Indiana editorial opinion on the League of Nations : January 1919-March 1920
This study sought to test on the state level the validity of Thomas A. Bailey's theory on reactions to the proposal for a League of Nations following World War I. Bailey, a noted diplomatic historian, suggested that most groups were guided by partisan loyalties to either support or oppose the League. Indiana newspaper editors were chosen as the test group for study because of their influence with the public and the accessibility of their views. Ten Indiana newspapers were surveyed fully between January 1919 and the end of March 1920, and an additional eleven papers were spot-checked during that period. The state newspapers were divided as equally as possible based upon their support for either the Democratic or the Republican party, and then were compared to two national newspapers, one Democratic and one Republican.The results of these comparisons appear to validate Bailey's hypothesis. The editorial positions of most of the Indiana newspapers coincided with the positions of thepolitical parties with which they were identified. The study also revealed greater diversity of opinion among editors of both political persuasions during the early months of 1919 as the participants at the Paris Peace Conference worked toward the first draft of the Covenant. After President Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles to the United States Senate, partisan debate ensued, and a narrowing of editorial opinion parallel to that debate was evident among newspapers on both sides. Pro-League newspapers supported Wilson's position from the time he presented it to the Senate in July 1919. Anti-League newspapers supported Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and his followers in the Senate from about the same time. Neither group changed significantly from then until the final defeat of the treaty in March 1920. Thus, it would appear that Bailey's hypothesis regarding the partisan origins of most group's positions was correct.