Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Peace Negotiations by Robert Lansing

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

clear, but with the introduction of the League of Nations as an
international primate superior to the conquerors some rather
perplexing questions will have to be answered.

"Do those who have seized the sovereignty transfer it or does Germany
transfer it to the League of Nations? If so, how?

"Does the League assume possession of the sovereignty on its
renunciation by Germany? If so, how?

"Does the League merely direct the disposition of the sovereignty
without taking possession of it?

"Assuming that the latter question is answered in the affirmative,
then after such disposition of the right to exercise sovereignty,
which will presumably be a limited right, where does the actual
sovereignty reside?

"The appointment of a mandatory to exercise sovereign rights over
territory is to create an agent for the real sovereign. But who is
the real sovereign?

"Is the League of Nations the sovereign, or is it a common agent of
the nations composing the League, to whom is confided solely the duty
of naming the mandatory and issuing the mandate?

"If the League is the sovereign, can it avoid responsibility for the
misconduct of the mandatory, its agent?

"If it is not the League, who is responsible for the mandatory's

"Assuming that the mandatory in faithfully performing the provisions
of the mandate unavoidably works an injustice upon another party, can
or ought the mandatory to be held responsible? If not, how can the
injured party obtain redress? Manifestly the answer is, 'From the
sovereign,' but who is the sovereign?

"In the Treaty of Peace Germany will be called upon to renounce
sovereignty over her colonial possessions. To whom will the
sovereignty pass?

"If the reply is, 'The League of Nations,' the question is: Does the
League possess the attributes of an independent state so that it can
function as an owner of territory? If so, what is it? A world state?

"If the League does not constitute a world state, then the
sovereignty would have to pass to some national state. What national
state? What would be the relation of the national state to
the League?

"If the League is to receive title to the sovereignty, what officers
of the League are empowered to receive it and to transfer its
exercise to a mandatory?

"What form of acceptance should be adopted?

"Would every nation which is a member of the League have to give its
representatives full powers to accept the title?

"Assuming that certain members decline to issue such powers or to
accept title as to one or more of the territories, what relation
would those members have to the mandatory named?"

There is no attempt in the memorandum to analyze or classify the queries
raised, and, as I review them in the light of the terms of the Treaty of
Versailles, I do not think that some of them can be asked with any
helpful purpose. On the other hand, many of the questions, I believe the
large majority, were as pertinent after the Treaty was completed as they
were when the memorandum was made.

As Colonel House was the other member of the Commission on the League of
Nations and would have to consider the practicability and expediency of
including the mandatory system in the Covenant, I read the memorandum to
him stating that I had orally presented most of the questions to the
President who characterized them as "legal technicalities" and for that
reason unimportant. I said to the Colonel that I differed with the
President, as I hoped he did, not only as to the importance of
considering the difficulties raised by the questions before the system
of mandates was adopted, but also as to the importance of viewing from
every standpoint the wisdom of the system and the difficulties that
might arise in its practical operation. I stated that, in my opinion, a
simpler and better plan was to transfer the sovereignty over territory
to a particular nation by a treaty of cession under such terms as seemed
wise and, in the case of some of the newly erected states, to have them
execute treaties accepting protectorates by Powers mutually acceptable
to those states and to the League of Nations.

Colonel House, though he listened attentively to the memorandum and to
my suggestions, did not seem convinced of the importance of the
questions or of the advantages of adopting any other plan than that of
the proposed mandatory system. To abandon the system meant to abandon
one of the ideas of international supervision, which the President
especially cherished and strongly advocated. It meant also to surrender
one of the proposed functions of the League as an agent in carrying out
the peace settlements under the Treaty, functions which would form the
basis of an argument in favor of the organization of the League and
furnish a practical reason for its existence. Of course the presumed
arguments against the abandonment of mandates may not have been
considered, but at the time I believed that they were potent with
Colonel House and with the President. The subsequent advocacy of the
system by these two influential members of the Commission on the League
of Nations, which resulted in its adoption, in no way lessened my belief
as to the reasons for their support.

The mandatory system, a product of the creative mind of General Smuts,
was a novelty in international relations which appealed strongly to
those who preferred to adopt unusual and untried methods rather than to
accept those which had been tested by experience and found practical of
operation. The self-satisfaction of inventing something new or of
evolving a new theory is inherent with not a few men. They are
determined to try out their ideas and are impatient of opposition which
seeks to prevent the experiment. In fact opposition seems sometimes to
enhance the virtue of a novelty in the minds of those who propose or
advocate its adoption. Many reformers suffer from this form of vanity.

In the case of the system of mandates its adoption by the Conference and
the conferring on the League of Nations the power to issue mandates
seemed at least to the more conservative thinkers at Paris a very
doubtful venture. It appeared to possess no peculiar advantages over the
old method of transferring and exercising sovereign control either in
providing added protection to the inhabitants of territory subject to a
mandate or greater certainty of international equality in the matter of
commerce and trade, the two principal arguments urged in favor of the
proposed system.

If the advocates of the system intended to avoid through its operation
the appearance of taking enemy territory as the spoils of war, it was a
subterfuge which deceived no one. It seemed obvious from the very first
that the Powers, which under the old practice would have obtained
sovereignty over certain conquered territories, would not be denied
mandates over those territories. The League of Nations might reserve in
the mandate a right of supervision of administration and even of
revocation of authority, but that right would be nominal and of little,
if any, real value provided the mandatory was one of the Great Powers as
it undoubtedly would be. The almost irresistible conclusion is that the
protagonists of the theory saw in it a means of clothing the League of
Nations with an apparent usefulness which justified the League by making
it the guardian of uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples and the
international agent to watch over and prevent any deviation from the
principle of equality in the commercial and industrial development of
the mandated territories.

It may appear surprising that the Great Powers so readily gave their
support to the new method of obtaining an apparently limited control
over the conquered territories, and did not seek to obtain complete
sovereignty over them. It is not necessary to look far for a sufficient
and very practical reason. If the colonial possessions of Germany had,
under the old practice, been divided among the victorious Powers and
been ceded to them directly in full sovereignty, Germany might justly
have asked that the value of such territorial cessions be applied on any
war indemnities to which the Powers were entitled. On the other hand,
the League of Nations in the distribution of mandates would presumably
do so in the interests of the inhabitants of the colonies and the
mandates would be accepted by the Powers as a duty and not to obtain new
possessions. Thus under the mandatory system Germany lost her
territorial assets, which might have greatly reduced her financial debt
to the Allies, while the latter obtained the German colonial possessions
without the loss of any of their claims for indemnity. In actual
operation the apparent altruism of the mandatory system worked in favor
of the selfish and material interests of the Powers which accepted the
mandates. And the same may be said of the dismemberment of Turkey. It
should not be a matter of surprise, therefore, that the President found
little opposition to the adoption of his theory, or, to be more
accurate, of the Smuts theory, on the part of the European statesmen.

There was one case, however, in which the issuance of a mandate appeared
to have a definite and practical value and to be superior to a direct
transfer of complete sovereignty or of the conditional sovereignty
resulting from the establishment of a protectorate. The case was that of
a territory with or without a national government, which, not being
self-supporting and not sufficiently strong to protect its borders from
aggressive neighbors, or its people sufficiently enlightened to govern
themselves properly, would be a constant source of expense instead of
profit to the Power, which as its protector and tutor became its
overlord. Under such conditions there was more probability of persuading
a nation inspired by humanitarian and altruistic motives to assume the
burden for the common good under the mandatory system than under the old
method of cession or of protectorate. As to nations, however, which
placed national interests first and made selfishness the standard of
international policy it was to be assumed that an appeal under either
system would be ineffective.

The truth of this was very apparent at Paris. In the tentative
distribution of mandates among the Powers, which took place on the
strong presumption that the mandatory system would be adopted, the
principal European Powers appeared to be willing and even eager to
become mandatories over territories possessing natural resources which
could be profitably developed and showed an unwillingness to accept
mandates for territories which, barren of mineral or agricultural
wealth, would be continuing liabilities rather than assets. This is not
stated by way of criticism, but only in explanation of what took place.

From the beginning to the end of the discussions on mandates and their
distribution among the Powers it was repeatedly declared that the United
States ought to participate in the general plan for the upbuilding of
the new states which under mandatories would finally become independent
nationalities, but it was never, to my knowledge, proposed, except by
the inhabitants of the region in question, that the United States should
accept a mandate for Syria or the Asiatic coast of the Aegean Sea. Those
regions were rich in natural resources and their economic future under a
stable government was bright. Expenditures in their behalf and the
direction of their public affairs would bring ample returns to the
mandatory nations. On the other hand, there was a sustained
propaganda--for it amounted to that--in favor of the United States
assuming mandates over Armenia and the municipal district of
Constantinople, both of which, if limited by the boundaries which it was
then purposed to draw, would be a constant financial burden to the Power
accepting the mandate, and, in the case of Armenia, would require that
Power to furnish a military force estimated at not less than 50,000 men
to prevent the aggression of warlike neighbors and to preserve domestic
order and peace.

It is not too severe to say of those who engaged in this propaganda that
the purpose was to take advantage of the unselfishness of the American
people and of the altruism and idealism of President Wilson in order to
impose on the United States the burdensome mandates and to divide those
which covered desirable territories among the European Powers. I do not
think that the President realized at the time that an actual propaganda
was going on, and I doubt very much whether he would have believed it if
he had been told. Deeply impressed with the idea that it was the moral
duty of the great and enlightened nations to aid the less fortunate and
especially to guard the nationalities freed from autocratic rule until
they were capable of self-government and self-protection, the President
apparently looked upon the appeals made to him as genuine expressions of
humanitarianism and as manifestations of the opinion of mankind
concerning the part that the United States ought to take in the
reconstruction of the world. His high-mindedness and loftiness of
thought blinded him to the sordidness of purpose which appears to have
induced the general acquiescence in his desired system of mandates, and
the same qualities of mind caused him to listen sympathetically to
proposals, the acceptance of which would give actual proof of the
unselfishness of the United States.

Reading the situation thus and convinced of the objections against the
mandatory system from the point of view of international law, of policy
and of American interests, I opposed the inclusion of the system in the
plan for a League of Nations. In view of the attitude which Mr. Wilson
had taken toward my advice regarding policies I confined the objections
which I presented to him, as I have stated, to those based on legal
difficulties. The objections on the ground of policy were made to
Colonel House in the hope that through him they might reach the
President and open his eyes to the true state of affairs. Whether they
ever did reach him I do not know. Nothing in his subsequent course of
action indicated that they did.

But, if they did, he evidently considered them as invalid as he did the
objections arising from legal difficulties. The system of mandates was
written into the Treaty and a year after the Treaty was signed President
Wilson asked the Congress for authority to accept for the United States
a mandate over Armenia. This the Congress refused. It is needless to
make further comment.



