Lodge and Wilson

This essay Lodge and Wilson has a total of 1979 words and 11 pages.


Lodge and Wilson


Political rivalries define American government. The dual-party system by
nature sets up partisan rivalries between members of all three branches of our
government Ė rivalries that have at times pushed our government to progress
and at other times slowed it to a grinding halt. The contrasting backgrounds and
resulting political ideologies of Woodrow Wilson and Henry Cabot Lodge created a
modern rivalry that defined American foreign policy in the twentieth century.

Woodrow Wilsonís religious background and academic pursuits shaped his
personality into one characterized by impatience. Born in Virginia in 1856,

Wilson grew up around strict Calvinist doctrine in the Presbyterian church (Lafeber

269-270). This theology served as the foundation for all of Wilsonís
endeavors, as he believed he was "guided by Godís will" (Lafeber 270). The
future Presidentís first career path was law, but Wilsonís inability to
excel in the field bred in him distaste for the profession. Wilson hastily
abandoned any thoughts of being a lawyer and pursued an academic career in
political science. His refusal to give his law profession time to prosper
represents a larger trend in Wilsonís behavior of acting rashly when faced
with adversity. Despite this impatience, he quickly rose to a high level of
respect as a political scientist while attending Princeton University (Lafeber

269). Wilsonís faith in God, bred from his Calvinist upbringing, further
fueled his impatient personality as he believed that God would eventually guide
him in the right direction if he "made efforts to improve" (Lafeber 270).

This impatience defined most of Wilsonís political philosophies and foreign
policies. Like Wilson, Henry Cabot Lodgeís educational background shaped his
views toward American foreign policy. His family instilled in Lodge conservative
values that melded the Senator as a man "whose nature and upbringing disposed
him to be out of step with his times". His fiery personality that emerged
during Lodgeís tenure as a Senator was most likely a direct result of this
conservative environment during his formative years. He would not budge from
political positions he believed to be morally just, even though those terms
manifested themselves in strictly conservative legislation in foreign policy (Widenor

44-47). Lodge had another concern over his career as a politician besides being
a fierce advocate for conservatism in US foreign policy. While Lodge had to
fight the "silver-spooned boy" stereotype on the Senate floor and on the
campaign trail, he felt immense responsibility to the citizens of Massachusetts
who elected him to his seat (Widenor 49). The rapid increase of
industrialization within the United States, as well as increased immigration"brought new values and interests" to New England, made Lodgeís job of
representing Massachusetts in the Senate a much tougher task (Widenor 45). The
threat of the increasing difficulty in pleasing all of Massachusettsí many
peoples forced Lodge to be steadfast in his own. If his constituents ever had
complaints with Lodge, he never wanted them to be able to truthfully say he did
not stand up for what he believed was right. Lodgeís background and
uncertainty of future social standing lit a fire within him and led to his fiery
temperament over key Senate issues that was Lodgeís trademark for many years.

The different backgrounds from which Wilson and Lodge arose to attain political
power led them both to support American entry into World War I but pushed them
away from one another in terms of foreign policy after the warís conclusion.

Wilsonís devout Calvinist beliefs sparked within the President a sense of

Americanism Ė he believed that God would be on Americaís side, and thus

America was innately superior to other nations. In Wilsonís War Message of

1917, Wilson re-assured the American people of this divine guidance: "to such
a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes ... and the peace which she
has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other." (Paterson and Merrill

537) Similarly, Henry Cabot Lodgeís ideas of "duty and sacrifice" that
stemmed from his conservative background pushed him toward Americanism and
toward advocating US intervention in World War I (Widenor 221). After World War

I, however, the two politicians renewed their rivalry as their visions of
post-war Americanism in foreign policy repeatedly conflicted. Wilsonís

Americanism in the aftermath of World War I manifested itself in Wilsonís

"14 Points" as he pushed for Americaís superiority to be used to prevent
future war. Wilsonís desire to create a "League of Nations" that would
form "a general association of nations" (Paterson and Merrill 539) arose
from his belief that America could force compliance with such a league.

Wilsonís idealistic visions of a pacifistic society of nation-states existed
only under the implication that America was

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Topics Related to Lodge and Wilson

Cabot family, Treaty of Versailles, Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, Henry Cabot Lodge, Woodrow Wilson, American entry into World War I, Foreign policy of the United States, Fourteen Points, Conservatism in the United States, Lodge Reservations, United States non-interventionism

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