File No. 763.72/5175

The Ambassador in Russia ( Francis) to the Secretary of State


1357. My No. 1356 explains situation. Just returned from conference with Minister for Foreign Affairs who handed me the following communication which he termed personal, unofficial, but knows I am transmitting in full:

June 4, 1911.

My Dear Ambassador: May I take the liberty to address to your excellency a request in connection with President Wilson’s last note you were good enough to transmit to the Russian Provisional Government. I would like to be entirely frank with you and in talking as a diplomatist to a diplomatist to use the language of a friend to a man whom I have long been accustomed to appreciate very highly and to esteem sincerely.

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You know that a halo surrounds President Wilson’s name in Russia. You know what an admiration and what sympathies have been created by his first note among Russias’ democracy when they had not yet won their freedom. After that note the whole Russian democracy saw clearly and openly declared, what they had already felt before; namely, that President Wilson was at the present moment the chief and principal statesman able to lead mankind effectively to a just peace of the whole world. His further attitude as well as the present [omission] and magnanimous action of the United States in defense of the right have strengthened still more our deep regard for him as a statesman. The friendship and intimacy of the United States great democracy are of infinite value for us and we should much regret if any of the President’s intentions or words were to be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Such a misinterpretation would be especially pernicious at the present moment when Russia is passing through a great crisis and all the efforts of the Provisional Government tend to lead the country out of this state and while as you certainly know there are people who, be it consciously or unconsciously, maliciously or conscientiously, are striving by every means to undermine the authority of the Provisional Government and to push the nation off the road the Provisional Government intends to lead her along.

The Provisional Government have good, reasons to hope that the Russian Army will very soon be able to regain possession of itself; that its painful inaction will cease and that they will again become an active and useful force in the common struggle side by side with the democracies of the West. Every thought of the Provisional Government is directed to this aim for the sake of upholding Russia’s honor, the preserving the sacred trust to the Allies and lastly the saving of Russia’s democracy itself.

All other aims are subordinated to this one; for this the Provisional Government are ready for their part for the utmost sacrifices and in this regard they firmly count upon President Wilson’s deep intelligence and magnanimous support.

Such an aid coming from the President at the present moment would be invaluable for the Provisional Government as well as for the whole of Russia; far more valuable even than his premise to assist her with money and munitions which are to us of the utmost importance and value.

From this point of view I take the liberty to touch a few passages in President Wilson’s note. I quite agree with all his considerations giving proof of his usual shrewdness of analysis and perspicuity but considering the state of nervous excitement that prevails in Russia, considering the existence of misinterpreters who are ever ready to do their destructive work, I am afraid some passages of the note may be misunderstood. This would give rise to disputes in the democracy that could bring confusion into the army which during the next few weeks will have to concentrate all its attention and will on the single point of preparing the offensive.

Your excellency will be good enough to find annexed a copy of the three passages of the note I am alluding to and which in my opinion may give rise to misunderstanding.

Please excuse the trouble I am causing you and the President. I have had to trouble the British Ambassador thrice for exactly similar reasons. I beg you to believe me! when I say that my only leading motive for doing so is my ardent desire to give Russia’s free people the possibility and the power necessary for a vigorous and resolute pursuit of the struggle for the liberty and independence of all the democracies, in close and indissoluble union with them.

Believe me [etc.]

Michael Tereshchenko

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The passages alluded to are paragraph 2 beginning, “The war has begun,” ending, “men they are using.”1 Ministry endeavoring restore discipline by making impression that German success [threatening] and avoidable only by Russia’s offensive. Second passage begins, “The ruling classes in Germany,” ends, “from ever happening again,” about twenty-two lines.2 Third passage in last paragraph begins, “and unless we pour out,” ends with words, “guarantee of justice and security.”3 Minister for Foreign Affairs says while thoroughly agreeing with President, Government is preparing for offensive and wishes to avoid everything likely to arouse political discussions, especially in army, and fears “that status must be altered” may be construed as meaning conquest or dismemberment. Also looks with suspicion on “the day has come to conquer” in last passage. His objections in my judgment exaggerated but think we should not give Russia any excuse for not beginning offensive.

Brusilov to-day made commander in chief, Alexeev coming to Petrograd as member of Advisory Council. Minister for Foreign Affairs says that Kerensky promises begin offensive within two or three weeks and Kerensky himself tells me if not done cable you that army conditions rapidly improving. Minister for Foreign Affairs says England cheerfully alters her communication in accordance with his suggestions and expects altered reply by June 6. Minister for Foreign Affairs expedites this cable.

  1. The war has begun to go against Germany, and in their desperate desire to escape the inevitable ultimate defeat those who are in authority in Germany are using every possible instrumentality, are making use even of the influence of groups and parties among their own subjects to whom they have never been just or fair or even tolerant, to promote a propaganda on both sides of the sea which will preserve for them their influence at home and their power abroad, to the undoing of the very men they are using.
  2. The ruling classes in Germany have begun of late to profess a like liberality and justice of purpose, but only to preserve the power they have set up in Germany and the selfish advantages which they have wrongly gained for themselves and their private projects of power all the way from Berlin to Bagdad and beyond. Government after government has by their influence, without open conquest of its territory, been linked together in a net of intrigue directed against nothing less than the peace and liberty of the world. The meshes of that intrigue must be broken, but cannot be broken unless wrongs already done are undone; and adequate measures must be taken to prevent it from ever again being rewoven or repaired.

    Of course, the Imperial German Government and those whom it is using for their own undoing are seeking to obtain pledges that the war will end in the restoration of the status quo ante. It was the status quo ante out of which this iniquitous war issued forth, the power of the Imperial German Government within the Empire and its widespread domination and influence outside of that Empire. That status must be altered in such fashion as to prevent any such hideous thing from ever happening again.

  3. … and unless we pour out the blood and treasure now and succeed, we may never be able to unite or show conquering force again in the great cause of human liberty. The day has come to conquer or submit. If the forces of autocracy can divide us, they will overcome us; if we stand together, victory is certain and the liberty which victory will secure. We can afford then to be generous, but we cannot afford then or now to be weak or omit any single guarantee of justice and security.