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Treaty of Peace with Germany: Address of the President of the United States . . . , July 10, 1919

The Senate has the constitutional power to approve or reject treaties with foreign countries. President Woodrow Wilson urged the Senate to swiftly approve the Treaty of Versailles. Instead, the Senate debated the treaty’s terms for months, with many senators expressing concerns that participation in a League of Nations might undermine U.S. sovereignty. Efforts to amend the treaty failed, however, and the Senate ultimately rejected it.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

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Setting the Terms of Peace

The armistice of November 11, 1918, ended the fighting in World War I with Germany. In 1919 delegates drafted the Treaty of Versailles that set the terms of peace at the Paris Peace Conference. President Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points,” his plan for a “just peace,” laid the framework for the conference. European leaders, however, preferred retribution against Germany. The resulting treaty required Germany to pay reparations, but it largely retained Wilson’s plan. It included provisions for a League of Nations and the creation of new nations in Eastern Europe.