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Treaty of Versailles History: The Pact of Peace After WWI Term Paper

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The Treaty of Versailles can variably be described as the pact of peace that was enforced or signed between Germany and its allies immediately after WWI that came to an end in 1918. The title given to this treaty was coined from the fact that it was signed in Versailles Palace in Paris. This particular venue was selected because of its capacity to accommodate the hundreds of people who participated in the preparation process including the actual signing that took place in the Hall of Mirrors. Some of the most important dignitaries that graced this occasion included Woodrow Wilson the president of the US, George Clemenceau who was the French Senior representative, and lastly was David Lloyd George the British Prime Minister.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th June 1919 immediately after the end of the First World War. Although on 11th November 1918 the Armistice treaty had been signed that had brought an end to the war, the conclusion of the peace treaty took six months. The treaty of Versailles had many provisions, the essential one was the requirement of Germany to fully accept that they caused the war, “disarm, and make considerable boundary concession and pay for damages to certain nations that had formed the Entente powers”. Starting the year 1922 the particulars on the treaty began to be undermined and by the mid-thirties, it was greatly done away with. The reason why the treaty fell was that the Nations that had won the war were involved in competitions among themselves and had a different goal. The differences among the winners of the war, later on, led to the emergence of more conflicts simply because Germany was not fully weakened; it is believed that the conflicts between these nations were the cause of the second world war.

Negotiations of the Versailles treaty

Negotiations of the treaty began on 18th January in the sale de L’Hologe in Paris France. The negotiations were carried out by seventy delegates that represented all the allied nations. Germany, Hungary, and Austria did not participate in the negotiations because they were defeated in the war. Russia on the other hand did not participate because earlier on in the year 1918 they had signed a different peace treaty with Germany, which saw Germany gaining a large part of Russian land and resources.

Until March 1919, the most complicated and hard terms of the peace treaty were negotiated by the major five victor Nations which were the United States, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan. Japan, later on, left the main meetings leaving the great four to carry out the negotiations the reason Japan left was that they felt that the whole decision-making was too formal to come up with an effective decision. “Italy territorial claims were rejected and this led them to also leave the negotiations but to only return on June. The final conditions of the treaty were finally agreed by the big three nations which were Great Britain, United States, and France”.

The reaction of the treaty in America

On February 14th, 1919 President Wilson arrived in the United States from Paris. He vowed to protect the national league which he viewed as the key figure of the Versailles peace treaty which was aimed at preventing the occurrence of another war. He gave his speech on supporting the league on 15th February in Boston. On his return home, he also began a cross-country tour to promote the treaty. He made a statement to the Americans that the treaty’s aim was to put an agreement of the League of Nations and will also promote the Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Turkey treaties and that all the treaties will contain the agreement of the League of Nations. In his speech, he stated that all the treaties cannot work on themselves without the agreement of the League of Nations.

Before Americans engaged themselves in the First World War its citizens supported the British and the French. They totally agreed on the allied nation’s idea after the war declaration but after the war, the citizens’ opinion changed. The reason for their change in opinion was the wrangles between the European countries and the United States that existed during the signing of the treaty. The Americans thought that the signing of the treaty was a conspiracy by the Europeans rather than a peace settlement that would see the unlikely occurrence of another war. Many Americans believed that the British propaganda is what made them participate in the war and that they were rushed to participate in it. The other factor that affected the American attitude was the support of communism and socialism by European immigrants who had settled in America. This and many other reasons made the Americans feel that it was better not to participate in any European affairs and return to the state of normalcy where they only concentrated on their own affairs. The idea formed the basis of the presidential Warren Harding campaign.

The acceptance of the treaty required two-thirds of members of the state’s approval. On March 2nd, 1919 Wilson lost the motion. This was because of the 96 members who made up the senate, 33 voted against the motion. Wilson however never gave up on the issue of the League of Nations and on March 4th, 1919 he made a speech in New York insisting that the Versailles treaty and the League of Nations were unbreakable. In the same year, he went back to Paris for the remaining part of the peace conference. In an effort to concur with his critics “Wilson pushed for some amendments in the covenant. The amendments made stated that no league member had to accept a mandate, domestic affairs were to be excluded from the league affairs, the acceptance of the Monroe doctrine which and the permission of league members to leave after giving a two years notice”.

The 66th congress met on May 19th. There were diverse reactions from the members regarding the league. Of all the members of the congress, twenty-seven Democrats sided with Wilson who constituted a fourth of the Senate. Eight republicans led by Butler and Taft opposed Wilson’s idea. The remaining number of the Senate which was made up of forty Republicans and Democrats were mild preservationists. This group was led by Senator Hitchcock.

The Versailles treaty was signed on June 28th, 1919. Wilson came back home arriving on 8th July. On July 10th he presented the treaty to the senate. Senator Lodge brought on the idea of reading the whole two hundred and forty-six pages of the treaty to the Senate members; this was to run from July 14th to 28th. From July 31st to 1st September, Lodge carried out hearings, on which he called 60 witnesses. On September fourth, Wilson began an eight-thousand-mile tour to advertise the league and the treaty of Versailles to the American citizens. During the tour, he gave out forty speeches, in twenty-nine cities that lasted for twenty-two days. On September 10th senators Borah and Johnson began their tour that spread malice regarding the league and the treaty. Still, on September 10th, the Senate foreign relation committee proposed forty-five changes and four reservations. All the changes were beaten by the whole senate members and the Versailles treaty was taken back to the committee. It was during this time that Wilson collapsed while giving a speech in Colorado. Later on, on October 2nd he suffered a stroke that made him lay in bed for seven months, which made it impossible for him to actively participate in the motion.

