The Referendum in Theory and Practice

July 24, 1924
Entire Report

Democratic Proposal for National Referendum

In 1920 the Democratic Party pledged Itself to every effort to secure the entry of the United States into the League of Nations. On June 28, 1924, the Democratic national convention renewed its ex-pressions of belief In the League of Nations but proposed in its plat-from that the question should be taken out of party politics and sub-fitted to the judgment of the whole body of voters through a national referendum. The plank in which this Is set forth concludes as follows: “There is no substitute for the League of Nations as an agency for peace; therefore we believe that, in the interest of permanent peace, and in the lifting of the great burdens of war from the backs of the people and in order to establish a permanent foreign policy on these supreme questions, not subject to change with change of administrations, it is desirable, wise and necessary to lift this question out of party politics and to that end to take the sense of the American people at a referendum election, advisory to the Government, to be held officially under act of Congress, free from all other questions and candidacies, after ample time for full consideration and discussion throughout the Country upon the question, in substance as follows: Shall the United States become a member of the League of Nations upon such reservations or amendments to the covenant of the League as the President and the Senate of the United States may agree upon? Immediately upon an affirmative vote we will carry out such mandate.”

Minority Opposition

Sixteen members of the Committee on Resolutions, headed by Newton D. Baker, presented a minority amendment to the platform in which they advocated Immediate entrance of the United States into the League of Nations without a prior referendum. In his speech in support, of the minority report, Baker characterised the proposal of a national referendum as illegal, unconstitutional, impracticable, revolutionary and In violation of states' rights.

Extracts from Mr. Baker's speech follow:

“The majority report is revolutionary. It is more fantastic than anything ever proposed In American constitutional practice exceperaps at the St. Paul convention. The call for a referendum is illegal, unconstitutional and revolutionary.”

“I am perfectly willing to discuss with any one the question of putting a referendum into the constitution of the United States. I don't know where my mind would, go if I considered that problem. I helped to put one in the constitution of Ohio and I want to keep it there and I like to work it.” “There is no authority for a referendum under the constitution. I think

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
League of Nations
Jan. 02, 1935  American Policy on the League of Nations and the World Court
Oct. 20, 1930  League of Nations—Eleventh Assembly
Sep. 08, 1930  The League Covenant and the Kellogg Pact
Jan. 08, 1930  The League of Nations—Ten Years
Oct. 08, 1929  The League of Nations-Tenth Assembly
Nov. 08, 1928  The League of Nations 1928
Sep. 03, 1926  The League of Nations - September 1926
Jul. 24, 1924  The Referendum in Theory and Practice
Diplomacy and Diplomats
International Law and Agreements