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The Peace Negotiations by Robert Lansing

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ON JANUARY 10, 1919




FEBRUARY 11, 1918




Photograph by Signal Corps, U.S.A.


Photograph by Signal Corps, U.S.A.

Photograph by Signal Corps, U.S.A.



Photograph by Isabey, Paris


The Declaration of the Fourteen Points January 18, 1918

Declaration of Four Additional Bases of Peace February 11, 1918

Departure of Colonel House for Paris to represent the
President on Supreme War Council October 17, 1918

Signature of Armistice, 5 A.M.; effective, 11 A.M.
November 11, 1918

Departure of President and American Commission
for France December 4, 1918

Arrival of President and American Commission in
Paris December 14, 1918

Meeting of Supreme War Council January 12, 1919

First Plenary Session of Peace Conference January 25, 1919

Plenary Session at which Report on the League of Nations
was Submitted February 14, 1919

Departure of President from Paris for United States
February 14, 1919

President lands at Boston February 24, 1919

Departure of President from New York for France March 5, 1919

President arrives in Paris March 14, 1919

Organization of Council of Four About March 24, 1919

President's public statement in regard to Fiume April 23, 1919

Adoption of Commission's Report on League of Nations
by the Conference April 28, 1919

The Shantung Settlement April 30, 1919

Delivery of the Peace Treaty to the German
Plenipotentiaries May 7, 1919

Signing of Treaty of Versailles June 28, 1919

Signing of Treaty of Assistance with France June 28, 1919

Departure of President for the United States June 28, 1919

Departure of Mr. Lansing from Paris for United
States July 12, 1919

Hearing of Mr. Lansing before Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations August 6, 1919

Conference of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
with the President at the White House August 19, 1919

Hearing of Mr. Bullitt before Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations September 12, 1919

Return of President to Washington from tour
of West September 28, 1919

Resignation of Mr. Lansing as Secretary
of State February 13, 1920



"While we were still in Paris, I felt, and have felt increasingly ever
since, that you accepted my guidance and direction on questions with
regard to which I had to instruct you only with increasing

"... I must say that it would relieve me of embarrassment, Mr.
Secretary, the embarrassment of feeling your reluctance and divergence
of judgment, if you would give your present office up and afford me an
opportunity to select some one whose mind would more willingly go along
with mine."

These words are taken from the letter which President Wilson wrote to me
on February 11, 1920. On the following day I tendered my resignation as
Secretary of State by a letter, in which I said:

"Ever since January, 1919, I have been conscious of the fact that you
no longer were disposed to welcome my advice in matters pertaining to
the negotiations in Paris, to our foreign service, or to
international affairs in general. Holding these views I would, if I
had consulted my personal inclination alone, have resigned as
Secretary of State and as a Commissioner to Negotiate Peace. I felt,
however, that such a step might have been misinterpreted both at home
and abroad, and that it was my duty to cause you no embarrassment in
carrying forward the great task in which you were then engaged."

The President was right in his impression that, "while we were still in
Paris," I had accepted his guidance and direction with reluctance. It
was as correct as my statement that, as early as January, 1919, I was
conscious that he was no longer disposed to welcome my advice in matters
pertaining to the peace negotiations at Paris.

There have been obvious reasons of propriety for my silence until now as
to the divergence of judgment, the differences of opinion and the
consequent breach in the relations between President Wilson and myself.
They have been the subject of speculation and inference which have left
uncertain the true record. The time has come when a frank account of our
differences can be given publicity without a charge being made of
disloyalty to the Administration in power.

The President, in his letter of February 11, 1920, from which the
quotation is made, indicated my unwillingness to follow him in the
course which he adopted at Paris, but he does not specifically point out
the particular subjects as to which we were not in accord. It is
unsatisfactory, if not criticizable, to leave the American people in
doubt as to a disagreement between two of their official representatives
upon a matter of so grave importance to the country as the negotiation
of the Treaty of Versailles. They are entitled to know the truth in
order that they may pass judgment upon the merits of the differences
which existed. I am not willing that the present uncertainty as to the
facts should continue. Possibly some may think that I have remained
silent too long. If I have, it has been only from a sense of obligation
to an Administration of which I was so long a member. It has not been
through lack of desire to lay the record before the public.

The statements which will be made in the succeeding pages will not be
entirely approved by some of my readers. In the circumstances it is far
too much to expect to escape criticism. The review of facts and the
comments upon them may be characterized in certain quarters as disloyal
to a superior and as violative of the seal of silence which is
considered generally to apply to the intercourse and communications
between the President and his official advisers. Under normal conditions
such a characterization would not be unjustified. But the present case
is different from the usual one in which a disagreement arises between a
President and a high official of his Administration.

Mr. Wilson made our differences at Paris one of the chief grounds for
stating that he would be pleased to take advantage of my expressed
willingness to resign. The manifest imputation was that I had advised
him wrongly and that, after he had decided to adopt a course contrary to
my advice, I had continued to oppose his views and had with reluctance
obeyed his instructions. Certainly no American official is in honor
bound to remain silent under such an imputation which approaches a
charge of faithlessness and of a secret, if not open, avoidance of duty.
He has, in my judgment, the right to present the case to the American
people in order that they may decide whether the imputation was
justified by the facts, and whether his conduct was or was not in the
circumstances in accord with the best traditions of the public service
of the United States.

A review of this sort becomes necessarily a personal narrative, which,
because of its intimate nature, is embarrassing to the writer, since he
must record his own acts, words, desires, and purposes, his own views as
to a course of action, and his own doubts, fears, and speculations as to
the future. If there were another method of treatment which would retain
the authoritative character of a personal statement, it would be a
satisfaction to adopt it. But I know of none. The true story can only be
told from the intimate and personal point of view. As I intend to tell
the true story I offer no further apology for its personal character.

Before beginning a recital of the relations existing between President
Wilson and myself during the Paris Conference, I wish to state, and to
emphasize the statement, that I was never for a moment unmindful that
the Constitution of the United States confides to the President the
absolute right of conducting the foreign relations of the Republic, and
that it is the duty of a Commissioner to follow the President's
instructions in the negotiation of a treaty. Many Americans, some of
whom are national legislators and solicitous about the Constitution,
seem to have ignored or to have forgotten this delegation of exclusive
authority, with the result that they have condemned the President in
intemperate language for exercising this executive right. As to the
wisdom of the way in which Mr. Wilson exercised it in directing the
negotiations at Paris individual opinions may differ, but as to the
legality of his conduct there ought to be but one mind. From first to
last he acted entirely within his constitutional powers as President of
the United States.

The duties of a diplomatic representative commissioned by the President
and given full powers to negotiate a treaty are, in addition to the
formal carrying out of his instructions, twofold, namely, to advise the
President during the negotiation of his views as to the wise course to
be adopted, and to prevent the President, in so far as possible, from
taking any step in the proceedings which may impair the rights of his
country or may be injurious to its interests. These duties, in my
opinion, are equally imperative whether the President directs the
negotiations through written instructions issuing from the White House
or conducts them in person. For an American plenipotentiary to remain
silent, and by his silence to give the impression that he approves a
course of action which he in fact believes to be wrong in principle or
contrary to good policy, constitutes a failure to perform his full duty
to the President and to the country. It is his duty to speak and to
speak frankly and plainly.

With this conception of the obligations of a Commissioner to Negotiate
Peace, obligations which were the more compelling in my case because of
my official position as Secretary of State, I felt it incumbent upon me
to offer advice to the President whenever it seemed necessary to me to
consider the adoption of a line of action in regard to the negotiations,
and particularly so when the indications were that the President
purposed to reach a decision which seemed to me unwise or impolitic.
Though from the first I felt that my suggestions were received with
coldness and my criticisms with disfavor, because they did not conform
to the President's wishes and intentions, I persevered in my efforts to
induce him to abandon in some cases or to modify in others a course
which would in my judgment be a violation of principle or a mistake in
policy. It seemed to me that duty demanded this, and that, whatever the
consequences might be, I ought not to give tacit assent to that which I
believed wrong or even injudicious.

The principal subjects, concerning which President Wilson and I were in
marked disagreement, were the following: His presence in Paris during
the peace negotiations and especially his presence there as a delegate
to the Peace Conference; the fundamental principles of the constitution
and functions of a League of Nations as proposed or advocated by him;
the form of the organic act, known as the "Covenant," its elaborate
character and its inclusion in the treaty restoring a state of peace;
the treaty of defensive alliance with France; the necessity for a
definite programme which the American Commissioners could follow in
carrying on the negotiations; the employment of private interviews and
confidential agreements in reaching settlements, a practice which gave
color to the charge of "secret diplomacy"; and, lastly, the admission of
the Japanese claims to possession of German treaty rights at Kiao-Chau
and in the Province of Shantung.

Of these seven subjects of difference the most important were those
relating to the League of Nations and the Covenant, though our opposite
views as to Shantung were more generally known and more frequently the
subject of public comment. While chief consideration will be given to
the differences regarding the League and the Covenant, the record would
be incomplete if the other subjects were omitted. In fact nearly all of
these matters of difference are more or less interwoven and have a
collateral, if not a direct, bearing upon one another. They all
contributed in affecting the attitude of President Wilson toward the
advice that I felt it my duty to volunteer, an attitude which was
increasingly impatient of unsolicited criticism and suggestion and which
resulted at last in the correspondence of February, 1920, that ended
with the acceptance of my resignation as Secretary of State.

