Wilson and His Peacemakers: American Diplomacy at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919

By Arthur Walworth | Go to book overview
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Disappointment and Disillusion

In the middle of April, a month after Wilson's return to Paris and a week after his recovery from severe illness, he was buffeted by political winds from three sides: from his adversaries at Washington, from the spokesmen of the Allied peoples, and from the German politicians who were losing the faith that they had put in the American program for a just and enduring peace.

On April 15 the Council of Four made a survey of the work still before them. Lloyd George had gone to London, where, answering questions in the Parliament, he dramatized the scene at Paris: "stones clattering on the roof and crashing through the windows and sometimes wild men screaming through the keyholes." 1. Balfour, taking the seat of the prime minister in the Council of Four, adduced the matters that must be settled before the arrival of the Germans. He enumerated twelve. 2. Clemenceau then proposed, and the others agreed, that they would reserve a session to hear the delegates of each of the smaller powers that were directly interested in the treaty with Germany. 3.

It was decided also that the foreign ministers, who had met in council three times near the end of March, should be apprised by Balfour of decisions taken by the Council of Four in respect of the secondary powers. Balfour took this occasion to bring about better liaison between the two councils; and on April 16 they met together to consider what they had accomplished and what still remained to be done. 4.

Wilson took upon himself the adjustment of some details that Europeans were

Peter Rowland, David Lloyd George, p. 490. Rowland records that Lloyd George returned to Paris from London "wreathed in smiles" after a great forensic triumph, ibid., p. 491.
The twelve were (1) reconstruction in kind in the devastated regions (under examination and to be reported on by Loucheur); (2) guarantee of the payment of indemnities by temporary occupation of the left bank of the Rhine; (3) the disarmed zone on the right bank of the Rhine; (4) the disarmament on the left bank; (5) the Kiel Canal; (6) report of the commission on ports, waterways, and railways; (7) economic conditions; (8) stipulations concerning commercial aviation; and (9-12) four territorial questions : Heligoland, frontiers of Denmark, frontiers of Belgium, and Danzig and Marienwerder, Mantoux, Proceedings, pp. 196-197. To these Sonnino added "several secondary questions" when the foreign ministers met with The Four on April 16—viz., the prohibition of opium; stipulations concerning the Suez Canal; the drafting of a general clause for renunciation of German territory outside of Europe; and the basis for calculating the expense of the army of occupation. On April 19 the drafting committee that had been set up at the beginning of the month to prepare the text of the treaty referred to the Council of Four thirty points that were still unsettled, Sweetser diary, April 23, 1919. An undated memorandum by Hankey explained difficulties caused by experts who wrangled about details and made alterations in clauses that the drafting committee had thought final, penciled memorandum in F.C., 6N79.
See below, p. 389.
Miller, My Diary, vol. 16, p. 42.

"Four more of these joint meetings were held, on 1st, 2nd, and 12th May and on 17th June, these being in fact revivals of the Council of Ten." It was assumed that any resolution was "ad referendum to the Supreme Council," Marston, The Peace Conference of 1919, pp. 172-174. As time went on, the foreign ministers dispensed with specific reference to The Four, in the case of economic problems connected with the blockade and its gradual relaxation, and in the handling of the reports of the territorial committees in general.


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Wilson and His Peacemakers: American Diplomacy at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919
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