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Henry Cabot Lodge's Politics & Foreign Policy During WWI

Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

Although he's a lesser-known figure than some, Henry Cabot Lodge played a crucial part in World War I-Era politics and foreign policy. Learn about his political views and his opposition to the Treaty of Versailles.

Who Was Henry Cabot Lodge?

Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924) was a Republican Senator and a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt. He is best remembered for his foreign policy views and his opposition to President Woodrow Wilson. Let's learn more Senator Lodge and his battle against President Wilson.

Early Life and Career

Henry Cabot Lodge was born into a privileged Boston family way back in 1850, a decade before the Civil War. He was a pre-teen and teenager while the Civil War was being fought. He certainly lived through some some key moments in American history.

Lodge graduated from Harvard College in 1872. Two years later he finished law school there. But Lodge wasn't done yet. In 1876 he graduated again from Harvard, this time with a Ph.D. in history. His mentor in the program had been none other than Henry Adams, another famous historian and the great-grandson of Founding Father John Adams. Henry Adams is best known for his his nine-volume work on the Jefferson Administration and his posthumously published The Education of Henry Adams. As a professional historian, Lodge published a biographies of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, among many other important figures.

A painting of Henry Cabot Lodge as a young man
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Lodge was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and represented his home state of Massachusetts from 1887-1893. Lodge belonged to the more conservative wing of the Republican Party. He was a supporter of the gold standard, or the policy of backing up paper currency with gold.

A friend and ally of Theodore Roosevelt, Lodge was a staunch supporter of American interventionism - in fact, he would probably even be considered an imperialist. Imperialism is the policy of expanding a nation's control over other foreign regions or states. Basically it is a nice way of saying 'taking over' or 'conquering'. Lodge supported the Spanish-American War in 1898 and worked to build up America's military power. In 1893 he left the U.S. House of Representatives to serve in the U.S. Senate. He remained there until his death in 1924.

A photograph of an older Lodge (early 20th century)
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Foreign Policy During World War I and Opposition to Woodrow Wilson

When Woodrow Wilson assumed the presidency in 1913, Lodge saw in Wilson everything he opposed. In fact, Lodge once confided to Theodore Roosevelt: 'I never expected to hate anyone in politics with the hatred I feel toward Wilson.' Lodge and Wilson grew into bitter rivals.

Despite Republican calls for isolationism, Lodge was a supporter of American involvement in World War I. He criticized President Wilson for American unpreparedness and blamed him for putting America on weak wartime footing. Between 1919-1924 Lodge served as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In this capacity he wielded tremendous influence on foreign policy.

The Treaty of Versailles

To end World War I, Wilson and the Democrats had drafted the Treaty of Versailles. Lodge was vehemently opposed to the treaty because it required American participation in an international peace-keeping organization called the League of Nations. The League of Nations was the precursor to our modern United Nations. It was an organization aimed at promoting peace through diplomacy.

The Treaty of Versailles
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