The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 25
In Search of Colonel Edward M. House: The
Texas Years, 1858- 912
CHARLES E. NEU*
IFEW TEXANS HAVE ACHIEVED THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RE-
nown of Colonel Edward M. House. During his lifetime (1858-
1938) he established a close friendship with four governors of Texas,
with President Woodrow Wilson, and with many governmental leaders
in Great Britain and France. In 1913, as Wilson pushed his New Free-
dom agenda through Congress, House served as a high-level political
intermediary, quieting Democratic factional squabbles and helping to
fuse the needs of many special interest groups into a coherent, mod-
erate legislative program. With the outbreak of World War I, House
concentrated on diplomacy and quickly became the president's closest
foreign-policy adviser. Prior to American intervention in April, 1917,
House traveled to Europe twice on special diplomatic missions, becom-
ing so absorbed in international events that he played only a modest
role in domestic politics. He consulted with the president over his plans
for peace and served as his special emissary during the armistice ne-
gotiations in October and early November, 1918. A member of the
American Commission to Negotiate Peace at the Paris Peace Confer-
ence, House lost touch with the direction of the president's thought
and seriously strained their friendship. For the remainder of Wilson's
presidency, House found himself on the sidelines.'
*Charles E. Neu is professor of history at Brown University. He is the author of An Uncertain
Frzendshzp: Theodore Roosevelt and Japan, 90o6-r9o9 (1967), The Troubled Encounter" The United
States and Japan (1975), and, most recently, of an essay on "The Rise of the National Security
Bureaucracy" in Louis Galambos (ed.), The New American State. Bureaucracies and Policies since
World War II (1987) He is completing a biography of Colonel House, which will be published
by Oxfor d University Press.
'l'his essay is an expanded version of the J. Milton Nance Lecture in Texas History, given at
Texas A&M University on November 12, 1985. I am very grateful to Betty M. Unterberger,
Henry C. Dethloff, and Larry D. Hill for the invitation to give this lecture and for their efforts
to make the stay of my wife and I in College Station such a pleasant one I am also grateful to
Robert A. Devine and Lewis L. Gould for asking me to speak on the same subject at the Univer-
sity of Texas, Austin, and to Thomas G. Paterson for sponsoring still another version at his
University of Connecticut Foreign Policy Seminar
During his Ilfetime journalists and scholars wrote many books about House Arthur D.
Howden Smith began with The Real Colonel House (New York. George H. Doran Co., 1918),
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/51/ocr/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.