Woodrow Wilson Papers
The Secretary of State to President Wilson 13
My Dear Mr. President: The plan of guaranty proposed for the League of Nations, which has been the subject of discussion, will find considerable objection from other Governments because, even when the principle is agreed to, there will be a wide divergence of views as to the terms of the obligation. This difference of opinion will be [Page 516] seized upon by those who are openly or secretly opposed to the League to create controversy and discord.
In addition to this there will be opposition in Congress to assuming obligations to take affirmative action along either military or economic lines. On constitutional grounds, on its effect upon the Monroe Doctrine, on jealousy as to congressional powers, &c., there will be severe criticism which will materially weaken our position with other nations and may, in view of senatorial hostility, defeat a treaty as to the League of Nations or at least render it impotent.
With these thoughts in mind and with an opposition known to exist among certain European statesmen and already manifest in Washington I take the liberty of laying before you a tentative draft of articles of guaranty which I do not believe can be successfully opposed either at home or abroad.
I do not see how any nation can refuse to subscribe to them. I do not see how any question of constitutionality can be raised as they are based essentially on powers which are confided to the Executive. They in no way raise a question as to the Monroe Doctrine. At the same time I believe that the result would be as efficacious as if there was an undertaking to take positive action against an offending nation, which is the present cause of controversy.
I am so earnestly in favor of the guaranty, which is the heart of the League of Nations, that I have endeavored to find a way to accomplish this and to remove the objections raised, which seem to me today to jeopardize the whole plan.
I shall be glad, if you desire it, to confer with you in regard to the enclosed paper14 or to receive your opinion as to the suggestions made. In any event it is my hope that you will give the paper consideration.
- Of the three enclosures printed with this letter only enclosure 2 accompanies it in Woodrow Wilson’s papers. Enclosures 1 and 3 are printed from Hunter Miller’s papers.↩
- In The Peace Negotiations (Boston and New York, 1921), p. 50, Mr. Lansing indicates that the “enclosed paper” consisted of the three memoranda here printed as enclosures.↩