Was the Treaty of Versailles a Victory for Democracy?
By Ted Widmer
via the New York Times newspaper web site
June 28, 1919, dawned as a beautiful day; fair, with moderate winds, according to The New York Times. It was a perfect day to see a baseball game, and 28,000 did, going to the Polo Grounds to watch the Yankees and Red Sox split a doubleheader. New Yorkers could only envy the Red Sox, who had won the last World Series, and seemed poised to win many more, since they boasted “the mighty Babe Ruth, Boston’s swatting all-around player.”
It was hard to believe on this sunny day, but it had been precisely five years since World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Since then, nearly 20 million had died, and entire empires, including Franz Ferdinand’s, had vanished. But those painful memories were softened by the knowledge that nothing so terrible could ever happen again. Because June 28 was the day that a new history would begin.
Across the Atlantic, outside Paris, another huge crowd thronged the old royal seat of Versailles, where a peace treaty awaited signature. It was the culmination of months of work, led by the American president, Woodrow Wilson, who had promised to make the world safe for democracy.
The immense chateau was an unlikely backdrop for a democratic pageant. But like a versatile actress, it was ready to play this demanding new part. Auspiciously, the treaties that recognized the United States were signed here in 1783, validating the idea that one people, at least, might dare to govern itself. Less auspiciously, democracy had surged out of control during the French Revolution, when the proud buildings were stripped of their furnishings. But these were obscure footnotes on what was sure to be a great day. News cameras were on site, ready to record every detail for a voracious public.
Read the entire article on https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/28/opinion/versailles-treaty-woodrow-wilson.html.
External Web Site Notice: This page contains information directly presented from an external source. The terms and conditions of this page may not be the same as those of this website. Click here to read the full disclaimer notice for external web sites. Thank you.