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articles concerning Shantung appeared. The presence at Versailles of the German plenipotentiaries, the uncertainty of the return of the Italian delegates then in Rome, and the murmurs of dissatisfaction among the delegates of the lesser nations made the international situation precarious. To have added to the serious conditions and to have possibly precipitated a crisis by openly rebelling against the President was to assume a responsibility which no Commissioner was willing to take. With the greatest reluctance the American Commissioners submitted to the decision of the Council of Four; and, when the Chinese delegates refused to sign the Treaty after they had been denied the right to sign it with reservations to the Shantung articles, the American Commissioners, who had so strongly opposed the settlement, silently approved their conduct as the only patriotic and statesmanlike course to take. So far as China was concerned the Shantung Question remained open, and the Chinese Government very properly refused, after the Treaty of Versailles was signed, to enter into any negotiations with Japan looking toward its settlement upon the basis of the treaty provisions.
There was one exception to the President's usual practice which is especially noticeable in connection with the Shantung controversy, and that was the greater participation which he permitted the members of the American Commission in negotiating with both the Japanese and the Chinese. It is true he did not disclose his intentions to the Commissioners, but he did express a wish for their advice and he directed me to confer with the Japanese and obtain their views. Just why he adopted this course, for
, him unusual, I do not know unless he felt that so far as the equity of China's claim was concerned we were all in agreement, and if there was to be a departure from strict justice he desired to have his colleagues suggest a way to do so. It is possible, too, that he felt the question was in large measure a legal one, and decided that the illegality of transferring the German rights to Japan could be more successfully presented to the Japanese delegates by a lawyer. In any event, in this particular case he adopted a course more in accord with established custom and practice than he did in any other of the many perplexing and difficult problems which he was called upon to solve during the Paris negotiations, excepting of course the subjects submitted to commissions of the Conference. As has been shown, Mr. Wilson did not follow the advice of the three Commissioners given him in General Bliss's letter, but that does not detract from the noteworthiness of the fact that in the case of Shantung he sought advice from his Commissioners.
This ends the account of the Shantung Settlement and the negotiations which led up to it. The consequences were those which were bound to follow so indefensible a decision as the one that was reached. Public opinion in the United States was almost unanimous in condemning it and in denouncing those responsible for so evident a departure from legal justice and the principles of international mo
rality. No plea of expediency or of necessity excused such a flagrant denial of undoubted right. The popular recognition that a great wrong had been done to a nation weak because of political discord and an insufficient military establishment, in order to win favor with a nation strong because of its military power and national unity, had much to do with increasing the hostility to the Treaty and preventing its acceptance by the Senate of the United States. The whole affair furnishes another example of the results of secret diplomacy, for the arguments which prevailed with the President were those to which he listened when he sat in secret council with M. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George.
THE BULLITT AFFAIR
The foregoing chapters have related to subjects which were known to President Wilson to be matters of difference between us while we were together in Paris and which are presumably referred to in his letter of February 11, 1920, extracts from which are quoted in the opening chapter. The narration might be concluded with our difference of opinion as to the Shantung Settlement, but in view of subsequent information which the President received I am convinced that he felt that my objections to his decisions in regard to the terms of the peace with Germany extended further than he knew at the time, and that he resented the fact that my mind did not go along with his as to these decisions. This undoubtedly added to the reasons for his letter and possibly influenced him to write as he did in February, 1920, even more than our known divergence of judgment during the negotiations.
I do not feel, therefore, that the story is complete without at least a brief reference to my views concerning the Treaty of Versailles at the time of its delivery to the German delegates, which were imperfectly disclosed in a statement made by William C. Bullitt on September 12, 1919, at a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. As to the conduct of Mr. Bullitt, who had held a responsible position with the American Commission at Paris, in voluntarily repeating a conversation which was from its nature highly confidential, I make no comment.
The portion of the statement, which I have no doubt deeply incensed the President because it was published while he was in the West making his appeals to the people in behalf of the Treaty and especially of the League of Nations, is as follows:
“Mr. Lansing said that he, too, considered many parts of the Treaty thoroughly bad, particularly those dealing with Shantung and the League of Nations. He said: 'I consider that the League of Nations at present is entirely useless. The Great Powers have simply gone ahead and arranged the world to suit themselves. England and France have gotten out of the Treaty everything that they wanted, and the League of Nations can do nothing to alter any of the unjust clauses of the Treaty except by unanimous consent of the members of the League, and the Great Powers will never give their consent to changes in the interests of weaker peoples.'
“We then talked about the possibility of ratification by the Senate. Mr. Lansing said: 'I believe that if the Senate could only understand what this Treaty means, and if the American people could really understand, it would unquestionably be defeated, but I wonder if they will ever understand what it lets them in for.'” (Senate Doc. 106, 66th Congress, ist Session, p. 1276.)
It does not seem an unwarranted conjecture that the President believed that this statement, which was asserted by Mr. Bullitt to be from a memorandum made at the