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time, indicated that I had been unfaithful to him. He may even have concluded that I had been working against the League of Nations with the intention of bringing about the rejection of the Covenant by the Senate. If he did believe this, I cannot feel that it was other than natural in the circumstances, especially if I did not at once publicly deny the truth of the Bullitt statement. That I could not do because there was sufficient truth in it to compel me to show how, by slight variations and by omissions in the conversation, my words were misunderstood or misinterpreted.
In view of the fact that I found it impossible to make an absolute denial, I telegraphed the President stating the facts and offering to make them public if he considered it wise to do so. The important part of the telegram, which was dated September 16, 1919, is as follows:
“On May 17th Bullitt resigned by letter giving his reasons, with which you are familiar. I replied by letter on the 18th without any comment on his reasons. Bullitt on the 19th asked to see me to say good-bye and I saw him. He elaborated on the reasons for his resignation and said that he could not conscientiously give countenance to a treaty which was based on injustice. I told him that I would say nothing against his resigning since he put it on conscientious grounds, and that I recognized that certain features of the Treaty were bad, as I presumed most every
I one did, but that was probably unavoidable in view of conflicting claims and that nothing ought to be done to prevent the speedy restoration of peace by signing the Treaty. Bullitt then discussed the numerous European commis
sions provided for by the Treaty on which the United States was to be represented. I told him that I was disturbed by this fact because I was afraid the Senate and possibly the people, if they understood this, would refuse ratification, and that anything which was an obstacle to ratification was unfortunate because we ought to have peace as soon as possible.”
It is very easy to see how by making a record of one side of this conversation without reference to the other side and by an omission here and there, possibly unintentionally, the sense was altered. Thus Mr. Bullitt, by repeating only a
words and by omitting the context, entirely changed the meaning of what was said. My attitude was, and I intended to show it at the time, that the Treaty should be signed and ratified at the earliest possible moment because the restoration of peace was paramount and that any provision in the Treaty which might delay the peace, by making uncertain senatorial consent to ratification, was to be deplored.
Having submitted to the President the question of making a public explanation of my interview with Mr. Bullitt which would in a measure at least correct the impression caused by his statement, I could not do so until I received the President's approval. That was never received. The telegram, which was sent to Mr. Wilson, through the Department of State, was never answered. It was not even acknowledged. The consequence was that the version of the conversation given by Mr. Bullitt was the only one that
up to the present time has been published.
The almost unavoidable conclusion from the President's silence is that he considered my explanation was insufficient to destroy or even to weaken materially the effect of Mr. Bullitt's account of what had taken place, and that the public would believe in spite of it that I was opposed to the Treaty and hostile to the League of Nations. I am not disposed to blame the President for holding this opinion considering what had taken place at Paris. From his point of view a statement, such as I was willing to make, would in no way help the situation. I would still be on record as opposed to certain provisions of the Treaty, provisions which he was so earnestly defending in his addresses. While Mr. Bullitt had given an incomplete report of our conversation, there was sufficient truth in it to make anything but a flat denial seem of little value to the President; and, as I could not make such a denial, his point of view seemed to be that the damage was done and could not be undone. I am inclined to think that he was right.
My views concerning the Treaty at the time of the conversation with Mr. Bullitt are expressed in a memorandum of May 8, 1919, which is as follows:
“The terms of peace were yesterday delivered to the German plenipotentiaries, and for the first time in these days of feverish rush of preparation there is time to consider the Treaty as a complete document.
“The impression made by it is one of disappointment, of regret, and of depression. The terms of peace appear immeasurably harsh and humiliating, while many of them seem to me impossible of performance,
“The League of Nations created by the Treaty is relied upon to preserve the artificial structure which has been erected by compromise of the conflicting interests of the Great Powers and to prevent the germination of the seeds of war which are sown in so many articles and which under normal conditions would soon bear fruit. The League might as well attempt to prevent the growth of plant life in a tropical jungle. Wars will come sooner or later.
“It must be admitted in honesty that the League is an instrument of the mighty to check the normal growth of national power and national aspirations among those who have been rendered impotent by defeat. Examine the Treaty and you will find peoples delivered against their wills into the hands of those whom they hate, while their economic resources are torn from them and given to others. Resentment and bitterness, if not desperation, are bound to be the consequences of such provisions. It may be years before these oppressed peoples are able to throw off the yoke, but as sure as day follows night the time will come when they will make the effort.
“This war was fought by the United States to destroy forever the conditions which produced it. Those conditions have not been destroyed. They have been supplanted by other conditions equally productive of hatred, jealousy, and suspicion. In place of the Triple Alliance and the Entente has arisen the Quintuple Alliance which is to rule the world. The victors in this war intend to impose their combined will upon the vanquished and to subordinate all interests to their own.
“It is true that to please the aroused public opinion of mankind and to respond to the idealism of the moralist they have surrounded the new alliance with a halo and called it ‘The League of Nations,' but whatever it may be called or however it may be disguised it is an alliance of the Five Great Military Powers.
“It is useless to close our eyes to the fact that the power to compel obedience by the exercise of the united strength of 'The Five' is the fundamental principle of the League. Justice is secondary. Might is primary.
“The League as now constituted will be the prey of greed and intrigue; and the law of unanimity in the Council, which may offer a restraint, will be broken or render the organization powerless. It is called upon to stamp as just what is unjust.
“We have a treaty of peace, but it will not bring permanent peace because it is founded on the shifting sands of self-interest.'
In the views thus expressed I was not alone. A few days after they were written I was in London where I discussed the Treaty with several of the leading British statesmen. I noted their opinions thus: “The consensus was that the Treaty was unwise and unworkable, that it was conceived in intrigue and fashioned in cupidity, and that it would produce rather than prevent wars. .” One of these leaders of political thought in Great Britain said that "the only apparent purpose of the League of Nations seems to be to perpetuate the series of unjust provisions which were being imposed.”
The day following my return from London, which was on May 17, I received Mr. Bullitt's letter of resignation and also letters from five of our principal experts protesting against the terms of peace and stating that they considered them to be an abandonment of the principles for