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America Goes To War [Hardcover ed.]
 0844614378, 9780844614373

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943-3 73 -VIS'

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

*

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

CHARLES CALLAN TANSILL Albert Shaw Lecturer in Diplomatic History, Johns Hopkins University, IQJI

GLOUCESTER, MASS.

PETER SMITH 1963

Copyright, 1938, by Charles Callan Tansill All Rights Reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form First Edition Published April, 1938 Reprinted, 1963, by special arrangement with Little, Brown and Company (Inc.)

CHARLES SEYMOUR JAMES L. SHERWOOD RUDOLPH J. BOEHS

PREFACE This volume is the result of a decade of research into the reasons why America went to war in 1917. In Germany, through the courtesy of that distinguished scholar Admiral Arno Spindler, I was given access to pertinent materials in the Marine Archives, and Dr. Frie¬ drich Stieve showed me similar courtesy with reference to certain documents in the Foreign Office. In the United States I have ex¬ amined the private papers of most of the officials who were in any way responsible for American foreign policy during the years 1914 to 1917, together with the manuscript correspondence of a host of other Americans who took an active interest in the problems of American neutrality. I have no thesis to prove nor any viewpoint to exploit. My main endeavor has been always to treat in an objective manner the most important questions in foreign policy with which the Wilson Ad¬ ministration was faced during the prewar years. These questions have long been the subject of sharp controversy between historians who have ranged themselves into two camps. I have no desire to be identified with either group: crusading zeal is hardly the proper spirit for an impartial historian. It is obvious, however, that these his¬ torians have made available a large amount of valuable data which will always be of distinct assistance to students of the Wilson era. I owe a special debt of gratitude to the nation’s librarian, Dr. Her¬ bert Putnam, whose services to scholars are known the world over. To Martin Roberts, Superintendent of the Main Reading Room in the Library of Congress, I am indebted for courtesies unnumbered. Acknowledgments to Dr. J. Franklin Jameson, Chief of the Division of Manuscripts, are like items in the long Homeric catalogue of ships. Dr. T. P. Martin, of the Division of Manuscripts, has been exceed¬ ingly helpful, while Dr. Curtis W. Garrison is a rare example of courtesy and efficiency. To other members of the staff of the Division of Manuscripts I am under deep obligation: Dr. Charles P. Powell, Miss Elizabeth McPherson, Mr. Donald Henry Mugridge, Mr. Vin¬ cent L. Eaton, Mr. John J. de Porry, Mr. Richard S. Ladd, Miss

Vlll

PREFACE

Cornelia W. Aldridge, Miss Dorothy S. Vastine, Miss Stella R. Clemence, and Mr. Edwin H. Pewett. No one engaged in historical research in the Library of Congress can help being under obligation to Miss Grace G. Griffin, while Mr. Henry S. Parsons and Mr. Archibald B. Evans have made the Periodical Division of the Library of Congress a scholar’s sanctum. Numerous courtesies have been extended to me by Dr. John T. Vance, Law Librarian of Congress. To Dr. Charles Seymour, President of Yale University, to Mr. James L. Sherwood, and to Mr. Rudolph J. Boehs I am especially indebted for assistance that has made this volume possible. My son, William R. Tansill, has read the entire manuscript and has helped in proof¬ reading. There are certain personal friends who have encouraged me to continue the research that was necessary for the completion of this study: Mr. Reinhard H. Luthin, Dr. Georg Leibrandt, Col. Alfred von Wegerer, Dr. Samuel F. Bemis, Dr. Louis M. Sears, Prof. Allan Nevins, Dr. James P. Baxter, Mr. Samuel E. Collegeman, Mr. Willard G. Barker, Dr. Reginald C. McGrane, Mr. Russell G. Pruden, Mr. and Mrs. B. R. Parker, Mrs. Mabel McCarthy, Dr. and Mrs. F. L. Benton, Dr. Dexter Perkins, Dr. W. W. Pierson, Dr. Ellery C. Stowell, Mr. Grover L. Hartman, Miss Emily Coleman, Dr. A. T. Volwiler, Dr. C. O. Paullin, Miss Margaret Brosnan, and Mrs. Alice Ruddy. I also wish to recognize the courtesy of Mr. Verner W. Clapp, Mr. David C. Mearns, Dr. John S. Brooks, and Mr. Harold Snide. My father and my mother have materially helped me with their ad¬ vice, and to my wife I owe a debt which I can refer to but not describe. She has constantly helped me in the research, the organization, the typing, and the many mechanical aspects of bookmaking. She has also given me the courage to continue this task in the face of adverse con¬ ditions that at times threatened to deprive me of every opportunity for research. Charles C. Tansill

Washington, D. C. September, 1937.

CONTENTS Preface.1 .

vii

Historical Introduction.3 I American Public Opinion at the Outbreak of the World War.16 II

Supplying the Sinews of War.32

III

War Profits Beckon to “Big Business”

...

67

IV

The Ties That Bind.90

V

The Fruits of War.114

VI England Looks Upon the Declaration of Lon¬ don

As

a “Mere Scrap of Paper”

....

135

VII Mr. Bryan Learns That “Britannia Rules the Waves”.163 VIII IX

Sir Edward Grey Conciliates King Cotton

.

.

188

Germany Hurls a Premature Challenge.

.

.

225

X The

Lusitania

Leaves

for

a

Rendezvous

with

Death.266 XI Mr.

Lansing Leads the

President

along

the

Road to War.290 XII The “Great Commoner” Heeds the Call of Con¬ science XIII

.322

Count Bernstorff Brings to a Happy Close a German Comedy of Errors.340

XIV XV

Death Takes a Holiday in Submarine Warfare 377 Colonel House Blocks a Path to Peace

.

.

.

409

XVI America Seeks World Peace in Terms of Allied Success.43° XVII Congress

Calls a

Halt When

the

President

Moves towards War.460

CONTENTS

X XVIII The

Kaiser

Chooses

Peace

Rather Than Victory

with

America .

487

XIX Cross Currents in Anglo-American Relations .

516

A.

at

Verdun .

.

ENGLAND SPURNS PEACE WHEN TEMPTED BY THE SPOILS OF WAR.516

B.

THE BRITISH BLACK LIST.535

C.

INTERCEPTION AND CENSORSHIP OF AMERICAN MAILS.548

D.

ACTIONS OF BELLIGERENT WARSHIPS HOVERING OUTSIDE

AND

WITHIN

THE

TERRITORIAL

WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES. E.

.

.

.

559

THE TRANSFER OF MERCHANT SHIPS FROM BEL¬ LIGERENT FLAGS TO THE AMERICAN FLAG FOR GENERAL COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.

F.

.

.

.

566

REMOVAL BY BELLIGERENT NAVAL AUTHORITIES OF ENEMY SUBJECTS AND MILITARY RESERV¬ ISTS FROM AMERICAN SHIPS ON THE HIGH SEAS.571

XX XXI

The President Pleads for Peace.586 America Goes

to

War.631

Appendices: American

Loans

to

Belligerent

Powers.660 Appendix A.660

Appendix B.662 Bibliography.664 Index.681

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION German-American Relations, 1870-1914 One of the most important factors that led to war between the United States and the German Empire in 1917 was a long back¬ ground of sharp suspicion and increasing distrust on the part of many Americans with reference to the policy of the German Govern¬ ment. For many decades prior to the outbreak of the World War certain habitudes of thought hostile to Germany had become widely accepted in the United States. Germany’s colonial ambitions seemed to challenge American expansion in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, while her fast-growing navy appeared as a menace to the maintenance of the Monroe Doctrine. To some American statesmen the German Empire had become the grim symbol of military efficiency and ruth¬ less strength. German dominance in Europe had been achieved through force, and that very fact was regarded as an augury of future con¬ flict with America for the control of the New World.1 German-American friction became inevitable in the last quarter of the nineteenth century when both nations gave heed to the call of economic imperialism and began to nurse colonial ambitions. Al¬ though Bismarck was reputed to be hostile to German colonial expan¬ sion in the decade after the foundation of the German Empire,2 the American Government was suspicious of the policy of the Iron Chan¬ cellor and began to harbor fears of some infraction of the Monroe Doctrine. As early as March, 1870, rumors began to circulate in the American press that some European power was laying plans for the acquisition of the island of San Domingo.3 These rumors received some confirmation when President Grant sent a special message to the Senate (May 31, 1870) in which he stated that he had “reliable 1 Tyler Dennett, John Hay (N.Y. 1933), chap. xxxi. 2 M. E. Townsend, Origins of Modern German Colonialism (N.Y. 1921) ; Maxi¬ milian von Hagen, Bismarck’s Kolonialpolitik (Stuttgart, 1923), pp. 42-69, 118-293, 332ff.; K. Herrfurth, Fiirst Bismarck und die Kolonialpolitik (Berlin, 1917)1 chaps, iv, v, vi, vii, viii, ix, x; Julius W. Pratt, Expansionists of 1898 (Baltimore, 1936), chap. i. 3 New York World, March 23, 1870.

4

AMERICA

GOES

TO

WAR

evidence” that a European nation was ready to pay “two million dol¬ lars for Samana Bay alone.” 4 Although he did not name the nation that was eager for the purchase of Samana Bay, the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle assured its readers that . . certain indications point to Prussia . . . as making this offer, as that country is deficient in naval strength, and the wily Bismarck is anxious to further increase the advantages of his nation by every possible means. From such an important central point as Samana Bay, Prussian cruisers could work with advantage against the marine of an enemy.5 It is apparent from a survey of the correspondence in the German Foreign Office that this rumor had no foundation in fact as far as Germany was concerned. As soon as Baron Gerolt (the Minister of the North German Confederation at Washington) read this state¬ ment in the Morning Chronicle he called upon certain members of the American Senate in order to inquire about the basis for such an asser¬ tion. He quickly discovered that it was a part of a dubious scheme fostered by Mr. J. W. Fabens and Mr. E. H. Hartmont to awaken popular support for the pending treaty which provided for the an¬ nexation of the Dominican Republic to the United States. Senator Sumner assured him that the whole thing was a “humbug” that had been framed up “between Hartmont and Fabens . . . for the pur¬ pose of exerting pressure upon the Senate. The same assurance was given to me by Senator Schurz.” 6 It would appear that Secretary Fish remained undisturbed about these rumors of German designs upon Samana Bay until the summer of 1871, when he received word from the American consul at Santo 4 Jas. D. Richardson, Messages and Papers of the President, vol. VII, pp. 61-63. See also Allan Nevins, Hamilton Fish, pp. 328-329. 8 June 3, 1870. It is possible that President Grant’s statement was somewhat influ¬ enced by the following remarks of George Bancroft (American Minister to the North German Confederation) in which he recounted portions of a recent conversa¬ tion with Bismarck: “Having a good chance to speak a private word with Count Bismarck, I said to him: ‘See how moderate are the desires of our people; they even hesitate about accepting San Domingo, an island not inferior to Cuba.’ He kindled like a fire that blazes up, and said: ‘I wish you would give the island to me; I will take it and make of it a kingdom.’ ” Bancroft to Secretary Fish, February 16, 1870, Bancroft MS., New York Public Library. 6 Baron Gerolt to Chancellor Bismarck, June 3, 1870, MS. Auswdrtiges Amt (German Foreign Office). The British Foreign Office was not worried about these rumors of German attempts to purchase Samana Bay. On July 14, 1870, Lord Gran¬ ville wrote to Mr. Thornton (British Minister at Washington) to inform him of a recent conversation between the British Ambassador at Berlin and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the North German Confederation. The Secretary assured the Ambassador that “neither the Prussian nor the North German Govt, had ever con¬ templated for a moment purchasing the Bay of Samana or any other portion of the Dominican territory.” MS. British Foreign Office 115/504, no. 12.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

5

Domingo City that the Prussian Government had made “proposi¬ tions” to President Baez for the “eventual annexation” of the Domin¬ ican Republic.7 In answer to the Secretary’s inquiry in this regard, Mr. Bancroft reported from Berlin that the rumor was “untrue,” and that there was no desire on the part of the German Government to make “acquisitions in America.” 8 This negative reply of the German Government did not allay Amer¬ ican suspicions, which found further expression in official inquiries every year from 1872 to 1877.9 Although the German Government replied upon each occasion in a spirit of friendly denial, these assur¬ ances failed to convince Secretary Fish that Germany was not plan¬ ning some expansion in the Caribbean.10 Indeed, American suspicion of German policy grew apace and was considerably strengthened by a public statement of Bismarck (December 2, 1897) to the effect that it was a “political necessity” to oppose “American arrogance often and emphatically.” 11 As though this were not enough to irritate Americans sufficiently, Bismarck also declared that the “idea which people in America have of the Monroe Doctrine is a proof of extraor¬ dinary insolence.” 12 When these critical comments were followed by German interven¬ tion in Haiti in connection with the so-called “Lueders incident,” American public opinion was deeply stirred and the Springfield Re¬ publican expressed the general sentiment of the country when it de¬ clared that the conduct of the German Government in this case was the “most flagrant piece of international bullying that has occurred 7 Fisher Ames to Secretary Fish, August 22, 1871, MS. Dept, of State, Santo Domingo, Consular Letters, vol. 7. 8 Secretary Fish to George Bancroft (at Berlin), September 22, 1871, MS. Dept, of State, Prussia, Instructions, vol. 15; George Bancroft to Secretary Fish, Septem¬ ber 23, 25, 1871, MS. Germany, Despatches, vol. x. 9 Charles C. Tansill, The Purchase of the Danish West Indies (Balto., 1932), pp. 156-176. 10 On February 28, 1872, the German Ambassador in London sent to Chancellor Bismarck a copy of a letter he had received from Mr. Byron Bode setting forth the advantages to be derived by Germany from the acquisition of the Dominican Repub¬ lic. The Ambassador himself was impressed with these advantages. (Bernstorff to Chancellor Bismarck, February 28, 1872, MS. German Foreign Office.) Bismarck immediately replied that he could see “no reason to consider the proposition of an acquisition of die Dominican Republic.” (Bismarck to Minister Bernstorff, March 5, 1872.) On the margin of a copy of this instruction there is a notation to the effect that the Chancellor, “under present circumstances, is not going to declare himself in favor of any acquisition overseas whatsoever.” (MS. German Foreign Office. See also an instruction from Secretary von Buelow to Dr. Graser, German Consul at Port au Prince, November 8, 1876, MS. German Foreign Office.) 11 New York Times, December 3, 1897. 12 Literary Digest, December 4, 1897, p. 952.

6

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

in this part of the world for many years.” 13 To add to this American ill-feeling towards Germany the American press now reprinted an alleged remark of the Kaiser that he might feel obliged to teach “med¬ dlesome Americans” some “manners.” 14 During the Spanish-American War the maladroit policy of the German Government reached its climax in the friction between Ad¬ miral Dewey and Vice-Admiral von Diederichs at Manila Bay.16 There was now little doubt in the minds of a multitude of Americans that Germany was a dangerous enemy. In answer to this apparent German challenge, Mr. Elihu Root, an outstanding American states¬ man, made the following ominous prophecy in a speech on April 27, 1900: “No man who carefully watches the signs of the times can fail to see that the American people will within a few years have to either abandon the Monroe Doctrine or fight for it, and we are not going to abandon it.” 18 Mr. Root’s suspicion of Germany was shared by several other prominent American statesmen who feared that German naval offi¬ cers were laying plans to acquire a naval base in the Caribbean. John Hay, the American Secretary of State, had been informed by a Dan¬ ish adventurer, Captain Christmas Dirckinck-Holmfeld, that the Ger¬ man Government was greatly interested in securing the Danish West Indies, and this news induced Secretary Hay to initiate negotiations that led to the treaty of January 24, 1902, whereby the Danish Gov¬ ernment ceded the islands to the United States. When this treaty was defeated in the Danish Landsthing on October 22, 1902, there was a deep-rooted feeling in American official circles that the negative ac¬ tion of the Landsthing was the result of German intrigue.17 18 December 8, 1897. With reference to this “Lueders incident” see the instructions of Secretary Sherman to Mr. Powell, American Minister at Port au Prince, Decem¬ ber 22, 1897, and January 11, 1898, MS. Dept, of State, Instructions, Haiti, vol. 3; and Jeannette Keim, Forty Years of German-American Political Relations, pp. 276278. 14 New York Times, December 12, 1897. 15 For the attitude of Germany towards the United States during the SpanishAmerican War see J. Fred Rippy, Latin America in World Politics (N.Y. 1928), chap, x; Lester B. Shippee, “Germany and the Spanish-American War,” American Historical Review, vol. 30, pp. 754-777- With reference to the difficulties between Admirals Dewey and von Diederichs, see George Dewey, Autobiography (N.Y. 1913). PP- 252-267; and Vice-Admiral von Diederichs, “A Statement of Events in Manila Bay,” Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, vol. 59, pp. 421-446. 16 New York Times, May 1, 1900. 17 This legend of German intrigue as the cause of the defeat of the treaty in the Danish Landsthing has been completely broken down by the present author in his monograph The Purchase of the Danish West Indies. But this legend was fully ac-

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

7

It was against this background of increasing distrust that Secretary Hay viewed the action of the German Government relative to inter¬ vention in Venezuela in 1902—1903. Although Great Britain and Italy were associated with Germany in exerting pressure upon the Gov¬ ernment of Venezuela with reference to the payment of overdue obliga¬ tions, American public opinion condemned Germany rather than the other two powers. When the news reached the United States that the blockading German fleet had bombarded Fort San Carlos (January, r9°3)» a wave of anti-German sentiment swept over the country. In the American Review of Reviews this attack was denounced as a “piece of treacherous misconduct,” and the Boston Transcript was certain that Germany was merely biding her time in order to make a display of offensiveness that would clearly indicate “she was con¬ temptuous of our power.” 18 Count von Quadt, the German charge in Washington, cabled Berlin that Secretary Hay had expressed himself “very bitterly” concerning the bombardment, and that American pub¬ lic opinion was very “heated against Germany.” 19 It was in connection with this Venezuelan imbroglio that President Roosevelt created the patriotic myth of German ruthlessness recoil¬ ing before the threat of his “big stick.” 20 His stirring narrative of cepted by American officials and it helped to sharpen American hostility towards Germany. It was not only in connection with the Danish West Indies that the German Government refused to adopt a policy that might irritate the United States. Despite pressure exerted by naval officers, the German Foreign Office was careful not to take any step in the Caribbean which might further increase American suspicions. In the summer of 1898 President Ulisses Heureaux, of the Dominican Republic, offered the German Government the lease of a small island adjacent to the Republic, or if it were preferred, a portion of the Dominican mainland for a naval base. (Buelow to Minister von Holleben, at Washington, August 30, 1898, Die Grosse Politik der Europdischen Kabinette, 1871-1914, Berlin, 1924, vol. XV, p. 109.) After Holleben advised against the acceptance of any such offer, the Kaiser indicated to Buelow his agreement with this viewpoint and the matter rested. (Graf Metternich to Buelow, September 3, 1898, op. cit., pp. no-in.) The news of this decision was conveyed to Holleben in an instruction of September 5, 1898, in which it was stated that the Emperor did not “wish to fall out with the United States.” (Derenthal to Holleben, Sept. 5, 1898, MS. German Foreign Office.) But President Heureaux continued to press for some positive action by the German Government. (Michahelles, German Resident Minister at Port au Prince, to Chancellor Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst, October 1, and November 6, 1898, MS. German Foreign Office.) On December 18, 1898, Buelow instructed Michahelles to inform President Heureaux that the acquisi¬ tion of a naval station is “not desired at this time.” (Buelow to Michahelles, Decem¬ ber 18, 1898, MS. German Foreign Office.) 18 Clara E. Schieber, The Transformation of American Sentiment Toward Ger¬ many, 1870-1914 (N.Y. 1923), p. 154. 19 Die Grosse Politik der Europatschen Kabinette, vol. XVII, p. 274. 20 Howard C. Hill, Roosevelt and the Caribbean (Chicago, 1927), chap, v; J. F. Rippy, Latin America in World Politics, chap, xi; Tyler Dennett, John Hay, chap. xxi. It is very difficult to determine just what happened in this Venezuelan dis¬ pute. It seems likely that President Roosevelt in his own account of the action he

8

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

the strong pressure he exerted upon the Kaiser in order to force him to consent to arbitration of German claims has now been relegated by most scholars to the realm of romance,21 but nevertheless public opin¬ ion in the United States was deeply aroused by alleged German ag¬ gression, and this account helped to confirm the general impression of German hostility towards the Monroe Doctrine. In the Pacific as well as in the Caribbean sharp friction developed between Germany and the United States. The focal point of this irri¬ tation was in Samoa, where Germany had hopes of gaining exclusive control.22 The American Government steadily resisted all attempts by German agents to set up a protectorate over the islands, and in 1889 both nations had several warships stationed in Samoan waters for the protection of national interests. Secretary Bayard was fearful that some indiscretion of a naval officer might “lead to a broil” which could expand into war.23 The American press was already hinting at the possibility of war with Germany because of the Samoan situatook in this matter was somewhat confused as to dates and diplomats. In January, 1903, Count Speck von Sternburg arrived in Washington on a special mission, and in his cablegrams to Berlin he recounts the gist of his interviews with the President. He indicates very clearly the irritation in the United States relative to Germany’s action in Venezuela, and he conveys the information that “Dewey’s fleet has received secret orders to hold itself in readiness.” Die Grosse Politik, vol. XVII, pp. 285286. It is quite possible that the President did put some pressure upon Germany, but not in the dramatic manner indicated in the accounts given in W. R. Thayer’s Life and Letters of John Hay (N.Y. 1915), and in J. B. Bishop’s Theodore Roose¬ velt and His Time (N.Y. 1919-1920). For pertinent French sidelights on the Vene¬ zuelan situation see Documents Diplomatiques Frangais, 1871-1914, 2d series, 19011911, vol. Ill (Paris, 1932), pp. 23-27, 43-45, 61-63, 65-68, 151-164. For British diplomatic correspondence on Venezuela see British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898-1914, vol. II (London, 1927), pp. 158-174. 21 Alfred Vagts, Deutschland und die Vereinigten Staaten in der Weltpolitik (Lon¬ don, 1925), vol. II, pp. 1619-1620. It would seem evident from President Roosevelt’s letter to Baron von Holleben, German Minister at Washington, May 22, 1903, that very friendly relations existed between them. Thus: “I wish I could have had the good fortune to be in Washington to say good-bye to you in person. I shall always think with pleasure of our association. ... If you ever come to America, privately or in a public capacity, be sure to let me know so that I can have you at my house.” Roosevelt MS., Library of Congress. See also the letter from Roosevelt to Professor Hugo Muensterberg, January 17, 1903, in which he states that his relations with von Holleben “were of the most cordial nature, and it was with the greatest surprise that I learned of his departure.” Roosevelt MS. 22 With reference to the Samoan situation see Robert Louis Stevenson, A Footnote to History (N.Y. 1897) ; G. H. Ryden, The Foreign Policy of the United States in Relation to Samoa (New Haven, 1933) ; Sylvia Masterman, The Origins of Inter¬ national Rivalry in Samoa, 1845-1884 (Palo Alto, 1934) ; Otto zu StolbergWernigerode, Deutschland und die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika im Zeitalter Bismarcks (Berlin, 1933), pp. 148ft.; Jeannette Keim, Forty Years of GermanAmerican Political Relations, chap. v. 23 Secretary Bayard to Carl Schurz, February 1, 1889, Bayard MS., Library of Congress.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

9

tion,24 and Congress responded by appropriating $500,000 to be ex¬ pended under the direction of the President.25 On March 16, 1889 a typhoon destroyed the entire naval forces of both the United States and Germany in Samoa, and any further danger of open conflict was thus averted. But the Samoan question was not settled until the islands were finally partitioned between the United States and Germany (De¬ cember, 1899), and during this decade of uncertainty the American press continued to fulminate against German “arrogance.” 26 In striking contrast to this dark scene of German-American dis¬ cord we have a bright vista of Anglo-American amity. Strangely enough, this cordial attachment between the two great Englishspeaking countries grew out of a dispute which seemed for a time to lead towards war. But English statesmen were too astute to permit any quarrel over boundaries in Venezuela to develop into actual con¬ flict with the United States. The condition of world politics at the turn of the century made it imperative for Great Britain to woo American friendship rather than court her hostility.27 British business 24 In a letter to S. L. M. Barlow, January 25, 1889, Secretary Bayard remarks: “It shocks me to read the shallow detestable . . . talk of War.” To Wade Hampton, February 5, 1889, he complains of the current war talk: “I weary so over the tone of our press, and not the press alone but of men high in the public councils who pro¬ pose to deal with the vast issues of war and peace between great states in the spirit of prize fighters or scuffling boot blacks.” Bayard MS. 25 Congressional Record, 50th Cong., 2d sess., vol. 20, pt. 2, pp. I28ff. 26 The Outlook, vol. 68, p. 98. It is important to indicate that there were certain economic factors that added to German-American friction. The rapid industrial development in Germany after 1870 wrought a fundamental change in the economic structure of the German state. It was soon necessary to import foodstuffs from abroad, and American grain threatened to supplant German grain even in the home market. American meat products also found a large German market, and when American pork was refused admittance because of alleged danger from trichinosis, a long dispute resulted. German-American tariff controversies helped to sharpen the growing ill-will between the two countries, and in 1884 it reached such a point that Mr. Sargent, the American Minister at Berlin, was recalled. To Carl Schurz, a leading German-American, the manner in which the German newspapers attacked Mr. Sargent was nothing less than “outrageous,” and was a “violation of the laws of hospitality.” If Bismarck desired Mr. Sargent’s recall he could have given the American Government to understand, “in a confidential and informal way,” that he was no longer persona grata. Such a course would have been the proper procedure instead of having Mr. Sargent “lampooned by newspapers which are universally known to receive their inspiration from Bismarck.” Carl Schurz to Senator George F. Edmunds, March 9, 1884, Schurz MS. For the “pork controversy” with Germany see Alice F. Tyler, The Foreign Policy of James G. Blaine (Minneapolis, 1927), chap, xii; Jeannette Keim, op. cit., chap. iv. For a general discussion of the economic factors affecting German-American relations see George M. Fisk, “Continental Opinion Regarding a Proposed Middle European Tariff Union,” Johns Hopkins University Studies, vol. 20. 27 For this Venezuelan dispute see Henry James, Richard Olney and His Public Service (N.Y. 1923), pp. 96-142; Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland (N.Y. 1933), chap, xxxiv; A. L. P. Dennis, Adventures in American Diplomacy (N.Y. 1928),

IO

AMERICA

GOES

TO WAR

opportunities were seriously threatened by Russian expansion in the Far East, and in London it was soon realized that a show of deference to the Monroe Doctrine in the Venezuelan dispute would bring rich dividends in the form of joint Anglo-American action in the Orient. Lord Salisbury, Arthur Balfour, Joseph Chamberlain, and John Morley all hastened to announce their high regard for the Monroe Doctrine,28 while the Westminster Gazette hinted at the real reason for this sudden access of tenderness for American prejudices: — America with ourselves is a Pacific Power. For years back she has taken great interest in the development of China, Japan and Corea. The interest of John Bull and Cousin Jonathan are identical. . . . The Englishspeaking world can better employ its strength than in internal squabbling over such petty matters as the boundaries and obligations of Venezuela.29 The moral support that English statesmen gave to the United States during the Spanish-American War was heartily appreciated by Secretary Hay, who reciprocated by taking the lead in an “Open Door” policy in China which was warmly desired by British “big business.” 30 Such a demonstration of American good will touched a responsive chord in King Edward VII, who confided to Ambassador Choate his high opinion of President Roosevelt. This royal compli¬ ment led to an exchange of courtesies. The President assured King Edward that he would do all he could “to preserve unbroken the pp. 17-62; Allan Nevins, Henry White (N.Y. 1930), chap, viii; J. L. Garvin, The Life of Joseph Chamberlain (London, 1934), pp. 159-168; W. L. Langer, The Di¬ plomacy of Imperialism (N.Y. 1935), vol. I, pp. 234-254. 28 On January 31, 1896, Lord Salisbury remarked in a speech that he and other members of the British Government were “entire advocates of the Monroe Doctrine, as President Monroe understood it.” London Daily Mail, February 3, 1896. On January 15, 1896, Arthur Balfour assured a Manchester audience that British states¬ men had always “heartily concurred” in the principles of the Monroe Doctrine. Lon¬ don Daily Mail, January 17, 1896. To a Scotch constituency, on January 30, 1896, Mr. Morley expressed the view that Americans could “take it for certain” that with reference to the Monroe Doctrine there was “no demur in anybody’s mind in this country.” London Times, January 31, 1896. The viewpoint of the average Briton was well expressed in a letter from Mr. E. Al¬ fred Heath to Ambassador Bayard, January 11, 1896: “I believe, with many it is with a sort of stunned feeling that people think of the matter; they cannot realize that a war with America is a possibility, looking as we do, on Americans as of one blood and language with ourselves. . . . You will at once see what I mean when you notice the different way in which the words of President Cleveland and the Emperor of Germany have been taken in this country. In the first, incredulity, doubt, horror; ... in the second, the whole nation to a man . . . roused ... to fever heat, and ready for anything.” Bayard MS. 29 Quoted in the New York World, October 27, 1895. 30 Allan Nevins, Henry White, chap. ix. For the Far Eastern situation see Tyler Dennett, John Hay, chap, xxiv, and A. L. P. Dennis, Adventures in American Diplomacy, chap. vii.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

II

friendly relations between the two countries,” 31 and the King there¬ upon began to toy with the idea of making the President the “Hon¬ orary Colonel” of one of the crack regiments in the British army. But this was going a little too far, and Secretary Hay immediately wrote a note of warning to Ambassador Choate. The President was “constitutionally prohibited from accepting such an honor without authorization from Congress.” In any Congressional debate upon such a subject it was quite possible that “things would be said by opposition members which would be unpleasant to read.” 32 These increasingly intimate relations between Great Britain and the United States made it difficult for President Roosevelt to preserve any semblance of neutrality in the Morocco dispute that led to the Algeciras Conference.33 In a letter to William H. Taft he declared that the United States had “no real interest in Morocco,” and that he did not care to “take sides between France and Germany in the mat¬ ter.” 34 After the French Cabinet crisis of June 6, which precipitated the resignation of Delcasse, Roosevelt urged the Kaiser to take a 81 President Roosevelt to Ambassador Choate, October 9, 1901, Choate MS. As another indication of the friendly feelings that existed between England and the United States in 1902 see the following letter from George W. Smalley to the Duchess of Sutherland, February 18, 1902: “The continental campaign against the present good Anglo-American understanding has had no great effect. . . . The general public knows that it was England who stood our friend before & during the Span¬ ish war while all the rest were, in one way or another, hostile. The President is in no doubt, nor Mr. Hay. I spent two hours one morning with the President. . . . We discussed the re-opening of a certain question. He said ‘I don’t want it re¬ opened because I am friendly to England, and while the South African war is un¬ finished I don’t want to give the American pro-Boers a chance.’ ” Smalley MS., Library of Congress. See also pertinent notes in the Henry White, and McKinley MS., Library of Congress. 32 John Hay to Ambassador Choate, September 29, 1902, Choate MS. In the joint action taken by Great Britain, Germany, and Italy, against Venezuela in 19021903, certain British statesmen recognized the danger of exciting American ill-will, and they promptly sent assurances as to British policy. In a friendly note to Andrew Carnegie, Prime Minister Arthur J. Balfour remarked: “I need not tell you that there is nothing nearer my heart than to preserve the warmest and the most friendly feelings between this country and America, and I hope that the people of the United States will see that nothing has been done by us in Venezuela which can in the smallest degree touch their susceptibilities.” Carnegie MS'. In a letter to Mrs. Car¬ negie, December 31, 1902, Lord Bryce condemns British intervention in Venezuela as “foolish.” Carnegie MS. 33 On the European aspects of the Moroccan dispute see Eugene N. Anderson, The First Moroccan Crisis, 1904-1906 (Chicago, 1930); Earl F. Cruickshank, Morocco at the Parting of the Ways, the Story of Native Protection to 1885 (Phila., 1935) ; Alfred Vagts, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 1841-1913; A. Mevil, De la paix de Francfort a la conference d’Algesiras (Paris, 1909) ; Sidney Fay, The Origins of the World War (N.Y. 1929), vol. I, pp. 168-192. 34 President Roosevelt to Acting Secretary of State W. H. Taft, April 20, 1905, Roosevelt MS. In J. B. Bishop’s Theodore Roosevelt and His Time, vol. I, pp. 467503, there is a long memorandum by President Roosevelt on the “secret history” of the Algeciras Conference.

