Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/21


Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Tuesday, 28 January, 1919, at 4:00 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
      • Mr. R. Lansing.
      • Mr. A. H. Frazier.
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
      • Dr. G. L. Beer.
      • Professor E. T. Williams.
      • Colonel U. S. Grant.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, M. P.
      • The Rt. Hon. Sir R. L. Borden.
      • The Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes.
      • Gen. The Rt. Hon. L. Botha.
      • The Rt. Hon W. F. Massey.
      • Lt-Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey.
      • Major A. M. Caccia.
      • Mr. H. Norman.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
      • M. Dutasta.
      • M. Berthelot.
      • Captain Portier.
    • Italy
      • M. Orlando.
      • Baron Sonnino.
      • M. Salvago-Raggi.
      • Count Aldrovandi.
      • Major Jones.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
      • Viscount Chinda.
      • H. E. M. Matsui.
      • M. Saburi.

Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.

M. Simon, the French Minister for the Colonies, also attended for part of the proceedings.


Disposal German Colonies: (a) French Claims to Cameroons & Togoland M. Clemenceau, after declaring the meeting opened, said he would ask M. Simon, the French Minister for the Colonies, to submit the French case on the African question.

Simon said that as it had been decided that the German Colonies should not be given back to Germany, the two questions to be decided were: To whom should these Colonies be given, and what should their form of government be? He would place before them the French point of view. In the first place he would read two letters exchanged between M. Cambon and Sir Edward Grey during the war, dealing with the provisional division of Togoland and the Cameroons.

Mr. Lloyd George said he did not think it would serve any useful purpose to read these documents just then. Other agreements [Page 759] would have to be put before the meeting also, and the delegates could take a note of the complete file. They were only concerned that afternoon with the French point of view.

M. Simon said these agreements were merely temporary. They were to be submitted to the Peace Conference, who would decide whether they should be considered as definite agreements or not. There was also a similar agreement in Article XIII of the Pact of London, under which possible rectifications of frontiers in Africa, in favour of Italy, France and Great Britain, subject to certain territorial compensations, were considered.

France at once had declared that she was not concerned in the German East and West African Colonies, but on the other hand she wished to state her claims to the Cameroons and Togoland. For what reasons did France claim those territories? She claimed them for the same reasons that had been used by the Dominions in putting forward their claims. They had had to take account of the sacrifices which they had been forced to make to conquer these territories from Germany, who, in spite of her undertakings, had violated the acknowledged neutrality of these regions.

Historically, the French also had certain claims. They had been the first to explore these territories; they had also been the first to sign agreements or treaties with the native races. There had been a signed agreement with Togoland since 1892, and some years later they had, signed one also with the Cameroons. The treaty with Malimba,1 which gave Duala to France, would also be recalled. He would lay stress upon this point, because allusion to this treaty had been made when difficulties occurred with England about the possession of Duala.

They would consider the treaties signed with Germany as abrogated. Furthermore, certain of these treaties had been signed under the pressure of political events. He would refer in particular to the Treaties of 1895 and 1897 in regard to Togoland,2 and to that of 1911 in regard to the Cameroons.3

They would now have to consider certain political considerations. Ever since they had occupied these territories the tribes had been happy, and they had asked to remain under French control. He would refer in particular to the requests made by Garua and Marua, in the name of the inhabitants, that the Cameroons should be united to France.

[Page 760]

Then there were also the questions of economic and geographical contiguity, as had been set forth by Mr. Hughes in respect to New Guinea.

Geographically, Togoland was an integral part of Dahomey, which was rather closely wedged in between Nigeria and the Gold Coast. Togoland and Dahomey were inhabited by the same tribes, possessing the same traditions.

The same reasons of contiguity existed between the French Congo and the Cameroons. The policy of Germany, which ended in the agreement of 1911, had been to cut the French possessions off from the sea, so as to smother the French economically later on. The large sea coast of the Cameroons, and the port of Duala were required for the development of French Equatorial Africa.

It now remained for them to consider the question of the Government to be given to these territories, which had become ownerless.

There were three possible solutions:

Internationalisation, pure and simple.
A mandate given to one of the Powers by the League of Nations.
Annexation, pure and simple, by a sovereign power.

Mr. Lloyd George had frankly condemned the first system in the course of the conversation of 24th January,4 when he had said that it could not be adopted in regard to backward countries—that it would lead to disorder, and that the high ideals for which such a system would be established could not be reached.

