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Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations

Text of Article X

The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.

Interpretation

The objections of Republicans in the US Senate at the time were based on the fact that by ratifying such a document, the United States would be bound by international contract to enter conflicts involving a League of Nations member on the side of that member. Many believed that it was best not to become involved in such conflicts. Henry Cabot Lodge led the fight in the US Senate against ratification.

History

At the Versailles Peace Conference following World War I, the leaders of the other "Big Four" nations Britain, France and Italy resisted many of Wilson's proposals for the postwar world that he had outlined in his Fourteen Points and insisted that Germany pay reparations for starting the war. Wilson did succeed, however, in making sure that his proposal for a League of Nations was included in the final draft of the Versailles Treaty.

Under the United States Constitution, the President of the United States may not ratify a treaty unless the U.S. Senate, by a two-third votes, gives its advice and consent. The Senate refused to consent to the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles primarily because it mandated the formation of a League of Nations. For many Republicans in the U.S. Senate, Article X was the most objectionable provision. In 1919 Wilson became ill while campaigning for support for the League of Nations (and the Versailles Treaty more generally). The Senate never did consent to the ratification the Versailles Treaty and the U.S., a world power, never joined the League of Nations, hampering the League's credibility as a mediator of world conflict.

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