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The Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: We have at last received an answer from the Czar to your offer of mediation.1 It is as follows:

“Appreciating the humanitarian sentiments which dictated this step His Majesty has deigned to command me to transmit to the President his sincere thanks. Russia did not desire war and did everything to avoid it, but from the moment this war was imposed upon her she cannot fail to defend her rights by force of arms. Under these circumstances it seems for the moment premature to contemplate the possibility of peace. Nevertheless I beg you to be so good as to be the interpreter to Mr. Woodrow Wilson of the thanks of His Majesty.”

If you will examine the five answers received, you will be reminded of that passage in the Scriptures which says “that they all with one accord began to make excuses.” Each one declares he is opposed to war and anxious to avoid it and then lays the blame upon someone else. The German Ambassador this morning blamed Russia and congratulates his country that the Emperor did what he could to avoid war. He also commends the efforts of France and Great Britain to avoid war, but the Czar is charged with being the cause, his offense being the mobilization of his army after Austria had assured him that the integrity of Servia would not be disturbed.

The fact that they all declare themselves against war and express regret that it has been gone into would seem to make it easier when a way opens to present the matter again. An appeal could then be reinforced by quotations from their replies.

I hope that you are securing the rest which you so greatly need.

With assurances [etc.]

W. J. Bryan
  1. For President Wilson’s offer of good offices, see Foreign Relations, 1914, supp., p. 42; for the replies, see ibid., pp. 48, 49, 50, 60, 78.