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History Timeline 1920's

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U.S. Timeline - The 1920s

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  • 1921 Detail

    July 2, 1921 - A Congressional resolution by both houses is signed by President Warren G. Harding, declaring peace in World War I hostilities with Germany, Austria, and Hungary. The treaties would be executed one month later.

    World War I


    The Treaty of Versailles had been drafted in 1919, putting an end to the hostilities of World War I, but, because the League of Nations establishment was part of that treaty, the United States refused to ratify. But, they knew the war was over, and there needed to be documentation by the United States Congress and the President certifying that.

    On November 19, 1919, the United States Senate had voted down approval of the Treaty of Versailles, with 39 Senators approving, but 55 disapproving. The Republicans, with dissent, were in agreement, 35-13-1, but the Democrats refused approval 4-42. It was the first time the United States Senate ever voted down a peace treaty, particularly vexing since it had been personally crafted by Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, who believed in the concept of the League of Nations to prevent future conflicts. However, led by Republicans, they changed the bill so much, fueled by partisan politics and Wilson's refusal to discuss the war's aftermath with them, including fourteen reservations, that Wilson urged its denial.

    The Senate did the same again on March 19, 1920, gaining a majority but needing two-thirds by the Constitution to pass a treaty. Forty-nine Senators voted yes, thirty-five no, and twelve did not vote. The Democrats were still not approving 21-23-3. Affirming the nation's disapproval of the League of Nations, President Warren G. Harding announced in his speech of April 12, 1921, that an independent Congressional resolution of both houses should be passed signifying the end of World War I. The resolution, known as Knox-Porter, was introduced in the Senate on April 25 by Philander Knox, a Republican from Pennsylvania, with a slightly different version making its way through the House of Representatives after introduction by Pennsylvania Congressman, fellow Republican Stephen Porter.

    With reconciliation and negotiations ongoing with Germany over reparations, the Senate (July 1) and House (June 30) finally took up a vote on the bill, passing it and sending it to the President for his signature. The Senate voted 38 yes, 19 no, with 38 not voting. Republicans, with the President's backing, voted unanimously to approve the resolution. Democrats, in opposition, vote 3 yes, 19 no, and 15 not voting. The House of Representatives voted 263 yes, 59 no, and 108 not voting. It was a slam dunk for Republicans 218-1-77. Democrats actually voted the measure down, 43-58-31. An independent Republican and Socialist also voted yes.



    Text of Joint Resolution of Congress Ending World War I

    Joint Resolution Tenrminating the state of war between the Imperial German Government and the United States of America and between the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungaran Government and the United States of America.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Represetatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war declared to exist between the Imperial German Government and the United States of America by the joint resolution of Congress approved April 6, 1917, is hereby declared at an end.

    SEC. 2. That in making this declaration, and as a part of it, there are expressly reserved to the United States of America and its nationals any and all rights, privileges, indemnities, reparations, or advantages, together with the right to enforce the same, to which it or they have become entitled under the terms of the armistice signed November 11, 1918, or any extensions or modifications thereof; or which were acquired by or are in the possession of the United States of America by reason of its participation in the war or to which its nationals have thereby become rightfully entitled; or which, under the treaty of Versailles, have been stipulated for its or their benefit; or to which it is entitled as one of the principal allied and associated powers; or to which it is entitled by virtue of any Act or Acts of Congress; or otherwise.

    Sac. 3. That the state of war declared to exist between the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government and the United States of America by the joint resolution of Congress approved svaton of December 7, 1917, is hereby declared at an end.

    Sec. 4. That in making this declaration, and as a part of it, there are expressly reserved to the United States of America and its nationals any and all rights, privileges, indemnities, reparations, or advantages, together with the right to enforce the same, to which it or they have become entitled under the terms of the armistice signed November 3, 1918, or any extensions or modifications thereof; or which were acquired by or are in the possession of the United States of America by reason of its participation in the war or to which its nationals have thereby become rightfully entitled; or which, under the treaty of Saint Germain-en-Laye or the treaty of Trianon, have been stipulated for its or their benefit; or to which it is entitled as one of the principal allied and associated powers; or to which it is entitled by virtue of any Act or Acts of Congress; or otherwise.

    Sec. 5. All property of the Imperial German Government, or its successor or successors, and of all German nationals which was, on April 6, 1917, in or has since that date come into the possession or under control of, or has been the subject of a demand by the United States of America or of any of its officers, agents, or employees, from any source or by any agency whatsoever, and all property of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government, or its successor or successors, and of all Austro-Hungarian nationals which was on December 7, 1917 in or has since that date come into the possession or under control of, or has been the subject of a demand by the United States of America or any of its officers, agents, or employees, from any source or by any agency whatsoever, shall be retained by the United States of America and no disposition thereof made, except as shall have been heretofore or specifically hereafter shall be provided by law until such time as the Imperial German Government and the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government, or their successor or successors, shall have respectively made suitable provision for the satisfaction of all claims against said Governments respectively, of all persons, wheresoever domiciled, who owe permanent allegiance to the United States of America and who have suffered, through the acts of the Imperial German Government, or its agents, or the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government, or its agents, since July 31, 1914, loss, damage, or injury to their persons or property, directly or indirectly, whether through the ownership of shares of stock in German, Austro-Hungarian, American, or other corporations, or in consequence of hostilities or of any operations of war, or otherwise, and also shall have granted to persons owing permanent allegiance to the United States of America most-favored-nation treatment, whether the same be national or otherwise, in all matters affecting residence, business, profession, trade, navigation, commerce and industrial property rights, and until the Imperial German Government and the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government, or their successor or successors, shall have respectivelyconfirmed to the United States of America all fines, forfeitures, penalties, and seizures imposed or made by the United States of America during the war, whether in respect to the property of the Imperial German Government or German nationals or the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Government or Austro-Hungarian nationals, and shall have waived any and all pecuniary claims against the United States of America.


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    SEC. 6. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to repeal, modify or amend the provisions of the joint resolution "declaring that certain Acts of Congress, joint resolutions and proclamations shall be construed as if the war had ended and the present or existing emergency expired," approved March 3, 1921, or the passport cntrol provisions of an Act entitled "An act making appropriations for the diplomatic and consular service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1922," approved March 2, 1921; nor to be effective to terminate the military status of any person now in desertion from the military or naval service of the United States, nor to terminate the liability to prosecution and punishment under the Selective Service law, approved May 18, 1917, of any person who failed to comply with the provisions of said Act, or of Acts amendatory thereof.

    Approved, July 2, 1921.

    Photo above: United States Field Artillery assisting the 29th Infantry Division in France during World War I, 1917/1918. Photo by Signal Corps courtesy Library of Congress. Below: President Woodrow Wilson, Prime Minister of France Georges Clemenceau, and British Prime Minister Lloyd George leaving Palace of Versailles after signing peace treaty, 1919, Keystone View Company. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info source: Library of Congress, Statutes at Large, Sixty-Seventh Congress; Govtrack.us; ussenate.gov; Wikipedia Commons.

    Treaty of Versailles 1919






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