The differences between the President's views and mine in regard to the
character of the League of Nations and to the provisions of the Covenant
relating to the organization and functions of the League were
irreconcilable, and we were equally in disagreement as to the duties of
the League in carrying out certain provisions of the Treaty of Peace as
the common agent of the signatory Powers. As a commissioned
representative of the President of the United States acting under his
instructions I had no alternative but to accept his decisions and to
follow his directions, since surrender of my commission as Peace
Commissioner seemed to me at the time to be practically out of the
question. I followed his directions, however, with extreme reluctance
because I felt that Mr. Wilson's policies were fundamentally wrong and
would unavoidably result in loss of prestige to the United States and to
him as its Chief Magistrate. It seemed to me that he had endangered, if
he had not destroyed, his preeminent position in world affairs in order
to obtain the acceptance of his plan for a League of Nations, a plan
which in theory and in detail was so defective that it would be
difficult to defend it successfully from critical attack.

The objections to the terms of the Covenant, which I had raised at the
outset, were based on principle and also on policy, as has been shown in
the preceding pages; and on the same grounds I had opposed their hasty
adoption and their inclusion in the Peace Treaty to be negotiated at
Paris by the Conference. These objections and the arguments advanced in
their support did not apparently have any effect on President Wilson,
for they failed to change his views or to modify the plan which he, with
General Smuts and Lord Robert Cecil, had worked out for an international
organization. They did not swerve him one jot from his avowed purpose to
make the creation of the League of Nations the principal feature of the
negotiations and the provisions of the Covenant the most prominent
articles in the Treaties of Peace with the Central Powers.

Instead of accomplishing their designed purpose, my efforts to induce
the President to change his policy resulted only in my losing his
confidence in my judgment and in arousing in his mind, if I do not
misinterpret his conduct, doubts of my loyalty to him personally. It was
characteristic of Mr. Wilson that his firm conviction as to the
soundness of his conclusions regarding the character of the League of
Nations and his fixity of purpose in seeking to compel its adoption by
the Peace Conference were so intense as to brook no opposition,
especially from one whom he expected to accept his judgment without
question and to give support in thought and word to any plan or policy
which he advocated. In view of this mental attitude of the President it
is not difficult to understand his opinion of my course of action at
Paris. The breach in our confidential relations was unavoidable in view
of my conviction of the duty of an official adviser and his belief that
objections ought not to be urged as to a matter concerning which he had
expressed his opinion. To give implied assent to policies and intentions
which seemed to me wrong or unwise would have been violative of a public
trust, though doubtless by remaining silent I might have won favor and
approval from the President and retained his confidence.

In summarizing briefly the subjects of disagreement between the
President and myself concerning the League of Nations I will follow the
order of importance rather than the order in which they arose. While
they also divide into two classes, those based on principle and those
based on policy, it does not seem advisable to treat them by classes in
the summary.

The most serious defect in the President's Covenant was, in my opinion,
one of principle. It was the practical denial of the equality of nations
in the regulation of international affairs in times of peace through the
recognition in the Executive Council of the League of the right of
primacy of the Five Great Powers. This was an abandonment of a
fundamental principle of international law and comity and was
destructive of the very conception of national sovereignty both as a
term of political philosophy and as a term of constitutional law. The
denial of the equal independence and the free exercise of sovereign
rights of all states in the conduct of their foreign affairs, and the
establishment of this group of primates, amounted to a recognition of
the doctrine that the powerful are, in law as well as in fact, entitled
to be the overlords of the weak. If adopted, it legalized the mastery of
might, which in international relations, when peace prevailed, had been
universally condemned as illegal and its assertion as reprehensible.

It was this doctrine, that the possessors of superior physical power
were as a matter of right the supervisors, if not the dictators, of
those lacking the physical power to resist their commands, which was the
vital element of ancient imperialism and of modern Prussianism. Belief
in it as a true theory of world polity justified the Great War in the
eyes of the German people even when they doubted the plea of their
Government that their national safety was in peril. The victors,
although they had fought the war with the announced purpose of proving
the falsity of this pernicious doctrine and of emancipating the
oppressed nationalities subject to the Central Powers, revived the
doctrine with little hesitation during the negotiations at Paris and
wrote it into the Covenant of the League of Nations by contriving an
organization which would give practical control over the destinies of
the world to an oligarchy of the Five Great Powers. It was an assumption
of the right of supremacy based on the fact that the united strength of
these Powers could compel obedience. It was a full endorsement of the
theory of "the balance of power" in spite of the recognized evils of
that doctrine in its practical application. Beneath the banner of the
democracies of the world was the same sinister idea which had found
expression in the Congress of Vienna with its purpose of protecting the
monarchical institutions of a century ago. It proclaimed in fact that
mankind must look to might rather than right, to force rather than law,
in the regulation of international affairs for the future.

This defect in the theory, on which the League of Nations was to be
organized, was emphasized and given permanency by the adoption of a
mutual guaranty of territorial integrity and political independence
against external aggression. Since the burden of enforcing the guaranty
would unavoidably fall upon the more powerful nations, they could
reasonably demand the control over affairs which might develop into a
situation requiring a resort to the guaranty. In fact during a plenary
session of the Peace Conference held on May 31, 1919, President Wilson
stated as a broad principle that responsibility for protecting and
maintaining a settlement under one of the Peace Treaties carried with it
the right to determine what that settlement should be. The application
to the case of responsible guarantors is obvious and was apparently in
mind when the Covenant was being evolved. The same principle was applied
throughout the negotiations at Paris.

The mutual guaranty from its affirmative nature compelled in fact,
though not in form, the establishment of a ruling group, a coalition of
the Great Powers, and denied, though not in terms, the equality of
nations. The oligarchy was the logical result of entering into the
guaranty or the guaranty was the logical result of the creation of the
oligarchy through the perpetuation of the basic idea of the Supreme War
Council. No distinction was made as to a state of war and a state of
peace. Strongly opposed to the abandonment of the principle of the
equality of nations in times of peace I naturally opposed the
affirmative guaranty and endeavored to persuade the President to accept
as a substitute for it a self-denying or negative covenant which
amounted to a promise of "hands-off" and in no way required the
formation of an international oligarchy to make it effective.

In addition to the foregoing objection I opposed the guaranty on the
ground that it was politically inexpedient to attempt to bind the United
States by a treaty provision which by its terms would certainly invite
attack as to its constitutionality. Without entering into the strength
of the legal argument, and without denying that there are two sides to
the question, the fact that it was open to debate whether the
treaty-making power under the Constitution could or could not obligate
the Government of the United States to make war under certain conditions
was in my judgment a practical reason for avoiding the issue. If the
power existed to so bind the United States by treaty on the theory that
the Federal Government could not be restricted in its right to make
international agreements, then the guaranty would be attacked as an
unwise and needless departure from the traditional policies of the
Republic. If the power did not exist, then the violation of the
Constitution would be an effective argument against such an undertaking.
Whatever the conclusion might be, therefore, as to the legality of the
guaranty or as to whether the obligation was legal or moral in nature,
it did not seem possible for it to escape criticism and vigorous attack
in America.

It seemed to me that the President's guaranty was so vulnerable from
every angle that to insist upon it would endanger the acceptance of any
treaty negotiated if the Covenant was, in accordance with the
President's plan, made an integral part of it. Then, too, opposition
would, in my opinion, develop on the ground that the guaranty would
permit European Powers to participate, if they could not act
independently, in the forcible settlement of international quarrels in
the Western Hemisphere whenever there was an actual invasion of
territory or violation of sovereignty, while conversely the United
States would be morally, if not legally, bound to take part in coercive
measures in composing European differences under similar conditions. It
could be urged with much force that the Monroe Doctrine in the one case
and the Washington policy of avoiding "entangling alliances" in the
other would be so affected that they would both have to be substantially
abandoned or else rewritten. If the American people were convinced that
this would be the consequence of accepting the affirmative guaranty, it
meant its rejection. In any event it was bound to produce an acrimonious
controversy. From the point of view of policy alone it seemed unwise to
include the guaranty in the Covenant, and believing that an objection on
that ground would appeal to the President more strongly than one based
on principle, I emphasized that objection, though in my own mind the
other was the more vital and more compelling.

The points of difference relating to the League of Nations between the
President's views and mine, other than the recognition of the primacy of
the Great Powers, the affirmative guaranty and the resulting denial in
fact of the equality of nations in times of peace, were the provisions
in the President's original draft of the Covenant relating to
international arbitrations, the subordination of the judicial power to
the political power, and the proposed system of mandates. Having
discussed with sufficient detail the reasons which caused me to oppose
these provisions, and having stated the efforts made to induce President
Wilson to abandon or modify them, repetition would be superfluous. It is
also needless, in view of the full narrative of events contained in
these pages, to state that I failed entirely in my endeavor to divert
the President from his determination to have these provisions inserted
in the Covenant, except in the case of international arbitrations, and
even in that case I do not believe that my advice had anything to do
with his abandonment of his ideas as to the method of selecting
arbitrators and the right of appeal from arbitral awards. Those changes
and the substitution of an article providing for the future creation of
a Permanent Court of International Justice, were, in my opinion, as I
have said, a concession to the European statesmen and due to their

President Wilson knew that I disagreed with him as to the relative
importance of restoring a state of peace at the earliest date possible
and of securing the adoption of a plan for the creation of a League of
Nations. He was clearly convinced that the drafting and acceptance of
the Covenant was superior to every other task imposed on the Conference,
that it must be done before any other settlement was reached and that it
ought to have precedence in the negotiations. His course of action was
conclusive evidence of this conviction.

On the other hand, I favored the speedy negotiation of a short and
simple preliminary treaty, in which, so far as the League of Nations was
concerned, there would be a series of declarations and an agreement for
a future international conference called for the purpose of drafting a
convention in harmony with the declarations in the preliminary treaty.
By adopting this course a state of peace would have been restored in the
early months of 1919, official intercourse and commercial relations
would have been resumed, the more complex and difficult problems of
settlement would have been postponed to the negotiation of the
definitive Treaty of Peace, and there would have been time to study
exhaustively the purposes, powers, and practical operations of a League
before the organic agreement was put into final form. Postponement would
also have given opportunity to the nations, which had continued neutral
throughout the war, to participate in the formation of the plan for a
League on an equal footing with the nations which had been belligerents.
In the establishment of a world organization universality of
international representation in reaching an agreement seemed to me
advisable, if not essential, provided the nations represented were
democracies and not autocracies.

It was to be presumed also that at a conference entirely independent of
the peace negotiations and free from the influences affecting the terms
of peace, there would be more general and more frank discussions
regarding the various phases of the subject than was possible at a
conference ruled by the Five Great Powers and dominated in its
decisions, if not in its opinions, by the statesmen of those Powers.

To perfect such a document, as the Covenant of the League of Nations was
intended to be, required expert knowledge, practical experience in
international relations, and an exchange of ideas untrammeled by
immediate questions of policy or by the prejudices resulting from the
war and from national hatreds and jealousies. It was not a work for
politicians, novices, or inexperienced theorists, but for trained
statesmen and jurists, who were conversant with the fundamental
principles of international law, with the usages of nations in their
intercourse with one another, and with the successes and failures of
previous experiments in international association. The President was
right in his conception as to the greatness of the task to be
accomplished, but he was wrong, radically wrong, in believing that it
could be properly done at the Paris Conference under the conditions
which there prevailed and in the time given for consideration of
the subject.

