it was not a flat rejection of everything the Chancellor had
requested. Nor were they alone in their disappointment. "Let
us hope," wi'ote William Howard Taft, "that the President has
not taken a false step. He has not answered Germany as it
was hoped by the American and Allied people he would. His
dialectic queries are, of course, intended to show by Gennany's
answers that she is not sincere. He thus wishes to deprive the
Kaiser of an opportunity to rouse his people to a 'last ditch'
struggle to avoid annihilation." Was it not dangerous to invite
acceptance of points which might need amendment because of
the changed situation since January 8, 1918? "Why should
we ask who is making the inquiry ? Do we not know it is the
Kaiser through a minister whose past liberalism he is using as
a cloak to fool his own people and ourselves ? . . . Our gallant
troops at the front, and those of our Allies shedding their blood
so freely in the greatest battle in the world's history, should
not have their high purpose to fight through to victory and
Berlin chilled by any hesitation as to the goal we seek."
The press of the country in general took the position that the
186 THE UNITED STATES IN THE WORLD WAR
President had met the German peace offensive with a counter
offensive. He had simply shifted the issue hack to Berlin and
left the German Government to get out, as hest it could, of the
trap so carefully set for the United States and her Allies.
"President Wilson has matched General Foch's military success
with a diplomatic triumph." "In dealing with the German
peace offensive President Wilson has employed the same tactics
that Foch used in breaking the German military offensive — a
counter-offensive." "Ten thousand words of amplification could
add naught to this incomparably effective response. It argues
nothing, it promises nothing, but, serenely and without the least
bluster of rhetorical phrase, it hamstrings the Kaiser's horse."
"This time the Hun Government has been outmaneuvered.
Since it has chosen, like Hindenburg and Ludendorff, to resort
to subterfuges and indirect attack, the President, like Foch and
Pershing, has answered his adversary in kind ; he has adopted
'tactics' rather than point-blank fire." The reply had prevented
Prince Max from turning to the German people and saying,
" 'You see, we offered America peace on her own terms and she
has refused them, I have exposed the insincerity of her prin-
ciples. I have revealed the purpose of the Allies. You see
now it is to destroy the German people. Therefore fight on.'
That was a shrewd thrust. But the President has parried it."
Such journals as expressed disappointment said: "If the
nation expected that the President would return, as the answer
to- Germany's peace proposals, two words, unconditional sur-
render, it will be disappointing. Apparently the time to pro-
claim that ultimatum (in the opinion of the President) has
not yet come." "To deny that the American people will be
deeply disappointed at the President's first step in response to
the note of the new Imperial Chancellor would be to deny a
phenomenon of nature." "America feels that there should be
nothing that savors, even remotely, of diplomatic weakening.
Unfortunately the President's note of inquiry is likely to be
so construed." "It goes without saying that the reply is not
what we have all expected and hoped for. ... It is the part of
PEACE OFFENSIVES 187
wisdom, however, to conclude that the President is right, know-
ing more than we can know."
Octoher 12 a wireless from N'auen, seemingly the reply of
the German Government to the President's note, was picked up
in France and forwarded to Washington. President Wilson
was then in the Metropolitan Opera House, at 'New York City,
attending a concert for the benefit of the Queen Margherita
Fund for Blinded Italian Soldiers, for the day had been Italy
Day at the Altar of Liberty. A newspaper man brought a copy
to the President's Secretary, Mr. Tumulty, who handed it to
the President, who read:
The German Government has accepted the terms laid down by
President Wilson in his address of January 8, and in his subsequent
addresses on the foundation of a permanent peace of justice. Con-
sequently its object in entering into discussion would be only to
agree upon practical details of the application of these terms. The
German Government believes that the Governments of the powers
associated with the Government of the United States also take the
position taken by President Wilson in his address.
The German Government, in accordance with the Austro-Hun-
garian Government, for the purpose of bringing about an armistice,
declares itself ready to comply with the proposition of the President
in regard to evacuation. The German Government suggests that
the President may occasion the meeting of a mixed commission for
making the necessary arrangements concerning the evacuation.
