ceThrough my studies and research I have come to the
following conclusion about the League of Nations: despite
all of President Woodrow Wilson’s efforts, the League was
doomed to fail. I feel this was so for many reasons, some
of which I hope to convey in the following report. From the
day when Congress voted on the Fourteen Points, it was
obvious that the League had a very slim chance of being
passed in Congress, and without all of the World powers, the
League had little chance of surviving.
On November 11, 1918 an armistice was declared in
Europe. Wilson saw the opportunity to form an international
organization of peace to be formed. He acted quickly. On
January 18, 1919 he released his fourteen points. The
Fourteen Points consisted of many things, but the most
important was the fourteenth-the establishment of a league
of nations to settle international disputes and to keep the
peace. After congress had voted, only three of Wilson’s
fourteen points were accepted without compromise. Six of
the others were rejected all together. Fortunately the
League was compromised.
Wilson then went to Europe to discuss the Treaty of
Versailles. Representatives from Italy, France, and Britain
didn’t want to work with the nations they had defeated.
They wanted to hurt them. After much fighting and
negotiating, Wilson managed to convince them that a league
of nations was not only feasible, it was necessary.
The Senate supported most of the Treaty of Versailles
but not the League. They thought it would make the U.S.A.
too involved in foreign affairs. Wilson saw that the League
may not make it through Congress, so he went on the road and
gave speeches to sway the public opinion. Unfortunately,
Wilson’s health, which was already depleted from the
negotiations in France, continued to recede. Wilson’s battle
with his health reached its climax when Wilson had a stroke
on his train between speeches.
After Wison’s stroke, support of the League weakened,
both in Congress and in the public’s opinion. In 1920 G.
Harding, who opposed the League, was elected as president.
The League formed but the U.S. never joined.
The first meeting of the League was held in Geneva,
Switzerland on November 15, 1920 with fourty two nations
represented. During twenty-six years the League lived, a
total of sixty-three nations were represented at one time or
another. Thirty-one nations were represented all twenty-six
The League had an assembly, a council, and a
secretariat. Before World War II, the assembly convened
regularly at Geneva in September. There were three
representatives for every member state each state having one
vote. The council met at least three times a year to
consider political disputes and reduction of armaments.
The council had several permanent members, France,
Great Britan, Italy, Japan, and later Germany and the Soviet
Union. It also had several nonpermanent members which were
elected by the assembly. The council’s decisions had to be
The secretariat was the administrative branch of the
League and consisted of a secretary, general, and a staff of
five hundred people. Several other organizations were
associated with the League- the Permanent Court of
International Justice, also called the World Court, and the
International Labor Organization.
One important activity of the League was the
disposition of certain territories that had been colonies of
Germany and Turkey before World War I. Territories were
awarded to the League members in the form of mandates. The
mandated territories were given different degrees of
independence in accordance with their geographic situation,
their stage of development, and their economic status.
The League, unfortunately, rarely implemented its
available resources, limited through the were, to achieve
their goal, to end war. The League can be credited with
certain social achievements. these achievements include
settlement of disputes between Finland and Sweden over the
Aland Islands in 1921 and between Greece and Bulgaria over
their mutual border in 1925.
Great powers preferred to handle their affairs on their
own; French occupation of the Ruhr and Italian occupation of
Corfu, both in 1923, went on in spite of the League. The
League failed to end the war between Bolivia and Paraguary
over the Gand Chaco between 1932 and 1935. The League also
failed to stop Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, which began in
Although Germany joined in 1926, the National Socialist
government withdrew in 1933 as did Japan, after their
attacks on China were condemned by the League. The League
was now powerless to prevent the events in Europe that lead
to World War 2. In 1940 the secretariat in Geneva was
reduced to a skeleton staff and moved to the U.S. and
In 1946 the League voted to effect its own dissolution,
whereupon much of its property and organization were
transferred to the United Nations which had resently been
founded. Never truly effective as a peace keeping
organization, the lasting importance of the League of
Nations lies in the fact that it provided the groundwork for
the United Nations. This international alliance, formed
after World War 2, not only profited by the mistakes of the
League but borrowed much of the organizational machinics of
the League of Nations.
The League of Nations and its impact on world peace
March 7, 1996
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Watts Inc., 1969
Mason, Lorna; Garcia, Jesus; Powell, Frances; Risinger,
Fredrick. America’s Past and Promise. Boston
McDougal Littell, 1995
Albright, Madeleine. “America and the League of Nations,
Lessons for Today” Speech
United States Department of State 1994
McNally, Rand. Atlas of World History. New York
Reed International Books Limited, 1992
Microsoft. “The League of Nations.”
Excarta 95. 1995