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Woodrow Wilson As I Know Him
Chapter XXXVII - Wilson--The Lone Hand
by Tumulty, Joseph P.


It has often been said by certain gentlemen who were associated with President Wilson on the other side that he was unyielding and dogmatic, that he insisted upon playing a "lone hand," that he was secretive and exclusive, and that he ignored the members of the Peace Commission and the experts who accompanied him to the Conference.

Contrary to this criticism, after an uninterrupted, continuous, and most intimate association with him for eleven years, an association which brought me into close contact with him in the most delicate crises through which his administration and the nation passed, a time which threw upon the Chief Executive of the nation a task unparalleled in the history of the world, I wish to say that there is no franker or more open-minded man, nor one less dogmatic in his opinion than Woodrow Wilson. In him the desire for information and guidance is a passion. Indeed, the only thing he resents is a lack of frankness upon the part of his friends, and no man is more ready courageously to act and to hold to his opinions after he has obtained the necessary information upon, which he bases his position. It is his innate modesty and a certain kind of shyness that people mistake for coldness and aloofness. He is not a good fellow in the ordinary sense of that term. His friendship does not wear the cheap or tawdry trappings of the politician, but there is about it a depth of genuineness and sincerity, that while it does not overwhelm you, it wins you and holds you. But the permanent consideration upon which this friendship is based is sincerity and frankness.

No man ever worked under greater handicaps than did Woodrow Wilson at Paris. Repudiated by his own people in the Congressional elections; harassed on every side and at every turn by his political enemies, he still pursued the even tenor of his way and accomplished what he had in mind, against the greatest odds.

In the murky atmosphere of the Peace Conference, where every attitude of the President was grossly exaggerated, in order that his prestige might be lessened, it was not possible to judge him fairly, but it is now possible in a calmer day to review the situation from afar through the eyes of those who were actual participants with him in the great assembly, onlookers, as it were, who saw every move and witnessed every play of the Peace Conference from the side lines, and who have not allowed petty motives to warp their judgments.

This testimony, which forms part of "What Really Happened in Paris," edited by Edward M. House and Charles Seymour, comes from gentlemen who were his friends and co-labourers and who daily conferred with him upon the momentous questions that came up for consideration at the Peace Conference.

