Page 4166

4166 HOW THE WAR CAME TO AMERICA

with which our Government viewed the crisis. From this point, events

moved rapidly. The powers of the Entente replied to the German peace

note. Neutral nations took action on the note of the President, and from

both belligerents replies to this note were soon in our hands.

The German reply was evasive-in accord with their traditional preference

for diplomacy behind closed doors. Refusing to state to the world their

terms, Germany and her allies merely proposed a conference. They adjourned all discussion of any plan for a league of peace until after hostilities

should end.

The response of the Entente Powers was frank and in harmony with our

principal purpose.' Many questions raised in the statement of their aims

were so purely European in character as to have small interest for us; but

our great concern in Europe was the lasting restoration of peace, and it was

clear that this was also the chief interest of the Entente Nations. As to

the wisdom of some of the measures they proposed toward this end, we

might differ in opinion, but the trend of their proposals was the establishment

of just frontiers based on the rights of all nations, the small as well as the

great, to decide their own destinies.

The aims of the belligerents were now becoming clear. From the outbreak of hostilities the German Government had claimed that it was fighting

a war of defense. But the tone of its recent proposals had been that of

a conqueror. It sought a peace based on victory. The central empires

aspired to extend their domination over other races. They were willing

to make liberal terms to any one of their enemies, in a separate peace which

would free their hands to crush other opponents. But they were not willing

to accept any peace which did not, all fronts considered, leave them victors

and the dominating imperial power of Europe. The war aims of the Entente

showed a determination to thwart this ambition of the Imperial German

Government. Against the German peace to further German growth and

aggression the Entente Powers offered a plan for a European peace that

should make the whole continent secure.

At this juncture the President read his address to the Senate, on January

22, 1917, in which he outlined the kind of peace the United States of America

could join in guaranteeing. His words were addressed not only to the Senate

and this Nation but to people of all countries.

"May I not add that I hope and believe that I am in effect speaking for

liberals and friends of humanity in every nation and of every program of

liberty? I would fain believe that I am speaking for the silent mass of

mankind everywhere who have as yet had no place or opportunity to speak