To believe for a moment that a world constitution--for so its advocates
looked upon the Covenant--could be drafted perfectly or even wisely in
eleven days, however much thought individuals may have previously given
to the subject, seems on the face of it to show an utter lack of
appreciation of the problems to be solved or else an abnormal confidence
in the talents and wisdom of those charged with the duty. If one
compares the learned and comprehensive debates that took place in the
convention which drafted the Constitution of the United States, and the
months that were spent in the critical examination word by word of the
proposed articles, with the ten meetings of the Commission on the League
of Nations prior to its report of February 14 and with the few hours
given to debating the substance and language of the Covenant, the
inferior character of the document produced by the Commission ought not
to be a matter of wonder. It was a foregone conclusion that it would be
found defective. Some of these defects were subsequently corrected, but
the theory and basic principles, which were the chief defects in the
plan, were preserved with no substantial change.

But the fact, which has been repeatedly asserted in the preceding pages
and which cannot be too strongly emphasized by repetition, is that the
most potent and most compelling reason for postponing the consideration
of a detailed plan for an international organization was that such a
consideration at the outset of the negotiations at Paris obstructed and
delayed the discussion and settlement of the general terms necessary to
the immediate restoration of a state of peace. Those who recall the
political and social conditions in Europe during the winter of 1918-19,
to which reference has already been made, will comprehend the
apprehension caused by anything which interrupted the negotiation of the
peace. No one dared to prophesy what might happen if the state of
political uncertainty and industrial stagnation, which existed under the
armistices, continued.

The time given to the formulation of the Covenant of the League of
Nations and the determination that it should have first place in the
negotiations caused such a delay in the proceedings and prevented a
speedy restoration of peace. Denial of this is useless. It is too
manifest to require proof or argument to support it. It is equally true,
I regret to say, that President Wilson was chiefly responsible for this.
If he had not insisted that a complete and detailed plan for the League
should be part of the treaty negotiated at Paris, and if he had not also
insisted that the Covenant be taken up and settled in terms before other
matters were considered, a preliminary treaty of peace would in all
probability have been signed, ratified, and in effect during
April, 1919.

Whatever evils resulted from the failure of the Paris Conference to
negotiate promptly a preliminary treaty--and it must be admitted they
were not a few--must be credited to those who caused the delay. The
personal interviews and secret conclaves before the Commission on the
League of Nations met occupied a month and a half. Practically another
half month was consumed in sessions of the Commission. The month
following was spent by President Wilson on his visit to the United
States explaining the reported Covenant and listening to criticisms.
While much was done during his absence toward the settlement of numerous
questions, final decision in every case awaited his return to Paris.
After his arrival the Commission on the League renewed its sittings to
consider amendments to its report, and it required over a month to put
it in final form for adoption; but during this latter period much time
was given to the actual terms of peace, which on account of the delay
caused in attempting to perfect the Covenant had taken the form of a
definitive rather than a preliminary treaty.

It is conservative to say that between two and three months were spent
in the drafting of a document which in the end was rejected by the
Senate of the United States and was responsible for the non-ratification
of the Treaty of Versailles. In view of the warnings that President
Wilson had received as to the probable result of insisting on the plan
of a League which he had prepared and his failure to heed the warnings,
his persistency in pressing for acceptance of the Covenant before
anything else was done makes the resulting delay in the peace less

Two weeks after the President returned from the United States in March
the common opinion was that the drafting of the Covenant had delayed the
restoration of peace, an opinion which was endorsed in the press of many
countries. The belief became so general and aroused so much popular
condemnation that Mr. Wilson considered it necessary to make a public
denial, in which he expressed surprise at the published views and
declared that the negotiations in regard to the League of Nations had in
no way delayed the peace. Concerning the denial and the subject with
which it dealt, I made on March 28 the following memorandum:

"The President has issued a public statement, which appears in this
morning's papers, in which he refers to the 'surprising impression'
that the discussions concerning the League of Nations have delayed
the making of peace and he flatly denies that the impression is

"I doubt if this statement will remove the general impression which
amounts almost to a conviction. Every one knows that the President's
thoughts and a great deal of his time prior to his departure for the
United States were given to the formulation of the plan for a League
and that he insisted that the 'Covenant' should be drafted and
reported before the other features of the peace were considered. The
_real_ difficulties of the present situation, which had to be settled
before the treaty could be drafted, were postponed until his return
here on March 13th.

"In fact the real bases of peace have only just begun to receive the
attention which they deserve.

"If such questions as the Rhine Provinces, Poland, reparations, and
economic arrangements had been taken up by the President and Premiers
in January, and if they had sat day and night, as they are now
sitting _in camera,_ until each was settled, the peace treaty would,
I believe, be to-day on the Conference's table, if not
actually signed.

"Of course the insistence that the plan of the League be first pushed
to a draft before all else prevented the settlement of the other
questions. Why attempt to refute what is manifestly true? I regret
that the President made the statement because I do not think that it
carries conviction. I fear that it will invite controversy and
denial, and that it puts the President on the defensive."

The views expressed in this memorandum were those held, I believe, by
the great majority of persons who participated in the Peace Conference
or were in intimate touch with its proceedings. Mr. Wilson's published
denial may have converted some to the belief that the drafting of the
Covenant was in no way responsible for the delay of the peace, but the
number of converts must have been very few, as it meant utter ignorance
of or indifference to the circumstances which conclusively proved the
incorrectness of the statement.

The effect of this attempt of President Wilson to check the growing
popular antipathy to the League as an obstacle to the speedy restoration
of peace was to cause speculation as to whether he really appreciated
the situation. If he did not, it was affirmed that he was ignorant of
public opinion or else was lacking in mental acuteness. If he did
appreciate the state of affairs, it was said that his statement was
uttered with the sole purpose of deceiving the people. In either case he
fell in public estimation. It shows the unwisdom of having issued
the denial.



There is one subject, connected with the consideration of the mutual
guaranty which, as finally reported by the Commission on the League of
Nations, appears as Article 10 of the Covenant, that should be briefly
reviewed, as it directly bears upon the value placed upon the guaranty
by the French statesmen who accepted it. I refer to the treaties
negotiated by France with the United States and Great Britain
respectively. These treaties provided that, in the event of France being
again attacked by Germany without provocation, the two Powers severally
agreed to come to the aid of the French Republic in repelling the
invasion. The joint nature of the undertaking was in a provision in each
treaty that a similar treaty would be signed by the other Power,
otherwise the agreement failed. The undertakings stated in practically
identical terms in the two treaties constituted, in fact, a triple
defensive alliance for the preservation of the integrity of French
territory and French independence. It had the same object as the
guaranty in the Covenant, though it went even further in the assurance
of affirmative action, and was, therefore, open to the same objections
on the grounds of constitutionality and policy as Article 10.

In a note, dated March 20, stating my "Impressions as to the Present
Situation," I discussed the endeavors being made by the President to
overcome opposition and to remove obstacles to the acceptance of his
plan for a League of Nations by means of compromises and concessions. In
the note appears the following:

"An instance of the lengths to which these compromises and makeshifts
are going, occurred this morning when Colonel House sent to Mr.
White, General Bliss, and me for our opinion the following proposal:
That the United States, Great Britain, and France enter into a formal
alliance to resist any aggressive action by Germany against France or
Belgium, and to employ their military, financial, and economic
resources for this purpose in addition to exerting their moral
influence to prevent such aggression.

"We three agreed that, if that agreement was made, the chief reason
for a League of Nations, as now planned, disappeared. So far as
France and Belgium were concerned the alliance was all they needed
for their future safety. They might or might not accept the League.
Of course they would if the alliance depended upon their acceptance.
They would do most anything to get such an alliance.

"The proposal was doubtless made to remove two provisions on which
the French are most insistent: _First_, an international military
staff to be prepared to use force against Germany if there were signs
of military activity; _second_, the creation of an independent
Rhenish Republic to act as a 'buffer' state. Of course the triple
alliance would make these measures needless.

"What impressed me most was that to gain French support for the
League the proposer of the alliance was willing to destroy the chief
feature of the League. It seemed to me that here was utter blindness
as to the consequences of such action. There appears to have been no
thought given as to the way other nations, like Poland, Bohemia, and
the Southern Slavs, would view the formation of an alliance to
protect France and Belgium alone. Manifestly it would increase rather
than decrease their danger from Germany since she would have to look
eastward and southward for expansion. Of course they would not accept
as sufficient the guaranty in the Covenant when France and Belgium
declined to do it.

"How would such a proposal be received in the United States with its
traditional policy of avoiding 'entangling alliances'? Of course,
when one considers it, the proposal is preposterous and would be
laughed at and rejected."

This was the impression made upon me at the time that this triple
alliance against Germany was first proposed. I later came to look upon
it more seriously and to recognize the fact that there were some valid
reasons in favor of the proposal. The subject was not further discussed
by the Commissioners for several weeks, but it is clear from what
followed that M. Clemenceau, who naturally favored the idea, continued
to press the President to agree to the plan. What arguments were
employed to persuade him I cannot say, but, knowing the shrewdness of
the French Premier in taking advantage of a situation, my belief is that
he threatened to withdraw or at least gave the impression that he would
withdraw his support of the League of Nations or else would insist on a
provision in the Covenant creating a general staff and an international
military force and on a provision in the treaty establishing a Rhenish
Republic or else ceding to France all territory west of the Rhine. To
avoid the adoption of either of these provisions, which would have
endangered the approval of his plan for world organization, the
President submitted to the French demand. At least I assume that was the
reason, for he promised to enter into the treaty of assistance which M.
Clemenceau insisted should be signed.

It is of course possible that he was influenced in his decision by the
belief that the knowledge that such an agreement existed would be
sufficient to deter Germany from even planning another invasion of
France, but my opinion is that the desire to win French support for the
Covenant was the chief reason for the promise that he gave. It should be
remembered that at the time both the Italians and Japanese were
threatening to make trouble unless their territorial ambitions were
satisfied. With these two Powers disaffected and showing a disposition
to refuse to accept membership in the proposed League of Nations the
opposition of France to the Covenant would have been fatal. It would
have been the end of the President's dream of a world organized to
maintain peace by an international guaranty of national boundaries and
sovereignties. Whether France would in the end have insisted on the
additional guaranty of protection I doubt, but it is evident that Mr.
Wilson believed that she would and decided to prevent a disaster to his
plan by acceding to the wishes of his French colleague.

