File No. 701.7311/32

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

Mr. Minister: I am happy to accept the credential letters by which His Majesty, the King of Montenegro, accredits you as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary near the Government of the United States and to accord you formal recognition in that high capacity.

For a number of years the Government of the United States has had a diplomatic representative accredited to Montenegro, in consequence of which it is appropriate that the existing Government of Montenegro, though forced to find a refuge on foreign soil, should send a diplomatic representative to the United States Government.

The cruel hand of a most pitiless war has fallen heavily upon your gallant country, so long among the bravest champions of the liberty of its race.

With your brothers the Jugo-Slavs, and your cousins the Czechoslovaks, and with the Roumanians as well, you have suffered from the rapacity of a heartless military organization which knew only the attainment of material ambition through the use of brute force. The Imperial Austro-Hungarian Government, in league with the German military autocracy, from the very outset of this fatal war, has brought its reign of terror to the door-steps and hearth-stones of the smallest countries within its reach. Murder, rapine, and pillage have left in their wake disrupted families, smouldering ruins and bleeding hearts. Proud and patriotic peoples have been brought to the verge of desperation, overcome by superior strength, and driven from their countries. Such is the sad plight of Montenegro and its neighbors, who have fallen victims to the desire of the German [Page 790] and Austrian Governments to enlarge their territorial possessions, and to subject to their insidious influence the peoples of different countries, in spite of the desire of those peoples for distinct existence, and in the face of racial differences which are incompatible with the purposes of those who direct the movements of the German and Austrian Governments.

It is against these motives and ambitions, and against this centralized and dominating military power that the United States Government, in its sympathy for small nations, and in harmony with movements for racial independence has assumed an aggressive attitude and is fighting for the preservation of the rights of all nations fully determined to overcome the enemies of justice and liberty.

As regards those Montenegrins to whom you refer, who have come to live among us, and through whom the United States has become better known to their fellow countrymen at home, we owe them a debt of gratitude in that they have contributed in no small measure, to the friendly relations and mutual good feeling which so happily prevail, and which it is my sincere hope, Mr. Minister, will continue to prevail and increase day by day, fostered by your beneficent influence.

Permit me to assure you that you may confidently rely on my efforts and those of the officers of this Government to aid you with the most cordial good will in the performance of the duties of your mission and in the promotion of the common interests of the United States and Montenegro.