He would agree with this view for humanitarian reasons. Similar experiments tried in the past had failed ignominiously. He would only mention the dual control over Samoa, against which the American President himself had spoken, and that of the New Hebrides, which, he hoped, would not be allowed to continue, where, under British control, a tribunal composed of a Spanish judge and a Dutchman, etc. existed.

What was not possible for small territories, was all the less possible for large regions.

The second system consisted in the appointment of a mandatory by the League of Nations. The Dominions had made very strong objections to this system, and these objections were supported by France also. When, in two territories inhabited by the same population, two different systems of government were created, difficulties would ensue and the very opposite of what was desired would result.

The mandatory system consisted of empowering one nation to act [Page 761] on behalf of another. Every mandate was revocable, and there would therefore be no guarantee for its continuance. There would thus be little inducement for the investment of capital and for colonisation in a country whose future was unknown. The mandatory would be content to live quietly without trying to develop the colony or to improve the conditions of life of the natives, and the desired ideal would not be attained by this means.

Another question occurs. Who would be the mandatory? Would it be a little nation, without colonising traditions, capital, or men? Or, would the mandatory be a large nation whose presence would be a danger and compel the adjoining nations to organize for defence, as Mr. Hughes said in regard to New Guinea? This same remark applied to the Cameroons and to the Congo. It would also be necessary to take into account the uncertainty of alliances, which were always liable to be changed.

He (M. Simon) could not, therefore, favour the system of a mandate to be given to one Power by the League of Nations.

The third system still remained to be considered—that of annexation, pure and simple, which he had come to support that day. It was the only one which would accomplish the double object of every colonial government worthy of the name, namely, the development of the country and the effective protection of the natives during the period required for their development towards a higher plane of civilization.

He would ask his hearers to consider the objections that could be raised against a policy of annexation. Annexation might be said to lead to the exploitation of the country for the benefit of the individual; it might be said to lead to the ill-treatment of the natives; it might permit of the setting up of the economic policy of the “closed door”.

All these points were part of a theory which was today quite obsolete and condemned by all. France had higher aspirations, and the Colonies were no longer considered as a kind of close preserve for the exploitation and benefit of the individual.

Higher moral principles now guided the nations. All the great Powers worthy of the name, considered their colonies as wards entrusted to them by the world. They accepted this guardianship and the duties connected therewith, duly appreciating their duties in regard to the maintenance of peace, their duties in regard to the protection of the people either by the limitation of the sale of alcohol, the prevention of gun-running, etc., and their duties in regard to the provision of social education. Only a great nation, in possession of trained administrative services, and with men and money [Page 762] at its disposal could undertake and carry through such an enterprise. The work of civilization could only be carried out under the auspices of the sovereignty of a country.

If France were to receive the territories under consideration, she would be prepared to give assurances to those who might still harbour fears. The French formally announced that day that their policy in regard to the territories formerly German would entail the application of a liberal system, practically open to everybody, the “Open Door” system, without differential tariffs. Everybody would be able to enter and to trade in Togoland and the Cameroons without let or hindrance. France henceforth renounced all economic protective measures. She accepted what she had always done for the protection of the natives, the limitation of alcohol, the stoppage of traffic in arms, etc. She would not attempt to enforce any policy which might appear to be directed against the natives, for she had always co-operated with them. The French had always desired that the natives should take part in the management of their own territory. He had enunciated the general principles which guided the French. These principles were such that they were bound to satisfy all those interested in the moral development and liberties of the population.

President Wilson’s fifth point in his message of the 8th January5 read as follows:—

“A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty, the interests of the populations concerned have equal weight with the equitable claims of the Government whose title is to be determined.”

As regards this clause, he had already stated how, in his opinion, the interests of the population in question would be protected. He had also explained the just claims of France. As to the claims of France, these were based on sacrifices made by them in the course of past centuries in Northern Africa. And now that work would appear to be concluded, for their old Colonies formed part of the old country. The inhabitants had equal rights, they had their representatives in the French Chamber, their system of local government was exactly the same as that of the French, and the natives enjoyed the same rights as French citizens.

For centuries past France had used all her strength for the purpose of exploring and developing the territories of Northern Africa; and the whole world had been able to enjoy the benefits to be derived therefrom.

