Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12

Lesson 2. The Debate in the United States over the League of Nations: Disagreement Over the League

A We The People Resource


The Lesson


Woodrow Wilson for League of Nations

Woodrow Wilson

Credit: Courtesy of American Memory (Library of Congress

American foreign policy continues to resonate with the issues surrounding the debate over U.S. entry into the League of Nations-collective security versus national sovereignty, idealism versus pragmatism, the responsibilities of powerful nations, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals, the idea of America. Understanding the debate over the League and the consequences of its ultimate failure provides insight into international affairs in the years since the end of the Great War and beyond.

In this lesson, students read the words and listen to the voices of some central participants in the debate over the League of Nations.

Note: This lesson may be taught either as a stand-alone lesson or as part of the curriculum unit, The Debate in the United States Over the League of Nations. This curriculum unit may serve as a sequel to the complementary EDSITEment lesson U.S. Entry into World War I: A Documentary Chronology.

Guiding Questions

  • What were the central issues in the debate in America over the League of Nations?

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the opposition to the League in the Senate.

Preparation Instructions

  • Review the lesson. Locate and bookmark suggested materials and other useful websites. Download and print out documents you will use and duplicate copies as necessary for student viewing. Download the Master PDF. Print out and make an appropriate number of copies of any handouts you plan to use in class.

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. Disagreement Over the League

Share the Cartoon: GOP and the League on the EDSITEment resource Links to the Past. (NOTE: Lodge, Knox, and Borah were all Republican senators.)

Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • What message does the cartoon communicate?
  • Article 10 of the Covenant was the most controversial point in the U.S. Senate. Why?
    The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.
Guiding Discussion Questions:
  • What were the basic objections to the League?
  • What would Wilson need to have done to assure acceptance of the League by the Senate?


After reviewing the material covered in this lesson of the curriculum unit, students should be able to participate in the guided discussion and frame an oral statement or written paragraph outlining the main objections to the League of Nations by some Americans.

The Basics

Grade Level


Time Required

2-3 class periods

Subject Areas
  • History and Social Studies > U.S. > AP US History
  • History and Social Studies
  • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
  • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
  • History and Social Studies > Place > Asia
  • History and Social Studies > U.S. > The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > Politics and Citizenship
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > U.S. Constitution
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > War and Foreign Policy
  • Critical analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Debate
  • Discussion
  • Evaluating arguments
  • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
  • Historical analysis
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • Textual analysis
  • Using archival documents
  • MMS (AL)


Activity Worksheets