Henry Cabot Lodge

On May 12, 1850, Republican statesman and noted historian Henry Cabot Lodge was born in Boston, Massachusetts. One of the first students at Harvard to graduate with a Ph.D. in history and government (1876), Lodge represented his home state in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1887 to 1893, and in the Senate from 1893 to 1924. As chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he led the successful fight against American participation in the League of Nations, proposed by President Woodrow Wilson at the close of World War I.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right. Pirie MacDonald, photographer, c1916. Portrait Gallery. In American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I. Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

Lodge maintained that membership in the world peacekeeping organization would threaten the sovereignty of the United States by binding the nation to international commitments it would not or could not keep.

The digital collection American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I includes a recording of Senator Lodge’s 1919 argument against the League. “The United States is the world’s best hope,” Lodge allowed:

but if you fetter her in the interest through quarrels of other nations, if you tangle her in the intrigues of Europe, you will destroy her powerful good, and endanger her very existence. Leave her to march freely through the centuries to come, as in the years that have gone. Strong, generous, and confident, she has nobly served mankind. Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance—this great land of ordered liberty. For if we stumble and fall, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin.

League of Nations. Henry Cabot Lodge, speaker; Bridgeport, Conn: Columbia Gramophone Mfg. Co., 1919. American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I. Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

The League of Nations was established without U.S. participation in 1920. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it remained active until World War II. After the war, it was replaced by the United Nations, which assumed many of the League’s procedures and peacekeeping functions. In 1953, Henry Cabot Lodge’s grandson, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., was named U.S. ambassador to the U.N. He left the position in 1960 to run for vice president on the Republican ticket headed by Richard M. Nixon. The duo lost the election to Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, who had taken over Lodge’s Senate seat in 1952.

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Theodore Roosevelt on Film

On Tuesday, May 12, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt paid an official visit to San Francisco. Cameraman H. J. Miles captured the president’s arrival parade on film and later released the footage as The President’s Carriage.

Two days after the Market Street procession, Roosevelt was filmed again as he dedicated Dewey Monument in the city’s Union Square. The monument, which is still in place, commemorates the victory of Admiral George Dewey and the American fleet over Spanish forces at Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. It is also a tribute to the sailors of the U.S. Navy.

The President’s Carriage. Herbert J. Miles, camera; The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, filmed May 12, 1903. Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897 to 1916. Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

Called actuality films, short documentaries such as The President’s Carriage, as well as films of policemen and firemen in action, buildings under construction, and new inventions, appeared in nickelodeons throughout America. The themes and conventions of these short films were borrowed from nineteenth century commercial photography. Early audiences, while amazed by the moving images, were very familiar with the subject matter. What is perhaps most interesting about the two Roosevelt actuality films is the view they offer of a city that would be devastated by a massive earthquake and fire just three years after the president’s 1903 visit.

Panorama, Union Square, San Francisco. Herbert J. Miles, camera; The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, filmed May 14, 1903. Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897 to 1916. Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

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