Mr. Thomas W. Lamont, a member of the great banking house of J. P. Morgan & Company, one of the representatives of the United States Treasury with the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, gives the lie to the unfair criticisms uttered about the President, to the effect that he was exclusive, secretive, and refused to confer with those associated with him. Mr. Lamont in speaking of the President's attitude throughout the Peace Conference said:
I am going to take this opportunity to say a word, in general, as to President Wilson's attitude at the Peace Conference. He is accused of having been unwilling to consult his colleagues. I never saw a man more ready and anxious to consult than he. He has been accused of having been desirous to gain credit for himself and ignore others. I never saw a man more considerate of those of his co-adjutors who were working immediately with him, nor a man more ready to give them credit with the other chiefs of state. Again and again would he say to Mr. Lloyd George or Mr. Clemenceau: "My expert here, Mr. So-and-So, tells me such-and-such, and I believe he is right. You will have to argue with him if you want me to change my opinion." President Wilson undoubtedly had his disabilities. Perhaps, in a trade, some of the other chiefs of state could have "out-jockeyed" him; but it seldom reached such a situation, because President Wilson, by his manifest sincerity and open candour, always saying precisely what he thought, would early disarm his opponents in argument. President Wilson did not have a well-organized secretarial staff. He did far too much of the work himself, studying until late at night papers and documents that he should have largely delegated to some discreet aides. He was, by all odds, the hardest worked man at the Conference; but the failure to delegate more of his work was not due to any inherent distrust he had of men--and certainly not any desire to "run the whole show" himself-- but simply to his lack of facility in knowing how to delegate work on a large scale. In execution, we all have a blind spot in some part of our eye. President Wilson's was in his inability to use men; and inability, mind you, not a refusal. On the contrary, when any one of us volunteered or insisted upon taking responsibility off his shoulders he was delighted. Throughout the Peace Conference, Mr. Wilson never played politics. I never witnessed an occasion when I saw him act from unworthy conception or motive. His ideals were of the highest, and he clung to them tenaciously and courageously. Many of the so-called "Liberals" in England have assailed Mr. Wilson bitterly because, as they declare, he yielded too much to their own Premier, Mr. Lloyd George, and to Mr. Clemenceau. But could he have failed to defer to them on questions in which no vital principle was involved? I well remember his declaration on the question, whether the Allies should refuse, for a period of five years during the time of France's recuperations to promise Germany reciprocal tariff provisions. What Mr. Wilson said to Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Clemenceau was this: "Gentlemen, my experts and I both regard the principle involved as an unwise one. We believe it will come back to plague you. But when I see how France has suffered, how she has been devastated, her industries destroyed--who am I to refuse to assent to this provision, designed, wisely or unwisely, to assist in lifting France again to her feet."
The question has often been asked, whether the President freely consulted his experts on the other side, or ignored them. The experience of the gentlemen who conferred with him is the best refutation of this insinuation against the President. Charles Homer Haskins, Chief of the Division of Western Europe, a member of the American Peace Conference, answers this question in these words:
The President was anxious to have the exact facts before him in every situation. Doubtless, there were a number of occasions when he could not consult with experts at a particular moment, but, in general, the President sought such advice, although he naturally had to use his own judgment whether that advice was to be adopted in any particular case.
Answering this same question, Mr. Douglas Wilson Johnson, Chief of the Division of Boundary Geography, and a member of the Peace Commission, says:
Whenever we, in our capacity as specialists, thought we had found something that the President ought to know about, and believed we could not get it across effectively in any other manner, we could ask for a personal conference with him. He was, of course, a very busy man because, unlike the experts who usually had only one problem to consider, he had to do not only with all the territorial problems but in addition with all the problems bearing on the League of Nations, the economic problems, and many other aspects of the peace. Despite this fact I wish to state that while I repeatedly asked for personal conferences with the President on this and certain other problems, he never failed to respond immediately with an appointment. He had a private wire and on occasion he would call us at the Crillon to make appointments on his own initiative or to secure papers, maps, or other documents that he needed in his studies. I will not forget that in one instance he called me on the telephone late at night in my bedroom, asking for some papers which I had promised to supply him, and which had not reached him with sufficient promptness. You can judge from this that he kept closely in touch with the problems he was called upon to consider.
Another question that has been asked is: Did the President have an intimate knowledge of the complicated questions that came before him like the Adriatic problem, for instance? That criticism was answered by Mr. Douglas Wilson Johnson in these words:
In answer to that question I will say that the President kept in constant touch with the experts on the Adriatic problem, not only through the memoranda furnished by the experts but in other ways. I can assure you that there was sent to him a voluminous quantity of material, and I want to say that when we had personal discussions with him upon the question it immediately became apparent that he had studied these memoranda most carefully. It is only fair to say that of the details and intricacies of this most difficult problem the President possessed a most astonishing command.
It has also been said that the President in his attitude toward Germany was ruthless, and yet we have the testimony of Mr. Isaiah Bowman, Chief Territorial Adviser of the Peace Commission who, in answer to the direct question: "Was there not a time when it looked as if the Peace Conference might break up because of the extreme policy of one of the Allies?" said: "Yes, there were a number of occasions when the Peace Conference might have broken up. Almost anything might have happened with so many nations represented, so many personalities and so many experts--perhaps half a thousand in all! Owing to the fact that President Wilson has been charged on the one hand with outrageous concessions to the Allies and on the other hand that he had always been soft with the Germans, particularly with Bulgaria, let us see just how soft he was! On a certain day three of us were asked to call at the President's house, and on the following morning at eleven o'clock we arrived. President Wilson welcomed us in a very cordial manner. I cannot understand how people get the idea that he is cold. He does not make a fuss over you, but when you leave you feel that you have met a very courteous gentleman. You have the feeling that he is frank and altogether sincere. He remarked: 'Gentlemen, I am in trouble and I have sent for you to help me out. The matter is this: the French want the whole left bank of the Rhine. I told M. Clemenceau that I could not consent to such a solution of the problem. He became very much excited and then demanded ownership of the Saar Basin. I told him I could not agree to that either because it would mean giving 300,000 Germans to France.' Whereupon President Wilson further said: 'I do not know whether I shall see M. Clemenceau again. I do not know whether he will return to the meeting this afternoon. In fact, I do not know whether the Peace Conference will continue. M. Clemenceau called me a pro-German and abruptly left the room. I want you to assist me in working out a solution true to the principles we are standing for and to do justice to France, and I can only hope that France will ultimately accept a reasonable solution. I want to be fair to M. Clemenceau and to France, but I cannot consent to the outright transfer to France of 300,000 Germans.' A solution was finally found--the one that stands in the Treaty to-day."

