Charles Evans Hughes was an US politician noteworthy for being Woodrow Wilson's opponent as Republican nominee during the 1916 elections. He ran on a belligerent campaign in favor of US involvement in WWI (which would prove itself redundant as Wilson joined the war on the Entente's side anyway). In the OTL aftermath of the war, Hughes gained a reputation as peace-broker due to his role in the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 which limited the naval prowess of most of the world's empires. He grew older but managed to become a member of the US Supreme Court in the 1930's. He retired just as his country was about to enter WWII and died in 1948.
So, what if Hughes had managed to beat Wilson in the 1916 presidential election by a margin? From what i've heard, the race was a close affair, especially in California's electorate.
What i can predict is the late period of WWI developing more or less as OTL, unless Hughes manages to eke out a DoW a few weeks earlier, which i doubt would make much of a difference in, say, the outcome of the Spring Offensive. Germany is still defeated, and her efforts at empire collapse.
What i'm interested in discussing would be Hughes' role in the aftermath of WWI. Wilson, IOTL, seems to have made quite a few brash decisions, supporting the imposition of harsh economic restrictions on the newfound German Republic, prohibiting the union of rump Austria with Germany, refusing to join the League of Nations he helped build the base for, issuing an ambiguous and ultimately void "Fourteen Points" declaration on national sovereignty, etc. How would Hughes, as POTUS, use his position to influence the outcome of the Treaty of Versailles? In what points did Wilson and Hughes agree on, and in which were they opposite to each other? Could Hughes negotiate his way to a more lenient set of terms on Germany, maintaining the reduction of the Heer but lifting the trade sanctions, for example? Any other areas he might have an effect on, such as Turkey? What else?
Additionally, how might Hughes' decisions affect the nascent Soviet Union?
 
Hughes would be more open to amendments to make the League of Nations--or whatever it would be called --acceptable to the Senate (most Americans favored some kind of association of nations). In particular, I don't think he would have wanted the open-ended guarantees of Article X. But I don't think that otherwise a Versailles Treaty negotiated by the Hughes administration would differ very much from what Wilson arrived at. (Though I think Hughes would be less inclined to go to Paris himself and more likely to send Elihu Root, his probable Secretary of State.) Most of the decisions you mention were not Wilson's idea but simply Wilson acquiescing in what the British and/or French wanted--and I don't see why Hughes would be more inclined to break Allied unity in favor of the Germans than Wilson was. After all, his party included men like TR and Lodge and Root who were not exactly known for German sympathies...
 
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If Hughes supports the League of Nations and agrees to Lodge’s reservations, America joins the League of Nations.

I wonder if the Sedition Act or the Palmer Raids would ever happen. Without the Sedition Act, Eugene Debs would remain a free man.

With a Republican being President during WWI, German-Americans might be more Democratic in 1918 and the 1920s.
 
Would Hughes have conducted the War with greater respect for civil liberties than Wilson? I am skeptical. The Espionage Act and its 1918 amendments (popularly but not officially called the Sedition Act) were bipartisan legislation. I am not aware that Hughes objected to them. It is true that in 1920 he did object to the expulsion of five Socialists from the New York legislature. (For that matter, so did Warren Harding!) As a member of Harding's Cabinet, Hughes also supported amnesty for Debs. But that was well after the War was over. During the War he stated his position as follows:

"It is vitally important that the wells of public opinion should be kept free from the poison of treasonable or seditious propaganda. Congress has ample authority to provide for the punishment of seditious utterances as well as sedltious acts. If the enemy's efforts to spread its propaganda succeed, it is due to our own supineness. There is no lack of constitutional power to deal with these efforts. As Lincoln said: ‘I can no more be persuaded that the Government can take no strong measures in time of rebellion because it can be shown that the same could not be lawfully taken in time of peace, than I can be persuaded that a particular drug is not good medicine for a sick man because it cannot be shown to be good medicine for a well one.' The remark obviously applies as well in the case of war with a foreign foe.

“I fully agree that in places where the courts are appropriately performing their functions, and the administration of justice remains unobstructed, these normal processes should not be displaced by military tribunals to try civilians. Our judicial processes have not yet broken down and we still have confldence in their adequacy to punish treason and sedition but treason and sedition must be punished and punished promptly. Constitutional power is adequate. The defence and preservation of the nation is a fundamental principle of the constitution.

