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Pershing's genial good nature and sense of humor came to the surface when he stood there the cynosure of all eyes at a joint session of Congress, the galleries crowded. The remarks he made, while they had a certain eloquence because of their sincerity, were generous in giving credit to Americans of all classes and conditions who had played their part in the war, at home as well as “over there.” In what he said of the army he had led there was a touching spirit of affection and loyalty. Vainglory and boastfulness were foreign to this stalwart soldier. It had no doubt been an ordeal greater than a battle for Pershing, while standing before Congress, to hear his praises sounded and afterward to express his thanks, but the occasion resulted in another victory for him.16
Cardir.al Mercier was formally welcomed to New York on September 17th. After a day spent in receiving an almost continuous ovation from the public, he stood at night in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Hotel with head bowed and hands clasped as tho in prayer, his shoulders draped with American flag, while from 700 men and women of different creeds he received one of the most remarkable demonstrations ever accorded to a guest in that room. Representatives of the Catholic, Protestant and of other faiths were there, one in their desire to express their appreciation of his heroism. Later, in other cities enthusiastic welcomes were accorded him. Universities in several states conferred degrees on him; in fact, every possible honor was bestowed by the American people on the hero-priest, one of the outstanding figures of the war.
On October 4th, Albert, King of the Belgians, and Queen Elizabeth his wife arrived in New York. Laying aside their incognito and appearing as sovereigns, they became the guests of the city, and New York took them to its heart. The tribute began when the royal party in the morning, after making a cruise through the harbor stept ashore at the Battery, and reached its climax in the afternoon when 30,000 children gave them a great welcome in Central Park. It continued elsewhere as they were whirled in motors through avenues and side streets. After a day of unceasing receptions, and the King had learned of the seriousness of the President's condition, he announced that he would cancel all engagements for the next day, except those in Boston, and one on Monday, the 6th, in Buffalo, whence he would proceed to the Pacific Coast.
While the whole Entente world was waiting with ill-concealed impatience for the American ratification of the treaty, a League of Nations had actually been showing how it could operate, the Paris
16 The Times (New York).
Conference having intervened to bring about peace between Prague and Warsaw, that is, between Bohemia and Poland, and again had intervened to bring Roumania to her senses as to aggressions committed against coveted territory in Hungary. The disciplining process had taken some time but the essential thing was that the Peace Conference had been able to call Bucharest to order. In so doing Paris had virtually put the machinery of the League of Nations into motion. A truculent government, even if the government of an Allied people, had been warned that it must not endanger the uncompleted structure of peace.
Another example of what the League might do was shown when Gabriele D'Annunzio, the Italian poet, on September 15th, supported by a force of Arditti, went to Fiume and proclaimed a union of the city with Italy. Fiume thus became plunged into a state of anarchy. British and French troops left the city, lowering their flags at D'Annunzio's request. The touch of the swashbuckling days of long ago was what appealed most to American observers in this "conquest” of Fiume by D'Annunzio; this, rather than any possible political consequences that might follow upon so unauthorized a raid. At first news of the success of his coup D'Annunzio was variously classed with d'Artagnan, Coeur de Lion, and Garibaldi. Second thoughts made it evident to many that the exploit was a conclusive argument either for or against a League of Nations, as best suited the views of this or that person, revealing to some that the League had proved itself futile and to others that it was a necessity. D'Annunzio's personality and record as a patriot aroused very general sympathy. He had been aroused from a state of lethargy by the outbreak of the war and from the first had devoted himself whole-heartedly to bringing Italy into the conflict. Time and again he had led an air squadron in long raids over the Austrian base at Pola and over other Austrian cities, while during a terrible hand-to-hand struggle with the Austrians on the Carso, he had rushed among his comrades, inspiring them with fiery words. He had been wounded several times and once was reported dead.
There had been no real justification, however, for including Fiume, or any part of the Adriatic coast south of Fiume, within the boundries of the Italian Kingdom. Fiume, by situation and by all the circumstances of its development, was not an Italian, but an international port, serving countries to the east and north of the gulf of the same name and so it had been declared to be by the Peace Treaty. By the application of the principle of selfdetermination Fiume might be Italian provided the unit which should be allowed to decide its fate were regarded as simply the
town and district of Fiume which, since 1868, had enjoyed autonomy under Budapest, and in which, according to the last census, there were 24,200 Italians and 15,600 Jugo-Slavs. But Fiume could. not be separated (for international and economic, as distinct from purely administrative purposes) from its large Croat suburb of Sussak; and, if the two were treated as a whole, the 24,800 Italians would be found in a minority, against 27,000 Jugo-Slavs. Moreover, in order to establish a continuous land connection between Fiume and Italy, it would be necessary for the latter to annex at least 100,000 Slavs in excess of those who would fall to her under the treaty and, of course, incidentally to ignore self-determination for a Slav majority. With these facts before him President Wilson had insisted that Fiume should be an international part and could not with justice be subordinate to any one sovereignty.17
It was not necessary in the case of D'Annunzio to consider how much in his exploit was pure passion and how much a desire, unconscious perhaps, to supply a parallel to Garibaldi's conquest of Sicily on his own initiative in behalf of unredeemed Italy, because the parallel could be prolonged to his disadvantage, for, when Garibaldi, in 1862, with a volunteer army, marched on Rome, Victor Emanuel, fearful of foreign intervention, actually sent an Italian army against him and the old lion was defeated and taken prisoner. Patriotism, even in Garibaldi's case, had to be tamed. Premier Nitti by September 17th denounced D'Annunzio's coup d'etat, and the adoption of a firm policy in dealing with the situation was endorsed by King Victor Emmanuel who exprest a wish, however, that there be no bloodshed.
By September 19th D'Annunzio's army had increased to over 11,000, including 1,600 volunteers from Trieste, and Fiume was ablaze with flags, her streets filled with marching soldiers and her air vibrant with the confidence felt by men who, under the command of D'Annunzio, had marched into the city and were able firmly to hold it. Soldiers were to be seen everywhere. Motor-trucks lurched through the streets carrying armed men from one point to another, and hundreds of troops could be seen at any hour marching with the greatest precision and the strictest military discipline. To the detached observer, Italy had made great gains from the war. Her inveterate enemy, Austria-Hungary, to which, through fear, she had been bound by the Triple. Alliance, had passed away, and her land boundries had been so arranged as to guarantee the almost absolute military security of Italy. The Adriatic had become virtually an Italian lake and practically all her terra irredenta had been recovered. But these gains appeared, to Italy, relatively small when compared with the territorial rewards of Great Britain 17 The Journal of Commerce (New York).
and France. The Italians had not secured any great territorial gains; they were not to have a favored position in the division of the German indemnity, and they had no mandates in any of the former German colonies.
Fiume has a splendid harbor upon the development of which the Hungarian Government had spent millions. The docking facilities are of the most modern kind. Ships can tie up at the docks of Fiume and their cargoes can be stored in warehouses at terminals equal to those controlled by the Bush Terminal Company in Brooklyn. The city had every reason to look forward with confidence to a great commercial future. It is well built, with notable streets and some imposing public buildings. It has always been truly Italian in its atmosphere; its architecture is Italian; its mode of outdoor life has been such as one finds in Italy; most of its stores and banks are Italian, tho the best and largest before the war were ker by Austrian Jews, and most hotel-keepers and tradesmen spoke German. But it was absurd to attempt to separate Fiume from the neighboring Slavonic city, Sussak, for administrative purposes. The stream that divided them is scarcely wider than the Bronx river. A great number of the population of Sussak simply reside there and work in Fiume; Sussak bears the same relation to Fiume that Brooklyn bears to Manhattan. Surrounding hills hem in the two communities as a unit apart from the hinterland.18
D'Annunzio's dash was represented by some defenders of it as merely an idealistic demonstration of Italian brotherhood; that is, there was nothing imperialistic about it; no desire to entrench Italy militarily on the eastern shore of the Adriatic. It was just “a dramatic clasping of an Italian population to the heart of Italy." But if this were true as far as the seizure of Fiume was concerned, it obviously could not be true of the reported seizures by Italians of other towns that were unquestionably under Jugo-Slavic control, nor of incursions into Dalmatia and a threatened restoration to the throne of the King of Montenegro. The bad impression made on the outside world by these exploits was unmistakable. Italy obviously could not afford to place herself in the position of defying the authority of the Peace Conference, or of risking the bringing on of another war. It was clear, therefore, that eventually she would have to give heed to decisions come to in Paris. Italian brotherhood, and the unredeemed soil of Italy were stirring words with which to make an appeal, but they could not be utilized to camouflage grasping designs and a wanton attempt to hazard the peace of Europe.19
One of the Dalmatian towns involved in the incursion was 18 Stephen P. Duggan in the Times (New York). 19 The Evening Post (New York).
Trau, a seaport, inhabited partly by Italians and partly by JugoSlavs in a region which had belonged to Austria, but had been lost to her by the Peace Treaty, and which the Conference was expected to allot to Jugo-Slavia. Under the armistice terms, Entente forces had for months been patrolling the Adriatic, acting as trustees, until definite disposition could be made of Dalmatia. Trau happened to be in a neighborhood which was assigned to the American Navy for the maintenance of order. A group of Italians of the D'Annunzio faction having seized the town, Serbian troops from Spalato, Diocletian's old town, and only a few miles distant, which D'Annunzio had threatened to capture, had undertaken to drive the Italians out. If they had succeeded in doing this, a war which had been impending ever since the exploit at Fiume probably would have been precipitated. American sailors and marines were landed there. They persuaded the Italians to withdraw and induced the Serbs to return to Spalato, so that instead of making war the Americans averted it.20
By the end of September the Italian Chamber of Deputies, by a unanimous vote, passed a resolution demanding the annexation of Fiume, so that the Government at Rome in effect seemed to have indorsed D'Annunzio's enterprise. Italy's action thus brought the protracted dispute to a head. It was a dispute which had been active ever since President Wilson on April 23rd issued a statement opposing the assignment of Fiume to Italy. Orlando, at that time had quitted Paris and gone home to ask for a national mandate on the annexation question, which he got at once; but he failed to move the Council of Three in Paris and, because of this failure, his Cabinet fell and Nitti replaced him. Tittoni, the Foreign Minister, then without success took up the task of winning over the Council to a recognition of Italy's contention. As a sequel, D’Annunzio occupied Fiume with his Italian volunteers and so played Garibaldi's rôle in the Liberation period. 21
Information reached Washington on October 10th that the Italian Government had agreed to the creation of a buffer state, comprising Fiume and the adjacent coastal territory southward to Breccia, as a solution of the Adriatic problem. The approval of the plan was conditional on the protection of Italian interests in the proposed state by the adoption of Italian methods of legal procedure, and the confirmation of Italy's title to the former district of Fiume in the interior and along the coast to the westward. This was regarded by the Italians as absolutely necessary, as a strategic measure to insure the safety of Pola and other Italian Adriatic cities. Probably no nation was more surprized than the
20 The Times (New York). 21 The Tribune ew York).