The signing of The Treaty of Versailles

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The Treaty of Versailles

The signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 officially ended World War I. (Keylor, W. R. 215). The treaty was signed in Versailles Palace, near Paris, by Germany and the Allies, hence the title. Among those present were three of the world's most powerful politicians: Woodrow Wilson (America), Georges Clemenceau (France), and David Lloyd George (Britain), collectively known as the "Big Three" (Keylor, W. R. 217). Because of its size, the Versailles Palace was the favored venue, as hundreds of dignitaries were scheduled to attend (Keylor, W. R. 217).

President Woodrow Wilson

President Woodrow Wilson genuinely opposed the war due to its savagery and could not comprehend how such an advanced civilization brought so much devastation upon itself (Wiley, Blackwell 706). Conversely, there was mounting pressure in America for the government to implement a policy to isolate and neglect Europeans to their schemes. As such, regardless of developing the notion of a League of Nations, President Wilson needed minimum involvement in Europe. Though he thought Germany deserved punishment, Wilson still preferred reconciliation in Europe, rather than revenge (Wiley, Blackwell 706).

The Senate's Rejection

However, when Woodrow introduced the treaty in the United States, the Senate declined to ratify it. The Senate failed to acquire the two-thirds majority votes needed for its ratification since two separate groups of within it opposed some of the conditions put forward by the treaty (Keylor 216). Among the key reasons for the objection of the treaty was that it compromised the autonomy of the United States. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and the Reservationists formed the largest opposing group, and they suggested the revision of the treaty before its acceptance (Keylor 216). For instance, the group opposed Article 10, which advocated for the declaration of war by the League of Nations to declare war whether the United States Congress approved it or not. On the other hand was a group of 12-18 senators, referred to as "the Irreconcilables," who were mostly Republican rivals of President Wilson (Keylor 216). The Irreconcilables strongly opposed the treaty, on the grounds that the British fabricated the League of Nations with intentions of safeguarding its kingdom. As such, without the ratification of the Senate, the US could not form the League of Nations or the sign Versailles Treaty. Instead, a separate peace treaty was signed between the United States and Germany in August 1921(Keylor, W. R. 216).

Harlem Renaissance

Harlem Renaissance was an artistic movement that sparked a new cultural identity among the blacks, spanning the 1920s to the mid-1930s in Harlem ("Harlem Renaissance" 5163). Harlem was then a cultural center, attracting black scholars, writers, poets, musicians, artists and photographers. Most of the people who joined the movement migrated from the South to escape the oppressive caste system that made it hard for them to express their talents without restrictions ("Harlem Renaissance" 5163). Among the artists were Langston Hughes and Claude McKay, whose works were recognized.

Langston Hughes' Poetry

Langston Hughes’ poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," which he wrote at age 17 in 1920, is considered his first mature poem. Although the poem was not technically about Harlem, the poet describes themes that would later portray a close association with the Harlem Renaissance (Hughes, Langston). In the poem, Hughes associates himself with his ancestors and purposefully places them in significant cultural, historical and religious sites across the world. The persona starts by creating a link to ancient rivers that preceded humans and that he asserts his soul grow "deep like the rivers." (Hughes, Langston) The writer’s description is insightful and articulate, introducing a conclusive association between the blacks and the rest of human civilization. During the early 20th century, black people were regarded as less human and in his poem, Hughes portrays a concrete historical equality (Hughes, Langston). Hughes states four great rivers, beginning with the Euphrates, which is popularly labeled as the origin of human civilization. Correspondingly, the poet describes the mighty River Congo, from which great African Kingdoms sprouted. He then cites River Nile and the Egyptian pyramids, which are among man’s greatest architectural achievements (Hughes, Langston). Lastly, he mentions the Golden Mississippi, linking it to slavery and Abraham Lincoln (Hughes, Langston).

“Night Funeral in Harlem” is another poem by Langston Hughes describing a poor black man’s funeral. The deceased man had no means to pay the insurance company, and therefore the company could not provide money for his funeral (Hughes, Langston). Nonetheless, the funeral does happen, thanks to his friends who contributed some money. Despite the funeral being simple, the love and the sacrifice portrayed by the friends (presumably as poor as the deceased was) made it grand (Hughes, Langston). As such, the poem is a celebration of a sense of community and mutual support- the spiritual wealth of a society with little material possession (Hughes, Langston).

The CCC and NYA

The cartoon portrays two people labeled CCC and NYA in bed and two other men at the entrance ("CCC Brief History"). One of the men at the door has the name WAR on him and carries a seemingly heavy baggage. On the other hand, the other man at the entrance orders CCC and NYA to create room for somebody else. Nonetheless, the room has a single bed and seems too small to accommodate CCC and NYA.

The New Deal Agencies

National Youth Administration (NYA) and Civilian Conservative Corps (CCC) were among the New Deal agencies formed by President Roosevelt in his bid to help the USA recover from the Great Depression. Established in 1933, the CCC was a public work project envisioned at promoting environmental management (Tavlas, George S. 363). As well, the CCC was intended to build good citizens through disciplined, vigorous outdoor labor ("CCC Brief History"). On the other hand, the NYA focused on providing education and work for youths aged between 16 and 25. As the USA shifted its attention from surviving the Great Depression to engage in World War 2, the two New Deal agencies were dissolved (Tavlas, George S. 363). Therefore, the man labeled WAR probably signifies the onset of the Second World War and its effect on NYA and CCC agencies formed by Roosevelt to curb the Great Depression (Tavlas, George S. 363).

Works Cited

"CCC Brief History." CCC Legacy, 2017,

"Harlem Renaissance." Choice Reviews Online, vol 53, no. 12, 2016, pp. 53-5163-53-5163. American Library Association, doi:10.5860/choice.197287.

Hughes, Langston. "Night Funeral In Harlem." Night Funeral In Harlem, 2017,

Hughes, Langston. "The Negro Speaks Of Rivers." The Negro Speaks Of Rivers, 2017,

Keylor, W. R. "Realism, Idealism, And The Treaty Of Versailles." Diplomatic History, vol 38, no. 1, 2013, pp. 215-218. Oxford University Press (OUP), doi:10.1093/dh/dht112.

Tavlas, George S. "New Perspectives On The Great Depression: A Review Essay." International Finance, vol 19, no. 3, 2016, pp. 353-374. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/infi.12094.

Wiley, Blackwell. "Woodrow Wilson, World War I, And The Present." Policy Studies Journal, vol 22, no. 4, 1994, pp. 705-706. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/j.1541-0072.1994.tb01502.x.

May 02, 2023

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