Minutes of League of Free Nations Association Meeting, April 9, 1920



Downtown Association, 60 Pine Street, at 12:45


James G. McDonald

Edwin Bjorkman

Stephen P. Duggan

Robert [H.] Gardiner

Mrs. H. G. Leach

Ralph S. Rounds

Edwin E. Slosson

Miss Lillian D. Wald

Miss Christina Merriman

Mrs. Charles Tiffany

Charles C. Burlingham

George Burnham, Jr.

Mrs. J. Malcolm Forbes

Horace M. Kallen

Sam A. Lewisohn

Howard C. Robbins

Learned Hand

A. A. Berle

Joseph P. Cotton

H. E. W. Fosbroke

Lewis [S. Gannett]

William I. Hull

Norman Hapgood

Chas. P. Howland

Alvin Johnson

David Hunter Miller

Chas. J. Rhoads

J. Henry Scattergood

J. Salwyn Schapiro

Wm. Austin Smith

Raymond V. Ingersoll

Miss C. E. Cumming

Chas. H. Levermore

At the outset of the discussion Mr. Rounds proposed that the conference should agree to the statement that the purpose of this Association should be to “promote a sound and democratic organization of the world.” The proposal was voted down.

It was also voted to pass over points 1 and 2 on the agenda (see Appendix A).

In regard to point 3 (peace by resolution) there was unanimous agreement that it was of doubtful constitutionality and in no event led anywhere, because there was no possibility of the President’s accepting it and just as little possibility of its being passed over his veto. There was a general feeling that the move to declare peace by resolution was meant to cast the onus of maintaining a state of war upon the President. It was felt by some that the President might, in vetoing the resolution, take the occasion of returning the Treaty to the Senate, making some such statement to the effect that he would accept the necessary reservations.

Discussion then centered on point 4 -- as to whether the President should be urged to return the Treaty to the Senate with a constructive statement of reservations which he would accept. The prevailing opinion was that one last perhaps despairing effort should be made to induce Mr. Wilson to return the Treaty to the Senate saying in effect that he was willing to accept whatever reservations might be necessary to secure ratification. It was suggested that this appeal to him should be made not in a public or general manner, but through a carefully prepared friendly statement to be signed by a few men and women, all of whom the President would remember as his personal and political friends. It was recognized that the possibilities of getting such a petition to the President were not very good, and that the possibility of his acting upon such advice was very slight, and yet there was general agreement on the point that at least this effort should be made.

The matter of a separate peace with Germany was not discussed very seriously; the prevailing opinion appeared to be that [page 2] such a move was not now within the realm of practical politics, although there was a strong argument made by some of the persons present for such a movie on the theory that if peace were established in this way there would then be the possibility of making a clear issue in the campaign of the League of Nations Covenant. Every one recognized of course that to carry both Treaty and Covenant into the campaign would be to confuse the issue entirely and make it impossible to get any real mandate from the people for any particular action.


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