American Policy on the League of Nations and the World Court

January 2, 1935

Report Outline
Administration's Senate Majority and Foreign Policy
America's Rejection of League of Nations, 1919–20
The League in Operation; Problem of Sanctions
The United States and the League, 1920–1935
The United States and World Court Adherence
Special Focus

Administration's Senate Majority and Foreign Policy

Administration gains in the elections of November 6, 1934, increased the number of Democrats in the United States Senate from 59 to 69, giving the dominant party five more than a two-thirds majority. Franklin D. Roosevelt thus became the first Democratic President since Franklin Pierce to enjoy more than a simple majority in the Senate, the 34th Congress (1855–1857) having been the last in which there was so great a preponderance of Democrats in the upper house. Except for 12 years during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, the only subsequent time in which any administration occupied as strong a position in the Senate was in the last two years of Theodore Roosevelt's term (1907–1909), when one more than two-thirds of the whole number of qualified senators, there being two vacancies, were Republicans.

Existence of a two-thirds majority within its own party ranks gives the present administration the very rare opportunity of taking a bold initiative in controversial matters of foreign policy with reasonable confidence that its acts will receive the necessary Senate support. In an interview on the question of Anglo-American relations as a factor in world security, published by The Sunday Observer of London on December 2, 1934, United States Ambassador Bingham made the following significant statement:

An entirely new situation has arisen in the United States itself which makes possible now what has not before been possible—I frankly admit it—since the war. It is a commonplace of British and European comment on American diplomacy that, the United States proposed the formation of the League of Nations yet has not joined it, and proposed the formation of the World Court yet has not adhered to it; in short, that in the words of the old epigram, the American President proposes but Congress disposes. That criticism was fair, but it no longer holds.

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
Alliances and Security Agreements
International Law and Agreements