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The Peace Negotiations by Robert Lansing

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court of international justice, was not due, I feel sure, to any
spontaneous thought on the part of President Wilson.

My own views as to the relative value of the settlement of an
international controversy, which is by its nature justiciable, by a body
of diplomats and of the settlement by a body of trained jurists were
fully set forth in an address which I delivered before the American Bar
Association at its annual meeting at Boston on September 5,1919.

An extract from that address will show the radical difference between
the President's views and mine.

"While abstract justice cannot [under present conditions] be depended
upon as a firm basis on which to constitute an international concord
for the preservation of peace and good relations between nations,
legal justice offers a common ground where the nations can meet to
settle their controversies. No nation can refuse in the face of the
opinion of the world to declare its unwillingness to recognize the
legal rights of other nations or to submit to the judgment of an
impartial tribunal a dispute involving the determination of such
rights. The moment, however, that we go beyond the clearly defined
field of legal justice we enter the field of diplomacy where national
interests and ambitions are to-day the controlling factors of
national action. Concession and compromise are the chief agents of
diplomatic settlement instead of the impartial application of legal
justice which is essential to a judicial settlement. Furthermore, the
two modes of settlement differ in that a judicial settlement rests
upon the precept that all nations, whether great or small, are equal,
but in the sphere of diplomacy the inequality of nations is not only
recognized, but unquestionably influences the adjustment of
international differences. Any change in the relative power of
nations, a change which is continually taking place, makes more or
less temporary diplomatic settlements, but in no way affects a
judicial settlement.

"However, then, international society may be organized for the future
and whatever machinery may be set up to minimize the possibilities of
war, I believe that the agency which may be counted upon to function
with certainty is that which develops and applies legal justice."

Every other agency, regardless of its form, will be found, when
analyzed, to be diplomatic in character and subject to those impulses
and purposes which generally affect diplomatic negotiations. With a full
appreciation of the advantage to be gained for the world at large
through the common consideration of a vexatious international question
by a body representing all nations, we ought not to lose sight of the
fact that such consideration and the action resulting from it are
essentially diplomatic in nature. It is, in brief, the transference of a
dispute in a particular case from the capitals of the disputants to the
place where the delegates of the nations assemble to deliberate together
on matters which affect their common interests. It does not--and this we
should understand--remove the question from the processes of diplomacy
or prevent the influences which enter into diplomacy from affecting its
consideration. Nor does it to an appreciable extent change the actual
inequality which exists among nations in the matter of power and

"On the other hand, justice applied through the agency of an
impartial tribunal clothed with an international jurisdiction
eliminates the diplomatic methods of compromise and concession and
recognizes that before the law all nations are equal and equally
entitled to the exercise of their rights as sovereign and independent
states. In a word, international democracy exists in the sphere of
legal justice and, up to the present time, in no other relation
between nations.

"Let us, then, with as little delay as possible establish an
international tribunal or tribunals of justice with The Hague Court
as a foundation; let us provide an easier, a cheaper, and better
procedure than now exists; and let us draft a simple and concise body
of legal principles to be applied to the questions to be adjudicated.
When that has been accomplished--and it ought not to be a difficult
task if the delegates of the Governments charged with it are chosen
for their experience and learning in the field of jurisprudence--we
shall, in my judgment, have done more to prevent international wars
through removing their causes than can be done by any other means
that has been devised or suggested."

The views, which I thus publicly expressed at Boston in September, 1919,
while the President was upon his tour of the country in favor of the
Covenant of the League of Nations, were the same as those that I held at
Paris in December, 1918, before I had seen the President's first draft
of a Covenant, as the following will indicate.

On December 17, 1918, three days after arriving in Paris, I had, as has
been stated, a long conference with Colonel House on the Peace
Conference and the subjects to come before it. I urged him in the course
of our conversation "to persuade the President to make the nucleus of
his proposed League of Nations an international court pointing out that
it was the simplest and best way of organizing the world for peace, and
that, if in addition the general principles of international law were
codified and the right of inquiry confided to the court, everything
practical would have been done to prevent wars in the future" (quoted
from a memorandum of the conversation made at the time). I also urged
upon the Colonel that The Hague Tribunal be made the basis of the
judicial organization, but that it be expanded and improved to meet the
new conditions. I shall have something further to say on this subject.

Reverting now to the draft of articles which I had in form on January 5,
1919, it must be borne in mind that I then had no reason to think that
the President would omit from his plan an independent judicial agency
for the administration of legal justice, although I did realize that he
gave first place to the mutual guaranty and intended to build a League
on that as a nucleus. It did not seem probable that an American, a
student of the political institutions of the United States and familiar
with their operation, would fail to incorporate in any scheme for world
organization a judicial system which would be free from the control and
even from the influence of the political and diplomatic branch of the
organization. The benefit, if not the necessity, of such a division of
authority seemed so patent that the omission of a provision to that
effect in the original draft of the Covenant condemned it to one who
believed in the principles of government which found expression in
American institutions. Fortunately the defect was in a measure cured
before the Commission on the League of Nations formally met to discuss
the subject, though not before the Covenant had been laid before the
American Commissioners.

The articles of a proposed convention for the creation of an
international organization were not intended, as I have said, to form a
complete convention. They were suggestive only of the principal features
of a plan which could, if the President desired, arouse discussion as to
the right theory and the fundamental principles of the international
organization which there seemed little doubt would be declared by the
Paris Conference.

Among the suggested articles there was none covering the subject of
disarmament, because the problem was highly technical requiring the
consideration of military and naval experts. Nor was there any reference
to the mandatory system because there had not been, to my knowledge, any
mention of it at that time in connection with the President's plan,
though General Smuts had given it prominence in his proposed scheme.

During the preparation of these suggestive articles I made a brief
memorandum on the features, which seemed to me salient, of any
international agreement to prevent wars in the future, and which in my
opinion ought to be in mind when drafting such an agreement. The first
three paragraphs of the memorandum follow:

"There are three doctrines which should be incorporated in the Treaty
of Peace if wars are to be avoided and equal justice is to prevail in
international affairs.

"These three doctrines may be popularly termed 'Hands Off,' the 'Open
Door,' and 'Publicity.'

"The first pertains to national possessions and national rights; the
second to international commerce and economic conditions; and the
third, to international agreements."

An examination of the articles which I prepared shows that these
doctrines are developed in them, although at the time I was uncertain
whether they ought to appear in the convention creating the League or in
the Preliminary Treaty of Peace, which I believed, in common with the
prevailing belief, would be negotiated. My impression was that they
should appear in the Peace Treaty and possibly be repeated in the League
Treaty, if the two were kept distinct.



While I was engaged in the preparation of these articles for discussion,
which were based primarily on the equality of nations and avoided a
mutual guaranty or other undertaking necessitating a departure from that
principle, M. Clemenceau delivered an important address in the Chamber
of Deputies at its session on December 30, 1918. In this address the
French Premier declared himself in favor of maintaining the doctrine of
"the balance of power" and of supporting it by a concert of the Great
Powers. During his remarks he made the following significant assertion,
"This system of alliances, which I do not renounce, will be my guiding
thought at the Conference, if your confidence sends me to it, so that
there will be no separation in peace of the four powers which have
battled side by side."

M. Clemenceau's words caused a decided sensation among the delegates
already in Paris and excited much comment in the press. The public
interest was intensified by the fact that President Wilson had but a day
or two before, in an address at Manchester, England, denounced the
doctrine of "the balance of power" as belonging to the old international
order which had been repudiated because it had produced the conditions
that resulted in the Great War.

A week after the delivery of M. Clemenceau's address I discussed his
declarations at some length with Colonel House, and he agreed with me
that the doctrine was entirely contrary to the public opinion of the
world and that every effort should be made to prevent its revival and to
end the "system of alliances" which M. Clemenceau desired to continue.

During this conversation I pointed out that the form of affirmative
guaranty, which the President then had in mind, would unavoidably impose
the burden of enforcing it upon the Great Powers, and that they, having
that responsibility, would demand the right to decide at what time and
in what manner the guaranty should be enforced. This seemed to me to be
only a different application of the principle expressed in the doctrine
of "the balance of power" and to amount to a practical continuance of
the alliances formed for prosecution of the war. I said that, in my
judgment, if the President's guaranty was made the central idea of the
League of Nations, it would play directly into the hands of M.
Clemenceau because it could mean nothing other than the primacy of the
great military and naval powers; that I could not understand how the
President was able to harmonize his plan of a positive guaranty with his
utterances at Manchester; and that, if he clung to his plan, he would
have to accept the Clemenceau doctrine, which would to all intents
transform the Conference into a second Congress of Vienna and result in
a reversion to the old undesirable order, and its continuance in the
League of Nations.

It was my hope that Colonel House, to whom I had shown the letter and
memoranda which I had sent to the President, would be so impressed with
the inconsistency of favoring the affirmative guaranty and of opposing
the doctrine of "the balance of power," that he would exert his
influence with the President to persuade him to find a substitute for
the guaranty which Mr. Wilson then favored. It seemed politic to
approach the President in this way in view of the fact that he had never
acknowledged my letter or manifested any inclination to discuss the
subject with me.

This hope was increased when the Colonel came to me on the evening of
the same day that we had the conversation related above and told me that
he was "entirely converted" to my plan for a negative guaranty and for
the organization of a League.

At this second interview Colonel House gave me a typewritten copy of the
President's plan and asked me to examine it and to suggest a way to
amend it so that it would harmonize with my views. This was the first
time that I had seen the President's complete plan for a League. My
previous knowledge had been gained orally and was general and more or
less vague in character except as to the guaranty of which I had an
accurate idea through the President's "Bases of Peace" of 1917, and
Point XIV of his address of January 8, 1918. At the time that the
typewritten plan was handed to me another copy had already been given to
the printer of the Commission. It was evident, therefore, that the
President was satisfied with the document. It contained the theory and
fundamental principles which he advocated for world organization.



I immediately began an examination and analysis of the President's plan
for a League, having in mind Colonel House's suggestion that I consider
a way to modify it so that it would harmonize with my views. The more I
studied the document, the less I liked it. A cursory reading of the
plan, which is printed in the Appendix (page 281), will disclose the
looseness of the language and the doubtful interpretation of many of the
provisions. It showed an inexpertness in drafting and a fault in
expression which were chargeable to lack of appreciation of the need of
exactness or else to haste in preparation. This fault in the paper,
which was very apparent, could, however, be cured and was by no means a
fatal defect. As a matter of fact, the faults of expression were to a
certain extent removed by subsequent revisions, though some of the
vagueness and ambiguity of the first draft persisted and appeared in the
final text of the Covenant.

