The Lodge Resolution and the League

City Club Bulletin

PROF. GEORGE H. MEAD, last Friday replied to the open letter on the League of Nations, addressed to him by Senator Medill McCormick. Prof. Mead and Prof. A. W. Moore had wired Senator McCormick their disapproval of the "round robin" resolution, introduced by Senator Lodge and signed among other Republican senators by Mr. McCormick, opposing the proposed constitution of the League of Nations.[1] In their telegram they said that they "regard the action taken by the Republican senators on the Constitution of the League of Nations as a fatal disaster to the party." "In our neighborhood," they said, "it will lose the party one-half to three-fourths of its vote." Senator McCormick's reply to this telegram was printed in the Chicago Herald-Examiner and in the New York Times.


Senator McCormick's criticism of the proposed Constitution of the League as outlined in his reply to Prof. Mead was, in brief:

1. That it gives the British Empire six votes in the League for one vote of the United States.

2. That the arbitration provisions would require the United States to submit the question of immigration to arbitration, thus raising the probability-nay almost the certainty-that Oriental labor would be permitted to enter the United States.

3. That the cession of territory in the American hemisphere to Asiatic or European nations is determinable by the Executive Council or arbitrable.


4. That "under the League, the Council could require Americans to keep garrisons on the marches of Poland, Hungary, Roumania, the new Serbia, Bulgaria and the greater Bohemia -to guard disputed frontiers. . . . Regiments from the mines of Illinois, from the north woods of Michigan and. Wisconsin, from the prairies of Iowa and Indiana, by decree of a non-American Council and not by act of the American Congress, could be summoned to march out to the strains of 'Yankee Doodle' in order to uphold, at the foot of the Himalayas, the scepter of George the Fifth, 'Kaiser-iHind,' King of Great Britain arid Ireland, Emperor of India."

5. That "we may be forced to go to war against the wishes of our people and the judgment of our Congress."

6. That it would endanger the Monroe Doctrine.


"During his week's visit to the United States, Mr. Wilson," Mr. McCormick said, "gave voice to a couple of rhetorical rhapsodies, but he adduced no argument in support of any one of the disputed articles of the proposed Constitution. . . . He explained nothing, he converted nobody . . . Mr. Wilson is not the sum of human wisdom, but he will consider no amendment to the British plan. . . . If our common hope to create some League of Nations fails, the fault will be his. . . 

"I am here," he concluded, "in a representative capacity, but I must act upon my conscience and upon my judgment to serve my country, to protect it not only from the aggressions of ambitious autocrats, but from the vagaries of autocratic internationalists. There is no way in which I can divest myself of my responsibility, the heaviest which I have ever borne and I suppose the heaviest which I shall ever be called upon to bear. Men have died the death in this war to defend representative institutions. We in the Senate should be unworthy of them if we were to blench before the threats of those who have been carried away in an effort not to create a League of Nations which we may safely join, but to impose upon us the Constitution of a super-state, an international confederacy which would extinguish our national independence and our American liberties."

Prof. Mead in his reply, to Senator McCormick said:


"Your letter implies that the acceptance or rejection of the proposed constitution of the League of Nations is the issue involved in the resolutions signed by yourself and thirty-six other Republican senators. This is not the issue. This form of the League has not been adopted

(70) even at Paris. It is still under discussion and should be discussed as it has been in the United States Senate and elsewhere, and as it will be with increasing interest and attention. President Wilson has expressed himself to the effect that this is the best form that can be obtained, but the final form of the League's constitution is still on the knees of the gods. The fullest and freest discussion should obtain with reference to that form, and such discussion will have its weight in the world's council that is now sitting in Paris. I have no question that the American people wish such discussion, because I have no question that they wish the League of Nations as a means of settling international disputes. If the proposed form is the best form that can be now obtained I do. not doubt that America wishes this form. If a better form can be secured I have no doubt that America wishes the better form. But in any case America wishes to approach the future possible occasions of world-wide wars, equipped with the civilized method of a council of nations.


"Now it is against this wish of America and that of the peoples of the other countries of the world that your resolutions are directed. For while they give it lip service, they call in the first place for postponement of the League till the peace is. signed, while in the second place they reject this proposed constitution of the League even if it proves to be the best obtainable. These resolutions serve notice at Paris that a group of United States Republican senators stand ready to defeat a peace treaty if it includes a League of Nations as a part of the peace --- especially if that League has the form now before the world, even if that form be the best that can be now inaugurated


"It should not be necessary to point out that the issues of most wars in the world's history have been formulated at earlier peace tables. If today the victorious powers settle the issues of this war without a League of Nations the guarantee of that settlement can be found only in the military establishments of the victorious nations, who must then maintain the military regime of which the world so passionately wishes to rid itself. If anyone is so simple as to believe that after Italy, France, and England have undertaken to hold on to gains assured through victory by their own individual or collective might, the nations of the world will then come together to do what they have been unable to accomplish at the peace table, let him regard the conflicts already so bitter over the pieces of the fallen empires of Austria-Hungary and Turkey, A peace which is just to the smaller nations, and to those nations just coming into existence, can by no possibility be formed without a League of Nations, and such a peace can by no conceivable possibility be maintained without such a League.


"To resolve that America shall first in peace with her enemies, and then consider formation of League, is to damn the project by insisting that at the one great world exigency, when the League is imperatively needed, it is not to be permitted because thirty-seven American Republican senators are against. If the League of Nations cannot be formed now when the peoples of all Europe are demanding it, when the American people approve it, when it is the only thinkable means of reaching the peace that the world demands, can an occasion ever arise that will realize it?

