If the oft-repeated phrase be true, that the study of the past is undertaken chiefly to serve as a basis of a man's conduct in the future, it is only natural that we should turn at this time to the congress at Versailles and wonder if the delegates assembled there will utilize the lessons of similar gatherings in the past.
Surely the conference could not have a better body of advisers than the group that has been selected. A proof of the superior ability and intellectual farsightedness of our college professors has been demonstrated by the appointment of twenty-three experts on international affairs. All of these men are members of college faculties and we take especial pride in the fact that four of the twenty-three are from Harvard.
Seldom could one find among the members of one college faculty four men more admirably fitted to act as specialists in such an undertaking than Professors Haskins, Coolidge, Dixon and Lord. Their combined knowledge embraces four of the most important questions that will have to be decided at the coming conference: Alsace-Lorraine, Russia, Poland the Balkans and the Far East.
In 1815, a memorable group of potentates assembled at Vienna to discuss the question of peace and the reconstruction of the map of Europe on rather reactionary doctrines. It has required over a hundred years of growth and progress to remould the political and social structure of society, so malformed by Count von Metternich, Czar Alexander of Russia, and the other politicians of the day.
Despite this remarkable progress, there still exists a group of selfish and contemptible individuals who will forever place their own interests before the interests of humanity,--who, in other words, have not read the "signs of the times". Such persons will be given little recognition, if any, at the coming peace conference.
The Congress of Versailles will be a gathering where the wishes of the people and the sober dictates of justice and reason will alone receive attention. If the ideas and aims of any one person win preponderance at the sessions of the congress, there will be a man in whom the people of America and all the other Allied nations may well put their trust. He is the man who has recognized the necessity of learning the lessons of past congresses. He is the man who has appreciated the value of our college professors in all great crises. He is President Wilson.