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The “diary” Of Hiram Johnson
The cantankerous Californian’s utterly candid opinions, aver thirty years, of the Presidents he knew, the senators with whom he served, and the (to him) alarming changes in the America he loved
August 1969 | Volume 20, Issue 5
As Johnson feared, the United States entered the war at last, and the weary Senator’s mind began casting ahead to the postwar era, when he foresaw a new attempt to set up a world organization along the line of the League of Nations. His position now was just what it had been at the end of the first World War—firm isolationism, based on the belief that America must cease to be involved in Europe’s quarrels—and lie wanted to make the 1919 fight all over again … but he felt old, and tired, and lonely. He died in 1945, not long after the United Nations charier was formally approved.
September 5, 1943. The big thing about here now is the meeting of the Republicans to be held at Mackinac Island, Michigan, this week, and the declaration that will be made by the Republican Party of the post-war duty of this country when peace shall be declared.
It carries me back more than twenty years, when the League of Nations was endeavored to be put over in this country; and I recall very vividly how at first blush all the reformers, who had been most blood-thirsty in the war, had their eyes firmly set upon a super-government for the world that would maintain peace forever and ever; and how a few of us undertook, apparently against great odds, and in defiance of what was supposed to be the expressed sentiment of our people, to make them understand the utter futility and weaknesses of this League, which, apparently, was designed solely to exercise our own country’s sovereignty in behalf of all the world.
Now, all of the press, and certain of the politicians, would go even further than the League sought to go. It took tremendous effort to make the people understand what the scheme meant, but I am very proud that I was a little part of that effort then made, and our own country refused to enter upon the new, unchartered road.
I believe the same result would be obtained now if the assault were made in the same manner, but alas, as I think of those who were then associated with me, I recall Knox and Lodge, Brandegee, [Republican senator from Idaho William E.] Borah, [Democratic senator from Missouri] Jim Reed, and the little band of patriots, who met in my office, and then at my house, and fought the good fight, and won it. But nearly all of them have passed away, and it makes me feel very sad to be the only one left, and to find myself neither physically nor mentally fitted for the new task.
November 3, 1944. I presume by the time this note reaches you we’ll know the result of the election. I have very little doubt in my mind concerning it. I think the forces of evil have united in this campaign, as I never have seen them before, and that they will be sufficient to carry a 4th term, something our ancestors never thought of.