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Henry Cabot Lodge

Henry Cabot Lodge helped write the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 (15 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq.). He was an enthusiastic supporter of the SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR of 1898 and advocated military power as the United States' best tactic for peace. He believed firmly in the principles of the MONROE DOCTRINE, by which the United States sought to protect nations in the Western Hemisphere from European intrusion. Although he opposed strong control by the federal government, he believed that in some circumstances moderate government regulation was essential to prevent SOCIALISM. Lodge was a conservative Republican U.S. senator from 1893 to 1924. He successfully fought to defeat U.S. entry into President WOODROW WILSON's newly proposed LEAGUE OF NATIONS at the end of WORLD WAR I. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1918 to 1924 and influenced U.S. foreign policy in the first quarter of the twentieth century. He also was a prolific writer, most notably of a series of biographies, and the grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., a Republican senator in 1937–44 and 1947–53.

Lodge was born May 12, 1850, in Boston. The families of his father, John Ellerton Lodge, and mother, Anna Cabot Lodge, were wealthy and of high social standing. Lodge graduated from Harvard in 1871, and married Anna Cabot Mills ("Nannie") Davis the day after his graduation ceremony. He attended Harvard Law School from 1872 to 1874, and in 1874 made his first entry into politics as a delegate to the Republican state convention.

Lodge taught American colonial history at Harvard for a year and then turned to writing, producing a biography of his great-grandfather, a colonial history, and various magazine articles, among other works. He was an editor on the International Review magazine for four years, and wrote a set of books called the American Statesman Series, on GEORGE WASHINGTON, Washington Irving, and DANIEL WEBSTER, among others.

In the late 1870s, he wrote articles on election reform, gave an Independence Day address, and served two one-year terms in the Massachusetts General Court. In 1883 he chaired the Republican State Central Committee and met THEODORE ROOSEVELT, with whom he would remain close friends throughout his life.

Lodge was elected to the House in 1886, where he served for six years. He chaired the House Committee on Elections, sponsored the Federal Elections Bill, and introduced a bill prohibiting entry into the United States by illiterate

immigrants (later vetoed by President GROVER CLEVELAND). In 1890 Lodge helped write the SHERMAN ANTI-TRUST ACT, the first federal law to control growing centralization of economic power by monopolistic corporations.

In 1893 Lodge entered the Senate, where he served until his death in 1924. As a senator he was a strong supporter of the Spanish-American War, in which two of his three sons served. He supported U.S. imperialism during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. In 1902 he helped persuade Roosevelt to appoint OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR., to the U.S. Supreme Court; Holmes's fundamentally new approach to the judicial process—which rejected the notion of legal principles as absolutes—changed U.S. law. Also in the early 1900s, he sponsored a child labor law (May 28, 1908, ch. 209, 35 Stat. 420) in Washington, D.C., and an AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR law mandating an eight-hour workday. In 1906 Lodge worked on Roosevelt's Food and Drug Act (ch. 3915, 34 Stat. 768).

From 1918 to 1924, Lodge chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was the Senate majority leader. He also worked adamantly to foil President Wilson's efforts to establish the League of Nations. Lodge disliked both the policies and the personality of Wilson.

Wilson attempted to link the passage of his League of Nations with the signing of the peace treaty that would officially end World War I. Lodge attacked this approach, accusing Wilson of jeopardizing the peace process for the sake of his project. Lodge also was chief among Wilson's critics for two other actions. In an era in which presidents rarely left the country, Wilson traveled to Europe to make a highly publicized case for his League of Nations. Although he was well received by the Europeans with whom he met, the trip was not favorably viewed by many in the United States. Second, he took with him a small group of men that included only Democrats.

In 1919 Lodge addressed the Senate about the "crudeness and looseness of expression" of the proposed League of Nations. He cited a direct conflict between Wilson's league and the Monroe Doctrine, which he said dictated that "American questions be settled by America alone." He also questioned whether the United States could follow up on some of the promises outlined in Wilson's proposal, and cited a potential loss of U.S. control over immigration.

Lodge and two other men crafted a declaration listing their objections to the proposed League of Nations, the primary ones involving congressional rights. Lodge then circulated the declaration through the Republican senators seeking signatures of support, a process called a round-robin, and received thirty-seven signatures, more than enough to indicate strong support for the declaration. Lodge led a lengthy debate on the Senate floor, followed by hearings in which a variety of representatives from around the world were allowed to testify on a broad range of topics. Witnesses spoke, for example, on Irish independence, which had little relevance to the League of Nations but which took time on the floor. Lodge also read the entire text of Wilson's proposal, which took two weeks to complete, in order to wear down Wilson and his supporters and to encourage a deadlock.

Ultimately, Congress did deadlock on the issue, and the U.S. public decided the fate of the league with the November 1920 presidential election, when James Cox, the Democratic candidate, lost to WARREN G. HARDING, who opposed the league.


In his last years, Lodge returned to writing and spent time with his family. He died November 9, 1924, at age seventy-four.


Garraty, John A. 1953. Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography. New York: Knopf.

Lodge, Henry Cabot. 1902. Fighting Frigate and Other Essays. New York: Scribners.

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