Tag Archives: Peggy Schooner

The Frontiers of Humanity

Here is yet another chapter that was left out when THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE was published. Max is beginning to wonder what he was thinking when he agreed to eliminate these chapters. At the time they were written, Max saw them as important to move the flow of the narrative in a direction that would give the reader a feeling about what was going on in Paris in 1919 when the nations of the world were trying to gather themselves and continue to live in the 20th century.

Max is thinking of pulling all these absent chapters together and publishing them under the title – THE AUTHOR GUILT CLAUSE




France’s anxiety was at fever heat – the Peace Conference had been convened for four months, but the deliberations of the Supreme Council had been clothed in mystery; there had been no word on the most important issue of all: the fate of the despicable Hun; and now at last a memorandum from the British Prime Minister that called for mild treatment of the hated Saxons.


When nations are exhausted by wars which leave them tired, bleeding and broken, it is not difficult to patch up a peace that might last for 30 years. What is difficult is to draw up a peace which will not provoke a fresh struggle. Injustice and arrogance displayed in the hour of triumph will never be forgotten or forgiven. Therefore, I strongly advise against transferring German rule to some other nation.

The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution; there is a deep sense of discontent, anger, and revolt; the whole existing order in its political, social, and economic aspects is questioned by the masses of the population from one end of Europe to the other. We peacemakers must be conscious of the danger that if we fail we could throw the population throughout Europe into the arms of the extremists. The greatest danger I see in the present situation is that Germany may throw in her lot with Bolshevism whose dream is to conquer the world by force of arms.

If we are wise, we shall offer to Germany a peace which will be preferable for all sensible men to the alternative of Bolshevism, and in the forefront that once she accepts our terms, especially reparation, we will open to her the raw materials and markets of the world on equal terms with ourselves. We can not both cripple her and expect her to pay.

We must make the League of Nations into something which will be both a safeguard to those nations who are prepared for fair dealings with their neighbors, and a menace to those who would trespass on the rights of their neighbors.

Finally, I believe that until the authority and effectiveness of the League of Nations has been demonstrated, the British Empire and the United   States ought to give France a guarantee against the possibility of a new German aggression.


Summary of Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s Fontainebleau memorandum  – March 25, 1919


Woodrow Wilson loved it. Lord Northcliffe, baron of the British Press, and blood enemy of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, was all over it like a fire department at a blazing building; he enlisted 370 members of the British Parliament to send a telegram of screaming protest to the embattled Lloyd George. Clemenceau was outraged – Germany, the savage aggressor, saved by imprudent pity? Never!

French newspapers battled rivals for the honor of posting the most angry headline.

the Journal des Debats roared:

The Frontiers of Humanity Must Be Made Inviolable


Easter (April 20) will be here before the Armistice is completed and instead of a full resurrection, the World will have a new Calvary to climb, for the League of Nations is not, and never will be, an adequate guarantor of French security.We French have the right to reparations, both material and moral. Material reparation means payment by Germany of not only pensions and damages, but also war costs. Any other solution would be the most monstrous injustice in the history of the human race. Shall a people who has been invaded and martyred be made to pay? It would be like the victim paying the assassin under the pretext that the latters’ resources must be safeguarded.

Moral reparation is simply protection against future aggression, for did not President Wilson himself  say, “French frontiers are the frontiers of humanity.”

French Chamber of Deputies Senator Cheron expressing the voice of general alarm:


Peggy Schooner and Ed Frederick soaked up the April-in-Paris sunshine on a park bench in the Jardin des Tuilleries while reading from a stack of French newspapers.

Peggy held up Le Figaro for Ed’s inspection –“What do you think of their motto?” She asked, then read it in French and translated to English “Without the freedom to criticize, there is no true praise.”

Ed smiled in response, “Freedom of the press – the hallmark of Democracy; my paper’s motto is “All the news that’s fit to print.”

“Chicago casts all modesty aside,” said Peggy, “the Tribune calls itself ‘the World’s Greatest Newspaper.”

Ed smiled again and recalled, “my favorite newspaper motto comes from Nevada – the Mason Valley News – ‘The Only Newspaper that gives a damn about Yerington.’”

Peggy laughed loudly and gave Ed an appreciative whack on the back. The two allowed themselves the luxury of a light-hearted interlude, but they knew that what they had to do was anything but funny. Their job was to report the news of what the Peace Conference was or was not accomplishing, and after seemingly endless delays and diversions the conference was at last coming to the primary task – what to do about Germany.

