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MESSAGE OF PRESIDENT WILSON TRANSMITTING TO THE SENATE THE
TREATY WITH FRANCE OF JUNE 28, 1919.1
GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE:
I take pleasure in laying before you a treaty with the Republic of France, the object of which is to secure that Republic of the immediate aid of the United States of America in case of any unprovoked movement of aggression against her on the part of Germany. I earnestly hope that this treaty will meet with your cordial approval and will receive an early ratification at your hands, along with the treaty of peace with Germany. Now that you have had an opportunity to examine the great document I presented to you two weeks ago, it seems opportune to lay before you this treaty which is meant to be in effect a part of it.
It was signed on the same day with the treaty of peace and is intended as a temporary supplement to it. It is believed that the treaty of peace with Germany itself provides adequate protection to France against aggression from her recent enemy on the east; but the years immediately ahead of us contain many incalculable possibilities. The Covenant of the League of Nations provides for military action for the protection of its members only upon advice of the Council of the League-advice given, it is to be presumed, only upon deliberation and acted upon by each of the governments of the member states only if its own judgment justifies such action. The object of the special treaty with France which I now submit to you is to provide for immediate military assistance to France by the United States in case of any unprovoked movement of aggression against her by Germany without waiting for the advice of the Council of the League of Nations that such action be taken. It is to be an arrangement, not independent of the League of Nations, but under it.
It is, therefore, expressly provided that this treaty shall be made the subject of consideration at the same time with the treaty of peace 1 Senate Document No. 63, 66th Congress, 1st session.
with Germany; that this special arrangement shall receive the approval of the Council of the League; and that this special provision for the safety of France shall remain in force only until, upon the application of one of the parties to it, the Council of the League, acting, if necessary, by a majority vote, shall agree that the provisions of the Covenant of the League afford her sufficient protection.
I was moved to sign this treaty by considerations which will, I hope, seem as persuasive and as irresistible to you as they seemed to me. We are bound to France by ties of friendship which we have always regarded, and shall always regard, as peculiarly sacred. She assisted us to win our freedom as a nation. It is seriously to be doubted whether we could have won it without her gallant and timely aid. We have recently had the privilege of assisting in driving enemies, who were also enemies of the world, from her soil; but that does not pay our debt to her. Nothing can pay such a debt. She now desires that we should promise to lend our great force to keep her safe against the power she has had most reason to fear. Another great nation volunteers the same promise. It is one of the fine reversals of history that that other nation should be the very Power from whom France fought to set us free. A new day has dawned. Old antagonisms are forgotten. The common cause of freedom and enlightenment has created new comradeships and a new perception of what it is wise and necessary for great nations to do to free the world of intolerable fear. Two governments who wish to be members of the League of Nations ask leave of the Council of the League to be permitted to go to the assistance of a friend whose situation has been found to be one of peculiar peril, without awaiting the advice of the League to act.
It is by taking such pledges as this that we prove ourselves faithful to the utmost to the high obligations of gratitude and tested friendship. Such an act as this seems to me one of the proofs that we are a people that sees the true heart of duty and prefers honor to its own separate course of peace.
WOODROW WILSON. THE WHITE HOUSE, July 29, 1919.
STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT WILSON REGARDING THE DISPOSITION
OF FIUME 1
Paris, April 23, 1919. In view of the capital importance of the questions affected, and in order to throw all possible light upon what is involved in their settlement, I hope that the following statement will contribute to the final formation of opinion and to a satisfactory solution.
When Italy entered the war she entered upon the basis of a definite, but private, understanding with Great Britain and France, now known as the Pact of London. Since that time the whole face of circumstances has been altered. Many other Powers, great and small, have entered the struggle, with no knowledge of that private understanding. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, then the enemy of Europe and at whose expense the Pact of London was to be kept in the event of victory, has gone to pieces and no longer exists. Not only that. The several parts of that Empire, it is now agreed by Italy and all her associates, are to be erected into independent states and associated in a League of Nations, not with those who were recently our enemies, but with Italy herself and the Powers that stood with Italy in the great war for liberty. We are to establish their liberty as well as our own. They are to be among the smaller states whose interests are henceforth to be as scrupulously safeguarded as the interests of the most powerful states.
