File No. 763.72119/2123

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State


5387. The press of this morning, as well as of yesterday afternoon, join in hearty commendation of the President’s reply to Germany’s note. In a few instances, but not in the more important papers, while giving approval in all other respects, yet the view is expressed that the evacuation of Alsace-Lorraine should have been specifically mentioned in connection with the references to the evacuation of the invaded territories.

Among those who have personally spoken to me in its praise is Mr. Viviani, former President of the Council, who said to me last night that it was a document of the highest statesmanship and would be sustained by the entire people of France. The one dominant note in the press comments concerning it, is the satisfaction over the manner in which the President had completely deprived the Central Powers of political capital at home which a point blank refusal to their peace overtures would have given to them. The headlines in practically all the others, especially feature the demand for the evacuation of the invaded territory before even considering the enemy’s request.

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Coming as it does amidst the unparalleled triumphs of our armies, all the way from the [Belgian] front down to the American sector in Lorraine, the total collapse of the enemy’s power seems to many to be near as a result of this month’s victories at the front. One cannot be insensible to the whetted appetite for demanding ever-increasing penalties from a hated foe. The daily publication of the story of his new depredations in French towns only serves to increase it.

On a visit to Soissons two days ago by invitation of the French Government I took luncheon with General Mangin, in command of the Tenth Army of that sector. He expressed to me great confidence in the ability of the Allied forces to destroy the German armies before they could evacuate French and [Belgian] territory, though on account of the lateness of the season they might not bring about such result before next spring. He thought that the enemy might secretly be glad to be allowed to get out of France with his men, arms and ammunition saved; at the same time he did not minimize the tremendous energies and desperation with which that enemy is endeavoring to cover his retreat.