“The Fontainebleu Memorandum has broken the dam,” said Ed. “Lloyd George and Wilson have come out for moderate terms.”

“Yes,” Peggy agreed, “but I don’t think they were prepared for the avalanche of opposition to moderation that crashed down upon them.”

“This is true,” Ed agreed, “but President Wilson is immune to such opposition – he is permanently and irrevocably locked into his positions – the fourteen points and the League of Nations; nothing can change his mind.”

“I’m sorry to say this, Edward, but our President is a fool. In a world that cries for diplomacy, he is an uncompomising wall of granite.”

Ed hesitated to criticize a man he thought of as a friend, but Peggy’s barbs were beginning to connect. “House, Lansing, and Baker have counselled compromise,” he said.

“I think he only accepts advice from God,” Peggy said, then added, “which apparently he receives on a regular basis.”

“And then there is the Fiume – Shantung contradiction,” said Ed. “He awards Fiume to the Yugoslavs on the basis of his point five – colonial claims must be based on the interests of the populations concerned – then ignores the point in awarding a large piece of Chinese territory to Japan.”

Peggy was quick to pick up on Ed’s thought. “It was all about his sacred League of Nations,” she said, “Japan threatened to quit the League and form a triple alliance with Germany and Russia to oppose the League – Wilson caved in to Japanese demands. And becaue of the Fiume decision, the Italians have gone home to Rome in a fit of anger.”

“Orlando and Sonnino have been received in Rome as National heroes,” Ed said, “imagine if they had succeeded.”

Peggy nodded, “I can imagine that Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau are happy to be without the Italians – a big three is easier to manage than a big four.”

“Speaking of the Italians,” said Ed, “I have news from my New York colleagues on this Fiume issue, and for Wilson it’s not good – his number one antagonist in the U.S. congress, Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, believes that Italy should have military and naval control of the Adriatic and so supports Italy’s claim to the port of Fiume.”

“Why isn’t Lodge here in Paris as part of the U.S. delegation?” Peggy asked. “Doesn’t Wilson understand that nothing he agrees to at the conference will be anything but fantasy if he can’t get support from his legislature?”

Ed was not ready to give up on Wilson. “And yet,” he said, “for all his difficulties, backsliding, mistakes, misunderstandings, and contradictions, I believe it is right and proper that he should be here.”

Peggy was not so sure. “No,” she exclaimed, “your precious Wilson should have remained in Washington, his presence here is a distraction; historians will not treat him kindly. And let us not fail to note that the peace treaty is being written by anonymous technicians whose labors will be touted as the work of statesmen.”

While Ed pondered that observation, and searched for an appropriate response, Peggy abruptly changed the subject to a train of thought she had been considering ever since they had returned from Munich.

“Ida Tarbell was too hard on Rockefeller,” she said.

Ed blinked; where did that come from? Ed was startled at the abrupt change of subject. “Rockefeller?”

“He founded the University of Chicago, you know.”

Ed shook his head; he did not know.

“The eternal conundrum,” mused Peggy, “if great wealth is accumulated by unfair means and used for charitable purposes, is it morally justified?”

“The allied powers in charge here would certainly think so,” said Ed, “It makes me wonder: is that the ultimate purpose of this conference? To ensure that the Rockefellers of the world are safe from the “poisonous” claims of any system of government designed to share the wealth of nations with the population of nations?”

“You may be onto something there, Edward,” said Peggy. “Most certainly the  United States, Great Britain, and France are dedicated to that purpose. And what about Germany? As we have seen in Munich, thousands of Germans are prepared to fight for a people’s government where the poor are elevated in society to a level, if not equal to the rich, at least high enough to escape the degradation of grinding poverty. The Allies call this hope, “poisonous”. The great irony of the Great War is that the contending forces  agreed on this issue; the post-war story is yet to be written, it may involve civil war in Germany. Pity the common folk.”

Caught up in thoughts of irony and poison, Ed was startled when Peggy once again seemed to change the subject.

“He’s here, you know,” she said, then added, “Junior is here.”

“Junior?” Ed questioned.

“John D. Rockefeller, Junior; he’s here in Paris; I saw him at one of Baker’s press conferences.”

“Do you know him?” Ed asked.

“I know him by sight,” Peggy answered, “he was the commencement speaker when I graduated from the University of Chicago. At the press conference he was sitting next to Ida Tarbell.”

“That’s odd,” said Ed, “I thought she didn’t like him.”