Among the unfair things said about the President during the last campaign and uttered by a senator of the United States, was that the President promised Premier Bratiano of Rumania to send United States troops to protect the new frontiers. Mr. Charles Seymour, a member of the American Peace Commission, answers this charge in the following way:
The evidence against it is overwhelming. The stenographic notes taken during the session indicate that nothing said by President Wilson could be construed into a promise to send United States troops abroad to protect frontiers. The allegation is based upon the report of the interpreter, Mantoux, and a book by a journalist, Dr. E. W. Dillon, called "The Inside Story of the Peace Conference," M. Mantoux, though a brilliant and cultivated interpreter, whose work enormously facilitated the progress of the Conference, did not take stenographic notes and his interpretations sometimes failed to give the exact meaning of the original. Doctor Dillon's evidence is subject to suspicion, since his book is based upon gossip, and replete with errors of fact. The stenographic report, on the other hand, is worthy of trust. I have heard the President on more than one occasion explain to M. Clemenceau and Lloyd George that if troops were necessary to protect any troubled area, they must not look to the United States for assistance, for public opinion in this country would not permit the use of American forces.
Even Mr. Lansing himself in his book testified to the open-mindedness and candour of the President in these words:
It had always been my practice as Secretary of State to speak to him with candour and to disagree with him whenever I thought he was reaching a wrong decision in regard to any matter pertaining to foreign affairs. There was a general belief that Mr. Wilson was not open-minded and that he was quick to resent any opposition however well founded. I had not found him so during the years we had been associated. Except in a few instances he listened with consideration to arguments and apparently endeavoured to value them correctly.
No men ever winced less under the criticism or bitter ridicule of his enemies than did Woodrow Wilson. Whether the criticism was directed at him or at some member of his Cabinet, or, mayhap, at a subordinate like myself, for some act, statement, or even an indiscretion, he bore up under the criticism like a true sportsman. I remember how manfully he met the storm of criticism that was poured upon him after the issuance of the famous Garfield Fuel Order. He courageously took the responsibility for the issuance of the order and stood by Doctor Garfield to the last.

It will be recalled what a tremendous impression and reaction the Garfield order caused when it was published throughout the country. Many about the President were greatly worried and afraid of the disastrous effect of it upon the country. Cabinet officers rushed in upon him and endeavoured to persuade him to recall it and even to repudiate Garfield for having issued the order without consulting the Cabinet, but their remonstrances fell unheeded upon the President's ears. I remember at the time that I wrote the President regarding the matter and called his attention to what appeared to me to be the calamitous results of the issuance of the Fuel Order.

My letter to the President is as follows:
THE WHITE HOUSE,
WASHINGTON

17 January, 1918.

DEAR GOVERNOR:

At twelve o'clock last night, Mr. Lincoln of the New York World called me out of bed by telephone to notify me that the Fuel Administration had issued a drastic order shutting down the factories of the country for five days, etc.

I do not know about the details of the order. I assume of course that it was necessary because of the tremendous shortage throughout the country. But what I am afraid of is that my own readiness to accept this assumption may not be shared by people outside. In other words, has the groundwork been laid for this radical step? Do the people know how much coal we have on hand and what the real shortage is? Have they not been led to believe that our chief ill was transportation and that by subjecting themselves to hardships by cutting down trains, etc., enough cars have been provided to carry coal?

In other words, I am afraid the country will want to be shown that the step just taken was absolutely necessary and if this cannot be proved, I greatly fear the consequences upon the morale of the people. I am so afraid that it will weaken their confidence in any action the Government may take hereafter which depends for its execution on the voluntary cooperation of the people. Again, it seems to me unjust that all industries are put on the same footing. It is a difficult thing I know to distinguish between the essential and non-essential industries, but I am sure the country will understand if such a distinction is made of, for instance, institutions that make pianos and talking machines and candy and articles that are not immediately necessary for our life, were cut down altogether and things necessary to our sustenance kept.

Sincerely yours,
TUMULTY

THE PRESIDENT
[Illustration: An inside view of a well-remembered national crisis. [Transcriber's note: contains a reproduction of the above-quoted letter.]]

The President's reply, written on his own typewriter, is as follows:
DEAR TUMULTY:

Of course, this is a tremendous matter and has given me the deepest concern, but I really think this direct road is the road out of difficulties which never would have been entirely remedied if we had not taken some such action. We must just bow our heads and let the storm beat.

WOODROW WILSON.
Even to Mr. James M. Beck, a prominent Republican lawyer and one of his bitterest opponents and critics, he showed a tolerance and magnanimity that were worthy of the man himself. It appears that Mr. Beck was invited to confer at the White House on a matter having to do with the war, and the question was presented to the President by Mr. Creel as to whether the President considered Mr. Beck persona non grata. The President at once sent me the following note:
DEAR TUMULTY:

Mr. James M. Beck expressed some hesitation about coming with the committee which Creel has organized and which is coming to see me on Monday afternoon, because he was not sufficiently persona grata at the White House. I think his criticism and his whole attitude before we went into the war were abominable and inexcusable, but I "ain't harbouring no ill will" just now and I hope that you will have the intimation conveyed to him through Mr. Creel or otherwise that he will be welcomed.

WOODROW WILSON.
While the President was busily engaged in France in laying the foundation stones of peace, his partisan enemies were busily engaged in destroying the things he held so dear, and had industriously circulated the story that the mission to France was a mere political one, that the purpose back of it was personal exploitation, or an attempt on the part of the President to thrust himself into the councils of the Democratic party as an active and aggressive candidate for a third term. The President's attitude in this matter, his fear that talk of this kind would embarrass the League of Nations, is disclosed by the following correspondence:
Received at the White House,
June 2, 1919.