“While Wilson lay in bed sick, Lodge proposed fourteen reservations which had the intention of reducing any real commitment to mutual security. Wilson opposed Lodge preservations and told senator Hitchcock to let Lodge compromise”. On November 13th Hitchhork proposed five reservations but they were voted out by the foreign relation committee. Wilson turned on the democrats for assistance by drafting a letter to them that asked them to turn down Lodge reservations but it was clear that without Lodge’s support it was impossible for the United States to participate in the Versailles treaty and the League. However, Wilson was adamant about compromising further.

On November 19th the Versailles treaty was defeated by a wide margin, the senate members rejected it. Numerous republicans and democrats who had mild reservations in the senate managed to convince Lodge to ask for a compromise. On January 8th, 1920 Wilson insisted that the Treaty was not supposed to be changed by the Senate. Lodge formed a Bipartisan committee to make amendments to the treaty but the work of the committee was later on rejected.

The debate in America about the treaty developed a strong concern in Europe. Both the English and French said that they were ready to accept any reservations made by the United States cabinet. On February 9th the senates agreed on making amendments to the treaty and send it to the foreign relations committee. On the 10th of the same month, the committee accepted the Versailles treaty that had the Lodge reservations. However Wilson was still adamant to compromise, he still opposed the treaty that had lodge reservations. As a result, on March 19th the Senate voted against the treaty which had Lodge reservations.

The absence of the Versailles treaty meant that legally America was still at war with Germany. On May 20th the American congress was trying to bring the end to the war through a joint resolution but Wilson rejected the resolution. The Democrats nominated James Cox as their presidential candidate for the 1920 presidential elections. Cox supported fully Wilson’s idea of promoting the League of Nations. The American people on the other hand had been fed up with Wilson’s ideas because the First World War had brought up a huge amount of Loss while the Europeans had been affected mildly by the war. The republicans, on the other hand, nominated Warren Harding who promised that he will ensure that a State of normalcy will return to America. On November 2nd Warren won the elections by a landslide and he became president in March 1921. With Warren as the president, the American congress managed to end the war on July 2nd through a joint resolution. On October 13th treaties with Germany, Austria and Hungary were approved. The Versailles treaty and the League of Nations Idea were finally defeated.

Franklin Roosevelt as Wilson supported the Treaty and the League of Nations. In the 1920 general elections, he was nominated as the Democratic vice president. He campaigned fully for the league. The democrat lost in the 1920 general elections but in

1932 Roosevelt was elected as the president. Roosevelt however was unable to make the League of Nations idea a reality because of the adverse effects it had brought to the country. After the Second World War, Roosevelt thought that the refusal of the Americans to participate in the League of Nations is what caused the war. He, later on, brought into life the idea of the League of Nations in the United Nations. Roosevelt’s health condition began to deteriorate that he could not participate actively in the formation of the United Nations; however, his wife Eleanor played a crucial role in the formation of the United Nations after his death.


President Wilson strongly supported the Versailles treaty fully, but he was unable to gather support from the Americans who rejected it because it supported the formation of the League of Nations which would see America participate in many European issues. According to the Americans participation of Americans in the First World War had brought losses to the country, while the Europeans were not greatly affected by the war. Another reason why the American citizens opposed the formation of the League of Nations is that European immigrants in their country supported the idea of communism and capitalism which they rejected and finally the Americans thought that they would not benefit from the formation of the League of Nations since it was a European conspiracy against them. Wilson on the other hand thought that the support of the Versailles treaty and formation of the national league would prevent the world from going into another war. Wilson however did not manage to convince the members of his government to rally behind him; most of them opposed his ideas. Though there were reservations that were made on the treaty by the senate members, Wilson remained adamant about making any changes to the treaty this is what made it impossible for the treaty to become a reality. However, after the world war, two Roosevelt managed to push for the formation of the League of Nations. Wilson’s dream, later on, came to a reality when the United Nations was formed.


Chace, J, (1953), “The Election that Saved the Country” Oxford press, pp 22-50.

Wells, H.G (1971), the Outline of History: The Whole Story of Man (Doubleday & Co.: New York, pp 3-11.

Wilson, W (1962,) “Speech at Pueblo, Colorado, September”, pp 19-25.

Manfred, F, (2008), “The treaty of Versailles: A reassessment after 75 years”, Glaser, pp 25-34.

Maynard, K, (1991), “Economic consequence of the peace”, New York, pp 30-53.

Georges, C, (1921), “The truth about the Versailles treaty”, Merrill, pp 22-34.

David, A, (2007). “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today, John Wiley & Sons Publishers, pp 19-29.

Demarco, N, (1987). “The World This Century: Working with Evidence”, Collins Educational, pp 20-23.

Nicholson, H, (1933), “Peacemaking, 1919, Being Reminiscences of the Paris Peace Conference” Houghton Mifflin, pp 101-115.

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