The Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: I spent nearly two hours this afternoon with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in regard to the King resolution for a declaration of a state of war with Turkey and Bulgaria. From what Senator Hitchcock had told me and from the impression I gained in the first few minutes of the conference today I found that all of the Republicans and many of the Democrats on the Committee were predisposed to reporting favorably the King resolution.

In view of the situation I thought it best to state that the question was one of expediency, that I was not present to advise but to consult with the Committee as to the wisdom of a declaration such as the one proposed. I made it clear that neither you nor I sought to influence improperly Congressional action, that the responsibility for the declaration of a state of war lay with Congress and they could not avoid the responsibility, and that the Executive branch of the Government could go no further than lay the facts before them and give opinions when asked. This attitude seemed to make the supporters of the resolution very cautious.

The Committee asked me whether it was considered expedient by the British, French and Italian Governments for us to declare a state of war with these two allies of Germany. I told them that I did not know but that I was willing to inquire if they wished me to do so.

I emphasized the fact that the whole problem was one of policy based upon the proposition of winning the war, that I was not there to advocate a particular course of action but to elucidate to the Committee the situation as far as I was able, and that it was only a question of whether a declaration of war would be more helpful or more injurious to our cause.

As a result of this conference with the Committee it was arranged that I should obtain the views of the Allied Governments as to the advisability of a declaration by us of a state of war with Turkey [Page 122] and Bulgaria together, or with Bulgaria alone. Until this information is obtained there will be no action.

In view of the very evident majority in the Committee favoring a declaration against both Turkey and Bulgaria I suggest the sending of the enclosed telegrams to London, Paris, and Rome, and to the War Council at Versailles.86

Will you be good enough to consider these telegrams and to indicate your wishes in the matter?

I have agreed to confer again with the Committee when I know more definitely the views of our cobelligerents, expressing the opinion that it would take at least ten days to obtain these views.

Faithfully yours,

Robert Lansing