Paris.
TUMULTY,
White House, Washington.

Have just read the editorial in the Springfield Republican, discussing "Wilson the Third Term and the Treaty," and would very much value your opinion with regard to the situation as it analyzes it. Please talk with Glass, Secretary Baker, Secretary Wilson, and Cummings and let me know what your opinion is and what theirs is. We must let nothing stand in the way of the Treaty and the adoption of the League. I will, of course, form no resolution until I reach home but wish to think the matter out in plenty of time.

WOODROW WILSON.

* * * * *

THE WHITE HOUSE,
WASHINGTON

2 June, 1919.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
Paris.

Cummings on campaign trip covering Middle West and coast. Will be away six weeks. My own opinion is that it would be unwise at this time to act upon suggestion contained in Springfield Republican editorial. [The editorial suggested that the President withdraw his name from consideration in connection with a third term.] This is not the time to say anything about your attitude toward matter discussed in editorial because there is a depression in our ranks and a feeling that our prospects for 1920 are not bright. Republicans would say you had retreated under the threat of defeat and the cause of the League of Nations would be weakened instead of strengthened. The issue of the League of Nations is so clear-cut that your attitude toward a third term at present is not a real cause of embarrassment. In fact, I can see great advantage to be gained for the ratification of the League by giving the impression that you are seriously considering going to the country on the League of Nations. Am strongly of belief, as you know, that you should not under any circumstances consider or accept nomination for third term. In this matter I have very few supporters in our party. A trip I just made to Illinois and St. Louis over Decoration Day convinces me that a big drive will be made to induce you to allow your name to be used again. The Presidency for another four years would not add one whit to the honour that will be yours and the place of dignity that you will occupy in the hearts of our people when the League of Nations is consummated and your present term expires.

Upon your return to this country and with a clearer perception of what you are trying to do, there will come a turn of the tide in our favour. Many factors not now very clear are leading in that direction. The Republicans by the selection of Penrose have made the Republican party again the stand-pat party of America and their failure, which will become more evident as the days pass, to correct abuses that some months ago they called grave, will prove more and more the strength and value of Democratic policies.

Prosperity now sweeping in from coast and Middle West will soon be upon us. Even business which turned away from us in last campaign in the hope that Excess Profit Tax and other burdensome taxes would be reduced, will soon find out how fatuous and futile is the Republican policy. Many Progressive leaders will soon come to the front and will take up the work left undone by Roosevelt. My opinion, therefore, is that what action you take in this matter should await the turn of the tide so that as the hopes of Democracy rise and success for 1920 looks more promising than it does to-day, then that time in my opinion will offer the psychological moment for you to say what really is in your heart about a third term and thus help not only the party but the League of Nations. Therefore, until the psychological moment comes, the politic thing to do is to keep "mum" about this matter and await the happenings of the future.

TUMULTY.
A clear, inside view of the feeling of the man toward the Treaty, his deep heart interest in it, and his characterization of the opposition were disclosed in a speech delivered by him to the members of the Democratic National Committee at the White House on February 28, 1919. This speech is now published for the first time, and is as follows:
The real issue of the day, gentlemen, is the League of Nations, and I think we must be very careful to serve the country in the right way with regard to that issue. We ought not, as I know you already feel from the character of the action you have just taken--we ought not even to create the appearance of trying to make that a party issue. And I suggested this to Mr. Cummings and the others who sat by me: I think it would be wise if the several National Committeemen were to get in touch with their state organizations upon returning home and suggest this course of action--that the Democratic state organizations get into conference with the Republican state organizations and say to them: "Here is this great issue upon which the future peace of the world depends; it ought not to be made a party issue or to divide upon party lines; the country ought to support it regardless of party (as you stated in your resolution); now we propose to you that you pass resolutions supporting it, as we intend to do, and we will not anticipate you in the matter if you agree to that policy; let us stand back of it and not make a party issue of it." Of course, if they decline, then it is perfectly legitimate, it seems to me, for the Democratic organization if it pleases to pass resolutions, framing these resolutions in as non-partisan language as is possible, but nevertheless doing what citizens ought to do in matters of this sort. But not without first making it a matter of party record that it has made these approaches to the Republican organizations and has proposed this similarity of action. In that way we accomplish a double object. We put it up to them to support the real opinion of their own people and we get instructed by the resolutions, and we find where the weak spots are and where the fighting has to be done for this great issue. Because, believe me, gentlemen, the civilized world cannot afford to have us lose this fight. I tried to state in Boston what it would mean to the people of the world if the United States did not support this great ideal with cordiality, but I was not able to speak when I tried fully to express my thoughts. I tell you, frankly, I choked up; I could not do it. The thing reaches the depth of tragedy. There is a sense in which I can see that the hope entertained by the people of the world with regard to us is a tragical hope--tragical in this sense, that it is so great, so far-reaching, it runs out to such depths that we cannot in the nature of things satisfy it. The world cannot go as fast in the direction of ideal results as these people believe the United States can carry them, and that is what makes me choke up when I try to talk about it--the consciousness of what they want us to do and of our relative inadequacy. And yet there is a great deal that we can do, and the immediate thing that we can do is to have an overwhelming national endorsement of this great plan. If we have that we will have settled most of the immediate political difficulties in Europe. The present danger of the world--of course, I have to say this in the confidence of this company--but the present danger in this world is that the peoples of the world do not believe in their own governments. They believe these governments to be made up of the kind of men who have always run them, and who did not know how to keep them out of this war, did not know how to prepare them for war, and did not know how to settle international controversies in the past without making all sorts of compromising concessions. They do not believe in them, and therefore they have got to be buttressed by some outside power in which they do not believe. Perhaps it would not do for them to examine us too narrowly. We are by no means such ideal people as they believe us to be, but I can say that we are infinitely better than the others. We do purpose these things, we do purpose these great unselfish things; that is the glory of America, and if we can confirm that belief we have steadied the whole process of history in the immediate future; whereas if we do not confirm that belief I would not like to say what would happen in the way of utter dissolution of society.

