I know that I speak for the American people—and I have good reason to believe I speak also for all the other peoples who fight with us—when I say that this time we are determined not only to win the war but also to maintain the security of the peace which will follow.
These words, addressed to Congress on January 6, 1942, by the President of the United States, serve to emphasize the conviction, which so many of us share, that the achievement of the right kind of peace after the cessation of hostilities is, like the winning of the war in the field, a major objective of the American people. We fully understand that the just and stable order to which we look forward can be realized only by judicious planning and skilled execution. To that end we must not only study every phase of the international structure of today but we must also draw upon the world’s last great experience in peacemaking, the Paris settlement of 1919.
Whether a more effective peace settlement in 1919 or a more effective execution of that settlement would have saved us from the devastating war in which we are now engaged is a question which it may not be possible even for the historians of later generations to settle beyond a doubt. But irrespective of the verdict of history it is imperative that we make every effort to avoid the pitfalls of the period following the last war. To avoid those pitfalls it is necessary for us to have at hand while the next world settlement is in the making, available to the public and to responsible officials alike, full and authoritative information on the peacemaking of 1919. The present is, therefore, an especially appropriate time for the Department of State to fill an obvious gap in its Foreign Relations series by publishing in this volume and in the volumes to follow the official American records of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.
None of the governments represented at Paris in 1919 has yet given a substantially complete record of the Conference to the public, although there is a large unofficial literature on the Conference already in existence. This literature includes volumes of memoirs by distinguished participants and collections of documents dealing with certain aspects of the work of the Conference, such as David Hunter Miller’s My Diary at the Conference of Paris and the same author’s The Drafting of the Covenant; A. G. de Lapradelle, La documentation internationals: la paix de Versailles; James T. Shotwell, The [Page IV] Origins of the International Labor Organization; René Albrecht Carrié, Italy at the Paris Peace Conference; Philip M. Burnett, Reparation at the Paris Peace Conference; Ray Stannard Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement; Robert Lansing, The Peace Negotiations; Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, volume IV; Nina Almond and Ralph H. Lutz, The Treaty of St. Germain; Count Aldrovandi, Guerra diplomatica and Nuovi ricordi; David Lloyd George. The Truth About the peace Treaties; André Tardieu, The Truth About the Treaty; and H. W. V. Temperley (editor), A History of the Peace Conference of Paris. These titles and many others are to be found in such bibliographies as Robert C. Binkley, “Ten Years of Peace Conference History” in the Journal of Modern History, volume I, December 1929 pages 607–629; Paul Birdsall, “The Second Decade of Peace Conference History,” ibid., volume XI, September 1939, pages 362–373; Samuel F. Bemis and Grace G. Griffin, Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States, 1775–1921, pages 673–684; and Nina Almond and Ralph H. Lutz, An Introduction to a Bibliography of the Paris Peace Conference.
The documents published in this edition are largely from the files of the Department of State and those of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, whose extensive records are now also in the possession of the Department. A certain number of closely related documents from other sources, whose publication seemed desirable in the interest of completeness, have also been included. Among these may be mentioned documents from the papers of Woodrow Wilson, Robert Lansing, Tasker H. Bliss, Henry White, Breckinridge Long, and David Hunter Miller in the collections of the Library of Congress, and those of Colonel Edward M. House at Yale University.
It is intended that the volumes of the present series be arranged in three groups, as follows:
- Volumes I and II, containing documents on the preliminary period dealing with preparations for the Conference and the period between the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, and the first meeting of the Council of Ten on January 12, 1919.
- Volumes III through X, containing minutes of the Plenary Sessions of the Conference, the meetings of the representatives of the Powers with Special Interests, and minutes of the meetings of the governing bodies of the Conference, i. e., the Supreme Council in its various aspects: the Council of Ten, Council of Four, Council of Foreign Ministers, Council of Heads of Delegations, International Council of Premiers (through its meeting of January 20, 1920), and Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs; and (in Volume X) minutes of meetings of the American Commissioners Plenipotentiary and documents relating to the [Page V] composition, organization, and activities of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace.
- Volume XI and following volumes, containing (1) minutes and reports of the Commissions of the Conference, with other documents relating to the same subjects, arranged in general in the order followed in the Treaty of Versailles and the other peace treaties; (2) documents on the negotiations with the enemy powers and the signature and ratification of the treaties of peace; (3) documents concerning the negotiation of the other treaties produced by the Paris Conference; and (4) documents bearing on economic aspects of the work of the Conference, including regulation of trade, the blockade, food relief, and the Supreme Economic Council and its subordinate bodies.
With few exceptions the publication of documents will not be carried beyond the period of active American participation in the Conference, which ended with the departure from Paris of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace on December 9, 1919.
The principles being followed with regard to selection of material and inclusion or exclusion of documents or parts of documents in the volumes are the same as those which have governed in the preparation of earlier volumes of the Foreign Relations series as set forth in the order approved by Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg on March 26, 1925, given in full in the preface to Foreign Relations, 1914, supplement, pages iii–iv. While it is planned to print all of the more important minutes, proceedings, and other papers in substantially complete form, it will be necessary to omit some material of secondary importance in order to keep this edition within reasonable limits.
The publication of these records was undertaken by the Department of State during the administration of the late Dr. Cyril Wynne as Chief of the Division of Research and Publication. The volumes are being compiled in the Research Section of the Division of Research and Publication by Dr. James S. Beddie, Dr. Morrison B. Giffen, and Mr. John W. Foley, Jr., under the immediate direction of Dr. Ernest R. Perkins. The editorial work is directed by Miss Matilda F. Axton, the principal editor of the Research Section. Those engaged upon the project are deeply appreciative of the interest in and support of their work by Mr. G. Howland Shaw, Assistant Secretary of State, and his Executive Assistant, Mr. Laurence C. Frank. Many other officers of the Department have cooperated generously in reviewing material and in offering their papers for publication. Officers of the Library of Congress, of Yale University, and of the Hoover Library on War, Revolution, and Peace have very kindly placed certain of their collections at the disposal of the Department. The interest in the project so frequently expressed by students of foreign policy throughout the country has been an inspiration to the compilers.
Chief, Division of Research and Publication