File No. 701.7311/32

Remarks of General A. Gvosdenovitch, Newly Appointed Minister of Montenegro, on the Occasion of His Reception by President Wilson, September 20, 1918


Mr. President: The King, my august Sovereign, has deigned to entrust me with the high mission of representing his Government near the Federal Government of the United States and I have the honor to present to Your Excellency the letters which accredit me in the capacity of minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary.

I am instructed to express to you, Mr. President, the profound satisfaction which His Majesty the King, his Government and all the Montenegrins experience in having the relations of sincere friendship and sympathy which already bound our small country to your great nation made closer by this new tie.

You will permit me to add that I realize with feelings of emotion the honor of being, near your great Republic, the first minister plenipotentiary sent by Montenegro.

My country’s admiration and enthusiasm for the United States rest on well-defined and deep-seated grounds.

With us, as with you, ideas of justice and liberty are not imported and artificially infused in our minds; they are the natural offspring of the race.

For five centuries we have fought without respite our enemy who had succeeded in crushing the pride of the strongest nations. Neither were we fighting for our own land only, but also for the oppressed people of our blood, our Jugo-Slav brothers, so that they might have their day of freedom. Thanks to our tenacity, never during those five centuries, in spite of all the hurricanes and cataclysms, [Page 788] was there any extinction at the summit of our mountains of that beacon of independence that we strained with our every effort to keep alive, of that small, flickering, but burning light to which all the unfortunate Balkan peoples turned their eyes and their hopes.

Impelled by that tradition which for the sake of Slavic solidarity has been, is and will be our law, we entered at once the present war and attempted to achieve the impossible. That the task was overwhelming this time, was no fault of ours.

So for many years our poor little country, incessantly constrained to depend on arms for its very existence, failed to develop its domestic and foreign commerce, to create industries, to improve the agricultural opportunities offered by the territory it lately acquired, to exploit its material reserves that have not yet been broached. In the hours of truce many of our young men had to leave the homes that their bravery had just saved. This country of bold initiative is that to which they came. Their appeal to your nation for employment of their activities and strength, for their daily bread and for the comfort of their old age when they would see again the wild scenery of their beloved motherland was not in vain.

By degrees and through those Montenegrins who crossed the ocean, America has come to be known and beloved in our mountains. It has grown to be looked to as a tender hearted friend. At this very moment the emigrants from Tzrnagora scattered over the vast territory of the greatest of the republics watch in enthusiastic interest your magnificent preparation for victory. But while they acclaim your soldiers leaving for Europe, I know that their enthusiasm is mingled with a regret that they cannot join in the struggle under the colors of their King and country. Deep will be their joy when they hear today that I have spoken for them their gratefulness for the generous hospitality extended to them in their day of misfortune by the United States.

But that, Mr. President, is not I am sure the only word of gratitude I shall have to bring you in the name of Montenegro. My venerable Sovereign and his Government know indeed how strongly the intentions of the Federal Republic coincide with their legitimate expectations and they are aware of the most rare and precious support they will find in your mind, one of the leading minds of the century.

The Montenegrins never entertained a doubt of the outcome of the struggle for Right now carried on by the Allies among whom so many of their countrymen are voluntarily paying their mite of abnegation and heroism.

We are confidently waiting for the day when the American troops whose gallantry is already famed, will achieve final victory with [Page 789] the grand soldiers of the Entente. Thanks to the United States, thanks to the powerful nations that have not forsaken us, victory, I firmly believe, will soon dispel my unfortunate country’s memories of the distressing horrors of invasion and famine. At that moment I trust I may, as I do now, rely, in the discharge of my mission, on that benevolence of which the Federal Republic has given such courteous evidence in agreeing to the creation of a Montenegrin legation in Washington.

Mr. President, I am sure I am voicing the sentiments of my Sovereign and of all the people of Montenegro when I beg you to accept the very sincere wishes I make for the victory of the Allies, the glory of the United States, and your personal happiness.