The only thing that that ugly, poisonous thing called Bolshevism feeds on is the doubt of the man on the street of the essential integrity of the people he is depending on to do his governing. That is what it feeds on. No man in his senses would think that a lot of local Soviets could really run a government, but some of them are in a temper to have anything rather than the kind of thing they have been having; and they say to themselves: "Well, this may be bad but it is at least better and more immediately in touch with us than the other, and we will try it and see whether we cannot work something out of it."

So that our immediate duty, not as Democrats, but as American citizens, is to concert the most powerful campaign that was ever concerted in this country in favour of supporting the League of Nations and to put it up to everybody--the Republican organizations and every other organization--to say where they stand, and to make a record and explain this thing to the people.

In one sense it does not make any difference what the Constitution of the League of Nations is. This present constitution in my judgment is a very conservative and sound document. There are some things in it which I would have phrased otherwise. I am modest enough to believe that the American draft was better than this, but it is the result of as honest work as I ever knew to be done. Here we sat around the table where there were representatives of fourteen nations. The five great powers, so-called, gave themselves two delegates apiece and they allowed the other nine one delegate apiece. But it did not count by members--it counted by purpose.

For example, among the rest was a man whom I have come to admire so much that I have come to have a personal affection for him, and that is Mr. Venizelos, Prime Minister of Greece, as genuine a friend of man as ever lived and as able a friend honest people ever had, and a man on whose face a glow comes when you state a great principle, and yet who is intensely practical and who was there to insist that nothing was to be done which would put the small nations of the world at the disposal of the big nations. So that he was the most influential spokesman of what may be called the small powers as contrasted with the great. But I merely single him out for the pleasure of paying him this tribute, and not because the others were less earnest in pursuing their purpose. They were a body of men who all felt this. Indeed, several of them said this to us: "The world expects not only, but demands of us that we shall do this thing successfully, and we cannot go away without doing it." There is not a statesman in that conference who would dare to go home saying that he had merely signed a treaty of peace no matter how excellent the terms of that treaty are, because he has received if not an official at least an influential mandate to see to it that something is done in addition which will make the thing stand after it is done; and he dare not go home without doing that. So that all around that table there was co÷peration--generous co÷peration of mind to make that document as good as we could make it. And I believe it is a thoroughly sound document. There is only one misleading sentence in it--only one sentence that conveys a wrong impression. That can, I dare say, be altered, though it is going to be extremely difficult to set up that fourteen-nation process again as will have to be done if any alteration is made.

The particular and most important thing to which every nation that joins the League agrees is this: That it won't fight on any question at all until it has done one of two things. If it is about a question that it considers suitable for arbitration it will submit it to arbitration. You know, Mr. Taft and other serious advocates of this general idea have tried to distinguish between justiciable and non- justiciable subjects, and while they have had more or less success with it, the success has not been satisfactory. You cannot define expressly the questions which nations would be willing to submit to arbitration. Some question of national pride may come in to upset the definition. So we said we would make them promise to submit every question that they considered suitable to arbitration and to abide by the result. If they do not regard it as suitable for arbitration they bind themselves to submit it to the consideration of the Executive Council for a period not exceeding six months, but they are not bound by the decision. It is an opinion, not a decision. But if a decision, a unanimous decision, is made, and one of the parties to the dispute accepts the decision, the other party does bind itself not to attack the party that accepts the opinion. Now in discussing that we saw this difficulty. Suppose that Power B is in possession of a piece of territory which Power A claims, and Power A wins its claim so far as the opinion of the Executive Council is concerned. And suppose that the power in possession of the territory accepts the decision but then simply stands pat and does nothing. It has got the territory. The other party, inasmuch as the party that has lost has accepted the decision, has bound itself not to attack it and cannot go by force of arms and take possession of the country. In order to cure that quandary we used a sentence which said that in case--I have forgotten the phraseology but it means this--in case any power refuses to carry out the decision the Executive Council was to consider the means by which it could be enforced. Now that apparently applies to both parties but was intended to apply to the non-active party which refuses to carry it out. And that sentence is open to a misconstruction. The Commission did not see that until after the report was made and I explained this to the General Conference. I made an explanation which was substantially the same as I have made to you, and that this should be of record may be sufficient to interpret that phrase, but probably not. It is not part of the Covenant and possibly an attempt ought to be made to alter it.

