File No. 763.72119/1279

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


3197. All the French papers publish the President’s message this morning and give prominent space to editorial comments thereon. They all pay fine tribute to the President’s service to the cause of humanity. Perhaps the most opportune service, in so far as the south of France is concerned, is the effect it will have upon discouraging any revival of Socialistic agitation against the French Government. Within the past few days there has been a revival of that opposition formulated in resolutions adopted only last Sunday at a meeting of the Socialist Federal Council of the Seine. It is significant that some of the highest tributes to the message are paid by a [number] of the Socialist journals.

Marcel Sembat, the Socialist Deputy in [omission] fairly expresses the views of all the other Socialist journals when he says:

The last speech of President Wilson is of a marvelous vigor and precision. Not a useless sentence, each word acts. Heading Wilson we perceive that he was compelled to speak, he had essential things to say in reply to Hertling and to Czernin. And in his replies what substance, what power of thought! He smites with a strong fist on Hertling’s chains and his blows are massive and regular.

After reading and re-reading the message it seems to me that the following few lines appearing in an editorial in the conservative [Page 115] Gaulois best express the general conviction which must come to all those who have read both the messages of the President and the speeches of the Chancellors:

President Wilson accepted the fight on these grounds (peace discussions) as on all others and immediately asserted his superiority by means which were beyond the capacity of adversaries. To the subtlety of their tactics he opposes the irresistible power of arguments drawn from the sources of indisputable logic and truth. The purposely vague and aimless declarations of Hertling are exposed in such a manner that it would seem as though any reply to the President’s message would necessitate for the first time from the German Government a clear and definite statement of its terms of peace and the methods of obtaining it if it is sincere in its proffer.

The Petit Parisien, the most widely read paper in France, says:

It is a proud and fine reply to the speeches of January 24. It is addressed to the masses even more than to the enemy Governments, and it throws full light upon the hypocritical game of Hertling, who has become the humblest and most constant servant of the German war machine.

Le Temps in its leading editorial last night devotes much of its discussion of the President’s message in comparing it with Trotzky’s declaration putting Russia out of combat.1 It characterizes the action of the President as calculated to hasten the end of the war while that of Trotzky opening up the resources of Russia to Germany tends to indefinitely prolong it.

Mr. Pichon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, asked me to hasten in the name of his Government to express its thanks for the President’s message. He said the French Government indorsed it in every respect and was grateful for not only the effect of the message upon the French sentiment but also for the effect which it would have in Germany. He humorously remarked to me that the French Socialists were trying to turn the principles advocated by President Wilson against the French Army but, as French Government equally indorsed them, such principles would be doubly helpful to France.