Some time in April prior to the acceptance of the Treaty of Peace by the
Premiers of the Allied Powers, the President and Mr. Lloyd George agreed
with M. Clemenceau to negotiate the treaties of protective alliance
which the French demanded. The President advised me of his decision on
the day before the Treaty was delivered to the German plenipotentiaries
stating in substance that his promise to enter into the alliance formed
a part of the settlements as fully as if written into the Treaty. I told
him that personally I considered an agreement to negotiate the treaty of
assistance a mistake, as it discredited Article 10 of the Covenant,
which he considered all-important, and as it would, I was convinced, be
the cause of serious opposition in the United States. He replied that he
considered it necessary to adopt this policy in the circumstances, and
that, at any rate, having passed his word with M. Clemenceau, who was
accepting the Treaty because of his promise, it was too late to
reconsider the matter and useless to discuss it.

Subsequently the President instructed me to have a treaty drafted in
accordance with a memorandum which he sent me. This was done by Dr.
James Brown Scott and the draft was approved and prepared for signature.
On the morning of June 28, the same day on which the Treaty of
Versailles was signed, the protective treaty with France was signed at
the President's residence in the Place des Etats Unis by M. Clemenceau
and M. Pichon for the French Republic and by President Wilson and myself
for the United States, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Balfour signing at the
same time a similar treaty for Great Britain. Though disagreeing with
the policy of the President in regard to this special treaty it would
have been futile for me to have refused to accept the full powers issued
to me on June 27 or to have declined to follow the directions to act as
a plenipotentiary in signing the document. Such a course would not have
prevented Mr. Wilson from entering into the defensive alliance with
France and Great Britain and might have actually delayed the peace.
Feeling strongly the supreme necessity of ending the existing state of
war as soon as possible I did not consider that I would be justified in
refusing to act as the formal agent of the President or in disobeying
his instructions as such agent. In view of the long delay in
ratification of the Treaty of the Peace, I have since doubted whether I
acted wisely. But at the time I was convinced that the right course was
the one which I followed.

In spite of the fact that my judgment was contrary to the President's as
to the wisdom of negotiating this treaty because I considered the policy
of doing so bad from the standpoint of national interests and of
doubtful expediency in view of the almost certain rejection of it by the
United States Senate and of its probable effect on any plan for general
disarmament, I was not entirely satisfied because I could not disregard
the fact that an argument could be made in its favor which was not
without force.

The United States entered the war to check the progress of the
autocratic imperialism of Germany. That purpose became generally
recognized before the victory was won. In making peace it was deemed,
therefore, a matter of first importance to make impossible a revival of
the aggressive spirit and ambitious designs of Germany. The prevailing
bitterness against France because of the territorial cessions and the
reparations demanded by the victor would naturally cause the German
people to seek future opportunity to be revenged. With a population
almost, if not quite, double that of the French Republic, Germany would
be a constant menace to the nation which had suffered so terribly in the
past by reason of the imperialistic spirit prevalent in the German
Empire. The fear of that menace strongly influenced the French policies
during the negotiations at Paris. In fact it was hard to avoid the
feeling that this fear dominated the conduct of the French delegates and
the attitude of their Government. They demanded much, and recognizing
the probable effect of their demands on the German people sought to
obtain special protection in case their vanquished enemy attempted in
the future to dispossess them by force of the land which he had been
compelled to surrender or attempted to make them restore the
indemnity paid.

Whether France could have avoided the danger of German attack in the
future by lessening her demands, however just they might be, is neither
here nor there. It makes little practical difference how that question
is answered. The important fact is that the settlements in favor of
France under the Treaty were of a nature which made the continuance of
peace between the two nations doubtful if Germany possessed the ability
to regain her military strength and if nothing was done to prevent her
from using it. In these circumstances a special protective treaty seemed
a practical way to check the conversion of the revengeful spirit of the
Germans into another war of invasion.

However valid this argument in favor of the two treaties of assistance,
and though my personal sympathy for France inclined me to satisfy her
wishes, my judgment, as an American Commissioner, was that American
interests and the traditional policies of the United States were against
this alliance. Possibly the President recognized the force of the
argument in favor of the treaty and valued it so highly that he
considered it decisive. Knowing, however, his general attitude toward
French demands and his confidence in the effectiveness of the guaranty
in the Covenant, I believe that the controlling reason for promising the
alliance and negotiating the treaty was his conviction that it was
necessary to make this concession to the French in order to secure their
support for the Covenant and to check the disposition in certain
quarters to make the League of Nations essentially a military coalition
under a general international staff organized and controlled by
the French.

There were those who favored the mutual guaranty in the Covenant, but
who strongly opposed the separate treaty with France. Their objection
was that, in view of the general guaranty, the treaty of assistance was
superfluous, or, if it were considered necessary, then it discredited
the Covenant's guaranty. The argument was logical and difficult to
controvert. It was the one taken by delegates of the smaller nations who
relied on the general guaranty to protect their countries from future
aggressions on the part of their powerful neighbors. If the guaranty of
the Covenant was sufficient protection for them, they declared that it
ought to be sufficient for France. If France doubted its sufficiency,
how could they be content with it?

Since my own judgment was against any form of guaranty imposing upon the
United States either a legal or a moral obligation to employ coercive
measures under certain conditions arising in international affairs, I
could not conscientiously support the idea of the French treaty. This
further departure from America's historic policy caused me to accept
President Wilson's "guidance and direction ... with increasing
reluctance," as he aptly expressed it in his letter of February 11,
1920. We did not agree, we could not agree, since our points of view
were so much at variance.

Yet, in spite of the divergence of our views as to the negotiations
which constantly increased and became more and more pronounced during
the six months at Paris, our personal relations continued unchanged; at
least there was no outward evidence of the actual breach which existed.
As there never had been the personal intimacy between the President and
myself, such as existed in the case of Colonel House and a few others of
his advisers, and as our intercourse had always been more or less formal
in character, it was easier to continue the official relations that had
previously prevailed. I presume that Mr. Wilson felt, as I did, that it
would create an embarrassing situation in the negotiations if there was
an open rupture between us or if my commission was withdrawn or
surrendered and I returned to the United States before the Treaty of
Peace was signed. The effect, too, upon the situation in the Senate
would be to strengthen the opposition to the President's purposes and
furnish his personal, as well as his political, enemies with new grounds
for attacking him.

I think, however, that our reasons for avoiding a public break in our
official relations were different. The President undoubtedly believed
that such an event would jeopardize the acceptance of the Covenant by
the United States Senate in view of the hostility to it which had
already developed and which was supplemented by the bitter animosity to
him personally which was undisguised. On my part, the chief reason for
leaving the situation undisturbed was that I was fully convinced that my
withdrawal from the American Commission would seriously delay the
restoration of peace, possibly in the signature of the Treaty at Paris
and certainly in its ratification at Washington. Considering that the
time had passed to make an attempt to change Mr. Wilson's views on any
fundamental principle, and believing it a duty to place no obstacle in
the way of the signature and ratification of the Treaty of Peace with
Germany, I felt that there was no course for me as a representative of
the United States other than to obey the President's orders however
strong my personal inclination might be to refuse to follow a line of
action which seemed to me wrong in principle and unwise in policy.

In view of the subsequent contest between the President and the
opposition Senators over the Treaty of Versailles, resulting in its
non-ratification and the consequent delay in the restoration of a state
of peace between the United States and Germany, my failure at Paris to
decline to follow the President may be open to criticism, if not to
censure. But it can hardly be considered just to pass judgment on my
conduct by what occurred after the signature of the Treaty unless what
would occur was a foregone conclusion, and at that time it was not even
suggested that the Treaty would fail of ratification. The decision had
to be made under the conditions and expectations which then prevailed.
Unquestionably there was on June 28, 1919, a common belief that the
President would compose his differences with a sufficient number of the
Republican Senators to obtain the necessary consent of two thirds of the
Senate to the ratification of the Treaty, and that the delay in
senatorial action would be brief. I personally believed that that would
be the result, although Mr. Wilson's experience in Washington in
February and the rigid attitude, which he then assumed, might have been
a warning as to the future. Seeing the situation as I did, no man would
have been willing to imperil immediate ratification by resigning as
Commissioner on the ground that he was opposed to the President's
policies. A return to peace was at stake, and peace was the supreme need
of the world, the universal appeal of all peoples. I could not
conscientiously assume the responsibility of placing any obstacle in the
way of a return to peace at the earliest possible moment. It would have
been to do the very thing which I condemned in the President when he
prevented an early signing of the peace by insisting on the acceptance
of the Covenant of the League of Nations as a condition precedent.
Whatever the consequence of my action would have been, whether it
resulted in delay or in defeat of ratification, I should have felt
guilty of having prevented an immediate peace which from the first
seemed to me vitally important to all nations. Personal feelings and
even personal beliefs were insufficient to excuse such action.



Having reviewed the radical differences between the President and myself
in regard to the League of Nations and the inclusion of the Covenant in
the Treaty of Peace with Germany, it is necessary to revert to the early
days of the negotiations at Paris in order to explain the divergence of
our views as to the necessity of a definite programme for the American
Commission to direct it in its work and to guide its members in their
intercourse with the delegates of other countries.

If the President had a programme, other than the general principles and
the few territorial settlements included in his Fourteen Points, and the
generalities contained in his "subsequent addresses," he did not show a
copy of the programme to the Commissioners or advise them of its
contents. The natural conclusion was that he had never worked out in
detail the application of his announced principles or put into concrete
form the specific settlements which he had declared ought to be in the
terms of peace. The definition of the principles, the interpretation of
the policies, and the detailing of the provisions regarding territorial
settlements were not apparently attempted by Mr. Wilson. They were in
large measure left uncertain by the phrases in which they were
delivered. Without authoritative explanation, interpretation, or
application to actual facts they formed incomplete and inadequate
instructions to Commissioners who were authorized "to negotiate peace."

An examination of the familiar Fourteen Points uttered by the President
in his address of January 8, 1918, will indicate the character of the
declarations, which may be, by reason of their thought and expression,
termed "Wilsonian" (Appendix IV, p. 314). The first five Points are
announcements of principle which should govern the peace negotiations.
The succeeding eight Points refer to territorial adjustments, but make
no attempt to define actual boundaries, so essential in conducting
negotiations regarding territory. The Fourteenth Point relates to the
formation of "a general association of the nations for the purpose of
affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial
integrity to great and small nations alike."

It is hardly worth while to say that the Fourteen Points and the four
principles declared in the address of February 11, 1918 (Appendix V), do
not constitute a sufficient programme for negotiators. Manifestly they
are too indefinite in specific application. They were never intended for
that purpose when they were proclaimed. They might have formed a general
basis for the preparation of instructions for peace commissioners, but
they omitted too many of the essentials to be considered actual
instructions, while the lack of definite terms to-be included in a
treaty further deprived them of that character. Such important and
practical subjects as reparations, financial arrangements, the use and
control of waterways, and other questions of a like nature, are not even
mentioned. As a general statement of the bases of peace the Fourteen
Points and subsequent declarations probably served a useful purpose,
though some critics would deny it, but as a working programme for the
negotiation of a treaty they were inadequate, if not wholly useless.

