Paris Peace Conf. 184.01102/26

Professor A. C. Coolidge to the Commission to Negotiate Peace

No. 31

Sirs: I have the honor to report that a week ago I sent Lieutenant-Colonel Sherman Miles and Lieutenant L. R. King down to Laibach to investigate Jugo-Slav questions. There has been some fighting lately between the Austrians and the Slovenes in Carinthia, and it was agreed that representatives of the two parties should meet at Gratz in Styria, in order to put an end to this useless bloodshed. Lieutenant-Colonel Miles and Lieutenant King went to Gratz and attended the meetings as listeners. At one time the two parties seemed on the point of agreeing, but at the last moment failed to come to terms. In order to prevent a fresh outbreak of hostilities, Lieutenant-Colonel Miles then proposed, subject to my approval, that he and Lieutenant King should visit the regions in dispute and should draw a line which should be accepted temporarily by both parties. This suggestion was enthusiastically accepted, and a paper was drawn up and signed of which I send you the official French text and an English translation.43 Lieutenant King then came here, arriving this afternoon and reported to me.

This outcome has put me in an embarrassing situation. My instructions, both oral and written, in no way authorize me to deal with matters of this kind. I can see too the dangers and disadvantages from the point of view of the United States in having its agents act as unauthorized arbiters in such delicate international matters. On the other hand, like Colonel Miles, I feel the urgency of what I am told may mean the saving of the lives of hundreds of people, and believe that one should be willing to risk incurring grave responsibilities in a case of this kind. I am therefore authorizing him in a letter of which I inclose a copy44 to go on with the undertaking, on condition that his decision is to be given out subject to my approval and control. I am also sending down Major Lawrence Martin to [Page 499] take part in the investigations as a geographical expert. The whole thing will take well over a week, and I respectfully request that I may have telegraphic instructions as soon as possible as to whether the decision we have reached is to be given out. In the meanwhile, there will at least be no further hostilities.

I have [etc.]

Archibald Cary Coolidge
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed.