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President I can now see that he chafed under the restraints imposed by usage and even by enacted laws if they interfered with his acting in a way which seemed to him right or justified by conditions. I do not say that he was lawless. He was not that, but he conformed grudgingly and with manifest displeasure to legal limitations. It was a thankless task to question a proposed course of action on the ground of illegality, because he appeared to be irritated by such an obstacle to his will and to transfer his irritation against the law to the one who raised it as an objection. I think that he was especially resentful toward any one who volunteered criticism based on a legal provision, precept, or precedent, apparently assuming that the critic opposed his purpose on the merits and in order to defeat it interposed needless legal objections. It is unnecessary to comment on the prejudice which such an attitude of mind made evident.

After the President's exceptionally strong address at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on September 27, 1918, I realized the great importance which he gave to the creation of a League of Nations and in view of this I devoted time and study to the subject, giving particular attention to the British and French suggestions, both of which emphasized judicial settlement. Knowing that the President had been in consultation with Colonel House on the various phases of the peace to be negotiated as well as on the terms of the armistice, I asked the latter what he knew about the former's scheme for a League of Nations. The Colonel discreetly avoided disclosing the details of the plan, but from our conversation I gained an idea of the general principles of the proposed organization and the way in which the President intended to apply them.

After the Colonel and his party had sailed for France and in expectation of being consulted on the subject by President Wilson, I put my thoughts on the League of Nations into writing. In a note, which is dated October 27, 1918, appears the following:

“From the little I know of the President's plan I am sure that it is impracticable. There is in it too much altruistic coöperation. No account is taken of national selfishness and the mutual suspicions which control international relations. It may be noble thinking, but it is not true thinking

“What I fear is that a lot of dreamers and theorists will be selected to work out an organization instead of men whose experience and common sense will tell them not to attempt anything which will not work. The scheme ought to be simple and practical. If the federation, or whatever it may be called, is given too much power or if its machinery is complex, my belief is that it will be unable to function or else will be defied. I can see lots of trouble ahead unless impractical enthusiasts and fanatics are suppressed. This is a time when sober thought, caution, and common sense should control.”

On November 22, 1918, after I had been formally designated as a Peace Commissioner, I made another note for the purpose of crystallizing my own thought on the subject of a League of Nations. Although President Wilson had not then consulted me in any way regarding his plan of organization, I felt sure that he would, and I wished to be prepared to give him my opinion concerning the fundamentals of the plan which might be proposed on behalf of the United States. I saw, or thought that I saw, a disposition to adopt physical might as the basis of the organization, because the guaranty, which the President had announced in Point XIV and evidently purposed to advocate, seemed to require the use of force in the event that it became necessary to make it good.

From the note of November 22 I quote the following:

“The legal principle (of the equality of nations), whatever its basis in fact, must be preserved, otherwise force rather than law, the power to act rather than the right to act, becomes the fundamental principle of organization, just as it has been in all previous Congresses and Concerts of the European Powers.

“It appears to me that a positive guaranty of territorial integrity and political independence by the nations would have to rest upon an open recognition of dominant coercive power in the articles of agreement, the power being commercial and economic as well as physical. The wisdom of entering into such a guaranty is questionable and should be carefully considered before being adopted.

“In order to avoid the recognition of force as a basis and the question of dominant force with the unavoidable classification of nations into 'big' and 'little,''strong'and 'weak,' the desired result of a guaranty might be attained by entering into a mutual undertaking not to impair the territorial integrity or to violate the political sovereignty of any state. The breach of this undertaking would be a breach of the treaty and would sever the relations of the offending nation with all other signatories.”

I have given these two extracts from my notes in order to show the views that I held, at the time the American Commission was about to depart from the United States, in regard to the character of the guaranty which the President intended to make the central feature of the League of Nations. In the carrying out of his scheme and in creating an organization to give effect to the guaranty I believed that I saw as an unavoidable consequence an exaltation of force and an overlordship of the strong nations. Under such conditions it would be impossible to preserve within the organization the equality of nations, a precept of international law which was the universally recognized basis of intercourse between nations in time of peace. This I considered most unwise and a return to the old order, from which every one hoped that the victory over the Central Empires had freed the world.

The views expressed in the notes quoted formed the basis for my subsequent course of action as an American Commissioner at Paris in relation to the League of Nations. Convinced from previous experience that to oppose every form of guaranty by the nations assembled at Paris would be futile in view of the President's apparent determination to compel the adoption of that principle, I endeavored to find a form of guaranty that would be less objectionable than the one which the President had in mind. The commitment of the United States to any guaranty seemed to me at least questionable, though to prevent it seemed impossible in the circumstances. It did not seem politic to try to persuade the President to abandon the idea altogether. I was certain that that could not be done. If he could be induced to modify his plan so as to avoid a direct undertaking to protect other nations from aggression, the result would be all that could be expected. I was guided, therefore, chiefly by expediency rather than by principle in presenting my views to the President and in openly approving the idea of a guaranty.

The only opportunity that I had to learn more of the President's plan for a League before arriving in Paris was an hour's interview with him on the U.S.S. George Washington some days after we sailed from New York. He showed me nothing in writing, but explained in a general way his views as to the form, purpose, and powers of a League. From this conversation I gathered that my fears as to the proposed organization were justified and that it was to be based on the principle of diplomatic adjustment rather than that of judicial settlement and that political expediency tinctured with morality was to be the standard of determination of an international controversy rather than strict legal justice.

In view of the President's apparent fixity of purpose it seemed unwise to criticize the plan until I could deliver to him a substitute in writing for the mutual guaranty which he evidently considered to be the chief feature of the plan. I did not attempt to debate the subject with him

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