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which Americans had fought. One of the officials, whose relations with the President were of a most intimate nature, said that he was in a quandary about resigning; that he did not think that the conditions in the Treaty would make for peace because they were too oppressive; that the obnoxious things in the Treaty were due to secret diplomacy; and that the President should have stuck rigidly to his principles, which he had not. This official was evidently deeply incensed, but in the end he did not resign, nor did the five experts who sent letters, because they were told that it would seriously cripple the American Commission in the preparation of the Austrian Treaty if they did not continue to serve. Another and more prominent adviser of the President felt very bitterly over the terms of peace. In speaking of his disapproval of them he told me that he had found the same feeling among the British in Paris, who were disposed to blame the President since “they had counted upon him to stand firmly by his principles and face down the intriguers."
It is needless to cite other instances indicating the general state of mind among the Americans and British at Paris to show the views that were being exchanged and the frank comments that were being made at the time of my
interview with Mr. Bullitt. In truth I said less to him in criticism of the Treaty than I did to some others, but they have seen fit to respect the confidential nature of our conversations.
It is not pertinent to the present subject to recite the
events between the delivery of the Treaty to the Germans on May 7 and its signature on June 28. In spite of the dissatisfaction, which even went so far that some of the delegates of the Great Powers threatened to decline to sign the Treaty unless certain of its terms were modified, the supreme necessity of restoring peace as soon as possible overcame all obstacles. It was the appreciation of this supreme necessity which caused many Americans to urge consent to ratification when the Treaty was laid before the Senate.
My own position was paradoxical. I was opposed to the Treaty, but signed it and favored its ratification. The explanation is this: Convinced after conversations with the President in July and August, 1919, that he would not consent to any effective reservations, the politic course seemed to be to endeavor to secure ratification without reservations. It appeared to be the only possible way of obtaining that for which all the world longed and which in the months succeeding the signature appeared absolutely essential to prevent the widespread disaster resulting from political and economic chaos which seemed to threaten many nations if not civilization itself. Even if the Treaty was bad in certain provisions, so long as the President remained inflexible and insistent, its ratification without change seemed a duty to humanity. At least that was my conviction in the summer and autumn of 1919, and I am not yet satisfied that it was erroneous. My views after January, 1920, are not pertinent to the subject under
consideration. The consequences of the failure to ratify promptly the Treaty of Versailles are still uncertain. They may be more serious or they may be less serious than they appeared in 1919. Time alone will disclose the truth and fix the responsibility for what occurred after the Treaty of Versailles was laid before the Senate of the United States.
The narration of my relations to the peace negotiations as one of the American Commissioners to the Paris Conference, which has been confined within the limits laid down in the opening chapter of this volume, concludes with the recital of the views which I held concerning the terms of the Treaty of Peace with Germany and which were brought to the attention of Mr. Wilson through the press reports of William C. Bullitt's statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on September 12, 1919.
The endeavor has been to present, as fully as possible in the circumstances, a review of my association with President Wilson in connection with the negotiations at Paris setting forth our differences of opinion and divergence of judgment upon the subjects coming before the Peace Conference, the conduct of the proceedings, and the terms of peace imposed upon Germany by the Treaty of Versailles.
It is evident from this review that, from a time prior to Mr. Wilson's departure from the United States on December 4, 1918, to attend the Peace Conference up to the delivery of the text of the Treaty to the German plenipotentiaries on May 7, 1919, there were many subjects of disagreement between the President and myself; that he was
disposed to reject or ignore the advice and suggestions which I volunteered; and that in consequence of my convictions I followed his guidance and obeyed his instructions unwillingly.
While there were other matters of friction between us they were of a personal nature and of minor importance. Though they may have contributed to the formality of our relations they played no real part in the increasing difficulty of the situation. The matters narrated were, in my opinion, the principal causes for the letters written by President Wilson in February, 1920; at least they seem sufficient to explain the origin of the correspondence, while the causes specifically stated by him— my calling together of the heads of the executive departments for consultation during his illness and my attempts to anticipate his judgment
- are insufficient. The reasons given in the President's letter of February 11, the essential portions of which have been quoted, for stating that my resignation as Secretary of State would be acceptable to him, are the embarrassment caused him
“reluctance and divergence of judgment” and the implication that my mind did not "willingly go along” with his. As neither of these reasons applies to the calling of Cabinet meetings or to the anticipation of his judgment in regard to foreign affairs, the unavoidable conclusion is that these grounds of complaint were not the real causes leading up to the severance of our official association.
The real causes — which are the only ones worthy of