I HAVE the honour and the very great pleasure to count Mr. Sharp as my friend in the double capacity of private citizen and Ambassador of the Republic of the United States. It is through him that I received the evidences, so numerous and so varied, of affectionate and sympathetic admiration with which the American people honoured our Army in my person.
And to receive them from his hand rendered them still more precious to me.
Therefore I may be accused of partiality. But I defy anyone to find a Frenchman of France proof against this accusation. For in France, Mr. Sharp has nothing but friends.
A keen observer, penetrating and well-informed, thoroughly acquainted with our customs, our needs, and even our faults, he has understood us because he loved us. And, having understood us, he has made us known to his fellow-citizens, he has shown them how just was the cause toward which they were being irresistibly drawn by instinct. He joined with those whose call made the American legions spring up from the soil and sent them to fight and to conquer at our side.
This book will be read with passionate ardour by all the readers of the civilized world. It is the "why " and the "how" of American intervention in the European war which he sets forth, the scope extending from the Sussex incident to the days of the Armistice.
Many pages are devoted entirely to France, to her statesmen, to her customs, to her sufferings. "Paris under Fire " is the title of one chapter. The title of another is "French Gratitude." Of them all, this is certainly the truest. Never will France forget what America has done in helping her to conquer the barbarians and to staunch her wounds. Her gratitude for the work will not cause her to forget the workmen. Mr. Sharp is one of these, and among the very first.
THE letters addressed by President Wilson to William Graves Sharp during the World War leave no doubt as to Mr. Wilson's opinion of the Ambassador he had sent to represent the United States in France.
In the first letter, dated November 10, 1914---it was the one by which he introduced me to Mr. Sharp---the President referred to the "admirable" conduct of the Ambassador and expressed the "greatest confidence" in him, On July 6, 1916, he referred to "the duties which you are performing so faithfully and so well." On December 10, 1917, he mentioned the Ambassador's "power to assess public impressions." And in a letter dated September 10, 1918, Woodrow Wilson dwelt upon Mr. Sharp's "steadiness of judgment and the real American point of view you are constantly applying to our dealings with France."
Mr. Sharp's Memoirs consequently reflect the opinions, and relate particulars concerning the actions, of a War Ambassador whose ardent advocacy of the Allied Cause had the constant approval of his great Chief.
Immediately after the signing of the Armistice, Mr. Sharp began work on his Memoirs, which he continued after retiring from his post, in April 1919, but which he left unfinished at his death in November 1922.
A large proportion of the writing had been done in Paris, near the scene of the events discussed and in the grip of the strong impressions they created. I had given some assistance to Mr. Sharp in gathering the data he needed, for I had served him as Confidential Adviser and Chief of the Press Bureau of the American Embassy in Paris. It was therefore to me that his family entrusted the task of preparing the book for posthumous publication.
My main care has been to present an authentic text which is in some respects unique. I have accordingly limited my duties as editor to the strict execution of the annotations made by Mr. Sharp for his own guidance, as well as to certain rearrangements and abridgments inevitable in so bulky a manuscript.
This is, then, the first-hand evidence of an American Ambassador singularly well placed to observe and to reflect. As such, I believe that it will deserve a permanent place among the records of the World War.
Living on terms of close friendship with President Poincaré, Premier Ribot, and Premier Clemenceau, as well as with Marshals Joffre and Foch and Admiral Biard, among many others in France, Mr. Sharp's relations were equally cordial with Lord Bertie of Thame and Lord Derby, Great Britain's two War Ambassadors to France, and with Lord Balfour, the Hon. David Lloyd George, and Admiral Lord Jellicoe during their visits to Paris. He enjoyed the complete confidence of President Wilson and all his Cabinet, as well as of Generals Pershing, Bliss, and March, Admirals Benson, Sims, and Mayo, and of all of his colleagues among the Allied and Neutral Diplomatic Corps. Of the many great statesmen, generals, and admirals who were in constant conference with him, only few can be named, from lack of space, and even passing mention is scarcely possible for his numerous friends among the famous thinkers and scientists and historians of the day, such as Henri Bergson, Lucien Poincaré, Emile Boutroux, Camille Flammarion, and Gabriel Hanotaux.
