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The Shantung Settlement was not so evidently chargeable to secret negotiations as the crisis over the disposition of Fiume, but the decision was finally reached through that method. The controversy between Japan and China as to which country should become the possessor of the former German property and rights in the Shantung Peninsula was not decided until almost the last moment before the Treaty with Germany was completed. Under pressure of the necessity of making the document ready for delivery to the German delegates, President Wilson, M. Clemenceau, and Mr. Lloyd George, composing the Council of the Heads of States in the absence of Signor Orlando in Rome, issued an order directing the Drafting Committee of the Conference to prepare articles for the Treaty embodying the decision that the Council had made. This decision, which was favorable to the Japanese claims, was the result of a confidential arrangement with the Japanese delegates by which, in the event of their claims being granted, they withdrew their threat to decline to sign the Treaty of Peace, agreed not to insist on a proposed amendment to the Covenant declaring for racial equality, and orally promised to restore to China in the near future certain rights of sovereignty over the territory, which promise failed of confirmation in writing or by formal public declaration.

It is fair to presume that, if the conflicting claims of Japan and China to the alleged rights of Germany in Chinese territory had been settled upon the merits through the medium of an impartial commission named by the Conference, the Treaty provisions relating to the disposition of those rights would have been very different from those which “The Three” ordered to be drafted. Before a commission of the Conference no persuasive reasons for conceding the Japanese claims could have been urged on the basis of an agreement on the part of Japan to adhere to the League of Nations or to abandon the attempt to have included in the Covenant a declaration of equality between races. It was only through secret interviews and secret agreements that the threat of the Japanese delegates could be successfully made. An adjustment on such a basis had nothing to do with the justice of the case or with the legal rights and principles involved. The threat was intended to coerce the arbiters of the treaty terms by menacing the success of the plan to establish a League of Nations to use an ugly word, it was a species of “blackmail” not unknown to international relations in the past. It was made possible because the sessions of the Council of the Heads of States and the conversations concerning Shantung were secret.

It was a calamity for the Republic of China and unfortunate for the presumed justice written into the Treaty that President Wilson was convinced that the Japanese delegates would decline to accept the Covenant of the League of Nations if the claims of Japan to the German rights were denied. It was equally unfortunate that the President felt that without Japan’s adherence to the Covenant the formation of the League would be endangered if not actually prevented. And it was especially unfortunate that the President considered the formation of the League in accordance with the provisions of the Covenant to be superior to every other consideration and that to accomplish this object almost any sacrifice would be justifiable. It is my impression that the departure of Signor Orlando and Baron Sonnino from Paris and the uncertainty of their return to give formal assent to the Treaty with Germany, an uncertainty which existed at the time of the decision of the Shantung Question, had much to do with the anxiety of the President as to Japan’s attitude. He doubtless felt that to have two of the Five Great Powers decline at the last moment to accept the Treaty containing the Covenant would jeopardize the plan for a League and would greatly encourage his opponents in the United States. His line of reasoning was logical, but in my judgment was based on the false premise that the Japanese would carry out their threat to refuse to accept the Treaty and enter the League of Nations unless they obtained a cession of the German rights. I did not believe at the time, and I do not believe now, that Japan would have made good her threat. The superior international position, which she held as one of the Five Great Powers in the Conference, and which she would hold in the League of Nations as one of the Principal Powers in the constitution of the Executive Council, would never have been abandoned by the Tokio Government. The Japanese delegates would not have run the risk of losing this position by adopting the course pursued by the Italians.

The cases were different. No matter what action was taken by Italy she would have continued to be a Great Power in any organization of the world based on a classification of the nations. If she did not enter the League under the German Treaty, she certainly would later and would undoubtedly hold an influential position in the organization whether her delegates signed the Covenant or accepted it in another treaty or by adherence. It was not so with Japan. There were reasons to believe that, if she failed to become one of the Principal Powers at the outset, another opportunity might never be given her to obtain so high a place in the concert of the nations. The seats that her delegates had in the Council of Ten had caused criticism and dissatisfaction in certain quarters, and the elimination of a Japanese from the Council of the Heads of States showed that the Japanese position as an equal of the other Great Powers was by no means secure. These indications of Japan’s place in the international oligarchy must have been evident to her plenipotentiaries at Paris, who in all probability reported the situation to Tokio. From the point of view of policy the execution of the threat of withdrawal presented dangers to Japan’s prestige which the diplomats who represented her would never have incurred if they were as cautious and shrewd as they appeared to be. The President did not hold this opinion. We differed radically in our judgment as to the sincerity of the Japanese threat. He showed that he believed it would be carried out. I believed that it would not be.

