Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/114

Minutes of Meeting of Commissioners and Technical Advisers of American Commission to Negotiate Peace, Hotel Crillon, July 16, 1919, at 2 p.m.

Mr. White opened the meeting and called upon those present to give information concerning the status of various Commissions’ work, and asked for suggestions concerning the uncompleted treaties.

Dr. Scott: In regard to the Austrian Treaty, Mr. Commissioner, the Drafting Committee is practically in the position that it was last week; it has everything completed as far as material has been handed to it. There are three outstanding things—two of them are on your agenda for this afternoon: one is the question of the railroad—

Mr. White: Is that the Sudbahn?

Dr. Scott: Yes. And that is on the agenda for this afternoon. The other is in regard to the slight rectification of the boundary, which was settled, but the text of which will come to the Drafting Committee this afternoon. And there is one thing that may affect the Treaty one way or the other in the matter of protection of minorities: There will be a slight change made in the original Austrian Draft.

Mr. White: I made three efforts yesterday to get the Reparation, Financial and Air Clauses sent at once to the Austrians, and they kept saying: “Well, we will have the whole thing ready by tomorrow.” That was the answer.

Dr. Scott: If, sir, you can get your decisions on those matters into the hands of the Drafting Committee this afternoon, those three outstanding matters, that can go to press tonight, and the Treaty itself—it is all in type—can be delivered before the end of the week.

Mr. White: I understood there was a new Italian proposition.

Dr. Scott: There has been an Italian proposition looking to the conveyance from Austria-Hungary of certain rights and concessions that Austria-Hungary had in Tien-Tsin, but I understand that has been positively negatived.

Mr. White: I turned that down.

Dr. Scott: I understand, Mr. Commissioner, that there is a communication on Ports and Waterways. Mr. Hudson would know about that.

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Mr. Hudson: None from the Ports and Waterways Commission.

Dr. Scott: That may be advance information that some of the members have such a thing in contemplation.

Capt. Hornbeck: That is in regard to the railroad running from Trieste to Vienna.

Dr. Scott: I could not say what it is. I have not seen the text.

Mr. White: You had your meeting this morning?

Captain Hornbeck: Yes.

Mr. White: What happened?

Capt. Hornbeck: That matter was entirely disposed of. That is the Tien-Tsin concession mentioned a moment ago. The committee recommended that it make certain suggestions, but as far as the Austrian Treaty is concerned, that is entirely disposed of.

Mr. White: That is one thing. The Sudbahn is another. And the other is what?

Dr. Scott: Protection of minorities.

Mr. White: And both of them are coming up this afternoon.

Dr. Scott: And if those can be gotten out of the way, there is no clause, as far as I understand, that needs to be added to the Treaty to make it complete, inasmuch as the text of the boundary matter is complete.

Major Johnson: The proposition in regard to the railroad involves territorial matters indirectly, and that ought to be looked into carefully, because there was a proposition from the Italians in connection with the railroad to assure them transit from Austrian to Italian territory without any interference; “unhampered communication” are the words; the meaning intended to be conveyed was: without having to cross the territory of another country. And that matter was brought up in connection with the territorial matters. It was acknowledged in principle in the meeting of the Supreme Council, but with the definite statement on the part of Mr. Balfour when he said “unhampered” that he wanted it clearly understood that it involved nothing in regard to territorial matters.

Dr. Scott: I wish to call your attention to the fact that this is the skeleton copy of the Treaty with Bulgaria, and I was thinking, if you did not have anything that you consider more worthy of attention, it would be desirable if each one of those items should be submitted to the meeting with a request for a statement as to the progress of the work in each one of those sections, so that we could facilitate the progress in that way.

Mr. White: Do you mean to ask now, in this meeting?

Dr. Scott: Yes. Or would you like me to read it?

Mr. White: Yes.

Dr. Scott: The outline of the Treaty with Bulgaria is fashioned upon the Treaties with Germany and with Austria-Hungary, consisting [Page 304] of the Preamble, the names of the plenipotentiaries—and, in that connection, who are to be the American plenipotentiaries to sign the Treaty? In the case of the Austrian Treaty, sir, whom do you wish?

Mr. White: I don’t know whether Colonel House is going to sign it or not. Do you mean to put that in?

Dr. Scott: I had that in mind. Mr. Lansing’s name will not be there nor the President’s.

Mr. White: No.

Dr. Scott: Is it your pleasure that Colonel House remain?

Mr. White: We will telegraph him. Before it is printed we will know.

Dr. Scott: And then the first part of the Treaty with Bulgaria is to be the Pact.

Mr. White: Yes.

Dr. Scott: There was considerable opposition on the part of Great Britain and France as to including the Pact in the Treaty with Bulgaria. The President informed the American members that it was to appear, and so it does. The second is: Frontiers of Bulgaria. Perhaps Mr. Johnson can state the exact situation of the frontiers.

Major Johnson: The matter has been referred to the Commission which is working on it now. The Commission found itself confronted with diversity of opinion, the Italian and American delegations maintaining that the territory ceded to Bulgaria in 1913 giving her access to the sea should not be taken from her. The French, British and Japanese agree in taking this territory from Bulgaria and annexing it to Greece. The result was that it was deemed desirable for this Territorial Commission to refer to the Supreme Council the general question involved in order that the principle may be decided before we proceed to the discussion of the details of the frontiers. The Greeks have asked for a certain rectification of the frontiers decided upon by the Committee on Greek Affairs, but it was found impossible to deal with those minor rectifications so long as we were unaware what action would be taken by the Supreme Council. The thing comes up tomorrow at 11 o’clock again for the final preparation of the report to the Supreme Council, and immediately thereafter it goes to the Supreme Council for their decision as to whether or not Bulgaria is to have access to the sea. When that is disposed of, then the matter will be very quickly arranged.

Mr. White: Bulgaria is in actual possession?

Major Johnson: Bulgaria is in actual possession, and has been since 1913.

Dr. Scott: Mr. Chairman, the next part of the Treaty consists of the political clauses. Those are of very general nature, and are based upon those of the German Treaty and the Austrian Treaty. Of [Page 305] course the protection of minorities will be handled by the Committee with that.

Mr. Hudson: I have discovered that the Council of Four has not given the Committee on New States direction to draw clauses dealing with the Bulgarian Treaty, and it will take action, if those clauses are thought desirable.

Dr. Scott: The next part, following in order, consists of the military, naval and air clauses.

Colonel Grant: They have never been taken up.

Dr. Scott: They were prepared and submitted to the Council for consideration.

Colonel Grant: They were submitted before the Council of Four broke up.

General Bliss: A new proposition for military clauses was suggested; it was referred to the military representatives, but no final action has been taken.

Dr. Scott: The next one, Mr. Chairman, is Prisoners of War. The next is the question of sanctions or penalties. The Greeks, the Serbs, the Croats, the Slovenes and the Rumanians presented a draft modifying in principle and in practice the section in the German Treaty and the one in the Austrian Treaty. Instead of the military commissions they proposed an international tribunal. A proposition was laid before the Commission, debated for a period of six weeks, and rejected by the Supreme Council. Its fate probably will be the same either in the Commission or when it reaches the Supreme Council.

Mr. White: They brought it up in another form.

Dr. Scott: Originally. The proposition which they are renewing was rejected.

Mr. White: They brought it up in another form.

Dr. Scott: Yes, sir. That commission will report very rapidly. Part 7 is Reparations.

Mr. J. F. Dulles: The Separation Clauses have [had?] been practically agreed to three weeks ago by the British, French and the Italians. Just before he left, Mr. Lansing (?) instructed me to take an active part in the deliberations about reparations and that resulted in discarding all the work that had been done. We have not yet started a redraft of the clauses for the reason that the new British delegate, who is Colonel Peel, while in personal sympathy with the views which the American delegation proposed, does not feel himself in position to discuss the matter yet because he has written Mr. Lloyd George asking authority to modify the position taken previously by the British delegates. He has not since heard from Mr. Lloyd George, and we are holding up the meeting until he gets those instructions. We have discussed the matter informally with the British and French, and if Colonel Peel gets Mr. Lloyd George’s [Page 306] approval it can probably be concluded in a short time. In case he does not, we can get together on a majority-minority report.

Dr. Scott: The next part consists of Financial Clauses.

Mr. Dulles: The Financial Clauses have been drawn up and are in print, subject to modification, which will have to be made as soon as the Reparation Clauses are determined upon. The work on the Financial Clauses is held up until the Reparation Clauses are finished.

Dr. Scott: The next part is Economic Clauses.

Mr. Nielsen: My understanding is that they were presented a week ago.

Dr. Scott: Complete?

Mr. Nielsen: Complete.

Dr. Scott: They have not been passed upon?

Mr. Nielsen: They were completed about a week ago.

Dr. Scott: The 10th is Aerial Navigation. Might I continue with three more, Mr. Chairman, and then the list will be complete. Part 11 is Ports.

Mr. Hudson: The report has been completed by the Commission, and has been sent to the Council of Five, and has not yet been acted upon.

Dr. Scott: The Labor Convention requires no modification, and is in print. That is the 12th. And then the 13th and final part consists of General Clauses of a general nature, fashioned upon those of the German and Austrian Treaties. I think you can see, Mr. Chairman, that with a little acceleration of the pace, it will be only a few days until most of the Treaty will be ready.

Mr. White: Yes.

Dr. Scott: Would it be your desire that this should be copied off and a copy sent to each member?

Mr. White: A statement as to the condition of each one.

Dr. Scott: When the Steering Committee meets tomorrow we can get together and try to present a detailed statement of the work up to date, with the list of the conventions completed and handed in to the Council.

General Bliss: I would like to ask Major Scott if he knows officially just where it is, and approximately how long we will be waiting to take up the Turkish Treaty. I have understood that it was held up until the President could find what the position of the United States would be in the matter of taking of mandates. I don’t know.

Dr. Scott: I haven’t any official information, only there is a general understanding to that effect.

Mr. Buckler: There was circulated a little while ago a resolution of the Big Four distinctly postponing it until the United States will say what it will do about mandates.

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Colonel Grant: It seems to me there is a hole in that air proposition. As far as I know we have no one left who is on that Commission. I don’t know whether Colonel Lippincott is looking after that or not.

General Bliss: Our representative on the former air commission has gone home, but as far as the military importance of the air terms is concerned, I don’t see why we need bother ourselves about it at all. We will accept whatever is satisfactory to the Allies, because we have no concern with it.

Colonel Grant: This particular section was not so much the military air terms as the commercial aerial navigation.

General Bliss: Doesn’t that all come in the air convention that Mr. Lansing has taken home and refuses to take any action on until that is passed upon?

Dr. Scott: That is a separate and distinct convention. This is a series of clauses of general nature, distinct from the military on the one hand and international on the other.

Mr. Buckler: I ought to modify what I said just now by saying that I know that Mr. Nielsen knows that certain sections of the Turkish Treaty are being discussed just now.

Mr. Hoover: What action is going to be taken to appoint men for the various commissions that are being formed? There are commissions being formed all around the place by the other people, and I want to know whether it is not best for our government to designate certain men for places on those commissions who would be subsequently confirmed in those commissions. It would seem necessary to have men so appointed, who can familiarize themselves with the situation, and be ready to act later on.

General Bliss: It was decided that we would not appoint anybody until the Senate acted.

Mr. Hoover: Because of the present situation our arrangement, in Silesia, for example, is breaking down. We have had a convention with the Germans, Poles and Czechs, with an American at the head, whom I selected, and with this new situation created by the Treaty, that arrangement is breaking down.

Mr. White: Can we not get around it?

Mr. Hoover: My suggestion was that if we were going to participate in Commissions that had to do with the plebiscite in Silesia, that if Colonel Goodyear, who is there, can be appointed temporarily on that Commission, it would give him a sufficient status to carry on.

General Bliss: I can see that in respect to a good many of these things it makes no difference if the United States is represented on them or not. Take these Commissions of control in Germany. The English and the French and the Italians can perfectly well accomplish the whole matter of the determination of the surplus military material [Page 308] over and above what is to be allotted to them by the Treaty, and call for the delivery of the remainder and dispose of it in the way in which the treaty requires.

Now with respect to that commission on plebiscite in Silesia, the President told me that while we would participate in the study of the general question, the authority of the commission and the approximate number of people that ought to be on it, and their general functions, that we were not to take any part whatever in the assignment of the number of American delegates, and still less to attempt to make any designation.