Such contacts, and the vantage-point presented by the post he occupied in the French capital, provided Mr. Sharp with opportunities which were unparalleled. The fruit of all his observations is embodied in his book, with the simplicity but also with the scrupulous accuracy which distinguished him. If there were two human failings which he held in abhorrence, they were ante-chamber intrigues and idle rumours. Upon these he never wasted time in his diplomatic work, and he excluded them from his book. He claimed that they defeated their own purposes and could lead to no results worth considering. If one reflects upon the time devoted to them during the World War, and then upon the outcome of it all, it is difficult to disagree with Mr. Sharp's verdict.
There were other respects in which his judgments showed a striking prescience. He prophesied in March 1916 that the Germans would fail at Verdun,(1) and early in June 1918 that the American troops were about to play a decisive part in stopping the enemy's advance against Paris,(2) Similar instances will be found in most of the chapters of his Memoirs.
The most striking example of all was, nevertheless, left unmentioned by him, with characteristic modesty. The record of it was discovered by me in the unpublished Diary of his son and private secretary, my friend George C. Sharp. Under date of April 27, 1918, the following entry is written on page 77 of the linen-bound volume covering the years 1918 and 1919, the original of which lies before me as I transcribe these lines:
"Dad said this P. M. that he believes the war, which he has long termed the most 'crazy' war ever waged, will be over by November. I hope he is right in his prediction."
William Graves Sharp was born at Mount Gilead, Ohio, on March 14, 1859. Educated at the High School in Elyria, to which place his mother and his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Graves, had moved in his early youth, he was graduated in 1877, having completed in three years a four-year course including Latin and German, with an average standing of 92%.
But though a good student he was more than a student. Or rather, something within him told him from earliest boyhood that learning did not come from books alone. He had of course an inborn love for books. He was indeed an omnivorous reader. Those who remember his boyhood say that he was rarely seen in the street without books under his arm, on his way to or from the Ely Library when he' was not bound for school. And the books that he chose were 1 worth reading.
"There wasn't much to do in Elyria evenings except think," Mr. Sharp was quoted as saying to an interviewer when he was Ambassador, " but there was all the time in the world to do that."
So the boy learned not only to read but to think. And his thoughts led him to a thirst for the sort of knowledge which nature can bring. He was never happier than when out in the woods, fishing or nutting or exploring, or else just seeing what the birds and trees and flowers could teach him of their life.
This intimate touch with nature, as well as the close contact with his own kind which is apt to come to an ambitious boy of moderate means, knowing that he must carve his own way if he is to have any future at all, served as foundation for William Graves Sharp's Americanism. He had learned to know and love nature at her best on the continent where wild life is not even yet domesticated as it has come to be in Europe, and is not deadly as it has often proved to be in Africa. But he had also learned to see and to judge, with precociously developed senses, those with whom he was called upon to deal.
His grandfather, George W. Sharp, had been born at Frederick, Maryland, in 1800, son of John Sharp of Nottingham, England, who had married in America Anna Thompson, daughter of Dr. Robert Thompson, a surgeon attached to George Washington's staff in the Continental Army. George W. Sharp was interested in journalism, politics, and planting. Editor at twenty of the Westminster Citizen and later of the Frederick Citizen Advertiser, he was a Maryland State Senator when very young. He resolved to move West and accordingly sold his plantation and went to Ohio with his wife, Caroline Snider, and their young son, George Snider Sharp.
The father and the son then together engaged in journalism, editing successively in Ohio the Delaware Gazette and the Mount Gilead Democratic Messenger. It was at Mount Gilead that in 1858 George S. Sharp married Mahala Celista Graves, daughter of William and Effee Shaffer Graves. These were the parents of William Graves Sharp and his twin brother, George W. Sharp.
Wishing to study law at the University of Michigan, William Graves Sharp had to earn the money to pay his way. He worked for a while in the factory of Mr. George H. Ely, whom he left only after completing the sum needed. Graduated from Ann Arbor in 1881, he travelled for a time through the north-west, trying his hand at journalism. In the early twenties he was already at the head of a newspaper of his own at Fargo, South Dakota.
But he decided to return to Elyria, where he was admitted to the Bar. At the age of twenty-five he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Lorain County, being the first Democrat to hold that office for a generation or more in a strongly Republican community. Yet he refused re-election.