It has not come to my knowledge what the attitude of the British and French statesmen was concerning the disposition of the Shantung rights, although I have read the views of certain authors on the subject, but I do know that the actual decision lay with the President. If he had declined to recognize the Japanese claims, they would never have been granted nor would the grant have been written into the Treaty. Everything goes to show that he realized this responsibility and that the cession to Japan was not made through error or misconception of the rights of the parties, but was done deliberately and with a full appreciation that China was being denied that which in other circumstances would have been awarded to her. If it had not been for reasons wholly independent and outside of the question in dispute, the President would not have decided as he did.

It is not my purpose to enter into the details of the origin of the German lease of Kiao-Chau (the port of Tsingtau) and of the economic concessions in the Province of Shantung acquired by Germany. Suffice it to say that, taking advantage of a situation caused by the murder of some missionary priests in the province, the German Government in 1898 forced the Chinese Government to make treaties granting for the period of ninety-nine years the lease and concessions, by which the sovereign authority over this “Holy Land” of China was to all intents ceded to Germany, which at once improved the harbor, fortified the leased area, and began railway construction and the exploitation of the Shantung Peninsula.

The outbreak of the World War found Germany in possession of the leased area and in substantial control of the territory under the concession. On August 15, 1914, the Japanese Government presented an ultimatum to the German Government, in which the latter was required “to deliver on a date not later than September 15 to the Imperial Japanese authorities, without condition or compensation, the entire leased territory of Kiao-Chau with a view to the eventual restoration of the same to China.”

On the German failure to comply with these demands the Japanese Government landed troops and, in company with a small British contingent, took possession of the leased port and occupied the territory traversed by the German railway, even to the extent of establishing a civil government in addition to garrisoning the line with Japanese troops. Apparently the actual occupation of this Chinese territory induced a change in the policy of the Imperial Government at Tokio, for in December, 1914, Baron Kato, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, declared that the restoration of Tsingtau to China “is to be settled in the future” and that the Japanese Government had made no promises to do so.

This statement, which seemed in contradiction of the ultimatum to Germany, was made in the Japanese Diet. It was followed up in January, 1915, by the famous “Twenty-one Demands” made upon the Government at Peking. It is needless to go into these demands further than to quote the first to which China was to subscribe.

“The Chinese Government agrees that when the Japanese Government hereafter approaches the German Government for the transfer of all rights and privileges of whatsoever nature enjoyed by Germany in the Province of Shantung, whether secured by treaty or in any other manner, China shall give her full assent thereto.”

The important point to be noted in this demand is that Japan did not consider that the occupation of Kiao-Chau and the seizure of the German concessions transferred title to her, but looked forward to a future transfer by treaty.

The “Twenty-one Demands” were urged with persistency by the Japanese Government and finally took the form of an ultimatum as to all but Group V of the “Demands.” The Peking Government was in no political or military condition to resist, and, in order to avoid an open rupture with their aggressive neighbor, entered into a treaty granting the Japanese demands.

China, following the action which the United States had taken on February 3, 1917, severed diplomatic relations with Germany on March 14, and five months later declared war against her announcing at the same time that the treaties, conventions, and agreements between the two countries were by the declaration abrogated. As to whether a state of war does in fact abrogate a treaty of the character of the Sino-German Treaty of 1898 some question may be raised under the accepted rules of international law, on the ground that it was a cession of sovereign rights and constituted an international servitude in favor of Germany over the territory affected by it. But in this particular case the indefensible duress employed by the German Government to compel China to enter into the treaty introduces another factor into the problem and excepts it from any general rule that treaties of that nature are merely suspended and not abrogated by war between the parties. It would seem as if no valid argument could be made in favor of suspension because the effect of the rule would be to revive and perpetuate an inequitable and unjustifiable act. Morally and legally the Chinese Government was right in denouncing the treaty and agreements with Germany and in treating the territorial rights acquired by coercion as extinguished.