“With respect to property and business, with respect to life itself, freedom is restrained. Witness our War Defence and Conscription acts, our broad plans of regulation by which manifold activities are controlled to an unusual degree. Of course, freedom of speech and of the press is also a relative freedom. There is no license to destroy the nation or to turn it over helpless to its foe. There is no constitutional privilege for disenforcement of the law or to interfere with the war plans adopted by authority.

“But, with due recognition of the difficulty of exact definition and close distinction, it is quite obvious that there is a field for honest criticism which cannot be surrendered without imperiling the essentials of liberty and the preservation of the mation itself. Our officers of Government are not a privileged class. Even when equipped with the extraordinary powers of war, they are the servants of the nation, accountable for the excercise of their authority..." https://books.google.com/books?id=3r1NAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA16-PA8

Does the last paragraph offer much hope of a more libertarian prosecution of the War? I doubt it. It basically consists of platitudes that Wilson himself would readily accept--that "legitimate criticism" is permissible even during wartime. I think the preceding paragraphs are more significant.
 
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As this is alternatehistory.com, the cliche response is "better than Wilson by default", though whoever won I can be pretty sure WWI would probably end around the same time as IOTL and the Russian Revolution would still happen
 
... Most of the decisions you mention were not Wilson's idea but simply Wilson acquiescing in what the British and/or French wanted--and I don't see why Hughes would be more inclined to break Allied unity in favor of the Germans than Wilson was. After all, his party included men like TR and Lodge and Root who were not exactly known for German sympathies...

Like a lot of people Wilson went to France thinking the meeting was a preliminary discussion to find core principles and points to agree on for a series of conferences to establish equitable settlements though out Europe, & by implication the rest of the world. His Fourteen Points were a talking paper for starting discussion. Clemceau & his Brit counter part had no interest in a pile of radical ideas from a mob of little unschooled nations, a view that included the US. They rapidly ramrodded a treaty & set positions for others that in their few favored the British and French empires & Damm everyone else. They got this before the hate directed at Germany receded & before the inherent flaws in the system they were setting up could be perceived & discussed.

This is not to say a extended series of negotiations and more thought through treaties would have resulted in anything better. That sort of thing could have crawled off in multiple directions with all sorts of unexpected consequences. Still, the abrupt and heavy handed creation of the Versailles Treaty contributed to disillusionment in the US and the domination of Isolationist ideas and policies.
 
. . Most of the decisions you mention were not Wilson's idea but simply Wilson acquiescing in what the British and/or French wanted--and I don't see why Hughes would be more inclined to break Allied unity in favor of the Germans than Wilson was. .
The following book claims that Wilson suddenly and abruptly acquiesced because he was sick.

* and the secondary theory that he may have had a rare case of influenza attacking the brain (I still think stroke is more likely)

753353.jpg
 
753353.jpg

page 385:

“ . . . Wilson suddenly abandoned principles he had previously insisted upon. He yielded to Clemenceau everything of significance Clemenceau wanted, virtually all of which Wilson had earlier opposed. . . ”
So apparently, Wilson did abruptly shift gears.
 
No doubt Wilson agreed to concessions which violated his principles of self-determination. But Hughes and especially powerful people in the Republican foreign policy establishment like Root and Lodge and TR (now that he was a Republican again) would not have paid much attention to such principles to begin with (except when they could be used against Germany). The most one could say about Wilson is that he ultimately agreed to peace terms not too different from what they wanted except that they put less stock in the League (though not in principle opposed to one) and more in a US that could form an old-fashioned alliance with the UK and France (instead of the open-ended commitments of Article X).
 
Hughes would be more open to amendments to make the League of Nations--or whatever it would be called --acceptable to the Senate (most Americans favored some kind of association of nations). In particular, I don't think he would have wanted the open-ended guarantees of Article X. But I don't think that otherwise a Versailles Treaty negotiated by the Hughes administration would differ very much from what Wilson arrived at. (Though I think Hughes would be less likely to go to Paris himself and more likely to send Elihu Root, his likely Secretary of State.) Most of the decisions you mention were not Wilson's idea but simply Wilson acquiescing in what the British and/or French wanted--and I don't see why Hughes would be more inclined to break Allied unity in favor of the Germans than Wilson was. After all, his party included men like TR and Lodge and Root who were not exactly known for German sympathies...