Believing in the autumn of 1918 that the end of the war was approaching
and assuming that the American plenipotentiaries to the Peace Conference
would have to be furnished with detailed written instructions as to the
terms of the treaty to be signed, I prepared on September 21, 1918, a
memorandum of my views as to the territorial settlements which would
form, not instructions, but a guide in the drafting of instructions for
the American Commissioners. At the time I had no intimation that the
President purposed to be present in person at the peace table and had
not even thought of such a possibility. The memorandum, which follows,
was written with the sole purpose of being ready to draft definite
instructions which could be submitted to the President when the time
came to prepare for the negotiation of the peace. The memorandum

"The present Russian situation, which is unspeakably horrible and
which seems beyond present hope of betterment, presents new problems
to be solved at the peace table.

"The Pan-Germans now have in shattered and impotent Russia the
opportunity to develop an alternative or supplemental scheme to their
'Mittel-Europa' project. German domination over Southern Russia would
offer as advantageous, if not a more advantageous, route to the
Persian Gulf than through the turbulent Balkans and unreliable
Turkey. If both routes, north and south of the Black Sea, could be
controlled, the Pan-Germans would have gained more than they dreamed
of obtaining. I believe, however, that Bulgaria fears the Germans and
will be disposed to resist German domination possibly to the extent
of making a separate peace with the Allies. Nevertheless, if the
Germans could obtain the route north of the Black Sea, they would
with reason consider the war a successful venture because it would
give them the opportunity to rebuild the imperial power and to carry
out the Prussian ambition of world-mastery.

"The treaty of peace must not leave Germany in possession directly or
indirectly of either of these routes to the Orient. There must be
territorial barriers erected to prevent that Empire from ever being
able by political or economic penetration to become dominant in
those regions.

"With this in view I would state the essentials for a stable peace as
follows, though I do so in the most tentative way because conditions
may change materially. These 'essentials' relate to territory and
waters, and do not deal with military protection.

"_First._ The complete abrogation or denouncement of the
Brest-Litovsk Treaty and all treaties relating in any way to Russian
territory or commerce; and also the same action as to the Treaty of
Bucharest. This applies to all treaties made by the German Empire or
Germany's allies.

"_Second._ The Baltic Provinces of Lithuania, Latvia, and Esthonia
should be autonomous states of a Russian Confederation.

"_Third_. Finland raises a different question and it should be
carefully considered whether it should not be an independent state.

"_Fourth_. An independent Poland, composed of Polish provinces of
Russia, Prussia, and Austria, and in possession of the port
of Danzig.

"_Fifth_. An independent state, either single or federal composed of
Bohemia, Slovakia, and Moravia (and possibly a portion of Silesia)
and possessing an international right of way by land or water to a
free port.

"_Sixth_. The Ukraine to be a state of the Russian Confederation, to
which should be annexed that portion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
in which the Ruthenians predominate.

"_Seventh_. Roumania, in addition to her former territory, should
ultimately be given sovereignty over Bessarabia, Transylvania, and
the upper portion of the Dobrudja, leaving the central mouth of the
Danube as the boundary of Bulgaria, or else the northern half. (As to
the boundary there is doubt.)

"_Eighth_. The territories in which the Jugo-Slavs predominate,
namely Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, should
be united with Serbia and Montenegro forming a single or a federal
state. The sovereignty over Trieste or some other port should be
later settled in drawing a boundary line between the new state and
Italy. My present view is that there should be a good Jugo-Slav port.

"_Ninth_. Hungary should be separated from Austria and possess rights
of free navigation of the Danube.

"_Tenth_. Restoration to Italy of all the Italian provinces of
Austria. Italy's territory to extend along the northern Adriatic
shore to the Jugo-Slav boundary. Certain ports on the eastern side of
the Adriatic should be considered as possible naval bases of Italy.
(This last is doubtful.)

"_Eleventh._ Reduction of Austria to the ancient boundaries and title
of the Archduchy of Austria. Incorporation of Archduchy in the
Imperial German Confederation. Austrian outlet to the sea would be
like that of Baden and Saxony through German ports on the North Sea
and the Baltic.

"_Twelfth_. The boundaries of Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece to follow
in general those established after the First Balkan War, though
Bulgaria should surrender to Greece more of the Aegean coast and
obtain the southern half only of the Dobrudja (or else as far as the
Danube) and the Turkish territory up to the district surrounding
Constantinople, to be subsequently decided upon.

"_Thirteenth_. Albania to be under Italian or Serbian sovereignty or
incorporated in the Jugo-Slav Confederation.

"_Fourteenth._ Greece to obtain more of the Aegean littoral at the
expense of Bulgaria, the Greek-inhabited islands adjacent to Asia
Minor and possibly certain ports and adjoining territory in
Asia Minor.

"_Fifteenth._ The Ottoman Empire to be reduced to Anatolia and have
no possessions in Europe. (This requires consideration.)

"_Sixteenth_. Constantinople to be erected into an international
protectorate surrounded by a land zone to allow for expansion of
population. The form of government to be determined upon by an
international commission or by one Government acting as the mandatory
of the Powers. The commission or mandatory to have the regulation and
control of the navigation of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus as
international waterways.

"_Seventeenth._ Armenia and Syria to be erected into protectorates of
such Government or Governments as seems expedient from a domestic as
well as an international point of view; the guaranty being that both
countries will be given self-government as soon as possible and that
an 'Open-Door' policy as to commerce and industrial development will
be rigidly observed.

"_Eighteenth._ Palestine to be an autonomous state under a general
international protectorate or under the protectorate of a Power
designated to act as the mandatory of the Powers.

"_Nineteenth._ Arabia to receive careful consideration as to the full
or partial sovereignty of the state or states established.

"_Twentieth_. Great Britain to have the sovereignty of Egypt, or a
full protectorate over it.

"_Twenty-first._ Persia to be freed from all treaties establishing
spheres of influence. Rigid application of the 'Open-Door' policy in
regard to commercial and industrial development.

"_Twenty-second._ All Alsace-Lorraine to be restored to France
without conditions.

"_Twenty-third._ Belgium to be restored to full sovereignty.

"_Twenty-fourth._ A consideration of the union of Luxemburg to
Belgium. (This is open to question.)

"_Twenty-fifth._ The Kiel Canal to be internationalized and an
international zone twenty miles from the Canal on either side to be
erected which should be, with the Canal, under the control and
regulation of Denmark as the mandatory of the Powers. (This last is

"_Twenty-sixth._ All land north of the Kiel Canal Zone to be ceded to

"_Twenty-seventh._ The fortifications of the Kiel Canal and of
Heligoland to be dismantled. Heligoland to be ceded to Denmark.

"_Twenty-eighth._ The sovereignty of the archipelago of Spitzbergen
to be granted to Norway.

"_Twenty-ninth._ The disposition of the colonial possessions formerly
belonging to Germany to be determined by an international commission
having in mind the interests of the inhabitants and the possibility
of employing these colonies as a means of indemnification for wrongs
done. The 'Open-Door' policy should be guaranteed.

"While the foregoing definitive statement as to territory contains my
views at the present time (September 21, 1918), I feel that no
proposition should be considered unalterable, as further study and
conditions which have not been disclosed may materially change
some of them.

"Three things must constantly be kept in mind, the natural stability
of race, language, and nationality, the necessity of every nation
having an outlet to the sea so that it may maintain its own merchant
marine, and the imperative need of rendering Germany impotent as a
military power."

Later I realized that another factor should be given as important a
place in the terms of peace as any of the three, namely, the economic
interdependence of adjoining areas and the mutual industrial benefit to
their inhabitants by close political affiliation. This factor in the
territorial settlements made more and more impression upon me as it was
disclosed by a detailed study of the numerous problems which the Peace
Conference had to solve.

I made other memoranda on various subjects relating to the general peace
for the purpose of crystallizing my ideas, so that I could lay them in
concrete form before the President when the time came to draft
instructions for the American plenipotentiaries charged with the
negotiation of the Treaty of Peace. When the President reached the
decision to attend the Conference and to direct in person the
negotiations, it became evident that, in place of the instructions
customarily issued to negotiators, a more practical and proper form of
defining the objects to be sought by the United States would be an
outline of a treaty setting forth in detail the features of the peace,
or else a memorandum containing definite declarations of policy in
regard to the numerous problems presented. Unless there was some
framework of this sort on which to build, it would manifestly be very
embarrassing for the American Commissioners in their intercourse with
their foreign colleagues, as they would be unable to discuss
authoritatively or even informally the questions at issue or express
opinions upon them without the danger of unwittingly opposing the
President's wishes or of contradicting the views which might be
expressed by some other of their associates on the American Commission.
A definite plan seemed essential if the Americans were to take any part
in the personal exchanges of views which are so usual during the
progress of negotiations.

Prior to the departure of the American delegation from the United States
and for two weeks after their arrival in Paris, it was expected that the
President would submit to the Commissioners for their guidance a
_projet_ of a treaty or a very complete programme as to policies.
Nothing, however, was done, and in the conferences which took place
between the President and his American associates he confined his
remarks almost exclusively to the League of Nations and to his plan for
its organization. It was evident--at least that was the natural
inference--that President Wilson was without a programme of any sort or
even of a list of subjects suitable as an outline for the preparation of
a programme. How he purposed to conduct the negotiations no one seemed
to know. It was all very uncertain and unsatisfactory.

In the circumstances, which seemed to be due to the President's failure
to appreciate the necessity for a definite programme, I felt that
something ought to be done, as the probable result would be that the
terms of the Treaty, other than the provisions regarding a League of
Nations, would be drafted by foreign delegates and not by the President.

Impressed by the unsatisfactory state of affairs and desirous of
remedying it if possible, I asked Dr. James Brown Scott and Mr. David
Hunter Miller, the legal advisers of the American Commission, to prepare
a skeleton treaty covering the subjects to be dealt with in the
negotiations which could be used in working out a complete programme.
After several conferences with these advisers concerning the subjects to
be included and their arrangement in the Treaty, the work was
sufficiently advanced to lay before the Commissioners. Copies were,
therefore, furnished to them with the request that they give the
document consideration in order that they might make criticisms and
suggest changes. I had not sent a copy to the President, intending to
await the views of my colleagues before doing so, but during the
conference of January 10, to which I have been compelled reluctantly to
refer in discussing the Covenant of the League of Nations, I mentioned
the fact that our legal advisers had been for some time at work on a
"skeleton treaty" and had made a tentative draft. The President at once
showed his displeasure and resented the action taken, evidently
considering the request that a draft be prepared to be a usurpation of
his authority to direct the activities of the Commission. It was this
incident which called forth his remark, to which reference was made in
Chapter VIII, that he did not propose to have lawyers drafting
the Treaty.

In view of Mr. Wilson's attitude it was useless for Dr. Scott and Mr.
Miller to proceed with their outline of a treaty or for the
Commissioners to give consideration to the tentative draft already made.
It was a disagreeable situation. If the President had had anything,
however crude and imperfect it might have been, to submit in place of
the Scott-Miller draft, it would have been a different matter and
removed to an extent the grounds for complaint at his attitude. But he
offered nothing at all as a substitute. It is fair to assume that he had
no programme prepared and was unwilling to have any one else make a
tentative one for his consideration. It left the American Commission
without a chart marking out the course which they were to pursue in the
negotiations and apparently without a pilot who knew the channel.

