Of the consequences of the President’s acting as one of his own representatives to negotiate peace it is not my purpose to speak. The events of the six months succeeding his decision to exercise in person his constitutional right to conduct the foreign relations of the United States are in a general way matters of common knowledge and furnish sufficient data for the formulation of individual opinions without the aid of argument or discussion. The important fact in connection with the general topic being considered is the difference of opinion between the President and myself as to the wisdom of his assuming the role of a delegate. While I did not discuss the matter with him except at the first when I opposed his attending the Peace Conference, I have little doubt that Colonel House, if he urged the President to decline to sit as a delegate, which I think may be presumed, or if he discussed it at all, mentioned to him my opinion that such a step would be unwise. In any event Mr. Wilson knew my views and that they were at variance with the decision which he reached.
GENERAL PLAN FOR A LEAGUE OF NATIONS
It appears, from a general review of the situation prior and subsequent to the assembling of the delegates to the Peace Conference, that President Wilson’s decision to go to Paris and to engage in person in the negotiations was strongly influenced by his belief that it was the only sure way of providing in the treaty of peace for the organization of a League of Nations. While his presence in Paris was probably affected to an extent by other considerations, as I have pointed out, it is to be presumed that he was anxious to participate directly in the drafting of the plan of organization of the League and to exert his personal influence on the delegates in favor of its acceptance by publicly addressing the Conference. This he could hardly have done without becoming a delegate. It would seem, therefore, that the purpose of creating a League of Nations and obtaining the incorporation of a plan of organization in the treaty to be negotiated had much to do with the President’s presence at the peace table.
From the time that the United States entered the war in April, 1917, Mr. Wilson held firmly to the idea that the salvation of the world from imperialism would not be lasting unless provision was made in the peace treaty for an international agency strong enough to prevent a future attack upon the rights and liberties of the nations which were at so great a cost holding in check the German armies and preventing them from carrying out their evil designs of conquest. The object sought by the United States in the war would not, in the views of many, be achieved unless the world was organized to resist future aggression. The essential thing, as the President saw it, in order to “make the world safe for democracy” was to give permanency to the peace which would be negotiated at the conclusion of the war. A union of the nations for the purpose of preventing wars of aggression and conquest seemed to him the most practical, if not the only, way of accomplishing this supreme object, and he urged it with earnestness and eloquence in his public addresses relating to the bases of peace.