[Page 763]

France has spent 9 milliards of francs on the Mediterranean coast, 626 millions on West Africa, and 272 millions on equatorial Africa. When the efforts made by France for the civilization of Northern Africa were considered they would feel fully confident that she would be able to carry out the same programme in Equatorial Africa. That was his reply to President Wilson’s third condition.

France relied on these facts that day, in asking to be allowed to continue her work of civilization in tropical Africa, and he hoped the delegates would give her the means of doing so by recognizing her right to sovereignty in those regions, subject to the assurances he had outlined.

(M. Simon then withdrew.)

M. Clemenceau said that after having heard M. Simon’s statement, he proposed that they should now return to the question of the claims put forward by the British Dominions to certain German Colonies. He trusted the discussion would be completed that day.


The Principle of Mandatories Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that it would be better in the first place to come to a decision on the general principle without reference to particular cases. Were annexations to be permitted? Or was some other method to be adopted?

President Wilson observed that the discussion so far had been, in essence, a negation in detail—one case at a time—of the whole principle of mandatories. The discussion had been brought to a point where it looked as if their roads diverged. He thought it would be wise to discontinue this discussion for a few hours, say until the next day, as he feared it might lead to a point where it would otherwise appear as though they had reached a serious disagreement, and this he particularly wished to avoid.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether it was not true that whilst a good deal of thought had been given to the League of Nations, very little thought had been given to the position of a Mandatory Power. The British Delegates did not reject the idea of a Mandatory Power. On the contrary, broadly speaking, as far as the greater part of the areas conquered by British arms and managed from London were concerned, they regarded that idea with favour.

The objections so far raised had been made, not as regards areas under the direct control of the Capital of the Empire, but as regards the areas conquered by the self-governing Dominions within that empire. Therefore, it might be said that the Delegates of the British Empire were not antagonistic to the principle of the Mandatory.

He, (Mr. Balfour), was strongly in favour of the principle. But he was conscious that it had not been worked out. He knew of no [Page 764] paper or speech in which the practical difficulties which they had to face had been worked out in detail. For instance, with reference to the financial question, it had been stated yesterday that should the Mandatory require funds, it would be for the League of Nations to supply the same. That might be a good plan, but he was faced with insuperable difficulties. He agreed that these were not essential to the application of the principle, though they were undoubtedly important points for consideration.

No conclusion had been reached, and no authoritative statement had been made regarding another point, namely, should the tenure of the Mandatory be made temporarily or not? If the tenure were merely temporary, difficulties would arise and there would be perpetual intrigues and agitation. For instance, if a German population were left in one of the German Colonies who could hamper the mandatory and promote a sense of grievance in the minds of the natives by raising expectations of some elysium to come, that might lead to a change in the Mandatory by the League of Nations. In his opinion, the thing could only work, firstly, by the appointment of an honest and competent mandatory, and secondly, by securing his tenure of office. He would like to think these questions over. Further, it appeared to him that exactly the same conditions of trusteeship would not be applicable everywhere, and there were several other similar questions which deserved critical attention. Should not, therefore, those interested carefully consider together what the difficulties were? Any decision come to now would be premature. As regards the general principle, however, the British Empire Delegates favoured it. Moreover the Delegates of the United Kingdom were prepared to go further, and for the areas which fell to them they were prepared to accept the idea. In conclusion he said that he only spoke for himself. He had not consulted the Prime Minister.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he had some discussion about mandatories with the representatives of the British Colonial Department, who raised no difficulties. They thought the difficulties were more imaginary than real. He had been greatly struck by the fact that M. Simon, in his speech, had in the beginning appeared to be bitterly opposed to the whole idea, but in the end he had detailed as acceptable to France the whole list of conditions proposed for a mandatory, except the name. As far as the British Empire was concerned, most of the conquests had been accomplished by British troops, and as far as those territories were concerned Great Britain would be prepared to administer them under such conditions as might be laid down by the League of Nations. He could see no difficulties except perhaps difficulties of definition. Exceptions might have to be made; but then every rule had an exception. He could see no reason why any [Page 765] difficulties should arise in laying down general principles. He was afraid the delegates might, when confronted by a difficulty, get into the habit of putting it off. He himself could not stay here indefinitely, therefore he would ask his colleagues to face the difficulty and to come to a decision. There would be special applications to be thrashed out, but until the principle had been adopted no conclusion on the details could be come to.