The review of these subjects will be, so far as it is possible, treated
in chronological order, because, as the matters of difference increased
in number, they gave emphasis to the divergence of judgment which
existed between the President and myself. The effect was cumulative, and
tended not only to widen the breach, but to make less and less possible
a restoration of our former relations. It was my personal desire to
support the President's views concerning the negotiations at Paris, but,
when in order to do so it became necessary to deny a settled conviction
and to suppress a conception of the true principle or the wise policy to
be followed, I could not do it and feel that to give support under such
conditions accorded with true loyalty to the President of the
United States.

It was in this spirit that my advice was given and my suggestions were
made, though in doing so I believed it justifiable to conform as far as
it was possible to the expressed views of Mr. Wilson, or to what seemed
to be his views, concerning less important matters and to concentrate on
those which seemed vital. I went in fact as far as I could in adopting
his views in the hope that my advice would be less unpalatable and
would, as a consequence, receive more sympathetic consideration.
Believing that I understood the President's temperament, success in an
attempt to change his views seemed to lie in moderation and in partial
approval of his purpose rather than in bluntly arguing that it was
wholly wrong and should be abandoned. This method of approach, which
seemed the expedient one at the time, weakened, in some instances at
least, the criticisms and objections which I made. It is very possible
that even in this diluted form my views were credited with wrong motives
by the President so that he suspected my purpose. It is to be hoped that
this was the true explanation of Mr. Wilson's attitude of mind, for the
alternative forces a conclusion as to the cause for his resentful
reception of honest differences of opinion, which no one, who admires
his many sterling qualities and great attainments, will
willingly accept.

Whatever the cause of the President's attitude toward the opinions which
I expressed on the subjects concerning which our views were at
variance--and I prefer to assume that the cause was a misapprehension of
my reasons for giving them--the result was that he was disposed to give
them little weight. The impression made was that he was irritated by
opposition to his views, however moderately urged, and that he did not
like to have his judgment questioned even in a friendly way. It is, of
course, possible that this is not a true estimate of the President's
feelings. It may do him an injustice. But his manner of meeting
criticism and his disposition to ignore opposition can hardly be
interpreted in any other way.

There is the alternative possibility that Mr. Wilson was convinced that,
after he had given a subject mature consideration and reached a
decision, his judgment was right or at least better than that of any
adviser. A conviction of this nature, if it existed, would naturally
have caused him to feel impatient with any one who attempted to
controvert his decisions and would tend to make him believe that
improper motives induced the opposition or criticism. This alternative,
which is based of necessity on a presumption as to the temperament of
Mr. Wilson that an unprejudiced and cautious student of personality
would hesitate to adopt, I mention only because there were many who
believed it to be the correct explanation of his attitude. In view of my
intimate relations with the President prior to the Paris Conference I
feel that in justice to him I should say that he did not, except on rare
occasions, resent criticism of a proposed course of action, and, while
he seemed in a measure changed after departing from the United States in
December, 1918, I do not think that the change was sufficient to justify
the presumption of self-assurance which it would be necessary to adopt
if the alternative possibility is considered to furnish the better

It is, however, natural, considering what occurred at Paris, to search
out the reason or reasons for the President's evident unwillingness to
listen to advice when he did not solicit it, and for his failure to take
all the American Commissioners into his confidence. But to attempt to
dissect the mentality and to analyze the intellectual processes of
Woodrow Wilson is not my purpose. It would only invite discussion and
controversy as to the truth of the premises and the accuracy of the
deductions reached. The facts will be presented and to an extent the
impressions made upon me at the time will be reviewed, but impressions
of that character which are not the result of comparison with subsequent
events and of mature deliberation are not always justified. They may
later prove to be partially or wholly wrong. They have the value,
nevertheless, of explaining in many cases why I did or did not do
certain things, and of disclosing the state of mind that in a measure
determined my conduct which without this recital of contemporaneous
impressions might mystify one familiar with what afterwards took place.
The notes, letters, and memoranda which are quoted in the succeeding
pages, as well as the opinions and beliefs held at the time (of which,
in accordance with a practice of years, I kept a record supplementing my
daily journal of events), should be weighed and measured by the
situation which existed when they were written and not alone in the
light of the complete review of the proceedings. In forming an opinion
as to my differences with the President it should be the reader's
endeavor to place himself in my position at the time and not judge them
solely by the results of the negotiations at Paris. It comes to this:
Was I justified then? Am I justified now? If those questions are
answered impartially and without prejudice, there is nothing further
that I would ask of the reader.



Early in October, 1918, it required no prophetic vision to perceive that
the World War would come to an end in the near future. Austria-Hungary,
acting with the full approval of the German Government, had made
overtures for peace, and Bulgaria, recognizing the futility of further
struggle, had signed an armistice which amounted to an unconditional
surrender. These events were soon followed by the collapse of Turkish
resistance and by the German proposals which resulted in the armistice
which went into effect on November 11, 1918.

In view of the importance of the conditions of the armistice with
Germany and their relation to the terms of peace to be later negotiated,
the President considered it essential to have an American member added
to the Supreme War Council, which then consisted of M. Clemenceau, Mr.
Lloyd George, and Signor Orlando, the premiers of the three Allied
Powers. He selected Colonel Edward M. House for this important post and
named him a Special Commissioner to represent him personally. Colonel
House with a corps of secretaries and assistants sailed from New York on
October 17, _en route_ for Paris where the Supreme War Council was
in session.

Three days before his departure the Colonel was in Washington and we had
two long conferences with the President regarding the correspondence
with Germany and with the Allies relating to a cessation of hostilities,
during which we discussed the position which the United States should
take as to the terms of the armistice and the bases of peace which
should be incorporated in the document.

It was after one of these conferences that Colonel House informed me
that the President had decided to name him (the Colonel) and me as two
of the American plenipotentiaries to the Peace Conference, and that the
President was considering attending the Conference and in person
directing the negotiations. This latter intention of Mr. Wilson
surprised and disturbed me, and I expressed the hope that the
President's mind was not made up, as I believed that if he gave more
consideration to the project he would abandon it, since it was manifest
that his influence over the negotiations would be much greater if he
remained in Washington and issued instructions to his representatives in
the Conference. Colonel House did not say that he agreed with my
judgment in this matter, though he did not openly disagree with it.
However, I drew the conclusion, though without actual knowledge, that he
approved of the President's purpose, and, possibly, had encouraged him
to become an actual participant in the preliminary conferences.

The President's idea of attending the Peace Conference was not a new
one. Though I cannot recollect the source of my information, I know that
in December, 1916, when it will be remembered Mr. Wilson was endeavoring
to induce the belligerents to state their objects in the war and to
enter into a conference looking toward peace, he had an idea that he
might, as a friend of both parties, preside over such a conference and
exert his personal influence to bring the belligerents into agreement. A
service of this sort undoubtedly appealed to the President's
humanitarian instinct and to his earnest desire to end the devastating
war, while the novelty of the position in which he would be placed would
not have been displeasing to one who in his public career seemed to find
satisfaction in departing from the established paths marked out by
custom and usage.

When, however, the attempt at mediation failed and when six weeks later,
on February 1, 1917, the German Government renewed indiscriminate
submarine warfare resulting in the severance of diplomatic relations
between the United States and Germany, President Wilson continued to
cherish the hope that he might yet assume the role of mediator. He even
went so far as to prepare a draft of the bases of peace, which he
purposed to submit to the belligerents if they could be induced to meet
in conference. I cannot conceive how he could have expected to bring
this about in view of the elation of the Allies at the dismissal of
Count von Bernstorff and the seeming certainty that the United States
would declare war against Germany if the latter persisted in her
ruthless sinking of American merchant vessels. But I know, in spite of
the logic of the situation, that he expected or at least hoped to
succeed in his mediatory programme and made ready to play his part in
the negotiation of a peace.

From the time that Congress declared that a state of war existed between
the United States and the Imperial German Government up to the autumn of
1918, when the Central Alliance made overtures to end the war, the
President made no attempt so far as I am aware to enter upon peace
negotiations with the enemy nations. In fact he showed a disposition to
reject all peace proposals. He appears to have reached the conclusion
that the defeat of Germany and her allies was essential before permanent
peace could be restored. At all events, he took no steps to bring the
belligerents together until a military decision had been practically
reached. He did, however, on January 8,1918, lay down his famous
"Fourteen Points," which he supplemented with certain declarations in
"subsequent addresses," thus proclaiming his ideas as to the proper
bases of peace when the time should come to negotiate.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the final triumph of the armies of the
Allied and Associated Powers, the President, in the spring of 1917,
directed the organization, under the Department of State, of a body of
experts to collect data and prepare monographs, charts, and maps,
covering all historical, territorial, economic, and legal subjects which
would probably arise in the negotiation of a treaty of peace. This
Commission of Inquiry, as it was called, had its offices in New York and
was under Colonel House so far as the selection of its members was
concerned. The nominal head of the Commission was Dr. Mezes, President
of the College of the City of New York and a brother-in-law of Colonel
House, though the actual and efficient executive head was Dr. Isaiah
Bowman, Director of the American Geographical Society. The plans of
organization, the outline of work, and the proposed expenditures for the
maintenance of the Commission were submitted to me as Secretary of
State. I examined them and, after several conferences with Dr. Mezes,
approved them and recommended to the President that he allot the funds
necessary to carry out the programme.

In addition to the subjects which were dealt with by this excellent
corps of students and experts, whose work was of the highest order, the
creation of some sort of an international association to prevent wars in
the future received special attention from the President as it did from
Americans of prominence not connected with the Government. It caused
considerable discussion in the press and many schemes were proposed and
pamphlets written on the subject. To organize such an association became
a generally recognized object to be attained in the negotiation of the
peace which would end the World War; and there can be no doubt that the
President believed more and more in the vital necessity of forming an
effective organization of the nations to preserve peace in the future
and make another great war impossible.