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moderate stand in this Moroccan dispute. As a verbal persuasive he gave assurance of his “sincere” admiration for Germany and ex¬ pressed the view that the Kaiser himself was the “leader among the sovereigns of to-day who have their faces set toward the future.” 35 After the European powers had agreed upon a conference to dis¬ cuss the question of Morocco, Roosevelt disclosed to Ambassador Choate his real feelings in the matter. He intended to “stand by France” while at the same time he would strive “to keep on fairly good terms with Germany.” 36 To Henry White, who was to repre¬ sent the United States at the Morocco (Algeciras) Conference, the President frankly indicated his desires: “I want to keep on good terms with Germany, ... but my sympathies have at bottom been with France and I suppose will continue so.” 37 There is little doubt that American assistance was a material factor in paving the way for an Anglo-French diplomatic victory at the Algeciras Conference. It is also obvious that President Roosevelt did not understand all the implications of this victory. In the Far East the United States was strongly committed to the support of the Open Door principle. In Morocco the same principle was involved, but the President was too much of an amateur statesman to grasp this fact. It is likely, however, that if he had been apprised of the secret treaties between France, Spain, and England with regard to Morocco he would not have permitted his emotions to play havoc with his political pre¬ cepts. As Professor Nevins admirably sums up the situation: — The French, with Roosevelt’s support . . . thus scored a victory, a much greater victory, beyond doubt, than Roosevelt realized or intended. He did not wish to promote the “Tunisification” or peaceful penetration of Morocco, but instead desired it to remain an autonomous country, with no European power in sovereign control.38 85 President Roosevelt to Ambassador Sternburg, June 25, 1905, Roosevelt MS. 36 President Roosevelt to Ambassador Choate, August 16, 1905, Choate MS. 37 President Roosevelt to Henry White, August 23, 1905, White MS. In a “personal letter” which accompanied the instructions to Henry White with reference to the Algeciras Conference (November 28, 1905) Secretary Root pointed out that “while we are friendly to Germany, and wish to remain so, we regard as a favorable con¬ dition for the peace of the world, and, therefore, for the best interests of the United States, the continued entente cordiale between France and England.” Root MS. 38 Henry White, p. 278. Towards the end of the Algeciras Conference, President Roosevelt began to grow somewhat suspicious of the attitude of the French Govern¬ ment, and after it had adjourned he expressed his misgivings in a letter to Henry White, April 30, 1906: “I feel that you, Reid and Meyer should know what has gone on on this side of the water about the Algeciras business. ... I may add that Jusserand, who is a trump, toward the end became very much disgusted with what he evidently regarded as a certain furtiveness and lack of frankness in the French

HISTORICAL

INTRODUCTION

13

The cordial relations which President Roosevelt established with France and England continued until the outbreak of the World War, and there is little doubt of their influence in preparing the American mind for intervention against Germany in 1917. The Kaiser had early foreseen the dangers that threatened Germany from any inclination of the United States towards the side of Germany’s enemies, and he made every effort to win American good will. Shortly after the ac¬ cession of Theodore Roosevelt to the Presidency, the Kaiser saw to it that a medal was conferred upon the American Chief Executive as a token of the high esteem in which he was held by the Potsdam court circle.39 In 1902 the Kaiser made two other attempts to establish more intimate relations with President Roosevelt, and incidentally, with the American people. He invited Alice Roosevelt to christen a yacht that was being built for him in an American shipyard, and next he sent his brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, on a visit to the United States to show dubious Americans how charming Germans really are. Neither of these well-meant gestures was successful. When Alice Roosevelt requested her father’s assistance in the preparation of a short speech that would be appropriate for the christening of the imperial yacht, the only epigram that came to the President’s mind was one that re¬ vealed his real feelings but which was hardly suitable to the occasion: “Damn the Dutch.” 40 Prince Henry’s visit to America went off smoothly enough, but the press comments were not enthusiastic and it accomplished little.41 But the President was by no means cold to these advances on the handling of their case. I gained just the opinion you did of both the German and French diplomats. Until the Conference met I felt that France was behaving better than Germany, but toward the end it seemed to me that neither one was straight¬ forward.” White MS. See also A. L. P. Dennis, Adventures in American Diplo¬ macy, 1896-1906, chap. xix. For the British diplomatic correspondence relative to the Algeciras Conference see British Documents on the Origins of the War, 18981914, vol. Ill, pp. 204-349. 39 Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt (N.Y. 1931), p. 281. 40 Roosevelt to John Hay, January 18, 1902, Roosevelt MS. 41 Clara E. Schieber, American Sentiment Toward Germany, pp. 240ff. President Roosevelt seemed to be under the impression that the visit of Prince Henry to the United States had achieved its purpose in cementing friendly relations between Ger¬ many and the United States. On March 11, 1902 he wrote to Prince Henry to ex¬ press the pleasure he had felt in seeing him and to assure the Prince that his visit had accomplished “real good” in promoting a feeling of “friendship between Ger¬ many and the United States.” Roosevelt MS. On the following day (March 12, 1902) he wrote to the Kaiser to inform him that Prince Henry’s visit had indicated “the depth of friendly feeling which exists between the two nations.” Roosevelt MS. In a note to Ambassador Choate, in London, he characterized Prince Henry as a “thoroughly good fellow.” (March 3, 1902.) Choate MS. It was the opinion of Bernhard von Buelow, Memoirs (Boston, 1931), vol. I, p. 662, that Prince Henry had “accomplished his task most satisfactorily.”

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part of the Kaiser, and in August, 1904, we find Sternburg, the Ger¬ man Ambassador at Washington, reporting a conversation with the President in the following key: — Should the President be re-elected, he would like to go hand in hand with Germany in Eastern Asia. But first he would like to come to a clear understanding with Germany on all East Asiatic questions.42 Count von Buelow was overjoyed at this apparent turn in affairs, and he wrote at once to the Kaiser to assure him that “the President is a great admirer of Your Majesty and would like to rule the world hand in hand with Your Majesty, regarding himself as something in the nature of an American counterpart to Your Majesty.” 43 Emperor Wilhelm was pleased by these intimations of friendship on the part of President Roosevelt, and in 1905 he cordially co-operated with the President in bringing the Russo-Japanese War to a peaceful conclu¬ sion at Portsmouth.44 President Roosevelt, however, was very cautious about placing much faith in the assurances of the Kaiser. In a letter to Henry Cabot Lodge, May 15, 1905, he insisted that “nothing” could persuade him to “follow the lead of or enter into close alliance with a man who is so jumpy, so little capable of continuity of action, and therefore, so little capable of being loyal to his friends.” 45 And to Sir Mortimer Durand, the British Ambassador at Washington, Roosevelt confidentially re¬ marked that he liked the Kaiser “very much in a way,” but he did not “trust him.” 46 These same misgivings that Roosevelt had relative to the character of the Kaiser were shared by the American people, who were at times openly critical of the Emperor’s conduct and utterances. In many of the speeches of Wilhelm II, there was clearly expressed the idea that German safety depended on large armaments,47 and this emphasis of42 Die Grosse Politik, vol. XIX, pt. 2, no. 6264. 43 Ibid. 44 A. L. P. Dennis, Adventures in American Diplomacy, chap, xiv; Tyler Den¬ nett, Roosevelt and the Russo-Japanese War (N.Y. 1925) ; M. A. De Wolfe Howe, George von Lengerke Meyer (N.Y. 1920). 45 Selections from the Correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, 1884-1918 (N.Y. 1925), vol. II, p. 123. 46 Stephen Gwynn, The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice (Lon¬ don, 1929), vol. I, p. 454. For important illustrative material on the relations be¬ tween the Kaiser and President Roosevelt see the informing dispatch from Am¬ bassador Jusserand, at Washington, to Foreign Minister Delcasse, March 9, 1904, Documents Diplomatiques Frangais, 1871-1914, 2d series, 1901-1911, vol. IV, pp. 443-448. 47 Wolf von Schierbrand, The Kaiser’s Speeches (N.Y. 1903), pp. xxix, 89, 169170, 188.

HISTORICAL

INTRODUCTION

15

fended the pacific sensibilities of a large number of Americans. In other utterances the Kaiser appeared to laud the application of brute force as a means of settling certain questions. Thus in 1900, after the Boxer Rebellion in China, the Kaiser exhorted his troops who were embarking for the Far East to give the Chinese a lesson that they would not soon forget. As reported in the Washington Evening Star, July 3, 1900, the Emperor addressed the German soldiers in the fol¬ lowing vein: — “Give no quarter, spare nobody, make no prisoners. Use your weapons so that for a thousand years hence no Chinaman will dare look askance at any German. ... Be terrible as Attila’s Huns.” In the American press the Kaiser was sharply criticized for these sanguinary instructions. The editor of the Boston Evening Transcript thought there was a marked contrast between “the utterances of the German Emperor breathing forth threatening and slaughter, and the calm, courteous, moderate temper shown by the Administration at Washington.” 48 To the New York Independent it appeared very sad that “it should seem credible that the most Christian Emperor of Ger¬ many should use such barbarous language to his forces sent to the east, forbidding them to give quarter,” 49 and this was the tenor of countless editorials throughout the United States. To many Americans the Kaiser appeared as the “greatest bluffer in Europe.” 50 Others regarded him as a “hare-brained individual” 51 who had lost his “mental balance,” 52 while one clairvoyant editor even went so far as to prophesy that “Emperor Wilhelm would prob¬ ably go down into history as the last Hohenzollern.” 63 One thing is certain: the Kaiser had few American friends, and this widespread distrust and open dislike of the ruler of Germany was an important factor in determining the attitude of the American people during the first three years of the World War. 48 49 80 81 82 88

July 28, 1900. August 2, 1900. Everybody’s Magazine, vol. XXI, p. 700. Providence Journal, November 27, 1897. New York Evening Post, March 30, 1901. Springfield Republican, September 20, 1903.

I AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION AT THE OUTBREAK OF THE WORLD WAR The cordial spirit that was so manifest in Anglo-American rela¬ tions from 1897 to 1914 did not abruptly cease at the outbreak of the World War. Although President Wilson called for American neu¬ trality in thought as well as in deed, there were few Americans in public life who paid any heed to such a summons. The ties that bound America to England could not be dissolved by any counsel of perfec¬ tion. The recent close co-operation of the two governments in certain problems of world politics was a factor that could not be disregarded. This political concert was supplemented by intimate business connec¬ tions that dated from colonial times : neither nation wished to quarrel with its best customer. But there were other ties that drew America close to the British Empire. The American political system had its basis in English practice, and American legal institutions were a heritage from Old England. Intellectually, every American still owed allegiance to a nation whose poets and publicists had given immortal expression to the thoughts that lay closest to American hearts. The plays of Shakespeare, the legal lore of Blackstone, the novels of Dickens, and the poems of Burns, with their tender intimacies of dia¬ lect, had established stronger and more enduring bonds between the English-speaking peoples than all the financial obligations arranged through the House of Morgan. Despite the fact of political separa¬ tion, the United States and the British Isles had a community of in¬ terests that defied all thoughts of serious dissension. The drift in American sentiment towards England was apparent to Sir Cecil Spring Rice, the British Ambassador at Washington, as early as September 8, 1914, when he wrote to Sir Edward Grey that the “feel¬ ing of nearly everyone with whom I speak is very friendly.” 1 1 Stephen Gwynn, The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice (Lon¬ don, 1929), vol. II, p. 223. The strength of the pro-English feeling was quickly discerned by Mr. Camillus G. Kidder who wrote to Mr. Charles J. Bonaparte (Sec¬ retary of the Navy and Attorney General under Theodore Roosevelt), September

AMERICAN

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But these expressions of friendship came when England was drawn into the vortex of war in August, 1914. During most of the month of July strong hope had persisted that a major European con¬ flict would be averted, and Anglo-American amity did not seem to require any illustration. The first reaction of the American press to the news of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand (June 28, 1914) was one of sympathy for the aged Emperor Franz Joseph.* 2 Interspersed with sentences of condolence were prophecies that in the Balkans serious disturbances were about to break out that might well involve Europe in widespread war. The Emporia (Kan¬ sas) Gazette believed that the assassination at Sarajevo was of “tre¬ mendous political significance” with a sequel that might “change the map of southern Europe.” 3 The New York Times was also impressed with the gravity of the situation : — A couple of revolver shots probably never before formed a connection between such a line of complicated causes and such an infinite variety of possibly still more complicated effects.4 The New York Evening Mail looked at the assassination from quite another angle. The removal of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand from the political scene in Austria-Hungary “might even be regarded as a dynastic gain for the Hapsburgs,” 5 and Mr. F. Cunliffe-Owen, writing in the Chicago Tribune, expressed the view that the tragedy at Sarajevo might be regarded as an “aid to peace in Austria.” 6 After this flurry of interest in the assassination of the heir to the imperial throne of Austria-Hungary, the American press in the two weeks succeeding July 7 gave scant notice to Balkan affairs. Atten¬ tion was shifted to Mexico where President Huerta was involved in serious difficulties with Villa and Carranza. But the Mexican im¬ broglio was only one of a myriad items that attracted the gaze of American readers. They were informed of Mr. Carnegie’s desire to 5, 1914, as follows: “I hear mutterings on every side that, ‘if this thing goes too far,’ the United States should come to England’s rescue, partly because ‘blood is thicker than water,’ but largely for the sake of civilization in general.” C. J. Bonaparte MS., Library of Congress. 2 By a strange coincidence, Mr. Frederic William Wile wrote an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 28, 1914, in which he stated that the Emperor Franz Joseph was credited with saying that he intended “to outlive his heir and nephew the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.” 3 June 29, 1914. 4 June 29, 1914. 6 Quoted in Literary Digest, July 11, 1914. 6 June 29, 1914.

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give $75,000,000 to endow rural libraries; the murder of Gaston Cal¬ mette by Mme. Caillaux was given wide publicity: kidnappers were unusually busy and 150 American children were snatched from fond parents; bathing costumes for women were described as uniquely daring because they gave a faint hint of feminine contours, and all Chicago was stirred over the proposal to erect a fence to separate the sexes at Diversey Beach in Lincoln Park. The murder of the Arch¬ duke Franz Ferdinand was soon forgotten, and there were very few Americans who saw the war clouds gather on the European horizon. Like many of his optimistic countrymen, Dr. David Starr Jordan was confident that the peace of Europe would not be broken. To his mind the great safeguard . . . against the armies and navies Europe has gathered for war is that Europe is not rich enough to use them, and is too human and humane to want to use them.7 This American apathy towards the European situation was quickly dispelled in the last week of July, 1914, when it suddenly became ap¬ parent that a European war impended. Some Americans, however, still viewed the Austro-Serb dispute as something of a joke, and a columnist in the Philadelphia Public Ledger could not restrain a pun to the effect that if the war ended with the defeat of Austria the en¬ tire world would say “Servia right.” 8 American sentiment was strongly pro-Serb. The New York Times warned the Central Po\yers that . . . one thing is certain. The prospect of a general European war . . . is regarded in this country in a very different light from that with which some of the great wars of the past were viewed. ... It is not too much to say that the war news from Vienna is read here with loathing and a sense of shame.9 The Chicago Tribune thought that war between Austria and Serbia had broken out because “Austria wanted it to come.” A way out might have been found “had there, been the will to find it.” 10 The Raleigh News and Observer openly stated that “our sympathies are 7 Dr. Jordan expressed this opinion on July 17, but it was not made public until August 15. See Harper’s Weekly, August 15, 1914. 8 July 28, 1914. * July 27, 1914. 10 July 29, 1914.

AMERICAN

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with Servia,” 11 while the Topeka State Journal was of the opinion that a “good deal of the bully seems present in the attitude of Austria towards Servia.” 12 The Boise (Idaho) Statesman believed that “dip¬ lomatically speaking” Servia had beaten Austria “clear out of the field.” 13 The New York press was sharply critical of Austria’s ac¬ tion. The Herald dogmatically asserted that Austria had “delib¬ erately, wiffully forced conflict upon Servia”;14 the World was cer¬ tain that the Dual Monarchy was the “aggressor”;15 the Sun thought it was apparent that Austria was “wilfully forcing war on a weaker neighbor”;16 while the Brooklyn Eagle expressed the view that if Europe were drenched with blood the “burden of blame will be placed at the door of the Foreign Office in Vienna.” 17 It should be clearly understood, however, that this anti-Austrian sentiment was not universal. The Philadelphia Public Ledger pointed out that in the Austro-Serb dispute the “right lies with the stronger in so far as it is aiming to protect its own interests from foreign con¬ spirators.” 18 The Chicago Tribune endeavored to be impartial, and the Springfield Republican tried to make it clear that Austria was “not wholly without a case.” 19 The Birmingham Age-Herald cast aside all thoughts of neutrality and bitterly arraigned Serbia: — The Serbs are as treacherous as they are proud and until they are defeated by Austria on the battlefield and completely subjugated the larger nation will never be safe from their plottings. . . . Servia, like all the Balkan states, is backward, turbulent and ill governed.20 Although war in Europe seemed merely a matter of days there were some Americans who still cherished hopes for continued peace. On July 31 ex-President Taft voiced the view that a major conflict would bring such far-reaching misery upon the world that it was “im¬ possible to believe that it will be declared.” 21 On this same day (July 31) Mr. J. P. Morgan expressed himself in like manner: “If the del11 July 29, 1914. 12 July 28, 1914. 18 July 28, 1914. 14 Quoted in the Providence Journal, July 30, 1914. 18 July 28, 1914. 16 Quoted in the Providence Journal, July 30, 19x4. i* July 29, 1914. 18 July 26, 1914. 19 July 27, 1914. 20 July 27, 1914. 21 Philadelphia Public Ledger, August I, 1914-

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icate situation can be held in abeyance for a few days I should expect a rising tide of protest from the people who are to pay for war with their blood and their property.” 22 In the eventful days that immediately preceded the outbreak of the World War there was a great deal of speculation in the United States relative to the role the Kaiser was playing in this crisis. Was he en¬ deavoring to preserve the peace of Europe, or was he secretly rejoic¬ ing at the drift towards war? On July 28 the New York Times ex¬ pressed the hope that there was “solid ground” for believing that a general European war would be avoided, because . . . the sober-minded statesmen of Europe, and above all the Kaiser, are not men of blood but of peace.23 According to the Philadelphia Bulletin, . . . the War Lord of Europe is now looked to as the Angel of Peace. The passing of the crisis depends largely upon the course of the Kaiser.24 The New York Globe and Commercial Advertiser based its hopes for peace upon “the character of peace maker which the Kaiser has established”; 25 the Springfield Republican reminded its readers that “more than once he [the Kaiser] has exerted his influence decisively for peace”; 26 the New York Independent remembered that “in the past the German Emperor has shown himself on the side of peace” ; 27 while the New York Sun adverted to the fact that . . . for more than a quarter of a century the German Emperor, the mas¬ ter of the most tremendous and most effective military organization that ever existed, has worked persistently and successfully for the peace of Europe.28 But despite the importance of the Kaiser and of other European war-lords in all matters of military strategy, it seemed clear to many American editors that there was strong popular pressure for war. To the Cleveland Plain Dealer it appeared obvious that “the common people who must shed their blood and pay the bills in any such con22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1914. July 28, 1914. July 28, 1914. July 28, 1914. July 28, 1914. August 3, 1914. August 2, 1914. See also the Daily Oklahoman, August 1, 1914.

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flict” were “enthusiastic” over the prospect of war.29 Colonel W. C. Church, in the Washington Star, expressed the confident belief that it was not the rulers but “the peoples of the countries involved who are behind the war spirit and who are shouting for war.” 30 The Wash¬ ington Post inclined towards the view that in Austria and Russia “the people have acted upon the governments, rather than the govern¬ ments upon the people”; 31 the Birmingham Age-Herald was certain that “the people . . . want war and are determined to have it”; 32 while Mr. Everett D. Martin assured the readers of the Des Moines Register and Leader that in Europe the “present demonstrations of hostility do not come from above — they come from the people them¬ selves.” 33 But if war should break out in Europe, peace-loving Americans could console themselves with the thought that no such major conflict could last long. Miss Mabel Boardman, head of the American Red Cross, expressed the view that a European war would be so bloody and destructive that it would have to be a “short one.” 34 Military ex¬ perts in Washington, D. C., estimated that the war that threatened in Europe could not last more than a “year”; 35 the Washington Star believed that it would be merely a “matter of weeks”; 36 the Florida Times-Union predicted that the “issue of one campaign will be ac¬ cepted as sufficient”; 37 the Dallas News informed its readers that the war would be over “long before the cotton season is”; 38 the Topeka State Journal was convinced that the war could not “last long”;39 and the Detroit News solemnly pronounced that “the war must be brief because Europe cannot possibly sustain a prolonged warfare on so destructive a scale.” 40 In the early days of August, 1914, some American editors placed 29 July 28, 1914. 30 August 2, 1914. 31 August 1, 1914. 32 August 2, 1914. 33 August 3, 1914. 34 Boston Post, August 2, 1914. 36 New York Sun, August 2, 1914. 36 August 2, 1914. 37 August 4, 1914. 38 August 4, 1914. 39 August x, 1914. 40 August 1, 1914. See also the Birmingham Age-Herald, July 31, and the Wall Street Journal, July 31, August 1, 4, 1914. In contrast with this optimism the Daily Oklahoman (August 1) expressed the view that the war “might rage for years”; the Nevada State Journal (August 2) believed that Europe was in for “a long and terrible war”; and the Raleigh News and Observer (August 3) was fearful that the war might last “ten years.”

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the war guilt upon Austria. The New York Times could detect in the United States a “rising tide of indignation against Austria for going to war in a passion and without any justifying reason.” 41 The Phila¬ delphia Public Ledger thought there was little doubt that Emperor Franz Joseph and his advisers would bear the blame “for the appall¬ ing consequences of their action in provoking a conflict which may plunge a continent in blood,” 42 while the Florida Times-Union con¬ demned the Austrian Government for sending Serbia “grapeshot” in return for “pin pricks.” 43 The Des Moines Register and Leader anticipated Professor Sid¬ ney B. Fay by many years in asserting that the Kaiser “knew nothing of the Austrian plan until actual war had been declared and the ap¬ proach on Belgrade had been undertaken.” 44 But this clear vision was not shared by other editors, who soon shifted the responsibility for the outbreak of the World War upon German shoulders. The New York Times regarded the war speech of the Kaiser from the window of his palace as a “piece of pompous humbug,” 45 and the Raleigh News and Observer was certain that he would try to . . . find several places on which he can dump the blame, but those who have kept up with the progress of events will find it difficult to believe otherwise than that the Kaiser had more to do with it than anybody else.46 The New York Globe and Commercial Advertiser leaned toward the view that the Kaiser was “the veriest firebrand on the Conti¬ nent” ;47 the Providence Journal loudly proclaimed that there was “one man to blame” and that man was the “noisy sovereign who glories in the name of War Lord of Europe”; 48 while the Springfield Republican denounced the Kaiser as a “criminal” before the “bar of the world’s opinion.” 40 Other newspaper editors fastened the blame of the outbreak of the war upon Germany but did not express the view that the Kaiser was personally responsible. The Nashville Banner ad¬ hered to the view that the “underlying cause of the war seems to be that Germany is spoiling for a fight”; 50 the Salt Lake City Deseret 41 August i, 1914. 42 August 1, 1914. 48 July 31, 1914. 44 July 31, 1914. 45 August 2, 1914. 46 August 3, 1914. 47 August 4, 1914. 48 August 4, 1914. 49 August 4, 1914. 60 August 3, 1914.

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News voiced the opinion that Germany would have to “bear the re¬ sponsibility for opening another era of carnage”;51 and the Dallas News was of the belief that Americans generally held that “Germany is even more blameworthy than Austria for the present state of affairs in Europe.” 52 As against this widespread anti-German sentiment in the American press we find a very pronounced feeling of friendship for France.03 When the news of the bombardment of Rheims Cathedral reached America there was instant protest throughout the nation, and Robert Underwood Johnson gave voice to the prevailing feeling against Ger¬ many in his lines — Though they should vaunt a thousand victories, This is their dire defeat.54 Multitudes of Americans agreed with the judgment of the New Republic in absolving France from any war guilt: “This is not France’s war. She has been necessarily involved in it, but she did not want it.” 05 Edward S. Martin, the editor of Life, early enlisted in the fight for the vindication of France, and he strongly sounded the fa¬ miliar note that the Allies were fighting “in behalf of the liberties of all the world.” 56 Frank H. Simonds gave assurance to the American public that the “France that the whole world loves” would not be crushed by German militarism,57 and Henry Van Dyke made millions of American hearts throb in cadence with his popular poem, “The Name of France.” Give us a name to fill the mind With the stirring thoughts that lead mankind. 51 August 3, 1914. 82 August 2, 1914. It is quite possible that the strong pacifist sentiment that had been developing in the United States in the two decades before the outbreak of the World War was partly responsible for the pro-Ally feeling that was so manifest in 1914. See Merle E. Curti, The American Peace Crusade (Durham, 1929) ; and Dr. E. L. Whitney, The American Peace Society (Washington, 1928). The average American in 1914 had the impression that Germany had the largest standing army in Europe, and that the Kaiser had created this army for the express purpose of dominating neighboring powers. As a matter of fact the highest estimate of the peace strength of the German army was only 870,000 as compared with the French army of 910,000. See Gen. E. A. L. Buat, op. cit., pp. 3-11. 53 According to Miss Elizabeth B. White, American Opinion of France (N.Y. 1927), p. 272, the enthusiasm in America in 1914 for France was “far greater than for England.” 84 Collected Poems (N.Y. 1920), p. 392. os December 5, 1914, pp. 8-9. 86 The Diary of a Nation (N.Y. 1914), pp. 7_I6. 87 Quoted in Review of Reviews, vol. L, p. 734.