But I am wandering from my real point. My point is that this is a workable beginning of a thing that the world insists on. There is no foundation for it except the good faith of the parties, but there could not be any other foundation for an arrangement between nations.

The other night after dinner Senator Thomas, of Colorado, said: "Then after all it is not a guarantee of peace." Certainly not. Who said that it was? If you can invent an actual guarantee of peace you will be a benefactor of mankind, but no such guarantee has been found. But this comes as near being a guarantee of peace as you can get.

I had this interesting experience when the Covenant was framed. I found that I was the only member of the Committee who did not take it for granted that the members of the League would have the right to secede. I found there was a universal feeling that this treaty could be denounced in the usual way and that a state could withdraw. I demurred from that opinion and found myself in a minority of one, and I could not help saying to them that this would be very interesting on the other side of the water, that the only Southerner on this conference should deny the right of secession. But nevertheless it is instructive and interesting to learn that this is taken for granted; that it is not a covenant that you would have to continue to adhere to. I suppose that is a necessary assumption among sovereign states, but it would not be a very handsome thing to withdraw after we had entered upon it. The point is that it does rest upon the good faith of all the nations. Now the historic significance of it is this:

We are setting up right in the path that German ambition expected to tread a number of new states that, chiefly because of their newness, will for a long time be weak states. We are carving a piece of Poland out of Germany's side; we are creating an independent Bohemia below that, an independent Hungary below that, and enlarging Rumania, and we are rearranging the territorial divisions of the Balkan States. We are practically dissolving the Empire of Turkey and setting up under mandatories of the League of Nations a number of states in Asia Minor and Arabia which, except for the power of the mandatories, would be almost helpless against any invading or aggressive force, and that is exactly the old Berlin-to-Bagdad route. So that when you remember that there is at present a strong desire on the part of Austria to unite with Germany, you have the prospect of an industrial nation with seventy or eighty millions of people right in the heart of Europe, and to the southeast of it nothing but weakness, unless it is supported by the combined power of the world.

Unless you expect this structure built at Paris to be a house of cards, you have got to put into it the structural iron which will be afforded by the League of Nations. Take the history of the war that we have just been through. It is agreed by everybody that has expressed an opinion that if Germany had known that England would go in, she never would have started. What do you suppose she would have done if she had known that everybody else would have gone in? Of course she would never have started. If she had known that the world would have been against her, this war would not have occurred; and the League of Nations gives notice that if anything of that sort is tried again, the world will be against the nation that tries it, and with that assurance given that such a nation will have to fight the world, you may be sure that whatever illicit ambitions a nation may have, it cannot and will not attempt to realize them. But if they have not that assurance and can in the meantime set up an infinite network of intrigue such as we now know ran like a honeycomb through the world, then any arrangement will be broken down. This is the place where intrigue did accomplish the disintegration which made the realization of Germany's purposes almost possible. So that those people will have to make friends with their powerful neighbour Germany unless they have already made friends with all the rest of the world. So that we must have the League of Nations or else a repetition of the catastrophe we have just gone through.

Now if you put that case before the people of the United States and show them that without the League of Nations it is not worth while completing the treaty we are making in Paris, then you have got an argument which even an unidealistic people would respond to, and ours is not an unidealistic people but the most idealistic people in the world. Just let them catch the meaning which really underlies this and there won't be any doubt, as to what the response will be from; the hearts and from the judgments of the people of the United States.

I would hope, therefore, that forgetting elections for the time being we should devote our thought and our energies and our plans to this great business, to concert bi-partisan and non-partisan action, and by whatever sort of action, to concert every effort in support of this thing. I cannot imagine an orator being afforded a better theme, so trot out your orators and turn them loose, because they will have an inspiration in this that they have never had before, and I would like a guarantee that the best vocabulary they can mobilize won't be equal to the job. It surpasses past experience in the world and seems like a prospect of realizing what once seemed a remote hope of international morale. And you notice the basis of this thing. It guarantees the members of the League, guarantees to each their territorial integrity and political independence as against external aggression.