It would appear, therefore, that, as the Japanese Government recognized that the rights in the Province of Shantung had not passed to Japan by the forcible occupation of Kiao-Chau and the German concessions, those rights ceased to exist when China declared war against Germany, and that China was, therefore, entitled to resume full sovereignty over the area where such rights previously existed.

It is true that subsequently, on September 24, 1918, the Chinese and Japanese Governments by exchange of notes at Tokio entered into agreements affecting the Japanese occupation of the Kiao-Chau Tsinan Railway and the adjoining territory, but the governmental situation at Peking was too precarious to refuse any demands made by the Japanese Government. In fact the action of the Japanese Government was very similar to that of the German Government in 1898. An examination of these notes discloses the fact that the Japanese were in possession of the denounced German rights, but nothing in the notes indicates that they were there as a matter of legal right, or that the Chinese Government conceded their right of occupation.

This was the state of affairs when the Peace Conference assembled at Paris. Germany had by force compelled China in 1898 to cede to her certain rights in the Province of Shantung. Japan had seized these rights by force in 1914 and had by threats forced China in 1915 to agree to accept her disposition of them when they were legally transferred by treaty at the end of the war. China in 1917 had, on entering the war against Germany, denounced all treaties and agreements with Germany, so that the ceded rights no longer existed and could not legally be transferred by Germany to Japan by the Treaty of Peace, since the title was in China. In fact any transfer or disposition of the rights in Shantung formerly belonging to Germany was a transfer or disposition of rights belonging wholly to China and would deprive that country of a portion of its full sovereignty over the territory affected.

While this view of the extinguishment of the German rights in Shantung was manifestly the just one and its adoption would make for the preservation of permanent peace in the Far East, the Governments of the Allied Powers had, early in 1917, and prior to the severance of diplomatic relations between China and Germany, acceded to the request of Japan to support, “on the occasion of the Peace Conference,” her claims in regard to these rights which then existed. The representatives of Great Britain, France, and Italy at Paris were thus restricted, or at least embarrassed, by the promises which their Governments had made at a time when they were in no position to refuse Japan’s request. They might have stood on the legal ground that the Treaty of 1898 having been abrogated by China no German rights in Shantung were in being at the time of the Peace Conference, but they apparently were unwilling to take that position. Possibly they assumed that the ground was one which they could not take in view of the undertakings of their Governments; or possibly they preferred to let the United States bear the brunt of Japanese resentment for interfering with the ambitious schemes of the Japanese Government in regard to China. There can be little doubt that political, and possibly commercial, interests influenced the attitude of the European Powers in regard to the Shantung Question.

President Wilson and the American Commissioners, unhampered by previous commitments, were strongly opposed to acceding to the demands of the Japanese Government. The subject had been frequently considered during the early days of the negotiations and there seemed to be no divergence of views as to the justice of the Chinese claim of right to the resumption of full sovereignty over the territory affected by the lease and the concessions to Germany. These views were further strengthened by the presentation of the question before the Council of Ten. On January 27 the Japanese argued their case before the Council, the Chinese delegates being present; and on the 28th Dr. V.K. Wellington Koo spoke on behalf of China. In a note on the meeting I recorded that “he simply overwhelmed the Japanese with his argument.” I believe that that opinion was common to all those who heard the two presentations. In fact it made such an impression on the Japanese themselves, that one of the delegates called upon me the following day and attempted to offset the effect by declaring that the United States, since it had not promised to support Japan’s contention, would be blamed if Kiao-Chau was returned directly to China. He added that there was intense feeling in Japan in regard to the matter. It was an indirect threat of what would happen to the friendly relations between the two countries if Japan’s claim was denied.