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A name like a star, a name of light. I give you, France!58 This pro-French feeling in America was transformed into a strong current of pro-Ally sympathy when the German armies swept through Belgium like a destroying flood, leaving historic cities a mere mass of wreckage. To David Starr Jordan the German invasion of Belgium seemed to clarify the issue. When the war began it had very little meaning. . . . But the invasion of Belgium changed the whole face of affairs. As by a lightning-flash the issue was made plain: the issue of the sacredness of law; the rule of the soldier or the rule of the citizen; the rule of fear or the rule of law.59 In the American press noted newspaper correspondents like Rich¬ ard Harding Davis and Will Irwin wrote classic accounts of the de¬ struction of the Belgian cities. Will Irwin even called attention to the strange “smell” that followed in the wake of the unbathed German hosts, a “smell” that “lay for days over every town through which the Germans passed.” The story of the ruin wrought in Louvain by the German soldiers was told by Richard Harding Davis in so graphic a manner that it produced an indelible impression upon the minds of both young and old. A pertinent paragraph from his narrative will illustrate the force of his style. Money can never restore Louvain. Great architects and artists, dead these six hundred years, made it beautiful, and their handiwork belonged to the world. With torch and dynamite the Germans have turned these masterpieces into ashes, and all the Kaiser’s horses and all his men cannot bring them back again.60 68 Chosen Poems (N.Y. 1927), pp. 254-255. For an interesting account of the drift in American sentiment towards France see Ambassador J. J. Jusserand, Le Sentiment Americain Pendant La Guerre (Paris, 1931). 69 N. Y. Times Current History, vol. I, pp. 502-503. 60 Excerpts from the accounts of both Will Irwin and Richard Harding Davis relative to German destruction in Belgium can be found in Mark Sullivan, History of Our Times, vol. 5 (N.Y. 1933), pp. 21-29. With reference to the effect upon American public opinion produced by German spoliations in Belgium, the testimony of Count Bernstorff is of distinct value: “Throughout the war, the Belgian question was the one which interested Americans most and which was most effective in working up American public opinion against us.” See Official German Documents Relating to the World War (N.Y. 1923), vol. I, p. 253. Of course it is now realized that only one-eighth of the city of Louvain was seriously damaged by the German armies. See Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in War-Time (N.Y. 1928), p. 21; Harry Elmer Barnes, In Quest of Truth and Justice (Chicago, 1928). The narrow escape that Richard Harding Davis had from being shot by the Germans for a spy, and the effect of this treatment upon his attitude toward all

AMERICAN

PUBLIC

OPINION

25

There is little doubt that many Americans were deeply moved by these accounts of German “frightfulness.” On August 22, 1914, Mr. C. G. Kidder wrote to Charles J. Bonaparte that the German in¬ vasion of Belgium had made a “deep and lasting impression” upon the population of New York City,61 and some weeks later he re¬ marked that the “Louvain business stirs one as did the Alamo in¬ cident, years ago.” 62 From Boston, Dr. A. Lawrence Lowell wrote to Mr. Bonaparte in much the same key as Mr. Kidder,63 and in Washington, D. C., Colonel House and President Wilson grew mournful over the thought of the glory that had been Belgium.64 Lady Osier endeavored to capitalize this American sympathy for Belgium by raising funds for the relief of refugees, and in her appeal to the American people for assistance she told of the needs of the Louvain professors who had “escaped from the burning town with only the clothes on their backs and enough money in their pockets to cross the channel to Folkestone.” One professor had fled from Lou¬ vain “with his wife, two babies and a manuscript said to be the only remnant of the famous collection in the Louvain Library.” 65 Under the impact of all these gruesome stories from Belgium a movement was started in favor of a note from the Department of State to the German Government protesting against alleged atrocities. Secretary Bryan, however, regarded the sending of such a note as an unneutral act and no formal action was taken. His attitude is revealed in the following note that he addressed to the President: — I enclose a memorandum prepared by Counsellor Lansing relative to the criticisms of the Government for its failure to protest against Ger¬ many in invading Belgium. I am strongly of the opinion that it would be unwise to publish a statement covering all these protests. . . . Our atti¬ tude being that of absolute neutrality, it is not wise in my judgment to make any explanations which would indicate a siding with either the Allies or the Germans on acts done during the war.66 things German, is told by Fairfax Downey in his volume, Richard Harding Davis (N.Y. 1933), chap. xvii. 61 C. G. Kidder to C. J. Bonaparte, August 22, 1914, Bonaparte MS. 62 C. G. Kidder to C. J. Bonaparte, September 5, 1914, ibid. 63 A. Lawrence Lowell to C. J. Bonaparte, September 11, 1914, ibid. 64 The Diary of Colonel House, August 30, 1914, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. 1, p. 293. 65 There is a copy of Lady Osier’s “Appeal” to the American people in the Bonaparte MS. 68 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, February 12, 1915, Bryan MS. As early as December 20, 1914, Lord Bryce was beginning to spread, in America, prop¬ aganda with reference to alleged German atrocities in Belgium. In a letter of that

26

AMERICA

GOES

TO WAR

Such a neutral attitude aroused the deep indignation of Theodore Roosevelt, who expressed his feelings in a letter to Joseph H. Choate. Of course I agree with you as to Germany’s action about Louvain and as to the fact that Germany ought to pay. But, my dear Mr. Choate, how in the name of Heaven will we ever get Germany to pay if we persevere in the Wilson-Bryan theory of neutrality between right and wrong and in the pacifist theory that our devotion to peace must take the form of never venturing even to whisper condemnation of the wrongdoer. ... In other words we ought not to be “neutral” between right and wrong.67 In the early weeks of the war Mr. Roosevelt made some gestures towards neutrality and even refrained from criticizing the Germans for their advance through Belgium. But it was not long before he abandoned this impartial attitude and began a series of articles in the Outlook in which he “emphatically backed” the British Government for supporting France and Russia against the Central Powers.68 Mr. Roosevelt with his pro-Ally attitude was typical of most Americans in public life. With the exception of Secretary Bryan the members of the President’s Cabinet made no pretense of neutrality, and Colonel House, the most trusted adviser of the Chief Executive, indicated his pro-Ally sympathies early in August, 1914. In a letter to the President he expressed the belief that Germany’s success would ultimately . . . mean trouble for us. We will have to abandon the path which you are blazing as a standard for future generations, with permanent peace as its goal, . . . and build up a military machine of vast proportions.69 Mr. Edward D. White, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, forgot his judicial calm in the stirring days of 1914 and ardently yearned to be young again so that he could go to Canada “and volun¬ teer.” 70 Thomas R. Marshall, on the other hand, was one of the few date to Joseph H. Choate, Lord Bryce condemns German conduct in Belgium as a return to “primitive savagery.” Choate MS. 67 Theodore Roosevelt to Joseph H. Choate, April 10, 1915, Choate MS. The best refutation of the charges made by the Allies against the Germans in Belgium is the study of Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in War-Time. Some of the stories of alleged German brutal conduct were so patently false that even Colonel House felt called upon to protest to his English friends against their circulation. Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 127. 68 Sir Edward Grey, Twenty-Five Years (N.Y. 1925), vol. II, pp. 144ft. 69 Colonel House to President Wilson, August 22, 1914, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 285. 70 D. F. Houston, Eight Years with Wilson’s Cabinet (N.Y. 1926), vol. I, p. 254. Mr. Houston himself assured Ambassador Page that he entirely agreed with him in believing that it would be best to “let the English take their course,” and for

AMERICAN

PUBLIC

OPINION

27

persons holding high office in 1914 who actually endeavored to pre¬ serve a semblance of neutrality. But this unusual attitude on the part of the Vice-President infuriated some Americans like Walter Hines Page, who felt outraged when he heard Mr. Marshall confess to a friend at a Gridiron Dinner that “he had read none of the White Papers, or Orange Papers, etc., of the belligerent governments — confessed this with pride — lest he should form an opinion and cease to be neutral.” 71 It is probable that these officials in the Wilson Administration were fervidly pro-Ally because they had early recognized the President’s well-known bias in that direction. British observers had commented upon the fact that the President was “by birth and upbringing” dis¬ tinctly British.72 As a young man he had made a careful study of the British Constitution and had become a warm admirer of the Cabinet system of government.73 But he had not confined his reading of British authors to publicists in the field of political science. The lure of Eng¬ lish literature had led to wide excursions in the domain of poetry with William Wordsworth as the chief guide. Shortly after the outbreak of the World War Spring Rice had a conversation with the President and the topic of Prussian militarism inevitably cropped out. At this point the President turned to the Brit¬ ish Ambassador and in the most solemn manner remarked that if Prussian military prowess overcame the Allies it would be necessary for the United States to “give up its present ideals and devote all its energies to defence, which would mean the end of its present system of Government.” Spring Rice then deftly turned the course of the conversation to certain aspects of English literature and alluded to the memorable sonnets of William Wordsworth written at the time Americans to put in their claims for damages after the war was over. See Burton J. Hendrick, Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page (N.Y. 1922), vol. II, pp. I76ff. 71 Ibid., p. 175. See also Thomas R. Marshall, Recollections (Indianapolis, 1925), pp. 262-263. 72 Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, vol. II, p. 220. 73 As a student in Princeton University in 1877, we find Woodrow Wilson greatly impressed with Green’s Short History of the English People. After reading it he wrote down the following significant comment: “It is a grateful thought that this History of the English People is a history of the American people as well; it is a high and solemn thought that we, as a lusty branch of a noble race, are by our national history adding lustre to so bright an escutcheon.” In the following year Wilson’s address at Commencement time bore the revealing title “Our Kinship with England.” See Ray S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson, Youth, 1856-1890 (N.Y. 1927). p. 96. For an extended and scholarly account of President Wilson’s early background and his developing interest in international questions see Harley Notter, The Origins of the Foreign Policy of Woodrow Wilson (Baltimore, 1937), chaps, i-iv.

28

AMERICA

GOES

TO

WAR

of the Napoleonic Wars. When the President murmured that he knew those sonnets by heart and “had them in his mind all the time, Spring Rice approvingly replied: “You and Grey are fed on the same food and I think you understand.” As the British Ambassador laid this accolade of appreciation upon the President’s shoulders the lat¬ ter’s eyes were wet with tears, and Spring Rice was sure that as far as England’s interest was concerned the American Chief Executive had an “understanding heart.” 74 It was this “understanding heart” that led the President to palliate the open infractions of international law which the Allies constantly committed at the expense of the United States. It also caused him to champion at a Cabinet meeting the course England was following with reference to the seizure of American ships on the high seas, and it moved him to chide Mr. Tumulty when the latter burst into criticism of English lawlessness.75 These views of the President typify the attitude of a large majority of America’s representative men. In some cases these prominent Americans were less objective than their British correspondents. Thus, in August, 1914, we find John Morley writing to Andrew Carnegie in criticism of the war, which to him seemed like “Hell in full blast.” 76 In the following month Morley deprecates the fact that in England “the exasperation of hate is for the moment too extreme to listen” 77 and in October he again laments the “spread of the spirit of international hate that debases and demoralises public language and 74 Spring Rice to Sir Edward Grey, September 8, 1914, The Letters and Friend¬ ships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, vol. II, p. 223. On September 3, 1914, Spring Rice had already written to Sir Edward Grey to advise him that the President sent his “warmest greeting and expressed his most sincere sympathy. He said: ‘Every thing that I love most in the world is at stake,’ and later: ‘If they succeed, we shall be forced to take such measures of defence here as would be fatal to our form of Government and American ideals.’ He spoke of the long trial of the Civil War, and said with deep emotion that he was sure that our country would still show its powers of endurance for a high cause. Officially, he would do all that he could to maintain absolute neutrality, and would bear in mind that a dispute between our two nations would be the crowning calamity.” Sir Edward Grey im¬ mediately replied to Spring Rice, on the same day, that he was “most grateful for the President’s message and his sympathy. If Prussian militarism succeeds the west of Europe will be no fit place for those of us who have been brought up to love liberty, humanity and good faith and I think the United States will feel the dark shadow of militarism nearer to them. We wish in all our conduct of the war to do nothing which will be a cause of complaint or dispute as regards the United States Government.” George Macaulay Trevelyan, Grey of Fallodon (Boston, 1937), PP- 355-356. 76 T. W. Gregory, New York Times, January 29, 1915; Joseph Tumulty, Woodrow Wilson as I Know Him (N.Y. 1921), pp. 230-231. 76 Morley to Carnegie, August 4, 1914, Carnegie MS., Library of Congress. 77 Morley to Carnegie, September 11, 1914, ibid.

AMERICAN

PUBLIC

OPINION

29

opinion, and finds ignoble utterance in daily prints and common talk.” 78 In the last week in October, 1914, Morley writes to Mrs. Carnegie concerning World War responsibility : — Be sure that the responsibility for all the criminal folly and wickedness is a divided responsibility, resting on more than one personality or Euro¬ pean power.79 Carnegie himself, however, was certain that the war had been caused by the German “Military Caste” which had “overpowered the German Emperor.” 80 In December, 1914, he iterates this same belief in a letter to an old friend in Scotland: — I believe the German Emperor, who had maintained peace for twentyseven years, and whose chief boast was that he had done so, was driven into the war by the military caste about him. It was all decided upon dur¬ ing the Emperor’s absence — he arrived too late.81 Another well-known American who carried on a correspondence with important men in British public life was the diplomat, Henry White. On July 24, 1914, Lord Bryce wrote to White a letter which criticized both Austria and Russia as partially responsible for helping to bring on the war: — The guilty policy of Austria and the criminal conduct of Russia in hur¬ rying the rest of Europe into war are pretty clear.82 White himself, in the early days of the war, tried hard to be ob¬ jective, and in a letter to Rear-Admiral F. E. Chadwick he gave his impression of Count Berchtold and his attitude towards the bellig¬ erents : — I know Berchtold well. He is the only really clever Austrian whom I have ever met and I have no doubt that he thought it best for Austria’s interest to go ahead regardless. ... Of course I hope Germany will not 78 Morley to Carnegie, October 16, 1914, ibid. 79 Morley to Mrs. Carnegie, October 30, 1914, ibid. Morley continued to hold the opinion that the Central Powers were not solely responsible for the outbreak of the World War. In a letter to Carnegie as late as March 6, 1916, he remarks: “I nurse an unyielding resentment against the little score of men in Europe (Eng¬ land is in Europe) who are responsible for this appalling and sanguinary blunder — not to give it any worse name.” Carnegie MS. 80 Carnegie to President Wilson, November 23, 1914, ibid. 81 Carnegie to Dr. John Ross, December 7, 1914, ibid. 82 Bryce to White, July 24, 1914, White MS., Library of Congress. It is sig¬ nificant that Bryce in July, 1914, spoke of the Russian conduct as “criminal.”

30

AMERICA

GOES

TO

WAR

be crushed, much less dismembered, but that does not imply a desire that she should be entirely triumphant.88 Admiral Chadwick, however, was anxious for a German victory, and in his reply to Henry White he clearly states his viewpoint. It sorely “vexed” his soul that America . . . should have so humbly tailed on to England. We shall pay dearly if E. is triumphant. We shall be tied to her chariot wheels just as she pur¬ poses to tie Germany. ... I am firmly convinced that our interest lies in a German victory. That we should have anything to fear in such case I cannot believe.84 As the World War progressed Admiral Chadwick grew more and more suspicious of Great Britain, and on December 24, 19141 he wrote to White, venting his spleen upon Old England: — The attitude of our press so fills me with wrath that were I free to do so, I would take the stump against their infernal silliness. The more I study the subject, the more I see that England is the true devil in the whole business.85 In a third letter to Henry White, Admiral Chadwick made a very significant statement concerning the attitude of the officers in the American army and navy with respect to Germany : — It is very curious that the great body of naval officers so far as I can understand, have heretofore favored Germany, and I think it has been the same in the army.86 83 White to Chadwick September 19, 1914, White MS. Some ten years after the close of the World War Count Berchtold was still able to make a favorable impression upon Americans visiting Europe. In the summer of 1928, Professor Bernadotte E. Schmitt called at Buchlau to see Count Berchtold and was charmed by the personality of the former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Thus: “My host was as charming a gentleman as I ever met. Elegantly attired, lively of speech, full of art and literature, ... he was courtesy personified. Although I disagreed with many of his political views, I was warmly attracted by the man and under¬ stood his popularity in the elegant world of pre-war days.” Interviewing the Authors of the War (Chicago, 1930), p. 27. 84 Chadwick to White, September 20, 1914 White MS. 86 Chadwick to White, December 24 1914 White MS. 86 Chadwick to White, May 23, 1915, ibid. In another letter of June 6, 1915, Admiral Chadwick makes a similar statement: “An odd thing ... is the fact (so far as I know it), that at least three-fourths of the Officers of the Army & Navy have throughout favored the German side.” White MS. Rear Admiral Alfred T. Mahan was very strongly pro-Ally, and he greatly deprecated the order of Secre¬ tary Daniels, August 6, 1914 which directed all officers of the army and navy, whether active or retired, to refrain from public comment of any kind upon the World War. See Charles C. Taylor, The Life of Admiral Mahan (N.Y. 1920), pp. 275ff.

AMERICAN

PUBLIC OPINION

31

At the same time that White was receiving from Admiral Chad¬ wick these diatribes against England, he was also in receipt of many letters from his English friends who wished to win him to their view¬ point. Among these English friends was Lord Newton, who wrote to inquire as to the best means of capturing American public opinion for the Allies. Newton was sharply critical of some of the leading men in British public life and he expressed the view that England was . . . paying the penalty for persistent and criminal neglect of military preparation. Haldane, Lloyd George, and many others whose praises are consistently sung by the whole press really deserve lynching in my opinion.87 Like many other Americans who strove at first to be neutral in their attitude toward the World War, Henry White finally became proAlly. But he was never swept off his feet by any tide of unreasoning hate for the Central Powers, and it is a pity that there were so few Americans who shared his judicial poise. In the first weeks of the World War, however, the vast majority of Americans, despite proAlly inclinations, were in no mood to go to war to save the Entente Powers from German defeat.88 Throughout the nation there was a feeling of rejoicing that no “entangling alliance” with a European Power made it necessary for the United States to enter the war.89 The New York Globe and Commercial Advertiser was glad that Americans could “view the ominous preparations with comparative composure, secure in our remoteness from the scenes of disturbance and our freedom from political entanglements of any sort.” 90 The wisdom of George Washington in warning America to keep aloof from political ties with Europe received wide acclaim. The call to arms against alleged German barbarism was not sounded until the war had dragged its weary length through an endless procession of bloody months. 87 Lord Newton to Henry White, October 11, 1914, White MS. 88 Of course there were occasional editorials in the press from the very be¬ ginning of the war which advocated American assistance to the Allies. In the Florida Timcs-Union, July 29, 1914, there is a typical effusion of this type: “The declination of England would be fraught with danger to civilization itself. ... If a sustained effort is made to break down the power of England the United States would be justified in arming to defend civilization.” 88 Topeka State Journal, August 4, 1914. 80 July 27, 1914.

II SUPPLYING THE SINEWS OF WAR Within a few weeks after the outbreak of the World War it be¬ came apparent to competent military observers that victory for either side would largely depend upon the possession of adequate supplies of munitions of war. The nation that labored under the greatest hand¬ icap in this regard was Great Britain, whose assistance to France in the early months of the war was sharply limited because of a glaring deficiency in effective artillery and in high explosive shells. Although the production of British factories could be rapidly increased there would remain an alarming shortage of supplies necessary for the con¬ duct of successful warfare. The only means of meeting this situation was through the importation of munitions of war from neutral na¬ tions. European neutrals, however, soon placed embargoes upon the shipment of war materials, so the British Government was forced to look to America as the only important neutral that could supply her needs. In America the rise of “big business” had produced a vast indus¬ trial organization that could fill war orders in an amazingly short time,1 and the very fact that this organization was severely suffering from a widespread business depression meant that these orders would receive special attention. It was not long before immense exports of American munitions were crowding British ports. In 1916 the value of American war supplies to the Allied Governments amounted to more than a billion dollars, and the intimate economic ties thus created served to supplement the sentimental bonds that had long attached America to the side of the Entente Powers. In 1870-1871, during the Franco-Prussian War, an opportunity had existed for the development of a lucrative munitions trade with France, but the genius of von Moltke crushed French resistance be¬ fore this trade became an important factor. Even so, this traffic in 1 In a report to Congress upon the munitions trade, Secretary Redfield, of the Department of Commerce, estimated that in the summer of 1914 there were some 15,000 factories in the United States capable of producing different types of muni¬ tions. Sen. Doc. 660, 63d Cong., 3d sess., p. 2.

SUPPLYING

THE

SINEWS

OF

WAR

33

arms led to some difficulties with the Prussian Minister at Washing¬ ton who protested that certain shipments of war supplies violated America’s neutral obligations. His protest was based on the fact that after the close of the American Civil War the American Government had been selling, from time to time, some of its stores of surplus munitions. Large firms like Remington and Company purchased these munitions and subsequently sold them to the French Government. In the Senate of the United States a bitter debate arose with reference to the unneutral attitude of the American Government in permitting the sale of its surplus war supplies, and Carl Schurz received wide publicity because of his apt reply to one of the Senators who chided him for the adverse position he had assumed: — The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, “My country, right or wrong!” In one sense I say so too. My country — and my country is the great American Republic — my country right or wrong; if right, to be kept right, if wrong to be set right.2 The Senate authorized the appointment of a special committee to investigate these sales of munitions to agents of the French Govern¬ ment, and it promptly brought in a report which absolved the Admin¬ istration from any violation of the laws of neutrality.3 Despite this favorable report by the investigating committee it is now recognized that the American Government was distinctly lax in the observance of its neutral obligations. In his recent biography of Hamilton Fish, Professor Allan Nevins speaks of “our disgracefully careless sales of arms” to France at this period, and he indicates that this traffic in arms reached the large total of 425,000 pieces.4 Al¬ though the German Minister in Washington repeatedly protested against these sales of munitions to French agents, this practice con¬ tinued until January, 1871. In response to pressure from Senators Schurz and Sumner, the Administration finally took some action in this regard and Secretary Fish announced that the President had sent an order “to the Secretary of War, to suspend all sales.” 5 But this action was taken with reference only to the disposition of the surplus of war supplies of the Federal Government and there was 2 Congressional Globe, 42d Cong., 2d sess., vol. 45, pt. 2, p. 1287; also Carl Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers (ed. by Frederic Bancroft, N.Y. 1913), vol. V, pp. 34ff. 3 Sen. Rept., No. 183, 42d Cong., 2d sess. * (N.Y. 1937), PP- 403-4046 Secretary Fish to Senator Carl Schurz, January 23, 1871, Schurz MS.

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

34

no intimation that American corporations like Remington and Com¬ pany should be restricted in the sales of their own products. Indeed, Secretary Fish had archly remarked to J. C. B. Davis that he could see no reason why a . . . manufacturer or dealer in arms three or four thousand miles off should be expected to shut up shop whenever Lew Nap and Bill Hohenzollern take off their coats and go to fisticuffs to settle which is the better man or whether their boundary should be this or that side of the goosepond.8 In the autumn of 1914, this question of the sale of surplus stores of munitions of war by the Federal Government was revived and the Administration promptly took effective action. On October 5, 1914, Major-General Sir S. B. Donop, the Chief of Ordnance of the Brit¬ ish Army, cautiously inquired of Colonel G. O. Squier whether the American Government would care to sell a large number of rifles and some 5,000,000 rounds of ammunition.7 Colonel Squier immediately informed Ambassador Page of this inquiry, and Page warned him to be as discreet as possible in any reply to the British General. Page was certain, however, that General Donop would not ask for any re¬ ply to his inquiry, and he was equally positive that the British Foreign Office would “never present such a question.” 8 General Donop’s interest in the sale of these munitions of war probably resulted from recent information he had secured relative to the intention of the American Government to dispose of a large num¬ ber of Krag-Jorgensen rifles that had been discarded as obsolete. As soon as it was noised abroad that the War Department was planning to sell these old rifles an immediate rush to purchase them was made by persons who claimed to be agents of various Latin-American gov¬ ernments. Suspicion about the real status of these agents was voiced by Count Bernstorff, who intimated to Secretary Bryan that he be¬ lieved that the French Government was endeavoring in a “rounda¬ bout way” to purchase some three or four hundred thousand of these rifles. He hoped that the Department of State would take immediate action to prevent such a contingency.9 6 Jeannette Keim, Forty Years of German-American Political Relations (Phila., 1919), p. 22. y Ambassador Page to President Wilson, October 6, 1914, quoted in B. J. Hen¬ drick, Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. Ill, pp. 157-158. 8 Ambassador Page to President Wilson, October 6, 1914, op. cit., vol. Ill, p. 158. 9 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Bryan, October 31, 1914, For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., PP- 574-575-

SUPPLYING

THE

SINEWS

OF

WAR

35

After a brief investigation, Secretary Bryan assured Ambassador Bernstorff that he had learned from the War Department that the sales of these discarded rifles had been “absolutely discontinued.” 10 With this question still in an unsettled state, the Secretary of War wrote to the President to express the view that the persons who had pretended to be agents of certain Latin-American countries were in reality the representatives of the European belligerent powers.11 The President soon came to share these same suspicions, and he in¬ formed the Secretary that he believed it would . . . not be wise to sell the Krag rifles now owned by this government to any one during the progress of the present war.12 This action by the President was precisely the same as that taken by President Grant in the case of the sale of surplus war supplies in 1871. But that prohibition had applied only to the sale of governmentowned, munitions of war, and no attempt had been made to control the sale of the products of privately-owned firms. In 1914, however, there was some confusion as to the exact status of contraband ship¬ ments. On August 5, 1914, the Acting Secretary of the Department of Commerce sent the following telegram to the Collector of Customs at New York City: — HAVE REPRESENTATIVE OF EACH FOREIGN VESSEL IN YOUR PORT CERTIFY TO THIS DEPARTMENT WHETHER SHE IS A MERCHANT VES¬ SEL INTENDED

SOLELY

FOR THE

CARRIAGE

OF

PASSENGERS

AND

FREIGHT, EXCLUDING MUNITIONS OF WAR, OR WHETHER SHE IS A PART OF THE ARMED FORCE OF HER NATION. ... IT MUST BE UN¬ QUESTIONABLE THAT SHE HAS NO ARMS OR MUNITIONS OF WAR ABOARD.13

This confusion is further revealed in the fact that on this same day Mr. B. R. Newton, the Acting Secretary of the Treasury, sent a note to Secretary Bryan inquiring whether collectors of customs should prevent the exportation of contraband articles to belligerent nations.14 Secretary Bryan promptly replied that “neither the neutrality laws of the United States nor proclamation of the President make it unlawful 10 Secretary Bryan to Count Bernstorff, November 12, 1914, ibid., pp. 575-576. 11 Secretary of War to President Wilson, December 24, 1914, quoted in R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters, vol. V, p. 190. 12 President Wilson to the Secretary of War, January 5, 1915, ibid., p. 190. 13 Mr. E. F. Sweet to the Collector of Customs at New York, August 5, 1914, For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 595. 14 Mr. B. R. Newton to Secretary Bryan, August 6, 1914, op. ext., p. 570.

36

AMERICA

GOES

TO

WAR

to export contraband of war in the ordinary course of commerce. 15 With this advice in hand Secretaries McAdoo and Redfield addressed a joint letter to all collectors of customs with regard to out-bound commerce. Paragraph four of this letter referred specifically to con¬ traband trade: — You will not refuse clearance to merchant vessels, whether of the United States or other neutral power, or whether of a belligerent power, solely on the ground that the cargo contains contraband of war.16 Further action to clarify popular misapprehensions concerning contraband trade was taken on August 15, when the Department of State issued a circular which clearly indicated that commerce be¬ tween the United States and the belligerent governments was not “suspended” because of the existing war. With reference to contra¬ band it was pointed out that the export of such articles was not “pro¬ hibited by the neutrality laws or the President’s proclamation.” Atten¬ tion was called, however, to the fact that contraband was subject to seizure and confiscation and was not entitled to the protection of the American Government.17 Despite this circular there still remained evident uncertainty in the minds of many exporters relative to the status of contraband ship¬ ments. Each week the Department of State was deluged with in¬ quiries regarding the legality of contraband trade, and in order to meet this situation the Secretary of State finally issued, on October 15, 1914, a circular which President Wilson referred to as “excel¬ lent.” 18 Once again it was indicated that “a citizen of the United States can sell to a belligerent government or its agent any article of commerce which he pleases.” He is not prohibited from doing this by “any rule of international law, by any treaty provision, or by any statute of the United States.” For the Government of the United States in its official capacity to sell to a belligerent nation would be an unneutral act, but for a private individual to sell to a belligerent any product of the United States is neither unlawful nor unneutral, nor within the power of the Executive to prevent or control.19 16 Secretary Bryan to the Secretary of the Treasury, August 7, 1914, op. cit., P- 57i. 16 Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce to Collectors of Customs, August 10, 1914, op. cit., 597. 17 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 275. 18 R. S. Baker, op. cit., vol. V, p. 184. 18 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 573-574-

SUPPLYING

THE

SINEWS

OF

WAR

37

These circulars made it unmistakably clear that American citizens had a legal right to sell munitions of war to all the belligerent powers. But the effectiveness of the British blockade soon proved that this was only an abstract right. Unless the American Government took meas¬ ures to open the lanes of commerce to the Central Powers, it was ap¬ parent that the United States would fast be converted into a base of war supplies for the Allied Governments. To many Americans this situation seemed so inconsistent with professed neutrality that pres¬ sure was brought to bear upon Congress, and in December, 1914, legislation was proposed which looked toward the prohibition of ex¬ ports of munitions of war.20 In support of his bill prohibiting the shipment of munitions of war Senator Hitchcock remarked as follows : — “Our nation stands for peace, and it seems to me outrageous that we should be running our powder-factories and our gunworks night and day to furnish means for carrying on the present war. ... Two years ago we authorized the President to prohibit the exportation of arms and am¬ munition to Mexico because we did not feel that this country should help to continue the war there.” 21 Immediately after the introduction of this restrictive legislation in Congress the press throughout the United States began a sharp de¬ bate upon every aspect of American neutrality as affected by the export of munitions of war. In January, 1915, the Literary Digest sub¬ mitted to a thousand representative newspapers the following ques¬ tion : “Do you favor stopping by law the exportation of war materials to belligerents?” Of the 440 replies, 244 answered “No”; 167 an¬ swered “Yes”; and 20 were noncommittal. The replies, from the cities numbering more than 50,000 inhabitants, were 85 Noes to 24 Ayes. The replies from the cities with a population ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 were 77 Noes to 61 Ayes, while the replies from the cities with a population of 10,000 or less were 86 Noes to 79 Ayes.22 20 See Senate Bill 6688, introduced by Senator Gilbert M. Hitchcock on De¬ cember 7; House Joint Resolution 377, introduced by Representative Henry Vollmer, of Iowa, on December 7, 1914; House Joint Resolution 378, introduced by Representative Richard Bartholdt, of Missouri, on December 7; and House Joint Resolution 395, introduced by Representative Horace M. Towner, of Iowa, on December 31, 1914. Cong. Rec., vol. 52, pp. 3937-3939, and Appendix, pp. 583-586, 735-737. 21 Quoted in the Literary Digest, December 26, 1914, p. 1259. 22 Literary Digest, February 6, 1915, pp. 225-226, 274-281.

38

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

It is apparent from this press poll that sentiment with regard to the prohibition of the export of munitions of war varied greatly with reference to the size and location of the cities which answered the question asked by the Literary Digest. Large cities in the industrial East were generally opposed to an embargo on exports, while many important cities in the Middle West and on the Pacific Coast were in favor of restrictive legislation. Press opinion in the smaller cities, ir¬ respective of location, tended to be much more evenly divided on the question of an arms embargo. Even in the largest cities the German-American press was almost a unit in its ardent praise of the bill introduced by Senator Hitchcock which the Cleveland Waechter und Anzeiger declared would make “American neutrality less one¬ sided and less serviceable to England.” 23 This vehement support of the Hitchcock bill gave deep concern to the British Government,24 and Sir Edward Grey protested to Am¬ bassador Page that any legislation of that type would be “unneutral” and would constitute a departure from a “long established” American custom.25 Secretary Bryan quickly explained that Senator Hitchcock had failed to consult either the President or the Department of State with regard to his bill, and moreover, the Senator himself, in spite of the fact that he came from the State of Nebraska, was not a personal friend of the Secretary of State.26 Although Sir Edward Grey had early been fearful of the pos¬ sibility of embargo legislation, the British Ambassador at Washing¬ ton was slow to take alarm at such a threat. In the last week in Decem¬ ber, 1914, he wrote to an intimate friend that he believed there was small chance that the American Government would “reverse her pre¬ vious policy in regard to the sale of contraband, in the middle of a war, to please one party, and at great loss to herself.” He did believe, however, that such a policy would be the best way for America to 28 Literary Digest, Feb. 6, 1915, p. 226. 24 The stock argument constantly presented by the British Government against an arms embargo was that such action would be inconsistent with American practice and would appear as an “unneutral act.” It was recognized, of course, that from the viewpoint of international law the American Government had a clear right to establish an arms embargo, and it was well known that several European nations had followed such a course. The idea that during a war no nation should make any changes in its established practices is sharply contested by Professor Edwin Borchard who calls attention to the fact that it was “principally in time of war” that rules of neutrality “were both made and altered.” The Nation, July 20, 1921 pp. 72 he adverted to the fact that under the terms of Section Four of this proposed Order in Council ... a belligerent would gain all the rights over neutral commerce with enemy territory without declaring war against the neutral country which is claimed to be a base of supply for the military forces of an enemy.37 But notwithstanding these serious objections outlined by Mr. Lansing, the British Government incorporated this questionable pro¬ vision into the Order in Council of October 29, 1914, along with several others against which Mr. Lansing had protested. Under the terms of the Order all conditional contraband would be liable to cap¬ ture 85 Subarticle B of Article 2 of Section 3 of this proposed Order in Council read as follows: “Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 35 of the said declaration, a vessel bound for a neutral port shall be liable to capture on the ground that cargo which she is carrying is conditional contraband, if no consignee in that country of the goods alleged to be conditional contraband is disclosed in the ship’s papers.” This article was sharply criticized by Mr. Lansing but was incorporated in the Order in Council of October 29, 1914. 86 MS. Dept, of State. 37 Lansing to Page, October 16, 1914, For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 252-253. Section Four of the proposed Order in Council read as follows: “One of His Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State, if satisfied that the enemy government is drawing supplies or munitions of war for its armed forces from or through a neutral country, may, by notification in the London Gazette, direct that in respect of ships bound for a port in that country, Article 35 of the said declaration shall not apply, and from and after the date of such notification, and so long as the same is not withdrawn, a vessel which is carrying conditional contraband to a port in that country shall not be immune from capture.”

