Advertisement

The Origins of the League of Nations

  • David Armstrong
Chapter
  • 15 Downloads
Part of the The Making of the 20th Century book series (MACE)

Abstract

The creation of the League of Nations was an extraordinary event. Not only had there been nothing like it before, but there was very little in the system of international relations which existed in 1914 or in the previous history of diplomacy to suggest its possibility. The guiding principle of all states in their relations with each other was the protection of their national sovereignty, and any development that might interfere with this, even in a very small way, had always been resisted. International co-operation in the most important area of peace and security had, perhaps inevitably, been limited and temporary, but even in much less contentious matters, such as setting up an efficient international postal system, or deciding upon rules to govern the laying down of marine cables, or regulating the spread of epidemic diseases by international sanitary conventions, progress had taken many years. In each case this was because one or more states had opposed change in the belief that its sovereignty might be infringed or that it might lose some narrow national advantage. Even so derisory an issue as an attempt to determine internationally agreed safety standards in the manufacture of matches had been vigorously resisted by Britain on the latter grounds. Yet a few years after this episode Britain was one of the principal founders of the League: a permanent international organisation with wide-ranging responsibilities.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    W. S. Churchill, The World Crisis: The Aftermath (London, 1929) p. 142.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    About 200 disputes went to arbitration between 1815 and 1900.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    P. S. Reinsch, Public International Unions (Boston, 1911) p. 21.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ibid., p. 6 for an early use of the term ‘interdependence’.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    L. S. Woolf, International Government (London, 1916) pp. 102–4.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., p. 104.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The Proceedings of the Hague Peace Conferences: The Conference of 1899 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (New York, 1920) pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
  9. 9.
    This was, in fact, little more than a list of arbitrators who were available to states which might wish to make use of their services.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    F. Wilson, The Origins of the League Covenant (London, 1928) pp. 18, 58.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    H. W. V. Temperley, A History of the Peace Conference of Paris, vol. IV, (London, 1924) p. 24.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Castlereagh, speaking on the proposed Protocol of the Congress of Troppau, quoted in Woolf, International Government p. 24.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Viscount Grey, Twenty Five Years (New York, 1925) p. 256.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    E. Bendiner, A Time for Angels (London, 1975) p. 12. See also F. P. Walters, A History of the League of Nations (London, 1952) p. 18.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    D. F. Fleming, The United States and the League of Nations, 1918–1920 (New York, 1932) pp. 3–8.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
  17. 17.
    For a summary of the work of these groups, see A. Zimmern, The League of Nations and the Rule of Law (London, 1936) pp. 160–73; also A. J. Mayer, Political Origins of the New Diplomacy, 1917–1918 (New Haven, Conn., 1959) pp. 46–155.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    D. H. Miller, The Drafting of the Covenant, vol. I (New York, 1928) p. 4.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (London, 1939).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bryan actually claimed that this idea originated in similar proposals that he had been advancing for some years as a means of resolving labour disputes. The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan (Washington, 1925) pp. 384–85.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: The Paris Peace Conference (PPC), vol. I (Washington, 1943) p. 23.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The fourteenth point stated that ‘a general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike’.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    C. Seymour (ed.), The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I (London, 1928) p. 209.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    PPC vol. I, pp. 22–5.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    R. S. Baker and W. E. Dodd (eds), The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. II (New York, 1927) pp. 184–8.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    PPC vol. I, p. 53.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Fleming, The US and the League p. 12.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    R. Lansing, The Peace Negotiations: A Personal Narrative (Boston, Mass., 1921) p. 34.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    See his letter to House, dated 22 March 1918 in Baker, Life and Letters vol. VIII, p. 43.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    See House’s letter to Wilson, 14 July 1918, ibid., p. 279.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ibid., p. 43, also p. 74. See also S. F. Beamis (ed.), The American Secretaries of State and their Diplomacy, vol. X (New York, 1954) p. 154.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Baker, Life and Letters vol. VIII, pp. 340, 343.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Baker and Dodd (eds), Public Papers vol. 1, p. 330.