Summer has come full on. I was off today and had the windows open and fan on as I worked on an article I’m doing about Eleanor Roosevelt. I’ve got about 400 in the books and hope to write another 400 or so this evening before declaring victory. I would be remiss if I did not pause and note that today, June 28, 2019, is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors. I don’t intend to write too much about it right now because there is already so much good reading out there today. For now I though I would emphasize the quickness and degree to which resistance to the treaty, especially its covenant for a League of Nations, had manifested itself even before the ink had dried.
One hundred years ago tonight the League for the Preservation of American Independence held a rally in New York City’s Carnegie Hall. One of the American Independence League’s leaders was Henry A. Wise Wood, an engineer and inventor who had been active in the Preparedness Movement with Theodore Roosevelt and others in the Great War’s early years before American entry into the conflict. Born in 1866, Wood was the son of three-time New York City mayor Fernando Wood. The League for the Preservation of American Independence enjoyed tremendous popularity and easily filled Carnegie Hall that night in protest against Wilson, the Versailles Treaty, and prospective League of Nations. A spinout crowd gathered outside on the sidewalk. Wood asked that the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt fill the hall.
TR had died almost six months previously but almost certainly would have opposed the League of Nations. One Roosevelt who did support it was Franklin, who when he ran for the vice-presidency in 1920 advocated for the League. FDR’s position may or may not have been opportunism based on loyalty to Wilson and the knowledge that, because he and running mate Jacob M. Cox would likely lose the election, he could take a position confident in never having to carry it out. Franklin D. Roosevelt did learn the lesson of the failures of Versailles however, and when he became commander-in-chief began pushing for what became the United Nations a quarter of a century later.
(image/Library of Congress)