The idea of being present and taking an active part in formulating the
terms of peace had, in my opinion, never been abandoned by President
Wilson, although it had remained dormant while the result of the
conflict was uncertain. When, however, in early October, 1918, there
could no longer be any doubt that the end of the war was approaching,
the President appears to have revived the idea and to have decided, if
possible, to carry out the purpose which he had so long cherished. He
seemed to have failed to appreciate, or, if he did appreciate, to have
ignored the fact that the conditions were wholly different in October,
1918, from what they were in December, 1916.

In December, 1916, the United States was a neutral nation, and the
President, in a spirit of mutual friendliness, which was real and not
assumed, was seeking to bring the warring powers together in conference
looking toward the negotiation of "a peace without victory." In the
event that he was able to persuade them to meet, his presence at the
conference as a pacificator and probably as the presiding officer would
not improbably have been in the interests of peace, because, as the
executive head of the greatest of the neutral nations of the world and
as the impartial friend of both parties, his personal influence would
presumably have been very great in preventing a rupture in the
negotiations and in inducing the parties to act in a spirit of
conciliation and compromise.

In October, 1918, however, the United States was a belligerent. Its
national interests were involved; its armies were in conflict with the
Germans on the soil of France; its naval vessels were patrolling the
Atlantic; and the American people, bitterly hostile, were demanding
vengeance on the Governments and peoples of the Central Powers,
particularly those of Germany. President Wilson, it is true, had
endeavored with a measure of success to maintain the position of an
unbiased arbiter in the discussions leading up to the armistice of
November 11, and Germany undoubtedly looked to him as the one hope of
checking the spirit of revenge which animated the Allied Powers in view
of all that they had suffered at the hands of the Germans. It is
probable too that the Allies recognized that Mr. Wilson was entitled to
be satisfied as to the terms of peace since American man power and
American resources had turned the scale against Germany and made victory
a certainty. The President, in fact, dominated the situation. If he
remained in Washington and carried on the negotiations through his
Commissioners, he would in all probability retain his superior place and
be able to dictate such terms of peace as he considered just. But, if he
did as he purposed doing and attended the Peace Conference, he would
lose the unique position which he held and would have to submit to the
combined will of his foreign colleagues becoming a prey to intrigue and
to the impulses arising from their hatred for the vanquished nations.

A practical view of the situation so clearly pointed to the unwisdom of
the President's personal participation in the peace negotiations that a
very probable explanation for his determination to be present at the
Conference is the assumption that the idea had become so firmly embedded
in his mind that nothing could dislodge it or divert him from his
purpose. How far the spectacular feature of a President crossing the
ocean to control in person the making of peace appealed to him I do not
know. It may have been the deciding factor. It may have had no effect at
all. How far the belief that a just peace could only be secured by the
exercise of his personal influence over the delegates I cannot say. How
far he doubted the ability of the men whom he proposed to name as
plenipotentiaries is wholly speculative. Whatever plausible reason may
be given, the true reason will probably never be known.

Not appreciating, at the time that Colonel House informed me of the
President's plan to be present at the Conference, that the matter had
gone as far as it had, and feeling very strongly that it would be a
grave mistake for the President to take part in person in the
negotiations, I felt it to be my duty, as his official adviser in
foreign affairs and as one desirous to have him adopt a wise course, to
state plainly to him my views. It was with hesitation that I did this
because the consequence of the non-attendance of the President would be
to make me the head of the American Peace Commission at Paris. There was
the danger that my motive in opposing the President's attending the
Conference would be misconstrued and that I might be suspected of acting
from self-interest rather than from a sense of loyalty to my chief.
When, however, the armistice went into effect and the time arrived for
completing the personnel of the American Commission, I determined that I
ought not to remain silent.

The day after the cessation of hostilities, that is, on November 12, I
made the following note:

"I had a conference this noon with the President at the White House
in relation to the Peace Conference. I told him frankly that I
thought the plan for him to attend was unwise and would be a mistake.
I said that I felt embarrassed in speaking to him about it because it
would leave me at the head of the delegation, and I hoped that he
understood that I spoke only out of a sense of duty. I pointed out
that he held at present a dominant position in the world, which I was
afraid he would lose if he went into conference with the foreign
statesmen; that he could practically dictate the terms of peace if he
held aloof; that he would be criticized severely in this country for
leaving at a time when Congress particularly needed his guidance; and
that he would be greatly embarrassed in directing domestic affairs
from overseas."

I also recorded as significant that the President listened to my remarks
without comment and turned the conversation into other channels.

For a week after this interview I heard nothing from the President on
the subject, though the fact that no steps were taken to prepare written
instructions for the American Commissioners convinced me that he
intended to follow his original intention. My fears were confirmed. On
the evening of Monday, November 18, the President came to my residence
and told me that he had finally decided to go to the Peace Conference
and that he had given out to the press an announcement to that effect.
In view of the publicity given to his decision it would have been futile
to have attempted to dissuade him from his purpose. He knew my opinion
and that it was contrary to his.

After the President departed I made a note of the interview, in which
among other things I wrote:

"I am convinced that he is making one of the greatest mistakes of his
career and will imperil his reputation. I may be in error and hope
that I am, but I prophesy trouble in Paris and worse than trouble
here. I believe the President's place is here in America."

Whether the decision of Mr. Wilson was wise and whether my prophecy was
unfulfilled, I leave to the judgment of others. His visit to Europe and
its consequences are facts of history. It should be understood that the
incident is not referred to here to justify my views or to prove that
the President was wrong in what he did. The reference is made solely
because it shows that at the very outset there was a decided divergence
of judgment between us in regard to the peace negotiations.

While this difference of opinion apparently in no way affected our
cordial relations, I cannot but feel, in reviewing this period of our
intercourse, that my open opposition to his attending the Conference was
considered by the President to be an unwarranted meddling with his
personal affairs and was none of my business. It was, I believe, the
beginning of his loss of confidence in my judgment and advice, which
became increasingly marked during the Paris negotiations. At the time,
however, I did not realize that my honest opinion affected the President
in the way which I now believe that it did. It had always been my
practice as Secretary of State to speak to him with candor and to
disagree with him whenever I thought he was reaching a wrong decision in
regard to any matter pertaining to foreign affairs. There was a general
belief that Mr. Wilson was not open-minded and that he was quick to
resent any opposition however well founded. I had not found him so
during the years we had been associated. Except in a few instances he
listened with consideration to arguments and apparently endeavored to
value them correctly. If, however, the matter related even remotely to
his personal conduct he seemed unwilling to debate the question. My
conclusion is that he considered his going to the Peace Conference was
his affair solely and that he viewed my objections as a direct criticism
of him personally for thinking of going. He may, too, have felt that my
opposition arose from a selfish desire to become the head of the
American Commission. From that time forward any suggestion or advice
volunteered by me was seemingly viewed with suspicion. It was, however,
long after this incident that I began to feel that the President was
imputing to me improper motives and crediting me with disloyalty to him
personally, an attitude which was as unwarranted as it was unjust.

The President having determined to go to Paris, it seemed almost useless
to urge him not to become a delegate in view of the fact that he had
named but four Commissioners, although it had been arranged that the
Great Powers should each have five delegates in the Conference. This
clearly indicated that the President was at least considering sitting as
the fifth member of the American group. At the same time it seemed that,
if he did not take his place in the Conference as a delegate, he might
retain in a measure his superior place of influence even though he was
in Paris. Four days after the Commission landed at Brest I had a long
conference with Colonel House on matters pertaining to the approaching
negotiations, during which he informed me that there was a determined
effort being made by the European statesmen to induce the President to
sit at the peace table and that he was afraid that the President was
disposed to accede to their wishes. This information indicated that,
while the President had come to Paris prepared to act as a delegate, he
had, after discussing the subject with the Colonel and possibly with
others, become doubtful as to the wisdom of doing so, but that through
the pressure of his foreign colleagues he was turning again to the
favorable view of personal participation which he had held before he
left the United States.

In my conversation with Colonel House I told him my reasons for opposing
the President's taking an active part in the Conference and explained to
him the embarrassment that I felt in advising the President to adopt a
course which would make me the head of the American Commission. I am
sure that the Colonel fully agreed with me that it was impolitic for Mr.
Wilson to become a delegate, but whether he actively opposed the plan I
do not know, although I believe that he did. It was some days before the
President announced that he would become the head of the American
Commission. I believe that he did this with grave doubts in his own mind
as to the wisdom of his decision, and I do not think that any new
arguments were advanced during those days which materially affected
his judgment.

This delay in reaching a final determination as to a course of action
was characteristic of Mr. Wilson. There is in his mentality a strange
mixture of positiveness and indecision which is almost paradoxical. It
is a peculiarity which it is hard to analyze and which has often been an
embarrassment in the conduct of public affairs. Suddenness rather than
promptness has always marked his decisions. Procrastination in
announcing a policy or a programme makes cooeperation difficult and not
infrequently defeats the desired purpose. To put off a decision to the
last moment is a trait of Mr. Wilson's character which has caused much
anxiety to those who, dealing with matters of vital importance, realized
that delay was perilous if not disastrous.