Ed was thinking of Ida Tarbell’s famous book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, published 15 years earlier; a highly detailed exposè of  John D. Rockefeller’s unethical business practices that had damaged many small companies, including that of her father, in the nascent oil business of Western Pennsylvania. Junior Rockefeller’s father, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, had called her “that poisonous woman.”

“President Wilson likes her,” said Peggy, “two years ago he appointed her to the Women’s Commission of the Council on National Defense and recently as a delegate to his Industrial Conference.”

“So why is she sitting with Rockefeller?”

“This is not the same Rockefeller,” Peggy answered. “This is the son of the founder, he’s a different animal – he doesn’t have to worry about making money, his job is figuring out the best way to spend it. Rockefeller Senior was not only a shrewd, if unethical, businessman, he also understood the capitalistic system as well as anyone alive – the bottom line is you invest your money well and live off the interest. The British aristocracy could not exist without this system; Rockefeller took note and formed the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Medical Research, the General Education Board, and probably a few others nobody knows about.

Ida Tarbell exposed Senior’s shady methods, but she also took note of his impeccable organizational skills, and she clearly doesn’t blame Junior for the sins of his father.”



Madelon is the name of a catchy song that French soldiers (the Poilu)) sang endlessly in the dreadful 1914-1918 days when German artillery shells fell like rain all over northern France. How is it that music somehow eases the pain and the anxiety of the men ordered to put their lives on the line for what they are told is a noble cause? The British sang It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, the Yanks sang Over There, and Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag. Through the miracle of 2013 technology you can hear these songs on the Internet. Google it. Google Madelon. if you’re like me, you’ll have a hard time getting the tune out of your head for a while.

In The War Guilt Clause, following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June, 1919, Ed Frederick and Peggy Schooner embarked on a journalistic bicycle journey through eastern France and western Germany; they planned to speak to the people on the ground – those who lived through the terrible times –  what did these people think of the Treaty?

Near Verdun they encounter a catholic priest, a survivor of the 1916 six-month nightmare that claimed near a million lives.

Bon”, said the man, “my name is France, I am a priest.”                                                                “Then you  are Father France,” said Ed.

The War Guilt Clause chapter entitled Father France, can be seen in its entirety if you go to http://thewarguiltclause.tateauthor.com

You will also see this:  Father France smiled and began to hum a lilting melody of a favorite French song of the day – it was called Madelon. A few bars into the song, Father France moved from humming to singing, then after a few lines, abruptly stopped, looked at the two young Americans nestled close on the grassy French hillside, and in measured  French tones questioned, “Would you like me to marry you?”

The War Guilt Clause is for sale – from Tate or from Max.





Wilson’s Obsession – The League of Nations

Woodrow Wilson, is the only U.S. President with an earned doctorate – Ph.D. in Government and History, Johns Hopkins University, 1886. To say Wilson was a stubborn man would be like saying the Washington Monument is an obelisk. “Let them compromise,” became a mantra with Wilson – he knew better, and in the end it cost him dearly.

A month after the fighting on the Western Front ended in November, 1918, Wilson went to France to prepare for the Paris Peace Conference that would convene in January, 1919; his reception in Paris, London, and Rome was tumultuous; he was the conquering hero, the first international recognition that the United States was a GREAT NATION, and he was here to fashion a peace for the world. Sadly, it would end badly . . .  “A Peace to End All Peace,” said the title of David Fromkin’s 1986 book,

Max Blue in The War Guilt Clause, follows the peace conference through the eyes of correspondent Ed Frederick, and a bright-eyed, spiky Midwesterner with a pen of her own – Peggy Schooner, who enters Ed’s life at the first Paris press conference with the words “Wilson has it all wrong – the League of Nations is not the first priority – a peace treaty with Germany is.”

Wilson had it horribly wrong but was blind to see. He would not be swayed from his bull-headed insistence that the Covenant of the League of Nations must be included in the introduction to what became the Treaty of Versailles.

Here in 2013, it is widely seen that partisan politics is crippling the United States efforts to bring a better life to its citizens. In 1919, bitter hatred for a Democrat President, may have been worse :

Republican Senator William Borah of Idaho – “The Treaty of Versailles represents the most complete moral breakdown in the history of treaty writing.”

Democratic Senator James Phelan of California – “The President has achieved a great triumph; the Treaty of Versailles is a greater boon to mankind than the Magna Charta or the American Constitution.”

It remained for the much maligned future U.S. President, Herbert Hoover, to pen a phrase that might represent A Thought For All Seasons: “We are sadly in need of an idealism that transcends partisan politics – one rooted in principles beyond mere party allegiance.”