Six days after the enforced abandonment of the plan to prepare a
skeleton treaty as a foundation for a definite and detailed programme, I
made the following note which expresses my views on the situation at
that time:

"_January_ 16, 1919

"No plan of work has been prepared. Unless something is done we will
be here for many weeks, possibly for months. After the President's
remarks the other day about a draft-treaty no one except the
President would think of preparing a plan. He must do it himself, and
he is not doing it. He has not even given us a list of subjects to be
considered and of course has made no division of our labors.

"If the President does not take up this matter of organization and
systematically apportion the subjects between us, we may possibly
have no peace before June. This would be preposterous because with
proper order and division of questions we ought to have a treaty
signed by April first.

"I feel as if we, the Commissioners, were like a lot of skilled
workmen who are ordered to build a house. We have the materials and
tools, but there are no plans and specifications and no
master-workman in charge of the construction. We putter around in an
aimless sort of way and get nowhere.

"With all his natural capacity the President seems to lack the
faculty of employing team-work and of adopting a system to utilize
the brains of other men. It is a decided defect in an executive. He
would not make a good head of a governmental department. The result
is, so far as our Commission is concerned, a state of confusion and
uncertainty with a definite loss and delay through effort being

On several occasions I spoke to the President about a programme for the
work of the Commission and its corps of experts, but he seemed
indisposed to consider the subject and gave the impression that he
intended to call on the experts for his own information which would be
all that was necessary. I knew that Colonel House, through Dr. Mezes,
the head of the organization, was directing the preparation of certain
data, but whether he was doing so under the President's directions I did
not know, though I presumed such was the case. Whatever data were
furnished did not, however, pass through the hands of the other
Commissioners who met every morning in my office to exchange information
and discuss matters pertaining to the negotiations and to direct the
routine work of the Commission.

It is difficult, even with the entire record of the proceedings at Paris
before one, to find a satisfactory explanation for the President's
objection to having a definite programme other than the general
declarations contained in the Fourteen Points and his "subsequent
addresses." It may be that he was unwilling to bind himself to a fixed
programme, since it would restrict him, to an extent, in his freedom of
action and prevent him from assuming any position which seemed to him
expedient at the time when a question arose during the negotiations. It
may be that he did not wish to commit himself in any way to the contents
of a treaty until the Covenant of the League of Nations had been
accepted. It may be that he preferred not to let the American
Commissioners know his views, as they would then be in a position to
take an active part in the informal discussions which he apparently
wished to handle alone. None of these explanations is at all
satisfactory, and yet any one of them may be the true one.

Whatever was the chief reason for the President's failure to furnish a
working plan to the American Commissioners, he knowingly adopted the
policy and clung to it with the tenacity of purpose which has been one
of the qualities of mind that account for his great successes and for
his great failures. I use the adverb "knowingly" because it had been
made clear to him that, in the judgment of others, the Commissioners
ought to have the guidance furnished by a draft-treaty or by a definite
statement of policies no matter how tentative or subject to change the
draft or statement might be.

On the day that the President left Paris to return to the United States
(February 14, 1919) I asked him if he had any instructions for the
Commissioners during his absence concerning the settlements which should
be included in the preliminary treaty of peace, as it was understood
that the Council of Ten would continue its sessions for the
consideration of the subjects requiring investigation and decision. The
President replied that he had no instructions, that the decisions could
wait until he returned, though the hearings could proceed and reports
could be made during his absence. Astonished as I was at this wish to
delay these matters, I suggested to him the subjects which I thought
ought to go into the Treaty. He answered that he did not care to discuss
them at that time, which, as he was about to depart from Paris, meant
that everything must rest until he had returned from his visit to

Since I was the head of the American Commission when the President was
absent and became the spokesman for the United States on the Council of
Ten, this refusal to disclose his views even in a general way placed me
in a very awkward position. Without instructions and without knowledge
of the President's wishes or purposes the conduct of the negotiations
was difficult and progress toward actual settlements practically
impossible. As a matter of fact the Council did accomplish a great
amount of work, while the President was away, in the collection of data
and preparing questions for final settlement. But so far as deciding
questions was concerned, which ought to have been the principal duty of
the Council of Ten, it simply "marked time," as I had no power to decide
or even to express an authoritative opinion on any subject. It showed
very clearly that the President intended to do everything himself and to
allow no one to act for him unless it was upon some highly technical
matter. All actual decisions in regard to the terms of peace which
involved policy were thus forced to await his time and pleasure.

Even after Mr. Wilson returned to Paris and resumed his place as head of
the American delegation he was apparently without a programme. On March
20, six days after his return, I made a note that "the President, so far
as I can judge, has yet no definite programme," and that I was unable to
"find that he has talked over a plan of a treaty even with Colonel
House." It is needless to quote the thoughts, which I recorded at the
time, in regard to the method in which the President was handling a
great international negotiation, a method as unusual as it was unwise. I
referred to Colonel House's lack of information concerning the
President's purposes because he was then and had been from the beginning
on more intimate terms with the President than any other American. If he
did not know the President's mind, it was safe to assume that no
one knew it.

I had, as has been stated, expressed to Mr. Wilson my views as to what
the procedure should be and had obtained no action. With the
responsibility resting on him for the conduct and success of the
negotiations and with his constitutional authority to exercise his own
judgment in regard to every matter pertaining to the treaty, there was
nothing further to be done in relieving the situation of the American
Commissioners from embarrassment or in inducing the President to adopt a
better course than the haphazard one that he was pursuing.

It is apparent that we differed radically as to the necessity for a
clearly defined programme and equally so as to the advantages to be
gained by having a draft-treaty made or a full statement prepared
embodying the provisions to be sought by the United States in the
negotiations. I did not attempt to hide my disapproval of the vagueness
and uncertainty of the President's method, and there is no doubt in my
own mind that Mr. Wilson was fully cognizant of my opinion. How far this
lack of system in the work of the Commission and the failure to provide
a plan for a treaty affected the results written into the Treaty of
Versailles is speculative, but my belief is that they impaired in many
particulars the character of the settlements by frequent abandonment of
principle for the sake of expediency.

The want of a programme or even of an unwritten plan as to the
negotiations was further evidenced by the fact that the President,
certainly as late as March 19, had not made up his mind whether the
treaty which was being negotiated should be preliminary or final. He had
up to that time the peculiar idea that a preliminary treaty was in the
nature of a _modus vivendi_ which could be entered into independently by
the Executive and which would restore peace without going through the
formalities of senatorial consent to ratification.

The purpose of Mr. Wilson, so far as one could judge, was to include in
a preliminary treaty of the sort that he intended to negotiate, the
entire Covenant of the League of Nations and other principal
settlements, binding the signatories to repeat these provisions in the
final and definitive treaty when that was later negotiated. By this
method peace would be at once restored, the United States and other
nations associated with it in the war would be obligated to renew
diplomatic and consular relations with Germany, and commercial
intercourse would follow as a matter of course. All this was to be done
without going through the American constitutional process of obtaining
the advice and consent of the Senate to the Covenant and to the
principal settlements. The intent seemed to be to respond to the popular
demand for an immediate peace and at the same time to checkmate the
opponents of the Covenant in the Senate by having the League of Nations
organized and functioning before the definitive treaty was laid before
that body.

When the President advanced this extraordinary theory of the nature of a
preliminary treaty during a conversation, of which I made a full
memorandum, I told him that it was entirely wrong, that by whatever name
the document was called, whether it was "armistice," "agreement,"
"protocol," or "_modus_," it would be a treaty and would have to be sent
by him to the Senate for its approval. I said, "If we change the
_status_ from war to peace, it has to be by a ratified treaty. There is
no other way save by a joint resolution of Congress." At this statement
the President was evidently much perturbed. He did not accept it as
conclusive, for he asked me to obtain the opinion of others on the
subject. He was evidently loath to abandon the plan that he had
presumably worked out as a means of preventing the Senate from rejecting
or modifying the Covenant before it came into actual operation. It seems
almost needless to say that all the legal experts, among them Thomas W.
Gregory, the retiring Attorney-General of the United States, who chanced
to be in Paris at the time, agreed with my opinion, and upon being so
informed the President abandoned his purpose.

It is probable that the conviction, which was forced upon Mr. Wilson,
that he could not independently of the Senate put into operation a
preliminary treaty, determined him to abandon that type of treaty and to
proceed with the negotiation of a definitive one. At least I had by
March 30 reached the conclusion that there would be no preliminary
treaty as is disclosed by the following memorandum written on that day:

"I am sure now that there will be no preliminary treaty of peace, but
that the treaty will be complete and definitive. This is a serious
mistake. Time should be given for passions to cool. The operations of
a preliminary treaty should be tested and studied. It would hasten a
restoration of peace. Certainly this is the wise course as to
territorial settlements and the financial and economic burdens to be
imposed upon Germany. The same comment applies to the organization of
a League of Nations. Unfortunately the President insists on a
full-blown Covenant and not a declaration of principles. This has
much to do with preventing a preliminary treaty, since he wishes to
make the League an agent for enforcement of definite terms.

"When the President departed for the United States in February, I
assumed and I am certain that he had in mind that there would be a
preliminary treaty. With that in view I drafted at the time a
memorandum setting forth what the preliminary treaty of peace should
contain. Here are the subjects I then set down:

"1. Restoration of Peace and official relations.

"2. Restoration of commercial and financial relations subject to

"3. Renunciation by Germany of all territory and territorial rights
outside of Europe.

"4. Minimum territory of Germany in Europe, the boundaries to be
fixed in the Definitive Treaty.

"5. Maximum military and naval establishments and production of arms
and munitions.

"6. Maximum amount of money and property to be surrendered by Germany
with time limits for payment and delivery.

"7. German property and territory to be held as security by the
Allies until the Definitive Treaty is ratified.

"8. Declaration as to the organization of a League of Nations.

"The President's obsession as to a League of Nations blinds him to
everything else. An immediate peace is nothing to him compared to the
adoption of the Covenant. The whole world wants peace. The President
wants his League. I think that the world will have to wait."

The eight subjects, above stated, were the ones which I called to the
President's attention at the time he was leaving Paris for the United
States and which he said he did not care to discuss.

The views that are expressed in the memorandum of March 30 are those
that I have continued to hold. The President was anxious to have the
Treaty, even though preliminary in character, contain detailed rather
than general provisions, especially as to the League of Nations. With
that view I entirely disagreed, as detailed terms of settlement and the
articles of the Covenant as proposed would cause discussion and
unquestionably delay the peace. To restore the peaceful intercourse
between the belligerents, to open the long-closed channels of commerce,
and to give to the war-stricken peoples of Europe opportunity to resume
their normal industrial life seemed to me the first and greatest task to
be accomplished. It was in my judgment superior to every other object of
the Paris negotiations. Compared with it the creation of a League of
Nations was insignificant and could well be postponed. President Wilson
thought otherwise. We were very far apart in this matter as he well
knew, and he rightly assumed that I followed his instructions with
reluctance, and, he might have added, with grave concern.

