Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/39

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Thursday, March 27th, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • General Bliss
    • Mr. Herter

1. Mr. White stated that he had just had a conference with Colonel House, and that he later had given him certain bits of information with regard to the President and the President’s attitude upon certain current questions. The President had been unable to have the proposed amendment with regard to Article 10 of the Covenant of the League of Nations passed which safeguarded the Monroe Doctrine because Lloyd George was opposed to it. Lloyd George felt that the insertion of such an Article would be giving to the United States a special prerogative, and would likewise localize the League of Nations. Moreover, Lloyd George had not yet been able to reach a satisfactory agreement with the President in regard to the ship-building program of the two countries, and that was undoubtedly his fundamental objection to making a concession to the United States. Colonel House had observed that in view of the fact that Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Balfour were both willing to pass the amendment in question, the President had decided to see Mr. Lloyd George personally in the hope of getting him finally to consent to it. Covenant League of Nations

2. Mr. White observed that through Colonel House he had learned that the President appeared to be in favor of giving to France the guarantee which she desired through a triple alliance. England was resolved to give this guarantee whether the United States did or not. Mr. White said that he told Colonel House that in the opinion of the other three Commissioners such an alliance would be extremely unfortunate, and absolutely fatal to the success of the League of Nations. Colonel House had replied that he would bring this view to the attention of the President. Triple Alliance

3. Mr. White stated that he had been informed that the President wished to send Mr. Richard Crane and Mr. King, the President of the Oberlin College, as field observers to Syria. The President felt these two men were particularly qualified to go to Syria because they knew nothing about it. Mr. Lansing asked Mr. Herter to see whether there was any written record of the President’s wishes in this matter of the disposal of the [Page 134] Commission in order that the question of the whole Mission to Turkey could be settled accordingly. Field Observers to Syria

4. Mr. White further stated that the President had decided to appoint Mr. Buckler as American Minister to Poland, but that he and Mr. White did not favor this appointment. He felt that although Mr. Buckler had many excellent qualifications, he is not fitted to be a Minister of the United States, and that Mr. Buckler realized his own limitations in this respect. Mr. Lansing felt that in any case it would be best to have the offer made to Mr. Buckler and if the latter should then decide he was not fitted for the position, he should then refuse to accept it. Appointment American Minister to Poland

5. Captain Roosevelt80 and Prof. Coolidge entered the meeting. Mr. Lansing asked Captain Roosevelt, who had left Budapest the day after the change in Government, to explain the reasons for the change in the Government. Captain Roosevelt explained in some detail the reasons for the resignation of the Karolyi Government, detailing the successive steps taken by the Allied and Associated Governments which had aroused a very strong national feeling of resentment among the Hungarians and had culminated in the recent coup d’état. The final delineation of the neutral zone between Hungarians and the Rumanians marked the breaking point. When Colonel Vyx81 handed to Karolyi the notice that Hungarian troops should withdraw behind the line in question, Karolyi stated that no Government in Hungary could be found that would agree to such conditions. A revolution must of necessity follow. Captain Roosevelt further explained that Colonel Vyx had shown great tact in the handling of this matter, and that he was in no way responsible for the final outcome. Hungarian Situation

Mr. Lansing inquired what action Prof. Coolidge and Captain Roosevelt now believed to be proprietory [proper?] under the circumstances. Captain Roosevelt explained that before he left Budapest the officer representing Great Britain on the Inter-Allied Mission there had told him that 10,000 Allied troops would be enough. If it were possible to send these, Captain Roosevelt felt that the problem could be solved. If however, these could not be sent it would be possible to allow the Czechs and the Rumanians to declare war on the Hungarians, in which case a very cruel and bloody war would undoubtedly ensue. Mr. Lansing felt that the first alternative would be undesirable since we have had disastrous results in each case where we had sent a small body of troops to settle conditions in some restless locality. The second alternative, however, appears even [Page 135] worse since it would merely mean the beginning of a series of wars in central Europe which would antagonize the peoples to a greater extent than they were antagonized already.

General Bliss stated that he felt very strongly that we had no reason to change our attitude towards Hungary merely because a change of Government had occurred there which did not suit us very well. He stated that if the present Government maintained order there is no reason why we should not deal with it just as we had with the previous government. Moreover, if the present government refused to obey the injunction of Peace Conference and retired its troops behind the designated neutral zone, but preferred to fight with the Rumanians, we should then refuse to give any assistance to the Rumanians regardless of how greatly such a step might be misinterpreted by the other nation [sic]. The line of the neutral zone which had been drawn was absolutely unjust, and we should not make matters worse by enforcing an extremely unjust decision by force of arms. We should have to reconsider our decision in regard to the boundaries of Hungary. Furthermore, if we sent troops to assist the Rumanians against the Hungarians we would have made the first step toward involving the American army into a series of European wars which would rapidly stretch from the Atlantic to the Ural mountains.

