The Lansdowne Letter

In November 1917 a former Foreign Secretary, Lord Lansdowne, startled the British public by suggesting negotiable peace terms in the midst of war. By Harold Kurtz.

On November 29th, 1917, The Daily Telegraph made history by publishing a letter from the fifth Marquess of Lansdowne, headed ‘COORDINATION OF THE ALLIES’ WAR AIMS’.

The author thought that at the end of a year that had seen Passchendaele and the setback at Cambrai, mutinies in the French Army, the disastrous defeat of Italy at Caporetto and the departure of Russia from the war after the Bolshevik coup d’état, a new orientation of the Entente’s war policy had become an urgent necessity.

True, there was on the Allied side—as an officer serving at the front wrote—troops regarded as untrained and untried, The undefined asset of America,’ from a country whose President, Woodrow Wilson, was well known for his missionary zeal for a pax Americana.

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