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The Congressman in War and Peace

The Congressman in War and Peace

(p.85) 7 The Congressman in War and Peace
Alben Barkley
James K. Libbey
University Press of Kentucky

Because of issues related to German submarines, freedom of the seas, and the Zimmermann telegram, Barkley spoke and voted in favor of war with Germany in April 1917. He strongly supported war measures such as the Selective Service Act as well as prohibition that would keep tubers, fruits, and grains as food for US soldiers and destitute Europeans. He joined several colleagues in visiting European battlefields before the war ended. With the Armistice, President Wilson went to Europe to negotiate the Treaty of Versailles, which among other things established the League of Nations. Considering the GOP victory in the 1918 elections, Wilson mishandled the creation of the peace delegation. With the Senate Foreign Relations Committee controlled by the opposing party, he went out across the country to secure popular support for the treaty. He suffered two strokes, and the Senate failed to approve Versailles and the league. Meanwhile, Barkley experienced uncharacteristic failure in a railway bill, in part because for the first time in his congressional career he belonged to the minority party.

Keywords:   Barkley and family, submarine warfare, Zimmermann telegram, war declaration, Selective Service, prohibition, European battlefields, Treaty of Versailles, League of Nations, Wilson’s strokes, railway bill

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