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. . . on board a vessel bound for a neutral port if the goods are consigned “to order,” or if the ship’s papers do not show who is the consignee of the goods, or if they show a consignee of the goods in territory belonging to or occupied by the enemy.38 A further provision which would bear very heavily upon neutral commerce, and which was an innovation in prize law, was the follow¬ ing paragraph: — In the cases covered by the preceding paragraph (iii) it shall lie upon the owners of the goods to prove that their destination was innocent.39 In commenting upon this innovation in prize law introduced in the Order in Council of October 29, a competent American publicist remarks: — International law presumes the innocence of neutral vessels on the high seas; it is for the captor to show that the vessel is not innocent; otherwise the captor has no right of interference. And once the vessel is within the jurisdiction of the captor, it does not suffice for the captor to shift the bur¬ den of proof by presuming enemy destination without proving it. The right of interference with a neutral vessel on the high seas is an inter¬ national right and its scope cannot be extended by municipal regulations.40 It is very evident that Mr. Lansing was defeated at every turn in his fight against the provisions of the Order in Council of October 29, 1914, and it is important to note that his strenuous efforts to in¬ duce the British Government to adhere to the “free list” in the Dec¬ laration of London were all in vain. In the Order of October 29, we now find raw hides included in the list of conditional contraband, and the list of absolute contraband was lengthened to include such impor¬ tant items as iron ore, nickel ore, unwrought copper, mineral oils and motor spirit. In the face of this resolute stand by the British Government there 38 For. Ret., 1914, Suppl., pp. 262-263. 39 Ibid., p. 262. 40 Herbert W. Briggs, The Doctrine of Continuous Voyage (Baltimore, 1926), p. 163. In this same regard Mr. Chandler P. Anderson observes: “The Order in Council attempted to impose upon neutral shippers the burden of disproving a fact the existence of which had not been established and the burden of proving which rested with the Crown, and this shifting of the -burden of proof clearly affected a substantial right of the claimants. . . . Neither the British Government nor a British Prize Court, is at liberty to impose upon neutral commerce, which is not voluntarily within their jurisdiction, a regulation restricting a substantial right to which neutrals are entitled under international law.” American Journal of In¬ ternational Law, vol. XI, pp. 258-259. See also Mr. H. R. Pyke, Law Quarterly Re¬ view, vol. XXXII, p. 64.

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was nothing for Mr. Lansing to do but to accept the inevitable. There was no general protest lodged against the Order in Council of October 29, and the Department of State shifted its attention to other prob¬ lems that were pressing for solution. One of the most important of these dealt with the proclamation by certain belligerent powers of mine and military areas in the North Sea. On August 7, 1914* the German Foreign Office notified Ambassador Gerard that the neces¬ sity would arise for German ships to “blockade” with mines the har¬ bors and roadsteads of the enemy which might serve as bases for hostile forces.41 Subsequently, the German Government described this note of August 7 as an indication that the “trade routes to Eng¬ lish ports would be closed by mines.” 42 The British Admiralty soon reported that German ships were “scattering contact mines indiscriminately about the North Sea . . . without regard to the consequences to merchantmen.” In view of this alleged fact the Admiralty felt at liberty to adopt . . . similar measures in self-defence which must inevitably dangers to navigation in the North Sea. But, before doing so, right to issue this warning in order that merchant ships under trading with North Sea ports would be turned back before area of such exceptional danger.43

increase the they think it neutral flags entering the

This right of retaliation claimed by the British Admiralty with ref¬ erence to mine laying was not recognized by Secretary Bryan, who immediately addressed a note of protest to the British Government.44 Such a protest was quite “puzzling” to Sir Edward Grey, who ex¬ pressed surprise that the American Government should seek to extract from England a promise not to lay mines while the Germans were ap¬ parently scattering them throughout the North Sea.45 On August 23, the British Ambassador informed Secretary Bryan that the British Admiralty had announced that up to the present time they had not laid any mines in the North Sea, but they still reserved to themselves “the utmost liberty of retaliatory action.” Under these dangerous cir¬ cumstances it was important for all neutral ships to touch “at British 41 For.

Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 454. 42 Ibid., p. 468. 43 Ibid., p. 455. 44 Secretary of State to British Charge d’Affaires, August 13, 1914, 457-458. 45 Page to the Secretary of State, August 20, 1914, ibid., p. 458.

ibid.,

pp.

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ports before entering the North Sea” in order to ascertain the routes and channels “which the Admiralty are keeping swept.” 46 On October 2, the British Foreign Office advised Spring Rice that the “German policy of mine laying combined with their submarine activities” had made it necessary for the Admiralty to adopt “coun¬ termeasures.” His Majesty’s Government had therefore established a system of mine fields which was being developed “upon a consid¬ erable scale.” The dangers that threatened neutral shipping were ob¬ vious, and a warning was issued against all navigation in “the south¬ ern waters of the North Sea.” 47 The next step was inevitable. In the first week in November, 1914, the British Admiralty made the longawaited announcement that because of German mine-laying activities the “whole of the North Sea must be considered a military area.” 48 The Governments of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway immediately sent notes of protest to the British Foreign Office against this action of the British Admiralty, and the Swedish Minister for Foreign Af¬ fairs expressed the hope that these protests would “have the support of the United States.” 49 The American Government, however, was in no mood to take serious issue with the British Admiralty in connection with the con¬ trol of such a distant body of water as the North Sea. The Depart¬ ment of State had refrained from filing a protest against the very dubious Order in Council of October 29, and Mr. Lansing’s policy seems to have been one of silent acquiescence in whatever the British Government thought it expedient to do. On November 10, a telegram was sent to the American Minister to Norway informing him that the American Government did not “see its way at the present time” to joining other governments in protesting to the British Government against their announcement of November 3.50 As a result of this supine policy of acquiescence American shipping bound to neutral ports in the North Sea was compelled to put in at British ports to secure pilots or instructions as to the best routes to take for the avoidance of mine fields. This arrangement, of course, 46 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 458-459. 47 Sir Edward Grey to Spring Rice, October 2, 1914, ibid., p. 460. 48 British Foreign Office to Spring Rice, November 3, 1914, ibid., p. 464. The formal date of the announcement was November 2, 1915. 49 American Minister in Norway (Schmedeman) to Secretary of State, Novem¬ ber 6, 1914, Foreign Relations, 1914, Suppl., p. 465. 60 Secretary Bryan to Mr. Schmedeman, November 10, 1914, ibid., p. 466.

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greatly redounded to British benefit, for it made relatively easy the task of visiting and searching American vessels for contraband. The comparatively small number of American vessels that did not comply with these regulations were stopped on the high seas and sent into convenient British ports for examination. This new British device of “speculative capture” was undoubtedly illegal, but it was persisted in despite American protests.51 As in the Boer War, the British Govern¬ ment was not interested in legal theories but in winning the war. In his War Memoirs Mr. Lansing has written a sharp indictment of British practice regarding the visit and search of American vessels bound for neutral ports. The American Government did at times strongly object to the treatment accorded to American shipping, but the British authorities . . . proceeded with their policy regardless of protests and complaints. Neutral ships were intercepted and, without being boarded or examined at sea, sent into a British port, where their cargoes were examined after delays, which not infrequently lasted for weeks. ... If the examinations had been promptly made and if the law of the high seas had been brought into port, there would have been less complaint and less bitterness towards the British Government. But the British authorities did neither. On the contrary they detained vessels without apparent cause, and, in addition to this inexcusable practice, they applied to the ships and cargoes British municipal statutes on the ground that, being within British territorial wa¬ ters, they were subject to the provisions of British law, quite ignoring the fact that the vessels were brought within territorial jurisdiction by force and in violation of the law of nations.52 01 With regard to this British practice of “speculative capture” Dr. Herbert W. Briggs remarks: “According to international law as it stood in 1914 the practice of Great Britain and her allies of seizing vessels on the high seas, although they were destined for neutral ports, and bringing them into port for search was illegal. It has justly been termed ‘speculative capture’: a neutral vessel on a voyage be¬ tween two neutral ports was seized in the hope that while it was being searched in port, or being detained awaiting search, some evidence not necessarily from the vessel itself would turn up against it.” The Doctrine of Continuous Voyage, P- 16462 War Memoirs, p. 123. In discussing the situation arising out of the British Orders in Council and other regulations, Professor Philip C. Jessup, in his Ameri¬ can Neutrality and International Police (Boston, 1928), pp. 36-37, remarks as follows: “As a result of these new rules, practically every merchant ship was re¬ quired to touch at an English port before proceeding to any northern enemy port or to a neutral nation proximate thereto. Whenever a neutral vessel in this way touched at a British port the regular procedure was to have the ship’s papers sent ashore where they were examined and a telegraphic report sent to London. Whether the vessel were allowed to proceed on its course or held for search or immediately put into a prize court depended upon the instructions from London. From this practice it is evident that Great Britain created unusual opportunities for ascertain¬ ing the nature of neutral cargoes, and, since prize court proceedings were quite

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It is true that the Department of State did occasionally send notes to the British Government in which a protest was voiced against this new practice of visit and search,53 but these protests were admittedly “half-hearted.” As Mr. Lansing again observes: — We wrote notes and protested and argued, and the British, while they replied in like manner, went doggedly on plugging up the holes in the wall which they had built around German territory. ... I have already men¬ tioned in dealing with the British Government there was always in my mind the conviction that we would ultimately become an ally of Great Britain and that it would not do, therefore, to let our controversies reach a point where diplomatic correspondence gave place to action.54 One of the reasons why Mr. Lansing always exhibited this con¬ ciliatory attitude towards England was because of his great deference to the opinions of his close friend and patron, Elihu Root. There was the closest connection between the Senator from New York and his proteges in the Department of State, and their views were profoundly influenced by his. Mr. Root kept Mr. Lansing in touch with the opin¬ ions of important British publicists with reference to questions at issue between the two countries, and he was always anxious to effect some compromise before disputes could become heated. With regard to the difficulties arising out of British practices in the autumn of 1914 we have an important letter from Lord Bryce to Mr. Root, October 30, 1914, in which the former Ambassador to the United States stresses the friendly feeling of the British Government towards things American. He was confident that the British Ministry was “most anxious not to give offence to the United States,” and it had generally based upon suspicions supported by statistics, few vessels escaped the contraband dragnet.” The thorough manner in which the search of neutral ships was carried on by the British Government is indicated in the following paragraph from the study of Lieutenant Louis Guichard, The Naval Blockade, 1914-1918, (London, 1930), p. 28: “Some idea will be afforded of the fineness of these meshes when I state that from January to July 1915, 2,446 ships arrived in neutral ports in the North Sea, and that 2,132 were carefully examined by the War Trade De¬ partment.” 88 See Lansing to Ambassador Page, October 31, 1914, For. Rel., I9X4, Suppl., P- 3331 Lansing to Ambassador Spring Rice, November 7, 1914 ibid., p. 339; Secre¬ tary Bryan to Ambassador Page, November 10, 1914, ibid., p. 344; Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Page, December 3, 1914, ibid., p. 353. 54 War Memoirs, pp. 127-128. The British Government defended its practice of stopping American vessels on the high seas and sending them into British ports for examination on the ground that the German submarine warfare made it dan¬ gerous to adhere to the old practice of examination on the high seas. Page to the Secretary of State, January 8, 1915. For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 302-303.

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been doing “its very best” to reach a friendly agreement with the De¬ partment of State.55 In his reply to Lord Bryce’s letter Mr. Root alludes to the fears he had entertained with regard to the . . . danger that the men who were deprived of profits through contra¬ band trade would stir up the Press with the effect of causing a misunder¬ standing as to the rights and limitations of neutral trade, and I asked the State Department to send for the newspaper correspondents and explain the subject to them and impress upon them the public duty of discouraging all sensational publications regarding incidents which arose in the course of the ordinary rules of international law upon which there is no dispute between Great Britain and the United States. They promised to do this, and I understand they have done it. After having arranged for the Department of State to warn news¬ paper correspondents against “all sensational publications” of news that might embarrass Anglo-American relations, Mr. Root then took “steps to have prepared” a pamphlet dealing with the doctrine of continuous voyage. This pamphlet would show the development of this doctrine and the large part America played in extending its application. The purpose of such a publication would be to acquaint the American public with the attitude of American courts during the Civil War and to set forth the viewpoint that England was merely following American precedents.56 The only contingency that caused Mr. Root any real concern was the possibility that “some new cause of controversy” might arise between the United States and England that would “distract atten¬ tion from the issues of the European conflict and arouse prejudice and hostile feeling.” As far as the Department of State was concerned he was sure that they had “a fixed purpose to be considerate and rea¬ sonable.” 57 This reasonable” attitude of the Department of State was given prompt expression in the matter of the publication of manifests of 56 Lord Bryce to Elihu Root, October 30, 1914, Root MS. At about the same time that Lord Bryce was writing to Mr. Root concerning the friendly attitude of the Bnt.sh Foreign Office towards the United States, John Morley was writing to Andrew Carnegie, November 13, 1914, in the same vein: “I have no means of knowing on official authority what line our governments are likely to take on the delicate subject of contraband. But we may depend upon it that they will take particular care to avoid even the most distant approach to anything like the faintest quarrel with U. b. A., either about Contraband or anything else.” Carnegie MS. Mr. Root to Lord Bryce, November 21, 1914, Root MS. 57 Ibid.

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vessels leaving American ports. On October 27, 1914, Mr. Lansing wrote to Secretary McAdoo and intimated that the custom of “open¬ ing to public inspection manifests of departing vessels” was being abused by the belligerents who used the information thus gathered for intercepting and searching shipping of¥ the American coasts.58 On the following day Secretary McAdoo sent to Secretary Bryan a copy of an order issued to collectors of customs throughout the United States requiring them to withhold the publication of manifests until thirty days after the clearance of each vessel.59 This Treasury order caused “considerable apprehension” in Lon¬ don where it was interpreted as a means of “concealing contraband cargoes.” 60 Lord Bryce lost no time in writing Senator Root with reference to this order. He knew that the British Foreign Office thought that the Secretary of the Treasury had been influenced by “some great exporters” who had exerted considerable pressure. The Foreign Office was also of the opinion that the Secretary of State, finding himself . . . pressed by powerful interests, asks too many concessions from the admitted legal rights of the nation exercising search. They think they have gone at least as far as they ought.61 A few days later Lord Bryce wrote to Henry White in the hope probably that White would join with Root in quieting difficulties that might arise in connection with the British practice of visit and search. Once again Bryce alludes to the alleged powerful pressure that was being exerted upon certain members of the President’s Cabinet to take action adverse to British interests: — I gather that much underground pressure is applied from German & financial quarters to the State Dept, and the Treasury to secure relaxations of search on British ships of cargoes for neutral countries, & that these departments yield a good deal to the pressure.62 The last line in Bryce’s letter to Henry White was a mere recita¬ tion of a familiar fact: “Your Embassy here & our Foreign Office are on very friendly terms.” In view of this state of affairs it was only natural for Ambassador Page to send a telegram to the Secre58 Lansing to Secretary McAdoo, October 27, 1914, For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 33I”332« 59 Secretary McAdoo to Secretary Bryan, October 28, 1914, ibid., p. 332. 60 Page to Secretary of State, October 30, 1914, ibid., p. 332. 61 Lord Bryce to Root, December 15, 1914, Root MS. 62 Lord Bryce to Henry White, December 24, 1914, White MS.

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tary of State, February 8, 1915, formally indicating the “ill feeling” produced by the Treasury order regarding the nonpublication of manifests of cargoes. It was now the opinion in many British circles that the “Secretary of the Treasury is pro-German and is using his office to further German interests.” 63 This telegram, thanks in part to Root’s influence, was productive of speedy results, for on February 16 Secretary Bryan telegraphed to Ambassador Page that the Treasury order concerning ship manifests had been “rescinded.” 84 The order, in the first place, had been issued by the Secretary of the Treasury at the instance of Mr. Lansing; and when the latter realized that Mr. Root thought it advisable to rescind it, such action was quickly taken. Secretary Bryan, however, was not so responsive to pressure in favor of British interests, and Cone Johnson, the Solicitor of the Department of State, was always eager to defend American rights in traditional American phraseology. For some weeks Mr. Johnson pondered over this problem of a protest to England that would show the British Government that America would not tamely acquiesce in plainly illegal practices. As we have seen in the preceding chapter, Mr. Johnson wished to put “teeth” in his draft notes, and he was not unduly discouraged because of his experience in September when his proposed note to England brought both Colonel House and Cecil Spring Rice to the verge of nervous exhaustion. One day in Decem¬ ber, 1914, Secretary Bryan showed to President Wilson a draft note in a “rough and unliterary form” with a distinct tone of menace in it. The President eliminated some of the most “offensive passages” in the note and then requested the Secretary of State to have it re¬ written.85 Mr. Lansing now took a hand in the drafting of the note that was to be sent to Great Britain. In his War Memoirs, he gives an intimate picture of the procedure he followed in preparing such notes: — The notes that were sent were long and exhaustive treatises which opened up new subjects of discussion rather than closing those in con¬ troversy. Short and emphatic notes were dangerous. Everything was sub68 Page to the Secretary of State, February 8, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 322. 64 Ibid., p. 334. 65 R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters, vol. V, p. 231.

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merged in verbosity. It was done with deliberate purpose. It insured con¬ tinuance of the controversies and left the questions unsettled.88 The note that was finally sent to Great Britain on December 26, 1914, followed Mr. Lansing’s prescription in being long and incon¬ clusive. It did point out that . . . the present policy of His Majesty’s Government toward neutral ships and cargoes exceeds the manifest necessity of a belligerent and constitutes restrictions upon the rights of American citizens on the high seas which are not justified by the rules of international law or required under the principle of self-preservation. Attention was also called to the fact that in the case of conditional contraband the policy of the British Government was not justified ... by the established rules of international conduct. ... A number of American cargoes which have been seized consist of foodstuffs and other articles of common use in all countries which are admittedly relative con¬ traband. In spite of the presumption of innocent use because destined to neutral territory, the British authorities made these seizures and deten¬ tions without, so far as we are informed, being in possession of facts which warranted a reasonable belief that the shipments had in reality a belliger¬ ent destination. Mere suspicion is not evidence and doubts should be re¬ solved in favor of neutral commerce, not against it. Finally, this note clearly indicated the displeasure of the American Government with regard to the new British practice of sending American shipping into British ports for examination. The Government of the United States readily admits the full right of a belligerent to visit and search on the high seas the vessels of American citizens or other neutral vessels carrying American goods and detain them when there is sufficient evidence to justify a belief that contraband articles are in their cargoes; but His Majesty’s Government, judging by their own experience in the past, must realize that this Government can not without protest permit American ships or American cargoes to be taken into Brit¬ ish ports and there detained for the purpose of searching generally for evi¬ dence of contraband, or upon presumptions created by special municipal enactments which are clearly at variance with international law and prac¬ tice.87 66 War Memoirs, p. 218. 6T Secretary of State to Ambassador Page, December 26, 1914, For. Ret., 1914, pp. 373~375- With reference to the extension by the British Government of the

^4

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Despite these specific protests the note was after all a “weak af¬ fair.” 68 Although Great Britain had proclaimed no formal blockade of Germany the note did not assert any right to send to German ports any American articles whether for military or civilian use. More¬ over, behind these paragraphs of protest there lurked the weak ad¬ mission that belligerent interference with neutral trade was justified when it was “manifestly an imperative necessity.” A second fatal concession lay in the recognition that the justification of belligerent practices rested not only upon the “rules of international law,” but also upon the broad principle of “self-preservation.” 69 Through some leak in the Department of State the Associated Press secured a copy of this note of December 26, and three days later it was spread over the American continent. Spring Rice at once wrote to his friend Sir Valentine Chirol to complain of the lax administration in the State Department. He knew that the publication of the note was . . . unauthorized and of course most discourteous. Judging by the form in which it was made, the publication is in the German interest and will give a good deal of encouragement to Germany. ... I do not think that this publication, unpleasant and hostile as it is, denotes a complete reversal of policy or the assumption of an unneutral attitude.70 Spring Rice also expressed to Colonel House his indignation over the “leak” in the Department of State concerning the publication of this note. Colonel House then got in touch with Secretary Bryan, who hurriedly wrote the following note to President Wilson: — House has talked with the British Ambassador and reports the Am¬ bassador very much “cut up” because the protest was given out here with¬ out his knowing anything about it. As we do not know who gave it out I am in a position to express regret very sincerely, but he may think it doctrine of continuous voyage to conditional contraband, Dr. H. W. Briggs, op. cit., p. 121, makes the following comment: “Whether there was any historic and admitted rule of the law of nations permitting the application of the doctrine of continuous voyage to conditional contraband is open to grave doubt. Those nations which, previous to the London Naval Conference, had applied the doctrine to con¬ traband seem to have made no distinction between its application to conditional and to absolute contraband. To those nations the application now proposed was perhaps no new principle. It may yet be doubted whether the application of the doctrine of continuous voyage to conditional contraband was ever any more than the municipal rule of several maritime nations.” 68 R. S. Baker, op. cit., vol. V, p. 232. 89 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 373. 70 Stephen Gwynn, op. cit., vol II, pp. 249-250.

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strange that we are not able to guard our diplomatic secrets. Have you any form of expression of regret to suggest ? 71 The President, apparently, did not have any special form of apol¬ ogy that would ease the wounded feelings of the British Ambassador, but the very fact that such a “leak” occurred was an embarrassment to the Administration and perhaps made it even more willing to bear with patience British evasions of pertinent questions asked by the American Government. Any cursory reading of the note of December 26 would indicate that the Department of State could not have expected it to effect any far-reaching change in British policy. Certain American publicists, however, who had grown weary of British disdain for American rights, sent to Mr. Lansing letters in approval of his stand. Typical of this correspondence is the following confidential letter from Pro¬ fessor George Grafton Wilson, Professor of International Law in Harvard University: — It was a great pleasure for me to read this morning the very sane note which you sent to the British Government relating to our rights as neu¬ trals. It seems to me that we have borne rather more than our proper share in the present war.72 71 Bryan to President Wilson, December 30, 1914, Bryan MS., Library of Con¬ gress. In a letter to President Wilson, July 28, 1915, Colonel House makes the following observation upon recurrent “leaks” in the Department of State: “There are some curious things going on in this country and I received some information the other day that may give us some light. I also have some information concern¬ ing the leakage in the State Department, and the names of two men (both of them, by the way, Bryan men) are given. I am arranging to let Lansing have this information so he may run it down.” Senate Report, No. 944, 74th Cong., 2d sess., Exhibit No. 63, p. 166. In this same connection it is significant to note that even Mr. Lansing himself at times talked “too much” and found himself in hot water. Thus we have the following entry in the Lansing Diary, February 24, 1915: “Tumulty phoned about frankness with reporters (pretty hot over it).” (Lansing MS.) After Mr. Lansing became Secretary of State, June 1915, he paid Mr. Tumulty back in the same coin for certain “frankness” to newspapermen. In his War Memoirs, pp. 323-324, Mr. Lansing makes the following comments upon Mr. Tumulty: “Mr. Tumulty, like Mr. Creel, was too desirous to stand well with the press correspondents in Washington to be entrusted with information of a very confidential or secret nature. ... I never doubted his fidelity but I did doubt his discretion, and for that reason refrained, after a few experiences, from giving to him news other than that which it was intended to make public at the Department.” Apparently there had been “leaks” in the Department of State during previous Administrations. On February 27, 1901 Mr. Joseph H. Choate, American Am¬ bassador at London, wrote to Secretary Hay and complained of the way that secrets were secured by newspapermen and published. In reply, Secretary Hay remarks: “The story you tell me is most astonishing. I have been aware for some time that more or less news is given out by someone in the State Department; yet, with all my efforts, I have not been able to track down the culprit.” Secretary Hay to Ambassador Choate, March 13, 1901, Choate MS. 72 George G. Wilson to Lansing, January 1, 1915, Lansing MS. In this same strain is the following comment of Franklin K. Lane, the Secretary of the Interior,

l86

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Mr. Lansing was quite pleased that his note had met the approval of one so versed in the law of neutral duty and right. I hope that it will prepare the way at least to relieve the present situation, which is decidedly unsatisfactory.73 Rear-Admiral French E. Chadwick, distinguished naval critic and historian, was another outstanding publicist who welcomed Lansing’s note as an indication that the United States was at last sending a real warning to Great Britain that no further violations of American rights would be tolerated. In a very frank and unpublished letter to his friend, Henry White, the Admiral unburdened himself as fol¬ lows : — England is behaving in re contraband very much as she did before the war of 1812. She has always been a damned bully and always will be, and if she have a good chance will hoist her flag over the Panama Canal. I would not trust her in the least. She is all sugar now, but it is simply icing over dynamite.74 Andrew Carnegie was certain that the American note of December 26 did not have any warlike implications, and he did not fear any “serious trouble with Britain.’’ Moreover, this was “no time for showing our English speaking Race quarrelsome or resorting to war between ourselves.” 75 British publicists felt much the same way, and John Morley wrote to Mrs. Carnegie that of one thing he could be “certain — there can be no serious trouble between England and the United States.” 76 Lord Newton shared this opinion, and wrote to Henry White that it seemed to him that the American Government was “protesting against the same action which they employed in the Civil War.” 77 to his friend John C. Burns, January 22, 1915: “England is making a fool of herself by antagonizing American opinion, insisting upon rights of search which she has never acknowledged as to herself. If she persists she will be successful in driving from her the opinion of this country, which is ninety per cent in her favor.” The Letters of Franklin K. Lane (N.Y. 1922), p. 164. 73 Lansing to George G. Wilson, January 4, 1915, Lansing MS. 74 F. E. Chadwick to Henry White, January 4, 1915, Henry White MS. It is interesting to contrast Chadwick’s attitude with that of Theodore Roosevelt, who was fervidly pro-Ally. On Jan. 11, 1915, Mr. James Ford Rhodes, the well-known American historian, attended a breakfast at the residence of Dr. W. S. Bigelow and met the former President, who talked as freely as ever: “[He was] bitter on the President’s protest against England. Protest against the violation of neutrality because we lose some trade, and no word about the violation of the neutrality of Belgium.” M. A. De Wolfe Howe, James Ford Rhodes (N.Y. 1929), p. 245. 75 Andrew Carnegie to W. J. Bryan, January 13, 1915, Bryan MS. 78 Morley to Mrs. Carnegie, January 1, 1915, Carnegie MS. 77 Lord Newton to Henry White, February 12, 1915, Henry White MS.

“BRITANNIA

RULES

THE

WAVES”

187

The British press echoed these sentiments of Lord Newton. The London Daily News reminded Americans that “the prize law this country is now enforcing is very similar to the American practice,” while the Morning Post saw great similarity between American maritime practices during the Civil War and the current policy of the British Government.78 The American press, on the whole, strongly supported the positions taken by the Department of State in the note of December 26, but the periodicals representing “big business” expressed their approval only when they realized that this note was only a “dud” and never meant to explode. This fact was quickly seen by the editor of Com¬

merce and Finance, who commented as follows: — The administration’s protest to Great Britain against interference with American commerce excited some apprehension until the exact phraseol¬ ogy of the diplomatic note upon the subject was made public. It turns out to be a very frank but amiable statement of our position in regard to a mat¬ ter that is always a subject of discussion in time of war. It is doubtless in¬ tended to fortify any damage claims that Americans may present after the war is over, and has been accepted by Great Britain in a spirit of friendli¬ ness.79 Any note whose harmless character was so transparent that even devoted friends of England joined in a chorus of praise was not one to force any quick recognition of American rights. 78 For a digest of British press opinion see the Literary Digest, January 9, 1915, pp. 37 ff. 79 January 6, 1915. See also the Economist, January 2, 1915, p. 19; and the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, January 2, 1915, p. 7.

VIII SIR EDWARD GREY CONCILIATES KING COTTON The American note of December 26 breathed such a spirit of con¬ ciliation that Sir Edward Grey was moved to a speedy answer. The dangerous admissions made by Mr. Lansing afforded Sir Edward Grey ample opportunity to hoist the incautious Counselor of the Department of State upon his own petard. The American note had recognized that certain belligerent practices rested not only upon the “rules of international law” but also upon the broad principle of selfpreservation. The British Foreign Secretary accepted this American viewpoint and contended that British practice was based upon this right to protect its “national safety.” With reference to the American complaint that exports from the United States had been seriously in¬ terfered with, Sir Edward quoted statistics to prove that this was not so. In connection with the protest against the seizures of cargoes of foodstuffs he indicated that such a procedure had taken place only when there was a presumption that these cargoes were intended for the armed forces of the enemy or for some department of the enemy government.1 In answer to the American protest that vessels were being stopped on the high seas and sent to British ports for examination, Sir Edward asserted that the ease with which contraband could be concealed made this new practice necessary.2 And then in a pious conclusion he ex¬ pressed the ardent desire of His Majesty’s Government not to contest 1 Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Page, January 7, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 299-302. 2 It was asserted by the British Government that contraband was sometimes con¬ cealed in bales of cotton, and that was the reason for the detention of certain of the cotton cargoes bound to neutral ports. In 1919 Senator Hoke Smith, of Georgia, stated that he did not believe there was any “truth in that claim. I challenged those making the claim to name a single instance and submit it to investigation. I never learned of an instance in which it was done. Cotton was seized on the ocean without regard to its being contraband or noncontraband.” “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German Bolshevik Propaganda,” Senate Doc., 62, 66th Cong., 1st sess., 1919, vol. II, pp. 1649-1650.

