Wilson and the Peacemakers: Combining Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace and Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal

By Thomas A. Bailey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX

WILSON AND HIS
"ERRAND BOYS"

"[The Commission] is a cheap lot of skates. I could swear if it would do any good." WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT, December 23, 1918.


1

THE COUNTRY was shocked by the October appeal, and by the announcement that Wilson was going to Paris. It received another rude shock on November 29, 1918, when the personnel of the Peace Commission was announced.

Wilson, of course, headed the list. The other four commissioners were Robert Lansing, Secretary of State; Colonel Edward M. House, confidential adviser to the President; Henry White, an experienced diplomat; and General Tasker H. Bliss, a member of the Supreme War Council in Paris and the expert on military affairs.

The outburst of condemnation that greeted the announcement of these names was loud, prolonged, and insistent.

The first criticism was that the group contained no really big men comparable in stature with Wilson. The Republicans in particular cried that the new Messiah was so determined to remake the world himself in his own way that he did not want the counsel and interference of really competent advisers. He wanted only "rubber stamps" -- soft-spoken and self-effacing "yes men" like Colonel House. The Republicans distrusted Wilson's exalted idealism, and they wanted able and hardheaded realists around him to apply the brakes when necessary.

It is true that, politically speaking, there was no really "big" man on the Peace Commission. Robert Lansing had to be chosen ex officio, because the other foreign ministers were being sent to Paris, and it would have been an intolerable insult to ignore him. As it turned out, he was taken to Paris and

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