Though they had their differences, I suspect TR and Hughes were sufficiently professional to put those aside and work together. In that case, I could see TR leading the US delegation at Versailles: not only does he have the gravitas of a former president, but he's also a known quantity to the chancelleries of Europe--and they know he won't stand for any nonsense. TR could get either Clemenceau or Lloyd George to back down, I suspect, leading to a more realistic treaty including a *League of Nations* that most could live with. IOTL, Clemenceau and Lloyd George essentially dismissed Wilson as an impractical idealist. They won't be able to do that with TR.
 
Though they had their differences, I suspect TR and Hughes were sufficiently professional to put those aside and work together. In that case, I could see TR leading the US delegation at Versailles: not only does he have the gravitas of a former president, but he's also a known quantity to the chancelleries of Europe--and they know he won't stand for any nonsense. TR could get either Clemenceau or Lloyd George to back down, I suspect, leading to a more realistic treaty including a *League of Nations* that most could live with. IOTL, Clemenceau and Lloyd George essentially dismissed Wilson as an impractical idealist. They won't be able to do that with TR.

I don't understand why you think TR would be "harder" on the Allies (and presumably "softer" on Germany) than Wilson. If anything, I would think the opposite would be the case. "German surrender should be unconditional, he urged, dictated to the barking of machine guns, not the chattering of the President's private typewriter. The terms of peace should be severe..." https://books.google.com/books?id=pynyy2YCzwAC&pg=PA158 The US should not "pose as an umpire between our faithful and loyal friends and our treacherous and brutal enemies..." https://books.google.com/books?id=miuwAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT271 TR even objected to Wilson calling the US an "associated power" rather than an "ally" of the UK and France...
 
I could see TR leading the US delegation at Versailles: not only does he have the gravitas of a former president, but he's also a known quantity to the chancelleries of Europe--and they know he won't stand for any nonsense.

Does it much matter what he will or won't "stand for"? His bargaining power is no greater than Wilson's.
 
Does it much matter what he will or won't "stand for"? His bargaining power is no greater than Wilson's.

In any event, it seems curious to see TR praised for being able to stand up to the UK or France when in OTL his complaint about Wilson was that he wasn't loyal enough to them! "We should find out what the President means by continually referring to this country merely as an associate, instead of the ally of the nations with whose troops our own troops are actually brigaded in battle. If he means that we are something less than an ally of France, England, Italy, Belgium and Serbia, then he means that we are something less than an enemy of Germany and Austria..." https://books.google.com/books?id=af6DLnuJQBAC&pg=PA305
 
In any event, it seems curious to see TR praised for being able to stand up to the UK or France when in OTL his complaint about Wilson was that he wasn't loyal enough to them!

Indeed so - even assuming that the Peace Conference gets well underway before his death, which there is little reason to suppose, given that he had already lived longer than either of his parents.
 
Indeed so - even assuming that the Peace Conference gets well underway before his death, which there is little reason to suppose, given that he had already lived longer than either of his parents.


I can actually see the argument that the hated Wilson's 1916 victory, bitterness at Wilson's refusal to let him command men in France, and grief at his son's death (which may be butterflied away in this ATL) took some years off his life (though probably not nearly as many as the Amazon expedition...). But in any event I think Root is the man Hughes is likely to send to Paris, not TR. As Hughes well knows, TR is no diplomat, and TR in any event has been reconciled to his old friend Root and can hardly object to the latter's appointment.
 
I can actually see the argument that the hated Wilson's 1916 victory, bitterness at Wilson's refusal to let him command men in France, and grief at his son's death (which may be butterflied away in this ATL) took some years off his life (though probably not nearly as many as the Amazon expedition...). But in any event I think Root is the man Hughes is likely to send to Paris, not TR. As Hughes well knows, TR is no diplomat, and TR in any event has been reconciled to his old friend Root and can hardly object to the latter's appointment.


If TR is in the Cabinet at all, my guess would be Secretary of War. He will, after all, be urging for US troops to get to Europe asap, and I could imagine Hughes responding with "See to it then." or words to that effect. Also, If Hughes fears a challenge for the 1920 nomination, he won't want TR in a position to "upstage" him, whether at State or as an Army commander in France. He might however sugar the plll by arranging for TRs sons to get to the front pronto. "Colonel, I know you'd like to go where your son's going. Do you think I wouldn't take Charlie's place if I could? But time has passed us by for that job. This is the next generation's war, and the duty of us old men is to see to it that they are properly armed and trained before they go into that hell-hole. Let's both of us get down to it."
 
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Would Hughes have conducted the War with greater respect for civil liberties than Wilson? I am skeptical. The Espionage Act and its 1918 amendments (popularly but not officially called the Sedition Act) were bipartisan legislation. I am not aware that Hughes objected to them. It is true that in 1920 he did object to the expulsion of five Socialists from the New York legislature. (For that matter, so did Warren Harding!) As a member of Harding's Cabinet, Hughes also supported amnesty for Debs. But that was well after the War was over. During the War he stated his position as follows:

"It is vitally important that the wells of public opinion should be kept free from the poison of treasonable or seditious propaganda. Congress has ample authority to provide for the punishment of seditious utterances as well as sedltious acts. If the enemy's efforts to spread its propaganda succeed, it is due to our own supineness. There is no lack of constitutional power to deal with these efforts. As Lincoln said: ‘I can no more be persuaded that the Government can take no strong measures in time of rebellion because it can be shown that the same could not be lawfully taken in time of peace, than I can be persuaded that a particular drug is not good medicine for a sick man because it cannot be shown to be good medicine for a well one.' The remark obviously applies as well in the case of war with a foreign foe.

“I fully agree that in places where the courts are appropriately performing their functions, and the administration of justice remains unobstructed, these normal processes should not be displaced by military tribunals to try civilians. Our judicial processes have not yet broken down and we still have confldence in their adequacy to punish treason and sedition but treason and sedition must be punished and punished promptly. Constitutional power is adequate. The defence and preservation of the nation is a fundamental principle of the constitution.

“With respect to property and business, with respect to life itself, freedom is restrained. Witness our War Defence and Conscription acts, our broad plans of regulation by which manifold activities are controlled to an unusual degree. Of course, freedom of speech and of the press is also a relative freedom. There is no license to destroy the nation or to turn it over helpless to its foe. There is no constitutional privilege for disenforcement of the law or to interfere with the war plans adopted by authority.

“But, with due recognition of the difficulty of exact definition and close distinction, it is quite obvious that there is a field for honest criticism which cannot be surrendered without imperiling the essentials of liberty and the preservation of the mation itself. Our officers of Government are not a privileged class. Even when equipped with the extraordinary powers of war, they are the servants of the nation, accountable for the excercise of their authority..." https://books.google.com/books?id=3r1NAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA16-PA8

Does the last paragraph offer much hope of a more libertarian prosecution of the War? I doubt it. It basically consists of platitudes that Wilson himself would readily accept--that "legitimate criticism" is permissible even during wartime. I think the preceding paragraphs are more significant.

One thought: Very likely Hughes would also have (successfully) prosecuted Debs and other critics of the war in 1917-18. But he would probably be less repressive during the postwar Red Scare (as his protest against the expulsion of the Socialists from the New York legislature indicates) and much more likely than Wilson to pardon Debs by the time his administration (presumably) ended in March 1921. (Even A. Mitchell Palmer had recommended amnesty for Debs but Wilson replied that "While the flower of American youth was pouring out its blood to vindicate the cause of civilization, this man, Debs, stood behind the lines sniping, attacking, and denouncing them....This man was a traitor to his country and he will never be pardoned during my administration." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_V._Debs) As his speech indicates, Hughes seems to have regarded the wartime repression as a temporary measure which should end with the war, and when Harding was considering pardoning Debs, Hughes was one of the Cabinet members who favored it (Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover being more skeptical).
 
No doubt Wilson agreed to concessions which violated his principles of self-determination. But Hughes and especially powerful people in the Republican foreign policy establishment like Root and Lodge and TR (now that he was a Republican again) would not have paid much attention to such principles to begin with (except when they could be used against Germany). . .
I love the debate "great man theory" vs. tenor of the times. How much is the personality of the leader vs. ideas bubbling and fomenting anyway.

but another negotiator may not get sick,

And most importantly, although the U.S. indeed had colonies in Latin American, it was in an indirect, unstated way. Being against official, direct colonies is a masterstroke of economics, diplomatic influence, naval power, etc, and is likely to be hit upon no matter who's in power. For the U.S. gets to keep its indirect colonies at the same time it gets trading rights at UK and French colonies.
 
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