SIR

EDWARD

GREY

CONCILIATES

KING

COTTON

189

. . . the general principles of law on which they understand the note of the United States to be based, and desire to restrict their action solely to interference with contraband destined for the enemy.3 On February 12, 1915, Sir Edward Grey sent to Ambassador Page a more extended defense of British practices with reference to trade with the Central Powers. For a second time he quoted statistics to prove that “the naval operations of Great Britain are not the cause of any diminution in the volume of American exports.” He then proceeded to deal with the question of supplies reaching the enemy through ad¬ jacent neutral countries: — The advent of steam power has rendered it as easy for a belligerent to supply himself through the ports of a neutral contiguous country as through his own, and has therefore rendered it impossible for his opponent to refrain from interfering with commerce intended for the enemy merely because it is on its way to a neutral port. In dealing with the doctrine of “continuous voyage” he went into a long disquisition dealing with the practice of the United States dur¬ ing the American Civil War and proved to his own satisfaction that Great Britain was merely following American precedents. Finally, he endeavored to show that the Order in Council of October 29 was much more liberal with regard to any application of the doctrine of continuous voyage to conditional contraband than was the Order of August 20. As a parting shot he issued a warning that the announcement of the German Government to sink merchant vessels without verification of their nationality or character made it necessary for His Majesty’s Government to . . . consider what measures they should adopt to protect their interests. It is impossible for one belligerent to depart from rules and precedents and for the other to remain bound by them.4 3 Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Page, January 7, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 299-302. Sir Edward Grey was distinctly piqued at the temerity of the Ameri¬ can Government in sending the note of protest of December 26. He therefore ad¬ vised Spring Rice to inform Colonel House of the state of public opinion in Eng¬ land concerning America. This opinion was becoming “unfavorably and deeply impressed by the trend of action taken by the United States Government and by its attitude towards Great Britain. What is felt here is that while Germany delib¬ erately planned a war of pure aggression, has occupied and devastated large dis¬ tricts in Russia, Belgium, and France, inflicting great misery and wrong on inno¬ cent populations, the only act on record on the part of the United States is a protest singling out Great Britain as the only power whose conduct is worthy of reproach.” Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 347. * Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Page, February 12, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 324-334-

190

AMERICA

GOES

TO

WAR

This right of retaliation soon found expression in the “blockade” established by the British Government in March, 1915. On March I, Spring Rice delivered a note to Secretary Bryan which recited in detail many alleged infractions of international law committed by the Ger¬ man Government. Because of these infractions the Allied Powers were driven ... to frame retaliatory measures in order in their turn to prevent com¬ modities of any kind from reaching or leaving Germany. . . . The British and French Governments will therefore hold themselves free to detain and take into port ships carrying goods of presumed enemy destination, owner¬ ship, or origin. It is not intended to confiscate such vessels or cargoes unless they would otherwise be liable to condemnations.5 On this same day, Mr. Asquith, the British Prime Minister, in¬ formed the House of Commons that German disregard for the rules of international law made it necessary for the Allied Governments to frame retaliatory measures which would prevent “commodities of any kind” from reaching or leaving Germany. Although such measures amounted to the strictest kind of blockade, yet Mr. Asquith refused to call them a “blockade” and voiced the strong disinclination of the British Government to allow its efforts to be “strangled in a network of juridical niceties.” 6 This action of the British Government was distinctly puzzling to the Department of State. It was not a “blockade” like the one pro¬ claimed on February 28, 1915, along the coast of German East Africa and adjacent islands, nor were there any precedents for it in inter¬ national practice. It was an innovation based upon a strange combi¬ nation of retaliation and the extension of the doctrine of continuous voyage to blockade without an actual or contemplated blockading fleet to be stationed in a given area.7 After studying for several days the note delivered by Spring Rice, Secretary Bryan sent a telegram to Ambassador Page which reflected his perplexities: While it appears that the intention is to interfere with and take into custody all ships both outgoing and incoming, trading with Germany, which is in effect a blockade of German ports, the rule of blockade ... is 5 For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 127-128. 6 Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th Series, vol. LXX (1915), p. 600 7 James W. Gantenbein, The Doctrine of Continuous Voyage (Portland, 1929)

SIR

EDWARD

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CONCILIATES

KING

COTTON

191

not asserted. . . . The first sentence [of the British note] claims a right pertaining only to a state of blockade. The last sentence proposes a treat¬ ment of ships and cargoes as if no blockade existed. The two together pre¬ sent a proposed course of action previously unknown to international law. . . . Cargoes coming out of German ports present another problem under the terms of the declaration. Under the rules governing enemy exports only goods owned by enemy subjects in enemy bottoms are subject to seizure and condemnation. Yet by the declaration it is purposed to seize and take into port all goods of enemy “ownership and origin.” . . . The origin of goods destined to neutral territory on neutral ships is not and never has been a ground for forfeiture except in case a blockade is declared and maintained.8 This protest from Secretary Bryan excited British amusement rather than apprehension. On March 21, Ambassador Page sent a telegram to Secretary Bryan which in previous Democratic Admin¬ istrations might well have evoked a vigorous response. Mr. Page, in his defense of the British Order in Council of March 11, assumed his accustomed role of British champion and endeavored to assuage any American indignation by alluding to the fact that “American trade with the Allies is . . . increasing rapidly and will grow by leaps till the war ends.” Then, after this attempt to blunt any sharp edge of American anger by referring to swollen war profits, Mr. Page re¬ flected that air of superiority so instinctive with the British and loft¬ ily remarked that while British critics admitted the “propriety of our communications” they regarded them as “remote and impracticable.” Although the “official reception” of American notes of protest was “dignified,” the “unofficial and general attitude” of these critics was to . . . smile at our love of letter writing as at Fourth of July orations. They quietly laugh at our effort to regulate sea warfare under new conditions by what they regard as lawyers’ disquisitions out of textbooks. They receive them with courtesy, pay no further attention to them. . . . They care nothing for our definitions or general protests but are willing to do us every practical favour and will under no conditions either take our advice or offend us.9 8 Bryan to Ambassador Page, March 5, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 132. 9 Page to the Secretary of State, March 21, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 146. On March 11 the British Government issued an Order in Council which gave official expression to the note of March 1 with regard to the so-called “blockade” of German ports.

192

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Before Secretary Bryan received this telegram indicating British indifference to American protests, he turned to Mr. Lansing and re¬ quested further advice as to how to meet the situation. Mr. Lansing immediately gave the matter the most serious consideration and in a private, unpublished memorandum, put down his thoughts concern¬ ing the Order in Council of March 11: — 1. The Foreign Office interpretation of the Order has no binding effect on the British courts. 2. It [the Order] does not conform to the rules of blockade established by international law. 3. No notice has been given to the neutrals. Hence, trade in contraband with Germany is not legally subject to blockade. 4. In spite thereof, the Order provides for arrest and detention of ships engaged in such trade. 5. Since no blockade of German ports has been established, neutrals are not barred from exporting from Germany neutral owned goods in neutral vessels. 6. In spite thereof, the Order provides for the arrest and detention of vessels engaged in Such trade. 7. The foregoing shows that the measures instituted by the Order in Council are contrary to the established usage of nations and are illegal infringements on the rights of neutrals. Reduced to simple terms, the position of the British Government is this: Germany menaces the commercial rights of neutrals within a certain area of the high seas, hence Great Britain will deprive neutrals of other com¬ mercial rights. That is, an illegal act by Germany justifies an illegal act by Great Britain, and neutral commerce must bear the burden of both.10 After putting these thoughts on paper Mr. Lansing wrote a letter to Secretary Bryan in which he set forth his viewpoint concerning this latest British Order : — If we proceed on the assumption that the Order in Council and note of Sir Edward Grey constitute a sufficient notice of the establishment of a blockade of German ports, we could agree that Articles 1 and 2 are applica¬ ble to the ports and coasts of Germany on the North Sea, but I do not see how we can admit that they apply to the German territory on the Baltic.

10 Lansing MS., Department of State. In a letter of March 19, 1915, Mr. Lansing wrote^ the following note to Mr. Joseph Tumulty, the Secretary to President Wil¬ son: “Thank you for sending me the clipping from the New York American of the 18th instant entitled ‘The Conditions of 1809 Are Repeated in 1915.’ There is un¬ doubtedly considerable similarity between the present Order in Council and the British Order in Council of 1807 following the French decrees. I have been study¬ ing them with a good deal of interest.” Lansing MS., Library of Congress.

SIR

EDWARD

GREY

CONCILIATES

KING

COTTON

I93

The German ports on the Baltic are open to trade with Sweden and Den¬ mark, and possibly with Norway. An essential element of a blockade is its impartial application to all neutral powers. If vessels from a neutral power can proceed without danger to the port of a belligerent, the ineffectiveness of the blockade is manifest, and if a blockade is ineffective as to any vessels, it ought not to be recognized and the rules of contraband only should apply to trade with the port thus outside the blockade. ... As to the physical maintenance of a blockade under present condi¬ tions, I think that we ought to take the position that actual experience can be the only measure of the efficiency of modern methods in maintaining a blockade. As to articles passing to and from Germany through neutral territory, with which Articles 3 and 4 of the Order in Council deal, the rules of con¬ traband should be applied. While the non-contraband may be legally stopped when destined to the port of an enemy which is under blockade, non-contraband consigned to a neutral port, whatever its ultimate destina¬ tion, should be allowed free passage. Under the rules of contraband, fur¬ thermore, the “enemy origin” of non-contraband does not stamp the articles with the character of contraband or confer on a belligerent the right to detain or divert them from a neutral destination.11 As soon as Secretary Bryan received this letter from Mr. Lansing he hurriedly wrote a note to President Wilson in which he reproduced the main points presented by the Counselor: In the matter of the blockade we can make allowance for the use of new implements of warfare, but changing of conditions does not affect the laws in regard to contraband. Unless a belligerent has a right to add everything to the contraband list we cannot concede their right to interfere with ship¬ ments through neutral countries of such merchandise as is not contra¬ band. ... It seems to me that we must distinguish between the rules applicable to blockade and the rules applicable to non-contraband goods shipped to neutral ports.12 When the President glanced over this letter from Secretary Bryan with the accompanying memoranda from Mr. Lansing he recognized the futility of any protests to the British Government: — 11 Lansing to Secretary Bryan, undated, Bryan MS. 12 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, March 23, 1915, ibid. On this same day (March 23) the President wrote to Colonel House (in Berlin) with respect to the British Order in Council of March 11: “The new British order to prevail in coun¬ cil in effect seeks to alter hitherto fixed international laws with regard to block¬ ades in including in fact the blockading of the coasts of neutral as well as of belligerent countries.” House MS.

194

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

These notes by Mr. Lansing are admirable and convincing; but they lead only to debate, and debate with the British Government (which for the time being consists of the War Office and the Admiralty) is at present of no practical avail. Inconsistencies in the Order and inconsistencies be¬ tween the Order and Sir Edward Grey’s note accompanying it are neither here nor there, as it seems to me; neither is the lack of the ordinary forms of notice of blockade. We are face to face with something they are going to do, and they are going to do it no matter what representations we make. We cannot convince them or change them, we can only show them clearly what we mean to be our own attitude and course of action and that we mean to hold them to a strict accountability for every invasion of our rights as neutrals.13 It is very likely that the President’s decision to hold the British Government to a “strict accountability” for their actions was partly induced by the outburst of criticism in American newspapers concern¬ ing the British Order in Council of March 11. It was the opinion of the New York Evening Post that such a . . . frank repudiation of international law and of a treaty as the English Government proposes, will go far to rob England of the moral superiority which she appeared to have at the beginning of the war. The New York American expressed the view that “both Germans and Allies have abandoned all pretense of observing international law,” and the New York Evening Sun contended that not only was America justified in making a vehement protest, but that “any and every form of resistance may morally and legally be used which it is expedient and profitable to adopt.” The Washington Post was equally frank in its condemnation of the British Order in Council. It was America’s duty • • • to make such a determined protest to England as shall be heeded. The protest may take the form of an ultimatum, or it may actually result in war. But even that is preferable to being dragged into war on account of cowardly failure to enforce our neutral rights.14 This vehement criticism in the American press with reference to the British Order in Council of March 11 was resented by the British editors, who quickly came to the defense of British policy. In the “President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, March 24, 1915, Bryan MS., Dept, of State. Also in Carlton Savage, Policy of the United States Toward Maritime Commerce tn War (Washington, 1936), vol. II, pp. 280-281. 14 Literary Digest, March 13, 1915, pp. 529-530.

SIR

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CONCILIATES

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COTTON

I95

London Daily Graphic American protests were ascribed to base com¬ mercial motives: — If the American shipper grumbles, our reply is that this war is not being conducted for his pleasure or profit. The violation of the laws of war by German soldiers and sailors has conferred upon us a clear moral right to put pressure upon the German people by intercepting the whole of their sea-borne commerce. By exercising that right we shall probably save the lives of hundreds of thousands of gallant men, and that hope justifies us in disregarding any protest based upon purely pecuniary considerations.15 While other British newspapers and periodicals were not quite so insulting in their remarks concerning America, it was only too evident that British public opinion was strongly in support of any measures thought necessary to win the war. This fact was clear to President Wilson, who realized that Great Britain would continue her lawless course “no matter what representations” America made. To a highspirited President like Andrew Jackson this British challenge would have meant war, and in 1812 with the meek Madison in the presiden¬ tial chair a similar British attitude led to an outbreak of hostilities be¬ tween the two countries. In

1915,

however, President Wilson was

determined upon a conciliatory course with England no matter what the cost might be. With this motive governing all his actions, he straightway suggested to Secretary Bryan that Mr. Lansing draft a note to England that would “thoroughly hold water,” and in the meantime the negative policy of watchful waiting would be pursued. Mr. Lansing promptly prepared for the signature of Secretary Bryan a note which took sharp issue with the British Government because of its departure from the established rules of international law.16 This communication was sent on March 30,

1915,

and it re¬

flected an intimate knowledge of the practice of international law. 16 Literary Digest, March 20, 1915, p. 601. 16 Before preparing his draft of the note of March 30, Mr. Lansing jotted down the following points to be stressed: — 1. The effect on American public opinion because of the violation of the legal rights of the United States. 2. The political effect in the United States of a strong declaration by this Gov¬ ernment. 3. The benefit on claims, arising from the British actions, of a strong assertion of our legal rights. 4. The necessity of declaring those neutral rights heretofore recognized and of asserting that their legality is not impaired by the Order in Council. 5. The fact that the Declaration of a neutral amounts to a reservation of our rights rather than causes a relaxation of the enforcement of the Order in Council. Manuscript memorandum in the Lansing MS.. March 24, 1915, Dept, of State.

I96

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

This practice, however, rested upon the dusty precedents of a law that Britain regarded as now outmoded, and Sir Edward Grey looked upon Lansing with the same amused tolerance as that with which Alice looked upon the testy Queen in Wonderland when she delivered her windy and weightless judgments — “Off with their heads.” 17 In this note of March 30 the American Government strongly ar¬ gued that the British Order in Council of March 11 was an . . . assertion of unlimited belligerent rights over neutral commerce within the whole European area, and an almost unqualified denial of the sovereign rights of the nations now at peace. Particular reference was also made to the doubtful validity of the British blockade on the ground of its ineffectiveness, and the language of Mr. Lansing’s note of advice to Secretary Bryan is used with good effect: — The United States takes it for granted that the approach of American merchantmen to neutral ports situated upon the long line of coast affected by the order in council will not be interfered with when it is known that they do not carry goods which are contraband of war or goods destined to or proceeding from ports within the belligerent territory affected. . . . The Scandinavian and Danish ports, for example, are open to American trade. They are also free, so far as the actual enforcement of the order in council is concerned, to carry on trade with German Baltic ports, although it is an essential element of blockade that it bear with equal sever¬ ity upon all neutrals.18 The attitude of the American Government was perfectly clear. It was distinctly of the opinion, and this opinion was undoubtedly cor¬ rect, that the attempt of the British Government to apply the doctrine of continuous voyage to non-contraband articles en route to Scandi¬ navian countries was illegal. The shipment of goods to Scandinavian ports was 17 Sir Edward Grey, of course, merely reflected the attitude of the British press which was strongly opposed to any concessions to America. The London Daily Express was brutally frank in its expressions of opinion: “We believe that in fighting Germany we are fighting the battle of civilization and human progress. We shall not stay our armor nor lay aside one of our weapons. . . . We are . . . determined to cut off Germany’s supplies from America. . . . America will, of course, protest. We shall consider her protest with all courtesy.” Other British newspapers were equally clear in expressing the viewpoint that England could not afford to sacrifice any of her interests to please America. See Literary Digest, April 3, 1915, p. 742. 18 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Page, March 30, 191s, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. I52ff.

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. . . legal and the further voyage from Scandinavia across the Baltic to Germany was also legal since there was no effective blockade. Thus, in effect, an attempt was made to extend the doctrine to blockade where no blockade existed.19 The British Government, however, appeared to be in no hurry to answer this American note of March 30. These dilatory tactics were partially explained by the hope entertained by British statesmen that the difficulties between the United States and Germany arising out of submarine warfare would soon take on such a serious aspect that American pressure upon England would almost disappear. The close connection between submarine warfare and American forbearance towards England was quite apparent to Lord Bryce, who wrote to Henry White and commented upon it: — I ought to have long ago written to thank you for your letter, of which I made use, not naming you, but conveying some warnings to our Govern¬ ment which may not have been thrown away as to the best way of meeting possible criticisms in the United States on their action. It is a satisfaction that your Government has maintained a most temperate tone and that things seem likely to go on without any disagreeable strain. For this the behavior of the German submarines may have been one cause.20 The submarine was forced to carry a heavy load of responsibility during this critical period, and we find Sir Edward Grey himself en¬ deavoring to explain England’s illegal Orders in Council in terms of public wrath against German submarine warfare. In a letter to Colo¬ nel House he first discusses the question of peace terms that might be suitable to all the belligerents and holds out little hope of any immediate agreement. Finally he touches upon the points at issue be¬ tween England the United States. He appreciates the “friendly and courteous tone” of the American note of March 30 and is considering a reply to it in the “same spirit.” The difficulty, however, is that . . . when German submarines are sinking merchant ships and drowning non-combatant crews and passengers off our coasts, public opinion is naturally indignant at the idea of goods to and from Germany whether through neutral ports or not passing our doors openly and unhindered. But we are trying to avoid interference with bona fide neutral commerce 18 Herbert W. Briggs, op. ext., p. 132. 20 Lord Bryce to Henry White, April 9, 1915, White MS.

198

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

and in case of some German goods such as dyestuffs are making excep¬ tions of particular cargoes.21 In Mr. Lansing, Sir Edward Grey had a friend who had an “un¬ derstanding heart,” and in a memorandum of May 3, 1915, which he apparently prepared merely for his “personal guidance,” we find sev¬ eral passages which condone British practices that bore hard upon American commerce. The European nations were engaged in a strug¬ gle of unprecedented scope and bitterness. When a government and people . . . believe that their existence as a nation depends upon their being vic¬ torious in a war, can you expect them to weigh carefully the legal rights of neutrals which seem to be obstacles to success ? Put yourself in their place. What would you do? . . . Would you leave a single stone unturned or relinquish a single method of attack for the sole reason that the laws of war directed you to do so ? We must look at the situation from the point of view of the participants in the war and not from that of the bystander. The warring nations see red. . . . They are desperate. ... Is it reasonable to expect considerate action ? What does a government whose people are dying by thousands for the sake of their country, care about a legal right of property? What is the observance of law compared to a nation’s life ? How much do commercial interests weigh against the sacrifice of human life ? . . . Common sense, as well as generous sentiments, demands that a neutral should not insist . . . that nations which are struggling for their lives should be asked to step aside and let a neutral nation pass.22 This ardent apologia for British interference with American com¬ merce did not win instant favor with the President (if it was shown to him), and two days later he wrote to Colonel House and asked him to convey to Sir Edward Grey a protest against British practices. He was anxious for the Colonel to present this matter to the British Foreign Secretary because he could do it in an “unofficial” manner. It was important, however, for Sir Edward to realize that a “serious change” was coming over “public sentiment” in the United States because of 21 Sir Edward Grey to Colonel House, April 16, 1915, House MS. 22 Memorandum published in New York Times Magazine, January 31, 1937, P- 27. This memorandum of Mr. Lansing, May 3, 1915, was in the possession of Mr. Allen W. Dulles, a nephew of the former Secretary of State.

SIR

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CONCILIATES

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I99

• • • England’s delays and many arbitrary interferences in dealing with neutral cargoes. The country is listening with more and more acquiescence just because of this unnecessary irritation to the suggestion of an embargo upon shipments of arms and war supplies and if this grows much more before the next session of Congress it may be very difficult if not impossible for me to prevent action to that end. Please present to Sir Edward very earnestly the wisdom and necessity of according the utmost freedom to our commerce in neutral goods to neutral ports and the prompt settlement of all questions affecting cargoes seized or detained. Mere detention will probably bankrupt many in the South.23 Colonel House wasted no time in executing this commission from the President, and during the amenities of a luncheon with Sir Ed¬ ward a possible compromise was suggested. If Germany would “dis¬ continue her submarine policy of sinking merchantmen,” the use of asphyxiating gases and the “ruthless killing of non-combatants,” England would be willing to lift the embargo upon foodstuffs.24 The President was “deeply interested” in this proposed solution of a problem which was “as trying and difficult for England” as it was for the United States. Of course things might be otherwise ar¬ ranged by action on the part of the British Government which would assure to American shippers “practically unmolested access to neutral ports with non-contraband goods,

food being regarded as non¬

contraband goods.” 25 One reason for the President’s eagerness to bring to a speedy set¬ tlement all the outstanding questions with England was the fact that since the sinking of the Lusitania (May 7) a crisis had arisen in German-American relations and the Administration did not desire to be involved in serious controversies with two nations at the same time. If such a condition of affairs continued for some weeks longer it would result in strong pressure being exerted upon the President to treat both belligerents alike despite any personal inclinations towards the Allies. In his telegram to Colonel House on February 13 he regretted that he had been under the necessity of sending a note of 23 President Wilson to Colonel House, May 5, 1915, House MS. On this same day (May 5) Secretary Lane wrote to Colonel House in much the same vein: “The English are not behaving very well. They are holding up our ships; they have made new international law. We have been very meek and mild under their use of the ocean as a toll road. ... I cannot see what England means by her policy of delay and embarrassment and hampering.” Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 458. 24 Colonel House to President Wilson, May 14, 1915, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 443. 25 President Wilson to Colonel House, May 16, 1915, House MS.

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protest to England (February io) concerning the use of the Amer¬ ican flag as a ruse de guerre. The American note of March 30 had contained some pointed paragraphs, and now a new note would soon have to be sent relative to the “unnecessary and unwarranted interrup¬ tion” by England of American “legitimate trade with neutral ports.” It would be a great stroke on England’s part if she would of her own accord “relieve this situation and so put Germany wholly in the wrong.” 26 As soon as Colonel House received the President’s telegram of May 16 he requested Ambassador Page to “make an engagement” with Sir Edward Grey so that a protest could be filed against British interference with American cargoes. Page at first promised to ar¬ range for a meeting with the Foreign Secretary, but neglected to do so, and finally told the Colonel that it was useless for him to see Sir Edward because he was sure that the British Government would not lift the embargo on food to Germany. One might have expected the Colonel to chide Mr. Page for this lack of courtesy, but instead he merely sent the President a discouraging telegram. President Wilson, however, refused to see things through Mr. Page’s eyes. In a tele¬ gram to Colonel House (May 18) he showed such insistence upon action that the Colonel forthwith called on Sir Edward without con¬ sulting Mr. Page. He found the Foreign Secretary quite receptive to the President’s suggestion. After a brief exchange of courtesies the following “understand¬ ing” was agreed to as the best solution for the most pressing diffi¬ culties into Anglo-American relations: — 1st. Permitting staple foodstuffs to go to neutral ports without question. 2d. All foodstuffs now detained to be brought before the prize court as quickly as possible. 3d. Claims for cotton cargoes now detained to be made as soon as ship¬ pers certify as to each cargo, that they are the real owners to whom pay¬ ment should be made.27 If England would agree to the first proposition Germany was to cease her submarine warfare on merchant vessels and discontinue the use of poisonous gases. This seemed to House a real, workable com26 President Wilson to Colonel House, May 18, 1915, House MS. 27 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 446-448.

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promise and he immediately cabled to Gerard, in Berlin, the out¬ line of it.28 After sending this message to Gerard, Colonel House had dinner with Lord Haldane, who regaled him with a long discourse on AngloGerman relations before the outbreak of the World War. Colonel House was a patient and unargumentative listener, and he seemed so genuinely interested in what Lord Haldane had to say that his Lordship presented him with two volumes filled with additional data. House was finally able to allude to the understanding between him¬ self and Grey concerning the lifting of the British embargo on foodstuffs destined to Germany on condition that Germany would discontinue submarine warfare on merchant vessels. Haldane, in a mellow mood induced by House’s rapt attention to his extended re¬ marks, promised to favor this first House-Grey agreement, but he warned the Colonel that he could not speak for the Ministry.29 It is interesting to note the importance that House attached to wellserved meals as an aid to diplomacy. We next find him lunching with Sir Edward Grey (May 21), who cheered him with the information that he had sounded out most of the Cabinet and many of the Opposition and he believed that if Germany would abandon subma¬ rine warfare the British Government would lift the embargo on food¬ stuffs.30 In the meantime, President Wilson had dispatched to Colonel House another telegram in which he endeavored to make crystal-clear the position of the American Government with reference to the HouseGrey understanding. It seemed to him very important that the United States should not . . . even seem to be setting off one government against the other, or try by any means resembling a bargain to obtain from either of them a con¬ cession of our undoubted rights on the high seas. Each government should understand that the rights we claim from it have no connection which we can recognize with what we claim from the other, but that we must insist on our rights from each without regard to what the other does or does not do.31 28 29 80 81

For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 400-401. Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 449-450. Ibid., p. 450. President Wilson to Colonel House, May 20, 1915, House MS.

202

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On May 23 Secretary Bryan sent an instruction to Ambassador Gerard with reference to the first House-Grey understanding. He was to present this matter to the German Foreign Office “unofficially and very confidentially,” and was to indicate how this solution “would practically clear away the difficult questions now under dis¬ cussion between ourselves and them.” He was also to indicate to the German Government that America was in no sense suggesting “a bargain or compromise with regard to our own rights upon the seas,” nor, was she willing to make those rights “contingent upon what Eng¬ land and Germany might agree upon.” 32 Two days previous (May 21), Ambassador Gerard had cabled to House that the German Government would abandon submarine war¬ fare on merchant vessels only on condition that Great Britain would lift the embargo on foodstuffs destined to Germany and also permit the importation of raw materials.33 On May 25 he sent a telegram to Secretary Bryan along much the same lines.34 In his reply to Ambassador Gerard, Colonel House stated that the Allies would never agree to allow “raw materials to go through” to Germany. This being true, it was useless to attempt any further mediation on the basis of the short-lived House-Grey understand¬ ing.35 This did not mean, however, that the project was completely abandoned by Sir Edward Grey at this time. In a recent biography of Lord Grey, Professor George Macaulay Trevelyan presents some new data on this very point. Apparently, as late as June 14, 1915, Sir Ed¬ ward was still giving some thought to this proposed compromise with Germany. In a letter to Lord Crewe (June 14) Sir Edward observed that if England lifted the “hunger blockade” of Germany it would be possible easily to “secure that the friction between Germany and the United States is not shifted to us and we shall retain and probably 32 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Gerard, May 23, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 406. 33 Gerard to Colonel House, May 21, 1915, ibid., p. 415. 34 Gerard to Secretary Bryan, May 25, 19x5, ibid., p. 415. 35 Colonel House to Ambassador Gerard, May 25, 1915. The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 452. It is the opinion of Colonel House (and Professor Seymour) that the conversation between Secretary Bryan and Ambassador Dumba (May 17), especially as reported in Dumba’s telegram, destroyed any chance for an agreement between Germany and England with reference to a cessation of submarine warfare in return for a lifting of the British blockade. As Professor Seymour phrases it: “Dumba’s message carried disastrous effects, since it con¬ vinced the Germans that they could carry on their submarine campaign with impunity. Hence their refusal of the compromise that House suggested.” The In¬ timate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 451. This interpretation is distinctly open to question.