The attractions of business had become as strong for him as the pursuit of law or of journalism. He showed thereby that he belonged to the category of men who are precocious in their general abilities but whose vocation does not declare itself at once.
In after life he liked to tell an anecdote of the dismay caused to him, in his early newspaper days, by what might have been a trifling episode to a mind less cautious and observant than his own. A tramp printer had passed through Fargo, the shiftless sort of man who is fonder of talk than of work, and being himself of the mature age of thirty, had informed young Sharp with a sneer that no man under thirty could possibly achieve success. Young Sharp started desperately reckoning up how he could manage to hold on without success till the age of thirty, but made up his mind to disregard such generalizations and just to go ahead. And he did go ahead.
When he reached the fated age of thirty he was in Central and South America on his own, travelling in Mexico, Chile and Peru, seeking to develop the charcoal-iron industry to which he was devoting himself. Having learned Spanish, he met with considerable success, and for a time even thought of settling in Santiago, Chile. But a revolution which broke out at the time had a discouraging effect upon him, and he decided to return to his own country. Meanwhile, at the age of twenty-seven or twenty-eight he had visited Europe, which continent he again visited some years later.
The particular genius of William Graves Sharp now guided him more and more towards producing. It was in manufacturing charcoal, pig-iron, and chemicals that he built up the fortune which eventually opened the way for his career as Ambassador. He next became interested in building.
In 1892 he was a Democratic Presidential elector. Four years later a serious question of principle faced him. He could not reconcile himself to the Free Silver doctrine introduced as a plank in the Democratic Presidential platform. In spite of the protests of many leaders in his own Party, he did not hesitate to make addresses throughout Ohio against Bryan and for the Gold doctrine, which he felt could alone assure a sound financial and economic future for his country and which therefore he placed above Party considerations.
It was by a strange coincidence that eighteen years later William Graves Sharp went as American Ambassador to France under William Jennings Bryan as Secretary of State. It proved at all events that the adverse vote of past years had left no hard feeling---and that three weeks before the outbreak of the World War the position of gold as the only practical monetary basis had been admitted.
As a boy, Mr. Sharp had been of a very pious nature; he became a member of the First Congregational Church of Elyria. He was also a great lover of home, as indeed he was. throughout life. Having had the misfortune to lose his father when still young, he was to a great extent brought up by his grandparents Mr. and Mrs. William Graves. His devotion to them has remained a beautiful memory to all who knew him in his youth. And indeed, it suggests a vivid picture to my own mind---though I knew him only very much later.
It was at one of the great and inspiring emotional moments of the World War---the inauguration of the noble Wilson Bridge of glittering white marble spanning the swift and majestic course of the Rhone at Lyons, July 14, 1918. This was one of the scenes which Ambassador Sharp had wished to describe with care, but did not live to do it.
Engraved in gold upon the corner-stone we read the names of Edouard Herriot and William Graves Sharp, respectively Mayor of Lyons and Ambassador of the United States of America, to be handed down to posterity as those who had inaugurated the Wilson Bridge.
At an interval of the ceremonies, Mayor Herriot, standing near the stone, put a question to the Ambassador about that middle name which had been inserted by special request. Sharp, yes: but why Graves? The French are generally puzzled by the American system of using family names as Christian names.
Turning to me as interpreter, Mr. Sharp said:
"Tell the Mayor that William Graves was my grandfather who brought me up and educated me. I want his name to last as long as mine."
In the midst of those rejoicings---as impressive as any I have seen in all my life---with thousands madly acclaiming the name of Woodrow Wilson and of his envoy to France, it was not as Ambassador that Mr. Sharp saw himself. His mind had turned back through the course of the years; he was once again the orphan looking for help to the grandfather who had never failed him and had prepared the way for his career and success.
And it is in a spirit of reverence, recalling that day at Lyons, that I have put upon the title-page of Mr. Sharp's book his name, not as he signed it in abbreviated form to his despatches and letters, but as he had it engraved on the Wilson Bridge, so that the name of William Graves might be remembered,
At the period when he was already making good in business, William Graves Sharp had the good fortune to marry, in 1895, Miss Hallie Clough, daughter of Henry Hale Clough, of North Amherst, Ohio. The marriage was more than happy. It presented one of those exceptional instances of a truly united couple whose interests in life became as one, founding a home in the old-fashioned and eternal sense of the word meaning more than a house in which a family lives. It became not only a thing of intrinsic charm, surrounded by trees and lawns and flower-beds, but a place where harmony reigned.
