Two rival schemes for the future polity of the world took the field,—the Fourteen Points of the President, and the Carthaginian Peace of M. Clemenceau. Yet only one of these was entitled to take the field; for the enemy had not surrendered unconditionally, but on agreed terms as to the general character of the Peace.
This aspect of what happened cannot, unfortunately, be passed over with a word, for in the minds of many Englishmen at least it has been a subject of very great misapprehension. Many persons believe that the Armistice Terms constituted the first Contract concluded between the Allied and Associated Powers and the German Government, and that we entered the Conference with our hands, free, except so far as these Armistice Terms might bind us. This was not the case. To make the position plain, it is necessary briefly to review the history, of the negotiations which began with the German Note of October 5, 1918, and concluded with President Wilson’s Note of November 5, 1918.
On October 5, 1918, the German Government addressed a brief Note to the President accepting the Fourteen Points and asking for Peace negotiations. The President’s reply of October 8 asked if he was to understand definitely that the German Government accepted “the terms laid down” in Fourteen Points and in his subsequent Addresses and “that its object in entering into discussion would be only to agree upon the practical details of their application.” He added that the evacuation of invaded territory must be a prior condition of an Armistice. On October 12 the German Government returned an unconditional affirmative to these questions;-"its object in entering into discussions would be only to agree upon practical details of the application of these terms.” On October 14, having received this affirmative answer, the President made a further communication to make clear the points: (1) that the details of the Armistice would have to be left to the military advisers of the United States and the Allies, and must provide absolutely against the possibility of Germany’s resuming hostilities; (2) that submarine warfare must cease if these conversations were to continue; and (3) that he required further guarantees of the representative character of the Government with which he was dealing. On October 20 Germany accepted points (1) and (2), and pointed out, as regards (3), that she now had a Constitution and a Government dependent for its authority on the Reichstag. On October 23 the President announced that, “having received the solemn and explicit assurance of the German Government that it unreservedly accepts the terms of peace laid down in his Address to the Congress of the United States on January 8, 1918 (the Fourteen Points), and the principles of settlement enunciated in his subsequent Addresses, particularly the Address of September 27, and that it is ready to discuss the details of their application,” he has communicated the above correspondence to the Governments of the Allied Powers