The present German Government, which has undertaken the re-
sponsibility for this step toward peace, has been formed by con-
ferences and in agreement with the great majority of the Reichstag.
The Chancellor, supported in all his actions by the will of this
majority, speaks in the name of the German Government and of
the German people.
State Secretary of Foreign Office.
Against this request for a mixed commission to arrange for
evacuation, the whole country protested vigorously. From one
end of it to the other came the cry, "no armistice," "uncon-
ditional surrender." Self's answer was held to be no surrender,
but a move to avoid surrender. An armistice, it was said.
188 THE UNITED STATES IN THE WORLD WAR
purchased at the price of mere evacuation of invaded territory,
would be a fine bargain for Germany but a foolish one for the
Allies. To permit the Hun to retire to his bloody lair still a
belligerent was unthinkable. His arms must be stacked on the
battlefield. There must be a transfer of ammunition to the
Allies, a surrender as complete as that of Bulgaria. What kind
of terms did Bismarck grant when France asked an armistice
of three weeks in 1871 ? "The immediate surrender of the
twenty-five forts around Paris with all their war supplies ; the
garrison of Paris to lay down their arms as prisoners of war ;
the immediate payment of 200,000,000 francs."
The President asked for whom Prince Maximilian was
speaking, for he had already said, "We cannot take the word
of the present rulers of Germany as a guarantee unless sup-
ported by such conclusive evidence of the will and purpose of
the GeiTuan people themselves as other peoples of the world
would be justified in accepting." Have we, it was asked, any
such evidence ? Was not what Solf calls "the German Govern-
ment" created by an Imperial decree ? Solf is very careful to
omit the word Imperial, and for the first time in a note from
the Foreign Office the "Imperial German Government" is not
mentioned. But is there any reason to believe that there is any
change in the German system which would prevent the Em-
peror revoking that decree? Coming from an honest Govern-
ment such a reply as Germany has made might be accepted as
an unconditional surrender. But coming from the German
Government with its record of atrocious crimes, and its wanton
defiance of the laws of God, man, and humanity, this offer of
surrender, without guarantees, is another scrap of paper. Un-
less the German people themselves destroy the autocratic power
which has plunged the world in war, and may do so again, the
Allied armies must go on with the work of destroying that
power on the battlefields of France, Belgium and Germany.
Who will give bonds for Germany ? Who feels safe to rely on
her word ? Who is sure "that her official liars and wreckers of
treaties, who can be restored to power overnight, will not be
PEACE OFFENSIVES 189
running ruthless again before a negotiated peace can be carried
into effect ?"
Newspapers in Paris pointed out that the German Constitu-
tion had undergone no change; that if the Government was
responsible to the people it was also responsible to the Emperor ;
that Foch was the proper man to decide whether there should
or should not be an armistice, and what should be the terms;
that when Germany, in 1014, sought the neutrality of France
she demanded as a guarantee of that neutrality the German
occupation of Toul and Verdun. "We must not undertake
anything," said UEclair, "that savors of negotiation. The
military must announce the conditions of the suspension of
arms. One single man must speak — Foch." Germany, said
Les Temps, seems to think the French and British conquered
like herself, and the President an arbitrator intervening to put
everything right. Instead of promising to withdraw her troops,
and abstain from devastation, Germany calmly asks a mixed
commission where the conquered invader would speak as an
equal. There was no mixed commission in 1871 when Bis-
marck imposed an armistice on France. "This Reichstag which
is spoken about, but never allowed to speak, is the same that
voted preparation for the war, voted for the war, and voted the
peace dictated to the Russians and Rumanians." "The idea of
a representative commission denotes a desire to negotiate on an
equal footing," said the Matin. "There are only two persons
in an armistice, the conqueror and the conquered. The one
orders, the other obeys."