The more serious defects of the plan were in the principles on which it
was based and in their application under the provisions of the articles
proposed. The contemplated use of force in making good the guaranty of
sovereign rights and the establishment of a primacy of the Great Powers
were provided for in language which was sufficiently explicit to admit
of no denial. In my opinion these provisions were entirely out of
harmony with American ideals, policies, and traditions. Furthermore, the
clauses in regard to arbitration and appeals from arbitral awards, to
which reference has been made, the lack of any provision for the
establishment of a permanent international judiciary, and the
introduction of the mandatory system were strong reasons to reject the
President's plan.

It should be borne in mind that, at the time that this document was
placed in my hands, the plan of General Smuts for a League of Nations
had, as I have said, been printed in the press and in pamphlet form and
had been given wide publicity. In the Smuts plan, which gave first place
to the system of mandates, appeared the declaration that the League of
Nations was to acquire the mandated territories as "the heir of the
Empires." This clever and attractive phrase caught the fancy of the
President, as was evident from his frequent repetition and approval of
it in discussing mandates under the League. Just as General Smuts had
adopted the President's "self-determination," Mr. Wilson seized upon the
Smuts idea with avidity and incorporated it in his plan. It
unquestionably had a decided influence upon his conception of the right
way to dispose of the colonial possessions of Germany and of the proper
relation of the newly created European states to the League of Nations.
As an example of the way in which President Wilson understood and
applied General Smuts's phrase to the new states, I quote the following
from the "Supplementary Agreements" forming part of the first printed
draft of the President's Covenant, but which I believe were added to the
typewritten draft after the President had examined the plan of the South
African statesman:

"As successor to the Empires, the League of Nations is empowered,
directly and without right of delegation, to watch over the relations
_inter se_ of all new independent states arising or created out of
the Empires, and shall assume and fulfill the duty of conciliating
and composing differences between them with a view to the maintenance
of settled order and the general peace."

There is a natural temptation to a student of international agreements
to analyze critically the composition and language of this provision,
but to do so would in no way advance the consideration of the subject
under discussion and would probably be interpreted as a criticism of the
President's skill in accurately expressing his thoughts, a criticism
which it is not my purpose to make.

Mr. Wilson's draft also contained a system of mandates over territories
in a form which was, to say the least, rudimentary if not inadequate. By
the proposed system the League of Nations, as "the residuary trustee,"
was to take sovereignty over "the peoples and territories" of the
defeated Empires and to issue a mandate to some power or powers to
exercise such sovereignty. A "residuary trustee" was a novelty in
international relations sufficient to arouse conjecture as to its
meaning, but giving to the League the character of an independent state
with the capacity of possessing sovereignty and the power to exercise
sovereign rights through a designated agent was even more extraordinary.
This departure from the long accepted idea of the essentials of
statehood seemed to me an inexpedient and to a degree a dangerous
adventure. The only plausible excuse for the proposal seemed to be a
lack of knowledge as to the nature of sovereignty and as to the
attributes inherent in the very conception of a state. The character of
a mandate, a mandatory, and the authority issuing the mandate presented
many legal perplexities which certainly required very careful study
before the experiment was tried. Until the system was fully worked out
and the problems of practical operation were solved, it seemed to me
unwise to suggest it and still more unwise to adopt it. While the
general idea of mandates issuing from the proposed international
organization was presumably acceptable to the President from the first,
his support was doubtless confirmed by the fact that it followed the
groove which had been made in his mind by the Smuts phrase "the heir of
the Empires."

In any event it seemed to me the course of wise statesmanship to
postpone the advocacy of mandates, based on the assumption that the
League of Nations could become the possessor of sovereignty, until the
practical application of the theory could be thoroughly considered from
the standpoint of international law as well as from the standpoint of
policy. The experiment was too revolutionary to be tried without
hesitation and without consideration of the effect on established
principles and usage. At an appropriate place this subject will be more
fully discussed.

As to the organization and functions of the League of Nations planned by
Mr. Wilson there was little that appealed to one who was opposed to the
employment of force in compelling the observance of international
obligations and to the establishment of an international oligarchy of
the Great Powers to direct and control world affairs. The basic
principle of the plan was that the strong should, as a matter of right
recognized by treaty, possess a dominant voice in international
councils. Obviously the principle of the equality of nations was ignored
or abandoned. In the face of the repeated declarations of the Government
of the United States in favor of the equality of independent states as
to their rights in times of peace, this appeared to be a reversal of
policy which it would be difficult, if not impossible, to explain in a
satisfactory way. Personally I could not subscribe to this principle
which was so destructive of the American theory of the proper relations
between nations.

It was manifest, when I read the President's plan, that there was no
possible way to harmonize my ideas with it. They were fundamentally
different. There was no common basis on which to build. To attempt to
bring the two theories into accord would have been futile. I, therefore,
told Colonel House that it was useless to try to bring into accord the
two plans, since they were founded on contradictory principles and that
the only course of procedure open to me was to present my views to the
President in written form, hoping that he would give them consideration,
although fearing that his mind was made up, since he had ordered his
plan to be printed.

In the afternoon of the same day (January 7), on which I informed the
Colonel of the impossibility of harmonizing and uniting the two plans,
President Wilson held a conference with the American Commissioners
during which he declared that he considered the affirmative guaranty
absolutely necessary to the preservation of future peace and the only
effective means of preventing war. Before this declaration could be
discussed M. Clemenceau was announced and the conference came to an end.
While the President did not refer in any way to the "self-denying
covenant" which I had proposed as a substitute, it seemed to me that he
intended it to be understood that the substitute was rejected, and that
he had made the declaration with that end in view. This was the nearest
approach to an answer to my letter of December 23 that I ever received.
Indirect as it was the implication was obvious.

Although the settled purpose of the President to insist on his form of
mutual guaranty was discouraging and his declaration seemed to be
intended to close debate on the subject, I felt that no effort should be
spared to persuade him to change his views or at least to leave open an
avenue for further consideration. Impelled by this motive I gave to the
President the articles which I had drafted and asked him if he would be
good enough to read them and consider the principles on which they were
based. The President with his usual courtesy of manner smilingly
received them. Whether or not he ever read them I cannot state
positively because he never mentioned them to me or, to my knowledge, to
any one else. I believe, however, that he did read them and realized
that they were wholly opposed to the theory which he had evolved,
because from that time forward he seemed to assume that I was hostile to
his plan for a League of Nations. I drew this conclusion from the fact
that he neither asked my advice as to any provision of the Covenant nor
discussed the subject with me personally. In many little ways he showed
that he preferred to have me direct my activities as a Commissioner into
other channels and to keep away from the subject of a League. The
conviction that my counsel was unwelcome to Mr. Wilson was, of course,
not formed at the time that he received the articles drafted by me. It
only developed after some time had elapsed, during which incidents took
place that aroused a suspicion which finally became a conviction.
Possibly I was over-sensitive as to the President's treatment of my
communications to him. Possibly he considered my advice of no value,
and, therefore, unworthy of discussion. But, in view of his letter of
February 11, 1920, it must be admitted that he recognized that I was
reluctant in accepting certain of his views at Paris, a recognition
which arose from my declared opposition to them. Except in the case of
the Shantung settlement, there was none concerning which our judgments
were so at variance as they were concerning the League of Nations. I
cannot believe, therefore, that I was wrong in my conclusion as to
his attitude.

On the two days succeeding the one when I handed the President my draft
of articles I had long conferences with Lord Robert Cecil and Colonel
House. Previous to these conferences, or at least previous to the second
one, I examined Lord Robert's plan for a League. His plan was based on
the proposition that the Supreme War Council, consisting of the Heads of
States and the Secretaries and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Five
Great Powers, should be perpetuated as a permanent international body
which should meet once a year and discuss subjects of common interest.
That is, he proposed the formation of a Quintuple Alliance which would
constitute itself primate over all nations and the arbiter in world
affairs, a scheme of organization very similar to the one proposed by
General Smuts.

Lord Robert made no attempt to disguise the purpose of his plan. It was
intended to place in the hands of the Five Powers the control of
international relations and the direction in large measure of the
foreign policies of all nations. It was based on the power to compel
obedience, on the right of the powerful to rule. Its chief merit was its
honest declaration of purpose, however wrong that purpose might appear
to those who denied that the possession of superior might conferred
special rights upon the possessor. It seemed to provide for a rebirth of
the Congress of Vienna which should be clothed in the modern garb of
democracy. It could only be interpreted as a rejection of the principle
of the equality of nations. Its adoption would mean that the destiny of
the world would be in the hands of a powerful international oligarchy
possessed of dictatorial powers.

There was nothing idealistic in the plan of Lord Robert Cecil, although
he was reputed to be an idealist favoring a new international order. An
examination of his plan (Appendix) shows it to be a substantial revival
of the old and discredited ideas of a century ago. There could be no
doubt that a plan of this sort, materialistic and selfish as it was,
would win the approval and cordial support of M. Clemenceau, since it
fitted in with his public advocacy of the doctrine of "the balance of
power." Presumably the Italian delegates would not be opposed to a
scheme which gave Italy so influential a voice in international affairs,
while the Japanese, not averse to this recognition of their national
power and importance, would unquestionably favor an alliance of this
nature. I think that it is fair to assume that all of the Five Great
Powers would have readily accepted the Cecil plan--all except the
United States.

This plan, however, did not meet with the approval of President Wilson,
and his open opposition to it became an obstacle which prevented its
consideration in the form in which it was proposed. It is a matter of
speculation what reasons appealed to the President and caused him to
oppose the plan, although the principle of primacy found application in
a different and less radical form in his own plan of organization.
Possibly he felt that the British statesman's proposal too frankly
declared the coalition and oligarchy of the Five Powers, and that there
should be at least the appearance of cooperation on the part of the
lesser nations. Of course, in view of the perpetual majority of the Five
Powers on the Executive Council, as provided in the President's plan,
the primacy of the Five was weakened little if at all by the minority
membership of the small nations. The rule of unanimity gave to each
nation a veto power, but no one believed that one of the lesser states
represented on the Council would dare to exercise it if the Great Powers
were unanimous in support of a proposition. In theory unanimity was a
just and satisfactory rule; in practice it would amount to nothing. The
President may also have considered the council proposed by Lord Robert
to be inexpedient in view of the political organization of the United
States. The American Government had no actual premier except the
President, and it seemed out of the question for him to attend an annual
meeting of the proposed council. It would result in the President
sending a personal representative who would unavoidably be in a
subordinate position when sitting with the European premiers. I think
this latter reason was a very valid one, but that the first one, which
seemed to appeal especially to the President, had little real merit.

