The Peace Negotiations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about The Peace Negotiations.

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

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



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

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

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The Peace Negotiations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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