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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Fearing an Autocratic Peace

Robert La Follette. Handwritten notes for a speech opposing the Declaration of War, 1917. La Follette Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (005.00.00)
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Robert La Follette. Handwritten notes for a speech opposing the Declaration of War, 1917. La Follette Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (005.00.01)
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Robert La Follette. Handwritten notes for a speech opposing the Declaration of War, 1917. La Follette Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (005.00.02)
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Fearing an Autocratic Peace

Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin was a maverick Republican who opposed the war even as Republican leaders like Theodore Roosevelt were calling for a strengthening of the armed forces and a vigorous defense of American rights and values. La Follette was concerned that the war would not be fought to further democratic ideals. In these notes for a speech before Congress opposing a Declaration of War, the senator wrote, "We may declare it is a war for democracy, but if the allies should insist on a partition of the smaller nations or taking over of peoples, we will be a party to the autocratic peace."

Transcript

Point IIIb. We are entering into the compact without any knowledge of the extent to which we are committing ourselves to the foreign policies. We may declare it is a war for democracy but if the allies should on partition of smaller nations . . . we will be party to the autocratic peace.

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