The sessions of the Commission on the League of Nations and the absence of President Wilson from Paris interrupted further consideration of the Shantung Question until the latter part of March, when the Council of Four came into being. As the subject had been fully debated in January before the Council of Ten, final decision lay with the Council of Four. What discussions took place in the latter council I do not know on account of the secrecy which was observed as to their deliberations. But I presume that the President stood firmly for the Chinese rights, as the matter remained undecided until the latter part of April.

On the 21st of April Baron Makino and Viscount Chinda called upon me in regard to the question, and I frankly told them that they ought to prove the justice of the Japanese claim, that they had not done it and that I doubted their ability to do so. I found, too, that the President had proposed that the Five Powers act as trustees of the former German rights in Shantung, but that the Japanese delegates had declared that they could not consent to the proposition, which was in the nature of a compromise intended to bridge over the existing situation that, on account of the near approach of the completion of the Treaty, was becoming more and more acute.

On April 26 the President, at a conference with the American Commissioners, showed deep concern over the existing state of the controversy, and asked me to see the Japanese delegates again and endeavor to dissuade them from insisting on their demands and to induce them to consider the international trusteeship proposed. The evening of the same day the two Japanese came by request to my office and conferred with Professor E.T. Williams, the Commission’s principal adviser on Far Eastern affairs, and with me. After an hour’s conversation Viscount Chinda made it very clear that Japan intended to insist on her “pound of flesh.” It was apparent both to Mr. Williams and to me that nothing could be done to obtain even a compromise, though it was on the face favorable to Japan, since it recognized the existence of the German rights, which China claimed were annulled.

On April 28 I gave a full report of the interview to Mr. White and General Bliss at our regular morning meeting. Later in the morning the President telephoned me and I informed him of the fixed determination of the Japanese to insist upon their claims. What occurred between the time of my conversation with the President and the plenary session of the Conference on the Preliminaries of Peace in the afternoon, at which the Covenant of the League of Nations was adopted, I do not actually know, but the presumption is that the Japanese were promised a satisfactory settlement in regard to Shantung, since they announced that they would not press an amendment on “racial equality” at the session, an amendment upon which they had indicated they intended to insist.

After the meeting of the Conference I made the following memorandum of the situation:

“At the Plenary Session of the Peace Conference this afternoon Baron
Makino spoke of his proposed amendment to the Covenant declaring
‘racial equality,’ but said he would not press it.

“I concluded from what the President said to me that he was disposed to accede to Japan’s claims in regard to Kiao-Chau and Shantung. He also showed me a letter from to Makino saying he was sorry their claims had not been finally settled before the Session.

“From all this I am forced to the conclusion that a bargain has been
struck by which the Japanese agree to sign the Covenant in exchange
for admission of their claims. If so, it is an iniquitous agreement.

“Apparently the President is going to do this to avoid Japan’s declining to enter the League of Nations. It is a surrender of the principle of self-determination, a transfer of millions of Chinese from one foreign master to another. This is another of those secret arrangements which have riddled the ‘Fourteen Points’ and are wrecking a just peace.

“In my opinion it would be better to let Japan stay out of the League than to abandon China and surrender our prestige in the Far East for ’a mess of pottage’ and a mess it is. I fear that it is too late to do anything to save the situation.”

Mr. White, General Bliss, and I, at our meeting that morning before the plenary session, and later when we conferred as to what had taken place at the session, were unanimous in our opinions that China’s rights should be sustained even if Japan withdrew from the Peace Conference. We were all indignant at the idea of submitting to the Japanese demands and agreed that the President should be told of our attitude, because we were unwilling to have it appear that we in any way approved of acceding to Japan’s claims or even of compromising them.

General Bliss volunteered to write the President a letter on the subject, a course which Mr. White and I heartily endorsed.

The next morning the General read the following letter to us and with our entire approval sent it to Mr. Wilson:

Hotel de Crillon, Paris

April 29, 1919


“Last Saturday morning you told the American Delegation that you desired suggestions, although not at that moment, in regard to the pending matter of certain conflicting claims between Japan and China centering about the alleged German rights. My principal interest in the matter is with sole reference to the question of the moral right or wrong involved. From this point of view I discussed the matter this morning with Mr. Lansing and Mr. White. They concurred with me and requested me to draft a hasty note to you on the subject.

