File No. 763.72119/1099
The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 11, 11.48 a.m.]
3019. The message of President Wilson has been received by everybody in Paris with the greatest satisfaction. Words of warm approval are heard on all sides where the message has been the sole topic of conversation since an outline was first given in the afternoon papers of yesterday. The full text printed in the Paris press today has created a great demand for copies. The most prominent space has been reserved in its columns for the message.
It is assuredly considered as the most important document bearing on the issues of the war that has appeared since the message of President Wilson on the 4th [2d?] of last April.1 Its entire lack of ambiguity and the comprehensive manner in which the issues at stake are set forth constitute perhaps the chief features which are most remarked upon as defining the position of the Allies in the war. Naturally the most enthusiastic praise and the most touching appreciation is given to the President’s reference to the restoration of Alsace and Lorraine. I can think of no event that has so moved the French people as this championship of that which France has come to recognize as being almost the sole test of allegiance to her cause. Members of the Government and civilians of prominence have throughout the day expressed to me their heartfelt gratitude [for] the President’s adherence to this cause.
[Coming] next in order in interest and calling for the highest commendation is the President’s reference to the cause of Russia. In this connection a touching incident occurred late yesterday afternoon when Mr. Maklakoff, the Russian Ambassador, after reading the declarations made in the message concerning Russia, hastened over to my home and there with great emotion expressed to me his profound gratitude for what President Wilson had said in behalf of his country. In words of bitterness he contrasted the President’s attitude towards Russia with that recently taken by Lloyd George whose declarations he said could not help but result in the greatest [Page 20]harm to his country as well as to the general situation of the Allies. He also deplored the hasty action with which France and England had recognized the independence of Finland [before] the rights of Russia in her relations to Finland could be properly defined and safeguarded.
To my own mind the President’s position on Russia has been a masterful political stroke executed at the right time. The wide open [door] which he has left for the entrance of Germany into negotiations for peace has most effectually deprived that country of any possible advantage which its peace maneuverings with Russia, in which the Allies have been invited to join, might have upon the German people.
Taken all in all the message has had a most strengthening and heartening effect upon the French people.
In selecting the following quotations appearing today in the principal papers of the Paris press I am pleased to call particular attention to the lofty sentiments expressed by the noted writer, Gustave Hervé, in La Victoire, as fairly illustrative of the very exuberance of the new confidence and hope which the President’s message has inspired. The words quoted from L’Information from Albert Thomas are significant as he is the recognized leader of the United Socialists in Parliament and wields great influence among his followers. I quote as follows:
La Victoire. “The Wilson Peace,” by Gustave Hervé.—All men of good will upon earth will read today with profound emotion President Wilson’s declarations as to the war aims of the great American Republic. Once again the worthy successor of George Washington and of Abraham Lincoln has spoken as if he were already president of the society of nations for whose realization millions or men have been suffering and dying for forty months, or as if he were the just impartial judge of the international tribunal which some day will prevent wars among the reconciled nations. Let those who have hitherto denied that the Allies are fighting for the peace of right, for the cause of justice, meditate upon this speech which will remain with our declaration of the rights of man as one of the immortal charters of humanity. It is with gratitude that we greet Mr. Wilson’s words as clear as those of Mr. Lloyd George about reparation for the great injustice committed in 1871 against France and against her children in Alsace-Lorraine. The original feature of Mr. Wilson’s speech is the high serenity overflowing with kindness and brotherly spirit with which he speaks to Russian Revolutionaries and to the German people themselves. After Lloyd George, President Wilson notifies the German people that Alsace-Lorraine returned to France and Poland resurrected are the corner stones for the great edifice which twentieth century nations are building with their flesh and blood to offer a shelter of peace to the humanity of the future. This speech is for the Allies a new victory of the Marne.[Page 21]
L’Information. “Lloyd George and Wilson,” [by] Albert Thomas.—It will be to the honour of President Wilson to have by his repeated messages obliged the nations of the Entente to make their national aspirations conform with justice. In spite of its faults, its weakness and its abandonment of alliances, it will be to the honour of the Russian Revolution to have led the Western Powers into cleansing their peace propositions of all imperialism. The review of the war aims is now an accomplished fact. Today the moral force of the Entente is incomparable. In spite of a few slight shades of thought and a few divergencies of text it is clearly revealed in the two documents of London and of Washington. The same principles are proclaimed by both the judicial and abstract mind of President Wilson and the realistic imagination of Mr. Lloyd George.
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