I found that all the other men around the conference table had a great respect for the right of revolution. We do not guarantee any state against what may happen inside itself, but we do guarantee against aggression from the outside, so that the family can be as lively as it pleases, and we know what generally happens to an interloper if you interfere in a family quarrel. There was a very interesting respect for the right of revolution; it may be because many of them thought it was nearer at hand than they had supposed and this immediate possibility breathed a respect in their minds. But whatever the reason was, they had a very great respect for it. I read the Virginia Bill of Rights very literally but not very elegantly to mean that any people is entitled to any kind of government it pleases and that it is none of our business to suggest or to influence the kind that it is going to have. Sometimes it will have a very riotous form of government, but that is none of our business. And I find that that is accepted, even with regard to Russia. Even conservative men like the representatives of Great Britain say it is not our business to dictate what kind of government Russia shall have. The only thing to do is to see if we can help them by conference and suggestion and recognition of the right elements to get together and not leave the country in a state of chaos.

It was for that reasonable purpose that we tried to have the Conference at a place I had never heard of before--a place called Prinkipos. I understand it is a place on the Bosphorus with fine summer hotels, etc., and I was abashed to admit that I had never heard of it--but having plenty of house room, we thought that we could get the several Russian elements together there and see if we could not get them to sit down in one room together and tell us what it was all about and what they intended to do. The Bolshevists had accepted, but had accepted in a way that was studiously insulting. They said they would come, and were perfectly ready to say beforehand that they were ready to pay the foreign debt and ready to make concessions in economic matters, and that they were even ready to make territorial readjustments, which meant, "we are dealing with perjured governments whose only interest is in striking a bargain, and if that is the price of European recognition and cooperation, we are ready to pay it."

I never saw anybody more angered than Mr. Lloyd George, who said: "We cannot let that insult go by. We are not after their money or their concessions or their territory. That is not the point. We are their friends who want to help them and must tell them so." We did not tell them so because to some of the people we had to deal with the payment of the foreign debt was a more interesting and important matter, but that will be made clear to them in conference, if they will believe it. But the Bolshevists, so far as we could get any taste of their flavour, are the most consummate sneaks in the world. I suppose because they know they have no high motives themselves, they do not believe that anybody else has. And Trotsky, having lived a few months in New York, was able to testify that the United States is in the hands of capitalists and does not serve anybody else's interests but the capitalists'. And the worst of it is, I think he honestly believes it. It would not have much effect if he didn't. Having received six dollars a week to write for a socialistic and anarchistic paper which believed that and printed it, and knowing how difficult it is to live on nothing but the wages of sin, he believes that the only wages paid here are the wages of sin.

But we cannot rescue Russia without having a united Europe. One of my colleagues in Paris said: "We could not go home and say we had made peace if we left half of Europe and half of Asia at war--because Russia constitutes half of Europe and Siberia constitutes half of Asia." And yet we may have to go home without composing these great territories, but if we go home with a League of Nations, there will be some power to solve this most perplexing problem.

And so from every point of view, it is obvious to the men in Paris, obvious to those who in their own hearts are most indifferent to the League of Nations, that we have to tie in the provisions of the Treaty with the League of Nations because the League of Nations is the heart of the Treaty. It is the only machinery. It is the only solid basis of masonry that is in the Treaty, and in saying that I know that I am expressing the opinion of all those with whom I have been conferring. I cannot imagine any greater historic glory for the party than to have it said that for the time being it is thinking not of elections, but of the salvation of the plain people of the world, and the plain people of the world are looking to us who call ourselves Democrats to prove to the utmost point of sacrifice that we are indeed Democrats, with a small d as well as a large D, that we are ready to put the whole power and influence of America at the disposal of free men everywhere in the world no matter what the sacrifice involved, no matter what the danger to the cause.

And I would like, if I am not tiresome, to leave this additional thought in your mind. I was one of the first advocates of the mandatory. I do not at all believe in handing over any more territory than has already been handed over to any sovereign. I do not believe in putting the people of the German territories at the disposition, unsubordinated disposition, of any great power, and therefore I was a warm advocate of the idea of General Smuts--who, by the way, is an extraordinary person--who propounded the theory that the pieces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the pieces of the Turkish Empire and the German colonies were all political units or territorial units which ought to be accepted in trust by the family of nations, and not turned over to any member of the family, and that therefore the League of Nations would have as one of its chief functions to act as trustee for these great areas of dismembered empires. And yet the embarrassing moment came when they asked if the United States would be willing to accept a mandatory. I had to say off-hand that it would not be willing. I have got to say off-hand that in the present state of American opinion, at any rate, it wants to observe what I may call without offense Pharisaical cleanliness and not take anything out of the pile. It is its point of pride that it does not want to seem to take anything even by way of superintendence. And of course they said: "That is very disappointing, for this reason" (The reason they stated in as complimentary terms as I could have stated it myself): "You would be the most acceptable mandatory to any one of these peoples, and very few of us, if any, would be acceptable." They said that in so many words, and it would greatly advance the peace of the world and the peace of mind of Europe if the United States would accept mandatories. I said: "I am perfectly willing to go home and stump the country and see if they will do it," but I could not truthfully say off-hand that they would, because I did not know. Now what I wanted to suggest is this: Personally, and just within the limits of this room, I can say very frankly that I think we ought to. I think there is a very promising beginning in regard to countries like Armenia. The whole heart of America has been engaged for Armenia. They know more about Armenia and its sufferings than they know about any other European area; we have colleges out there; we have great missionary enterprises, just as we have had Robert College in Constantinople. That is a part of the world where already American influence extends, a saving influence and an educating and an uplifting influence. Colleges like Beirut in Syria have spread their influence very much beyond the limits of Syria, all through the Arabian country and Mesopotamia and in the distant parts of Asia Minor, and I am not without hope that the people of the United States would find it acceptable to go in and be the trustee of the interests of the Armenian people and see to it that the unspeakable Turk and the almost equally difficult Kurd had their necks sat on long enough to teach them manners and give the industrious and earnest people of Armenia time to develop a country which is naturally rich with possibilities.