“Since your conference with us last Saturday, I have asked myself
three or four Socratic questions the answers to which make me,
personally, quite sure on which side the moral right lies.

First. Japan bases certain of her claims on the right acquired by conquest. I asked myself the following questions: Suppose Japan had not succeeded in her efforts to force the capitulation of the Germans at Tsing-Tsau; suppose that the armistice of November 11th had found her still fighting the Germans at that place, just as the armistice found the English still fighting the Germans in South-East Africa. We would then oblige Germany to dispose of her claims in China by a clause in the Treaty of Peace. Would it occur to any one that, as a matter of right, we should force Germany to cede her claims to Japan rather than to China? It seems to me that it would occur to every American that we would then have the opportunity that we have long desired to force Germany to correct, in favor of China, the great wrong which she began to do to the latter in 1898. What moral right has Japan acquired by her conquest of Shantung assisted by the British? If Great Britain and Japan secured no moral right to sovereignty over various savages inhabiting islands in the Pacific Ocean, but, on the other hand, we held that these peoples shall be governed by mandates under the League of Nations, what moral right has Japan acquired to the suzerainty (which she would undoubtedly eventually have) over 30,000,000 Chinese in the sacred province of Shantung?

Second. Japan must base her claims either on the Convention with
China or on the right of conquest, or on both. Let us consider her
moral right under either of these points.

a) If the United States has not before this recognized the validity of the rights claimed by Japan under her Convention with China, what has happened since the Armistice that would justify us in recognizing their validity now?

b) If Germany had possessed territory, in full sovereignty, on the east coast of Asia, a right to this territory, under international law, could have been obtained by conquest. But Germany possessed no such territory. What then was left for Japan to acquire by conquest? Apparently nothing but a lease extorted under compulsion from China by Germany. I understand that international lawyers hold that such a lease, or the rights acquired, justly or unjustly, under it, cannot be acquired by conquest.

Third. Suppose Germany says to us, ’We will cede our lease and all rights under it, but we will cede them back to China.’ Will we recognize the justice of Japan’s claims to such an extent that we will threaten Germany with further war unless she cedes these rights to Japan rather than to China?

“Again, suppose that Germany, in her hopelessness of resistance to our demands, should sign without question a clause ceding these rights to Japan, even though we know that this is so wrong that we would not fight in order to compel Germany to do it, what moral justification would we have in making Germany do this?

Fourth. Stripped of all words that befog the issue, would we not, under the guise of making a treaty with Germany, really be making a treaty with Japan by which we compel one of our Allies (China) to cede against her will these things to Japan? Would not this action be really more unjustifiable than the one which you have refused to be a party to on the Dalmatian Coast? Because, in the latter case, the territory in dispute did not belong to one of the Allies, but to one of the Central Powers; the question in Dalmatia is as to which of two friendly powers we shall give territory taken from an enemy power; in China the question is, shall we take certain claimed rights from one friendly power in order to give them to another friendly power.

“It would seem to be advisable to call particular attention to what the Japanese mean when they say that they will return Kiao-chow to China. They do not offer to return the railway, the mines or the port, i.e., Tsingtau. The leased territory included a portion of land on the north-east side of the entrance of the Bay and another on the south-west and some islands. It is a small territory. The 50 Kilometer Zone was not included. That was a limitation put upon the movement of German troops. They could not go beyond the boundary of the zone. Within this zone China enjoyed all rights of sovereignty and administration.

“Japan’s proposal to abandon the zone is somewhat of an impertinence, since she has violated it ever since she took possession. She kept troops all along the railway line until recently and insists on maintaining in the future a guard at Tsinan, 254 miles away. The zone would restrict her military movements, consequently she gives it up.

“The proposals she makes are (1) to open the whole bay. It is from 15 to 20 miles from the entrance to the northern shore of the bay. (2) To have a Japanese exclusive concession at a-place to be designated by her, i.e., she can take just as much as she likes of the territory around the bay. It may be as large as the present leased territory, but more likely it will include only the best part of Tsingtau. What then does she give up? Nothing but such parts of the leased territory as are of no value.

