The League of Nations Component of the Versailles Treaty

  • William C. Widenor


Though both the inception of the League of Nations and its constitutional shape may clearly be attributed to the influence of Woodrow Wilson, the concept of “a league to keep the peace” was not original with him. The idea of a league had long been a staple of American internationalist thought, and even former President Theodore Roosevelt had touted the league idea in the course of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Norway in 1910.1 In internationalist circles, however, there had never been any consensus about how such a league should be constituted; some Americans favored a great power league (Roosevelt’s idea), others opted for the idea of a universal collective security organization, while still others were committed to a juridically based internationalism. Even so, until World War I kindled renewed interest in the idea, it is probably fair to say that the idea of a league remained anathema to most Americans, that it was considered too drastic a departure from the prevailing isolationist tradition. Americans still tended to think in terms of American exceptionalism and of the necessity for protection from the evil wiles of European diplomacy.


Foreign Policy Nations Component American People Peace Treaty Peace Settlement 
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Copyright information

© Henry L. Stimson Center 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • William C. Widenor

There are no affiliations available

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