Now the place where they all want us to accept a mandate most is at Constantinople. I may say that it seems to be rather the consensus of opinion there that Constantinople ought to be internationalized. So that the present idea apparently is to delimit the territory around Constantinople to include the Straits and set up a mandate for that territory which will make those Straits open to the nations of the world without any conditions and make Constantinople truly international--an internationalized free city and a free port--and America is the only nation in the world that can undertake that mandate and have the rest of the world believe that it is undertaken in good faith that we do not mean to stay there and set up our own sovereignty. So that it would be a very serious matter for the confidence of the world in this treaty if the United States did not accept a mandate for Constantinople.

What I have to suggest is that questions of that sort ought to be ventilated very thoroughly. This will appeal to the people of the United States: Are you going to take advantage of this and not any of the burden? Are you going to put the burden on the bankrupt states of Europe? For almost all of them are bankrupt in the sense that they cannot undertake any new things. I think that will appeal to the American people: that they ought to take the burdens--for they are burdens. Nobody is going to get anything out of a mandatory of Constantinople or Armenia. It is a work of disinterested philanthropy. And if you first present that idea and then make tentative expositions of where we might go in as a mandatory, I think that the people will respond. If we went in at Constantinople, for example, I think it is true that almost all the influential men who are prominent in the affairs of Bulgaria and were graduates of Robert College would be immediately susceptible to American interests. They would take American guidance when they would not take any other guidance.

But I wish I could stay home and tackle this job with you. There is nothing I would like to do so much as really to say in parliamentary language what I think of the people that are opposing it. I would reserve the right in private to say in unparliamentary language what I think of them, but in public I would try to stick to parliamentary language. Because of all the blind and little, provincial people, they are the littlest and most contemptible. It is not their character so much that I have a contempt for, though that contempt is thoroughgoing, but their minds. They have not got even good working imitations of minds. They remind me of a man with a head that is not a head but is just a knot providentially put there to keep him from ravelling out, but why the Lord should not have been willing to let them ravel out I do not know, because they are of no use, and if I could really say what I think about them, it would be picturesque. But the beauty of it is that their ignorance and their provincialism can be made so perfectly visible. They have horizons that do not go beyond their parish; they do not even reach to the edges of the parish, because the other people know more than they do. The whole impulse of the modern time is against them. They are going to have the most conspicuously contemptible names in history. The gibbets that they are going to be executed on by future historians will scrape the heavens, they will be so high. They won't be turned in the direction of heaven at all, but they will be very tall, and I do not know any fate more terrible than to be exhibited in that future catalogue of the men who are utterly condemned by the whole spirit of humanity. If I did not despise them, I would be sorry for them.

Now I have sometimes a very cheering thought. On the fifth of March, 1921, I am going to begin to be an historian again instead of an active public man, and I am going to have the privilege of writing about these gentlemen without any restraints of propriety. The President, if my experience is a standard, is liable some day to burst by merely containing restrained gases. Anybody in the Senate or House can say any abusive thing he pleases about the President, but it shocks the sense of propriety of the whole country if the President says what he thinks about them. And that makes it very fortunate that the term of the President is limited, because no president could stand it for a number of years. But when the lid is off, I am going to resume my study of the dictionary to find adequate terms in which to describe the fatuity of these gentlemen with their poor little minds that never get anywhere but run around in a circle and think they are going somewhere. I cannot express my contempt for their intelligence, but because I think I know the people of the United States, I can predict their future with absolute certainty. I am not concerned as to the ultimate outcome of this thing at all, not for a moment, but I am concerned that the outcome should be brought about immediately, just as promptly as possible. So my hope is that we will all put on our war paint, not as Democrats but as Americans, get the true American pattern of war paint and a real hatchet and go out on the war path and get a collection of scalps that has never been excelled in the history of American warfare.


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