“The operation then would amount chiefly to an exchange of two pieces of paper one cancelling the lease for 78 years, the other granting a more valuable concession which would amount to a permanent title to the port. Why take two years to go through this operation?

“If it be right for a policeman, who recovers your purse, to keep the
contents and claim that he has fulfilled his duty in returning the
empty purse, then Japan’s conduct may be tolerated.

“If it be right for Japan to annex the territory of an Ally, then it
cannot be wrong for Italy to retain Fiume taken from the enemy.

“If we support Japan’s claim, we abandon the democracy of China to
the domination of the Prussianized militarism of Japan.

“We shall be sowing dragons’ teeth.

“It can’t be right to do wrong even to make peace. Peace is
desirable, but there are things dearer than peace, justice
and freedom.

“Sincerely yours



I have not discussed certain modifications proposed by the Japanese delegates, since, as is clear from General Bliss’s letter, they amounted to nothing and were merely a pretense of concession and without substantial value.

The day following the delivery of this letter to the President (April 30), by which he was fully advised of the attitude of General Bliss, Mr. White, and myself in regard to the Japanese claims, the Council of Four reached its final decision of the matter, in which necessarily Mr. Wilson acquiesced. I learned of this decision the same evening. The memorandum which I made the next morning in regard to the matter is as follows:

“China has been abandoned to Japanese rapacity. A democratic territory has been given over to an autocratic government. The President has conceded to Japan all that, if not more than, she ever hoped to obtain. This is the information contained in a memorandum handed by Ray Stannard Baker under the President’s direction to the Chinese delegation last evening, a copy of which reached me through Mr. [of the Chinese delegation].

“Mr. also said that Mr. Baker stated that the President desired him to say that the President was very sorry that he had not been able to do more for China but that he had been compelled to accede to Japan’s demand ‘in order to save the League of Nations.

“The memorandum was most depressing. Though I had anticipated something of the sort three days ago , I had unconsciously cherished a hope that the President would stand to his guns and champion China’s cause. He has failed to do so. It is true that China is given the shell called ‘sovereignty,’ but the economic control, the kernel, is turned over to Japan.

“However logical may appear the argument that China’s political integrity is preserved and will be maintained under the guaranty of the League of Nations, the fact is that Japan will rule over millions of Chinese. Furthermore it is still a matter of conjecture how valuable the guaranty of the League will prove to be. It has, of course, never been tried, and Japan’s representation on the Council will possibly thwart any international action in regard to China.

“Frankly my policy would have been to say to the Japanese, ’If you do not give back to China what Germany stole from her, we don’t want you in the League of Nations.’ If the Japanese had taken offense and gone, I would have welcomed it, for we would have been well rid of a government with such imperial designs. But she would not have gone. She would have submitted. She has attained a high place in world councils. Her astute statesmen would never have abandoned her present exalted position even for the sake of Kiao-Chau. The whole affair assumes a sordid and sinister character, in which the President, acting undoubtedly with the best of motives, became the cat’s-paw.

“I have no doubt that the President fully believed that the League of Nations was in jeopardy and that to save it he was compelled to subordinate every other consideration. The result was that China was offered up as a sacrifice to propitiate the threatening Moloch of Japan. When you get down to facts the threats were nothing but ‘bluff.’

“I do not think that anything that has happened here has caused more severe or more outspoken criticism than this affair. I am heartsick over it, because I see how much good-will and regard the President is bound to lose. I can offer no adequate explanation to the critics. There seems to be none.”

It is manifest, from the foregoing recital of events leading up to the decision in regard to the Shantung Question and the apparent reasons for the President’s agreement to support the Japanese claims, that we radically differed as to the decision which was embodied in Articles 156, 157, and 158 of the Treaty of Versailles (see Appendix VI, . I do not think that we held different opinions as to the justice of the Chinese position, though probably the soundness of the legal argument in favor of the extinguishment of the German rights appealed more strongly to me than it did to Mr. Wilson. Our chief differences were, first, that it was more important to insure the acceptance of the Covenant of the League of Nations than to do strict justice to China; second, that the Japanese withdrawal from the Conference would prevent the formation of the League; and, third, that Japan would have withdrawn if her claims had been denied. As to these differences our opposite views remained unchanged after the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

When I was summoned before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on August 6, 1919, I told the Committee that, in my opinion, the Japanese signatures would have been affixed to the Treaty containing the Covenant even though Shantung had not been delivered over to Japan, and that the only reason that I had yielded was because it was my duty to follow the decision of the President of the United States.