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improve the good will and the advantageous position which we now hold in the United States.” 38 According to Professor Trevelyan, the British Cabinet . . . thought such an arrangement would be to Germany’s advantage and Grey, as the next document shows, soon fell into line. . . . Grey may or may not have been mistaken even in considering this humane bargain, but he was very much afraid of the outcome of the submarine campaign.37 In the course of a month Sir Edward’s attitude towards this sug¬ gested compromise with Germany underwent a fundamental change. On July 17, in a “Memorandum to Cabinet,” he regarded it as im¬ portant to direct the attention of his colleagues to a further argument ... by which we might justify the continuance of our blockade system in the event of the Germans offering to abandon the destruction of merchant vessels by submarines. Our blockade ... is a means of exerting pressure on the enemy of which the effect, comparatively small at first, gradually becomes greater. It has barely commenced as yet to be seriously incon¬ venient to Germany, whilst, on the other hand, the German submarine depredations have, from the start, been steadily destructive of British ship¬ ping. ... It is accordingly unreasonable to expect His Majesty’s Gov¬ ernment to acquiesce in this destruction of British life and wealth by discontinuing their means of retaliation almost before the enemy has com¬ menced to feel its effects.38 But this failure to mediate between Germany and England did not invalidate the clauses of the House-Grey understanding that referred only to Anglo-American matters. These had provided that all food¬ stuffs then detained be brought before the prize court as “quickly as possible,” and that claims for cotton cargoes then detained be made as soon as shippers certified as to each cargo that “they are the real owners.” This arrangement, however, conceded the very principle America was fighting for and it did not find favor in the eyes of President Wilson and Secretary Bryan.39 The detention of American cargoes 36 George Macaulay Trevelyan, Grey of Fallodon (Boston, 1937), PP- 362-363. 87 Ibid., p. 363. 88 Ibid., p. 364. 89 Since the announcement of the so-called British blockade of March 11, 1915 the number of neutral cargoes detained by orders of the British Government had mounted with startling rapidity. During the three months subsequent to the en¬ forcement of this “blockade” more than 275 vessels were diverted to Kirkwall by British authorities or called there under instructions from owners. Of these 275 vessels (amounting to more than 700,000 tons), 53 were placed in prize or were

204

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

bound for neutral ports was felt by the American Government to be so serious an infraction of international law that Mr. Lansing was asked to draft an instruction of protest, to be presented by Ambas¬ sador Page. On May 15 he addressed a letter to Secretary Bryan enclosing this instruction. In his covering letter, Mr. Lansing calls attention to the British “violations of American rights,” and he then refers to his draft instruction which he regarded as an “uncompro¬ mising presentation” which “shows its teeth.” He was strongly of the opinion that British practice was in flagrant “violation of law.” America had been “too complacent” with the British Government in the matter of the enforcement of the Order in Council of March 11, and it was time that American rights on the high seas were “pro¬ tected.” 40 This draft instruction from the pen of Mr. Lansing is so challeng¬ ing in tone that one wonders if Mr. Cone Johnson did not have a hand in its composition. After first alluding to the “patient” manner in which the American Government had acted with reference to British practices, a hint is thrown out that this patience is about exhausted: — Neutral rights are disregarded and the long-sanctioned rules of inter¬ national law governing the freedom of the seas to neutrals are repeatedly violated. . . . The unprecedented procedure of arresting neutral vessels and neutral cargoes on the high seas in trade between neutral ports, of un¬ duly detaining them in British ports without disclosing the prima facie cause, of refusing to permit them in many instances to proceed to their destination, and of practically requisitioning cargoes consigned to neutrals, has caused a situation, which the Government of the United States can no longer view with patience or in silence. compelled to discharge at least a portion of their cargoes, while 51 others had been detained for an average of ten days. Edgar Turlington, Neutrality: Its History, Economics and Law (N.Y. 1936), p. 54. 40 Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 319. With reference to the validity of the Order in Council of March 11, 1915, Admiral M. W. W. P. Consett, in his book The Triumph of Unarmed Forces (London, 1923), pp. 28-30, remarks: “The Re¬ prisals Order, which marks an epoch in the war, is of a very revolutionary char¬ acter; it brought us into sharp conflict with America. . . . Viscount Grey con¬ tended that a belligerent violated no fundamental principle of international law by applying a blockade ‘in such a way as to cut oft the enemy’s commerce with foreign countries through neutral ports.’ ... We are unable to see how this point of view can be sustained: for it amounts to asserting a right to blockade neutral ports. . . . The claim to change the principle of the law of blockade after the manner of the Reprisals Order is a claim to alter the law radically and to alter it to the great prejudice of neutrals’ interests.” It is the opinion of Pro¬ fessor E. M. Borchard that the Order in Council of March 11, 1915, was “illegal and indefensible” (The Nation, July 20, 1921, p. 73), while Professor W. E. Lingelbach holds the view that this Order was the “most drastic and sweeping”

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After these sharp words that ended upon a high note of menace, the draft instruction, which was never sent, went even further and inti¬ mated that these British practices would have to stop or war might well ensue: — The Government of His Britannic Majesty should realize that . . . the conditions of trade between the United States and other neutral nations as a consequence of these practices have become intolerable and can no longer be endured without complaint; and that a continuance of these practices so subversive of neutral rights and so destructive of their enjoy¬ ment will invite measures by the Government of the United States, which will restore to American citizens the freedom of the high seas and protect them in the exercise of their just rights.41 This spirited defense of American rights with its edge of truculence that could easily be felt through the thin folds of diplomatic language is in sharp contrast with the Lansing memorandum of May 3.42 It shows that Mr. Lansing himself could lose patience with British pro¬ crastination and it also reflects presidential pressure. Some weeks before the drafting of this Lansing letter of May 15, the President disclosed his pro-Ally bias to his Cabinet members when he informed them that his sympathies lay with the Entente Powers who were standing “with their backs to the wall, fighting wild beasts.” 48 He also confided to his private secretary, Mr. Joseph P. Tumulty, that England was fighting to save civilization, and that he would not press her too hard in the matter of the blockade.44 As the weeks passed on, however, with no indication that the British Government would pay the slightest heed to American protests against the illegal diversion of American cargoes to British harbors, the President’s mood dis¬ tinctly changed and he became insistent upon the recognition of American rights. On May 17 Secretary Bryan sent a short telegram to Ambassador Page concerning certain cotton shipments to Norway that were being held in British ports. This detention of cargoes bound to neutral ports measure that has “ever been attempted in commercial warfare.” The Military His¬ torian and Economist, April 1917, p. 173. 41 Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 320-321. 42 Ante, p. 198. 48 T. W. Gregory, New York Times, January 29, 1935. At this same time (May 29, 1915) we find Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior in Wilson’s Cabinet, writing to his friend, John C. Burns, in a very frank manner concerning the obvious illegality of British practices: “England is playing a rather high game, violating international law every day.” The Letters of Franklin K. Lane, p. 173. 44 J. P. Tumulty, Woodrow Wilson as I Know Him, pp. 230-231.

206

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

was regarded by the American Government as “plainly illegal,

and

Mr. Page was instructed to insist that these shipments be “released.” 45 When Mr. Page informed Sir Edward Grey in an emphatic manner of the “irritation” of the American Government relative to British interference with American commerce, the Foreign Secretary “prac¬ tically confessed” the “reasonableness” of the American protest. The trouble, of course, was with the “other departments of the Govern¬ ment” which were not as prompt as the Foreign Office.46 On May 20, Mr. Colville Barclay, the Counselor of the British Embassy in Washington, sent to Mr. Lansing a telegram he had just received from Sir Edward Grey, who promised to do everything possible “to expedite purchase of cotton cargoes.” Payment would be made without delay in each case to proper parties on proof that “they are persons entitled to payment and on their furnishing evi¬ dence of contract price.” 47 Two days later Ambassador Page sent a telegram to the Secretary of State advising him that the suggestion had been made to Sir Edward Grey to make an “advance payment of the minimum price to owners of cotton cargoes that the Government proposes to buy.” 48 President Wilson, however, did not take kindly to Ambassador Page’s suggestion to the British Government. This would mean that Sir Edward Grey could continue his policy of evasion and through these payments for cargoes of cotton he would purchase American acceptance of his plan for keeping cotton out of Germany. After re¬ ceiving Ambassador Page’s telegram of May 22, President Wilson promptly sent an instruction to Colonel House in which he pointed out the obvious truth that . . . the purchase of our cotton illegally intercepted does not help matters because it is the principle and not the money we insist on. We feel that the blockade recently proclaimed has not been made in fact effective, and the impression prevails here that Sir Edward Grey has not been able to fulfill his assurances given us at the time of the Order in Council that the order would be carried out in such a way as not to affect our essential rights.49 45 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Page, May 17, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., P- 398. 46 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, May 18, 19x5, ibid., p. 399. 47 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, May 18, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 404. 48 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, May 22, 1915, ibid., p. 406. 49 President Wilson to Colonel House, May 23, 1915, House MS.

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The following day Secretary Bryan received a dispatch from Am¬ bassador Page which enclosed a note from Sir Edward Grey dated May io. The British Foreign Secretary had his usual list of excuses for the dilatory policy of the British Government. He “sincerely” regretted the fact that “the pressure of work arising out of the nu¬ merable cases” involving American cargoes had prevented the For¬ eign Office from being as “prompt as might have been desired” by the American Government. However, measures were being taken which he hoped would make it possible in the future to give to the American Embassy in London “complete and timely notice” of all such cases as they arose.50 This assurance, of course, did not imply any recognition of Amer¬ ican rights, so President Wilson again cabled to Colonel House with regard to the failure of the British Government to reply to the American note of protest of March 30. He was anxious for Colonel House to take the matter up with Sir Edward Grey “unofficially” and thus avoid the “strong note which must otherwise be sent.” He also desired to have the Colonel ask Ambassador Page to present to Sir Edward Grey the . . . many arguments for respecting our rights on the high seas and avoiding the perhaps serious friction between the two governments which it is daily becoming more and more evident cannot much longer be avoided if our access to neutral ports with neutral cargoes continues to be inter¬ fered with contrary to the assurances given us in note accompanying the Order in Council.51 Before Colonel House could receive this telegram he had written a letter to President Wilson indicating the importance of preserving friendly relations with the Allies. To his mind there was ... no doubt that the position you have taken with both Germany and Great Britain is correct, but I feel that our position with the Allies is some¬ what difficult for we are bound up more or less in their success and I do not think we should do anything that can possibly be avoided to alienate their good feeling that they now have for us.52 60 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, May 11, 1915 (received May 24), For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 412-413. 61 President Wilson to Colonel House, May 26, 1915, House MS. 52 Colonel House to President Wilson, May 25, 1915, quoted in Washington Herald, January 27, 1936. The eagerness of Colonel House to maintain friendly relations with England at almost any cost is given illustration in a letter from Spring Rice to Sir Edward Grey, June 23, 1915: “I have just seen [House] and had a long talk with him. I need not tell you his views because they exactly

208

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

This solicitude for Allied success made the Colonel all the more anxious to remove all sources of difficulty between the Entente Powers and the United States, and after receiving the President’s telegram of May 26 he had an interview with Sir Edward Grey regarding the British practice of “holding-up of cargoes.” The Brit¬ ish Foreign Secretary, in his most patient manner, repeated the twicetold tale about present British practices being based upon American Civil War precedents. With reference to the treatment accorded to cotton cargoes, the British Government had not followed the lead of Secretary Seward in declaring cotton contraband of war. This gesture of friendship should induce the American Government to be “lenient” in its attitude toward Great Britain. Moreover, British officials were doing “everything that was possible” to avoid friction with the United States, and orders had been given to “pass upon all questions speedily.” 53 When Ambassador Page repeated the protests of Colonel House relative to British interference with American commerce, Sir Edward Grey gave him the same assurance that everything was being done “to accelerate the settlement regarding the cotton cargoes which are to be purchased by His Majesty’s Government.” 64 Colonel House was entirely satisfied that the Foreign Office was not “at fault” in this matter of detaining American cargoes needlessly, and he therefore decided to take the matter up in other quarters. On June 2 he saw Reginald McKenna, the new Chancellor of the Ex¬ chequer, who proved to be quite conciliatory, and then he hurried to keep an appointment with the Marquis of Lansdowne. To the Mar¬ quis he gave a short lecture on the racial characteristics of President Wilson and bade him remember that while the President “at heart sympathized with the Allies” he also had a definite Scotch-Irish trait of tenacity that compelled him to continue his practice of sending notes of protest against infractions of American rights. On June 4 the Colonel lunched with Balfour and gave him such a lucid picture of the American side of the dispute concerning intercorrespond with yours and I think you can count upon his hearty co-operation. Al¬ ways, of course, with the proviso that America comes first. There is no doubt, always with the same proviso, that his friend President Wilson shares his senti¬ ments.” Stephen Gwynn, The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, vol. II, p. 274. 83 Colonel House to President Wilson, May 27, 1915, House MS. 84 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, May 31, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Sup pi., p. 421.

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ference with neutral commerce that even that philosophic mind could grasp some of the details. As a climax the Colonel had a heart-toheart talk with King George V, who proved to be a real kindred spirit. It was a pleasant little conversation during the course of which the Colonel was never for a moment aware of that chilling “air of divinity that hedges in a king.” Indeed, he even felt a trifle sorry for His Majesty who deserved a better fate “than being a king.” 55 The fact is that the British had completely captured Colonel House in much the same way they have captured every important American who has in recent years partaken of British hospitality. Since the days when John Hay turned troubadour and brightened the dull routine of ambassadorial duties by writing sonnets that glow with warm affection for Mother England, every American representative at London, whether official or unofficial, has caught the soft cadence of those poems and has learned to murmur the same sweet accents. On June 5 the Colonel sailed for America to convince the President that immediate war with Germany was necessary in order that aid could be given the “other great democracies in turning the world into the right paths.” 56 He was to find the President a little backward in this regard. Before Colonel House could reach America to spread the gospel of Allied righteousness and German depravity, the American Govern¬ ment had decided to send another protest to Sir Edward Grey. Pre¬ vious American notes had made little impression upon the British po¬ sition, and Secretary Bryan now fired a broadside from the outworn ordnance of international law : — The British order in council of March 11, together with the so-called cotton arrangements, as applied in practice, intercepts trade in American cotton with neutrals as well as with belligerents. This Government cannot but regard the detention of cargoes of non-contraband goods as without legal justification.57 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 466-467. 68 Ibid., vol. I, p. 470. 67 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Page, June 8, 1915. F°r- Rel., I9I5> Suppl., PP- 434-435- On May 15 Mr. Robert P. Skinner, the American Consul General at London, wrote to Secretary Bryan to protest against the new British practice of requiring the masters of American vessels detained in British harbors to pay the cost of discharging their cargoes. Mr. Skinner thought that such a require¬ ment had no justification “in the precepts of international law,” and he advised American masters to “refuse to pay any bills of this kind.” For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., P- 432. 56

210

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

This was the last note that Secretary Bryan sent to England. Feel¬ ing out of sympathy with the President’s policy of holding Germany to “strict accountability” while acquiescing in British disregard for American rights, Mr. Bryan resigned as Secretary of State on June 8, 1915, and retired to private life. His successor, Mr. Lansing, was strongly pro-Ally, and any pressure that he exerted on Great Britain was merely for the sake of appearances. On June 10 Ambassador Page telegraphed to the Secretary of State that he had discussed with Lord Crewe the continued detention of American cargoes of cotton. He had received the information that the British reply to the Ameri¬ can note of March 30 was “ready,” and was merely being held up until the correspondence between the United States and Germany relative to the Lusitania was “out of the way.” Mr. Page had suggested that if the contents of the British note of reply were “satisfactory” to the United States it was indeed a pro¬ pitious moment to forward it to Washington. Lord Crewe agreed with Mr. Page that it was “a very good time” to clean up the whole docket of American cotton cases, but one could never tell what action the Admiralty would take.58 When Ambassador Page learned that the “contents” of the British reply were not entirely “satisfactory” from the viewpoint of the American Government he hurriedly advised Mr. Lansing of this fact. There was nothing for Mr. Lansing to do but write the following note to the President: — Great Britain has reply ready to our note of March 30, 1915. From confidential sources we learn that it is merely a defense of retaliation against Germany. I want to instruct Page to accept it if it acquiesces in our note of March 30, otherwise discourage their sending it as it would increase agitation here against Great Britain’s interference with neutral shipping and make it more difficult to find a solution.88 Taking advantage of this tip from Secretary Lansing the British Government delayed until July 23 its answer to the American note of March 30. Thanks to Mr. Lansing’s prompting it arrived when the submarine controversy between America and Germany had reached its climax, with the result that little attention was paid to it. In the meantime, however, Lord Crewe handed Ambassador Page 58 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, June 10, 1915, For. Rel., 1915. Sup pi., pp. 438-439. 89 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, June 12, 1915, Lansing MS.

SIR EDWARD GREY CONCILIATES KING COTTON

211

a memorandum (dated June 17) which dealt specifically with the detention of cotton cargoes. After a review of all the pertinent data, the British Foreign Office asserted that “no arbitrary interference with American interests has, in regard to cotton cargoes, oc¬ curred.” 60 In contradiction to this assurance from Lord Crewe, the Depart¬ ment of State received from Mr. Skinner, the American Consul Gen¬ eral at London, a dispatch that told a very different story. Mr. Skin¬ ner sharply complained of a lack of a “spirit of fairness” in the procedure adopted by British officials in handling neutral cargoes. To him it seemed that their “whole attitude” was one of “negation,” and they seemed “incapable of undertaking anything helpful or construc¬ tive.” 61 This British habit of ignoring American rights disturbed even the acquiescent pose of Secretary Lansing, and a dispatch received from Ambassador Page compelled him to take action. According to Mr. Page the British prize courts were adopting the attitude that their decisions could be governed by Orders in Council rather than by the principles of international law. This meant that these prize courts could look to the administrative or executive departments of the British Government to determine whether or not municipal law should be followed in cases where it was “at variance with the recog¬ nized principles of the law of nations.” 62 Secretary Lansing readily recognized that there were no limits to British pretensions, and he saw at once the necessity of protesting against this new practice. On the same day that he received this dis¬ patch from Ambassador Page informing him of the action taken by the prize courts he sent a telegram to London setting forth the Ameri¬ can viewpoint. In so far as “the interests of American citizens” were concerned the Department of State would . . . insist upon their rights under the hitherto established principles and rules of international law governing neutral trade in time of war, without modification or limitation by orders-in-council or other municipal legisla¬ tion by Great Britain, and it will not recognize the validity of proceedings 60 Ambassador Page to Secretary of State, June 22, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 444.

61 Consul General Skinner to the Secretary of State, June 28, 1915, received July 12, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 466-467. 62 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, June 29, 1915, received July 14, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 469-472.

212

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taken in prize court under restraints imposed by British municipal law in derogation of their rights.®8 On the following day Secretary Lansing sent a telegram of protest to Ambassador Page with regard to the seizure of the steamship Neches which was carrying a “general cargo” from the port of Rotterdam to the United States. Mr. Page was instructed to inform the British Foreign Office “courteously” but “plainly” that the legal¬ ity of this seizure could not be admitted, and that ... in the view of this Government it violates the right of the citizens of one neutral to trade with those of another, as well as with those of belliger¬ ents, except in contraband or in violation of a legal blockade of an enemy seaport. The Department must insist upon the rights of American owners of goods to bring them out of Holland in due course in neutral ships, even though such goods may have come originally from the territories of Great Britain’s enemies.64 Before this mood of protest passed from Secretary Lansing he dispatched a third telegram to Ambassador Page, who must have been astonished at this sudden flood of sharp remonstrances. It was “exceedingly important,” said Secretary Lansing, for the Foreign Office to . . . realize that this Government considers the general policy of the Brit¬ ish Government in seizing American shipments on mere presumption of enemy destination, and in restraining American trade with neutral coun¬ tries, is unjustifiable in law.65 When Ambassador Page presented these protests to Sir Edward Grey the latter merely replied that if the British Government per¬ mitted . . . unrestricted American trade with European neutral states they had might as well cease to stop anything at all, and that they would have to give up all efforts at economic pressure on Germany. 63 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Page, July 14, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 358. In his War Memoirs, p. 123, Mr. Lansing, with reference to the action of the British prize courts, observes: “They detained vessels without apparent cause, and, in addition to this inexcusable practice, they applied to the ships and cargoes British municipal statutes on the ground that, being within British territorial waters, they were subject to the provisions of British law, quite ignoring the fact that the vessels were brought within territorial jurisdiction by force and in viola¬ tion of the law of nations.” 64 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Page, July 15, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 472-47366 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Page, July 16, 1915, ibid., p. 473.

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With particular reference to cargoes of cotton he could promise that the Cabinet would soon take action in that regard. It was prob¬ able that they would authorize an offer to the cotton interests to buy enough of the new crop to keep the price up to a “reasonable figure.” 66 In a confidential dispatch to the President, Ambassador Page gave warning that the British Government was seriously considering mak¬ ing cotton contraband of war. The effect of such a move upon the anti-Ally elements in the United States was greatly feared by the President, who wrote to Colonel House in regard thereto. He was certain that the Colonel would realize the . . . fatal effect that would have upon opinion here. Probably changing attitude of this country towards the Allies and leading to action by Con¬ gress cutting off munitions. Would it not be well to get your press influ¬ ence to work in England immediately.67 At this same time Ambassador Page was writing to Colonel House along similar lines. He was very much afraid that the United States was in “deep water” with the British Government. England had made the mistake of announcing the illegal blockade order of March 11, 1915, and this had stirred up the American “cotton men and the meat men.” And now further difficulties would flow from the movement in England in favor of making cotton contraband. The British Govern¬ ment had “lost its courage” and could not be expected to withstand strong popular pressure. Sir Edward Grey himself was “very des¬ pondent” about the “American situation,” and only the solution that Mr. Page could possibly envisage was “another Lusitania outrage” which would divert American indignation upon Germany and bring about open war with that country.68 The situation was getting so serious that President Wilson de¬ cided to send Secretary Lansing to Manchester, Massachusetts, to have a conference with Colonel House. Ambassador Page had in¬ formed Secretary Lansing that Sir Edward Grey knew only too well the “gravity of the situation,” but could not soften the application of the British blockade, for such action would “greatly prolong the war.” Such a reason, possibly valid from the British viewpoint, would not “satisfy the United States,” and President Wilson was 66 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, July 19, 1915, ibid., pp. 478-479. 67 President Wilson to Colonel House, July 19, 1915, House MS. 68 Ambassador Page to Colonel House, July 21, 1915, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 57—58.

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anxious to know how far the British Government would yield before strong protests from the United States. He would like to “press for the utmost,” and yet he wished to be “sensible and practical.” 69 The Colonel believed that if the American Government pressed hard enough the British Cabinet would go “to almost any limit rather than come to the breaking point.” But the main difficulty in any such procedure would be the fact that we would thereby gain the “eternal resentment” of the British for having taken “advantage of our position.” 70 Before the Colonel and President Wilson could exchange any more confidences concerning the best manner of handling British violations of American rights, the British Foreign Secretary sent a note, dated July 23, to Ambassador Page. It was the long-sought-for answer to the American note of March 30, and it gave little satisfaction to the President or to the Department of State. Sir Edward Grey was care¬ ful to point out that the measures adopted by the British Government to blockade Germany had not had any “detrimental effect on the commerce of the United States.” He then alluded to the “shocking” violations of international law committed by the Germans. These violations, of course, made it incumbent upon all good Britishers to “leave unused no justifiable method” of defending themselves. In a very bland but firm manner the British Foreign Secretary then proceeded to examine the American complaints and disposed of them in a summary fashion. He understood that it was the contention of the American Government that if ... a belligerent is so circumstanced that his commerce can pass through adjacent neutral ports as easily as through ports in his own territory, his opponent has no right to interfere and must restrict his measures of block¬ ade in such a manner as to leave such avenues of commerce still open to his adversary. To Sir Edward Grey such a contention was “unsustainable either in point of law or upon principles of international equity.” The British Government could not admit that a belligerent violated any principle of international law by applying a blockade 69 President Wilson to Colonel House, July 21, 1915, House MS. 70 Colonel House to President Wilson, July 22, 1915, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 58.

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. . . in such a way as to cut off the enemy’s commerce with foreign coun¬ tries through neutral ports if the circumstances render such an application of the principles of blockade the only means of making it effective.71 It was inevitable that Sir Edward should make some reference to the blockade established by the Federal Government during the American Civil War.72 This blockade of some thirty-five hundred miles of coast with a small navy was a very serious task, and because of the fact that neutral territory was in close proximity to the South¬ ern Confederacy it was necessary for the Federal Government to ex¬ tend the doctrine of continuous voyage to meet the new situation. This extension of the doctrine had been applied by the Federal Courts in a series of decisions which evoked sharp criticism from European publicists, but Sir Edward adverted to the fact that the British Gov¬ ernment itself had taken a “broader view” of the action of the courts and had looked below “the surface at the underlying principles.” After this clear vision of maritime realities, the British Foreign Office had long ago decided to “abstain from all protest” at such an innovation, and had accepted this new American practice as a necessary method of meeting new conditions.73 71 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, July 24, 1915, enclosing a note from Sir Edward Grey dated July 23. For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. i68ff. 72 It is a well-known fact that this blockade of the Federal Government was not effective. In this regard the following observation by Professor Frank L. Owsley, in his King Cotton Diplomacy (Chicago, 1931), p. 253, is pertinent: “As a matter of fact, for the first year and a half the blockade was nothing more than the plundering of neutral commerce en route to the Confederacy under the cover of a nominal blockade. During the entire war, except at certain points, it was never an effective blockade according to American and European standards.” 73 Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Page, July 23, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 168-171. It is evident that Sir Edward Grey was correct in his statement that the British Government had decided to abstain from all protest concerning the Civil War cases involving the doctrine of continuous voyage as applied to breach of blockade and to contraband. With reference to the “Springbok" case, the Brit¬ ish Foreign Secretary, Lord Stanley, refused to make any claim for compen¬ sation. It was his belief that the Supreme Court “was entitled to draw the inference that the consignors of the goods intended to be parties to the immediate transport and importation of these goods into a blockaded port on their being taken out of the ‘Springbok.’” (J. B. Moore, Digest of International Law, vol. VII, p. 724.) In commenting upon the cases of the “Peterhoff" and the Dolphin, Lord John Russell observed that he was not “prepared to say that the decisions themselves under all the circumstances of the cases are not in harmony with the principles of the judgments of the English prize courts.” (C. B. Elliott, “The Doctrine of Continuous Voyage,” American Journal of International Law, vol. I, p. 61.) With reference to the alleged acceptance by the British Government of the exten¬ sion of the doctrine of continuous voyage by the American courts, Dr. Thomas Baty makes the following observation: “It is not the case that Great Britain ever adopted the doctrine advanced by the majority [of the Supreme Court] ; on the contrary, claims in respect of these cases were officially advanced before the Joint High Commission appointed under the Treaty of Washington. No British statesman

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Needless to say, this note from the British Foreign Secretary was a poor piece of special pleading. The United States had never claimed the right to prevent neutrals from shipping goods across their land frontiers to a belligerent country, and the Supreme Court had dis¬ tinctly held in the Civil War cases that the doctrine of continuous voyage did not apply to blockade where the latter part of the voyage was by inland transportation. This rule had also been expressly recog¬ nized by the British Government and had been incorporated in the following paragraph in the memorandum presented by the British delegation at the London Naval Conference: — Where the ship does not intend to proceed to the blockaded port, the fact that goods on board are to be sent on by sea or by inland transport is no ground for condemnation.74 Despite this recognized rule, the British Government issued the Order in Council of March 11, 1915, and British practice under this Order had the effect of extending the doctrine of continuous voyage to non-contraband goods en route to a neutral port if ultimately destined for the enemy. Not only was such an application illegal when these non-contraband goods were later sent to the enemy by overland transportation, but it was equally illegal when these same goods were later shipped to Scandinavian ports and from there shipped to German Baltic ports which were ineffectively blockaded. Great Britain had signed the Declaration of Paris which provided that blockades to be legal had to be effective. The British Government, however, ap¬ parently considered this solemn treaty to be a “mere scrap of paper,” and refused to be bound by it. Moreover, it happened that Great Britain had issued Orders in Council, on August 20 and on October 29, 1914, which officially adopted Article 19 of the Declaration of London. This Article specifically forbade the application of the doc¬ trine of continuous voyage to blockade; but the Order in Council of March 11, 1915 authorized this illegal application, and it was not until March 30, 1916 that the British Government put an end to this ever gave any hint that the British view had altered. In 1900 Lord Salisbury . . . seized upon the Civil War cases to justify interference with neutral commerce in a situation of peculiar difficulty. . . . But he eventually climbed down, and paid compensation in respect of the detention and search of German vessels destined for Lourenco Marques.” “Judge Betts and Prize Law,” in Transactions of the Grotius Society, vol. XI (1925), p. 22. 74 Parliamentary Papers, Misc., No. 4 (1909), Cd. 4554, Article 7, p. 6.

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inconsistent procedure by announcing that it would no longer be bound by the Article. In the American note of March 30, 1915 Secretary Bryan had laid particular stress upon the fact that the British blockade of March 11 was illegal because it was a blockade of neutral ports. For many decades the British Government had recognized the illegality of such a blockade, and in two Orders in Council it had formally adopted Article 18 of the Declaration of London which declared that block¬ ading forces must not bar access to neutral ports and coasts. In order to explain this obvious inconsistency, Sir Edward Grey now claimed that Great Britain was not blockading neutral ports but was merely stopping commerce with the enemy which passed through neutral ports. He then went further and claimed that his government was . . . interfering with no goods with which we should not be entitled to interfere by blockade if the geographical position and the conditions of Germany at present were such that her commerce passed through her own ports.75 In reply to this contention, an eminent English authority, Dr. Thomas Baty, observed: — The wail that a country cannot now be hermetically sealed (a wail which ignores or forgets the fact that it never could be) is met by an indulgence to be a universal nuisance. . . . Some countries were always difficult to blockade in comparison with others; there was never any idea of adding an additional handicap to equalize matters! . . . Law is not designed to correct the defects of geography.76 This British note of July 23 failed to convince President Wilson by its specious arguments, so he wrote to Colonel House in order to place the matter before him. He felt very 76 Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Page, July 23, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 170. 76 “Neglected Fundamentals of Prize Law,” Yale Law Journal, vol. XXX, pp. 44-45. Professor Julius W. Pratt, in his sketch of Secretary Lansing in The Amer¬ ican Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy, vol. X, pp. 69-71, expresses the opinion that American protests against British infractions of international law were not based upon “genuine principle.” He then remarks that during the World War England merely added the point that goods might be seized “if they were to be transported by land to the enemy whose coast was under blockade.” In other words he apparently believes in the right of the British Government to blockade neutral coasts, to proclaim ineffective blockades with illegal seizures, and to expand at will the lists of contraband, conditional contraband, and non-contraband articles.

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. . . keenly the difficulties of dealing with Great Britain in regard to her present treatment of neutral trade, and think of it just as you do. I wonder if you and Lansing discussed, in your talk the other day, a line of action at once practicable and effective that would escape the consequences you (and I) would dread and deplore? I would deeply appreciate any sugges¬ tions you may have thought out on this infinitely difficult matter. We can¬ not long delay action. Our public opinion clearly demands it.77 On July 27 the President read a telegram that Ambassador Page had sent to Secretary Lansing with reference to prospective action by the British Government in declaring cotton contraband and then purchasing “large quantities” from America at a “good price.” This was merely a British device to stop American protests, and it was clearly understood by the President. But just what to do under the circumstances was not easy to determine, so he turned again to Colonel House for counsel.78 The Colonel, of course, was in favor of adopting a conciliatory policy towards England, and in a letter to Secretary Lansing he freely expressed his viewpoint. With regard to British treatment of neutral trade the Colonel was certain that the Foreign Office would accede to almost any American demand before it would permit a break in diplomatic relations. But if America pushed her advantage too strongly it would mean that British friend¬ ship for the United States would be “forever lost.” If the Allied powers should win . . . England will be the dominant factor in the settlement and we have so much at stake in this settlement that it is a question of policy how far we should press her now concerning the differences between us. I feel that Germany’s good will is lost irrevocably and we must determine how far we can go counter to the Allies’ interests without alienating their friendship as well. . . . We now come to the question of home sentiment and to what extent it will stand a liberal interpretation of Great Britain’s policy in regard to neutral trade.79 Lansing replied immediately, and he indicated a thorough agree¬ ment with the views of House. He believed that a note should be sent to Great Britain concerning neutral commerce, and it would be best to make it “strong in tone” in order to satisfy American public opinion that the Department of State had an “unbiassed mind” in the 77 President Wilson to Colonel House, July 27, 1915, House MS. 78 President Wilson to Colonel House, July 29, 1915, House MS. 79 Colonel House to Secretary Lansing, July 29, 1915, ibid.

