Q:

Why didn't the United States sign the Treaty of Versailles?

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Quick Answer

The United States did not sign the Treaty of Versailles because two groups of U.S. senators opposed some of the treaty's conditions and prevented the Senate from acquiring the two-thirds majority vote needed for its passage. One of their main objections was that the treaty compromised U.S. autonomy.

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Full Answer

British prime minister David Lloyd George, French prime minister Georges Clemenceau, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson and other world leaders negotiated the Versailles Treaty as the official settlement between the Allied Powers and Germany after World War I in 1919. When Wilson brought the treaty back to the United States for ratification, the Senate refused to cooperate.

The largest opposing group, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and the Reservationists, thought that the treaty should be revised before being accepted. The group especially objected to Article X, which allowed the League of Nations to declare war without approval of the U.S. Congress. Another group of 12 to 18 senators, known as the Irreconcilables, bitterly opposed the treaty and fought strongly to have it defeated. They were mostly Republican foes of President Wilson who believed that the League of Nations was a British fabrication to protect its empire.

Because the opposing factions in the Senate could not come to an agreement, the United States did not sign the Versailles Treaty or join the League of Nations. In August 1921, the United States signed a separate peace treaty with Germany in Berlin.

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