That was in Elyria, Ohio, where I have never been. It may be asked why I then speak with such assurance. It is because I shared frequently in the home life which Mr. Sharp organized in his Embassy, 14 avenue d'Eylau, Paris. There was about it a spirit of unity, of genuineness, of American simplicity which not even an impressive corps of formal and perfectly trained Ambassadorial domestics could spoil for a single instant.
It might be in the evening after a prolonged day of crushing work at the Chancery, which Mr. Sharp in his natural simplicity generally called "the office." It might be immediately before some important social function, a great luncheon, or dinner, or reception. It might be just the midday meal for which the family had bidden no guest save myself. Or else it might be the quiet of an early morning hour or the late evening when I was their house guest. I think I can say that I have known that Embassy in all its phases, from almost complete solitude when only one or two of the family were there, to historic occasions such as the official reception for President and Mrs. Wilson. Yet I can say that always, at all times and under all conditions, the family life led there was among the truest and most wholesome and most thoroughly American of any that I have ever known.
The family circle at the Embassy consisted of the Ambassador and Mrs. Sharp and their five children; they were joined for a while, in the winter of 1916 to 1917, by Mr. Sharp's mother, Mrs. Burrell, and by Mrs. Sharp's sister, Miss Martha dough.
Mrs. Sharp, who made countless friends in France and came to be loved by them all, was singularly free from pose or affectation of any sort. Sincere and direct in her ways, always kindly by nature, spontaneous and warm of heart, she was peculiarly fitted to face the difficult conditions brought by the war in France and to organize American Relief work there.
What may be called Mr. Sharp's active political career had begun only in 1908, when, without solicitation from him, and indeed in spite of his protests, his friends nominated him as Democratic candidate for Congress from the Fourteenth Ohio District. One of the reasons advanced by his friends for their insistence was his "thorough knowledge of every political detail in connection with the campaign." The result was his election with a majority of 1,600 votes in a district which had always been overwhelmingly Republican. He was re-elected in 1910 with a majority increased to 8,000 and again in 1912 with a majority of 11,000
In Washington, Mr. Sharp had made many friends for himself while inspiring confidence by his sound good sense, his excellent judgment, his freedom from biased partisanship, as well as by the broad scope of his many-sided intellect.
Among the subjects upon which he specialized in the House of Representatives was aviation. On August 1, 1912, he made a speech explaining a bill he had introduced in Congress for the development of American aviation and authorizing the first American mail service. This bill, recorded as "H.R. 3393," eventually became a law. But his vision had gone even further. In developing his theme, Mr. Sharp had not limited himself to commercial aviation, he had forecasted the conditions under which future wars would be fought, saying that the heavier than air machine or aeroplane would not merely affect methods of transportation and scientific research, it would revolutionize methods of warfare.
Among his colleagues of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, Mr. Sharp had won an enviable reputation for his knowledge of international affairs and his well-balanced views, taking always into account what the other man might have to say. This legal attitude, not only weighing the evidence at hand but remaining on the alert for possible further evidence, was one of his dominant characteristics. It predisposed him to diplomatic work while protecting him against the "snap judgment" principle which, dangerous in domestic matters, becomes nothing less than deadly where foreign nations are concerned.
It was therefore by no accident, just as it was not in any way a result of his own efforts, that a diplomatic post was offered to him. Already in 1912 he had been slated for Russia, where, however, he had been judged "non grata" because of the broad and liberal attitude he advocated in his speeches. He was next suggested for the Argentine, but that post was considered scarcely important enough for him. Finally Paris was proposed by his friend Senator Pomerene with the strong backing of the Hon. Newton D. Baker, Mayor of Cleveland, who was soon after to be President Wilson's Secretary of War. Mr. Sharp had always had a great love for France: and he accepted.
From this point on, he himself tells his own story very completely, yet very modestly, in his Memoirs. It is the plain story of a man called unexpectedly to assume gigantic responsibilities under unparalleled conditions. His main preoccupation throughout is manifestly stating his case as fully and fairly as he can, giving to others their due for work done. With it all, there is little or no harsh criticism. There are judgments, certainly, not all of which are flattering. But even then, the trait which was, I think, supreme in him is clearly evident. That trait was a great and enveloping kindliness for men and women and children, of all sorts and conditions; for the weak and defenceless, the wounded, and the suffering, the child who was orphaned or else just abandoned and bereft of wise guidance. It extended to animals too, whether horses or dogs or the beasts of the field; and to the whole of nature, from trees and flowers and the very soil of the "good brown earth" to the planets and stars visible above his head and the infinity beyond, also peopled, for him, with new and marvellous worlds.
Arriving in Paris on the day before Joffre issued his immortal order for the battle of the Marne, Mr. Sharp found that the French Government had left for Bordeaux and the capital was in great part evacuated.
The United States being in charge of German interests in France, it was the elementary duty of the Ambassador in office to remain, and it was his privilege, as the representative of German interests, to negotiate if need were with the German generals for the protection of the capital. No such obligation, no such privilege belonged as yet to Mr. Sharp, since the time had not come for presenting his credentials. Nevertheless he elected to remain with his son, sharing the fate of the city.
Nearly four years later, when the peril of Paris and of France was almost as great, there was again talk of evacuation. The problem was now a far more difficult one for the French themselves. Not only might their Government have to leave so as not to be captured and held as hostages, thereby putting France at a serious disadvantage in the course of further military operations; but the enormous mass of war archives, added to ordinary official records, had to be put in safety also, and vast new offices with all their personnel had to be moved.
I have heard Mr. Sharp criticized for having considered, then, the necessity of leaving with his staff. Such criticisms show a singular lack of discernment. The situation had been completely reversed since 1914. The United States was no longer the representative of German interests, as then. It had become the belligerent most hated and most dreaded by the Central Powers. Far from holding a privileged position in which to negotiate on behalf of others, Americans would meet with a harsher fate than others. An American Ambassador who had left Paris in 1914 would have shown but slight regard for his responsibilities. One who had remained too long in 1918, compromising the freedom of his charge as well as the safety of his records, would equally have failed in his duty.
I say "too long," because Mr. Sharp did remain, officially, in 1918 just as he had done personally in 1914. Long after the British Embassy and other foreign diplomatic missions had taken all the measures judged needful in view of possible evacuation, he had refused to do anything. Then the American Ambassador yielded to the pressure brought upon him by his Naval staff and others, and communicated with General Pershing and with the American Red Cross for means of transportation to be put at the Embassy's disposal "if necessary"---for even then he doubted the necessity.
The story has been told differently, of course---by those who were unaware of the facts. Let them read Mr. Sharp's own testimony in his Chapter "Paris Under Fire."
Another story sometimes told differently is that of his original arrival in France.
Mr. Sharp had been appointed on June 19, 1914, but the serious illness of Mrs. Sharp, who was then barely convalescent, caused him to delay his departure with the assent of the President and the Secretary of State. The war having broken out, however, Mr. Sharp at once went to Washington. Subsequent to a conference with Secretary Bryan, he sailed for France on August 26 to join his post, as narrated in Chapter I. How and why Secretary Bryan omitted to advise the Paris Embassy of this officially is not for me to inquire into. The facts of both his designation and his confirmation by Congress, and his departure to take over his duties, were matters of official as well as general knowledge in Washington, as is proved by French Ambassador Jusserand's telegram to the French Government, noted by President Poincaré in his work L'Invasion.(3)
Meanwhile, Ambassador Herrick's stay in the capital had been prolonged by Mr. Sharp's inability to join his post at once. It should not he forgotten that, appointed originally by President Taft, Mr. Herrick was President Wilson's Ambassador for nearly twenty months. Not only had the war come, but there were certain Government matters having nothing to do with the war which Mr. Herrick was then winding up. It was decided that he should complete this work.
During the weeks which were to pass, Mr. Sharp had his choice of two courses. He could either remain unofficially on the field of his future activities, or he could return to his own country temporarily. He chose the obvious one of seizing an exceptional opportunity to familiarize himself with the people of France, in ways which are not available to an Ambassador already in office.