But, in regard to commercial questions and trade questions, whereever they are involved it seems to me that the President might take a different view in regard to Commissions like that where our interests might be prejudiced if we were not represented in the very beginning, even before the Treaty went into effect, and if a telegram to the President could be prepared that would make a distinction between these classes of commissions, I think he might take a different view.

Mr. White: I think we ought to send him one.

General Bliss: Yes.

Mr. Hoover: That also applies to the Waterways question, does it not?

Mr. Hudson: Yes. May I ask whether the Commissioners shall distinguish between the United States participating in these questions as a signatory to the Treaty and as a power that is not yet bound by the Treaty, but is asked by powers that are bound to come in? Suppose a treaty goes into effect between Italy, England and France and Germany, for instance, which calls for the appointment of an arbitrator by the United States to do a certain thing. The United States might consent to appoint that arbitrator, who can function without we ourselves being bound by the treaty, and the United States would occupy the position that we would occupy if Panama and Guatemala should make a treaty calling for an arbitrator appointed by the United States. I wonder if on some such theory as that we might be getting ready for some of this work?

Mr. White: I should suggest we might.

General Bliss: The meaning is to require the designation of the individual.

Mr. Hudson: I think it requires, as Mr. Hoover said, that some man should be on the spot, ready, so that the moment the situation justifies it he can begin to act.

Mr. Hoover: Yes, and he ought to be selected with the assurance, both to him and to everybody else that he will be the man who will eventually be selected permanently. Otherwise he will not take the interest in the questions to be studied, which is quite natural, if he is not sure he will be confirmed.

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Mr. White: We ought to send a telegram today.

General Bliss: Yes, and we ought to discuss its contents with the gentlemen who are familiar with the situation.

Mr. Dulles: I am sitting on the Commission for the execution of the treaty, and I have been considerably embarrassed as to what position to take. If we do not take the necessary preliminary steps in appointing these men, we will soon not have any left. The only way this can be taken care of is to hold these men here, telling them that when the treaty goes into force they will be appointed. Now, the treaty provides for a number of Commissions, Boundary and Plebiscite, for example, which call for an American, and further provide that the commissioners shall undertake their duties either immediately upon the going into force of the treaty or within fifteen days. In view of the unsettled conditions in Europe, particularly in Poland and places of that sort, the Allies are very insistent that there shall be no delay in getting the commissioners of certain of these commissions on the spot. The presence of those commissioners is essential to the maintenance of order; their presence is necessary for the effect it will have.

On the other hand, Germany has the right to ask that those commissioners should not start to work without the presence of an American. The presence of an American is, in a sense, an assurance to Germany (that is the way Germany feels about it), that they will get fair treatment, and they are entitled to that.

General Bliss: Why should the Germans insist that the Americans be there? The treaty might go into effect and we not take part at all.

Mr. Dulles: It says: “The Allied and Associated Powers” should draw a boundary, for instance.

Mr. White: Which it does in a number of cases. I don’t think there is any danger of the Senate rescinding anything of that sort, except as concerns the League of Nations. I think it might be recommended that that distinction be made.

Mr. Dulles: I prepared this morning, General Bliss, a memorandum covering this very point.

Mr. White: Will you and Mr. Hudson and Mr. Hoover draw a telegram, however long, and we will send it at once.

Mr. Hudson: Do you approve that distinction, Dr. Scott?

Dr. Scott: I think that is very just.

Mr. White: There is no question that the Senate will approve the treaty, except the League of Nations.

General Bliss: I should like to ask Dr. Scott this thing, as an expert on treaties: Suppose the treaty says that the Allied and Associated Powers will do so and so, will appoint a plebiscite commission, and so on,—as I understand it that is not at all the same as [Page 310] if it were to say: “The Five Principal Powers” or the “Five Principal Allied and Associated Powers”, because in the military clauses, where it says that the Allies shall furnish a force for Upper Silesia—I think that is the wording of the Treaty—it does not say “An Allied Force”—or possibly it does say “An Allied Force”, anyone of them assigned to that duty will undertake it; we can send a British force or we can send an American force, and nobody else can intervene. Consequently, referring to what Mr. Dulles just said, that Germany could refuse to act if Americans were not represented, I don’t see how they could take that position. If it said “The Five Powers”, that would be one thing, but if it said “The Allied and Associated Powers”, why if one member of the Allied and Associated Powers whose signatures are necessary to put the Treaty into effect, should act, that would be sufficient.