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treatment accorded to Germany and Great Britain. At the same time Mr. Lansing was of the opinion that the matter . . . must not be carried too far or the demands made too peremptory. ... In no event should we take a course that would seriously endanger our friendly relations with Great Britain, France or Russia, for as you say, our friendship with Germany is a matter of the past.80 Into this atmosphere of friendship for England and suspicion of Germany there came a note from Sir Edward Grey that was care¬ fully calculated to appeal to American sympathies. After a brief as¬ sertion of alleged German atrocities in connection with the sinking of merchant ships without regard to the safety of their passengers and crews, Sir Edward Grey then alluded to the humane practices of the British Government in seizing American ships and merely placing them in detention to await the decision of prize courts. The American Government had several times protested against this British pro¬ cedure, but Sir Edward was not aware to what extent . . . reparation has been claimed from Germany ... for loss of ships, lives, and cargoes, nor how far these acts have been the subject even of protest by the neutral Governments concerned. After this irrelevant criticism of the conduct of American foreign relations, Sir Edward finally contended that in view of this apparent German wickedness it seemed . . . neither reasonable nor just that His Majesty’s Government should be pressed to abandon the rights claimed in the British note of the 23d, and to allow goods from Germany to pass freely through waters effectively patrolled by British ships of war.81 On this same day (July 31) Sir Edward sent a second note to the American Government in answer to Secretary Lansing’s telegram of protest of July 14. Secretary Lansing had been disturbed by a dis¬ patch from Ambassador Page relating how British prize courts were not basing their decisions exclusively on international law but were also applying certain principles of British municipal law. Sir Edward now assumed his familiar task of instructing the Department of State in American legal practice. In the case of the Amy War-wick an American prize court had clearly held that “prize courts are subject 80 Secretary Lansing to Colonel House, July 30, 1915, House MS. 81 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, July 31, 1915, enclosing note from Sir Edward Grey. For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 495-496.

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to the instructions of their own sovereign.” It would seem to him therefore, that the “principles applied by the prize courts of the two countries are identical.” 82 Secretary Lansing could extract very little comfort from these notes that Sir Edward Grey would at his leisure send to the Depart¬ ment of State. They sounded an unyielding note which strongly irked both the Secretary of State and the President; but during the summer months of 1915 the submarine controversy with Germany was at its peak, so there was nothing to do but to submit to British pretensions under futile protests. With reference to the treatment of American cotton cargoes the conduct of Great Britain continued to be exasper¬ ating in principle but somewhat remunerative in practice. As early as January, 1915, Secretary Bryan had been assured by both France and England that cotton would not be placed in contraband lists and would not be seized en route to Germany in neutral vessels.83 In February, the same assurance was given as to cotton yard and cotton linters.84 But after the so-called “blockade order” of March II, cotton cargoes were detained in British ports and many were ultimately purchased. This action caused a storm of indignation throughout the American Southern states, and telegrams of protest began to pour in upon the Department of State. On July 2 the Galveston (Texas) Commercial Association, repre¬ senting the “largest exporting point for cotton in the world,” strongly urged the Secretary of State to “insist” upon such a free movement of American cotton as to insure that “as many of the markets of the world as possible may be open to us.” Only “prompt relief” would keep the cotton-growing States “from distress.” 85 In this same month Ambassador Page reported that in England there was an “increasing and ominous agitation” to make cotton contraband.86 The deep concern of President Wilson with regard to the detention of cotton cargoes and the agitation in England to make cotton contraband has already been discussed in previous pages. He had written repeatedly to Colonel House concerning this problem, 82 Ambassad°r Page to the Secretary of State, July 31 ,1915, enclosing note from c war; 8 Admiral Spindler, op. cit., pp. 73ff. 9 Ibid., pp. 78-81.

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initiate such a policy before the spring or summer of 1915.10 Within a few days, however, he abandoned this opinion. On February 1, 1915, an important meeting was held in the Chancellor’s office with the fol¬ lowing personages in attendance: Zimmermann, the Under-Secretary of State; General von Falkenhayn, Chief of the General Staff of the Army; Mr. Clemens Delbriick, Secretary of State for the Interior, Vice-Admiral von Pohl, and the Chancellor himself. The Chancellor immediately announced his objections to submarine warfare because of possible difficulties with neutral powers, and because he believed that the small number of available submarines (twenty) made it impossible seriously to affect British commerce. Vice-Admiral von Pohl met these objections by strongly affirming that a sufficient num¬ ber of submarines were available for effective use against British com¬ merce, and this statement made a profound impression upon the mind of the Chancellor. Von Pohl also argued that there would be little to fear from possible complications with neutrals, because neutral ships would not venture into the war zone when it was widely known that numbers of British ships had been sunk without trace. The Chancellor was not only influenced by the assurances of von Pohl but was also sensitive to the pressure of public opinion in Ger¬ many. Ever since the von Tirpitz interview with Karl von Wiegand there was manifest in many German circles a fast-growing demand that submarine warfare be placed in operation against England at the earliest opportunity. In the face of von Pohl’s positive statement that Germany’s submarine fleet was sufficient to support the declaration of a war zone it was difficult for the Chancellor to maintain an attitude of opposition, so, on February 2, he finally gave his consent to von Pohl’s program.11 It was still necessary to secure the signature of the Kaiser to the declaration of a war zone, and von Pohl planned to effect this on February 4, when his Imperial Majesty was scheduled to pay a visit to Wilhelmshaven to inspect the High Sea Fleet. When he arrived 10 Admiral von Tirpitz, op. cit., vol. II, p. 143. See also Vice-Admiral Andreas Michelsen, Der U-Bootskrieg, 1914-1918 (Leipzig, 1925), pp. uff. 11 Admiral Spindler, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 102-122. With reference to von Pohl’s assurances, General Erich von Falkenhayn states that von Pohl informed him that the “Navy now believed itself in a position to take up the war with sub¬ marines against England, with a prospect of overwhelming success, if it could be conducted in the only way befitting the nature of this weapon, namely without restriction in its operation.” General Headquarters, 1914-1916, p. 69.

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he was accompanied by Admiral von Tirpitz, who was known to be opposed to any immediate declaration of a war zone. Von Tirpitz, however, was without any influence upon the Kaiser. Even though he was chiefly responsible for the building of the German fleet he was so blunt and so outspoken in his relations with the Kaiser that his cogent counsel was seldom listened to with respect.12 Von Pohl was more suave and diplomatic, and on February 4, with grave misgivings in his heart, the Kaiser signed the declaration for the establishment of a war zone against British commerce. The whole question of submarine warfare had greatly disturbed the Kaiser from the very outbreak of the World War, for its implications violated his deep-seated convictions in favor of the rights of private property on the high seas. He was also opposed to any type of warfare that menaced the lives of noncombatants, and in the autumn of 1914 he had voiced his strong objections to any program that would affect the lives of “women and children.” 13 On the very day that he gave his consent to the declaration announcing submarine warfare (February 4, 1915), the Kaiser spoke at Wilhelmshaven to the officers in com¬ mand of the submarines. Near the end of his speech he referred to the sinking of enemy merchant ships with the possible loss of human lives. At this point he stopped, and then with impressive gravity he remarked : “If it is possible for you to save the crews of the merchant ships, do it!” After another pause he slowly concluded: “If you can¬ not save them, then it cannot be helped.” 14 After this speech had been delivered the war zone proclamation was issued, and submarine warfare, so fraught with serious complications with neutrals, was formally announced. According to this proclama¬ tion the waters . . . surrounding Great Britain and Ireland including the whole English Channel are hereby declared to be comprised within the seat of war and that all enemy merchant vessels found in those waters after the eighteenth instant will be destroyed. . . . Neutral vessels expose themselves to dan¬ ger within this zone of war since in view of the misuse of the neutral flag ordered by the British Government ... it cannot always be avoided that neutral vessels suffer from attacks intended to strike enemy ships.15 12 Admiral von Tirpitz, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 143-145; Admiral Scheer, op. cit., pp. 220ff. 13 Admiral Spindler, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 120-121. 14 This anecdote is contained in a letter to the author from Admiral Spindler, October 26, 1936. 16 For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 94.

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On February 7, Count Bernstorff forwarded to Secretary Bryan a memorandum of the Imperial Chancellor of February 4, in which the establishment of a war zone was justified by citing British infractions of international law. The particular infraction stressed in this memo¬ randum was the notice issued by the British Government on Novem¬ ber 3, 1914, in which the “whole of the North Sea” was designated as a “military area.” 16 With reference to the legality of the German proclamation there was, strangely enough, an article in the London Times, July 16, 1914, by Sir Percy Scott in which he anticipated the action later taken by the German Government and expressed his approval of it from the view¬ point of international law : — Such a proclamation would, in my opinion, be perfectly in order, and once it had been made, if any British or neutral ships disregarded it, they could not be held to be engaged in . . . peaceful avocations . . . and if they were sunk in the attempt, it could not be described as a relapse into savagery or piracy in its blackest form. If Lord Sydenham will look up the accounts of what usually happened to the blockade-runners into Charles¬ ton during the Civil War in America, I think he will find that the block¬ ading cruisers seldom had any scruples about firing into the vessels they were chasing. . . . The mine and the submarine torpedo will be newer deterrents.17 But long before this article by Sir Percy Scott appeared in the Lon¬ don Times, Admiral T. Aube, of the French navy, wrote a strong defense of the right of a submarine to sink a merchant ship at sight. The following paragraph will give an indication of the Admiral’s argument: — Tomorrow, war breaks out. A submarine with two officers and a crew of twelve has encountered one of these rich merchant ships laden with a cargo more valuable than that of one of the richest galleons of Spain. The crew and passengers number several hundred men. Will the submarine proclaim its presence to the captain of the merchantman; . . . announce that it is possible to sink him; [say] that as a consequence he is a prisoner along with his crew and passengers; that ... in a platonic sense his ship has been manned with a prize crew and therefore he must go to the nearest French port? To such a declaration, equal in folly to the chivalrous “A vous, Mes16 For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 95-9717 Quoted in Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in War-Time (N.Y. 1928), p. 149.

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sieurs les Anglais” of Fontenoy, the captain of the merchant ship would respond with a well-aimed shell which would send the submarine with its crew and chivalrous captain, to the bottom. Then he would quietly con¬ tinue his briefly interrupted voyage. But instead [of proclaiming its presence] the submarine would remain invisible, and would follow from a distance the merchant ship it had en¬ countered. After nightfall, in the most silent and quiet manner in the world, it would send to destruction the merchant ship, its cargo, crew, and passengers. Then, with his mind not only at rest but filled with satisfaction, the captain of the submarine would continue his cruise.18 Of similar purport is the comment of Mr. J. M. Kenworthy and Mr. George Young in their volume entitled Freedom of the Seas. It is their belief that this first German submarine campaign was . . . logical and legal. Logical because if the British were entitled ... to starve German women and children the Germans had the right to do the same if they could by the British. Legal because the right of submarines to sink at sight under international law could be sustained without stretch¬ ing any more points than had been strained by the British in making rub¬ ber and food contraband.19 In the above comment a reference is made to the British blockade of Germany which might ultimately cause the starvation of German women and children. The German Government had long feared such a blockade, and on December 10, 1914, an inquiry was directed to the Department of State concerning the attitude of America in the event that the British fleet seized shipments of foodstuffs en route to Ger¬ man ports. The reply of the Department of State was cautious. It was Admiral T. Aube, “Defense nationale,” in Henry Mager, Atlas Colonial (Paris, 1885), p. 12. ^(London, 1928), p. 72. See also the opinion of Captain Castex, Chief of Staff to the Admiral of the Second Division of the French Navy in the Mediterranean. In January, 1920, Captain Castex expressed the opinion that the German Admiralty was “absolutely justified” in resorting to submarine warfare. One could see nothing in the attitude of the Germans, which militarily speaking,” was not ^absolutely correct.” The failure to give notice before launching a torpedo had raised a storm of protest, but it is not so inadmissible as at first sight appears.” Ouoted in R. L. Buell, The Washington Conference (N.Y. 1922), p. 221. .In this regard the following comment from a letter written by Lord John fisher to Admiral von Tirpitz, March 29, 1916, is pertinent: “I don’t blame you tor the submarine business. I’d have done the same myself.” Memories and Records.vol l, pp 30-31 Along the same line are the remarks of General Sir Henry f. ihuillier before the Royal United Service Institution in February, 1936: “To come back to submarines: it is argued that submarine attack on merchant vessels is inhumane. ... But is it more so than . . . cutting off the food supply of the whole of Germany and Austria, knowing full well that those countries could not produce sufficient food and milk for their own population?” Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, May, 1936, p. 267.

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not possible “in advance of the facts in particular cases” to determine what action “would be appropriate,” but an assurance was given that the American Government would “extend all appropriate assistance” to its citizens whose goods were seized in violation of the “rules of international law.” 20 On January 25, 1915, the German Federal Council issued a decree which placed under governmental control certain cereals and flours. Three days later, Count Bernstorff informed the American Govern¬ ment that this German decree would not refer to . . . foodstuffs that will reach Germany from neutral countries, but re¬ fers solely to the supply of food at present in Germany, the object being to prevent a possible accumulation and cornering of foodstuffs, in other words, to prevent all speculation in same.21 As soon as the British Government heard of this German decree of January 25, the worst possible interpretation was placed upon it, and on January 27, Sir Edward Grey sent a short note to Ambassador Page which announced that the German Government had “officially taken over the use and distribution of all food in the Empire.” This meant, concluded Sir Edward, that “all food in effect belongs to the army,” and therefore cargoes of foodstuffs from America to Ger¬ many had lost their non-contraband character and were liable to seizure.22 This note greatly worried Secretary Bryan, who at once wrote to Secretary McAdoo to advise him that all “interested persons should be advised that the status of shipments of provisions to Germany is put in doubt by reason of the decree mentioned.” 23 In order to clarify this serious situation the German Government hastened to convey to the Department a formal assurance that . . . all goods imported to Germany from the United States, directly or indirectly, and which belong to the class of relative contraband, as f. i. foodstuffs, will not be used by the German Army or Navy nor by Govern¬ ment authorities, but will be left to the free consumption of the German civilian population.24 20 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 376-377. 21 Ibid., 1915, PP- 317-318. 22 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, January 27, 1915, ibtd., p. 317. 23 Secretary Bryan to Secretary McAdoo, February 3, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 318-319. 24 The German Embassy to the Department of State, February 7, 1915, ibid., P- 95-

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Such assurances, however, had little weight with Sir Edward Grey who promptly informed Ambassador Page that the German Govern¬ ment had created a “tremendous organization” for war purposes, and such being the case there was no clear division “between those whom the Government is responsible for feeding and those whom it is not.” It seemed apparent to Sir Edward that any foodstuffs imported osten¬ sibly for civilian use might easily be seized for military purposes.25 At this point the American Government was faced with a very important decision. It was apparent that the British blockade of all foodstuffs to Germany would entail terrible suffering upon the civilian population of that country, and would probably cause a much larger number of deaths than the strictest enforcement of German submarine warfare.26 It was true that from the ethical point of view the action , taken by Germany could not be condemned as severely as that taken by Great Britain. An important difference, however, lay in the fact that very few American nationals would be seriously affected by the British blockade, while both the lives and property of many Americans might be lost as a result of submarine attacks upon British shipping. When the German war zone proclamation was received by the De¬ partment of State on February 5, Secretary Bryan was out in the West on a speaking trip. Mr. Lansing at once advised President Wilson that this latest move of the German Government presented a “most deli¬ cate situation” which would have to be handled with “extreme care.” On the following day he had a conference with the President, and, suddenly becoming more resolute in his attitude, he wrote the draft of a note to Germany which boldly sounded a high note of menace. The destruction of merchant vessels without visit and search was a “wan¬ ton act unparalleled in naval warfare,” and the German Government should be held to “strict accountability” for any injuries inflicted upon American citizens or any loss of American property.27 On February 7, after reading the explanatory memorandum of the German Government, Mr. Lansing now informed the President that the advisability of “any protest at all” was “open to question.” 28 He 25 Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Page, February 10, 1915, ibid., p. 332. 28 In his recently published volume of Memoirs (N.Y. 1936), pp. 12S-129, Count Bernstorff observes: “Anyone who does not recognize the moral reprehensibility of the English blockade loses the right to pronounce judgment on the moral justincation of the U-Boat war. ... In any case, the melancholy fact remains that the blockade killed more women and children than the U-Boat war." 27 Ray S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson, vol. V, pp. 246-247. 28 Ibid., p. 247.

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soon wavered again, however, and at length hit upon the brilliant idea of sending notes to both England and Germany. In the German procla¬ mation of February 4, attention was called to the fact that British merchant ships were using neutral flags to save them from attack. On February 5, the captain of the Lusitania, upon approaching the Irish coast, hoisted an American flag.29 This fact was soon known to the German Government, which immediately recognized the complica¬ tions that would arise from such a practice.30 On February 10 Secretary Bryan sent a note to the British Govern¬ ment protesting against any “general use” of the American flag by British merchant ships. The “occasional use” of the Stars and Stripes might be countenanced by the American Government, but a strong objection was filed against any “explicit sanction” of this procedure by the British Admiralty or Foreign Office.31 The phraseology of this note was vigorous, but the President’s friendly attitude towards Great Britain made it distinctly improbable that any refusal to take this protest seriously would arouse any ill-will against Sir Edward Grey. In a telegram to Colonel House the Presi¬ dent frankly . . . regretted the necessity of sending the note [of February 10] about the unauthorized use of our flag, but it could not be avoided, for sooner or later, the use of the flag plays directly in the hands of Germany in their extraordinary threat to destroy commerce.32 It was usually possible for Sir Edward Grey to give but a hurried glance at the crystal of British foreign policy and immediately get a clear vision of the real situation in Washington. He was thoroughly familiar with the President’s inclination toward Great Britain, and he never failed to make good use of this knowledge. In his reply to the American note of February 10 he defended as an established principle 29 Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 361., 30 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, Feb. 10, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 101. 31 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Page, Feb. 10, 1915, ibid., pp. 100-101. 32 President Wilson to Colonel House, February 3, 1915, House MS. Spring Rice was very indignant that the American Government had sent these two notes which chided both the German and the British Governments for their misdeeds, and in a conversation with Elihu Root he expressed himself in a caustic manner: “I pointed out the unspeakable injustice of putting the two matters on the same level and asserted that we had been absolutely correct in our action and strictly followed the international and especially American precedents. He quite agreed and then said ... we should remember that the American Government was think¬ ing in terms of internal politics.” Spring Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Feb. 26, 1915, The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, vol. II, p. 257.

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of international law the right of a belligerent merchant ship to use a neutral flag to escape capture. Such a practice had long been recog¬ nized by all nations. After this general discussion of the principles of international law, Sir Edward then turned, as was so often his wont, and instructed the American Government in American practice. During the War Be¬ tween the States several vessels belonging to the North had availed themselves of this ruse de guerre without protest from the British Government. It was unfair, therefore, for the United States now to expect Great Britain to abandon such a well-established practice. Moreover, it was apparent that Sir Edward was a firm believer in reciprocity, and who could deny his claim ? 33 But if “reciprocity” were the keynote of Anglo-American diplo¬ matic correspondence, it was soon apparent that Mr. Lansing could discover no past German favors that would offset present American hostility. In the note addressed to Germany on February 10 most of the sharp phrases of his draft for the Secretary of State were re¬ tained.34 Any destruction of enemy merchant vessels without a pre¬ liminary visit and search was condemned as “unprecedented in naval warfare.” After such a sweeping statement there naturally followed a threat: In the event that German submarines should destroy on the high seas an American vessel or the lives of American citizens, it would be difficult for the Government of the United States to view the act in any other light than as an “indefensible violation of neutral rights.” Moreover, if such a deplorable situation should arise, the German Government would be held to a “strict accountability” for every injury inflicted upon American citizens and all damages to their property.35 Before sending a formal reply to the American note of February 10, the German Government, through its Ambassador in Washington, 33 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, undated but received in Wash¬ ington, Feb. 20, 1915, transmitting memorandum from Sir Edward Grey, For. Rel 1915, Suppl., pp. x 17-118. 34 Mr. Lansing fully realized that diplomatic relations with Germany might be seriously strained because of the acrid phraseology of the notes he was drafting for Secretary Bryan. On February 15 he had a conversation with Mr. Garrison, the Secretary of War, in which they discussed the “serious state of affairs” con¬ cerning Germany. Lansing Diary, Feb. 15, 1915, Lansing MS. 36 For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 98-99. The belligerent tenor of this American note to Germany immediately impressed British Liberals, and on February 17, 1915, John Morley wrote to Andrew Carnegie and commented upon it: “It almost looks as if the senseless animosity between German and Briton in Europe, might take root in U. S. A. What a calamity that would be.” Carnegie MS.

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defended the establishment of a war zone as a reprisal against the “murderous character” of the English method of naval warfare which sought to condemn “the German people to death by starvation.” 38 This communication from Count Bernstorff deeply moved Secre¬ tary Bryan who wrote at once to President Wilson and registered a strong protest against the British blockade. The situation was grow¬ ing “more and more delicate,” and he was fearful of impending complications. After conversations with the German and Austrian Ambassadors he was inclined to believe that there was a possibility of securing a withdrawal of the German war zone proclamation if the British Government would permit foodstuffs to be imported into Germany. His own opinion relative to the British blockade was that such a measure was . . . without justification. The German Government is willing to give assurances that the food imported will not be taken by the Government and is even willing that American organizations shall distribute that food. This, it seems to me, takes away the British excuse for attempting to pre¬ vent the importation of food.37 On the following day Secretary Bryan informed Ambassador Page of the nature of the German proposal relative to the distribution of American foodstuffs in Germany. The Secretary of State was inclined to believe that the German Government would act in good faith, and the policy of Great Britain in seeking to keep food from the “civil population of a whole nation,” he was sure, would create a “very unfavorable impression throughout the world.” 38 The serious implications that the British blockade had for the civilian population of Germany were constantly before the German leaders, and in a note from the German Minister of Foreign Affairs to Ambassador Gerard, February 17, attention was called to the at¬ tempt of the British Government to present to Germany the alternative of “perishing in misery” or of submitting to the “yoke” of England’s “political and commercial will.” 39 This communication was received by the Department of State early on the morning of February 19, and Secretary Bryan was incited to 36 Count Bernstorff to the Secretary of State, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 105. 87 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, February 15, 1915, Bryan MS., Library of Congress. 88 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Page, February 16, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 107. 39 Von Jagow to Ambassador Gerard, February 17, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 113.

238

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fresh endeavor with reference to the admission of foodstuffs into Germany. He at once sent a short note to the President in which he suggested that American agencies in Germany could distribute food¬ stuffs received not only from the United States but from other neutral states desirous of using American facilities. His reason for such a suggestion was the belief that “it might seem selfish of us if our effort was confined to food from this country.” He felt certain that the time was “ripe” for a proposal of this nature from the American Govern¬ ment, and he thought it would be “hailed with rejoicing by all neutral countries.” 40 On February 20, 1915, Secretary Bryan addressed identic notes to Germany and Great Britain suggesting that neither nation “use sub¬ marines to attack merchant vessels of any nationality except to enforce the right of visit and search.” If Germany would agree to such a re¬ striction upon submarine warfare, then Great Britain should consent to the shipment of foodstuffs to Germany to be distributed to the civilian population through American agencies.41 Just before these identic notes were sent to Germany and Great Britain, the Department of State received from Ambassador Page a telegram declaring that there was not a “ray of hope for any agree¬ ment between Germany and England whereby England will permit food to enter Germany under any condition.” 42 Mr. Page was only too familiar with the British official mind. On February 27, during a conversation with Colonel House, Sir Edward Grey expressed his approval of the compromise suggested by 40 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, February 19, 1915, Bryan MS., Library of Congress. On this same day (February 19) Mr. Chandler P. Anderson, legal adviser to the Department of State, wrote a confidential letter to Mr. Lansing rela¬ tive to the German war zone: “It occurs to me that Germany’s announced will¬ ingness to recede from its proposed war zone blockade ... if Great Britain will permit the passage of foodstuffs to Germany, is suggestive that Germany is very uncertain about being able to make the proposed programme effective. The block¬ ade, as I will call it for convenience, is directed not only against foodstuffs but against all contraband, and even contraband on neutral vessels, and if Germany could shut off all such supplies from Great Britain, the effect on Great Britain would be so disastrous that the war would probably come to a speedy conclusion. The entire stoppage of food supplies on both sides would be more serious to Great Britain than to Germany, and it does not seem reasonable that Germany would be willing merely for the sake of renewing its supply of food to open the way for an unlimited supply of food, but also of war materials to Great Britain, if Ger¬ many was able to establish an effective blockade.” Lansing MS., Library of Con¬ gress. 41 Secretary Bryan to Ambassadors Page and Gerard, February 20, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 119-120. 42 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, February 20, 1915, ibid., pp. 118119.

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Secretary Bryan. Such a formula, he believed, would permit the British Government to “carry on the war indefinitely.” Colonel House, however, soon discovered that Ambassador Page was more stubbornly British than Sir Edward Grey and less inclined towards any arrange¬ ment with Germany. When the Colonel informed Mr. Page of the President’s ardent desire to have this proposed compromise between England and Germany placed before the British Foreign Secretary with all possible “emphasis,” the Ambassador loftily replied that he did not consider the arrangement a “wise one.” Also, he failed to see how its acceptance would be “favorable to the British Government.” However, he did consent to make an appointment with Sir Edward Grey to discuss the matter, but he frankly confessed that he had “no stomach for it.” 43 As early as October 29, 1914, the President had begun to entertain some fear that Ambassador Page was “putting himself out of touch with American feeling altogether,” and he believed that there might be some “slight danger in the intense feeling he has for the English case.” Nevertheless, at that time he had no thought that Page would fail to carry out his instructions “very loyally.” 44 It is possible that Page may have done so in the early fall of 1914, but it is extremely unlikely that in March, 1915, he gave anything more than lip loyalty to his President. It is probably the only time in the long history of Anglo-American relations that a British Foreign Secretary gave more friendly consideration to the proposals of an American President than did the American Ambassador accredited to Great Britain. On March 1 the German Government replied to the American note of February 20 by promising not to use their submarines to attack merchant ships of any flag except “when necessary to enforce the right of visit and search.” In return for this concession it insisted upon the right not only to import foodstuffs (to be distributed by American agencies) but also the right to import certain raw materials.45 Two weeks later (March 15) Sir Edward Grey handed Ambassa¬ dor Page a long note containing a detailed catalogue of alleged Ger¬ man misdeeds which were considered as a justification for the British policy of detaining cargoes of American foodstuffs. The British Gov¬ ernment had no intention of raising the “hunger blockade” of Ger48 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 444-445. 44 President Wilson to Colonel House, October 29, 1914, House MS. 48 Von Jagow to Ambassador Gerard, March 1, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 129-130.

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many, and the attempt of Secretary Bryan to introduce humanitarian principles into the practice of nations ended in dismal failure.40 In the meantime the German Government had taken an important stand with reference to the conduct of submarine warfare. In the proclamation of February 4, announcing the establishment of a war zone in the waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland, it was distinctly stated that all enemy merchant vessels found in these waters after the eighteenth of the month would be destroyed. There was no attempt to disguise the fact that this campaign against enemy shipping involved a grave menace to the lives of the crews and passengers of these vessels. Moreover, because of the use of neutral flags as a ruse de guerre it was quite possible that neutral ships venturing into the war zone might be sunk by mistake. This dread contingency was counted upon by the German Government as a means of deterring neutral ships from sailing to British ports: it would also serve as a warning to citizens of neutral nations to refrain from sailing on ships belonging to belligerent countries. The German Naval Staff had long believed that submarine warfare could be successful only if conducted without too much regard for complications with neutral powers.47 Such a viewpoint was in sharp contradiction to that held by the Foreign Office, and on February 11 Secretary von Jagow paid a visit to Vice-Admiral Bachmann to enter strong objections against the torpedoing of any neutral ships or the infliction of any injuries upon citizens of the United States.48 While von Jagow was struggling to maintain friendly relations between the United States and Germany, Ambassador Bernstorff was playing much the same role in Washington. He was particularly con¬ cerned over the possibility that serious difficulties would result from the use of the American flag by the British as a ruse de guerre. On February 11 he sent to the Foreign Office a telegram in which he gave 46 Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, March 15, 1915, ibid., pp. 140-143. For the German viewpoint on this action by Sir Edward Grey see Captain Albert Gayer, Die Deutschen U-Boote in ihrer Kriegfiihrung, 1914-1918 (Berlin, 1920), vol. II, pp. 5-20. 47 In this connection the following comment by J. M. Kenworthy and George Young in their volume, Freedom of the Seas, pp. 83-84, is quite pertinent: “If the German High Command and Foreign Office had allowed the Naval Staff to con¬ centrate from the beginning on the development of unrestricted submarine com¬ merce destruction, supplying the necessary support and materials, Germany would have won the war either before it had provoked the United States to the point of entering it or before the United States could bring their latent strength to bear.” 48 Rear-Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 129-133.

GERMANY

HURLS

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PREMATURE

CHALLENGE

24I

expression to his fears that serious trouble with America was immi¬ nent : — Improper use of neutral flag by British is considered in informed circles here as a deliberate measure to involve Germany in difficulties with the United States by firing upon American flag and destroying the crew. Ur¬ gently recommend, after announcement, as planned, has been successful in warning neutral ships, to examine steamers flying American flag most carefully for contraband on board or for improper use of flag. Also recom¬ mend gentle treatment of crew as far as possible. Mistakes may have seri¬ ous consequences.49 To Vice-Admiral Bachmann, the new Chief of the German Naval Staff, it seemed obvious that the Foreign Office should immediately send to the neutral powers a note warning them of the dangers that confronted neutral shipping and neutral passengers in the war zone just proclaimed by the German Government. Because of the fact that British shipping was using neutral flags it was difficult to determine the true nationality of merchant vessels. Also, the old practice of visit and search was rendered impracticable and dangerous by the decision of the British Government to place armament upon all merchant vessels.50 These suggestions of Vice-Admiral Bachmann were adopted by the Foreign Office, and on February 15 Ambassador Bernstorff sent a note to Secretary Bryan indicating the grave dangers that menaced all neutral shipping in the war zone.51 At this same time the Foreign Office was also preparing an answer to the American note of February 10 which had warned the German Government that it would be held to a “strict accountability” for any injuries inflicted upon American citizens. On February 14 a discussion was held in the residence of the Chancellor with reference to the text of this note of reply, and it was at once apparent that the naval authorities would oppose any softening of the rigors of submarine warfare. But both the Chancellor and Secretary von Jagow believed it was imperative to conciliate the American Government. When the conference finally came to an end with no agreement in sight, it was evident that the Kaiser would have to settle this question of exact phraseology. 49 Ambassador Bernstorff to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, February 11, 1915, MS. Auswdrtiges Amt. (German Foreign Office, hereafter cited as G. F. O.). 50 Rear-Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 130-133. 61 Ambassador Bernstorff to Secretary Bryan, February 15, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Sup pi., pp. 104-105.