"This, Sir, was in our minds when we urged You in the interest of the party that has given you Your seat, as well as in the interest of the nation whose future fortunes you and your Republican colleagues can so powerfuly (sic) affect, to reconsider an attitude which will bring disaster upon the party which promises disaster to the nation. The sentiment for a League to meet the world's terrible need is growing rapidly in the consciousness of the American people. Those who have met this sentiment abroad, though they were at first opposed to a League, have bowed before the passionate popular demand that is fired by those four years of horror more terrible than ours.


"You present a series of hypothetical cases under the proposed constitution of the League -- the danger to the Mon roe Doctrine, the danger of oriental immigration, and the threatened, use of American troops in defense of the English empire. In all such cases you assert that the executive council of the proposed League could determine what our action must be. If you were sufficiently familiar with the document you would realize that under this proposed constitution, on the appeal of either party in the controversy the question must be referred to the delegates of all the nations of the League, excepting only the contending parties, and that no action would be binding upon them unless the action be unanimous -- in other words unless the entire world be unanimously against us, a supposition that is practically inconceivable in any issue in the United States would be involved.

"Also greater familiarity with the proposed constitution would have shown you that on the

(71) Executive Council to which you so frequently refer the United States has equal representation with Great Britain.

"However, it is not upon this proposed form of the document that the issue rests. This is subject to criticism and change. It is the impossible alternative of no League in the settlement and maintenance of the present peace that arrests attention, the impossibility of dealing with the affairs of the world, of which we have become an inextricable part, except under the conditions of the old militarism. Even our own peculiar interests, those embodied in the Monroe Doctrine, can be properly safeguarded in no other way. Without the League guaranteeing the integrity of the territory of all nations, we will find ourselves faced by a league of Latin nations in America, resentful of our assertion of supremacy in this hemisphere. Over against such a league we would be compelled to maintain a vast military establishment and our whole life would be vitiated by the very system against which we took up arms in a Prussianized Germany.


"Allow me in closing to call attention to the constant animus against England which breathes through your whole letter. Is the spirit in which we are to approach this common problem of us all to be that of hostility toward our ally? Have you already reached the attitude in which you would sow the seeds of the next war by inuendo and attack?

"If the Republican party identifies itself with the attitude which is expressed in the resolutions recited in the Senate and with the spirit and narrow vision of your letter, it will have parted company with the sentiment and upright nationalism of America that maintains no rights and seeks no ends that are not defensible before the reason and common interests of the world."


At the "home-coming" dinner at the Club last Friday evening, S. J. Duncan-Clark of the Chicago Evening Post, in his address on "America and the New World Order" also took up the cudgels to defend the League constitution against Senator McCormick's attack. The statement that Great Britain with her self-governing colonies would have six times the voting strength of America, he said, misrepresents the facts, for the executive council in which the real power of the League resides is constituted by one representative from each of the five great powers, including Great Britain and the United States, and of four of the smaller nations.

On the council of delegates, it is true Great Britain and her colonies would have a greater representation than America, but action by this council must be unanimous and it is inconceivable that America would ever have the entire world against her, Referring to Senator McCormick's charge that America might have to open her doors to oriental immigration at the orders of the League, Mr. Duncan-Clark while denying the jurisdiction of the League on this matter, replied that if it should ever come before the League, America would have the right to carry the case to the body of delegates. The presence of representatives, of Australia and Canada on that body, far from creating a balance of power against America, would be a positive guarantee that our immigration policy would never be interfered with.

Mr. Duncan-Clark denied also Senator McCormick's statement that the proposed constitution would oblige the United States to send soldiers to fight "for the scepter of George V. at the foot of the Himalayas." The League could not move a soldier, he said, without the consent of the American government.


Finally, he warned his hearers against the propaganda against the League and urged them to study the proposed constitution in order that misstatements and misunderstandings about its provisions may be corrected. He expressed the conviction that, while the language in a few spots should perhaps be clarified, the principles which should govern the League are all there and, even as it is, it is -a document which we can support whole-heartedly.

The heart of the masses of Europe is set upon this thing, he said, and if the Senate of the United States should bring to naught the work of the Paris conference, America, which is now looked upon as a savior, would be execrated as having betrayed the hope of the world. There would be seething discontent in Europe, a fertile field for Bolshevik and Spartacan, and America could hardly hope to resist the spread of revolutionary doctrine to her own shores. Either that, or a period of nationalistic militarism would be ushered in, a regime of fear among the nations which in another generation would result in war. With the progress of science in the development of destructive warfare civilization itself would totter. Only a League of Nations, constituted to avoid wars and to help the infant nations which have succeeded the Hohenzollerns, Hapsburgs and Romanoffs to orderly self-government, can avert one or the other of these calamities.


  1. Senator McCormick, in his letter, criticizes Prof. Mead for endeavoring to "commit the City Club to the project " of the League. "It is a bad sign," he concludes, "when the Chicago City Club. which was organized as a forum for civic discussion, has become under your presidency an engine of political coercion." To this particular point Prof. Mead says in his reply: "By a clerical error for which I was not responsible, I was made to sign the telegram as president of the City Club. As you state the City Club is a forum for discussion, and no officer can speak for the Club unless the Club as a whole gives him the authority. My telegram was addressed to you in the role of an American citizen, who is one of your constituents and has been a member of the Republican party and wishes that party to express the sentiments and opinions of the American people. The telegram stated our opinion that the action of the Republican senators with reference to the proposed League of Nations runs counter to the sentiments and opinions of the American people and, if made the policy of the Republican party. will lead to its defeat at the polls, though that party may defeat an undertaking of greater moment perhaps than any that have ever been within the grasp of human society."

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