The Peace Negotiations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 244 pages of information about The Peace Negotiations.
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.

CHAPTER XVI

LACK OF AN AMERICAN PROGRAMME

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.

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The Peace Negotiations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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