President Wilson agreed with Mr. Balfour that there were many points to be cleared up. He admitted that the idea was a new one, and it was not to be expected that it would be found developed in any records or statements. He agreed with what Mr. Lloyd George said were the views of his Colonial Department, viz., that the difficulties were more imaginary than real. In the first place, the composition of the League of Nations, whenever spoken of heretofore, had left the lead to the Great Powers.

Taking the case mentioned by Mr. Balfour where an area contained a German population inclined to intrigue, the mandatory would certainly not be a friend of Germany’s; and even if the latter should eventually qualify and be admitted to the League of Nations, at least during a generation her disposition and efforts would be so well known that no responsible man would be misled by them.

He wished that he could agree with Mr. Lloyd George that there was no great difference between the mandatory system and M. Simon’s plan. The former assumed trusteeship on the part of the League of Nations; the latter implied definite sovereignty, exercised in the same spirit and under the same conditions as might be imposed upon a mandatory. The two ideas were radically different, and he was bound to assume that the French Colonial Office could not see its way to accept the idea of the mandatory.

He pointed out that Australia claimed sovereignty over German New Guinea; the Union of South Africa over German South West Africa, and Japan over the leased territory of Shantung and the Caroline Islands; while France claimed a modified sovereignty over the Cameroons and Togoland under certain terms. Here they were at this stage when the only acceptance had been on the part of the Imperial British Government with respect to the area taken from Germany by troops under the direct authority of the Government in London. This was an important exception in which he rejoiced, but it appeared to be the only exception to the rejection of the idea of trusteeship on the part of the League of Nations.

They must consider how this treaty would look to the world, for as it looked to the world it would be, since the world would not wait for explanations. The world would say that the Great Powers first portioned out the helpless parts of the world, and then formed a [Page 766] League of Nations. The crude fact would be that each of these parts of the world had been assigned to one of the Great Powers.

He wished to point out, in all frankness, that the world would not accept such action; it would make the League of Nations impossible, and they would have to return to the system of competitive armaments with accumulating debts and the burden of great armies. There must be a League of Nations, and they could not return to the Status quo ante. The League of Nations would be a laughing stock if it were not invested with this quality of trusteeship. He felt this so intensely that he hoped that those present would not think that he had any personal antagonism. To secure it no sacrifice would be too great. It was unfortunate that the United States could not make any Sacrifice in this particular case as she held none of the territories in dispute. But her people would feel that their sacrifices in coming into the war had been in vain, if the men returning home only came back to be trained in arms and to bear the increased burden of competitive armaments. In that case the United States would have to have a greatly increased navy and maintain a large standing army. This would be so intolerable to the thought of Europe, that they would see this great wave from the East which would involve the very existence of society, gather fresh volume, because the people of the world would not permit the parcelling out among the Great Powers of the helpless countries conquered from Germany. He felt this so solemnly that he urged them to give it careful thought.

He desired the acceptance of the genuine idea of trusteeship. He regarded this as a test of their labours, and he thought the world would so consider it. He thought it would be most unfortunate if they were, in the instance, to give the world its initial cold bath of disappointment. Sacrifices which seemed critical would have to be made, but if they were not made, they would have to face constant intolerable burdens. He believed that it was from this point of view that the question should be approached and examined. He appreciated the difficulties mentioned by Mr. Balfour, but he believed they were soluble. However, they could not be solved by discussion until they arose in concrete form. They must agree on the principle and leave its application to the League of Nations.

Sir Robert Borden enquired from President Wilson, purely for his information, with a view to the removal of the difficulty in case it became acute, whether the nomination of a mandatory need be postponed until the League of Nations was constituted. Under the scheme for the creation of a League of Nations, he understood that the five Great Powers would form a Council controlling the work of the League. Therefore the difference between making the decision [Page 767] now or leaving it to the Council of the League of Nations was not great. He would, therefore, ask whether President Wilson would take that suggestion into consideration.

President Wilson replied that he had himself, informally, made that suggestion.

