The True Story of Woodrow Wilson

By David Lawrence | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
AS A WAR EXECUTIVE

Hardly had President Wilson begun to organize America's forces when the series of missions from France and Great Britain started an era of confusion as to the best method of applying America's help to the struggle abroad. The British wanted food and ships, the French wanted troops. The story of America's mobilization is too recent and too vivid in recollection to be portrayed here. The President's burdens were staggering yet he moved into the fray with precision, kept his head and never lost sight of his main objective--peace. Even as early as October, 1917, Mr. Wilson sent Colonel House abroad to bring about if possible an understanding among the Allies on a declaration of war aims which would lay the foundation for ultimate peace. The author had occasion to present to the President in that month an inquiry propounded by a newspaper editor with reference to peace discussion. Mr. Wilson thought the newspapers could have no conception of what fire they would be playing with in discussing peace then at all, in any phase or connection. He said:

"The Germans have in effect realized their program of ' Hamburg to Bagdad', could afford to negotiate as to all the territorial fringes, and, if they could bring about a discussion of peace now, would insist upon discussing it upon terms which would leave them in possession of all they ever expect to get. It is, therefore, very indiscreet in my judgment and altogether against the national interest to discuss peace from any point of view if the Administration is brought in in any way. It is perfectly evident to everyone that what Colonel House is attempting to do neither brings peace nearer nor sets it further off, and it is my stern and serious judgment that the whole matter ought to be let alone."

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