As a matter of interest in this connection and as a possible source from
which the President may have acquired knowledge of my views as to the
conduct of the negotiations, I would call attention again to the
conference which I had with Colonel House on December 17, 1918, and to
which I have referred in connection with the subject of international
arbitration. During that conference I said to the Colonel "that I
thought that there ought to be a preliminary treaty of peace negotiated
without delay, and that all the details as to a League of Nations,
boundaries, and indemnities should wait for the time being. The Colonel
replied that he was not so sure about delaying the creation of a League,
as he was afraid that it never could be put through unless it was done
at once. I told him that possibly he was right, but that I was opposed
to anything which delayed the peace." This quotation is from my
memorandum made at the time of our conversation. I think that the same
reason for insisting on negotiating the Covenant largely influenced the
course of the President. My impression at the time was that the Colonel
favored a preliminary treaty provided that there was included in it the
full plan for a League of Nations, which to me seemed to be

There can be little doubt that, if there had been a settled programme
prepared or a tentative treaty drafted, there would have been a
preliminary treaty which might and probably would have postponed the
negotiations as to a League. Possibly the President realized that this
danger of excluding the Covenant existed and for that reason was
unwilling to make a definite programme or to let a draft-treaty be
drawn. At least it may have added another reason for his proceeding
without advising the Commissioners of his purposes.

As I review the entire negotiations and the incidents which took place
at Paris, President Wilson's inherent dislike to depart in the least
from an announced course, a characteristic already referred to, seems to
me to have been the most potent influence in determining his method of
work during the Peace Conference. He seemed to think that, having marked
out a definite plan of action, any deviation from it would show
intellectual weakness or vacillation of purpose. Even when there could
be no doubt that in view of changed conditions it was wise to change a
policy, which he had openly adopted or approved, he clung to it with
peculiar tenacity refusing or merely failing to modify it. Mr. Wilson's
mind once made up seemed to become inflexible. It appeared to grow
impervious to arguments and even to facts. It lacked the elasticity and
receptivity which have always been characteristic of sound judgment and
right thinking. He might break, but he would not bend. This rigidity of
mind accounts in large measure for the deplorable, and, as it seemed to
me, needless, conflict between the President and the Senate over the
Treaty of Versailles. It accounts for other incidents in his career
which have materially weakened his influence and cast doubts on his
wisdom. It also accounts, in my opinion, for the President's failure to
prepare or to adopt a programme at Paris or to commit himself to a draft
of a treaty as a basis for the negotiations, which failure, I am
convinced, not only prevented the signature of a short preliminary
treaty of peace, but lost Mr. Wilson the leadership in the proceedings,
as the statesmen of the other Great Powers outlined the Treaty
negotiated and suggested the majority of the articles which were written
into it. It would have made a vast difference if the President had known
definitely what he sought, but he apparently did not. He dealt in
generalities leaving, but not committing, to others their definition and
application. He was always in the position of being able to repudiate
the interpretation which others might place upon his declarations of



Another matter, concerning which the President and I disagreed, was the
secrecy with which the negotiations were carried on between him and the
principal European statesmen, incidental to which was the willingness,
if not the desire, to prevent the proceedings and decisions from
becoming known even to the delegates of the smaller nations which were
represented at the Peace Conference.

Confidential personal interviews were to a certain extent unavoidable
and necessary, but to conduct the entire negotiation through a small
group sitting behind closed doors and to shroud their proceedings with
mystery and uncertainty made a very unfortunate impression on those who
were not members of the secret councils.

At the first there was no Council of the Heads of States (the so-called
Council of Four); in fact it was not recognized as an organized body
until the latter part of March, 1919. Prior to that time the directing
body of the Conference was the self-constituted Council of Ten composed
of the President and the British, French, and Italian Premiers with
their Secretaries or Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and two Japanese
delegates of ambassadorial rank. This Council had a membership identical
with that of the Supreme War Council, which controlled the armistices,
their enforcement, and other military matters. It assumed authority over
the negotiations and proceedings of the Conference, though it was never
authorized so to do by the body of delegates. The Council of Four, when
later formed, was equally without a mandate from the Conference. They
assumed the authority and exercised it as a matter of right.

From the time of his arrival in Paris President Wilson held almost daily
conversations with the leading foreign statesmen. It would be of little
value to speculate on what took place at these interviews, since the
President seldom told the American Commission of the meetings or
disclosed to them, unless possibly to Colonel House, the subjects which
were discussed. My conviction is, from the little information which the
President volunteered, that these consultations were--certainly at
first--devoted to inducing the European leaders to give their support to
his plan for a League of Nations, and that, as other matters relating to
the terms of peace were in a measure involved because of their possible
relation to the functions of the League, they too became more and more
subjects of discussion.

The introduction of this personal and clandestine method of negotiation
was probably due to the President's belief that he could in this way
exercise more effectively his personal influence in favor of the
acceptance of a League. It is not unlikely that this belief was in a
measure justified. In Colonel House he found one to aid him in this
course of procedure, as the Colonel's intimate association with the
principal statesmen of the Allied Powers during previous visits to
Europe as the President's personal envoy was an asset which he could
utilize as an intermediary between the President and those with whom he
wished to confer. Mr. Wilson relied upon Colonel House for his knowledge
of the views and temperaments of the men with whom he had to deal. It
was not strange that he should adopt a method which the Colonel had
found successful in the past and that he should seek the latter's aid
and advice in connection with the secret conferences which usually took
place at the residence of the President.

Mr. Wilson pursued this method of handling the subjects of negotiation
the more readily because he was by nature and by inclination secretive.
He had always shown a preference for a private interview with an
individual. In his conduct of the executive affairs of the Government at
Washington he avoided as far as possible general conferences. He talked
a good deal about "taking common counsel," but showed no disposition to
put it into practice. He followed the same course in the matter of
foreign affairs. At Paris this characteristic, which had often been the
subject of remark in Washington, was more pronounced, or at least more
noticeable. He was not disposed to discuss matters with the American
Commission as a whole or even to announce to them his decisions unless
something arose which compelled him to do so. He easily fell into the
practice of seeing men separately and of keeping secret the knowledge
acquired as well as the effect of this knowledge on his views and
purposes. To him this was the normal and most satisfactory method of
doing business.

From the time that the President arrived in Paris up to the time that
the Commission on the League of Nations made its report--that is, from
December 14, 1918, to February 14, 1919--the negotiations regarding the
League were conducted with great secrecy. Colonel House, the President's
collaborator in drafting the Covenant, if he was not, as many believed,
the real author, was the only American with whom Mr. Wilson freely
conferred and to whom he confided the progress that he was making in his
interviews with the foreign statesmen, at many of which interviews the
Colonel was present. It is true that the President held an occasional
conference with all the American Commissioners, but these conferences
were casual and perfunctory in nature and were very evidently not for
the purpose of obtaining the opinions and counsel of the Commissioners.
There was none of the frankness that should have existed between the
Chief Executive and his chosen agents and advisers. The impression made
was that he summoned the conferences to satisfy the _amour propre_ of
the Commissioners rather than out of any personal wish to do so.

The consequence was that the American Commissioners, other than Colonel
House, were kept in almost complete ignorance of the preliminary
negotiations and were left to gather such information as they were able
from the delegates of other Powers, who, naturally assuming that the
Americans possessed the full confidence of the President, spoke with
much freedom. As Mr. Wilson never held a conference with the American
Commission from the first meeting of the Commission on the League of
Nations until its report was printed, his American colleagues did not
know, except indirectly, of the questions at issue or of the progress
that was being made. The fact is that, as the Commission on the League
met in Colonel House's office at the Hotel Crillon, his office force
knew far more about the proceedings than did the three American
Commissioners who were not present. As the House organization made no
effort to hide the fact that they had inside information, the
representatives of the press as a consequence frequented the office of
the Colonel in search of the latest news concerning the Commission on
the League of Nations.

But, in addition to the embarrassment caused the American Commissioners
and the unenviable position in which they were placed by the secrecy
with which the President surrounded his intercourse with the foreign
statesmen and the proceedings of the Commission on the League of
Nations, his secret negotiations caused the majority of the delegates to
the Conference and the public at large to lose in a large measure their
confidence in the actuality of his devotion to "open diplomacy," which
he had so unconditionally proclaimed in the first of his Fourteen
Points. If the policy of secrecy had ceased with the discussions
preliminary to the organization of the Conference, or even with those
preceding the meetings of the Commission on the League of Nations,
criticism and complaint would doubtless have ceased, but as the
negotiations progressed the secrecy of the conferences of the leaders
increased rather than decreased, culminating at last in the organization
of the Council of Four, the most powerful and most seclusive of the
councils which directed the proceedings at Paris. Behind closed doors
these four individuals, who controlled the policies of the United
States, Great Britain, France, and Italy, passed final judgment on the
mass of articles which entered into the Treaties of Peace, but kept
their decisions secret except from the committee which was drafting
the articles.

The organization of the Council of Four and the mystery which enveloped
its deliberations emphasized as nothing else could have done the
secretiveness with which adjustments were being made and compromises
were being effected. It directed attention also to the fact that the
Four Great Powers had taken supreme control of settling the terms of
peace, that they were primates among the assembled nations and that they
intended to have their authority acknowledged. This extraordinary
secrecy and arrogation of power by the Council of Four excited
astonishment and complaint throughout the body of delegates to the
Conference, and caused widespread criticism in the press and among the
people of many countries.

A week after the Council of Ten was divided into the Council of the
Heads of States, the official title of the Council of Four, and the
Council of Foreign Ministers, the official title of the Council of Five
(popularly nick-named "The Big Four" and "The Little Five"), I made the
following note on the subject of secret negotiations:

"After the experience of the last three months [January-March, 1919]
I am convinced that the method of personal interviews and private
conclaves is a failure. It has given every opportunity for intrigue,
plotting, bargaining, and combining. The President, as I now see it,
should have insisted on everything being brought before the Plenary
Conference. He would then have had the confidence and support of all
the smaller nations because they would have looked up to him as their
champion and guide. They would have followed him.

"The result of the present method has been to destroy their faith and
arouse their resentment. They look upon the President as in favor of
a world ruled by Five Great Powers, an international despotism of the
strong, in which the little nations are merely rubber-stamps.

"The President has undoubtedly found himself in a most difficult
position. He has put himself on a level with politicians experienced
in intrigue, whom he will find a pretty difficult lot. He will sink
in the estimation of the delegates who are not within the inner
circle, and what will be still more disastrous will be the loss of
confidence among the peoples of the nations represented here. A
grievous blunder has been made."