Of the consequences of the President's acting as one of his own
representatives to negotiate peace it is not my purpose to speak. The
events of the six months succeeding his decision to exercise in person
his constitutional right to conduct the foreign relations of the United
States are in a general way matters of common knowledge and furnish
sufficient data for the formulation of individual opinions without the
aid of argument or discussion. The important fact in connection with the
general topic being considered is the difference of opinion between the
President and myself as to the wisdom of his assuming the role of a
delegate. While I did not discuss the matter with him except at the
first when I opposed his attending the Peace Conference, I have little
doubt that Colonel House, if he urged the President to decline to sit as
a delegate, which I think may be presumed, or if he discussed it at all,
mentioned to him my opinion that such a step would be unwise. In any
event Mr. Wilson knew my views and that they were at variance with the
decision which he reached.



It appears, from a general review of the situation prior and subsequent
to the assembling of the delegates to the Peace Conference, that
President Wilson's decision to go to Paris and to engage in person in
the negotiations was strongly influenced by his belief that it was the
only sure way of providing in the treaty of peace for the organization
of a League of Nations. While his presence in Paris was probably
affected to an extent by other considerations, as I have pointed out, it
is to be presumed that he was anxious to participate directly in the
drafting of the plan of organization of the League and to exert his
personal influence on the delegates in favor of its acceptance by
publicly addressing the Conference. This he could hardly have done
without becoming a delegate. It would seem, therefore, that the purpose
of creating a League of Nations and obtaining the incorporation of a
plan of organization in the treaty to be negotiated had much to do with
the President's presence at the peace table.

From the time that the United States entered the war in April, 1917, Mr.
Wilson held firmly to the idea that the salvation of the world from
imperialism would not be lasting unless provision was made in the peace
treaty for an international agency strong enough to prevent a future
attack upon the rights and liberties of the nations which were at so
great a cost holding in check the German armies and preventing them from
carrying out their evil designs of conquest. The object sought by the
United States in the war would not, in the views of many, be achieved
unless the world was organized to resist future aggression. The
essential thing, as the President saw it, in order to "make the world
safe for democracy" was to give permanency to the peace which would be
negotiated at the conclusion of the war. A union of the nations for the
purpose of preventing wars of aggression and conquest seemed to him the
most practical, if not the only, way of accomplishing this supreme
object, and he urged it with earnestness and eloquence in his public
addresses relating to the bases of peace.

There was much to be said in favor of the President's point of view.
Unquestionably the American people as a whole supported him in the
belief that there ought to be some international agreement, association,
or concord which would lessen the possibility of future wars. An
international organization to remove in a measure the immediate causes
of war, to provide means for the peaceable settlement of disputes
between nations, and to draw the governments into closer friendship
appealed to the general desire of the peoples of America and Europe. The
four years and more of horror and agony through which mankind had passed
must be made impossible of repetition, and there seemed no other way
than to form an international union devoted to the maintenance of peace
by composing, as far as possible, controversies which might ripen
into war.

For many years prior to 1914 an organization devoted to the prevention
of international wars had been discussed by those who gave thought to
warfare of the nations and who realized in a measure the precarious
state of international peace. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and of 1907
had been negotiated with that object, and it was only because of the
improper aspirations and hidden designs of certain powers, which were
represented at those great historic conferences, that the measures
adopted were not more expressive of the common desire of mankind and
more effective in securing the object sought. The Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, the Ginn, now the World, Peace Foundation, and the
American Peace Society, and later the Society for the Judicial
Settlement of International Disputes, the League to Enforce Peace, and
many other organizations in America and in Europe were actively engaged
in considering ways and means to prevent war, to strengthen the bonds of
international good-will, and to insure the more general application of
the principles of justice to disputes between nations.

The outbreak of the war and the dreadful waste and suffering which
followed impelled the societies and associations then organized to
redoubled effort and induced the formation of new organizations. People
everywhere began to realize that their objects were real and not merely
sentimental or academic, that they were seeking practical means to
remove the conditions which had made the Great War possible. Public
opinion became more and more pronounced as the subject was more widely
discussed in the journals and periodicals of the day and at public
meetings, the divergence of views being chiefly in regard to the means
to be employed by the proposed organization and not as to the creation
of the organization, the necessity for which appeared to be
generally conceded.

With popular sentiment overwhelmingly in favor of some sort of world
union which would to an extent insure the nations against another
tragedy like the one which in November, 1918, had left the belligerents
wasted and exhausted and the whole world a prey to social and industrial
unrest, there was beyond question a demand that out of the great
international assembly at Paris there should come some common agency
devoted to the prevention of war. To ignore this all-prevalent sentiment
would have been to misrepresent the peoples of the civilized world and
would have aroused almost universal condemnation and protest. The
President was, therefore, entirely right in giving prominence to the
idea of an international union against war and in insisting that the
Peace Conference should make provision for the establishment of an
organization of the world with the prevention of future wars as its
central thought and purpose.

The great bulk of the American people, at the time that the President
left the United States to attend the Peace Conference, undoubtedly
believed that some sort of organization of this nature was necessary,
and I am convinced that the same popular belief prevailed in all other
civilized countries. It is possible that this assertion may seem too
emphatic to some who have opposed the plan for a League of Nations,
which appears in the first articles of the Treaty of Versailles, but, if
these opponents of the plan will go back to the time of which I am
writing, and avoid the impressions made upon them by subsequent events,
they will find, I believe, that even their own views have materially
changed since December, 1918. It is true that concrete plans had then
been suggested, but so far as the public knew the President had not
adopted any of them or formulated one of his own. He had not then
disclosed the provisions of his "Covenant."

The mass of the people were only concerned with the general idea. There
was no well-defined opposition to that idea. At least it was not vocal.
Even the defeat of the Democratic Party in the Congressional elections
of November, 1918, could not be interpreted to be a repudiation of the
formation of a world organization. That election, by which both Houses
of Congress became Republican, was a popular rebuke to Mr. Wilson for
the partisanship shown in his letter of October addressed to the
American people, in which he practically asserted that it was
unpatriotic to support the Republican candidates. The indignation and
resentment aroused by that injudicious and unwarranted attack upon the
loyalty of his political opponents lost to the Democratic Party the
Senate and largely reduced its membership in the House of
Representatives if it did not in fact deprive the party of control of
that body. The result, however, did not mean that the President's ideas
as to the terms of peace were repudiated, but that his practical
assertion, that refusal to accept his policies was unpatriotic, was
repudiated by the American people.

It is very apparent to one, who without prejudice reviews the state of
public sentiment in December, 1918, that the trouble, which later
developed as to a League of Nations, did not lie in the necessity of
convincing the peoples of the world, their governments, and their
delegates to the Paris Conference that it was desirable to organize the
world to prevent future wars, but in deciding upon the form and
functions of the organization to be created. As to these details, which
of course affected the character, the powers, and the duties of the
organization, there had been for years a wide divergence of opinion.
Some advocated the use of international force to prevent a nation from
warring against another. Some favored coercion by means of general
ostracism and non-intercourse. Some believed that the application of
legal justice through the medium of international tribunals and
commissions was the only practical method of settling disputes which
might become causes of war. And some emphasized the importance of a
mutual agreement to postpone actual hostilities until there could be an
investigation as to the merits of a controversy. There were thus two
general classes of powers proposed which were in the one case political
and in the other juridical. The cleavage of opinion was along these
lines, although it possibly was not recognized by the general public. It
was not only shown in the proposed powers, but also in the proposed form
of the organization, the one centering on a politico-diplomatic body,
and the other on an international judiciary. Naturally the details of
any plan proposed would become the subject of discussion and the
advisability of adopting the provisions would arouse controversy and
dispute. Thus unanimity in approving a world organization did not mean
that opinions might not differ radically in working out the fundamental
principles of its form and functions, to say nothing of the detailed
plan based on these principles.

In May, 1916, President Wilson accepted an invitation to address the
first annual meeting of the League to Enforce Peace, which was to be
held in Washington. After preparing his address he went over it and
erased all reference to the use of physical force in preventing wars. I
mention this as indicative of the state of uncertainty in which he was
in the spring of 1916 as to the functions and powers of the
international organization to maintain peace which he then advocated. By
January, 1917, he had become convinced that the use of force was the
practical method of checking aggressions. This conversion was probably
due to the fact that he had in his own mind worked out, as one of the
essential bases of peace, to which he was then giving much thought, a
mutual guaranty of territorial integrity and political independence,
which had been the chief article of a proposed Pan-American Treaty
prepared early in 1915 and to which he referred in his address before
the League to Enforce Peace. He appears to have reached the conclusion
that a guaranty of this sort would be of little value unless supported
by the threatened, and, if necessary, the actual, employment of force.
The President was entirely logical in this attitude. A guaranty against
physical aggression would be practically worthless if it did not rest on
an agreement to protect with physical force. An undertaking to protect
carried with it the idea of using effectual measures to insure
protection. They were inseparable; and the President, having adopted an
affirmative guaranty against aggression as a cardinal provision--perhaps
I should say _the_ cardinal provision--of the anticipated peace treaty,
could not avoid becoming the advocate of the use of force in making good
the guaranty.

During the year 1918 the general idea of the formation of an
international organization to prevent war was increasingly discussed in
the press of the United States and Europe and engaged the thought of the
Governments of the Powers at war with the German Empire. On January 8 of
that year President Wilson in an address to Congress proclaimed his
"Fourteen Points," the adoption of which he considered necessary to a
just and stable peace. The last of these "Points" explicitly states the
basis of the proposed international organization and the fundamental
reason for its formation. It is as follows:

"XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific
covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political
independence and territorial integrity to great and small
states alike."

This declaration may be considered in view of subsequent developments to
be a sufficiently clear announcement of the President's theory as to the
plan of organization which ought to be adopted, but at the time the
exact character of the "mutual guarantees" was not disclosed and aroused
little comment. I do not believe that Congress, much less the public at
large, understood the purpose that the President had in mind.
Undoubtedly, too, a sense of loyalty to the Chief Executive, while the
war was in progress, and the desire to avoid giving comfort of any sort
to the enemy, prevented a critical discussion of the announced bases of
peace, some of which were at the time academic, premature, and liable to
modification if conditions changed.

In March Lord Phillimore and his colleagues made their preliminary
report to the British Government on "a League of Nations" and this was
followed in July by their final report, copies of which reached the
President soon after they were made. The time had arrived for putting
into concrete form the general ideas that the President held, and
Colonel House, whom some believed to be the real author of Mr. Wilson's
conception of a world union, prepared, I am informed, the draft of a
scheme of organization. This draft was either sent or handed to the
President and discussed with him. To what extent it was amended or
revised by Mr. Wilson I do not know, but in a modified form it became
the typewritten draft of the Covenant which he took with him to Paris,
where it underwent several changes. In it was the guaranty of 1915,
1916, 1917, and 1918, which, from the form in which it appeared,
logically required the use of force to give it effect.

Previous to the departure of the American Commission for Paris, on
December 4, 1918, the President did not consult me as to his plan for a
League of Nations. He did not show me a copy of the plan or even mention
that one had been put into writing. I think that there were two reasons
for his not doing so, although I was the official adviser whom he should
naturally consult on such matters.

The first reason, I believe, was due to the following facts. In our
conversations prior to 1918 I had uniformly opposed the idea of the
employment of international force to compel a nation to respect the
rights of other nations and had repeatedly urged judicial settlement as
the practical way of composing international controversies, though I did
not favor the use of force to compel such settlement.

To show my opposition to an international agreement providing for the
use of force and to show that President Wilson knew of this opposition
and the reasons for it, I quote a letter which I wrote to him in May,
1916, that is, two years and a half before the end of the war:

"_May 25, 1916_


"I had hoped to see you to-morrow at Cabinet meeting, but to-day the
Doctor refused to allow me to leave the house this week. I intended
when I saw you to say something about the purposes of the League to
Enforce Peace, which is to meet here, and at the banquet of which I
understand you are to speak on Saturday night. I would have preferred
to talk the matter over with you, but as that is impossible I have
taken the liberty to write you this letter, although in doing so I am
violating the directions of the Doctor.

"While I have not had time or opportunity to study carefully the
objects of the proposed League to Enforce Peace, I understand the
fundamental ideas are these, which are to be embodied in a general
treaty of the nations: _First_, an agreement to submit all
differences which fail of diplomatic adjustment to arbitration or a
board of conciliation; and, _second_, in case a government fails to
comply with this provision, an agreement that the other parties will
unite in compelling it to do so by an exercise of force.

"With the first agreement I am in accord to an extent, but I cannot
see how it is practicable to apply it in case of a continuing
invasion of fundamental national or individual rights unless some
authoritative international body has the power to impose and enforce
an order in the nature of an injunction, which will prevent the
aggressor from further action until arbitration has settled the
rights of the parties. How this can be done in a practical way I have
not attempted to work out, but the problem is not easy, especially
the part which relates to the enforcement of the order.

"It is, however, the second agreement in regard to the imposition of
international arbitration by force, which seems to me the most
difficult, especially when viewed from the standpoint of its effects
on our national sovereignty and national interests. It is needless to
go into the manifest questions arising when the _modus operandi_ of
the agreement is considered. Such questions as: Who may demand
international intervention? What body will decide whether the demand
should be complied with? How will the international forces be
constituted? Who will take charge of the military and naval
operations? Who will pay the expenses of the war (for war it
will be)?

"Perplexing as these questions appear to me, I am more concerned with
the direct effect on this country. I do not believe that it is wise
to limit our independence of action, a sovereign right, to the will
of other powers beyond this hemisphere. In any representative
international body clothed with authority to require of the nations
to employ their armies and navies to coerce one of their number, we
would be in the minority. I do not believe that we should put
ourselves in the position of being compelled to send our armed forces
to Europe or Asia or, in the alternative, of repudiating our treaty
obligation. Neither our sovereignty nor our interests would accord
with such a proposition, and I am convinced that popular opinion as
well as the Senate would reject a treaty framed along such lines.

"It is possible that the difficulty might be obviated by the
establishment of geographical zones, and leaving to the groups of
nations thus formed the enforcement of the peaceful settlement of
disputes. But if that is done why should all the world participate?
We have adopted a much modified form of this idea in the proposed
Pan-American Treaty by the 'guaranty' article. But I would not like
to see its stipulations extended to the European powers so that they,
with our full agreement, would have the right to cross the ocean and
stop quarrels between two American Republics. Such authority would be
a serious menace to the Monroe Doctrine and a greater menace to the
Pan-American Doctrine.

"It appears to me that, if the first idea of the League can be worked
out in a practical way and an international body constituted to
determine when steps should be taken to enforce compliance, the use
of force might be avoided by outlawing the offending nation. No
nation to-day can live unto itself. The industrial and commercial
activities of the world are too closely interwoven for a nation
isolated from the other nations to thrive and prosper. A tremendous
economic pressure could be imposed on the outlawed nation by all
other nations denying it intercourse of every nature, even
communication, in a word make that nation a pariah, and so to remain
until it was willing to perform its obligations.

"I am not at all sure that this means is entirely feasible. I see
many difficulties which would have to be met under certain
conditions. But I do think that it is more practical in operation and
less objectionable from the standpoint of national rights and
interests than the one proposed by the League. It does not appear to
me that the use of physical force is in any way practical or

"I presume that you are far more familiar than I am with the details
of the plans of the League and that it may be presumptuous on my part
to write you as I have. I nevertheless felt it my duty to frankly
give you my views on the subject and I have done so.

"Faithfully yours



"_The White House_"

The President, thus early advised of my unqualified opposition to any
plan which was similar in principle to the one advocated by the League
to Enforce Peace, naturally concluded that I would look with disfavor on
an international guaranty which by implication, if not by declaration,
compelled the use of force to give it effect. Doubtless he felt that I
would not be disposed to aid in perfecting a plan which had as its
central idea a guaranty of that nature. Disliking opposition to a plan
or policy which he had originated or made his own by adoption, he
preferred to consult those who without debate accepted his judgment and
were in sympathy with his ideas. Undoubtedly the President by refraining
from asking my advice spared himself from listening to arguments against
the guaranty and the use of force which struck at the very root of his
plan, for I should, if I had been asked, have stated my views with
entire frankness.

The other reason for not consulting me, as I now realize, but did not at
the time, was that I belonged to the legal profession. It is a fact,
which Mr. Wilson has taken no trouble to conceal, that he does not value
the advice of lawyers except on strictly legal questions, and that he
considers their objections and criticisms on other subjects to be too
often based on mere technicalities and their judgments to be warped by
an undue regard for precedent. This prejudice against the legal
profession in general was exhibited on more than one occasion during our
sojourn at Paris. Looking back over my years of intercourse with the
President I can now see that he chafed under the restraints imposed by
usage and even by enacted laws if they interfered with his acting in a
way which seemed to him right or justified by conditions. I do not say
that he was lawless. He was not that, but he conformed grudgingly and
with manifest displeasure to legal limitations. It was a thankless task
to question a proposed course of action on the ground of illegality,
because he appeared to be irritated by such an obstacle to his will and
to transfer his irritation against the law to the one who raised it as
an objection. I think that he was especially resentful toward any one
who volunteered criticism based on a legal provision, precept, or
precedent, apparently assuming that the critic opposed his purpose on
the merits and in order to defeat it interposed needless legal
objections. It is unnecessary to comment on the prejudice which such an
attitude of mind made evident.

After the President's exceptionally strong address at the Metropolitan
Opera House in New York on September 27, 1918, I realized the great
importance which he gave to the creation of a League of Nations and in
view of this I devoted time and study to the subject, giving particular
attention to the British and French suggestions, both of which
emphasized judicial settlement. Knowing that the President had been in
consultation with Colonel House on the various phases of the peace to be
negotiated as well as on the terms of the armistice, I asked the latter
what he knew about the former's scheme for a League of Nations.

The Colonel discreetly avoided disclosing the details of the plan, but
from our conversation I gained an idea of the general principles of the
proposed organization and the way in which the President intended to
apply them.

After the Colonel and his party had sailed for France and in expectation
of being consulted on the subject by President Wilson, I put my thoughts
on the League of Nations into writing. In a note, which is dated October
27, 1918, appears the following:

"From the little I know of the President's plan I am sure that it is
impracticable. There is in it too much altruistic cooperation. No
account is taken of national selfishness and the mutual suspicions
which control international relations. It may be noble thinking, but
it is not true thinking.

"What I fear is that a lot of dreamers and theorists will be selected
to work out an organization instead of men whose experience and
common sense will tell them not to attempt anything which will not
work. The scheme ought to be simple and practical. If the federation,
or whatever it may be called, is given too much power or if its
machinery is complex, my belief is that it will be unable to function
or else will be defied. I can see lots of trouble ahead unless
impractical enthusiasts and fanatics are suppressed. This is a time
when sober thought, caution, and common sense should control."

On November 22, 1918, after I had been formally designated as a Peace
Commissioner, I made another note for the purpose of crystallizing my
own thought on the subject of a League of Nations. Although President
Wilson had not then consulted me in any way regarding his plan of
organization, I felt sure that he would, and I wished to be prepared to
give him my opinion concerning the fundamentals of the plan which might
be proposed on behalf of the United States. I saw, or thought that I
saw, a disposition to adopt physical might as the basis of the
organization, because the guaranty, which the President had announced in
Point XIV and evidently purposed to advocate, seemed to require the use
of force in the event that it became necessary to make it good.

From the note of November 22 I quote the following:

"The legal principle [of the equality of nations], whatever its basis
in fact, must be preserved, otherwise force rather than law, the
power to act rather than the right to act, becomes the fundamental
principle of organization, just as it has been in all previous
Congresses and Concerts of the European Powers.

"It appears to me that a positive guaranty of territorial integrity
and political independence by the nations would have to rest upon an
open recognition of dominant coercive power in the articles of
agreement, the power being commercial and economic as well as
physical. The wisdom of entering into such a guaranty is questionable
and should be carefully considered before being adopted.

"In order to avoid the recognition of force as a basis and the
question of dominant force with the unavoidable classification of
nations into 'big' and 'little,' 'strong' and 'weak,' the desired
result of a guaranty might be attained by entering into a mutual
undertaking _not_ to impair the territorial integrity or to violate
the political sovereignty of any state. The breach of this
undertaking would be a breach of the treaty and would sever the
relations of the offending nation with all other signatories."

I have given these two extracts from my notes in order to show the views
that I held, at the time the American Commission was about to depart
from the United States, in regard to the character of the guaranty which
the President intended to make the central feature of the League of
Nations. In the carrying out of his scheme and in creating an
organization to give effect to the guaranty I believed that I saw as an
unavoidable consequence an exaltation of force and an overlordship of
the strong nations. Under such conditions it would be impossible to
preserve within the organization the equality of nations, a precept of
international law which was the universally recognized basis of
intercourse between nations in time of peace. This I considered most
unwise and a return to the old order, from which every one hoped that
the victory over the Central Empires had freed the world.

The views expressed in the notes quoted formed the basis for my
subsequent course of action as an American Commissioner at Paris in
relation to the League of Nations. Convinced from previous experience
that to oppose every form of guaranty by the nations assembled at Paris
would be futile in view of the President's apparent determination to
compel the adoption of that principle, I endeavored to find a form of
guaranty that would be less objectionable than the one which the
President had in mind. The commitment of the United States to any
guaranty seemed to me at least questionable, though to prevent it seemed
impossible in the circumstances. It did not seem politic to try to
persuade the President to abandon the idea altogether. I was certain
that that could not be done. If he could be induced to modify his plan
so as to avoid a direct undertaking to protect other nations from
aggression, the result would be all that could be expected. I was
guided, therefore, chiefly by expediency rather than by principle in
presenting my views to the President and in openly approving the idea of
a guaranty.

The only opportunity that I had to learn more of the President's plan
for a League before arriving in Paris was an hour's interview with him
on the U.S.S. George Washington some days after we sailed from New York.
He showed me nothing in writing, but explained in a general way his
views as to the form, purpose, and powers of a League. From this
conversation I gathered that my fears as to the proposed organization
were justified and that it was to be based on the principle of
diplomatic adjustment rather than that of judicial settlement and that
political expediency tinctured with morality was to be the standard of
determination of an international controversy rather than strict
legal justice.

In view of the President's apparent fixity of purpose it seemed unwise
to criticize the plan until I could deliver to him a substitute in
writing for the mutual guaranty which he evidently considered to be the
chief feature of the plan. I did not attempt to debate the subject with
him believing it better to submit my ideas in concrete form, as I had
learned from experience that Mr. Wilson preferred to have matters for
his decision presented in writing rather than by word of mouth.



The President, Mr. Henry White, and I arrived in Paris on Saturday,
December 14, 1918, where Colonel House and General Bliss awaited us. The
days following our arrival were given over to public functions in honor
of the President and to official exchanges of calls and interviews with
the delegates of other countries who were gathering for the Peace
Conference. On the 23d, when the pressure of formal and social
engagements had in a measure lessened, I decided to present to the
President my views as to the mutual guaranty which he intended to
propose, fearing that, if there were further delay, he would become
absolutely committed to the affirmative form. I, therefore, on that day
sent him the following letter, which was marked "Secret and Urgent":

"_Hotel de Crillon December 23, 1918_


"The plan of guaranty proposed for the League of Nations, which has
been the subject of discussion, will find considerable objection from
other Governments because, even when the principle is agreed to,
there will be a wide divergence of views as to the terms of the
obligation. This difference of opinion will be seized upon by those,
who are openly or secretly opposed to the League, to create
controversy and discord.

"In addition to this there will be opposition in Congress to assuming
obligations to take affirmative action along either military or
economic lines. On constitutional grounds, on its effect on the
Monroe Doctrine, on jealousy as to Congressional powers, etc., there
will be severe criticism which will materially weaken our position
with other nations, and may, in view of senatorial hostility, defeat
a treaty as to the League of Nations or at least render it impotent.

"With these thoughts in mind and with an opposition known to exist
among certain European statesmen and already manifest in Washington,
I take the liberty of laying before you a tentative draft of articles
of guaranty which I do not believe can be successfully opposed either
at home or abroad."

I would interrupt the reader at this point to suggest that it might be
well to peruse the enclosures, which will be found in the succeeding
pages, in order to have a better understanding of the comments which
follow. To continue:

"I do not see how any nation can refuse to subscribe to them. I do
not see how any question of constitutionality can be raised, as they
are based essentially on powers which are confided to the Executive.
They in no way raise a question as to the Monroe Doctrine. At the
same time I believe that the result would be as efficacious as if
there was an undertaking to take positive action against an offending
nation, which is the present cause of controversy.

"I am so earnestly in favor of the guaranty, which is the heart of
the League of Nations, that I have endeavored to find a way to
accomplish this and to remove the objections raised which seem to me
to-day to jeopardize the whole plan.

"I shall be glad, if you desire it, to confer with you in regard to
the enclosed paper or to receive your opinion as to the suggestions
made. In any event it is my hope that you will give the paper

"Faithfully yours



"28 _Rue de Monceau_"

It should be borne in mind in reading this letter that I had reached the
conclusion that modification rather than abandonment of the guaranty was
all that I could hope to accomplish, and that, as a matter of
expediency, it seemed wise to indicate a sympathetic attitude toward the
idea. For that reason I expressed myself as favorable to the guaranty
and termed it "the heart of the League of Nations," a phrase which the
President by his subsequent use of it considered to be a proper

The memoranda contained in the paper enclosed in the letter were as

_The Constitutional Power to provide Coercion in a Treaty_

"_December_ 20, 1918

"In the institution of a League of Nations we must bear in mind the
limitations imposed by the Constitution of the United States upon the
Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government in defining
their respective powers.

"The Constitution confers upon Congress the right to declare war.
This right, I do not believe, can be delegated and it certainly
cannot be taken away by treaty. The question arises, therefore, as to
how far a provision in an agreement as to a League of Nations, which
imposes on the United States the obligation to employ its military or
naval forces in enforcing the terms of the agreement, would be

"It would seem that the utilization of forces, whether independently
or in conjunction with other nations, would in fact by being an act
of war create a state of war, which constitutionally can only be done
by a declaration of Congress. To contract by treaty to create a state
of war upon certain contingencies arising would be equally tainted
with unconstitutionality and would be null and inoperative.

"I do not think, therefore, that, even if it were advisable, any
treaty can provide for the independent or joint use of the military
or naval forces of the United States to compel compliance with a
treaty or to make good a guaranty made in a treaty.

"The other method of international coercion is non-intercourse,
especially commercial non-intercourse. Would a treaty provision to
employ this method be constitutional?

"As to this my mind is less clear. The Constitution in delegating
powers to Congress includes the regulation of commerce. Does
non-intercourse fall within the idea of regulation? Could an embargo
be imposed without an act of Congress? My impression is that it could
not be done without legislation and that a treaty provision agreeing
in a certain event to impose an embargo against another nation
would be void.

"Even if Congress was willing to delegate to the Executive for a
certain purpose its powers as to making war and regulating commerce,
I do not think that it could constitutionally do so. It is only in
the event of war that powers conferred by the Constitution on
Congress can be delegated and then only for war purposes. As a state
of war would not exist at the time action was required, I do not
believe that it could be done, and any provision contracting to take
measures of this nature would be contrary to the Constitution and as
a consequence void.

"But, assuming that Congress possessed the power of delegation, I am
convinced that it would not only refuse to do so, but would resent
such a suggestion because of the fact that both Houses have been and
are extremely jealous of their rights and authority.

"Viewed from the standpoints of legality and expediency it would seem
necessary to find some other method than coercion in enforcing an
international guaranty, or else to find some substitute for a
guaranty which would be valueless without affirmative action to
support it.

"I believe that such a substitute can be found."

The foregoing memorandum was intended as an introduction to the negative
guaranty or "self-denying covenant" which I desired to lay before the
President as a substitute for the one upon which he intended to build
the League of Nations. The memorandum was suggestive merely, but in view
of the necessity for a speedy decision there was no time to prepare an
exhaustive legal opinion. Furthermore, I felt that the President, whose
hours were at that time crowded with numerous personal conferences and
public functions, would find little opportunity to peruse a long and
closely reasoned argument on the subject.

The most important portion of the document was that entitled "_Suggested
Draft of Articles for Discussion_. December 20, 1918." It reads
as follows:

"The parties to this convention, for the purpose of maintaining
international peace and preventing future wars between one another,
hereby constitute themselves into a League of Nations and solemnly
undertake jointly and severally to fulfill the obligations imposed
upon them in the following articles:


"Each power signatory or adherent hereto severally covenants and
guarantees that it will not violate the territorial integrity or
impair the political independence of any other power signatory or
adherent to this convention except when authorized so to do by a
decree of the arbitral tribunal hereinafter referred to or by a
three-fourths vote of the International Council of the League of
Nations created by this convention.