In addition to his objection to the Cecil plan of administration,
another was doubtless of even greater weight to Mr. Wilson and that was
the entire omission in the Cecil proposal of the mutual guaranty of
political independence and territorial integrity. The method of
preventing wars which was proposed by Lord Robert was for the nations to
enter into a covenant to submit disputes to international investigation
and to obtain a report before engaging in hostilities and also a
covenant not to make war on a disputant nation which accepted a report
which had been unanimously adopted. He further proposed that the members
of the League should undertake to regard themselves as _ipso facto_ at
war with a member violating these covenants and "to take, jointly and
severally, appropriate military, economic, and other measures against
the recalcitrant State," thus following closely the idea of the League
to Enforce Peace.

Manifestly this last provision in the Cecil plan was open to the same
constitutional objections as those which could be raised against the
President's mutual guaranty. My impression is that Mr. Wilson's
opposition to the provision was not based on the ground that it was in
contravention of the Constitution of the United States, but rather on
the ground that it did not go far enough in stabilizing the terms of
peace which were to be negotiated. The President was seeking permanency
by insuring, through the threat or pressure of international force, a
condition of changelessness in boundaries and sovereign rights, subject,
nevertheless, to territorial changes based either on the principle of
"self-determination" or on a three-fourths vote of the Body of
Delegates. He, nevertheless, discussed the subject with Lord Robert
Cecil prior to laying his draft of a Covenant before the American
Commissioners, as is evident by comparing it with the Cecil plan, for
certain phrases are almost identical in language in the two documents.



The mutual guaranty which was advocated by President Wilson appears as
Article III of his original draft of a Covenant. It reads as follows:


"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 reason 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 peoples concerned, may be effected if agreeable to
those peoples; and that territorial changes may in equity 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."

In the revised draft, which he laid before the Commission
on the League of Nations at its first session Article III
became Article 7. It is as follows:


"The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and preserve as
against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing
political independence of all States members of the League."

The guaranty was finally incorporated in the Treaty of Peace as Article
10. It reads:


"The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as
against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing
political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any
such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression
the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation
shall be fulfilled."

In the revision of the original draft the modifying clause providing for
future territorial readjustments was omitted. It does not appear in
Article 7 of the draft which was presented to the Commission on the
League of Nations and which formed the basis of its deliberations. In
addition to this modification the words "unite in guaranteeing" in
Article III became "undertake to respect and preserve" in Article 7.
These changes are only important in that they indicate a disposition to
revise the article to meet the wishes, and to remove to an extent the
objections, of some of the foreign delegates who had prepared plans for
a League or at least had definite ideas as to the purposes and functions
of an international organization.

It was generally believed that the elimination of the modifying clause
from the President's original form of guaranty was chiefly due to the
opposition of the statesmen who represented the British Empire in
contradistinction to those who represented the self-governing British
Dominions. It was also believed that this opposition was caused by an
unwillingness on their part to recognize or to apply as a right the
principle of "self-determination" in arranging possible future changes
of sovereignty over territories.

I do not know the arguments which were used to induce the President to
abandon this phrase and to strike it from his article of guaranty. I
personally doubt whether the objection to the words "self-determination"
was urged upon him. Whatever reasons were advanced by his foreign
colleagues, they were successful in freeing the Covenant from the
phrase. It is to be regretted that the influence, which was sufficient
to induce the President to eliminate from his proposed guaranty the
clause containing a formal acceptance of the principle of
"self-determination," was not exerted or else was not potent enough to
obtain from him an open disavowal of the principle as a right standard
for the determination of sovereign authority. Without such a disavowal
the phrase remained as one of the general bases upon which a just peace
should be negotiated. It remained a precept of the international creed
which Mr. Wilson proclaimed while the war was still in progress, for he
had declared, in an address delivered on February 11, 1918, before a
joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives, that
"self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle
of action which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril."

"Self-determination" is as right in theory as the more famous phrase
"the consent of the governed," which has for three centuries been
repeatedly declared to be sound by political philosophers and has been
generally accepted as just by civilized peoples, but which has been for
three centuries commonly ignored by statesmen because the right could
not be practically applied without imperiling national safety, always
the paramount consideration in international and national affairs. The
two phrases mean substantially the same thing and have to an extent been
used interchangeably by those who advocate the principle as a standard
of right. "Self-determination" was not a new thought. It was a
restatement of the old one.

Under the present political organization of the world, based as it is on
the idea of nationality, the new phrase is as unsusceptible of universal
application as the old one was found to be. Fixity of national
boundaries and of national allegiance, and political stability would
disappear if this principle was uniformly applied. Impelled by new
social conditions, by economic interests, by racial prejudices, and by
the various forces which affect society, change and uncertainty would
result from an attempt to follow the principle in every case to which it
is possible to apply it.

Among my notes I find one of December 20, 1918--that is, one week after
the American Commission landed in France--in which I recorded my
thoughts concerning certain phrases or epigrams of the President, which
he had declared to be bases of peace, and which I considered to contain
the seeds of future trouble. In regard to the asserted right of
"self-determination" I wrote:

"When the President talks of 'self-determination' what unit has he in
mind? Does he mean a race, a territorial area, or a community?
Without a definite unit which is practical, application of this
principle is dangerous to peace and stability."

Ten days later (December 30) the frequent repetition of the phrase in
the press and by members of certain groups and unofficial delegations,
who were in Paris seeking to obtain hearings before the Conference,
caused me to write the following:

"The more I think about the President's declaration as to the right
of 'self-determination,' the more convinced I am of the danger of
putting such ideas into the minds of certain races. It is bound to be
the basis of impossible demands on the Peace Congress and create
trouble in many lands.

"What effect will it have on the Irish, the Indians, the Egyptians,
and the nationalists among the Boers? Will it not breed discontent,
disorder, and rebellion? Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and
Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it
be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically

"The phrase is simply loaded with dynamite. It will raise hopes which
can never be realized. It will, I fear, cost thousands of lives. In
the end it is bound to be discredited, to be called the dream of an
idealist who failed to realize the danger until too late to check
those who attempt to put the principle in force. What a calamity that
the phrase was ever uttered! What misery it will cause!"

Since the foregoing notes were written the impracticability of the
universal or even of the general application of the principle has been
fully demonstrated. Mr. Wilson resurrected "the consent of the governed"
regardless of the fact that history denied its value as a practical
guide in modern political relations. He proclaimed it in the phrase
"self-determination," declaring it to be an "imperative principle of
action." He made it one of the bases of peace. And yet, in the
negotiations at Paris and in the formulation of the foreign policy of
the United States, he has by his acts denied the existence of the right
other than as the expression of a moral precept, as something to be
desired, but generally unattainable in the lives of nations. In the
actual conduct of affairs, in the practical and concrete relations
between individuals and governments, it doubtless exercises and should
exercise a measure of influence, but it is not a controlling influence.

In the Treaty of Versailles with Germany the readjustment of the German
boundaries, by which the sovereignty over millions of persons of German
blood was transferred to the new states of Poland and Czecho-Slovakia,
and the practical cession to the Empire of Japan of the port of
Kiao-Chau and control over the economic life of the Province of Shantung
are striking examples of the abandonment of the principle.

In the Treaty of Saint-Germain the Austrian Tyrol was ceded to the
Kingdom of Italy against the known will of substantially the entire
population of that region.

In both the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Saint-Germain Austria
was denied the right to form a political union with Germany, and when an
article of the German Constitution of August, 1919, contemplating a
"reunion" of "German Austria" with the German Empire was objected to by
the Supreme Council, then in session at Paris, as in contradiction of
the terms of the Treaty with Germany, a protocol was signed on September
22, 1919, by plenipotentiaries of Germany and the five Principal Allied
and Associated Powers, declaring the article in the Constitution null
and void. There could hardly be a more open repudiation of the alleged
right of "self-determination" than this refusal to permit Austria to
unite with Germany however unanimous the wish of the Austrian people for
such union.

But Mr. Wilson even further discredited the phrase by adopting a policy
toward Russia which ignored the principle. The peoples of Esthonia,
Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaidjan have by blood,
language, and racial traits elements of difference which give to each of
them in more or less degree the character of a distinct nationality.
These peoples all possess aspirations to become independent states, and
yet, throughout the negotiations at Paris and since that time, the
Government of the United States has repeatedly refused to recognize the
right of the inhabitants of these territories to determine for
themselves the sovereignty under which they shall live. It has, on the
contrary, declared in favor of a "Great Russia" comprising the vast
territory of the old Empire except the province which belonged to the
dismembered Kingdom of Poland and the lands included within the present
boundaries of the Republic of Finland.

I do not mention the policy of President Wilson as to an undivided
Russia by way of criticism because I believe the policy was and has
continued to be the right one. The reference to it is made for the
sole purpose of pointing out another example of Mr. Wilson's frequent
departure without explanation from his declared standard for the
determination of political authority and allegiance. I think
that it must be conceded that he has by his acts proved that
"self-determination" _is_ "a mere phrase" which ought to be discarded
as misleading because it cannot be practically applied.

It may be pointed out as a matter of special interest to the student of
American history that, if the right of "self-determination" were sound
in principle and uniformly applicable in establishing political
allegiance and territorial sovereignty, the endeavor of the Southern
States to secede from the American Union in 1861 would have been wholly
justifiable; and, conversely, the Northern States, in forcibly
preventing secession and compelling the inhabitants of the States
composing the Confederacy to remain under the authority of the Federal
Government, would have perpetrated a great and indefensible wrong
against the people of the South by depriving them of a right to which
they were by nature entitled. This is the logic of the application of
the principle of "self-determination" to the political rights at issue
in the American Civil War.

I do not believe that there are many Americans of the present generation
who would support the proposition that the South was inherently right
and the North was inherently wrong in that great conflict. There were,
at the time when the sections were arrayed in arms against each other,
and there may still be, differences of opinion as to the _legal_ right
of secession under the Constitution of the United States, but the
inherent right of a people of a State to throw off at will their
allegiance to the Federal Union and resume complete sovereignty over the
territory of the State was never urged as a conclusive argument. It was
the legal right and not the natural right which was emphasized as
justifying those who took up arms in order to disrupt the Union. But if
an American citizen denies that the principle of "self-determination"
can be rightfully applied to the affairs of his own country, how can he
consistently maintain that it is a right inseparable from a true
conception of political liberty and therefore universally applicable,
just in principle, and wise from the practical point of view?