The war was ended, moreover, by proposing to Germany an armistice and peace which should be founded on certain clearly defined principles which should set up a new order of right and justice. Upon those principles the peace with Germany has been conceived, not only, but formulated. Upon those principles it will be executed. We cannot ask the great body of Powers to propose and effect peace with Austria and establish a new basis of independence and right in the states which originally constituted the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the states of the Balkan Group on principles of another kind. We must apply the same principles to the settlement of Europe in those quarters that we have applied in the peace with Germany. It was upon the explicit avowal of those principles that the initiative
1 Chicago Tribune, Paris Edition, Thursday, April 24, 1919, p. 1.
for peace was taken. It is upon them that the whole structure of peace must rest.
If those principles are to be adhered to, Fiume must serve as the outlet and inlet of the commerce, not of Italy, but of the lands to the north and northeast of that port: Hungary, Bohemia, Roumania, and the states of the new Jugo-Slavic group. To assign Fiume to Italy would be to create the feeling that we had deliberately put the port upon which all these countries chiefly depend for their access to the Mediterranean in the hands of a Power of which it did not form an integral part and whose sovereignty, if set up there, must inevitably seem foreign, not domestic or identified with the commercial and industrial life of the regions which the port must serve. It is for that reason, no doubt, that Fiume was not included in the Pact of London, but there definitively assigned to the Croatians.
And the reason why the line of the Pact of London swept about many of the islands of the eastern coast of the Adriatic and around the portion of the Dalmatian coast which lies most open to that sea was not only that here and there on those islands and here and there on that coast there are bodies of people of Italian blood and connection, but also, and no doubt, chiefly, because it was felt that it was necessary for Italy to have a foothold amidst the channels of the eastern Adriatic in order that she might make her own coasts safe against the naval aggression of Austria-Hungary. But Austria-Hungary no longer exists. It is proposed that the fortifications which the Austrian Government constructed there shall be razed and permanently destroyed. It is part, also, of the new plan of European order which centers in the League of Nations that the new states erected there shall accept a limitation of armaments which puts aggression out of the question. There can be no fear of the unfair treatment of groups of Italian people there because adequate guarantees will be given, under international sanction, of equal and equitable treatment of all racial or national minorities.
In brief, every question associated with this settlement wears & new aspect,-a new aspect given it by the very victory for right for which Italy has made the supreme sacrifice of blood and treasure. Italy, along with the four other great Powers, has become one of the chief trustees of the new order which she has played so honorable a part in establishing.
And on the north and northeast her natural frontiers are com
pletely restored, along the whole sweep of the Alps from northwest to southeast to the very end of the Istrian peninsula, including all the great watershed within which Trieste and Pola lie and all the fair regions whose face nature has turned towards the great peninsula upon which the historic life of the Latin people has been worked out through centuries of famous story every since Rome was first set upon her seven hills. Her ancient unity is restored. Her lines are extended to the great walls which are her natural defence. It is within her choice to be surrounded by friends; to exhibit to the newly liberated peoples across the Adriatic that noblest quality of greatness, magnanimity, friendly generosity, the preference of justice over interest.
The nations associated with her, the nations that know nothing of the Pact of London or of any other special understanding that lies at the beginning of this great struggle and who have made their supreme sacrifice also in the interest, not of national advantage or defence, but of the settled peace of the world, now unite with her older associates in urging her to assume a leadership which cannot be mistaken in the new order of Europe.
America is Italy's friend. Her people are drawn, millions strong, from Italy's own fair countrysides. She is linked in blood as well as in affection with the Italian people. Such ties can never be broken. And America was privileged, by the generous commission of her associates in the war, to initiate the peace we are about to consummate,—to initiate it upon terms she had herself formulated, and in which I was her spokesman. The compulsion is upon her to square every decision she takes a part in with those principles. She can do nothing else. She trusts Italy, and in her trust believes that Italy will ask nothing of her that cannot be made unmistakably consistent with these sacred obligations. Interest is not now in question, but the rights of peoples, of states new and old, of liberated peoples and peoples whose rulers have never accounted them worthy of right; above all the right of the world to peace and to such settlements of interest as shall make peace secure.
These, and these only, are the principles for which America has fought. These, and these only, are the principles upon which she can consent to make peace. Only upon these principles, she hopes and believes, will the people of Italy ask her to make peace.