File No. 763.72119/43
The Ambassador in Germany (Gerard) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 14, 8.15 p. m.]
1579. It is my conviction from knowledge secured here from a variety of sources, but naturally not from official circles as it could not be permitted by official circles that an understanding of this sort should emanate from them, that if a reasonable peace proposition were offered Germany very many men of influence would be inclined to use their efforts to induce Germany to accept the proposition. The terms would naturally develop from general discussion once negotiations were begun by the parties and the Allies should [Page 10] be the first to put forth the intimation, which should take the form of a secret intimation elicited by our Ambassadors and then conveyed here informally. Contingent on your approval of my approaching this matter I might be authorized to send our military attáché, Major Langhorne, on special mission to our Ambassadors at London, Paris, and Petrograd to lay these views before them confidentially. Major Langhorne enjoys the greatest confidence of the Germans and in my opinion his mission forms an essential part of the plan. If necessary he could go to one country, and others such as Jackson could undertake the missions to the other countries. If peace does not come immediately, a new and protracted phase of the war will commence. There is no chance of success if much cabling is done and you formally instruct our Ambassadors to take the matter up for that would leave room for the interpretation that the intimation originated from Germany and not from your instructions to me to use my discretion in a matter concerning which I and not Germany made a suggestion to you.
As for the success of the German armies I have full confidence but it must be the desire of all reasonable men that honorable peace be established. It is my belief that if you seize the present opportunity you will be the instrument of bringing about the greatest peace which has ever been signed, but it will be fatal to hesitate or wait a moment; success is dependent on immediate action. I hope you grasp the idea of this proposition naturally not elaborated in a cable and my great hopes of success.
Of course it could be determined later whether, in case the Allies should not all agree to make the proposal, we should continue negotiations. Probably we should be justified in continuing them if one of the Allies held off from reasonable proposal since I assume that the establishment of peace is in our interest.