763.72119/404: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State

5514. The following is of immediate importance to the President.

Since there has been an apparent delay in delivering your speech to the Senate42 I venture respectfully to offer a comment on the phraseology in the sentence about “Peace without victory.” My experience of the state of mind in this country makes me fear that unless you define your use of the word “Victory” it will be misconstrued as an effort directly to influence the result of the present war, and even as an interference on behalf of Germany since you took no step while the Germans were gaining military advantages. Any phrase which now appears to the Allies to interfere just when they hope to gain a striking military advantage is enough [to] provoke a storm of criticism that may greatly lessen your influence hereafter. Nothing can now stop the war before the almost imminent great campaign in France for which every preparation has been made. There is a general expectation here that after that peace may soon come.

[If?] instead of “Peace without victory” you should amplify your statement in some manner such as “Peace without conquest” or “People of either side” your speech will have the greatest good effect. Your words as they stand may be construed here as a sort of denial of Balfour’s letter and possibly even as an unfriendly interference in the war at its most critical moment.

The sentiments you express are the noblest utterance since the war began, and, with an explanatory modification of this passage, the [Page 716]speech guaranteed greatly [to] further the cause you plead, enhance your influence, and fix you at the front of the movement for securing permanent peace.

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  1. Delivered January 22, 1917; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1917, supp. 1, p. 24.