The Commissioners realized how difficult it would be to revoke a decision which had formerly been reached by the Peace Conference, but felt that whereas we had once been fooled into agreeing to a rotten decision, we should no longer have the injustice of backing it up by force of arms. They felt that the whole situation should be put up to the President immediately.

General Bliss agreed to draft a memorandum for the President on the whole subject, but assured the other Commissioners that if he drafted the memorandum it would be red hot. Mr. White and Mr. Lansing assured him that they would back him up on anything that he wrote as it could not exaggerate their feelings in the matter. Mr. Lansing also agreed to telephone immediately to the President to request that no decision be arrived at at the Quai d’Orsay until the President had received General Bliss’ memorandum.

6. Memorandum No. 174 was read regarding a letter which had been received from Mr. Guy H. Oyster, Secretary to Mr. Samuel Gompers, requesting that both he and Mr. Gompers be given $25.00 a day for living expenses from the date of their arrival in Paris until March 26th. The Commissioners requested that this matter be put up to the President because of the political question involved. They requested moreover that in any letter to the President it be stated that they were willing to approve of paying Mr. Gompers the $25.00 per day which he demanded but that they felt that his Secretary [Page 136] Mr. Oyster should only be given 40 francs a day. They would likewise care to have it stated that they did not approve of Mr. Gompers’ and Mr. Oyster’s transportation expenses from and to the United States being paid by the Commission because those two gentlemen had come over on business in no way connected with the State Department, and had merely remained in Paris a certain length of time to assist the Conference. It should also be pointed out that neither Mr. Gompers nor Mr. Oyster received any compensation from the Commission for the services that they rendered during 8 weeks in Paris, and that possibly the President would care to have some special remuneration offered to them.

7. Memorandum No. 175 was read with regard to the status of Lt. Col. Budd with the Delegation from Panama. The Commissioners requested that the further papers in this case, including Mr. White’s letter to Mr. Burgos82 about Colonel Budd, be gathered together for consideration at the next meeting. Status of Col. Budd

8. Memorandum No. 176 was read quoting a letter from Mr. Hoover in which he asked for an expression of the views of the Commissioners in regard to sending certain food stuffs into Hungary at the present time. The Commissioners all agreed that there was absolutely no reason why this food should not go to the Present Hungarian Government, and likewise felt that pressure should be brought to bear on the Serbian Government to permit it to pass through. General Bliss remarked, however, that he understood that this whole question had been taken up at a meeting of the Economic Commission on the previous day, and that a decision in the sense of the one reached by the Commissioners had been arrived at at that time. Shipping Foodstuffs to Hungary

9. Memorandum No. 177 was read quoting a letter received by the Secretary General from Admiral Benson with regard to a recommendation made by Rear-Admiral Niblack to the effect that the blockade should be raised immediately in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Commissioners all agreed heartily that the blockade in the Eastern Mediterranean should be raised as soon as possible. They are not quite certain, however, as to the next step which should be taken in order to effect the raising of this blockade, and inquired whether there had been any discussion of the matter by the Economic Council. They requested that the Secretary General ascertain to whom their decision in this matter should most properly be communicated, and if it was necessary that it be sent to the President, they asked that the Secretary General draft a suitable letter. Blockade Eastern Mediterranean

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10. Memorandum No. 178 was read with regard to the assignment of Lt. R. H. Weller to the Commission for duty with. Major Tyler. The Commissioners were quite disposed to permit the assignment of Lt. Weller to the Commission for the purpose indicated, provided it was finally decided that Lt. King should leave for Syria. It appears to the Commissioners, however, that if Lt. King were not to be sent to Syria it would be unnecessary to have Lt. Weller added to the Commission. Assignment Lt. Weller to Major Tyler’s Department

11. Memorandum No. 179 was read regarding a request made by Lt. Col. Riggs, in charge of a Mission to Southern Russia, for a further allotment of $15,000 to cover the necessary expenses of his Mission. The Commissioners requested that they be furnished with a short history of the Mission in question, indicating the make up of the personnel of the Mission, its present whereabouts, the nature of the reports which it is sending in up to date, and a general estimate as to its usefulness at this time when it is reported that the Bolsheviks will shortly be in control of most of Southern Russia. Regarding Mission to Southern Russia

12. Memorandum No. 180 was read regarding an Inter-Allied Congress to study questions in Social Hygiene in the Reclamation of Regions Devastated by the War. Devastated by The Commissioners felt that there was no action for war them to take in the premises until some reply had been received from the French Government to the proposal made by the State Department. Social Hygiene in the Reclamation of Regions Devastated by War

13. Memorandum No. 181 was read with regard to the reported establishment of a central Anti-Bolsheviki propaganda office in Lausanne. The Commissioners felt Office that it would be impossible to express any opinion on this matter until they had before them a comprehensive outline of the proposed scheme. Central Bolsheviki Anti Propaganda Office

  1. Captain Nicholas Roosevelt, of the Coolidge Mission.
  2. Lieutenant Colonel Vyx of the French Army, military representative of the Allied powers in Budapest.
  3. Of the Panamanian delegation.