M. Orlando said that as regards Colonial questions, the Italian point of view was extremely simple. Italy would readily accept whatever principles might be adopted, provided they were equitably applied and also provided that she could participate in the work of civilization. He did not wish to make the slightest allusion to article 13 of the Pact of London6 because, even if that agreement had not existed, its principles were so just that they would be applied as a matter of course. The question they were considering was one of extreme gravity, and the consequences of their decision might be even more serious. Therefore, he thought that perhaps a short adjournment might be advisable. He fully understood Mr. Lloyd George’s contention that an adjournment would not of itself lead to a solution of the difficulty, whilst an indefinite adjournment would naturally be a confession of impotence. But President Wilson had proposed that a short adjournment should take place in order that the delegates might have time to reflect and, perhaps, to consider and understand the practical aspect of the question. Under these circumstances he felt inclined to ask one or two questions. Was it the intention of President Wilson that all questions relating to the disposal of conquered territories should, without discussion, be referred to the League of Nations? The consequences of such a procedure would be extremely grave, because the world would think that this Conference had done nothing, and a confession of impotence would be even more serious than disagreement amongst the delegates. He thought that the Conference should lay down general principles, whilst leaving to the League of Nations the practical application of these principles to special cases. There were a number of questions that might well be considered during a short period of adjournment. For instance, should all the German Colonies, without exception, be confided to the League of Nations? In other words, was the rule to admit of no exceptions? As was well known, exceptions proved the rule. He agreed that no exceptions could be made for purely private reasons. But if exceptions were made, based on concrete reasons, then such exceptions would not weaken the rule, but strengthen it. Again, if adjoining territories craved for union on the same grounds that union had been fought for by peoples in Europe, should no exception be made? For instance, if part of a [Page 768] Colony lately under German sovereignty could be joined to an existing colony of which, ethnographically, it formed a part, he thought that an exception should be made and such a decision would be in accordance with President Wilson’s ideas on the subject, the rights of peoples to self-determination.

Another point he wished to raise was, how far should the power of a mandatory extend? He thought this trusteeship need not be purely transitory. The difference in the powers accorded to trustees were extreme. In some cases, the trusteeship meant nothing, whereas in other cases it practically meant ownership.

The attributes of the mandatory might well be camouflaged by hypocrisy. Therefore he thought that the powers of the mandatory should be properly graduated to meet the requirements of each case, and in his opinion it was necessary from the very commencement to define the powers to be attributed to mandatories. For instance, South Africa had claimed the right to extend its laws to German South West Africa; but such action would obviously mean the exercise of the powers of sovereignty by a mandatory.

In conclusion he thought the whole question required very careful consideration. He himself was disposed to make every sacrifice to avoid disagreement; but the various issues of the question should be very clearly defined. Personally, he hoped that the general principles would be accepted.

M. Clemenceau wished, in the first place, to say that Mr. Lloyd George had interpreted M. Simon’s speech better than President Wilson. The French Colonial Office had expressed its views, but that did not mean that he himself was not ready to make concessions if reasonable proposals were put forward. All his sentiments were in agreement with those of President Wilson. He agreed with him as to the gravity of the decision to be taken, and the seriousness of the situation that would result therefrom. There was danger in refusing a means of salvation; but there was greater danger in adopting the wrong means of salvation. The League of Nations, he thought, was to be a League of Defence to ensure the peace of the world. But it appeared they had now gone beyond that limit when they proposed to create a League of Nations with governmental functions to interfere in internal affairs, with trustees in various places sending reports to—he did not know whom. Throughout the world, even in Europe, and perhaps in the Adriatic, a control would be set up. President Wilson himself had said so, and, as a result, appeals would be heard from all parts of the world. Who would deal with those appeals? It had been said that an International Legislature and some sort of executive power, about which he knew nothing, would have to be created, without any power to [Page 769] administer penalties, since this question had never been raised. The idea of an unknown mandatory acting through an undetermined tribunal gave him some anxiety. He did not regret the discussions which had taken place on the subject, since these discussions had impressed him with the justness of the claims of the Dominions. However, since Mr. Lloyd George was prepared to accept the mandate of a League of Nations he would not dissent from the general agreement, merely for the sake of the Cameroons and Togoland. But, when President Wilson asked that every question should be referred to the League of Nations, he felt a little nervous, and feared that the remedy might be worse than the disease. President Wilson had said that the opinion of the world would rise up against them and that savagery was ready to flow over the world from the East to the West. That might be, but he was not in full agreement with President Wilson when the latter said that they had to choose between a League of Nations with legislative initiative, as he had already dealt with that question. He would at once take up the question of a League for the preservation of Peace. He greatly favoured such a League, and he was prepared to make all sacrifices to attain that object. If insisted upon, he would assent to a League with full powers to initiate laws, but he would ask that his objections be recorded, as he had no confidence in such a scheme. He might be too conservative—that being a fault of age. In a speech which he had made to the Chamber of Deputies a few days ago he had stated that if, before the war, the Great Powers had made an alliance pledging themselves to take up arms in defence of any one of them who might be attacked, there would have been no war. Today they had not only five nations in agreement but practically the whole world. If the nations pledged themselves not to attack any one without the consent of the members of the League, and to defend any one of them who might be attacked, the peace of the world would be assured. Such an alliance might well be termed a League of Nations. Such procedures, and tribunals, as might be thought necessary could be added. He would accept all these. If Mr. Lloyd George were to promise that he would accept these two conditions, the League of Nations would be created in less than three days.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he agreed with M. Clemenceau that if the League of Nations were made an executive for purposes of governing, and charged with functions which it would be unable to perform, it would be destroyed from the beginning. But he had not so interpreted the mandatory principle when he had accepted it.

