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his address of January 8, 1918. At the time that the typewritten plan was handed to me another copy had already been given to the printer of the Commission. It was evident, therefore, that the President was satisfied with the document. It contained the theory and fundamental principles which he advocated for world organization.



I IMMEDIATELY began an examination and analysis of the President's plan for a League, having in mind Colonel House's suggestion that I consider a way to modify it so that it would harmonize with my views. The more I studied the document, the less I liked it. A cursory reading of the plan, which is printed in the Appendix (page 281), will disclose the looseness of the language and the doubtful interpretation of many of the provisions. It showed an inexpertness in drafting and a fault in expression which were chargeable to lack of appreciation of the need of exactness or else to haste in preparation. This fault in the paper, which was very apparent, could, however, be cured and was by no means a fatal defect. As a matter of fact, the faults of expression were to a certain extent removed by subsequent revisions, though some of the vagueness and ambiguity of the first draft persisted and appeared in the final text of the Covenant.

The more serious defects of the plan were in the principles on which it was based and in their application under the provisions of the articles proposed. The contemplated use of force in making good the guaranty of sovereign rights and the establishment of a primacy of the Great Powers were provided for in language which was sufficiently explicit to admit of no denial. In my opinion these provisions were entirely out of harmony with American ideals, policies, and traditions. Furthermore, the clauses in regard to arbitration and appeals from arbitral awards, to which reference has been made, the lack of any provision for the establishment of a permanent international judiciary, and the introduction of the mandatory system were strong reasons to reject the President's plan.

It should be borne in mind that, at the time that this document was placed in my hands, the plan of General Smuts for a League of Nations had, as I have said, been printed in the press and in pamphlet form and had been given wide publicity. In the Smuts plan, which gave first place to the system of mandates, appeared the declaration that the League of Nations was to acquire the mandated territories as “the heir of the Empires.” This clever and attractive phrase caught the fancy of the President, as was evident from his frequent repetition and approval of it in discussing mandates under the League. Just as General Smuts had adopted the President's “self-determination,” Mr. Wilson seized upon the Smuts idea with avidity and incorporated it in his plan. It unquestionably had a decided influence upon his conception of the right way to dispose of the colonial possessions of Germany and of the proper relation of the newly created European states to the League of Nations. As an example of the way in which President Wilson understood and applied General Smuts’s phrase to the new states, I quote the following from the “Supplementary Agreements” forming part of the first printed draft of the President's Covenant, but which I believe were added to the typewritten draft after the President had examined the plan of the South African states


“As successor to the Empires, the League of Nations is empowered, directly and without right of delegation, to watch over the relations inter se of all new independent states arising or created out of the Empires, and shall assume and fulfill the duty of conciliating and composing differences between them with a view to the maintenance of settled order and the general peace.”

There is a natural temptation to a student of international agreements to analyze critically the composition and language of this provision, but to do so would in no way advance the consideration of the subject under discussion and would probably be interpreted as a criticism of the President's skill in accurately expressing his thoughts, a criticism which it is not my purpose to make.

Mr. Wilson's draft also contained a system of mandates over territories in a form which was, to say the least, rudimentary if not inadequate. By the proposed system the League of Nations, as “the residuary trustee,” was to take sovereignty over “the peoples and territories” of the defeated Empires and to issue a mandate to some power or powers to exercise such sovereignty. A“residuary trustee was a novelty in international relations sufficient to arouse conjecture as to its meaning, but giving to the League the character of an independent state with the capacity of possessing sovereignty and the power to exercise sovereign rights through a designated agent was even more extraordinary. This departure from the long accepted idea of the essentials of statehood seemed to me an inexpedient and to a degree a dangerous adventure. The only plausible excuse for the proposal seemed to be a lack of knowledge as to the nature of sovereignty and as to the attributes inherent in the very conception of a state. The character of a mandate, a mandatory, and the authority issuing the mandate presented many legal perplexities which certainly required very careful study before the experiment was tried. Until the system was fully worked out and the problems of practical operation were solved, it seemed to me unwise to suggest it and still more unwise to adopt it. While the general idea of mandates issuing from the proposed international organization was presumably acceptable to the President from the first, his support was doubtless confirmed by the fact that it followed the groove which had been made in his mind by the Smuts phrase "the heir of the Empires."

In any event it seemed to me the course of wise statesmanship to postpone the advocacy of mandates, based on the assumption that the League of Nations could become the possessor of sovereignty, until the practical application of the theory could be thoroughly considered from the standpoint of international law as well as from the standpoint of policy. The experiment was too revolutionary to

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