Of course, those who subscribe to "self-determination" and advocate it
as a great truth fundamental to every political society organized to
protect and promote civil liberty, do not claim it for races, peoples,
or communities whose state of barbarism or ignorance deprive them of the
capacity to choose intelligently their political affiliations. As to
peoples or communities, however, who do possess the intelligence to make
a rational choice of political allegiance, no exception is made, so far
as words go, to the undeviating application of the principle. It is the
affirmation of an unqualified right. It is one of those declarations of
principle which sounds true, which in the abstract may be true, and
which appeals strongly to man's innate sense of moral right and to his
conception of natural justice, but which, when the attempt is made to
apply it in every case, becomes a source of political instability and
domestic disorder and not infrequently a cause of rebellion.

In the settlement of territorial rights and of the sovereignty to be
exercised over particular regions there are several factors which
require consideration. International boundaries may be drawn along
ethnic, economic, geographic, historic, or strategic lines. One or all
of these elements may influence the decision, but whatever argument may
be urged in favor of any one of these factors, the chief object in the
determination of the sovereignty to be exercised within a certain
territory is national safety. National safety is as dominant in the life
of a nation as self-preservation is in the life of an individual. It is
even more so, as nations do not respond to the impulse of
self-sacrifice. With national safety as the primary object to be
attained in territorial settlements, the factors of the problem assume
generally, though not always, the following order of importance: the
strategic, to which is closely allied the geographic and historic; the
economic, affecting the commercial and industrial life of a nation; and
lastly the ethnic, including in the terms such conditions as
consanguinity, common language, and similar social and religious

The national safety and the economic welfare of the United States were
at stake in the War of Secession, although the attempt to secede
resulted from institutional rather than ethnic causes. The same was true
when in the Papineau Rebellion of 1837 the French inhabitants of the
Province of Lower Canada attempted for ethnic reasons to free themselves
from British sovereignty. Had the right of "self-determination" in the
latter case been recognized as "imperative" by Great Britain, the
national life and economic growth of Canada would have been strangled
because the lines of communication and the commercial routes to the
Atlantic seaboard would have been across an alien state. The future of
Canada, with its vast undeveloped resources, its very life as a British
colony, depended upon denying the right of "self-determination." It was
denied and the French inhabitants of Quebec were forced against their
will to accept British sovereignty.

Experience has already demonstrated the unwisdom of having given
currency to the phrase "self-determination." As the expression of an
actual right, the application of which is universal and invariable, the
phrase has been repudiated or at least violated by many of the terms of
the treaties which brought to an end the World War. Since the time that
the principle was proclaimed, it has been the excuse for turbulent
political elements in various lands to resist established governmental
authority; it has induced the use of force in an endeavor to wrest the
sovereignty over a territory or over a community from those who have
long possessed and justly exercised it. It has formed the basis for
territorial claims by avaricious nations. And it has introduced into
domestic as well as international affairs a new spirit of disorder. It
is an evil thing to permit the principle of "self-determination" to
continue to have the apparent sanction of the nations when it has been
in fact thoroughly discredited and will always be cast aside whenever it
comes in conflict with national safety, with historic political rights,
or with national economic interests affecting the prosperity of
a nation.

This discussion of the right of "self-determination," which was one of
the bases of peace which President Wilson declared in the winter of
1918, and which was included in the modifying clause of his guaranty as
originally drafted, is introduced for the purpose of showing the
reluctance which I felt in accepting his guidance in the adoption of a
principle so menacing to peace and so impossible of practical
application. As a matter of fact I never discussed the subject with Mr.
Wilson as I purposed doing, because a situation arose on January 10,
1919, which discouraged me from volunteering to him advice on matters
which did not directly pertain to legal questions and to the
international administration of legal justice.



It is with extreme reluctance, as the reader will understand, that I
make any reference to the conference which the President held with the
American Commissioners at the Hotel Crillon on January 10, because of
the personal nature of what occurred. It would be far more agreeable to
omit an account of this unpleasant episode. But without referring to it
I cannot satisfactorily explain the sudden decision I then reached to
take no further part in the preparation or revision of the text of the
Covenant of the League of Nations. Without explanation my subsequent
conduct would be, and not without reason, open to the charge of neglect
of duty and possibly of disloyalty. I do not feel called upon to rest
under that suspicion, or to remain silent when a brief statement of what
occurred at that conference will disclose the reason for the cessation
of my efforts to effect changes in the plan of world organization which
the President had prepared. In the circumstances there can be no
impropriety in disclosing the truth as to the cause for a course of
action when the course of action itself must be set forth to complete
the record and to explain an ignorance of the subsequent negotiations
regarding the League of Nations, an ignorance which has been the subject
of public comment. Certainly no one who participated in the conference
can object to the truth being known unless for personal reasons he
prefers that a false impression should go forth. After careful
consideration I can see no public reason for withholding the facts. At
this meeting, to which I refer, the President took up the provisions of
his original draft of a Covenant, which was at the time in typewritten
form, and indicated the features which he considered fundamental to the
proper organization of a League of Nations. I pointed out certain
provisions which appeared to me objectionable in principle or at least
of doubtful policy. Mr. Wilson, however, clearly indicated--at least so
I interpreted his words and manner--that he was not disposed to receive
these criticisms in good part and was unwilling to discuss them. He also
said with great candor and emphasis that he did not intend to have
lawyers drafting the treaty of peace. Although this declaration was
called forth by the statement that the legal advisers of the American
Commission had been, at my request, preparing an outline of a treaty, a
"skeleton treaty" in fact, the President's sweeping disapproval of
members of the legal profession participating in the treaty-making
seemed to be, and I believe was, intended to be notice to me that my
counsel was unwelcome. Being the only lawyer on the delegation I
naturally took this remark to myself, and I know that other American
Commissioners held the same view of its purpose. If my belief was
unjustified, I can only regret that I did not persevere in my criticisms
and suggestions, but I could not do so believing as I then did that a
lawyer's advice on any question not wholly legal in nature was
unacceptable to the President, a belief which, up to the present time, I
have had no reason to change.

It should be understood that this account of the conference of January
10 is given by way of explanation of my conduct subsequent to it and not
in any spirit of complaint or condemnation of Mr. Wilson's attitude. He
had a right to his own opinion of the worth of a lawyer's advice and a
right to act in accordance with that opinion. If there was any injustice
done, it was in his asking a lawyer to become a Peace Commissioner,
thereby giving the impression that he desired his counsel and advice as
to the negotiations in general, when in fact he did not. But,
disregarding the personal element, I consider that he was justified in
his course, as the entire constitutional responsibility for the
negotiation of a treaty was on his shoulders and he was, in the
performance of his duty, entitled to seek advice from those only in
whose judgment he had confidence.

In spite of this frank avowal of prejudice by the President there was no
outward change in the personal and official relations between him and
myself. The breach, however, regardless of appearances, was too wide and
too deep to be healed. While subsequent events bridged it temporarily,
it remained until my association with President Wilson came to an end in
February, 1920. I never forgot his words and always felt that in his
mind my opinions, even when he sought them, were tainted with legalism.



As it seemed advisable, in view of the incident of January 10, to have
nothing to do with the drafting of the Covenant unless the entire theory
was changed, the fact that there prevailed at that time a general belief
that a preliminary treaty of peace would be negotiated in the near
future invited an effort to delay the consideration of a complete and
detailed charter of the League of Nations until the definitive treaty or
a separate treaty dealing with the League alone was considered. As delay
would furnish time to study and discuss the subject and prevent hasty
acceptance of an undesirable or defective plan, it seemed to me that the
advisable course to take was to limit reference to the organization in
the preliminary treaty to general principles.

The method that I had in mind in carrying out this policy was to secure
the adoption, by the Conference on the Preliminaries of Peace, of a
resolution embodying a series of declarations as to the creation, the
nature, and the purposes of a League of Nations, which declarations
could be included in the preliminary treaty of peace accompanied by an
article providing for the negotiation of a detailed plan based on these
declarations at the time of the negotiation of the definitive treaty or
else by an article providing for the summoning of a world congress, in
which all nations, neutrals as well as belligerents, would be
represented and have a voice in the drafting of a convention
establishing a League of Nations in accordance with the general
principles declared in the preliminary treaty. Personally I preferred a
separate treaty, but doubted the possibility of obtaining the assent of
the Conference to that plan because some of the delegates showed a
feeling of resentment toward certain neutral nations on account of their
attitude during the war, while the inclusion of the four powers which
had formed the Central Alliance seemed almost out of the question.

In addition to the advantage to be gained by postponing the
determination of the details of the organization until the theory, the
form, the purposes and the powers of the proposed League could be
thoroughly considered, it would make possible the speedy restoration of
a state of peace. There can be no doubt that peace at the earliest
possible moment was the supreme need of the world. The political and
social chaos in the Central Empires, due to the overthrow of their
strong autocratic governments and the prevailing want, suffering, and
despair, in which the war had left their peoples, offered a fertile
field for the pernicious doctrines of Bolshevism to take root and
thrive. A proletarian revolution seemed imminent. The Spartacists in
Germany, the Radical Socialists in Austria, and the Communists in
Hungary were the best organized and most vigorous of the political
groups in those countries and were conducting an active and seemingly
successful propaganda among the starving and hopeless masses, while the
Russian duumvirs, Lenine and Trotsky, were with funds and emissaries
aiding these movements against established authority and social order.
Eastern Europe seemed to be a volcano on the very point of eruption.
Unless something was speedily done to check the peril, it threatened to
spread to other countries and even to engulf the very foundations of
modern civilization.

A restoration of commercial relations and of normal industrial
conditions through the medium of a treaty of peace appeared to offer the
only practical means of resisting these movements and of saving Europe
from the horrors of a proletarian despotism which had brought the
Russian people to so low a state. This was the common judgment of those
who at that time watched with increasing impatience the slow progress of
the negotiations at Paris and with apprehension the political turmoil in
the defeated and distracted empires of Central Europe.

An immediate restoration of peace was, as I then saw it, of vital
importance to the world as it was the universal demand of all mankind.
To delay it for the purpose of completing the organization of a League
of Nations or for any other purpose than the formulation of terms
essential to peace seemed to me to be taking a risk as to the future
wholly unwarranted by the relative importance of the subjects. There is
no question, in the light of subsequent events, that the peoples of the
Central Empires possessed a greater power of resistance to the
temptations of lawlessness and disorder than was presumed in the winter
of 1918-19. And yet it was a critical time. Anything might have
happened. It would have taken very little to turn the scale. What
occurred later cannot excuse the delay in making peace. It was not wise
statesmanship and foresight that saved the world from a great
catastrophe but the fortunate circumstance that a people habituated to
obedience were not led astray by the enemies of the existing order.

