Soon after taking office, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan set about the lofty task of eradicating war. He believed, like Wilson to a certain extent, that armed conflicts could be averted through the use of arbitration treaties. During 1913 and 1914, agreements were concluded with 30 nations in which pledges were made to submit troublesome issues to adjudicating panels. Many of the treaties also provided for one-year cooling-off periods that prohibited any other action until the time expired; then a nation could accept or reject the commission's findings and act in their own best interests. The arbitration treaties were sincere efforts expended in a noble cause; however, when the major crisis of the day developed, the agreements became mere "scraps of paper."