"In the event that any power signatory or adherent hereto shall fail
to observe the covenant and guaranty set forth in the preceding
article, such breach of covenant and guaranty shall _ipso facto_
operate as an abrogation of this convention in so far as it applies
to the offending power and furthermore as an abrogation of all
treaties, conventions, and agreements heretofore or hereafter entered
into between the offending power and all other powers signatory and
adherent to this convention.


"A breach of the covenant and guaranty declared in Article A shall
constitute an act unfriendly to all other powers signatory and
adherent hereto, and they shall forthwith sever all diplomatic,
consular, and official relations with the offending power, and shall,
through the International Council, hereinafter provided for, exchange
views as to the measures necessary to restore the power, whose
sovereignty has been invaded, to the rights and liberties which it
possessed prior to such invasion and to prevent further
violation thereof.


"Any interference with a vessel on the high seas or with aircraft
proceeding over the high seas, which interference is not
affirmatively sanctioned by the law of nations shall be, for the
purposes of this convention, considered an impairment of political

In considering the foregoing series of articles constituting a guaranty
against one's own acts, instead of a guaranty against the acts of
another, it must be remembered that, at the time of their preparation, I
had not seen a draft of the President's proposed guaranty, though from
conversations with Colonel House and from my study of Point XIV of "The
Fourteen Points," I knew that it was affirmative rather than negative in
form and would require positive action to be effective in the event that
the menace of superior force was insufficient to prevent
aggressive acts.

As far as I am able to judge from subsequently acquired knowledge,
President Wilson at the time he received my letter of December 23 had a
typewritten draft of the document which after certain amendments he
later laid before the American Commissioners and which he had printed
with a few verbal changes under the title of "The Covenant." In order to
understand the two forms of guaranty which he had for consideration
after he received my letter, I quote the article relating to it, which
appears in the first printed draft of the Covenant.


"The Contracting Powers unite in guaranteeing to each other political
independence and territorial integrity; but it is understood between
them that such territorial readjustments, if any, as may in the
future become necessary by reasons of changes in present racial
conditions and aspirations or present social and political
relationships, pursuant to the principle of self-determination, and
also such territorial readjustments as may in the judgment of three
fourths of the Delegates be demanded by the welfare and manifest
interest of the people concerned, may be effected if agreeable to
those peoples; and that territorial changes may involve material
compensation. The Contracting Powers accept without reservation the
principle that the peace of the world is superior in importance to
every question of political jurisdiction or boundary."

It seems needless to comment upon the involved language and the
uncertainty of meaning of this article wherein it provided for
"territorial readjustments" of which there appeared to be two classes,
one dependent on "self-determination," the other on the judgment of the
Body of Delegates of the League. In view of the possible reasons which
might be advanced for changes in territory and allegiance, justification
for an appeal to the guarantors was by no means certain. If this article
had been before me when the letter of December 23 was written, I might
have gone much further in opposition to the President's plan for
stabilizing peace in the world on the ground that a guaranty so
conditioned would cause rather than prevent international discord.

Though without knowledge of the exact terms of the President's proposed
guaranty, I did not feel for the reason stated that I could delay longer
in submitting my views to the President. There was not time to work out
a complete and well-digested plan for a League, but I had prepared in
the rough several articles for discussion which related to the
organization, and which might be incorporated in the organic agreement
which I then assumed would be a separate document from the treaty
restoring peace. While unwilling to lay these articles before the
President until they were more carefully drafted, I enclosed in my
letter the following as indicative of the character of the organization
which it seemed to me would form a simple and practical agency common to
all nations:

"_Suggestions as to an International Council For Discussion_

"_December_ 21, 1918

"An International Council of the League of Nations is hereby
constituted, which shall be the channel for communication between the
members of the League, and the agent for common action.

"The International Council shall consist of the diplomatic
representative of each party signatory or adherent to this
convention at ----.

"Meetings of the International Council shall be held at ----, or in
the event that the subject to be considered involves the interests of
---- or its nationals, then at such other place outside the territory
of a power whose interests are involved as the Supervisory Committee
of the Council shall designate.

"The officer charged with the conduct of the foreign affairs of the
power where a meeting is held shall be the presiding officer thereof.

"At the first meeting of the International Council a Supervisory
Committee shall be chosen by a majority vote of the members present,
which shall consist of five members and shall remain in office for
two years or until their successors are elected.

"The Supervisory Committee shall name a Secretariat which shall have
charge of the archives of the Council and receive all communications
addressed to the Council or Committee and send all communications
issued by the Council or Committee.

"The Supervisory Committee may draft such rules of procedure as it
deems necessary for conducting business coming before the Council or
before the Committee.

"The Supervisory Committee may call a meeting of the Council at its
discretion and must call a meeting at the request of any member of
the Council provided the request contains a written statement of the
subject to be discussed.

"The archives of the Council shall be open at any time to any member
of the Council, who may make and retain copies thereof.

"All expenses of the Supervisory Committee and Secretariat shall be
borne equally by all powers signatory or adherent to this

As indicated by the caption, this document was intended merely "for
discussion" of the principal features of the organization. It should be
noted that the basic principle is the equality of nations. No special
privileges are granted to the major powers in the conduct of the
organization. The rights and obligations of one member of the League are
no more and no less than those of every other member. It is based on
international democracy and denies international aristocracy.

Equality in the exercise of sovereign rights in times of peace, an
equality which is imposed by the very nature of sovereignty, seemed to
me fundamental to a world organization affecting in any way a nation's
independence of action or its exercise of supreme authority over its
external or domestic affairs. In my judgment any departure from that
principle would be a serious error fraught with danger to the general
peace of the world and to the recognized law of nations, since it could
mean nothing less than the primacy of the Great Powers and the
acknowledgment that because they possessed the physical might they had a
right to control the affairs of the world in times of peace as well as
in times of war. For the United States to admit that such primacy ought
to be formed would be bad enough, but to suggest it indirectly by
proposing an international organization based on that idea would be
far worse.

On January 22, 1917, the President in an address to the Senate had made
the following declaration:

"The equality of nations upon which peace must be founded if it is to
last must be an equality of rights; the guarantees exchanged must
neither recognize nor imply a difference between big nations or
small, between those that are powerful and those that are weak. Right
must be based upon the common strength, not the individual strength,
of the nations upon whose concert peace will depend. Equality of
territory or of resources there of course cannot be; nor any other
sort of equality not gained in the ordinary peaceful and legitimate
development of the peoples themselves. But no one asks or expects
anything more than an equality of rights."

In view of this sound declaration of principle it seemed hardly possible
that the President, after careful consideration of the consequences of
his plan of a guaranty requiring force to make it practical, would not
perceive the fundamental error of creating a primacy of the
Great Powers.

It was in order to prevent, if possible, the United States from becoming
sponsor for an undemocratic principle that I determined to lay my
partial plan of organization before the President at the earliest moment
that I believed it would receive consideration.

To my letter of December 23 with its enclosed memoranda I never received
a reply or even an acknowledgment. It is true that the day following its
delivery the President went to Chaumont to spend Christmas at the
headquarters of General Pershing and that almost immediately thereafter
he visited London and two or three days after his return to Paris he set
out for Rome. It is possible that Mr. Wilson in the midst of these
crowded days had no time to digest or even to read my letter and its
enclosed memoranda. It is possible that he was unable or unwilling to
form an opinion as to their merits without time for meditation. I do not
wish to be unjustly critical or to blame the President for a neglect
which was the result of circumstance rather than of intention.

At the time I assumed that his failure to mention my letter in any way
was because his visits to royalty exacted from him so much of his time
that there was no opportunity to give the matter consideration. While
some doubt was thrown on this assumption by the fact that the President
held an hour's conference with the American Commissioners on January 1,
just before departing for Italy, during which he discussed the favorable
attitude of Mr. Lloyd George toward his (the President's) ideas as to a
League of Nations, but never made any reference to my proposed
substitute for the guaranty, I was still disposed to believe that there
was a reasonable explanation for his silence and that upon his return
from Rome he would discuss it.

Having this expectation I continued the preparation of tentative
provisions to be included in the charter of a League of Nations in the
event one was negotiated, and which would in any event constitute a
guide for the preparation of declarations to be included in the Treaty
of Peace in case the negotiation as to a League was postponed until
after peace had been restored. As has been said, it was my hope that
there would be a separate convention organizing the League, but I was
not as sanguine of this as many who believed this course would
be followed.

It later developed that the President never had any other purpose than
to include the detailed plan of organization in the peace treaty,
whether the treaty was preliminary or definitive. When he departed for
Italy he had not declared this purpose to the Commissioners, but from
some source, which I failed to note at the time and cannot now
recollect, I gained the impression that he intended to pursue this
policy, for on December 29 I wrote in my book of notes:

"It is evident that the President is determined to incorporate in the
peace treaty an elaborate scheme for the League of Nations which will
excite all sorts of opposition at home and abroad and invite much

"The articles relating to the League ought to be few and brief. They
will not be. They will be many and long. If we wait till they are
accepted, it will be four or five months before peace is signed, and
I fear to say how much longer it will take to have it ratified.

"It is perhaps foolish to prophesy, but I will take the chance. Two
months from now we will still be haggling over the League of Nations
and an exasperated world will be cursing us for not having made
peace. I hope that I am a false prophet, but I fear my prophecy will
come true. We are riding a hobby, and riding to a fall."

By the time the President returned from his triumphal journey to Rome I
had completed the articles upon which I had been working; at least they
were in form for discussion. At a conference at the Hotel Crillon
between President Wilson and the American Commissioners on January 7, I
handed to him the draft articles saying that they were supplemental to
my letter of December 23. He took them without comment and without
making any reference to my unanswered letter.

