File No. 763.72119/8735
President Wilson to Emperor Charles 1
I am gratified that my recent declaration of the principles to be observed in formulating the conditions of peace are so largely agreed to by His Majesty the Emperor of Austria and that His Majesty desires a closer comparison of the points of view of the two Governments. I should be heartily pleased if His Majesty were disposed to be more explicit concerning the four principles which I outlined in my message to the United States Congress on February 11th last. In that message I endeavored to specify with greater clearness than heretofore the principles which I had attempted to enunciate concretely in a message to Congress of January 8th. In that previous message I set forth in detail the manner in which the said principles ought to be put into practice. I presume that the Emperor of Austria is in possession of my message of January 8th and that he is acquainted with the terms of the programme which in my view should form the basis of a general peace. These terms were set forth in words so explicit and clear that a delegate sent to represent me in person could not have made them more precise. It would assist me materially in determining whether a more intimate and personal comparison of points of view were worth the trouble if I had before my eyes an equally explicit programme.
The Emperor also says that he believes he has positive proof that certain proposals which I made relative to the complicated Balkan situation would be less acceptable to the peoples concerned and more [Page 184]likely to evoke new antagonisms than the adjustment proposed by Austria herself and that certain re-arrangements desired by Italy would not be acceptable to the peoples directly concerned, but he has not given me point by point what I ardently desire, the benefit of his positive programme.
I can assure His Majesty of my willingness to take into consideration any solution he may have in mind. More especially should I like to know how His Majesty proposes to end the dispute in the Balkans and to satisfy the national aspirations of the Slav peoples who are so closely related to masses of his own subjects; what solution he would suggest for the Adriatic coast; what definite concessions to Italy he would regard as just; what in his opinion is the best method of removing the rivalries and antagonisms of the Balkan states which have only been increased by the war; and who is to protect the non-Turkish peoples subject to Turkish rule.
As I understand it the Emperor holds the same views about Belgium and Poland as myself.
With such explanation and information I should be in a better position than at present to form an opinion with regard to the advisability of taking action. I assure His Majesty, if such assurances are necessary, that I seek no strategic advantage nor any advantage of a personal nature, but a just settlement which will confer on the world a just and lasting peace.
- Intercepted text as sent by wireless from Madrid to Vienna, Mar. 5, 1918; the President’s message itself is not dated.↩