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Making the World Safe for WorkersLabor, the Left, and Wilsonian Internationalism$
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Elizabeth McKillen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037870

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037870.001.0001

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U.S. Labor Irreconcilables and Reservationists and the Founding ILO Conference in Washington, D.C., November 1919

U.S. Labor Irreconcilables and Reservationists and the Founding ILO Conference in Washington, D.C., November 1919

Chapter:
(p.208) 7 U.S. Labor Irreconcilables and Reservationists and the Founding ILO Conference in Washington, D.C., November 1919
Source:
Making the World Safe for Workers
Author(s):

Elizabeth McKillen

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037870.003.0008

This chapter examines the debate over U.S. membership in the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization (ILO) as the ILO founding conference took place in Washington, D.C., in November 1919. It considers the importance of the International Congress of Working Women and African Americans from Leftist groups in shaping the debate over the ILO in the United States. In particular, it explores how a unique confluence of class, diaspora, race, and isolationist politics in the United States drove many centrist labor and moderate Left groups to adopt “irreconcilable” or harshly reservationist positions on the question of U.S. participation in the League and ILO. It also discusses Republican Senator Robert LaFollette's attack on the ILO in Congress and suggests that the debate over the ILO is illustrative of the role of economic considerations and ideas about the racialized division of labor in shaping Congressional responses to Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy programs in 1919.

Keywords:   isolationist politics, ILO founding conference, League of Nations, International Labor Organization, International Congress of Working Women, African Americans, diaspora, Congress, Woodrow Wilson, foreign policy

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