About two weeks later, August 19, the President had a conference at the White House with the same Committee. In answer to questions regarding the Shantung Settlement, Mr. Wilson said concerning my statement that his judgment was different from mine, that in his judgment the signatures could not have been obtained if he had not given Shantung to Japan, and that he had been notified that the Japanese delegates had been instructed not to sign the Treaty unless the cession of the German rights in Shantung to Japan was included.

Presumably the opinion which Mr. Wilson held in the summer of 1919 he continues to hold, and for my part my views and feelings remain the same now as they were then, with possibly the difference that the indignation and shame that I felt at the time in being in any way a participant in robbing China of her just rights have increased rather than lessened.

So intense was the bitterness among the American Commissioners over the flagrant wrong being perpetrated that, when the decision of the Council of Four was known, some of them considered whether or not they ought to resign or give notice that they would not sign the Treaty if the articles concerning Shantung appeared. The presence at Versailles of the German plenipotentiaries, the uncertainty of the return of the Italian delegates then in Rome, and the murmurs of dissatisfaction among the delegates of the lesser nations made the international situation precarious. To have added to the serious conditions and to have possibly precipitated a crisis by openly rebelling against the President was to assume a responsibility which no Commissioner was willing to take. With the greatest reluctance the American Commissioners submitted to the decision of the Council of Four; and, when the Chinese delegates refused to sign the Treaty after they had been denied the right to sign it with reservations to the Shantung articles, the American Commissioners, who had so strongly opposed the settlement, silently approved their conduct as the only patriotic and statesmanlike course to take. So far as China was concerned the Shantung Question remained open, and the Chinese Government very properly refused, after the Treaty of Versailles was signed, to enter into any negotiations with Japan looking toward its settlement upon the basis of the treaty provisions.

There was one exception to the President’s usual practice which is especially noticeable in connection with the Shantung controversy, and that was the greater participation which he permitted the members of the American Commission in negotiating with both the Japanese and the Chinese. It is true he did not disclose his intentions to the Commissioners, but he did express a wish for their advice and he directed me to confer with the Japanese and obtain their views. Just why he adopted this course, for him unusual, I do not know unless he felt that so far as the equity of China’s claim was concerned we were all in agreement, and if there was to be a departure from strict justice he desired to have his colleagues suggest a way to do so. It is possible, too, that he felt the question was in large measure a legal one, and decided that the illegality of transferring the German rights to Japan could be more successfully presented to the Japanese delegates by a lawyer. In any event, in this particular case he adopted a course more in accord with established custom and practice than he did in any other of the many perplexing and difficult problems which he was called upon to solve during the Paris negotiations, excepting of course the subjects submitted to commissions of the Conference. As has been shown, Mr. Wilson did not follow the advice of the three Commissioners given him in General Bliss’s letter, but that does not detract from the noteworthiness of the fact that in the case of Shantung he sought advice from his Commissioners.

This ends the account of the Shantung Settlement and the negotiations which led up to it. The consequences were those which were bound to follow so indefensible a decision as the one that was reached. Public opinion in the United States was almost unanimous in condemning it and in denouncing those responsible for so evident a departure from legal justice and the principles of international morality. No plea of expediency or of necessity excused such a flagrant denial of undoubted right. The popular recognition that a great wrong had been done to a nation weak because of political discord and an insufficient military establishment, in order to win favor with a nation strong because of its military power and national unity, had much to do with increasing the hostility to the Treaty and preventing its acceptance by the Senate of the United States. The whole affair furnishes another example of the results of secret diplomacy, for the arguments which prevailed with the President were those to which he listened when he sat in secret council with M. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George.