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    See his exposition of the League to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ibid.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Seymour (ed.), Intimate Papers vol. IV (1928) p. 292.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ibid., p. 161.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Zimmern, The League of Nations pp. 196–208 for the full text of this memorandum. See also G. W. Egerton, Great Britain and the Creation of the League of Nations (London, 1979) pp. 94–7.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Seymour (ed.), Intimate Papers voL IV, p. 292.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Miller, Drafting of the Covenant vol. II, p. 28. See also G. Curry, ‘Woodrow Wilson, Jan Smuts and the Versailles Settlement’, American Historical Review vol. LXVI, no. 4 (July 1961) 968–86.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    PPC vol. III, (1928) p. 766.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Egerton, Great Britain p. 114.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    This is in fact too great a claim for any individual, if only because many important items in the Covenant were only arrived at in the course of the actual Paris negotiations.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Egerton, Great Britain p. 83.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Beamis (ed.), American Secretaries of State, vol. X, p. 154.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Letter from Lansing to House, 8 April 1918, in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: The Lansing Papers; 1914–1920 (Washington, 1940) pp. 118–20.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Lansing, Peace Negotiations pp. 48–76.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Miller, Drafting of the Covenant vol. II, pp. 7–15.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Hankey to Balfour, 25 May 1916, cited in Egerton, Great Britain p. 35.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Drafting of the Covenant vol. II, p. 56.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Ibid., pp. 106–16.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    See Zimmern, The League of Nations pp. 151–9.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    See D. Mitrany, The Functional Theory of Politics (London, 1975), and the same author’s seminal essay, A Working Peace System: An Argument for the Functional Development of International Organisation (London, 1943).Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    J. C. Smuts, ‘A Practical Suggestion’, in Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. II, pp. 24–5.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Seymour (ed.), Intimate Papers vol. IV, p. 296.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    For the Italian draft see Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. II, pp. 246–55.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Ibid., p. 300.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Seymour (ed.), Intimate Papers vol. IV, p. 477.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    PPC vol. II, pp. 662–3.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Egerton, Great Britain p. 85.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    See Zimmern, The League of Nations p. 207, and also Lloyd George’s ‘Fontainbleau Memorandum’ in his Memoirs of the Peace Conference (New Haven, 1938) p. 269.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    A. J. Mayer, Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking (London, 1968) pp. 9, 36 and 363. See also N. G. Levin, Woodrow Wilson and World Politics (New York, 1968) p. 6, and J. M. Thompson, Russia, Bolshevism and the Versailles Peace (New York, 1966) pp. 314, 385.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Egerton, Great Britain p. 112.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Ibid., p. 120.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Miller, Drafting of the Covenant vol. I, p. 63.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    This was Wilson’s so-called ‘fourth draft’.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Egerton, Great Britain pp. 121–5.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Miller, Drafting of the Covenant vol. II, p. 237.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Ibid., vol. I, pp. 168–70, vol. II, p. 264.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Ibid., vol. II, p. 169.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Wilson, Origins of the League Covenant p. 93.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Articles 11–17 in the Covenant.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Article 19 in the Hurst-Miller draft. Miller, Drafting of the Covenant, vol. II, p. 237.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Telegram to Lansing from American Ambassador in Tokyo, 15 November 1918, PPC, vol. I, p. 490.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Fleming, The US and the League p. 184.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Miller, Drafting of the Covenant vol. I, pp. 286–9 for the text of the memorandum.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Ibid., vol. II, pp. 580–91.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Wilson, Origins of the League Covenant pp. 64–5.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Harold Nicholson writes of the atmosphere in Paris following the ‘sinking of the vessel of Wilsonism’ as follows: ‘It was almost with a panic rush that we made for the boats, and when we reached them we found our colleagues of the Italian delegation already comfortably installed. They made us very welcome.’ Peacemaking 1919 (London, 1934) p. 70.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Armstrong 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Armstrong

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations