Windsor Lodge (William E. Borah Residence)
Exterior view of Windsor Lodge Apartments, where Senator William E. Borah lived from 1913-1929 while serving in Congress. Image by AgnosticPreachersKid, Wikimedia.
Senator William E. Borah, known for contributing to labor policy and defeating the Treaty of Versailles. Photo, undated, by Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress.
Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol features a statue of Borah by Bryant Baker, created in 1947. Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.
Backstory and Context
William Edgar Borah (June 29, 1865 - January 19, 1940) was a Republican Senator (in office from 1907-1940), presidential candidate (1936), progressive, and noted isolationist. He is one of the most famous individuals in the history of his home state, Idaho. He lived at the Windsor Lodge from 1913 until 1929, in unit #21E, on the second floor of the building's east side (2139). His large apartment, one of sixteen in this side of the building, included a spacious living room, fireplace, a dining room, kitchen, multiple bedrooms, and a bath. Maids occupied a separate space with a bedroom and bath.
While serving in Congress, Borah played an important role in American foreign affairs and domestic policy. Early in his career, he helped establish the Department of Labor, the Children's Bureau, and the Industrial Commission and requiring the 8-hour day for companies holding Government contracts. Borah's reputation as an isolationist comes from his leading role as an Irreconcilable, a group that staunchly opposed the United States' acceptance of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I and created the League of Nations. The Irreconcilables included Republicans George Norris of Nebraska, Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, and Hiram Johnson of California, and Borah himself, in addition to Democrats Senators Thomas Gore of Oklahoma, James Reed of Missouri, and the David I. Walsh of Massachusetts. Of the 12 to 18 Irreconcilables (numbers vary), the majority were Republicans.
Borah, known as the "Great Opposer," paved the way for the defeat of the Treaty of Versailles in Congress. A particular point of contention was Article 10, which called for a League of Nations that would require members experiencing external aggression to assist one another. Opponents, mostly Republicans but also some Democrats, felt that the provision granted the League of Nations the power to make war without a vote by the U.S. Congress, and might serve as a binding contract that could embroil the U.S. in international conflicts. On November 19, 1919, the last day of Senate debates over the League of Nations, Borah delivered a rousing speech that a colleague called "one of the Senate's oratorical masterpieces." Without compromise between the two sides, the Treaty of Versailles thus failed to get the necessary 2/3 majority to pass and the United States did not join the League of Nations as President Woodrow Wilson had hoped.
Owing to its association with Borah's life, the Windsor Lodge apartment complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and listed as a National Historic Landmark, on December 8, 1976. It still functions as an apartment building today.
National Park Service. “William Edgar Borah Apartment, Number 21, Windsor Lodge.” National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form. Prepared by Cathy A. Alexander, Ralph Christian, and George R. Adams. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, Department of the Interior, 1976. http://focus.nps.gov/GetAsset?assetID=c8f2ac86-f8d5-4990-ac86-8370f2382915 https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NHLS/Text/76002134.pdf
United States Senate. "William E. Borah, League of Nations: Classic Senate Speeches." United States Senate. Accessed October 2017. https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/Speeches_Borah_League.htm
"Windsor Lodge (William E. Borah Residence)." DC Historic Sites. Accessed September 30, 2016. http://historicsites.dcpreservation.org/items/show/51.
1910 United States Federal Census, Precinct 8, Washington, District of Columbia. p. 14B, Merrell T. Vaughn, digital image, Ancestrylibrary.com, accessed October 2017.