Greetings from the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.! I am here doing research in the Robert Lansing and Charles Evan Hughes papers. Lansing was Secretary of State for Woodrow Wilson during the Paris negotiations for the peace treaty to World War I. In his papers, I am looking at the correspondence relating to the founding of the League of Nations and the ideas of sovereignty and self-determination for oppressed peoples in Central Europe and, to a lesser extent, the former Ottoman Empire. Hughes was Secretary of State from 1921 to 1925. In his papers, I am examining what was known as “The Mandates Controversy,” which was essentially a debate in the United States about the secret treaties between the British and French governments, both during and after the war, to divide up the rich oil-producing areas of the Middle East. How would the League of Nations monitor the “trustee powers” of Britain and France, as they ostensibly managed the Mandates of Mesopotamia and Syria for their own benefit? What would be the role of the United States, which had not joined the League of Nations but still maintained its right, as a participant in the Allied victory in the war, to representation in the Mandates? How would the trustee powers respond to American entreaties to open up their economies to American, in particular Standard Oil, investment? I am finding a lot of interesting information and, as a nice surprise, also found an old friend, who has just accepted a job at King’s College in London, in the Reading Room.
In the evenings, I am taking my 7-year-old son around the Capitol Hill area and giving him contemporary civic lessons. “Look, son, there’s Congress. That’s where petty lawmakers have tried to gut education spending and prevent major social welfare advances for our most disadvantaged citizens,” and that sort of thing. I hope everyone is having an equally fantastic summer!