Dr. Scott: I should say so, General, where the obligation is general in its terms—“Allied and Associated Powers”. Where, however, the Treaty is specific—“The Principal Allied and Associated Powers”—naturally those who are to act are designated, and in the cases of plebiscites, the Principal Allied and Associated Powers are those designated to perform the obligation.

Mr. White: And in certain cases of arbitration, such as Mr. Hudson referred to.

Mr. Hudson: We could act, although the United States refuses to ratify the treaty.

Dr. Scott: Exactly as he has illustrated in the case of a treaty between Panama and Guatemala. If they should agree that the President of the United States should appoint an arbitrator, the President of the United States would take advantage of such a provision of the treaty, although there were no treaty obligation to do so.

Mr. White: Or he might decline it.

Dr. Scott: Or he might decline it.

Mr. Hoover: My sole interest is to get an administration between the time that I withdraw mine and the time a new one comes in.

Mr. White: It is of the greatest importance.

Mr. Nielsen: In line with Mr. Buckler’s suggestion, I might call your attention to what we did with regard to Turkey. We framed the usual economic clauses, with some material differences, and I think they are all framed, but a hitch was struck with regard to the capitulatory regime, and whether we sign or not, we would be interested in what happened with the capitulation[s]. These old treaties that give extra-territorial rights and extensive commercial privileges, we of course are not parties to these rather elaborate treaties that the French and British have. We only have the old 1830 treaty,11 the [Page 311] interpretation of which has always been in question, and the old 1862 treaty,12 which Turkey says is not in effect, but by custom and by usage and through these treaties we have had extensive rights in Turkey Now whether we sign or not, we are interested in what the other nations do with the old capitulations. I should say, perhaps, that if we revise the old treaties, our League of Nations would derive a benefit from it, but if they only carry rights, then a very disagreeable situation might arise with Turkey. But if we sign we are in the same position as the others.

The hitch seems to be now that the French want to proceed with rather an elaborate scheme of reorganizing the judiciary. They will maintain the old consular jurisdiction, but they will want to establish mixed courts. And I should think that that matter will perhaps be taken away from the Commission, and brought by the British up to the plenipotentiaries to be decided, and that it will involve, perhaps, a considerable controversy, and it seems to me that we are interested, whether we sign or not, in a considerable degree, since we must protect our commercial interests there. We must maintain our judicial functions, because we cannot let the rights of our nationals be determined by Turkish courts.

Mr. Hoover: We have a telegraph system running all over Europe, and you are very largely dependent on it. These systems are operated by American operators, and the lines have been leased to us by various governments. Two-thirds of your telegrams come over the lines in question, and if they are not continued you will find yourselves absolutely cut off. I have got 250 telegraph operators, and my appropriation has run out.

Mr. White: Could we not send a telegram on that?

Mr. Hoover: I am using less and less of that service every day, and I think the Peace Commission should take that service over until after peace is signed and telegraphic communication is established.

Mr. White: Couldn’t we send a telegram on that?

General Bliss: We could not do anything until the appropriation is passed.

Mr. White: We could perhaps hasten action.

Mr. Dulles: Couldn’t that be combined with the other telegram, because if we are to hold people in Paris in order to put them on these commissions, that in itself will require a considerable disbursement.

General Bliss: Do you mean that we are to keep here, out of the State Department funds, the people who are to go to these various missions?

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Mr. Dulles: Yes, to hold them, so we may have time to educate them in the work they will have to do. It will take sixty principals, besides clerical assistance.

Mr. White: I would suggest that you send a telegram. It will get there by the time that Mr. Lansing gets home.

Mr. Buckler: It might also be well to include in that an appropriation to cover the expense of the expedition of General Harbord to report on Armenia, because in that connection there was nothing said about expenses.

End of Meeting.

  1. Hunter Miller (ed.), Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, vol. 3, p. 541.
  2. William M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776–1909 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910), vol. ii, p. 1321.