Of the importance of negotiating a peace without waiting to complete a
detailed plan for a League of Nations I was firmly convinced in those
early days at Paris, and I know that the President's judgment as to this
was contrary to mine. He considered--at least his course can only be so
interpreted--that the organization of a League in all its details was
the principal task to be accomplished by the Conference, a task that he
felt must be completed before other matters were settled. The conclusion
is that the necessity of an immediate peace seemed to him subordinate to
the necessity of erecting an international agency to preserve the peace
when it was restored. In fact one may infer that the President was
disposed to employ the general longing for peace as a means of exerting
pressure on the delegates in Paris and on their Governments to accept
his plan for a League. It is generally believed that objections to
certain provisions of the Covenant were not advanced or, if advanced,
were not urged because the discussion of objections would mean delay in
negotiating the peace.

Mr. Wilson gave most of his time and thought prior to his departure for
the United States in February, 1919, to the revision of the plan of
organization which he had prepared and to the conversion of the more
influential members of the Conference to its support. While other
questions vital to a preliminary peace treaty were brought up in the
Council of Ten, he showed a disposition to keep them open and to avoid
their settlement until the Covenant had been reported to the Conference.
In this I could not conscientiously follow him. I felt that the policy
was wholly wrong since it delayed the peace.

Though recognizing the President's views as to the relative importance
of organizing a League and of restoring peace without delay, and
suspecting that he purposed to use the impatience and fear of the
delegates to break down objections to his plan of organization, I still
hoped that the critical state of affairs in Europe might induce him to
adopt another course. With that hope I began the preparation of a
resolution to be laid before the Conference, which, if adopted, would
appear in the preliminary treaty in the form of declarations which would
constitute the bases of a future negotiation regarding a League
of Nations.

At a conference on January 20 between the President and the American
Commissioners, all being present except Colonel House, I asked the
President if he did not think that, in view of the shortness of time
before he would be compelled to return to Washington on account of the
approaching adjournment of Congress, it would be well to prepare a
resolution of this sort and to have it adopted in order that it might
clear the way for the determination of other matters which should be
included in a preliminary treaty. From the point of view of policy I
advanced the argument that a series of declarations would draw the fire
of the opponents and critics of the League and would give opportunity
for an expression of American public opinion which would make possible
the final drafting of the charter of a League in a way to win the
approval of the great mass of the American people and in all probability
insure approval of the Covenant by the Senate of the United States.

In reviewing what took place at this conference I realize now, as I did
not then, that it was impolitic for me to have presented an argument
based on the assumption that changes in the President's plan might be
necessary, as he might interpret my words to be another effort to revise
the theory of his plan. At the time, however, I was so entirely
convinced of the expediency of this course, from the President's own
point of view as well as from the point of view of those who gave first
place to restoring peace, that I believed he would see the advantage to
be gained and would adopt the course suggested. I found that I was
mistaken. Mr. Wilson without discussing the subject said that he did not
think that a resolution of that sort was either necessary or advisable.

While this definite rejection of the proposal seemed to close the door
to further effort in that direction, I decided to make another attempt
before abandoning the plan. The next afternoon (January 21) at a meeting
of the Council of Ten, the discussion developed in a way that gave me an
excuse to present the proposal informally to the Council. The advantages
to be gained by adopting the suggested action apparently appealed to the
members, and their general approval of it impressed the President, for
he asked me in an undertone if I had prepared the resolution. I replied
that I had been working upon it, but had ceased when he said to me the
day before that he did not think it necessary or advisable, adding that
I would complete the draft if he wished me to do so. He said that he
would be obliged to me if I would prepare one.

Encouraged by the support received in the Council and by the seeming
willingness of the President to give the proposal consideration, I
proceeded at once to draft a resolution.

The task was not an easy one because it would have been useless to
insert in the document any declaration which seemed to be contradictory
of the President's theory of an affirmative guaranty or which was not
sufficiently broad to be interpreted in other terms in the event that
American public opinion was decidedly opposed to his theory, as I felt
that it would be. It was also desirable, from my point of view, that the
resolution should contain a declaration in favor of the equality of
nations or one which would prevent the establishment of an oligarchy of
the Great Powers, and another declaration which would give proper place
to the administration of legal justice in international disputes.

The handicaps and difficulties under which I labored are manifest, and
the resolution as drafted indicates them in that it does not express as
clearly and unequivocally as it would otherwise do the principles which
formed the bases of the articles which I handed to the President on
January 7 and which have already been quoted _in extenso_.

The text of the resolution, which was completed on the 22d, reads as

"_Resolved_ that the Conference makes the following declaration:

"That the preservation of international peace is the standing policy
of civilization and to that end a league of nations should be
organized to prevent international wars;

"That it is a fundamental principle of peace that all nations are
equally entitled to the undisturbed possession of their respective
territories, to the full exercise of their respective sovereignties,
and to the use of the high seas as the common property of all
peoples; and

"That it is the duty of all nations to engage by mutual covenants--

"(1) To safeguard from invasion the sovereign rights of one another;

"(2) To submit to arbitration all justiciable disputes which fail of
settlement by diplomatic arrangement;

"(3) To submit to investigation by the league of nations all
non-justiciable disputes which fail of settlement by diplomatic
arrangement; and

"(4) To abide by the award of an arbitral tribunal and to respect a
report of the league of nations after investigation;

"That the nations should agree upon--

"(1) A plan for general reduction of armaments on land and sea;

"(2) A plan for the restriction of enforced military service and the
governmental regulation and control of the manufacture and sale of
munitions of war;

"(3) Full publicity of all treaties and international agreements;

"(4) The equal application to all other nations of commercial and
trade regulations and restrictions imposed by any nation; and

"(5) The proper regulation and control of new states pending complete
independence and sovereignty."

This draft of a resolution was discussed with the other American
Commissioners, and after some changes of a more or less minor character
which it seemed advisable to make because of the appointment of a
Commission on the League of Nations at a plenary session of the
Conference on January 25, of which Commission President Wilson and
Colonel House were the American members, I sent the draft to the
President on the 31st, four days before the Commission held its first
meeting in Colonel House's office at the Hotel Crillon.

As the Sixty-Fifth Congress would come to an end on March 4, and as the
interpretation which had been placed on certain provisions of the
Federal Constitution required the presence of the Chief Executive in
Washington during the last days of a session in order that he might pass
upon legislation enacted in the days immediately preceding adjournment,
Mr. Wilson had determined that he could not remain in Paris after
February 14. At the time that I sent him the proposed resolution there
remained, therefore, but two weeks for the Commission on the League of
Nations to organize, to deliberate, and to submit its report to the
Conference, provided its report was made prior to the President's
departure for the United States. It did not seem to me conceivable that
the work of the Commission could be properly completed in so short a
time if the President's Covenant became the basis of its deliberations.
This opinion was shared by many others who appreciated the difficulties
and intricacies of the subject and who felt that a hasty and undigested
report would be unwise and endanger the whole plan of a world

In view of this situation, which seemed to be a strong argument for
delay in drafting the plan of international organization, I wrote a
letter to the President, at the time I sent him the proposed resolution,
saying that in my opinion no plan could be prepared with sufficient care
to warrant its submission to the Conference on the Preliminaries of
Peace before he left Paris and that unless a plan was reported he would
be in the position of returning empty-handed to the United States. I
urged him in the circumstances to secure the adoption of a resolution by
the delegates similar in nature, if not in language, to the draft which
was enclosed, thereby avoiding a state of affairs which would be very
disheartening to the advocates of a League of Nations and cause general
discontent among all peoples who impatiently expected evidence that the
restoration of peace was not far distant.

It would be presumptuous on my part to speculate on the President's
feelings when he received and read my letter and the proposed
resolution. It was never answered or acknowledged, and he did not act
upon the suggestion or discuss acting upon it, to my knowledge, with any
of his colleagues. On the contrary, he summoned the Commission on the
League of Nations to meet on February 3, eleven days before the date
fixed for his departure for the United States, and laid before that body
his revised draft of a Covenant which formed the groundwork for the
Commission's report presented to the Conference on February 14.

The question naturally arises--Why did the President ask me to complete
and send to him the resolution embodying a series of declarations if he
did not intend to make it a subject of consideration and discussion? It
is a pertinent question, but the true answer remains with Mr. Wilson
himself. Possibly he concluded that the only way to obtain his plan for
a League was to insist upon its practical acceptance before peace was
negotiated, and that, unless he took advantage of the universal demand
for peace by making the acceptance of the Covenant a condition
precedent, he would be unable to obtain its adoption. While I believe
this is a correct supposition, it is not responsive to the question as
to the reason why he wished me to deliver to him a draft resolution. In
fact it suggests another question--What, from the President's point of
view, was to be gained by having the resolution in his hands?

I think the answer is not difficult to find when one remembers that Mr.
Wilson had disapproved a resolution of that sort and that the Council of
Ten had seemed disposed to approve it. There was no surer way to prevent
me from bringing the subject again before the Council than by having the
proposed resolution before him for action. Having submitted it to him I
was bound, on account of our official relationship, to await his
decision before taking any further steps. In a word, his request for a
draft practically closed my mouth and tied my hands. If he sought to
check my activities with the members of the Council in favor of the
proposed course of action, he could have taken no more effectual way
than the one which he did take. It was undoubtedly an effective means of
"pigeonholing" a resolution, the further discussion of which might
interfere with his plan to force through a report upon the Covenant
before the middle of February.

This opinion as to the motive which impelled the President to pursue the
course that he did in regard to a resolution was not the one held by me
at the time. It was formed only after subsequent events threw new light
on the subject. The delay perplexed me at the time, but the reason for
it was not evident. I continued to hope, even after the Commission on
the League of Nations had assembled and had begun its deliberations,
that the policy of a resolution would be adopted. But, as the days went
by and the President made no mention of the proposal, I realized that he
did not intend to discuss it, and the conviction was forced upon me that
he had never intended to have it discussed. It was a disappointing
result and one which impressed me with the belief that Mr. Wilson was
prejudiced against any suggestion that I might make, if it in any way
differed with his own ideas even though it found favor with others.