London scouted the idea of an armistice. Since President
"Wilson stated his fourteen points, said The Times, rivers of
blood have soaked into the soil of Belgium and France. The
ravages of Attila and even those of the earlier stages of the
German invasion have been cast into the shade. Yet the four-
teen points Germany accepts make no provision for a single one
of her manifold crimes, nor for the punishment of the master
criminals who inspired them. "Before President Wilson ac-
cepts the role of intermediary, now thrust upon him, we trust
190 THE UNITED STATES IN THE WORLD WAR
he will see fit to remind the German Chancellor that each and
all of these problems must be faced." Slaughter of men and
women on the Lelnster and the Hirano Maru, the German re-
fusal to exchange prisoners, and the wanton devastation by the
retreating German armies in !N'orthern France served but to
strengthen the demand for no leniency, for no armistice. To
all this, said the Dispatch, the answer is "Get out ! ITo arrange-
ments are necessary. Men who believe in God cannot bargain
with the fiends who sank the Leinsier."
October 10 while the Leinsier, a mail packet steamer plying
between England and Ireland, was crossing the Irish Sea with
six hundred and eighty-seven passengers and a crew of seventy,
she was struck by two torpedoes and sank in fifteen minutes.
]SI"o warning was given. Upwards of four hundred persons, of
whom one hundred and thirty-five were women and children,
were drowned. The Hirano Maru was a Japanese steamer
homeward bound from an English port with two hundred pas-
sengers. When three hundred miles south of Ireland she was
torpedoed and in a few minutes sank, with all on board, save
such as were able to jump into the sea. !N"earby was an Ameri-
can destroyer, and hearing the sound of the explosion her
captain hurried to the scene and picked up thirty survivors.
A British freighter, on October 10, brought to one of our ports
twenty soldiers and sailors, all that were left of two hundred
and fifty on board the United States steamer Ticonderoga, tor-
pedoed early in the month in mid-Atlantic. Seven of her
eight life boats were destroyed by shell fire.
All these new atrocities were duly noticed by the President
in his reply to the German note.
The unqualified acceptance by the present German Government
and by a large majority of the Eeichstag of the terms laid down by
the President of the United States of America in his address to
the Congress of the United States on the eighth of January, 1918,
and in his subsequent addresses justified the President in making
a frank and direct statement of his decision with regard to the
PEACE OFFENSIVES 191
commimieation of the German Government of the 8th and 12th of
It must be clearly understood that the process of evacuation and
the conditions of an armistice are matters which must be left to the
Judgment and advice of the military advisers of the Government
of the United States and the Allied Governments, and the President
feels it his duty to say that no arrangement can be accepted by the
Government of the United States which does not provide completely
satisfactory safeguards and guarantees of the maintenance of the
present military supremacy of the armies of the United States and
the Allies in the field.
He feels confident that he can safely assume that nothing but
this will also be the judgment and decision of the Allied Govern-
The President feels that it is also his duty to add that neither
the Government of the United States nor, he is quite sure, the
Governments with which the Government of the United States is
associated as a belligerent will consent to consider an armistice so
long as the armed forces of Germany continue the illegal and in-
humane practices which they still persist in.
At the very time that the German Government approaches the
Government of the United States with proposals of peace its sub-
marines are engaged in sinking passenger ships at sea, and not the
ships alone, but the very boats in which their passengers and crews
seek to make their way to safety; and in their present enforced
withdrawal from Flanders and France the German armies are pur-
suing a course of wanton destruction which has always been regarded
as in direct violation of the rules and practices of civilized warfare.
Cities and villages, if not destroyed, are being stripped of all they
contain not only but often of their very inhabitants.
The nations associated against Germany cannot be expected to
agree to a cessation of arms while acts of inhumanity, spoliation and
desolation are being continued which they justly look upon with
horror and with burning hearts.
it is necessary, also, in order that there may be no possibility of
misunderstanding, that the President should very solemnly call the
attention of the Government of Germany to the language and plain
intent of one of the terms of peace which the German Government
has now accepted. It is contained in the address of the President
delivered at Mount Vernon on the Fourth of July last.
