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 TEN

THE OLYMPIANS

"It is going to be a rough-and-tumble affair, this Peace Conference." ARTHUR J. BALFOUR, November 28, 1918.


1

WE MUST now consider briefly each of the great protagonists in the Council of Four -- "The Olympians" -- before turning to the actual work of the Conference.

Woodrow Wilson was both the best known and the most influential, for he represented the bursting energy of the wealthiest and most powerful of the nations. At heart a ScotchPresbyterian clergyman but trained as an academician, he was, up to this time, the darling of the gods. Within the two short years from 1911 to 1913, and by a series of incredible political accidents, he had been catapulted from the President's house in Princeton to the White House in Washington.

Though gracious in a rather stiff manner, he was innately shy and sensitive; and unlike Clemenceau his skin had not been toughened by prolonged years of exposure in the rough and tumble of the political arena. An idealist, a philosopher, a moralist, a religionist, he was born, as someone has well said, halfway between the Bible and the dictionary, and he never lost his faith in the power of words. There have been philosophers who were more profound, there have been politicians who were more powerful, but the world had never before seen a philosopher-politician who combined with his ideals such tremendous physical power to carry them into effect.

At the Conference table Wilson made an excellent impression, and he certainly belied Roosevelt's barb that he "looked like an apothecary's clerk." Immaculately if soberly dressed, he was alert, dignified, modest, soft-spoken, patient, conciliatory, and pleasantly stubborn, with Scotch stubbornness. Thirsting

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