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relapse into the old bankrupt system of the Balance of Power. He realized that the peoples of France, England, and Italy had felt the pinch of war as the American people had never done, and that it was demanding too much of human nature to expect that their attitude would be one of moderation. He knew that in the negotiations Clemenceau and Sonnino would be definitely opposed to his programme and that he could not count upon Lloyd George. He decided therefore that he must himself go to Paris to fight for his ideals. The decision was one of tremendous significance. At the moment when domestic problems of reconstruction would be most acute, an American President was going to leave the country because of the interest of America in European affairs. The United States was now so much a part of the world system that domestic issues seemed of less importance than the danger that Europe might fall back into the old international system which had proved unable to keep the peace. The President's voyage to France was the clearest manifestation yet vouchsafed of the settled position of the United States as a world power.
If the justice of his policy and the necessity of full participation in the peace as in the war be admitted, Wilson was probably right in going to Paris. No one else could have secured so much of his programme. No one else was possessed of the political power or the personal prestige which belonged to him. The history of the Conference was to show that when he absented himself in February and after he left Paris in June, his subordinates found great difficulty in meeting Allied opposition. But the decision of the President to attend the Peace Conference furnished fresh material for criticism at home. It was a new thing in our history; people did not understand the importance of the issues involved and attributed his voyage to vanity. Unquestionably it weakened Wilson in America as much as it strengthened him abroad. When on the 4th of December, the presidential ship, George Washington, sailed out of New York harbor, saluted by the wild shrieks of a thousand sirens and the showers of glittering white papers streaming from the windows of the skyscrapers, preceded by the battleship Pennsylvania, flanked by destroyers, with acrobatic airplanes and a stately dirigible overhead, external enthusiasm was apparently at its height. But Wilson left behind him glowing embers of intense opposition which, during the next six months, were to be fanned into a dangerous flame.
WAYS OF THE PEACE CONFERENCE
On Friday, December 13, 1918, the George Washington steamed slowly into Brest harbor through a long double line of gray battleships and destroyers, greeted by the thunder of presidential salutes and the blare of marine bands. Europe thrilled with emotion, which was half curiosity and half genuine enthusiasm: it was to see and applaud the man who during the past eighteen months had crystallized in speech the undefined thought of the Allied world, who represented (at least in European eyes) the strength and idealism of America, and who stood, for the moment, as the political Messiah to liberals in every country of the Old World, victors or defeated. The intensity of the curiosity as well as the sincerity of the enthusiasm was attested on the following day, when President Wilson drove through the streets of Paris, welcomed by the vociferous plaudits of the close-packed crowd. It was for him a public triumph, no greater than that accorded to King Albert of Belgium and certainly less demonstrative than the jubilations of armistice night, but nevertheless undeniably sweet to the President, who looked to popular opinion as the bulwark upon which he must rely during the difficult days ahead.
Further triumphs awaited him in his trips to England and to Italy. In London and Rome, as in Paris, he was the object of demonstrations which at times became almost delirious; more than once his admirers must have been reminded of the Biblical phrase that alludes to the honor of a prophet outside his own country. The emotion of Europe is not difficult to understand. The man in the street was ready to shout, for the war was finished and the miseries of the peace that was no peace were not yet realized. Wilson stood for Justice above everything, and the people of each country believed whole-heartedly that their particular demands were just; the President, therefore, must stand with them. To Frenchmen it was obvious that he must approve the "simple justice" of the claim that Germany pay the entire cost of the war; Italians were convinced that he would sanction their "just" demand for the annexation of Fiume.
So long as Justice remained something abstract his popularity remained secure. Could he retain it when concrete issues arose? As early as the beginning of January ebullitions of approval became less frequent. Discordant voices were audible suggesting that Wilson was too prone to sacrifice the material necessities of the war-burdened nations to his idealistic notions. People asked why he failed to visit Belgium and the devastated regions of France, so as to see for himself what sufferings had been endured. And the historian may well inquire if it were because he had not gauged the depth of feeling aroused by German war practices, or because he had determined to show the Germans that he would not let his judgment be clouded by emotion. Whatever the explanation, his popularity suffered.
Without question the original strength of President Wilson's position, resting in part upon the warmth of popular feeling, which is ever uncertain, was undermined by the delays that marked the opening of the Peace Conference. Such delays may have resulted in part from the purpose of the Allied leaders, who wished to permit public enthusiasm for Wilson to cool; they may also have been caused in part by the differences that'developed