Our faith in your fairness, our confidence in your justice, in your spirit of generosity and sympathy—all these have dictated our present mission.
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PRESIDENT WILSON’S REPLY.
Addressed to the Royal Belgian Commission in the White House, Washington, Sept. 16.
Permit me to say with what sincere pleasure I receive you as representatives of the King of the Belgians, a people for whom the people of the United States feel so strong a friendship and admiration, a King for whom they entertain so sincere a respect, and express my hope that we may have many opportunities of earning and deserving their regard.
You are not mistaken in believing that the people of this country love justice, seek the true paths of progress, and have a passionate regard for the rights of humanity.
It is a matter of profound pride to me that I am permitted for a time to represent such a people and to be their spokesman, and I am proud that your King should have turned to me in time of distress as to one who would wish on behalf of the people he represents to consider the claims to the impartial sympathy of mankind of a nation which deems itself wronged.
I thank you for the document you have put in my hands containing the result of an investigation made by a judicial committee appointed by the Belgian Government to look into the matter of which you have come to speak. It shall have my utmost attentive perusal and my most thoughtful consideration.
You will, I am sure, not expect me to say more. Presently, I pray God very soon, this war will be over. The day of accounting will then come, when, I take it for granted, the nations of Europe will assemble to determine a settlement. Where wrongs have been committed their consequences and the relative responsibility involved will be assessed.
The nations of the world have, fortunately, by agreement made a plan for such a reckoning and settlement. What such a plan cannot compass, the opinion of mankind, the final arbiter in such matters, will supply. It would be unwise, it would be premature for a single Government, however fortunately separated from the present struggle, it would be inconsistent with the neutral position of any nation, which, like this, has no part in the contest, to form or express a final judgment.
I need not assure you that this conclusion, in which I instinctively feel that you will yourselves concur, is spoken frankly because in warm friendship, and as the best means of perfect understanding between us, an understanding based upon mutual respect, admiration, and cordiality.
You are most welcome and we are greatly honored that you should have chosen us as the friends before whom you could lay any matter of vital consequence to yourselves, in the confidence that your cause would be understood and met in the same spirit in which it was conceived and intended.