During the three weeks preceding the meeting of the Commission on the
League the work of revising the President's original draft of the
Covenant had been in progress, the President and Colonel House holding
frequent interviews with the more influential delegates, particularly
the British and French statesmen who had been charged with the duty of
studying the subject. While I cannot speak from personal knowledge, I
learned that the suggested changes in terms and language were put into
form by members of the Colonel's office staff. In addition to
modifications which were made to meet the wishes of the foreign
statesmen, especially the British, Mr. Gordon Auchincloss, the
son-in-law and secretary of Colonel House, and Mr. David Hunter Miller,
Auchincloss's law partner and one of the accredited legal advisers of
the American Commission, prepared an elaborate memorandum on the
President's draft of a Covenant which contained comments and also
suggested changes in the text. On account of the intimate relations
existing between Messrs. Miller and Auchincloss and Colonel House it
seems reasonable to assume that their comments and suggestions were
approved by, if they did not to an extent originate with, the Colonel.
The memorandum was first made public by Mr. William C. Bullitt during
his hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in
September, 1919 (Senate Doc. 106, 66th Congress, 1st Session, pages 1177
_et seq._).

The most important amendment to the Covenant suggested by these advisers
was, in my judgment, the one relating to Article III of the draft, which
became Article 10 in the Treaty. After a long criticism of the
President's proposed guaranty, in which it is declared that "such an
agreement would destroy the Monroe Doctrine," and that "any guaranty of
independence and integrity means war by the guarantor if a breach of the
independence or integrity of the guaranteed State is attempted and
persisted in," the memorandum proposed that the following be

"Each Contracting Power severally covenants and guarantees that it
will not violate the territorial integrity or impair the political
independence of any other Contracting Power."

This proposed substitute should be compared with the language of the
"self-denying covenant" that I sent to the President on December 23,
1918, the pertinent portion of which is repeated here for the purpose of
such comparison:

"Each power signatory or adherent hereto severally covenants and
guarantees that it will not violate the territorial integrity or
impair the political sovereignty of any other power signatory or
adherent to this convention, ..."

The practical adoption of the language of my proposed substitute in the
memorandum furnishes conclusive proof that Colonel House was "entirely
converted" to my form of a guaranty as he had frankly assured me that he
was on the evening of January 6. I am convinced also that Mr. Henry
White and General Bliss held the same views on the subject. It is
obvious that President Wilson was the only one of the American
representatives at Paris who favored the affirmative guaranty, but, as
he possessed the constitutional authority to determine independently the
policy of the United States, his form of a guaranty was written into the
revised draft of a Covenant submitted to the Commission on the League of
Nations and with comparatively little change was finally adopted in the
Treaty of Peace with Germany.

The memorandum prepared by Messrs. Miller and Auchincloss was apparently
in the President's hands before the revised draft was completed, for
certain changes in the original draft were in accord with the
suggestions made in their memorandum. His failure to modify the guaranty
may be considered another rejection of the "self-denying covenant" and a
final decision to insist on the affirmative form of guaranty in spite of
the unanimous opposition of his American colleagues.

In view of what later occurred a very definite conclusion may be reached
concerning the President's rejection of the proposed substitute for his
guaranty. Article 10 was from the first the storm center of opposition
to the report of the Commission on the League of Nations and the chief
cause for refusal of consent to the ratification of the Treaty of
Versailles by the Senate of the United States. The vulnerable nature of
the provision, which had been so plainly pointed out to the President
before the Covenant was submitted to the Commission, invited attack. If
he had listened to the advice of his colleagues, in fact if he had
listened to any American who expressed an opinion on the subject, the
Treaty would probably have obtained the speedy approval of the Senate.
There would have been opposition from those inimical to the United
States entering any international organization, but it would have been
insufficient to prevent ratification of the Treaty.

As it was, the President's unalterable determination to have his form of
guaranty in the Covenant, in which he was successful, and his firm
refusal to modify it in any substantial way resulted in strengthening
the opponents to the League to such an extent that they were able to
prevent the Treaty from obtaining the necessary consent of two thirds of
the Senators.

The sincerity of Mr. Wilson's belief in the absolute necessity of the
guaranty, which he proposed, to the preservation of international peace
cannot be doubted. While his advisers were practically unanimous in the
opinion that policy, as well as principle, demanded a change in the
guaranty, he clung tenaciously to the affirmative form. The result was
that which was feared and predicted by his colleagues. The President,
and the President alone, must bear the responsibility for the result.



On the day that the Commission on the League of Nations held its first
meeting and before I had reason to suspect that Mr. Wilson intended to
ignore the letter which I had sent him with the suggested resolution
enclosed, I determined to appeal to him in behalf of international
arbitration. I decided to do this on the assumption that, even if the
plan for a resolution was approved, the Commission would continue its
sessions in preparation for the subsequent negotiation of an agreement
of some sort providing for world organization. The provision as to
arbitration in the President's original draft of a Covenant was so wrong
from my point of view and showed such a lack of knowledge of the
practical side of the subject that I was impelled to make an effort to
induce him to change the provision. Except for the fact that the matter
was wholly legal in character and invited an opinion based on technical
knowledge, I would have remained silent in accordance with my feeling
that it would be inadvisable for me to have anything to do with drafting
the Covenant. I felt, however, that the constitution and procedure of
international courts were subjects which did not affect the general
theory of organization and concerning which my views might influence the
President and be of aid to him in the formulation of the judicial
feature of any plan adopted.

With this object in view I wrote to him the following letter:

"_Hotel Crillon, Paris

"February_ 3, 1919

"My Dear Mr. President:

"I am deeply interested, as you know, in the constitution and
procedure of international courts of arbitration, and having
participated in five proceedings of this sort I feel that I can speak
with a measure of authority.

"In the first place let me say that a tribunal, on which
representatives of the litigants sit as judges, has not proved
satisfactory even though the majority of the tribunal are nationals
of other countries. However well prepared from experience on the
bench to render strict justice, the litigants' arbitrators act in
fact as advocates. As a consequence the neutral arbitrators are
decidedly hampered in giving full and free expression to their views,
and there is not that frank exchange of opinion which should
characterize the conference of judges. It has generally resulted in a
compromise, in which the nation in the wrong gains a measure of
benefit and the nation in the right is deprived of a part of the
remedy to which it is entitled. In fact an arbitration award is more
of a political and diplomatic arrangement than it is a judicial
determination. I believe that this undesirable result can be in large
measure avoided by eliminating arbitrators of the litigant nations.
It is only in the case of monetary claims that these observations do
not apply.

"Another difficulty has been the method of procedure before
international tribunals. This does not apply to monetary claims, but
to disputes arising out of boundaries, interpretation of treaties,
national rights, etc. The present method of an exchange of cases and
of counter-cases is more diplomatic than judicial, since it does not
put the parties in the relation of complainant and defendant. This
relation can in every case be established, if not by mutual
agreement, then by some agency of the League of Nations charged with
that duty. Until this reform of procedure takes place there will be
no definition of issues, and arbitration will continue to be the long
and elaborate proceeding it has been in the past.

"There is another practical obstacle to international arbitration as
now conducted which ought to be considered, and that is the cost.
This obstacle does not affect wealthy nations, but it does prevent
small and poor nations from resorting to it as a means of settling
disputes. Just how this can be remedied I am not prepared to say,
although possibly the international support of all arbitral tribunals
might be provided. At any rate, I feel that something should be done
to relieve the great expense which now prevents many of the smaller
nations from resorting to arbitration.

"I would suggest, therefore, that the Peace Treaty contain a
provision directing the League of Nations to hold a conference or to
summon a conference to take up this whole matter and draft an
international treaty dealing with the constitution of arbitral
tribunals and radically revising the procedure.

"On account of the difficulties of the subject, which do not appear
on the surface, but which experience has shown to be very real, I
feel that it would be impracticable to provide in the Peace Treaty
too definitely the method of constituting arbitral tribunals. It will
require considerable thought and discussion to make arbitration
available to the poor as well as the rich, to make an award a
judicial settlement rather than a diplomatic compromise, and to
supersede the cumbersome and prolonged procedure with its duplication
of documents and maps by a simple method which will settle the issues
and materially shorten the proceedings which now unavoidably drag
along for months, if not for years.

"Faithfully yours



"28 _Rue de Monceau_"

At the time that I sent this letter to Mr. Wilson I had not seen the
revised draft of the Covenant which he laid before the Commission on the
League of Nations. The probability is that, if I had seen it, the letter
would not have been written, for in the revision of the original draft
the objectionable Article V, relating to arbitration and appeals from
arbitral awards, was omitted. In place of it there were substituted two
articles, 11 and 12, the first being an agreement to arbitrate under
certain conditions and the other providing that "the Executive Council
will formulate plans for the establishment of a Permanent Court of
International Justice, and this Court will be competent to hear and
determine any matter which the parties recognize as suitable for
submission to it for arbitration."

Unadvised as to this change, which promised a careful consideration of
the method of applying legal principles of justice to international
disputes, I did not feel that I could let pass without challenge the
unsatisfactory provisions of the President's original draft. Knowing the
contempt which Mr. Wilson felt for The Hague Tribunal and his general
suspicion of the justice of decisions which it might render, it seemed
to me inexpedient to suggest that it should form the basis of a newly
constituted judiciary, a suggestion which I should have made had I been
dealing with any one other than President Wilson. In view of the
intensity of the President's prejudices and of the uselessness of
attempting to remove them, my letter was intended to induce him to
postpone a determination of the subject until the problems which it
presented could be thoroughly studied and a judicial system developed by
an international body of representatives more expert in juridical
matters than the Commission on the League of Nations, the American
members of which were incompetent by training, knowledge, and practical
experience to consider the subject.

No acknowledgment, either written or oral, was ever made of my letter of
February 3. Possibly President Wilson considered it unnecessary to do so
in view of the provision in his revised Covenant postponing discussion
of the subject. At the time, however, I naturally assumed that my
voluntary advice was unwelcome to him. His silence as to my
communications, which seemed to be intended to discourage a continuance
of them, gave the impression that he considered an uninvited opinion on
any subject connected with the League of Nations an unwarranted
interference with a phase of the negotiations which he looked upon as
his own special province, and that comment or suggestion, which did not
conform wholly to his views, was interpreted into opposition and
possibly into criticism of him personally.

This judgment of the President's mental attitude, which was formed at
the time, may have been too harsh. It is possible that the shortness of
time in which to complete the drafting of the report of the Commission
on the League of Nations, upon which he had set his heart, caused him to
be impatient of any criticism or suggestion which tended to interrupt
his work or that of the Commission. It may have been that pressure for
time prevented him from answering letters of the character of the one of
February 3. Whatever the real reason was, the fact remains that the
letter went unnoticed and the impression was made that it was futile to
attempt to divert the President from the single purpose which he had in
mind. His fidelity to his own convictions and his unswerving
determination to attain what he sought are characteristics of Mr. Wilson
which are sources of weakness as well as of strength. Through them
success has generally crowned his efforts, success which in some
instances has been more disastrous than failure would have been.