It is as follows: "The destruction of every arbitrary power any-
where that can separately, secretly and of its single choice disturb
192 THE UNITED STATES IN THE WORLD WAR
the peace of the world, or, if it cannot be presently destroyed, at
least its reduction to virtual impoteney."
The power which has hitherto controlled the German nation is
of the sort here described. It is within the choice of the German
nation to alter it. The President's words just quoted naturally
constitute a condition precedent to peace, if peace is to come by the
action of the German people themselves. The President feels bound
to say that the whole process of peace will, in his judgment, depend
upon the definiteness and the satisfactory character of the guar-
antees which can be given in this fundamental matter. It is indis-
pensable that the Governments associated against Germany should
know beyond a peradventure with whom they are dealing.
The President will make a separate reply to the Royal and Im-
perial Government of Austria-Hungary.
With this reply the country was delighted. Peace by negotia-
tion which threatened, it was said, is now far removed. The
reply will be read by the American people with a deep sigh of
relief. It is not a note but a decision. An armistice is de-
clined; the Kaiser and bis autocratic government must go;
U-boat frightfulness on the seas must stop ; burning and pillag-
ing the towns of Belgium and France must stop, definite and
satisfactory guarantees must be given, and when all these con-
ditions have been met the question of an armistice will be re-
ferred to the Allied and American commanders in the field.
It is an American answer, given by a great American, and gives
voice to the deep convictions of the whole American people. It
will stir the blood of the American people and command their
instant assent by acclamation. It is an ultimatum to a defeated
power. Only two courses are open to Germany; submission,
which means present surrender; or resistance, which means
ultimate destruction. Senators approved the answer ; the Allies
approved, and the whole world waited to see what would be the
effect on Germany.
Turkey meantime had joined her allies in an appeal for an
armistice. The note, received October 12 by the Spanish Min-
ister of Foreign Affairs from the Charge d' Affaires of Turkey
PEACE OFFENSIVES 193
in Madrid, was delivered by the Spanisli Ambassador at Wash-
ington to Secretary Lansing October 14.
The undersigned. Charge d'Affaires of Turkey, has the honor,
acting upon instructions from his Government, to request the Royal
Government to inform the Secretary of State of the United States
of America, by telegraph, that the Imperial Government requests
the President of the United States of America to take upon himself
the task of the reestablishment of peace; to notify all belligerent
States of this demand and to invite them to send delegate pleni-
potentiaries to initiate negotiations. It (the Imperial Government)
accepts as a basis for the negotiations the program laid down by
the President of the United States in his message to Congress of
January 8, 1918, and in his subsequent declarations, especially the
speech of September 27.
In order to put an end to the shedding of blood the Imperial
Ottoman Government requests that steps be taken for the immediate
conclusion of a general armistice on land, on sea, and in the air.
Austria-Hungary now seemed to be fast going to pieces.
Discontent, war weariness, demands for* peace, signs of revo-
lution were everywhere. Hungary was in ferment ; the Czecho-
slovaks had broken away from the Empire, and the Emperor
Charles, alarmed by the prospect before him, proclaimed the
reorganization of Austria-Hungary on a federal basis.
To my faithful Austrian peoples:
Since I have ascended the throne I have tried to make it my duty
to assure to all my peoples the peace so ardently desired and to
point the way to the Austrian peoples of a prosperous development
unhampered hy obstacles which brutal force creates against intellect-
ual and economic prosperity.
The terrible struggles in the world war have thus far made the
work of peace impossible. The heavy sacrifices of the war should
assure to us an honorable peace, on the threshold of which, by the
help of God, we are to-day.
We must, therefore, undertake without delay the reorganization
of our country on a natural, and therefore solid, basis. Such a
question demands that the desires of the Austrian peoples be har-
monized and realized.
I am decided to accomplish this work with the free collaboration
of my peoples in the spirit and principles which our Allied monarchs
have adopted in their offer of peace.