This proved to be a schooling of utmost utility to him in the four years and a half which were to follow. I sometimes wonder if he could have come to know the French people so well, and to make such devoted friends among them, if he had not spent those three months not only in France but under the new war conditions imposed upon the French, sharing in their life as a plain American citizen, as described in the opening chapters of his Memoirs.
As far as I know, that was his motive for remaining, and I think that in acting upon it he was wisely inspired. He may also have suspected what idle if not evil gossip could have made out of a temporary return home. But that is a mere surmise on my part. I recall that one of the short trips he took with George, as far as the South of England, gave rise to a story that he was returning home after renouncing his post. It was a sheer invention---forgotten eventually among the innumerable flights of the imagination engendered by the World War. One thing, however, was proved thereby: that while waiting to assume his post, Mr. Sharp's proper place was on the field of his activities to come.
From the hour of his arrival at Havre on September 2, 1914, when rumours were abroad that the Germans had reached "the gates of Paris," to the date of his sailing home aboard the Leviathan in April, 1919, the life of Ambassador Sharp was a singularly busy one. Indeed, it was more than busy. His time was so filled as to leave him scarcely ever a moment to himself. And apart from the numerous and often highly complicated duties which devolved upon him, he had the fortunate gift of being where things were going to happen.
It was thus that he witnessed from his own window on the night of September 4 to 5 the famous passage of Gallieni's taxis, bringing his testimony about their romantic appearance while readjusting their historical value (Chapter II). Although he remained in Paris during her hours of gravest danger, he had the unique experience of presenting his letters of credence at a place other than Paris---no previous American Minister or Ambassador to France having ever done as much (Chapter IV) ; and he achieved the distinction of being the only American Ambassador in Paris who ever became Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, following the resignation of the British Ambassador, Lord Bertie. He was at the Church of the Madeleine for a commemorative Mass, attended by his Embassy staff, in May, 1918, shortly before a Big Bertha shell struck the corner of the building; a few inches of deviation and a slight difference of time would have caused a catastrophe surpassing that of the Church of St. Gervais on Good Friday. This he mentions just incidentally in a telegram to Secretary Lansing, dated June 3, 1918 (Chapter XI). It was he who took to the French Government the news of America's rupture of diplomatic relations with Germany, of her entry into the war, and of her readiness to aid France financially now that this could be done under American law (Chapters IX and X). He was in Paris to receive General Pershing and to pass the first review of the first American troops who ever landed on French soil (Chapter X). He was at the side of President Poincaré for the inauguration of the avenue du Président Wilson, late avenue du Trocadéro, on July 4, 1918, and by the side of Mayor Edouard Herriot for the, inauguration of the Wilson Bridge in Lyons, July 14, 1918. He was in the ruined town of St. Quentin three days after the German evacuation in October, 1918, and was the first civilian to enter it after the Mayor (Chapter XIV). He accompanied President Poincaré on the official trip to Alsace and Lorraine when the French Government re-entered the beloved and recovered provinces at the beginning of December, 1918 (Chapter XVI). He was in France when President Wilson arrived, the first American President in office ever to set foot on foreign soil (Chapter XVII). And although the illness and death of his twin brother, George W. Sharp, in Ohio, caused his precipitate return home at the time of the opening of the Peace Conference, he was in France again to play his part in the dark hours weathered by the Conference from February to April (Chapter XVII).
But quite apart from the knack of being in the right place where things were happening or about to happen, he was in the bullseye of events having a character of continuity.
Charged, before we entered the war, with the onerous and at the same time delicate duty of watching over the welfare of German prisoners of war, both military and civilian, he acquitted himself in a way to merit the gratitude of both the country to which he was accredited and the enemy whose interests he was bound to defend (Chapter V). The account which he gives of this is the first complete and authentic record ever presented to the public on this important phase of America's activities during the early years of the war. The story of the Sussex, as he tells it, is also unique and of exceptional importance historically. For it was due to his prompt initiative and his thorough method from the very start that the fact of the torpedoing by Germany was proved (Chapter VII). He at once applied to the case his experience as a trial lawyer and later as Prosecuting Attorney in Lorain County, Ohio, just as he applied it when examining "suspects" himself at the Chancery (Chapter VI). He knew that the first thing to be done was to gather direct and irrefutable evidence on the spot. The very day after the wrecked steamer was beached at Boulogne, and before the débris could be cleared from the hull, Ambassador Sharp sent a mission of three officers to Boulogne to open an official inquiry. That was how the famous K-head, which proved that the weapon of destruction was a German torpedo, came to be found (Chapter VII).
Ambassador Gerard in Berlin mentions the importance of the telegram from Washington which caused the German Government to admit the presence of a submarine,(4) after not only denying it but endeavouring to disprove it. Yet he does not add that this conclusive telegram was based on Mr. Sharp's reports. Lord Bertie, the British Ambassador in Paris, mentions the proof brought by the K-head.(5) He does, not add that it was supplied by Mr. Sharp, although I happen to know that he held the information from Mr. Sharp personally. And in my varied and extensive readings of war books, I do not recall seeing it even intimated anywhere else that Ambassador Sharp could have had anything to do with this important proof, which admittedly prepared the way for America's entrance into the war, since it led to the fast pledge which Germany broke, and that violation was the decisive factor in the breach of diplomatic relations.
How is it possible that Mr. Sharp has not been given credit for this? How is it possible that he has been given credit for so very little of his truly great work? We are proud of the fact that ours is a wise and scientific and historically minded period. Can the men who do the real things in life then still be overlooked, as in the old benighted days when science was unscientific and history was anything rather than historical?
Yes. They can be overlooked now, as they used to be overlooked, and as they will continue to be overlooked---for a time---when they are constitutionally formed so as not to be self-advertisers.
If there was one thing of all others abhorrent to William Graves Sharp in his natural love for simplicity, it was self-advertisement. No one who knew him could have remained long unaware of the fact. He. himself stated his case on this point in a private letter he addressed on February 9, 1918, to Congressman George White, who had commented on the fact that he was "not an advertiser":
"As to your complimentary reference to my work at Washington, devoid of advertising, I would certainly say that, fairly consistent with my public record in Congress, and surely so with a most pronounced distaste for it, I have not been much of an advertiser since coming to Paris. It takes time to advertise, as it does for everything else, and time so spent must necessarily take just that much away from devotion to real service . . . . My conception of the duties devolving upon me at this mission has been not only to give to the State Department at Washington the best service possible in a situation constantly presenting new angles but at the same time to win and keep the confidence of the French Government. I hope I have acceptably done this."
But time has its revenges. The disadvantage of limelight is that it lasts only during the show. After, there is the memory, vivid for a while, yet with the ephemeral quality of such things as rest upon mental impressions. The record of work done is what remains and what causes revisions of history.
The Memoirs of William Graves Sharp bring the record of work ably and honestly done during more than four years of the gravest conflict the world has ever gone through, or will ever go through short of the wars which are immediately to precede Armageddon.
At the start, the hour was one when America's neutrality was eyed with distrust in France, a nation suffering as few have been called upon to suffer in modern times. Later, such expectations were placed upon America's intervention as no nation could reasonably be expected to fulfil. At no time could mere words of sympathy or mere promises of aid have sufficed in themselves. Something more was needed to make Mr. Sharp as beloved as he consistently was for four years and a half among the French. It was, I think, principally his human quality of which I have spoken, taken together with that other quality which Marshal Joffre one day expressed in a few words to me when sizing up Ambassador Sharp:
"C'est un grand honnête homme."
Nothing truer could have been said of him at all moments, as Ambassador in France as at every turn of his earlier career and to the last detail of his life:
William Graves Sharp was a great honest man.
|PREFACE BY MARSHAL JOFFRE|
||REACHING MY POST UNDER DIFFICULTIES|
||THE BATTLE OF THE MARNE|
||GETTING MY BEARINGS|
||PRESENTING MY LETTER OF CREDENCE|
||MY DAYS AT THE CHANCERY|
||THE STORY OF THE SUSSEX|
||THE YEAR OF VERDUN|
||FROM NEUTRALITY TO WAR|
||PARIS UNDER FIRE|
||FRENCH STATESMEN AND PEACE PROBLEMS|
||AMERICAN AID AND FRENCH GRATITUDE|
||THE DAYS OF THE ARMISTICE|
||ALSACE AND LORRAINE---FRENCH LIFE|