The views, which I expressed in this note in regard to the unwisdom of
the President's course, were not new at the time that I wrote them. Over
two months before I had watched the practice of secret negotiation with
apprehension as to what the effect would be upon the President's
influence and standing with the delegates to the Conference. I then
believed that he was taking a dangerous course which he would in the end
regret. So strong was this conviction that during a meeting, which the
President held with the American Commissioners on the evening of January
29, I told him bluntly--perhaps too bluntly from the point of view of
policy--that I considered the secret interviews which he was holding
with the European statesmen, where no witnesses were present, were
unwise, that he was far more successful in accomplishment and less
liable to be misunderstood if he confined his negotiating to the Council
of Ten, and that, furthermore, acting through the Council he would be
much less subject to public criticism. I supported these views with the
statement that the general secrecy, which was being practiced, was
making a very bad impression everywhere, and for that reason, if for no
other, I was opposed to it. The silence with which the President
received my remarks appeared to me significant of his attitude toward
this advice, and his subsequent continuance of secret methods without
change, unless it was to increase the secrecy, proved that our judgments
were not in accord on the subject. The only result of my
representations, it would seem, was to cause Mr. Wilson to realize that
I was not in sympathy with his way of conducting the negotiations. In
the circumstances I think now that it was a blunder on my part to have
stated my views so frankly.

Two days after I wrote the note, which is quoted (April 2, 1919), I made
another note more general in character, but in which appears the

"Everywhere there are developing bitterness and resentment against a
secretiveness which is interpreted to mean failure. The patience of
the people is worn threadbare. Their temper has grown ragged. They
are sick of whispering diplomats.

"Muttered confidences, secret intrigues, and the tactics of the
'gum-shoer' are discredited. The world wants none of them these days.
It despises and loathes them. What the world asks are honest
declarations openly proclaimed. The statesman who seeks to gain his
end by tortuous and underground ways is foolish or badly advised. The
public man who is sly and secretive rather than frank and bold, whose
methods are devious rather than obvious, pursues a dangerous path
which leads neither to glory nor to success.

"Secret diplomacy, the bane of the past, is a menace from which man
believed himself to be rid. He who resurrects it invites
condemnation. The whole world will rejoice when the day of the
whisperer is over."

This note, read at the present time, sounds extravagant in thought and
intemperate in expression. It was written under the influence of
emotions which had been deeply stirred by the conditions then existing.
Time usually softens one's judgments and the passage of events makes
less vivid one's impressions. The perspective, however, grows clearer
and the proportions more accurate when the observer stands at a
distance. While the language of the note might well be changed and made
less florid, the thought needs little modification. The public criticism
was widespread and outspoken, and from the expressions used it was very
evident that there prevailed a general popular disapproval of the way
the negotiations were being conducted. The Council of Four won the
press-name of "The Olympians," and much was said of "the thick cloud of
mystery" which hid them from the anxious multitudes, and of the secrecy
which veiled their deliberations. The newspapers and the correspondents
at Paris openly complained and the delegates to the Conference in a more
guarded way showed their bitterness at the overlordship assumed by the
leading statesmen of the Great Powers and the secretive methods which
they employed. It was, as may be gathered from the note quoted, a
distressing and depressing time.

As concrete examples of the evils of secret negotiations the "Fiume
Affair" and the "Shantung Settlement" are the best known because of the
storm of criticism and protest which they caused. As the Shantung
Settlement was one of the chief matters of difference between the
President and myself, it will be treated later. The case of Fiume is
different. As to the merits of the question I was very much in accord
with the President, but to the bungling way in which it was handled I
was strongly opposed believing that secret interviews, at which false
hopes were encouraged, were at the bottom of all the trouble which later
developed. But for this secrecy I firmly believe that there would have
been no "Fiume Affair."

The discussion of the Italian claims to territory along the northern
boundary of the Kingdom and about the head of the Adriatic Sea began as
soon as the American Commission was installed at Paris, about the middle
of December, 1918. The endeavor of the Italian emissaries was to induce
the Americans, particularly the President, to recognize the boundary
laid down in the Pact of London. That agreement, which Italy had
required Great Britain and France to accept in April, 1915, before she
consented to declare war against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, committed
the Entente Powers to the recognition of Italy's right to certain
territorial acquisitions at the expense of Austria-Hungary in the event
of the defeat of the Central Empires. By the boundary line agreed upon
in the Pact, Italy would obtain certain important islands and ports on
the Dalmatian coast in addition to the Austrian Tyrol and the Italian
provinces of the Dual Monarchy at the head of the Adriatic.

When this agreement was signed, the dissolution of Austria-Hungary was
not in contemplation, or at least, if it was considered, the possibility
of its accomplishment seemed very remote. It was assumed that the
Dalmatian territory to be acquired under the treaty to be negotiated in
accordance with the terms of the Pact would, with the return of the
Italian provinces, give to Italy naval control over the Adriatic Sea and
secure the harborless eastern coast of the Italian peninsula against
future hostile attack by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The boundary laid
down in the agreement was essentially strategic and based primarily on
considerations of Italian national safety. As long as the Empire existed
as a Great Power the boundary of the Pact of London, so far as it
related to the Adriatic littoral and islands, was not unreasonable or
the territorial demands excessive.

But the close of active warfare in the autumn of 1918, when the
armistice went into effect, found conditions wholly different from those
upon which these territorial demands had been predicated. The
Austro-Hungarian Empire had fallen to pieces beyond the hope of becoming
again one of the Great Powers. The various nationalities, which had long
been restless and unhappy under the rule of the Hapsburgs, threw off the
imperial yoke, proclaimed their independence, and sought the recognition
and protection of the Allies. The Poles of the Empire joined their
brethren of the Polish provinces of Russia and Prussia in the
resurrection of their ancient nation; Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia
united in forming the new state of Czecho-Slovakia; the southern Slavs
of Croatia, Slavonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Dalmatia announced their
union with their kindred of the Kingdom of Serbia; and Hungary declared
the severance of her political union with Austria. In a word the Dual
Empire ceased to exist. It was no longer a menace to the national safety
of Italy. This was the state of affairs when the delegates to the Peace
Conference began to assemble at Paris.

The Italian statesmen realized that these new conditions might raise
serious questions as to certain territorial cessions which would come to
Italy under the terms of the Pact of London, because their strategic
necessity had disappeared with the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. While
they had every reason to assume that Great Britain and France would live
up to their agreement, it was hardly to be expected that under the
changed conditions and in the circumstances attending the negotiation
and signature of the Pact, the British and French statesmen would be
disposed to protest against modifications of the proposed boundary if
the United States and other nations, not parties to the agreement,
should insist upon changes as a matter of justice to the new state of
the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. It apparently was considered expedient,
by the Italian representatives, in view of the situation which had
developed, to increase rather than to reduce their claims along the
Dalmatian coast in order that they might have something which could be
surrendered in a compromise without giving up the boundaries laid down
in the Pact of London.

It is probable, too, that these additional claims were advanced by Italy
in order to offset in a measure the claims of the Jugo-Slavs, who
through the Serbian delegates at Paris were making territorial demands
which the Italians declared to be extravagant and which, if granted,
would materially reduce the proposed cessions to Italy under the Pact of
London. Furthermore, the Italian Government appeared to be by no means
pleased with the idea of a Jugo-Slav state so strong that it might
become a commercial, if not a naval, rival of Italy in the Adriatic. The
Italian delegates in private interviews showed great bitterness toward
the Slavs, who, they declared, had, as Austrian subjects, waged war
against Italy and taken part in the cruel and wanton acts attendant upon
the invasion of the northern Italian provinces. They asserted that it
was unjust to permit these people, by merely changing their allegiance
after defeat, to escape punishment for the outrages which they had
committed against Italians and actually to profit by being vanquished.
This antipathy to the Slavs of the former Empire was in a measure
transferred to the Serbs, who were naturally sympathetic with their
kinsmen and who were also ambitious to build up a strong Slav state with
a large territory and with commercial facilities on the Adriatic coast
which would be ample to meet the trade needs of the interior.

While there may have been a certain fear for the national safety of
Italy in having as a neighbor a Slav state with a large and virile
population, extensive resources, and opportunity to become a naval power
in the Mediterranean, the real cause of apprehension seemed to be that
the new nation would become a commercial rival of Italy in the Adriatic
and prevent her from securing the exclusive control of the trade which
her people coveted and which the complete victory over Austria-Hungary
appeared to assure to them.

The two principal ports having extensive facilities for shipping and
rail-transportation to and from the Danubian provinces of the Dual
Empire were Trieste and Fiume. The other Dalmatian ports were small and
without possibilities of extensive development, while the precipitous
mountain barrier between the coast and the interior which rose almost
from the water-line rendered railway construction from an engineering
standpoint impracticable if not impossible. It was apparent that, if
Italy could obtain both the port of Trieste and the port of Fiume, the
two available outlets for foreign trade to the territories lying north
and east of the Adriatic Sea, she would have a substantial monopoly of
the sea-borne commerce of the Dalmatian coast and its hinterland. It was
equally apparent that Italian possession of the two ports would place
the new Slav state at a great disadvantage commercially, as the
principal volume of its exports and imports would have to pass through a
port in the hands of a trade rival which could, in case of controversy
or in order to check competition, be closed to Slav ships and goods on
this or that pretext, even if the new state found it practicable to
maintain a merchant marine under an agreement granting it the use of
the port.

In view of the new conditions which had thus arisen through the
dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the union of the Southern
Slavs, the Italian delegates at Paris began a vigorous campaign to
obtain sovereignty, or at least administrative control, over Fiume and
the adjacent coasts and islands, it having been generally conceded that
Trieste should be ceded to Italy. The Italian demand for Fiume had
become real instead of artificial. This campaign was conducted by means
of personal interviews with the representatives of the principal Powers,
and particularly with those of the United States because it was
apparently felt that the chief opposition to the demand would come from
that quarter, since the President was known to favor the general
proposition that every nation should have free access to the sea and, if
possible, a seaport under its own sovereignty.

The Italian delegates were undoubtedly encouraged by some Americans to
believe that, while the President had not actually declared in favor of
Italian control of Fiume, he was sympathetic to the idea and would
ultimately assent to it just as he had in the case of the cession to
Italy of the Tyrol with its Austrian population. Convinced by these
assurances of success the Italian leaders began a nationwide propaganda
at home for the purpose of arousing a strong public sentiment for the
acquisition of the port. This propaganda was begun, it would seem, for
two reasons, first, the political advantage to be gained when it was
announced that Signor Orlando and his colleagues at Paris had succeeded
in having their demand recognized, and, second, the possibility of
influencing the President to a speedy decision by exhibiting the
intensity and unity of the Italian national spirit in demanding the
annexation of the little city, the major part of the population of which
was asserted to be of Italian blood.

The idea, which was industriously circulated throughout Italy, that
Fiume was an Italian city, aroused the feelings of the people more than
any political or economic argument could have done. The fact that the
suburbs, which were really as much a part of the municipality as the
area within the city proper, were inhabited largely by Jugo-Slavs was
ignored, ridiculed, or denied. That the Jugo-Slavs undoubtedly exceeded
in numbers the Italians in the community when it was treated as a whole
made no difference to the propagandists who asserted that Fiume was
Italian. They clamored for its annexation on the ground of
"self-determination," though refusing to accept that principle as

Book of the day: