Please Note the Addition to the First Line of Cable


Please Note the Addition to the First Line of Cable


Pratt, William Veazie, 1869-1957




[1918 October 29]


Pratt writes that change to the cable changes the whole meaning.


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


World War, 1914-1918


Anna Phillips






Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.


Please note the addition to the first line of cable, which changes its entire complexion.

As I read the cable, these are the decisions arrived at by the Allied Naval Council, but subject to the approval of the governments concerned.

Where the purely naval features involve no departure from governmental policies [word cut off copy] conceptions of future policy it might be wise to accept these decisions. But where they do, it seems wiser to pause and consider the situation more thoroughly.

The within terms of armistice do represent a view point which is at variance with the terms indicated by the President.

Attention is invited to the paragraph beginning with line twenty, first page, [word cut off copy] Allied Council’s assumptions, special reference to last clause.

The result of these terms as apart from the intent, will be, I feel to drive Germany, now perhaps in the transition stage from one form of stable government to another form of stable government, to some last desperate move. There is nothing constructive in these terms, nothing which paves the way for a more amicable future setting.

Perhaps Germany has played her last military card, but she has not played her last naval card. And while in the end defeat on sea, as on land, and quickly too, is sure to overtake her, she, I think is bound to play the card, if the controlling destinies of Germany are still those that have been in power. If they have changed or are changing, would it be wise to push Germany so far during the armistice. Do you wish to overload such a government?

Therefore it would seem wiser to me, not to force the issue with Germany too drastically now, but (1) to gain time, (2) secure a German government acceptible to deal with, and the absolute guarantee of same, (3) Use the time gained to render Turkey and Austria impotent, and eliminated from the war.

Following the above course it would seem that every effort might be made to force the right form of government in Germany as the prelude to armistice (while such negotiations are on there will probably be no danger of Germany sacrificing her fleet)

Having secured this aim, I feel that the President’s terms of armistice, [word cut off copy] far simpler but stronger, and easier of accomplishment. During this period Turkey and Austria can be made to surrender, and in this regard I feel that Austria can and should be pushed, according to the terms of armistice laid down in the cable

Her case is different and needs different treatment. How can we hope to combine the various elements into a strong government, strong enough to deal with. Rapid action in her case seems necessary.
Meanwhile the psycological effect of our action towards Austria and Turkey will have time to filter into the German mind.


Original Format



Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945




Pratt, William Veazie, 1869-1957, “Please Note the Addition to the First Line of Cable,” [1918 October 29], WWP25346, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.