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ment and advice, which became increasingly marked during the Paris negotiations. At the time, however, I did not realize that my honest opinion affected the President in the way which I now believe that it did. It had always been my practice as Secretary of State to speak to him with candor and to disagree with him whenever I thought he was reaching a wrong decision in regard to any matter pertaining to foreign affairs. There was a general belief that Mr. Wilson was not open-minded and that he was quick to resent any opposition however well founded. I had not found him so during the years we had been associated. Except in a few instances he listened with consideration to arguments and apparently endeavored to value them correctly. If, however, the matter related even remotely to his personal conduct he seemed unwilling to debate the question. My conclusion is that he considered his going to the Peace Conference was his affair solely and that he viewed my objections as a direct criticism of him personally for thinking of going. He may, too, have felt that my opposition arose from a selfish desire to become the head of the American Commission. From that time forward any suggestion or advice volunteered by me was seemingly viewed with suspicion. It was, however, long after this incident that I began to feel that the President was imputing to me improper motives and crediting me with disloyalty to him personally, an attitude which was as unwarranted as it was unjust.
The President having determined to go to Paris, it seemed almost useless to urge him not to become a delegate in view of the fact that he had named but four Commissioners, although it had been arranged that the Great Powers should each have five delegates in the Conference. This clearly indicated that the President was at least considering sitting as the fifth member of the American group. At the same time it seemed that, if he did not take his place in the Conference as a delegate, he might retain in a measure his superior place of influence even though he was in Paris. Four days after the Commission landed at Brest I had a long conference with Colonel House on matters pertaining to the approaching negotiations, during which he informed me that there was a determined effort being made by the European statesmen to induce the President to sit at the peace table and that he was afraid that the President was disposed to accede to their wishes. This information indicated that, while the President had come to Paris prepared to act as a delegate, he had, after discussing the subject with the Colonel and possibly with others, become doubtful as to the wisdom of doing so, but that through the pressure of his foreign colleagues he was turning again to the favorable view of personal participation which he had held before he left the United States.
In my conversation with Colonel House I told him my reasons for opposing the President's taking an active part in the Conference and explained to him the embarrassment that I felt in advising the President to adopt a course which would make me the head of the American Commission. I am sure that the Colonel fully agreed with me that it was impolitic for Mr. Wilson to become a delegate, but whether he actively opposed the plan I do not know, although I believe that he did. It was some days before the President announced that he would become the head of the American Commission. I believe that he did this with grave doubts in his own mind as to the wisdom of his decision, and I do not think that any new arguments were advanced during those days which materially affected his judgment.
This delay in reaching a final determination as to a course of action was characteristic of Mr. Wilson. There is in his mentality a strange mixture of positiveness and indecision which is almost paradoxical. It is a peculiarity which it is hard to analyze and which has often been an embarrassment in the conduct of public affairs. Suddenness rather than promptness has always marked his decisions. Procrastination in announcing a policy or a programme makes coöperation difficult and not infrequently defeats the desired purpose. To put off a decision to the last moment is a trait of Mr. Wilson's character which has caused much anxiety to those who, dealing with matters of vital importance, realized that delay was perilous if not disastrous.
Of the consequences of the President's acting as one of his own representatives to negotiate peace it is not my purpose to speak. The events of the six months succeeding his decision to exercise in person his constitutional right to conduct the foreign relations of the United States are in a general way matters of common knowledge and furnish sufficient data for the formulation of individual opinions without the aid of argument or discussion. The important fact in connection with the general topic being considered is the difference of opinion between the President and myself as to the wisdom of his assuming the rôle of a delegate. While I did not discuss the matter with him except at the first when I opposed his attending the Peace Conference, I have little doubt that Colonel House, if he urged the President to decline to sit as a delegate, which I think may be presumed, or if he discussed it at all, mentioned to him my opinion that such a step would be unwise. In any event Mr. Wilson knew my views and that they were at variance with the decision which he reached.
GENERAL PLAN FOR A LEAGUE OF NATIONS
It appears, from a general review of the situation prior and subsequent to the assembling of the delegates to the Peace Conference, that President Wilson's decision to go to Paris and to engage in person in the negotiations was strongly influenced by his belief that it was the only sure way of providing in the treaty of peace for the organization of a League of Nations. While his presence in Paris was probably affected to an extent by other considerations, as I have pointed out, it is to be presumed that he was anxious to participate directly in the drafting of the plan of organization of the League and to exert his personal influence on the delegates in favor of its acceptance by publicly addressing the Conference. This he could hardly have done without becoming a delegate. It would seem, therefore, that the purpose of creating a League of Nations and obtaining the incorporation of a plan of organization in the treaty to be negotiated had much to do with the President's presence at the peace table.
From the time that the United States entered the war in April, 1917, Mr. Wilson held firmly to the idea that the salvation of the world from imperialism would not be lasting unless provision was made in the peace treaty for an international agency strong enough to prevent a future