The first two articles of the "International Agreement," as I termed the
document, were identical in language with the memoranda dealing with a
mutual covenant and with an international council which I had enclosed
in my letter of December 23. It is needless, therefore, to repeat
them here.

Article III of the so-called "Agreement" was entitled "Peaceful
Settlements of International Disputes," and read as follows:

"_Clause_ 1

"In the event that there is a controversy between two or more members
of the League of Nations which fails of settlement through diplomatic
channels, one of the following means of settlement shall be employed:

"1. The parties to the controversy shall constitute a joint
commission to investigate and report jointly or severally to their
Governments the facts and make recommendations as to settlement.
After such report a further effort shall be made to reach a
diplomatic settlement of the controversy.

"2. The parties shall by agreement arrange for the submission of the
controversy to arbitration mutually agreed upon, or to the Arbitral
Tribunal hereinafter referred to.

"3. Any party may, unless the second means of settlement is mutually
adopted, submit the controversy to the Supervisory Committee of the
International Council; and the Committee shall forthwith (a) name and
direct a special commission to investigate and report upon the
subject; (b) name and direct a commission to mediate between the
parties to the controversy; or (c) direct the parties to submit the
controversy to the Arbitral Tribunal for judicial settlement, it
being understood that the direction to arbitrate may be made at any
time in the event that investigation and mediation fail to result in
a settlement of the controversy.

"_Clause 2_

"No party to a controversy shall assume any authority or perform any
acts based upon disputed rights without authorization of the
Supervisory Committee, such authorization being limited in all cases
to the pendency of the controversy and its final settlement and being
in no way prejudicial to the rights of the parties. An authorization
thus granted by the Supervisory Committee may be modified or
superseded by mutual agreement of the parties, by order of an
arbitrator or arbitrators selected by the parties, or by order of the
Arbitral Tribunal if the controversy is submitted to it.

"_Clause 3_

"The foregoing clause shall not apply to cases in which the
constituted authorities of a power are unable or fail to give
protection to the lives and property of nationals of another power.
In the event that it becomes necessary for a power to use its
military or naval forces to safeguard the lives or property of its
nationals within the territorial jurisdiction of another power, the
facts and reasons for such action shall be forthwith reported to the
Supervisory Committee, which shall determine the course of action to
be adopted in order to protect the rights of all parties, and shall
notify the same to the governments involved which shall comply with
such notification. In the event that a government fails to comply
therewith it shall be deemed to have violated the covenant and
guaranty hereinbefore set forth."

The other articles follow:


"_Revision of Arbitral Tribunal and Codification of International

"_Clause 1_

"The International Council, within one year after its organization,
shall notify to the powers signatory and adherent to this convention
and shall invite all other powers to send delegates to an
international conference at such place and time as the Council may
determine and not later than six months after issuance of such
notification and invitation.

"_Clause 2_

"The International Conference shall consider the revision of the
constitution and procedure of the Arbitral Tribunal and provisions
for the amicable settlement of international disputes established by
the I Treaty signed at The Hague in 1907, and shall formulate codes
embodying the principles of international law applicable in time of
peace and the rules of warfare on land and sea and in the air. The
revision and codification when completed shall be embodied in a
treaty or treaties.

"_Clause 3_

"The International Council shall prepare and submit with the
notification and invitation above provided a preliminary programme of
the International Conference, which shall be subject to modification
or amendment by the Conference.

"_Clause 4_

"Until the treaty of revision of the constitution and procedure of
the Arbitral Tribunal becomes operative, the provisions of the I
Treaty signed at The Hague in 1907 shall continue in force, and all
references herein to the 'Arbitral Tribunal' shall be understood to
be the Tribunal constituted under the I Treaty, but upon the treaty
of revision coming into force the references shall be construed as
applying to the Arbitral Tribunal therein constituted.


"_Publication of Treaties and Agreements_

"_Clause 1_

"Each power, signatory or adherent to this convention, severally
agrees with all other parties hereto that it will not exchange the
ratification of any treaty or convention hereinafter entered into by
it with any other power until thirty days after the full text of such
treaty or convention has been published in the public press of the
parties thereto and a copy has been filed with the Secretariat of the
League of Nations.

"_Clause 2_

"No international agreement, to which a power signatory or adherent
to this convention, is a party, shall become operative or be put in
force until published and filed as aforesaid.

"_Clause 3_

"All treaties, conventions and agreements, to which a power,
signatory or adherent to this convention, is a party, and which are
in force or to come into force and which have not been heretofore
published, shall within six months after the signature of this
convention be published and filed as aforesaid or abrogated or


"_Equality of Commercial Privileges_

"The powers, signatory and adherent to this convention agree jointly
and severally not to discriminate against or in favor of any power in
the matter of commerce or trade or of industrial privileges; and they
further agree that all treaties, conventions and agreements now in
force or to come into force or hereinafter negotiated shall be
considered as subject to the 'most favored nation' doctrine, whether
they contain or do not contain a clause to that effect. It is
specifically declared that it is the purpose of this article not to
limit any power in imposing upon commerce and trade such restrictions
and burdens as it may deem proper but to make such impositions apply
equally and impartially to all other powers, their nationals
and ships.

"This article shall not apply, however, to any case, in which a power
has committed an unfriendly act against the members of the League of
Nations as defined in Article I and in which commercial and trade
relations are denied or restricted by agreements between the members
as a measure of restoration or protection of the rights of a power
injured by such unfriendly act."

These proposed articles, which were intended for discussion before
drafting the provisions constituting a League of Nations and which did
not purport to be a completed document, are given in full because there
seems no simpler method of showing the differences between the President
and me as to the form, functions, and authority of an international
organization. They should be compared with the draft of the "Covenant"
which the President had when these proposed articles were handed to him;
the text of the President's draft appears in the Appendix (page 281).
Comparison will disclose the irreconcilable differences between the
two projects.

Of these differences the most vital was in the character of the
international guaranty of territorial and political sovereignty. That
difference has already been discussed. The second in importance was the
practical repudiation by the President of the doctrine of the equality
of nations, which, as has been shown, was an unavoidable consequence of
an affirmative guaranty which he had declared to be absolutely essential
to an effective world union. The repudiation, though by indirection, was
none the less evident in the recognition in the President's plan of the
primacy of the Great Powers through giving to them a permanent majority
on the "Executive Council" which body substantially controlled the
activities of the League. A third marked difference was in Mr. Wilson's
exaltation of the executive power of the League and the subordination of
the administration of legal justice to that power, and in my advocacy of
an independent international judiciary, whose decisions would be final
and whose place in the organization of the nations would be superior,
since I considered a judicial tribunal the most practical agency for
removing causes of war.

The difference as to international courts and the importance of applied
legal justice requires further consideration in order to understand the
divergence of views which existed as to the fundamental idea of
organization of the League.

President Wilson in his Covenant, as at first submitted to the American
Commissioners, made no provision for the establishment of a World Court
of Justice, and no reference of any sort was made to The Hague Tribunal
of Arbitration. It is not, in my opinion, a misstatement to say that the
President intentionally omitted judicial means of composing
international disputes preferring to leave settlements of that sort to
arrangement between the parties or else to the Body of Delegates or the
Executive Council, both of which bodies being essentially diplomatic or
political in their composition would lack the judicial point of view,
since their members would presumably be influenced by their respective
national interests and by political considerations rather than by a
desire and purpose to do impartial justice by applying legal principles.

It is true that in Article V of the first draft of the Covenant
(Appendix) there is an agreement to submit to arbitration
certain classes of controversies and a method of selecting arbitrators
is provided--a method, by the way, which the actual experience of a
century has shown to be the least satisfactory in administering legal
justice, since it almost inevitably leads to a compromise which impairs
the just rights of one of the parties. But, to my mind, a provision, far
more objectionable than the antiquated and unsatisfactory method of
arbitration provided, was that which made an arbitral award reviewable
on appeal to the Body of Delegates of the League, which could set aside
the award even if the arbitrators had rendered a unanimous decision and
compel a rehearing before other arbitrators. International arbitration
as a method of applying the principles of justice to disputes between
nations would, in the first instance at least, have become a farce if
this provision had been adopted. As an award based on compromise is
seldom, if ever, satisfactory to both parties, the right of appeal would
in substantially every case have been invoked and the award would have
been reviewed by the Body of Delegates, who would practically render a
final decision since the new arbitrators would presumably adopt it. The
effect of this provision as to appeals was, therefore, to supplant
judicial settlements by political compromises and diplomatic
adjustments, in which the national interests of the judges, many of whom
would be untrained in juridical procedure, would be decided, if not
deciding, factors. Manifestly the expediency of the moment would be far
more potent in the decisions reached than the principles and precepts of
international law.

I shall not express here my opinion as to the reasons which I believe
impelled the President to insert in the Covenant these extraordinary
provisions which deprived arbitral courts of that independence of the
executive authority which has been in modern times considered essential
to the impartial administration of justice. But, when one considers how
jealously and effectively the Constitution of the United States and the
constitutions of the various States of the Union guard the judiciary
from executive and legislative interference, the proposal in the
President's plan for a League of Nations to abandon that great principle
in the settlement of international disputes of a justiciable nature
causes speculation as to Mr. Wilson's real opinion of the American
political system which emphasizes the separation and independence of the
three coordinate branches of government.

That a provision found its way into the draft of the Covenant, which the
President, on February 3, 1919, laid before the Commission on the League
of Nations, declaring for the creation by the League of a permanent

Book of the day: