Oklahoma.rnThere was little in her girlhood to indieate tliat Alice wouldrnbe am thing other than a luminous party flirt. “I ean be Presidentrnof the United States,” her exasperated father told OwenrnWister, “or I can attend to Alice. I can’t do both.” She was arnprctt’ gamine of irrepressiblv high spirits; she smoked andrndrank and danced and plaed the ponies and went to boxingrnmatches and honed her wit on the whetstone of mordancy.rnPopular songs celebrated her; fashion designers mass-marketedrnthe Alice stvle.rnAs a teenager in the White I louse she was a legendary brat,rnan admitted “selfish and defiant” child, and something of arnwitch: on the last evening of her father’s presidency, she buriedrn”a bad little idol” in the White House lawn to hex the stolidrnOhio Tafts. (She later became young Robert’s vociferousrnchampion.)rnShe was funn, in the wav that ostentatiously frank peoplernare. Asked how she felt when she learned that Leon Czolgoszrnand an incompetent Buffalo physician had killed WilliamrnMeKinlc’, admitting Theodore Roosevelt to the White House,rnAlice confessed to “utter rapture” and said she had danced “arnlittle jig.” She gailv admitted that if not for Czolgosz “wernwould probablv all have been back in our brownstone-frontrnhouses and I would ha’e doubtless married for monev andrnbeen di’orced for good cause.”rnAs it happened, she married the bald boozing Congressmanrn(later Speaker of the I louse) Nicholas Longworth of the dreadedrncit- of “Cinein-nast.” Borah had once said, “I’d rather bernright than President.” Alice, adapting the remark to her husband,rnnoted, “Ile’d rather be tight than President.”rnFilial loyalties led her into her first and most successful politicalrnfight: defeat of United States entry into the Leaguernof Nations. Part of the fight was personal: she despisedrnWoodrow Wilson for his refusal to allow her recently deceasedrnfather to raise a diision of reconstituted Rough Riders at war’srnoutset. “I never forgive the persons who injure those I love,” shernsnarled.rnBut Alice was no longer the naughty hoyden boasting, “Irncare for nothing except to amuse myself in a charmingly expcnsirne way.” She was a budding nationalist, fearful, shernsaid, that Woodrow Wilson wanted to submerge her father’srncountr- in a global federation of the World of which the dourrnPrinceton moralist would be headmaster. The league, she argued,rn”would pledge us to active participation in the affairs ofrnEurope—indeed, of the whole world—[and] would pledge usrnin acKance regardless of our interests, to use our armed and economicrnforces when questions arose which were of no possiblernconcern to us.”rn”Alice in the anti-Wilson fight was a feline figure and one oftenrnread- with talons,” recalled Jonathan Daniels, son of Wilson’srnSeeretar- of the Navy. Her salon on M Street becamernheadquarters of the “Irreeoneilables”: those senators unalterabl’rnopposed to joining the league, which Senator Borah calledrna “conspiracy to barter the independence of the AmericanrnRepublic.” This hardy band was tagged the Battalion of Death;rnAlice was dubbed “Colonel of Death.” She and Ruth (Mrs.rnMedill) McCormick monitored the debate from the Senaterngaller. (Ruth’s father, Mark Hanna, might have saved us thisrntrouble had he more forcefully pressed his doubts about empirernon his Ohio client William McKinlev in 1898.) Dav in and dayrnout Alice prowled the Senate, often conferring with Medill McCormickrnand her closest ally, Connecticut’s rascally gentlemanrnFrank Brandegee.rnCloser, in a different way, was Borah, who is widely believedrnto have fathered Alice’s only child. (Wags called her “AurorarnBorah Alice.”) The Lion of Idaho, the speariess leader, roaredrnanathemas on the league and its internationalist sponsors.rn”Run up the American flag and let the traitors pull it down ifrnthey dare,” he boomed, and Alice loved it. She even reachedrninto her bag of witchery, standing outside the White House onrnthe night of President Wilson’s return from Paris and chantingrnthe curse, “A murrain on him, a murrain on him.” This,rntruly, was American paganism’s finest hour.rnAlice’s incessant gossiping provided valuable intelligence.rnShe learned who was leaning which way, and when suasion wasrnnecessary she stuck the needle as only caustic-spitting ladiesrnean. “I lello, Mr. Wobbly,” Alice took to greeting Cabot Lodge,rnwho she suspected—rightly—was not averse to compromise.rn(“You can’t amend treason,” said Borah of the proposed GOPrntreaty reservations.)rnShe told one and all that she was sure that Fa-tha would havernopposed American membership in the league as a “completernsurrender of our independence as a nation.” (Or as Borah putrnit, “the League of Nations makes it necessary for Americarnto give back to George V what it took away from George III.”)rnAlice probably misunderstood her father, thank God. “Megaphonernof Mars,” as novelist Henry B. Fuller mocked him, hadrnbeen bully for war, as this son of a substitute-buying Civil Warrndraft-dodger always was; TR had called Senator La Follette anrn”unhung traitor” for his isolationism. In 1914, impatient forrnPresident Wilson to renounce neutrality, Roosevelt envisionedrn”a great world agreement among all the civilized military powersrnto back righteousness by force.” This “Worid League for thernPeace of Righteousness” was to adjudicate international disputesrnand, when necessary, bring “the collective armed powerrnof civilization” to bear against recalcitrants. This global policernforce is the logical consequence of the collective security provisionrnof Alice’s hated Article X of the Covenant of the Leaguernof Nations, and Alice’s vehemence on the matter, while partiallyrntraceable to the enmity she bore against Wilson, alsornshows the increasingly independent cast of her mind. The debrnwho had gone gleefully “panting after my parent, longing to gorninto the First Worid War,” was becoming a sharp critic of foreignrnentanglements. She would never become what her fatherrnmost detested—a pacifist—but she did grow up to be one ofrnthose “little old ladies in tennis shoes” whose American solesrnushered in the peace and comity that marked the I920’s andrn30’s.rnIn the league fight we sight the contours of realignment, thernscrapping of meaningless party distinctions and their replacementrnwith . . . what? The provincial-cosmopolitan bipolarityrnis out, scuttled by the coupling of Idaho’s Borah and soignernAlice. Ccntralist-decentralist is better, as are Little Americanglobalistrnand imperialist-republican. Whatever the taxonomy,rnand whether the treaty marked a sellout of our independence,rnas Alice asserted, or whether, as La Follette charged, it was “arntreaty of financial imperialists, of exploiters, of bankers, of allrnmonopolists, who sought through mandates to sanctify andrnmake permanent a redistribution of the spoils of the worid andrnto cement forever the stranglehold of the power of gold on therndefenseless peoples of the earth,” natural allies did battle underrnthe Americanist banner.rnThe ‘ictorious patriots gathered at the I .ongworth residencernFEBRUARY 1995/27rnrnrn