President Wilson said he too had not so interpreted it.

[Page 770]

Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that he regarded the system merely as a general trusteeship upon defined conditions. Only when those conditions were scandalously abused would the League of Nations have the right to interfere and to call on the mandatory for an explanation. For instance, should a mandatory allow foul liquor to swamp the territories entrusted to it, the League of Nations would have the right to insist on a remedy of the abuse. The Powers now exercised this right by diplomatic correspondence, resulting in the giving of assurances, but frequently nothing was done. He would, however, make an appeal to President Wilson to consider the following point of view. He trusted the President would not insist on postponing the selection of mandatories until after the League of Nations had been established. That was a serious matter, for, as long as all these questions were unsettled, everything would be unsettled. People were unsettled all over the world, not only the labourers and the soldiers, but also the employers. Great Britain now occupied territories where they had no intention of remaining even if the League of Nations asked them to stay. For instance British troops occupied Russian Armenia and Serbia [Syria]. They did not wish to be there, but some one had got to be there. Was Great Britain to be compelled to keep its troops there until the League of Nations was a going concern? Again, as regards German East Africa, if Great Britain was not to be the mandatory, it had a big force there now which it would not wish to keep there. Therefore, they must know what their position was to be, and they would not settle down to their own business until these questions were decided. During the past week, the question of the renewal of the Military Service Act in the United Kingdom had come under consideration. It appeared they were now maintaining large forces—over 170,000 British troops alone in Syria, Caucasus, East Africa, and other out-of-the-way places. These troops must sooner or later be withdrawn, but they could not do that without knowing who would take their place. They could not withdraw and leave the people to massacre each other. They would be compelled to hand the country to some one. Therefore, he would leave the settlement to this tribunal, and an early solution was urgently needed. As Sir Robert Borden had stated, this Council was practically the League of Nations, which was born on Saturday. In conclusion, he asked whether he had correctly interpreted M. Clemenceau’s views to the effect that he was prepared to accept trusteeship.

M. Clemenceau replied that although he did not approve of it, he would be guided by the judgment of his colleagues.

Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether this meeting would, under those conditions, be prepared to accept the principle of trusteeship.

[Page 771]

President Wilson observed that the difficulty about troops mentioned by Mr. Lloyd George applied equally well to the 371,000 troops on the Western front. He also observed that the question of deciding the disposition of the German Colonies was not vital to the life of the world in any respect. It was the determination of the pressing European questions which was all-important. They could address themselves to the solution of those European questions while waiting for a solution of the Colonial questions.

As to what Mr. Lloyd George was so kind as to call an appeal, of course he appreciated its weight; but his difficulty was to prevent the assignment of mandatories, if they were to be the Great Powers, from appearing to the world as a mere distribution of the spoils.

Mr. Hughes expressed the view that “trustee” was a better word to employ than “mandatory”.

Mr. Massey agreed that the public did not know what was meant by the word “mandatory”.

Baron Makino enquired whether the principle of a mandatory had been accepted.

M. Clemenceau replied in the negative, and added that the question had merely been adjourned.

(The Meeting adjourned until 11 a.m. on the following day.)

29 January, 1919.

  1. French treaty with Malimba of April 19, 1883, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lxxv, p. 340.
  2. Franco-German treaty with regard to Togoland of July 23, 1897, ibid., vol. lxxxix, p. 584.
  3. Franco-German convention concerning Equatorial Africa, November 4, 1911, ibid., vol. civ, p. 956.
  4. See BC–10, p. 719.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 12.
  6. Great Britain, Cmd. 671, Misc. No. 7 (1920): Agreement Between France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy, Signed at London, April 26, 1915.