prime Minister and as such it was his first duty to see to it that his majority in Congress was secure. It made no vital difference to Mr. Wilson as President that he had lost his majority at the November elections in 1918; but this loss had made a great deal of difference to him in the performance of his ministerial duties in Paris. Many held that he would have been well advised had he taken into his confidence some of the leading members of the Senate, Republican and Democratic alike, before his first departure for Paris, and it would have been well, also, had he renewed that interchange of views from time to time as the negotiations proceeded. But that was not Mr. Wilson's way. As he once said of himself, he had “a single-track mind,” or, as an old saying might have put it, he "could not trot in double harness.'
When Mr. Wilson arrived in New York on July 8, he was welcomed as no home-coming American had ever before been welcomed to these shores. All New York and many representatives of other communities went forth on land and water to greet him, bands playing, flags flying, and cannon roaring in deafening salutes from harbor forts and warships. Sirens, bells, and steam-whistles all along the waterfront added to the din, making one long, continuous outburst of welcome all the way from the entrance to the harbor at Ambrose Channel to Hoboken, where the President and his party landed. He had received at sea a naval welcome. An escort of five great dreadnoughts and forty of the finest destroyers of the Atlantic fleet escorted his ship, the George Washington, into home waters. Twenty miles beyond Sandy Hook the dreadnoughts fired the Presidential salute of twenty-one guns, while above circled a squadron of ten seaplanes from the Rockaway Naval Air Station, later joined by an American “blimp," which sailed along just above the mast-tips of the George Washington for more than ten miles. The whole made a marine picture which for impressiveness was rivaled only by the home-coming of the American dreadnoughts that had served in the Grand Fleet under Rodman and Beatty, and the great spectacle of 1916, when the entire Atlantic fleet, as then organized, had assembled for Presidential review in the Hudson.
Escorted up Fifth Avenue on a perfect summer afternoon, Presidrnt Wilson was greeted by great throngs all the way. At Carnegie Hall he made a brief and unprepared speech, in chsing which he said "when the long reckoning comes men may look back upon this