In September, American troops, with French aid, “wiped out” the German salient at St. Mihiel. By this time General Pershing was ready for the great American drive to the northeast in the Argonne forest, while he also cooeperated with the British in the assault on the Hindenburg line. In the Meuse-Argonne battle, our soldiers encountered some of the most severe fighting of the war and pressed forward steadily against the most stubborn resistance from the enemy. On the 6th of November, reported General Pershing, “a division of the first corps reached a point on the Meuse opposite Sedan, twenty-five miles from our line of departure. The strategical goal which was our highest hope was gained. We had cut the enemy’s main line of communications and nothing but a surrender or an armistice could save his army from complete disaster.” Five days later the end came. On the morning of November 11, the order to cease firing went into effect. The German army was in rapid retreat and demoralization had begun. The Kaiser had abdicated and fled into Holland. The Hohenzollern dreams of empire were shattered. In the fifty-second month, the World War, involving nearly every civilized nation on the globe, was brought to a close. More than 75,000 American soldiers and sailors had given their lives. More than 250,000 had been wounded or were missing or in German prison camps.
[Illustration: WESTERN BATTLE LINES OF THE VARIOUS YEARS OF THE WORLD WAR]
THE SETTLEMENT AT PARIS
=The Peace Conference.=—On January 18, 1919, a conference of the Allied and Associated Powers assembled to pronounce judgment upon the German empire and its defeated satellites: Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. It was a moving spectacle. Seventy-two delegates spoke for thirty-two states. The United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan had five delegates each. Belgium, Brazil, and Serbia were each assigned three. Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, China, Greece, Hedjaz, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Siam, and Czechoslovakia were allotted two apiece. The remaining states of New Zealand, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay each had one delegate. President Wilson spoke in person for the United States. England, France, and Italy were represented by their premiers: David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau, and Vittorio Orlando.
[Illustration: PREMIERS LLOYD GEORGE, ORLANDO AND CLEMENCEAU AND PRESIDENT WILSON AT PARIS]
=The Supreme Council.=—The real work of the settlement was first committed to a Supreme Council of ten representing the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. This was later reduced to five members. Then Japan dropped out and finally Italy, leaving only President Wilson and the Premiers, Lloyd George and Clemenceau, the “Big Three,” who assumed the burden of mighty decisions. On