Austria must become, in conformity with the will of its people,
a confederate state in which each nationality shall form on the
territory which it occupies its own local autonomy.
This does not mean that we are already envisaging the union of
the Polish territories of Austria with the independent Polish State.
The city of Trieste with all its surroundings shall, in conformity
with the desire of its population, be treated separately.
THE ARMISTICE 195
This promise of federalization came too late. The day it
was made public in our country the President answered the
Austro-Hungarian note of October 7, and the Czecho-Slovak
declaration of independence, published in Paris October 18,
was printed in full in our newspapers. Mr. Lansing's reply,
as handed to the Swedish Minister, reads :
The President deems it his duty to say to the Austro-Hungarian
Government that he cannot entertain the present suggestions of that
Government because of certain events of utmost importance which,
occurring since the delivery of his address of the 8th of January
last, have necessarily altered the attitude and responsibility of the
Government of the United States. Among the fourteen terms of
peace which the President formulated at that time occurred the
"X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the
nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded
the freest opportunity of autonomous development."
Since that sentence was written and uttered to the congress of
the United States the Government of the United States has recog-
nized that a state of belligerency exists between the Czecho-Slovaks
and the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires and that the Czecho-
slovak national council is a de facto belligerent government clothed
with proper authority to direct the military and political affairs of
It has also recognized in the fullest manner the justice of the
nationalistic aspirations of the Jugo-Slavs for freedom.
The President is, therefore, no longer at liberty to accept the mere
"autonomy" of these peoples as a basis of peace, but is obliged to
insist that they, and not he, shall be the judges of what action on the
part of the Austro-Hungarian Government will satisfy their aspira-
tions and their conception of their rights and destiny as members
of the family of nations.
Prom Amsterdam and Switzerland there now came reports
of what would be the answer of Germany to the President. The
reply, it was said, has been delivered to the Swiss Government.
Germany agrees to evacuate Belgium, but will require months
in which to do so; protests against the charge of cruelty, de-
clares she was forced into submarine warfare by the Allied
196 THE UNITED STATES IN THE WORLD WAR
blockade, and denies responsibility for the loss of women and
children on passenger boats, but in the interest of peace will
stop such attacks. October 21 what purported to be the text
of the rejDly was received in London by wireless. October 22
the Swiss Charge delivered to Mr. Lansing "the original Ger-
man text" and "an English translation of the communication
in question as transmitted to the Swiss Foreign Office by the
German Government." This official translation reads:
In accepting the proposal for an evacuation of the occupied
territories the German Government has started from the assumption
that the procedure of this evacuation and of the conditions of an
armistice should be left to the judgment of the military advisers and
that the actual standard of power on both sides iu the field has to
form the basis for arrangements safeguarding and guaranteeing this
standard. The German Government suggests to the President to
bring about an opportunity for fixing the details. It trusts that the
President of the United States will approve of no demand which
would be irreconcilable with the honor of the German people and
with opening a way to a peace of justice.
The German Government protests against the reproach of illegal
and inhuman actions made against the German land and sea forces,
and thereby against the German people. For the covering of a
retreat, destructions will always be necessary, and are, in so far,
permitted by international law. The German troops are under the
strictest instructions to spare private property and to exercise care
for the population to the best of their ability. Where transgres-
sions occur, in spite of these instructions, the guilty are being
The German Government further denies that the German navy
in sinking ships has ever purposely destroyed lifeboats with their
passengers. The German Government proposes, with regard to all
these charges, that the facts be cleared up by neutral commissions.
In order to avoid anything that might hamper the work of peace,
the German Government has caused orders to be dispatched to all
submarine commanders precluding the torpedoing of passenger ships,
without, however, for technical reasons, being able to guarantee that
these orders will reach every single submarine at sea before its
As the fundamental conditions for peace, the President char-
acterizes the destruction of every arbitrary power that can separately.
THE ARMISTICE 197
secretly and of its own single clioice disturb the peace of the world.
To this the German Government replies : Hitherto the representation