President Wilson’s Files

The President to the Special Representative ( House )

[Telegram—Extract]

I fully and sympathetically recognize the exceptional position and necessities of Great Britain with regard to the use of the seas for defence both at home and throughout the Empire and also realize [Page 428] that freedom of the seas needs careful definition and is full of questions upon which there is need of the freest discussion and the most liberal interchange of views, but I am not clear that the reply of the Allies quoted in your 12 definitely accepts the principle of freedom of the seas and means to reserve only the free discussion of definitions and limitations. … Terms one, two, three, and fourteen are the essentially American terms in the programme and I cannot change what our troops are fighting for or consent to end with only European arrangements of peace. Freedom of the seas will not have to be discussed with Germany if we agree among ourselves beforehand but will be if we do not. Blockade is one of the many things which will require immediate redefinition in view of the many new circumstances of warfare developed by this war. There is no danger of its being abolished.

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Woodrow Wilson
  1. Hour of dispatch not recorded.