By what means the change of Article V of the original draft of the
Covenant took place, I cannot say. In the memorandum of Messrs. Miller
and Auchincloss no suggestion of a Court of International Justice
appears, which seems to indicate that the provision in the revised draft
did not originate with them or with Colonel House. In fact on more than
one occasion I had mentioned arbitration to the Colonel and found his
views on the subject extremely vague, though I concluded that he had
almost as poor an opinion of The Hague Tribunal as did the President.
The probability is that the change was suggested to Mr. Wilson by one of
the foreign statesmen in a personal interview during January and that
upon sounding others he found that they were practically unanimous in
favor of a Permanent Court of Justice. As a matter of policy it seemed
wise to forestall amendment by providing for its future establishment.
If this is the true explanation, Article 12 was not of American origin,
though it appears in the President's revised draft.

To be entirely frank in stating my views in regard to Mr. Wilson's
attitude toward international arbitration and its importance in a plan
of world organization, I have always been and still am skeptical of the
sincerity of the apparent willingness of the President to accept the
change which was inserted in his revised draft. It is difficult to avoid
the belief that Article V of the original draft indicated his true
opinion of the application of legal principles to controversies between
nations. That article, by depriving an arbitral award of finality and
conferring the power of review on a political body with authority to
order a rehearing, shows that the President believed that more complete
justice would be rendered if the precepts and rules of international law
were in a measure subordinated to political expediency and if the judges
were not permitted to view the questions solely from the standpoint of
legal justice. There is nothing that occurred, to my knowledge, between
the printing of the original draft of the Covenant and the printing of
the revised draft, which indicated a change of opinion by the President.
It may be that this is a misinterpretation of Mr. Wilson's attitude, and
that the change toward international arbitration was due to conviction
rather than to expediency; but my belief is that expediency was the
sole cause.



The Commission on the League of Nations, over which President Wilson
presided, held ten meetings between February 3 and February 14, on which
latter day it submitted a report at a plenary session of the Conference
on the Preliminaries of Peace. The report was presented by the President
in an address of exceptional excellence which made a deep impression on
his hearers. His dignity of manner, his earnestness, and his logical
presentation of the subject, clothed as it was in well-chosen phrases,
unquestionably won the admiration of all, even of those who could not
reconcile their personal views with the Covenant, as reported by the
Commission. It was a masterly effort, an example of literary rather than
emotional oratory, peculiarly fitting to the occasion and to the temper
and intellectual character of the audience.

Considering the brief time given to its discussion in the Commission and
the necessary haste required to complete the document before the
President's departure, the Covenant as reported to the Conference was a
creditable piece of work. Many of the more glaring errors of expression
and some of the especially objectionable features of the President's
revised draft were eliminated. There were others which persisted, but
the improvement was so marked that the gross defects in word and phrase
largely disappeared. If one accepted the President's theory of
organization, there was little to criticize in the report, except a
certain inexactness of expression which indicated a lack of technical
knowledge on the part of those who put the Covenant into final form. But
these crudities and ambiguities of language would, it was fair to
presume, disappear if the articles passed through the hands of
drafting experts.

Fundamentally, however, the Covenant as reported was as wrong as the
President's original draft, since it contained the affirmative guaranty
of political independence and territorial integrity, the primacy of the
Five Great Powers on the Executive Council, and the perplexing and
seemingly unsound system of mandates. In this I could not willingly
follow President Wilson, but I felt that I had done all that I could
properly do in opposition to his theory. The responsibility of decision
rested with him and he had made his decision. There was nothing more
to be said.

On the evening of the day of the plenary session, at which the report of
the League of Nations was submitted, the President left Paris for Brest
where the George Washington was waiting to convey him to the United
States. He carried with him the report of the Commission, whose
deliberations and decisions he had so manifestly dominated. He went
prepared to meet his political antagonists and the enemies of the
League, confidently believing that he could win a popular support that
would silence the opposition which had been increasingly manifest in the
Halls of Congress and in some of the Republican newspapers which
declined to follow Mr. Taft, Mr. Wickersham, Mr. Straus, and other
influential Republican members of the League to Enforce Peace.

During the ten days preceding February 14, when the Commission on the
League of Nations held daily sessions, the President had no conferences
with the American Commissioners except, of course, with Colonel House,
his American colleague on the Commission on the League. On the morning
of the 14th, however, he called a meeting of the Commissioners and
delivered to them the printed report which was to be presented that
afternoon to the plenary session. As the meetings of the Commission on
the League of Nations had been secret, the American Commissioners, other
than Colonel House, were almost entirely ignorant of the proceedings and
of the progress being made. Colonel House's office staff knew far more
about it than did Mr. White, General Bliss, or I. When the President
delivered the report to the Commissioners they were, therefore, in no
position to express an opinion concerning it. The only remarks were
expressions of congratulation that he had been able to complete the work
before his departure. They were merely complimentary. As to the merits
of the document nothing was or could be said by the three Commissioners,
since no opportunity had been given them to study it, and without a
critical examination any comment concerning its provisions would have
been worthless. I felt and I presume that my two colleagues, who had not
been consulted as to the work of the Commission on the League, felt,
that it was, in any event, too late to offer suggestions or make
criticisms. The report was in print; it was that afternoon to be laid
before the Conference; in twelve hours the President would be on his way
to the United States. Clearly it would have been useless to find fault
with the report, especially if the objections related to the fundamental
ideas of the organization which it was intended to create. The President
having in the report declared the American policy, his commissioned
representatives were bound to acquiesce in his decision whatever their
personal views were. Acquiescence or resignation was the choice, and
resignation would have undoubtedly caused an unfortunate, if not a
critical, situation. In the circumstances acquiescence seemed the only
practical and proper course.

The fact that in ten meetings and in a week and a half a Commission
composed of fifteen members, ten of whom represented the Five Great
Powers and five of whom represented the lesser powers (to which were
later added four others), completed the drafting of a detailed plan of a
League of Nations, is sufficient in itself to raise doubts as to the
thoroughness with which the work was done and as to the care with which
the various plans and numerous provisions proposed were studied,
compared, and discussed. It gives the impression that many clauses were
accepted under the pressing necessity of ending the Commission's labors
within a fixed time. The document itself bears evidence of the haste
with which it was prepared, and is almost conclusive proof in itself
that it was adopted through personal influence rather than because of
belief in the wisdom of all its provisions.

The Covenant of the League of Nations was intended to be the greatest
international compact that had ever been written. It was to be the
_Maxima Charta_ of mankind securing to the nations their rights and
liberties and uniting them for the preservation of universal peace. To
harmonize the conflicting views of the members of the Commission--and it
was well known that they were conflicting--and to produce in eleven days
a world charter, which would contain the elements of greatness or even
of perpetuity, was on the face of it an undertaking impossible of
accomplishment. The document which was produced sufficiently establishes
the truth of this assertion.

It required a dominant personality on the Commission to force through a
detailed plan of a League in so short a time. President Wilson was such
a personality. By adopting the scheme of an oligarchy of the Great
Powers he silenced the dangerous opposition of the French and British
members of the Commission who willingly passed over minor defects in the
plan provided this Concert of Powers, this Quintuple Alliance, was
incorporated in the Covenant. And for the same reason it may be assumed
the Japanese and Italians found the President's plan acceptable. Mr.
Wilson won a great personal triumph, but he did so by surrendering the
fundamental principle of the equality of nations. In his eagerness to
"make the world safe for democracy" he abandoned international democracy
and became the advocate of international autocracy.

It is not my purpose to analyze the provisions of the Covenant which was
submitted to the Conference on the Preliminaries of Peace on February
14, 1919. My objections to it have been sufficiently discussed in the
preceding pages. It would be superfluous to repeat them. The innumerable
published articles and the endless debates on the Covenant have brought
out its good features as well as its defects. Unfortunately for the
opponents and defenders of the document alike some of the objections
urged have been flagrantly unjustifiable and based on false premises and
misstatements of fact and of law, which seem to show political motives
and not infrequently personal animosity toward Mr. Wilson. The
exaggerated statements and unfair arguments of some of the Senators,
larded, as they often were, with caustic sarcasm and vindictive
personalities, did much to prevent an honest and useful discussion of
the merits and demerits of the Covenant.

The effect upon President Wilson of this campaign against him
personally--and it seems to me that it would have had the same effect
upon any man of spirit--was to arouse his indignation. Possibly a less
stubborn man would not have assumed so uncompromising an attitude as he
did or have permitted his ire to find expression in threats, but it
cannot be denied that there was provocation for the resentment which he
exhibited. The President has been blamed for not having sought more
constantly to placate the opponents of the Covenant and to meet them on
a common ground of compromise, especially during his visit to the United
States in February, 1919. From the point of view of policy there is
justice in blaming him, but, when one considers the personal animus
shown and the insolent tone assumed by some of his critics, his conduct
was very human; not wise, but human. Mr. Wilson had never shown a spirit
of conciliation in dealing with those who opposed him. Even in the case
of a purely political question he appeared to consider opposition to be
a personal affront and he was disposed to retaliate in a personal way.
In a measure this explains the personal enmity of many of his political
foes. I think that it is not unjust to say that President Wilson was
stronger in his hatreds than in his friendships. He seemed to lack the
ability to forgive one who had in any way offended him or opposed him.

Believing that much of the criticism of the Covenant was in reality
criticism of him as its author, a belief that was in a measure
justified, the President made it a personal matter. He threatened, in a
public address delivered in the New York Opera House on the eve of his
departure for France, to force the Republican majority to accept the
Covenant by interweaving the League of Nations into the terms of peace
to such an extent that they could not be separated, so that, if they
rejected the League, they would be responsible for defeating the Treaty
and preventing a restoration of peace. With the general demand for peace
this seemed no empty threat, although the propriety of making it may be
questioned. It had, however, exactly the opposite effect from that which
the President intended. Its utterance proved to be as unwise as it was
ineffective. The opposition Senators resented the idea of being coerced.
They became more than ever determined to defeat a President whom they
charged with attempting to disregard and nullify the right of the Senate
to exercise independently its constitutional share in the treaty-making
power. Thus at the very outset of the struggle between the President and
the Senate a feeling of hostility was engendered which continued with
increasing bitterness on both sides and prevented any compromise or
concession in regard to the Covenant as it finally appeared in the
Treaty of Versailles.

