It is, however, natural, considering what occurred at Paris, to search out the reason or reasons for the President’s evident unwillingness to listen to advice when he did not solicit it, and for his failure to take all the American Commissioners into his confidence. But to attempt to dissect the mentality and to analyze the intellectual processes of Woodrow Wilson is not my purpose. It would only invite discussion and controversy as to the truth of the premises and the accuracy of the deductions reached. The facts will be presented and to an extent the impressions made upon me at the time will be reviewed, but impressions of that character which are not the result of comparison with subsequent events and of mature deliberation are not always justified. They may later prove to be partially or wholly wrong. They have the value, nevertheless, of explaining in many cases why I did or did not do certain things, and of disclosing the state of mind that in a measure determined my conduct which without this recital of contemporaneous impressions might mystify one familiar with what afterwards took place. The notes, letters, and memoranda which are quoted in the succeeding pages, as well as the opinions and beliefs held at the time (of which, in accordance with a practice of years, I kept a record supplementing my daily journal of events), should be weighed and measured by the situation which existed when they were written and not alone in the light of the complete review of the proceedings. In forming an opinion as to my differences with the President it should be the reader’s endeavor to place himself in my position at the time and not judge them solely by the results of the negotiations at Paris. It comes to this: Was I justified then? Am I justified now? If those questions are answered impartially and without prejudice, there is nothing further that I would ask of the reader.
MR. WILSON’S PRESENCE AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE
Early in October, 1918, it required no prophetic vision to perceive that the World War would come to an end in the near future. Austria-Hungary, acting with the full approval of the German Government, had made overtures for peace, and Bulgaria, recognizing the futility of further struggle, had signed an armistice which amounted to an unconditional surrender. These events were soon followed by the collapse of Turkish resistance and by the German proposals which resulted in the armistice which went into effect on November 11, 1918.
In view of the importance of the conditions of the armistice with Germany and their relation to the terms of peace to be later negotiated, the President considered it essential to have an American member added to the Supreme War Council, which then consisted of M. Clemenceau, Mr. Lloyd George, and Signor Orlando, the premiers of the three Allied Powers. He selected Colonel Edward M. House for this important post and named him a Special Commissioner to represent him personally. Colonel House with a corps of secretaries and assistants sailed from New York on October 17, en route for Paris where the Supreme War Council was in session.