The organization and principles of selection of the papers contained in this
Supplement are essentially the same as described in the preface to
Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2. The only
important variation to be noted is the inclusion of a section dealing with Latin
America in continuation of the one included in Supplement 1 for 1917.
The most important omission from the record is that, in Part I, of the minutes of the Supreme War Council, on account of the objections to their publication on the part of the foreign governments concerned, as explained in the preface to Supplement 2 for 1917. It is believed that the exclusion of these minutes does not greatly impair the record of development of American policy, as the United States was not fully represented in the main council prior to the armistice negotiations, and as the complete minutes themselves were not currently received in the Department of State. The summary telegraphic reports by the American Diplomatic Liaison Officer of discussions and recommendations involving American policy, or questions in which the American Government assumed an active interest, are included. These are, unfortunately, fragmentary and sometimes defective, yet they constitute a valuable record supplementary to the minutes. Occasional reports of the Military Representative are also included, although, as explained in the preface to the preceding Supplement, no attempt is made at a comprehensive treatment of military affairs. For the armistice negotiations, in which Colonel House participated as Special Representative, the telegraphic record is somewhat more adequate and necessarily formed the sole available basis for the Government’s decisions. This Supplement is brought to a conclusion, save for occasional papers, at the date of the armistice with Germany.
Brackets, , occurring in the text enclose editorial insertions. These are of two main types: (1) words or phrases, in ordinary type, supplied to fill in omissions or replace obviously garbled passages in telegrams; and (2) suggested corrections, in italics, following words or phrases which appear to be incorrect. When there is not sufficient evidence to indicate what has been omitted or garbled, or when the words which might be suggested would so [Page IV]seriously affect the sense of the document that supplying them would involve more than an editorial responsibility, notice is taken of defects in the text by the insertion, within brackets, of “omission,” “garbled groups,” or “sic” Insignificant words are corrected or inserted without distinguishing marks.
Parentheses, (), occurring in the text are in the documents themselves. Besides their ordinary use for punctuation, these marks were also employed, in the deciphering and decoding of telegrams, to enclose words or phrases suggested by the decoders as possibly the intended readings of garbled groups which yielded unintelligible or no results. When so employed they have been allowed to stand, unless comparison with other documents has shown the suggested reading to have been obviously either correct or incorrect. In the latter case the text within parentheses has sometimes been replaced by an editorial insertion within brackets.
Translations as found in the files have been revised and corrected if found faulty by comparison with texts in the original language or other available versions, but care has been taken to avoid altering in any significant respect important texts that were acted upon or used as sources of information in their existing form.