When President Wilson returned to Paris after the adjournment of the
Sixty-Fifth Congress on March 4, 1919, he left behind him opponents who
were stronger and more confident than they were when he landed ten days
before. While his appeal to public opinion in favor of the League of
Nations had been to an extent successful, there was a general feeling
that the Covenant as then drafted required amendment so that the
sovereign rights and the traditional policies of the United States
should be safeguarded. Until the document was amended it seemed that the
opposition had the better of the argument with the people. Furthermore,
when the new Congress met, the Republicans would have a majority in the
Senate which was of special importance in the matter of the Treaty which
would contain the Covenant, because it would, when sent to the Senate,
be referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations to report on its
ratification and a majority of that Committee, under a Republican
organization, would presumably be hostile to the plan for a League
advocated by the President. The Committee could hinder and possibly
prevent the acceptance of the Covenant, while it would have the
opportunity to place the opposition's case in a favorable light before
the American people and to attack the President's conduct of the
negotiations at Paris.

I believe that the President realized the loss of strategic position
which he had sustained by the Democratic defeat at the polls in
November, 1918, but was persuaded that, by making certain alterations in
the Covenant suggested by Republicans favorable to the formation of a
League, and especially those advocating a League to Enforce Peace, he
would be able to win sufficient support in the Senate and from the
people to deprive his antagonists of the advantage which they had gained
by the elections. This he sought to do on his return to Paris about the
middle of March. If the same spirit of compromise had been shown while
he was in America it would doubtless have gone far to weaken hostility
to the Covenant. Unfortunately for his purpose he assumed a contrary
attitude, and in consequence the sentiment against the League was
crystallized and less responsive to the concessions which the President
appeared willing to make when the Commission on the League of Nations
resumed its sittings, especially as the obnoxious Article 10
remained intact.

In the formulation of the amendments to the Covenant, which were
incorporated in it after the President's return from the United States
and before its final adoption by the Conference, I had no part and I
have no reason to think that Mr. White or General Bliss shared in the
work. As these amendments or modifications did not affect the theory of
organization or the fundamental principles of the League, they in no way
changed my views or lessened the differences between the President's
judgment and mine. Our differences were as to the bases and not as to
the details of the Covenant. Since there was no disposition to change
the former we were no nearer an agreement than we were in January.

The President's visit to the United States had been disappointing to the
friends of a League in that he had failed to rally to the support of the
Covenant an overwhelming popular sentiment in its favor which the
opposition in the Senate could not resist. The natural reaction was that
the peoples of Europe and their statesmen lost a measure of their
enthusiasm and faith in the project. Except in the case of a few
idealists, there was a growing disposition to view it from the purely
practical point of view and to speculate on its efficacy as an
instrument to interpret and carry out the international will. Among the
leaders of political thought in the principal Allied countries, the
reports of the President's reception in the United States were
sufficiently conflicting to arouse doubt as to whether the American
people were actually behind him in his plan for a League, and this doubt
was not diminished by his proposed changes in the Covenant, which
indicated that he was not in full control of the situation at home.

Two weeks after the President had resumed his duties as a negotiator and
had begun the work of revising the Covenant, I made a memorandum of my
views as to the situation that then existed. The memorandum is
as follows:

"_March_ 25, 1919

"With the increasing military preparations and operations throughout
Eastern Europe and the evident purpose of all these quarreling
nations to ignore any idea of disarmament and to rely upon force to
obtain and retain territory and rights, the League of Nations is
being discussed with something like contempt by the cynical,
hard-headed statesmen of those countries which are being put on a
war-footing. They are cautious and courteous out of regard for the
President. I doubt if the truth reaches him, but it comes to me from
various sources.

"These men say that in theory the idea is all right and is an ideal
to work toward, but that under present conditions it is not practical
in preventing war. They ask, what nation is going to rely on the
guaranty in the Covenant if a jealous or hostile neighbor maintains a
large army. They want to know whether it would be wise or not to
disarm under such conditions. Of course the answers are obvious. But,
if the guaranty is not sufficient, or accepted as sufficient,
protection, what becomes of the central purpose of the League and the
chief reason for creating it?

"I believe that the President and Colonel House see this, though they
do not admit it, and that to save the League from being cast into the
discard they will attempt to make of it a sort of international
agency to do certain things which would normally be done by
independent international commissions. Such a course would save the
League from being still-born and would so interweave it with the
terms of peace that to eliminate it would be to open up some
difficult questions.

"Of course the League of Nations as originally planned had one
supreme object and that was to prevent future wars. That was
substantially all that it purposed to do. Since then new functions
have been gradually added until the chief argument for the League's
existence has been almost lost to sight. The League has been made a
convenient 'catch-all' for all sorts of international actions. At
first this was undoubtedly done to give the League something to do,
and now it is being done to save it from extinction or from
being ignored.

"I am not denying that a common international agent may be a good
thing. In fact the plan has decided merit. But the organization of
the League does not seem to me suitable to perform efficiently and
properly these new functions.

"However, giving this character to the League may save it from being
merely an agreeable dream. As the repository of international
controversies requiring long and careful consideration it may live
and be useful.

"My impression is that the principal sponsors for the League are
searching through the numerous disputes which are clogging the wheels
of the Conference, seizing upon every one which can possibly be
referred, and heaping them on the League of Nations to give it
standing as a useful and necessary adjunct to the Treaty.

"At least that is an interesting view of what is taking place and
opens a wide field for speculation as to the future of the League and
the verdict which history will render as to its origin, its nature,
and its real value."

I quote this memorandum because it gives my thoughts at the time
concerning the process of weaving the League into the terms of peace as
the President had threatened to do. I thought then that it had a double
purpose, to give a practical reason for the existence of the League and
to make certain the ratification of the Covenant by the Senate. No fact
has since developed which has induced me to change my opinion.

In consequence of the functions which were added to the League, the
character of the League itself underwent a change. Instead of an agency
created solely for the prevention of international wars, it was
converted into an agency to carry out the terms of peace. Its idealistic
conception was subordinated to the materialistic purpose of confirming
to the victorious nations the rewards of victory. It is true that during
the long struggle between the President and the Senate on the question
of ratification there was in the debates a general return to the
original purpose of the League by both the proponents and opponents of
the Covenant, but that fact in no way affects the truth of the assertion
that, in order to save the League of Nations, its character was changed
by extending its powers and duties as a common agent of the nations
which had triumphed over the Central Alliance.

The day before the Treaty of Peace was delivered to the German
plenipotentiaries (May 6) its terms induced me to write a note entitled
"The Greatest Loss Caused by the War," referring to the loss of idealism
to the world. In that note I wrote of the League of Nations as follows:

"Even the measure of idealism, with which the League of Nations was
at the first impregnated, has, under the influence and intrigue of
ambitious statesmen of the Old World, been supplanted by an open
recognition that force and selfishness are primary elements in
international co-operation. The League has succumbed to this
reversion to a cynical materialism. It is no longer a creature of
idealism. Its very source and reason have been dried up and have
almost disappeared. The danger is that it will become a bulwark of
the old order, a check upon all efforts to bring man again under the
influence which he has lost."

The President, in the addresses which he afterward made in advocacy of
the Covenant and of ratification of the Treaty, indicated clearly the
wide divergence of opinion between us as to the character of the League
provided for in the Treaty. I do not remember that the subject was
directly discussed by us, but I certainly took no pains to hide my
misgivings as to the place it would have in the international relations
of the future. However, as Mr. Wilson knew that I disapproved of the
theory and basic principles of the organization, especially the
recognition of the oligarchy of the Five Powers, he could not but
realize that I considered that idealism had given place to political
expediency in order to secure for the Covenant the support of the
powerful nations represented at the Conference. This was my belief as to
our relations when the Treaty of Peace containing the Covenant was laid
before the Germans at the Hotel des Reservoirs in Versailles.



In the foregoing review of the opposite views held by the President and
by me in regard to the plan for a League of Nations and specifically in
regard to the Covenant as originally drawn and as revised, mention was
made of the proposed mandatory system as one of the subjects concerning
which we were not in agreement. My objections to the system were
advanced chiefly on the ground of the legal difficulties which it
presented because it seemed probable that the President would give more
weight to my opinion on that ground than on one which concerned the
policy of adopting the system. Viewed from the latter standpoint it
appeared to me most unwise for the President to propose a plan, in which
the United States would be expected to participate and which, if it did
participate, would involve it in the political quarrels of the Old
World. To do so would manifestly require a departure from the
traditional American policy of keeping aloof from the political
jealousies and broils of Europe. Without denying that present conditions
have, of necessity, modified the old policy of isolation and without
minimizing the influence of that fact on the conduct of American foreign
affairs, it did not seem essential for the United States to become the
guardian of any of the peoples of the Near East, who were aspiring to
become independent nationalities, a guardianship which the President
held to be a duty that the United States was bound to perform as its
share of the burden imposed by the international cooeperation which he
considered vital to the new world order.

The question of mandates issuing from the League of Nations was
discussed at length by the Council of Ten in connection with the
disposition and future control of the German colonies and incidentally
as to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The discussions were
chiefly along the lines of practicability, of policy, and of moral
obligation. The President's strong support of the mandatory system and
his equally strong objection to the idea of _condominium_ showed that
his mind was made up in favor of the issuance of mandates by the League.
Since it would have been highly improper for me to oppose openly a
policy which the President had declared under his constitutional
authority, there was no proper opportunity to present the legal
difficulties of the system to the Council.

However, the seriousness of these difficulties and the possible troubles
and controversies which might be anticipated from attempting to put the
system into operation induced me, after one of the sessions of the
Council of Ten, to state briefly to the President some of the serious
objections to League mandates from the standpoint of international law
and the philosophy of government. President Wilson listened with his
usual attentiveness to what I had to say, though the objections
evidently did not appeal to him, as he characterized them as "mere
technicalities" which could be cured or disregarded. Impressed myself
with the importance of these "technicalities" and their direct bearing
on the policy of adopting the mandatory system, I later, on February 2,
1919, embodied them in a memorandum. At the time I hoped and believed
that the negotiation of the completed Covenant might be postponed and
that there would be another opportunity to raise the question. The
memorandum, prepared with this end in view, is as follows:

"The system of 'mandatories under the League of Nations,' when
applied to territories which were formerly colonies of Germany, the
system which has been practically adopted and will be written into
the plan for the League, raises some interesting and difficult

"The one, which is the most prominent since it enters into nearly all
of the international problems presented, is--Where does the
sovereignty over these territories reside?

"Sovereignty is inherent in the very conception of government. It
cannot be destroyed, though it may be absorbed by another sovereignty
either by compulsion or cession. When the Germans were ousted from
their colonies, the sovereignty passed to the power or powers which
took possession. The location of the sovereignty up to the present is

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