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

With a view to influencing the Kaiser’s viewpoint, Vice-Admiral Bachmann sent to the Imperial headquarters at Loetzen a note which stressed the unwisdom of granting any special concessions to the American Government. He believed it would be expedient to empha¬ size the dangers that would attend neutral navigation in the war zone, and he warmly opposed any promise of security for American ves¬ sels.52 He also shared the belief of other naval officers that within the short span of six weeks England would be forced to abandon her blockade of Germany if an unrestricted submarine warfare would be waged at once.53 This opinion was regarded by the Kaiser as “perfectly Jesuitical,” but because of the strong pressure from naval circles he accepted a compromise projet drafted by the Foreign Office in which no guaran¬ tee of security was given to ships of neutral nations. On February 16, Secretary von Jagow addressed a note to Am¬ bassador Gerard in which he clearly indicated that it was “very far indeed from the intention of the German Government . . . ever to destroy neutral lives and neutral property.” The declaration of a war zone had announced . . . merely the destruction of enemy merchant vessels found within the area of maritime war, and not the destruction of all merchant vessels, as the American Government appear to have erroneously understood. Finally, the note assured the American Government that the com¬ manders of German submarines had been instructed to “abstain from violence to American merchant vessels when they are recognizable as such.” 54 In the meantime, in accordance with the desires of the Foreign Of¬ fice and of the Kaiser himself, telegrams had been sent to the Com¬ mandant of the High Sea Fleet on February 14 and 15, with reference to the conduct of submarine operations. For urgent “political reasons” the commanders of U-boats were “for the present” not to attack ships “flying a neutral flag, unless recognized with certainty to be enemies.” Also, the entire program of submarine warfare was not to be launched 52 Rear-Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 147-148. 53 General Erich von Falkenhayn, The German General Staff and Its Decisions, 1914-1916 (N.Y. 1920), p. 78, makes the following observation: “In the opinion of the naval staff, the result of the submarine was to render England incapable, within a period to be reckoned in months, of continuing the war on the Continent, in anything approaching the same manner as hitherto.” 54 Von Jagow to Ambassador Gerard, February 16, 1915, For. Rel., 1915 Suppl pp. 114-115.

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on February 18, as had been contemplated in the declaration of Febru¬ ary 4, but was to wait upon word from the Kaiser himself.55 On February 18 the Chief of the German Naval Staff instructed the Commandant of the High Sea Fleet to be “ready” to begin sub¬ marine operations with the “greatest energy.” After this formidable flourish he then added that “enemy ships” were to be destroyed but the vessels of neutral nations “were to be spared.” Once again it was clearly indicated that even this attenuated plan of action was not to go into effect until a specific order had been received from the Kaiser.58 As a result of this indecision at Imperial Headquarters the sub¬ marine operations that had been planned were not carried out, and confusion reigned in German naval circles. It was obvious that such a state of affairs could not long continue without seriously affecting naval morale. But the political factor was being constantly pushed to the front, and Ambassador Bernstorff kept sending alarming tele¬ grams to von Jagow. On February 17 he reported to the Foreign Office that he did not know as yet whether American merchant vessels would avoid the war zone. Mr. Lansing had discussed the situation with him, and had chanced to remark that he had written the note about submarine warfare . . . under the impression that the destruction of an American ship would cause extraordinary excitement in American public opinion, and might have far-reaching consequences.57 On February 19 Count Bernstorff again telegraphed to von Jagow to warn him of threatening dangers. It would be highly expedient, he thought, to discuss the whole situation with Colonel House, who was planning soon to visit Germany.58 55 Admiral Scheer, Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War, p. 230. With reference to these telegrams of February 14 and 15, von Jagow himself, in a letter to Count Bernstorff, September 19, 1919, remarks: “All my efforts were directed to guaranteeing the rights of Neutrals during the U-Boat war, and above all to avoiding any conflict with America. And when, on February 14th, it was agreed that Neutrals should be spared, I believe, without undue self-conceit, that I may claim a good part of the credit, by my influence on the Kaiser, and my vote at the general meeting (Naval representatives present) at H. M.’s headquarters at Bellevue. In any case, on the U-Boat question, I was the responsible official.” Memoirs of Count Bernstorff (N.Y. 1936), pp. 168-169. 68 Rear-Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 165-166. 57 Count Bernstorff to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, February 17, 1915, MS., G. F. O. e , 58 Rear-Admiral Arno Spindler, op. at., vol. I, p. 171. The anxiety of the German Government to take every possible precaution against the sinking of any American ship is clearly revealed in the telegram sent by Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, February 20, 1915: “Admiralty desires further details about American steamers proceeding to England in order safeguard their passage

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

m LOn February 22 the order finally came from the Kaiser inaugurat¬

244

-j-

ing submarine warfare. It was a step marked with the most grave consequences for Germany. Serious complications with the United States were inevitable despite the concessions made with reference to neutral shipping. The desire of the German Foreign Office to avoid difficulties with the American Government had nullified the plans of the German Naval Staff for an unrestricted warfare that would deter all neutral shipping from entering the war zone. The promises made to America destroyed any real chance that the war zone threat would frighten off neutral shipping or would give such immediate alarm to the British Government that British ships would be held in port to await developments. The fears of the German Foreign Office and the humanitarian inclinations of the Kaiser played sad havoc with the plans of von Pohl.5£)Warfare, to be successful, must often follow the formula laid down by our own General William T. Sherman. [ At the beginning of this submarine warfare Germany did not have available for sea duty more than twenty-one submarines. It was soon apparent, however, that even with this small number of German undersea craft in action the shipping of the Entente Powers would suffer very severely.?0 As the news came to America with reference to and asks for photographs, place of departure and arrival, route etc., also, if bound for Liverpool, information whether by north or south of Ireland and approximate dates. Silhouette of American Line steamers St. Paul, St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia given to Admiralty and point of arrival and departure stated to be Liverpool.” With reference to this telegram the editor of Foreign Relations makes the following observation: “By arrangement with the Department of Com¬ merce, information as to the sailing of American ships was thereafter regularly received and transmitted to the Ambassador in Germany for communication to the Admiralty.” For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 121. t— 69 Admiral Scheer, op. cit., pp. 228-229. 60 At the outbreak of the World War Germany had in the North Sea only 18 submarines, and by February, 1915, this number was increased to 21. Prior to August, 1914, there had been no preparations in the German Navy for the em¬ ployment of submarines against enemy commerce. The number of submarines merely corresponded to the strict military estimate as one of the numerous auxilia¬ ries in naval warfare. During the course of the war some 343 submarines were built, 178 were lost, 176 surrendered, and 14 were scuttled. In Germany the total personnel required to carry on submarine warfare (manning, overhaul, repair and replacement building of submarines) amounted to 112,000 men, while in England the personnel required for the manning, overhaul, supply, and replacement of pa¬ trol vessels as well as for the construction of vessels to replace losses by sinking reached the large figure of 770,000 men. On the German submarines some_5Jo87 mgiL-were^killed. Thus with a sacrifice of 5,087 men, Germany was libleTohoIcT incheck aTofce of 770,000 Englishmen. For other details see Capt. Albert Gayer, “Summary oF German Submarffie-Operations in the Various Theaters of War from 1914 to 1918.” Proceedings of the U. S. Naval Institute, April, 1926, pp. 621-659; Admiral Arno Spindler, “The Value of the Submarine in Naval Warfare,” Pro¬ ceedings of the U. S. Naval Institute, May, 1926, pp. 835-854; Admiral Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine (Paris, 1933), vol. I, chap, x; Vice-Admiral Andreas Michelsen, Der U-Bootskrieg, 1914-1918 (Leipzig, 1925), pp. 125-154; R. H. Gib-

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these successive sinkings of British merchant ships a feeling of sharp anxiety gripped both Secretary Bryan and President Wilson. It seemed unavoidable that sooner or later American lives would be lost in the destruction of this shipping, and this certainty was increased when the conditions surrounding submarine warfare were fully known. The effective use of the submarine in naval operations against the merchant shipping of a belligerent country was a factor that had not received due consideration from publicists in the field of international law. The law of nations had long recognized the right of a merchant ship to carry defensive armament, and this armament had been de¬ signed to protect it against attack from enemy cruisers or armed com¬ merce destroyers. The number and caliber of the guns that merchant ships could carry was limited with a view towards making it impossi¬ ble for these ships to conduct offensive operations. As against heavily armed commerce destroyers this light armament could be used only for defensive purposes, but against submarines it would be sufficient to destroy any undersea craft with a single discharge. If a submarine should stop a merchant ship and go through the usual formula of “visit and search,” would this procedure not place the submarine in grave peril? Was it not imperative for nations to cease arming mer¬ chant ships if they wished to ensure them against sinking at sight? An important new situation had arisen with which international law had not had time to cope.61 The question of armed merchant ships had arisen in the first week son and Maurice Prendergast, The German Submarine War, 1914-1918 (N.Y. I93i), PP- 3Si, , Certain critics have expressed the opinion that the inauguration of submarine warfare with only some twenty-one available submarines in the North Sea was a serious error which destroyed any possibility of success. Thus Winston Churchill, in his study The World Crisis (N.Y. 1923), vol. Ill, p. 217, remarks: “The pre¬ mature exposure with inadequate forces of this method of warfare was of immense service to Great Britain. Counter measures of every kind and on the largest scale were from the beginning of 1915 set on foot by the Admiralty under my direction. Armed small craft were multiplied to an enormous extent . . . and every scien¬ tific device, offensive and defensive, against the submarines were made the object of ceaseless experiment and production.” See also, General Max von Hoffmann, The War of Lost Opportunities (London, 1924), p. 156, observes: “We began too soon, that is with too few U-boats, and the results were very similar to those produced by our Gas Warfare.” 61 The important question that pressed for immediate answer was whether a merchant ship that carried armament should be considered an armed public ves¬ sel. Under international law the enemy has the right “to attack at sight an armed public vessel.” A public vessel “so equipped as to enable it to take the offensive subjects itself to the danger of instant destruction whenever the enemy is able to effect it.” See Chas. C. Hyde, International Law Chiefly as Interpreted and Applied by the United States (Boston, 1922), vol. II, pp. 465-466.

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of the World War. On August 9, 1914, the British charge d’affaires, Mr. Colville Barclay, informed Secretary Bryan that a “certain num¬ ber of British merchant vessels’’ were armed, but this was merely a “precautionary measure” adopted solely for defensive purposes. There was no doubt, thought the charge, that merchant vessels had a right to carry defensive armament, and should not be classed as vessels of war merely because of that fact. The duty of a neutral nation ... to intern or order the immediate departure of belligerent vessels is limited to actual and potential men-of-war, and, in the opinion of His Majesty’s Government, there can therefore be no right on the part of neutral Governments to intern British armed merchant vessels . . . nor require them to land their guns before proceeding to sea.62 It had long been known that certain British merchant ships were de¬ fensively armed, and as early as March 26, 1913, Mr. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the British Admiralty, announced in the House of Commons that “substantial progress” had been made in arming a “number of first-class British liners” in order that they might, in case of war, repel the attacks of “armed foreign merchant cruisers.” 63 The attitude of the American Government toward these armed merchant ships was soon disclosed. On August 13, the Francisco, carrying defensive armament, arrived in New York harbor, and Mr. Lansing asked the Neutrality Board to render an opinion as to its status. The Board promptly reported that it was perfectly legal for the Francisco to come to New York, but that clearance papers should be withheld until the “appropriate authority of the Government of the belligerent merchant ship accredited to the United States gives a written assurance to this Government that the armament not be used except for defensive purposes.” Mr. Lansing then inquired as to “what business” it was of the American Govern¬ ment to demand these assurances. The Neutrality Board held its ground, and on August 17, expressed the view that an assurance as to the “defensive purpose” of armament on merchant ships was “neces¬ sary” before clearance could be granted. This assurance could be given either by diplomatic or consular officers. On August 18, Mr. Lansing wrote a note to the Neutrality Board in which he expressed his doubts as to the validity of “consular assurances,” and concluded 62 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 598. ®3 Quot-ed in A. Pearce Higgins, Studies in International Law and Relations (Cambridge, 1928), pp. 240-241.

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with the statement that he could see no reason why armed merchant ships could not be cleared without them.64 A few days later (August 22) the British charge d’affaires called at the Department of State and left a memorandum indicating that the Francisco was armed with two 4.7 inch guns, “placed extreme aft of ship, firing only directly aft and over starboard and port quarters.” There was “no ammunition on board.” A similar memorandum was also filed with reference to the “Idaho” then in Boston harbor.65 Mr. Lansing referred these memoranda to the Neutrality Board with the observation that he saw “no reason why these vessels should not be cleared without assurances from British consular officers as to the purpose of the armament on board.” On August 24, the Board sent to Mr. Lansing a formal reply in which it indicated a distinct recession from its earlier viewpoint, and now showed a clear concurrence with the opinion that had been expressed by the Counselor: — The Board is of the opinion that the Memorandum of the British charge, taken in connection with his statement of the attitude of his Government upon the subject of the conversion upon the high seas of merchant vessels into vessels of war, contained in his communication No. 259, of August 9, 1914, constitutes the written assurance recommended by the Board, and it concurs with the Counselor that there is no reason why these vessels should not be cleared without assurances from a British consular officer.89 The British Ambassador well realized that this question of armed merchant vessels was one of major importance to his country, and in order to remove any doubts in American minds he wrote, on August 25, to Secretary Bryan to explain that the armament on these British ships was “solely a precautionary measure” adopted only for the “purpose of defence against attack from hostile craft.” 67 He un¬ doubtedly anticipated the arrival of several armed British merchant¬ men, and by early explanations he hoped to create a favorable impression. He had timed things very nicely, for on August 29 Mr. Dudley Field Malone, Collector of the Port of New York, sent the following telegram to the Secretary of the Treasury : — White Star steamship Adriatic arrived today with six-inch guns, two forward and two aft, mounted under orders British Admiralty August 84 MS. Opinions of the Neutrality Board. 88 Ibid. 88 Ibid. 8T For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 604.

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twentieth. Claims for purposes protection only. Ammunition for same two hundred explosive shells and two hundred loaded cartridges. Will sail September third. Wire instructions. Company states status as merchant vessel not changed.68 The German charge d’affaires was keeping a close eye on develop¬ ments, and on August 30 he wrote an informal note to Mr. Lansing calling attention to “the enclosed clipping of the Globe concerning the S. S. Adriatic which seems to be transferred into an auxiliary cruiser.” 69 Mr. Lansing immediately referred this whole matter to the Neu¬ trality Board, which replied on August 31 recommending that the Adriatic be “treated as a merchantman.” 70 The Neutrality Board, however, was not satisfied with such a summary treatment of the status of the Adriatic, and on September 2 it delivered a more comprehensive opinion on the subject of armed merchantmen. With reference to armament, the Board believed that the number of guns mounted on merchant vessels for defensive pur¬ poses was “immaterial” within “reasonable limits.” The size of this armament would naturally . . . depend on the value of the ship, the size of the ship, the size of the crew, and the available space upon which the guns could be mounted; where two guns might be mounted with difficulty on vessels of one class, a dozen might be mounted with ease on vessels of another. With particular reference to the Adriatic, the Board considered the assurances that had been received from the British Government as “satisfactory evidence to a neutral that the guns will not be used offensively until the return of the vessel to a port of her own coun¬ try.” 71 In the meantime, on September 1, Count Bernstorff reported to the Department of State the arrival of the British steamer Merion with an armament of six guns.72 The size and position of this armament at once raised the question as to its defensive character, and Secretary Bryan received assurances from Spring Rice that the guns on the Merion would be dismounted. Three days later the British Ambassa-

68 MS.

Opinions of the Neutrality Board. E. von Haniel to Mr. Lansing, August 30, 1914 MS. Opinions of the Neutrality Board. 79 Ibid. 71 Ibid. 72 For. Rel., 1914, Sup pi., p. 605.

69 Mr.

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dor inquired whether the American Government would object to hav¬ ing this dismounted armament subsequently shipped to England as cargo in another vessel.73 The following reply from Secretary Bryan illustrates how contempt for American desires caused the British Government to break its pledge to the American Secretary of State : — Replying to your note of the fourth instant it seems unnecessary to an¬ swer the inquiry regarding the shipment of the Merion’s guns to England as cargo in another vessel, for the reason that the Department is informed that not withstanding the assurances of your Government the Merion sailed with her guns and ammunition.74 On the margin of this telegram from Secretary Bryan to Spring Rice, September 9, 1914, there is the following note written by Mr. Lansing: — In view of objections raised by British Amb. that the last phrase re¬ flected on British Gov’t, this telegram was withdrawn.75 It was now apparent to Secretary Bryan that the American Govern¬ ment would have to define its attitude towards armed merchant ves¬ sels, so on September 19, 1914, an official circular was sent to the diplomatic representatives of the belligerent states. The American Government frankly admitted that a merchant vessel of a belligerent state might carry an armament for the sole purpose of defense without acquiring the character of a public ship of war. It was also stated that although an armament on board a merchant vessel created a presump¬ tion that these guns would be used for offensive purposes, yet this presumption could be overcome by reliable evidence to the contrary. The circular then laid down ten criteria which could be employed to test the validity of this evidence.76 It is more than likely that Mr. Lansing himself was largely re¬ sponsible for the issuance of this circular which accepted the musty old canons of international law as adequate to cover the many new de¬ velopments in the conduct of modern warfare. There was no hint in this circular that the American Government was ready to recognize realities and would, therefore, in view of the threat of submarine warfare, refuse to regard armed merchant vessels as other than ships 73 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 606-607. 74 Secretary Bryan to Spring Rice, September 9, 1914, Lansing MS. 76 Lansing MS. 76 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 611-612.

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of war. On September 15, 1914, Mr. Lansing submitted this circular to President Wilson, who sent his approval two days later: —* I entirely approve of the enclosed suggestions and rules and would be very much obliged if you would send them with my approval and as by my request to the Departments of the Treasury and of Commerce.77 This failure of Mr. Lansing to look to the future rather than to the past boded ill for any continuance of American neutrality. Also, his influence upon the Neutrality Board was not in favor of holding England to any “strict accountability.” In their declaration of a war zone (February 4, 1915), the German Government had objected to the British use of the American flag as a protection to British ship¬ ping. This question was promptly placed before the Neutrality Board for their opinion, and on February 10, it replied that the “display of colors, true or false, is no protection to a ship subject to visit and search in accordance with the usages of international law.” Before any merchant ship could be captured or destroyed by an enemy it was necessary that a visit be made in order to “prove the nationality of the ship by other means than the display of any particular flag.” 78 The dangers of such a visit to an armed merchant ship were very obvious to the Board, but at times the timidity of the members clouded their real judgment. On March 3, 1915, they went ahead and recom¬ mended that armed merchant vessels be admitted to American ports in accordance with the provisions of the Circular of the Department of State, September 19, 1914.79 If they had at this time shown the courage of their later convictions, it would have been necessary for Great Britain to remove all armament from merchant ships, and Ger¬ man submarines would not have sunk these ships at sight. It is right here that we come to the supreme crisis in the story of American neutrality. Since February 22, German submarines had been busily engaged in the war zone destroying British shipping. It was only a matter of time before a British ship with Americans on board would be sunk and a crisis in German-American relations arise. On March 28, the German submarine U-28, cruising in the Irish Sea, saw a large vessel approaching without any flag or any other sign of identity. The U-28 signaled for it to stop “immediately,” but the ship refused to obey the ll ^S1lent Wi,so? \° M.1-. Lansing, September 17, 1914, Lansing MS. Opinions of the Neutrality Board. 79 Ibid.

76 MS.

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signal and endeavored to escape. This flight soon proved fruitless, and when the steamer stopped the commander of the U-28 discovered it was the British steamer Falaba, with passengers. When a period of ten minutes was allowed for the crew and passengers to evacuate the ship great confusion ensued on the Falaba. When the ten minutes elapsed a further wait of an additional ten minutes was granted, but even this was not sufficient to disembark all the passengers, and a fur¬ ther stay of three minutes was permitted. When this second time ex¬ tension expired the commander of the U-boat fired a torpedo which struck the Falaba at the stern. It sank within ten minutes, one hundred and four passengers and members of the crew perishing. The commander of the U-28 reported in his logbook that there was a trawler close to the Falaba, and that other small English boats were in the vicinity. One of these trawlers had been following the move¬ ments of the U-28 for an hour awaiting an opportunity to attack it. Be¬ cause of the danger of such an attack the commander of the U-28 be¬ lieved he could not delay for more than the twenty-three minutes, and he had no idea that the Falaba would sink as rapidly as she did. It is possible that the thirteen tons of munitions which she carried as cargo exploded as a result of the impact of the torpedo and hastened her sinking.80 The destruction of the Falaba greatly shocked the American public, and when it was learned that an American citizen, Mr. Leon C. Thrasher, had been drowned as a result of this attack, indignation mounted higher.81 Mr. Lansing promptly prepared a memorandum on 80 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 65-67. The testimony given by the British passengers on the Falaba differed greatly from the account given in the logbook of the U-28. Dr. J. C. Fox testified that the U-28 fired the torpedo “within ten minutes after Falaba hove to.” Another passenger, Harry Dibley, re¬ ported that the U-28 approached the Falaba flying the British flag, and fired the torpedo within seven minutes after the Falaba stopped on signal. Harry Pengelly, third officer of the Falaba, made an affidavit that the “time between flying first signals by submarine and striking of torpedo was about twenty-five minutes.” For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 358-360, 364. On April 14, the German Government gave to Commander Gherardi, of the U. S. Navy, an account of the sinking of the Falaba which closely corresponds to the record of the logbook of the U-28. In this last version it is stated that “from the time of the command to leave the ship to the firing of their torpedo twenty-three minutes elapsed. . . . The torpedo was not discharged until the approach of suspicious vessels from which attack had to be expected forced the commander to act more quickly. When the shot went off no¬ body else was to be seen on the ship but the captain. . . . It is . . . untrue that the submarine flew the English flag at any time.” For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 370. 81 The comments in the American press with reference to the sinking of the Falaba were extreme in their denunciation of submarine warfare. The Philadel¬ phia Public Ledger stigmatized the action taken against the Falaba as “a crime against humanity.” To the New York World this sinking was nothing less than “murder”; to the New York Tribune it smacked of “assassination,” while the

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the legal points involved in this case. The importance of arriving at a sound conclusion in this matter was quite obvious to him since the decision now resolved upon would serve as a precedent if other similar incidents occurred. It seemed to him that the practice of international law required that ample time be given to the passengers and crew of a vessel to escape before a torpedo should be fired. An American citizen taking passage upon a belligerent merchant vessel was “entitled to rely upon an enemy’s war vessel conforming to the established rules of visit and search and of protection of non-combatants.” This being the case, it was apparent that the American Government should file a “complaint and a demand for damages.” Of course the filing of such a complaint would mean that the Department of State would be com¬ pelled to . . . denounce the sinking of merchant vessels in the manner referred to as a flagrant violation of international law. In fact it would be a denun¬ ciation of the German “war zone” plan, or at least of the method of carrying it out.82 Secretary Bryan readily recognized that any note to Germany de¬ nouncing their practice of sinking merchant vessels as a “flagrant violation of international law” would probably serve as an irritant tending to increase tension between the two countries. His main desire was to handle difficulties in a spirit of conciliation rather than one of denunciation, and he always believed that there were two sides to every question. In this mood he at once wrote to President Wilson and enclosed Mr. Lansing’s memorandum in a covering letter which out¬ lined the situation in an objective manner : — It seems to me that the doctrine of contributory negligence has some bearing on this case — that is, the American who takes passage upon a British vessel knowing that this method of warfare will be employed, stands in a different position from that occupied by one who suffers with¬ out any fault of his own. The first question raised is, What kind of demand shall we make, if we make a demand? We can hardly insist that the presNew York Herald condemned it as “barbarism run mad.” The New York Jour¬ nal of Commerce viewed the destruction of the Falaba as “an atrocity against which the civilized world should protest with one voice”; the New York Evening Post waxed highly indignant over such an act of “piracy”; and the New York Evening Sun expressed the heated opinion that it was a “triumph of horror.” Lit¬ erary Digest, April 10, 1915, p. 789. 82 Mr. Lansing to Secretary Bryan, April 2, 1915, quoted in Carlton Savage, Policy of the United States Toward Maritime Commerce in War (Washington, 1936), pp. 287-288.

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ence of an American on a British ship shall operate to prevent attack unless we are prepared to condemn the methods employed as improper in warfare. If we are to make a demand shall we recognize the warfare as proper and ask indemnity for the loss of life ? Can an American, by embarking upon a ship of the Allies at such a time and under such conditions impose upon his Government an obligation to secure indemnity in case he suffers with others on the ship ? 83 The President’s reply on the following day is most significant, for it reveals the drift of his mind towards the viewpoint of Mr. Lansing rather than to that of Secretary Bryan. It seemed to him that this Thrasher case was “full of disturbing possibilities,” because it was evident that . . . this American citizen came to his death by reason of acts on the part of German naval officers which were in unquestionable violation of the just rules of international law with regard to unarmed vessels at sea; and it is probably our duty to make it clear to the German Government that we will insist that the lives of our citizens shall not be put in danger by acts which have no sanction whatever in the accepted law of nations.84 At this juncture Secretary Bryan forwarded to the President a memorandum prepared by Mr. Lansing and dated February 15, 1915. In this document the Counselor outlined the “Advantages and Dis¬ advantages to Germany of War with United States,” and came to the startling conclusion that “the Advantages appear to outweigh the Disadvantages.” 85 In a letter to Secretary Bryan, April 2, 1915, Mr. Lansing stated that he had been informed that German public opinion was in accord with his memorandum.86 From this statement it was easy to infer that the German Government expected war with the United States as a result of its submarine policy, and would welcome such a contingency. The President, however, was not convinced by Mr. Lansing’s belliger¬ ent interpretation of Germany’s attitude towards the United States. He held to the opinion that negotiations with Germany should be con¬ tinued in the hope of arriving at a satisfactory solution, and he be¬ lieved that the American Government should not “alter” its course as 88 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, April 2, 1915, Bryan MS. 84 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, April 3, 1915, Lansing MS. 85 Memorandum by the Counselor for the Department of State, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 291-292. 86 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, April 2, 1915, ibid., p. 291.

254

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long as this was based on the “firm ground of right.” He was not the strict legalist that Mr. Lansing was, and he thought it best to “com¬ pound policy with legal right in wise proportions.” 87 But Mr. Lansing remained militant, and in his draft of an instruc¬ tion to Ambassador Gerard he used language which he characterized as “plain almost to harshness.” Such phraseology was necessary be¬ cause the sinking of the Falaba was an act that was indefensible both “legally and morally.” It was nothing short of a “tragedy,” and could not be dealt with in a “pleasant way.” Moreover, the German Govern¬ ment would show only “contempt” for a weak note, and American public opinion would “never stand for a colorless or timid presentation of a case” in which an American citizen had been killed by an “atro¬ cious act of lawlessness.” Although the consequences of a “vigorous” note might be “momentous,” Mr. Lansing did not see how the matter could be handled without a strong protest.88 In the draft instruction which he enclosed in this letter to Secretary Bryan the phraseology was certainly “strong and vigorous.” The sink¬ ing of the Falaba was denounced as a “flagrant violation of interna¬ tional law and international morality,” and was further stigmatized as “ruthless and brutal.” The American Government owed a “duty to it¬ self, to its citizens, and to civilization” which made prompt protest imperative. It was hoped, therefore, that the Imperial Government would disavow this “wanton act” of an officer in the German Imperial Navy, would punish the perpetrator of this outrage, and would make just reparation for the death of Mr. Thrasher.89 The wording of this draft instruction is so provocative in tone that one wonders if Mr. Lansing did not expect the United States soon to be drawn into war with Germany. The President quickly compre¬ hended the strained relations that might result from the transmission of such an acidulous protest, and he sent a short note to Secretary Bryan expressing the “greatest anxiety” about the Thrasher case. He thought it best to wait until he had secured further details about the sinking of the Falaba, and he wished to give his thoughts “time to settle” before taking any action.90 Secretary Bryan was also trying to put his ideas “in shape” on this 87 President Wilson to the Secretary of State, April 5, 1915, ibid., pp. 292-293. 88 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, April 5, 1915, ibid., pp. 293-294. 89 Draft Instruction to the Ambassador in Germany, April 5, 1915, ibid., pp. 29429590 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, April 6, 1915, Bryan MS.

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Thrasher incident, but was finding it difficult to do so. He felt the gravest concern over the whole matter, and he believed that the most troublesome question that demanded solution was . . . whether an American citizen can, by putting his business above his regard for his country, assume for his own advantage unnecessary risks and thus involve his country in international complications.91 On this same day (April 6) President Wilson addressed a second note to Secretary Bryan in which he admitted that this “Thrasher case” was “constantly” on his mind. He had read with the “closest attention” the memoranda prepared by Mr. Lansing and Mr. C. P. Anderson, and would like to have Secretary Bryan give special con¬ sideration to the following question : — If some British merchantmen were known to be armed, and the British Government had in fact authorized or advised all merchantmen to arm themselves against submarines, and assuming it to have been impracticable for the German commander to ascertain whether the Falaba was armed, was he justified in the circumstances in acting upon the theory that the Brit¬ ish authorization had in effect transformed all British merchantmen into public armed vessels and made them liable to attack as such ?92 It is significant that the President here raises the very question that for many anxious months was to clamor for settlement, and if the Neutrality Board had at this critical time taken the stand against armed merchant ships that it did at a subsequent date, there is a strong possibility that war with Germany would have been averted. At this time, however, the Board was sharply critical of the German Govern¬ ment for its declaration of a war zone. Such a procedure was without warrant from the viewpoint of international law, and the activities of the German submarines in this zone were condemned as not only “illegal” but “revoltingly inhuman.” 93 Taking his cue from the report of the Board, Mr. Lansing now forwarded to Secretary Bryan another memorandum on the sinking of the Falaba. The importance of this Thrasher case lay in the fact that a course of action must be adopted which could be consistently applied to similar cases which might rise in the future. Either one of two courses seemed to be open: — 91 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, April 6, 1915, Bryan MS. 92 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, April 6, 1915, ibid. 93 MS. Opinions of the Neutrality Board.

256

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1. To warn Americans generally to keep out of the German war zone, if on board a merchant vessel, which is not of American nationality. 2. To hold Germany to a strict accountability for every American life lost by submarine attack on the high seas. The adoption of the first course amounted to “an admission of the legality of establishing a war zone.” The adoption of the second course would be more nearly in accord with the American position which denied the “legality” of the war zone, and which held Germany re¬ sponsible for “indiscriminate attack within that area of the high seas.” This second course seemed the only one in keeping with the “dignity” of the American Government and in accordance with “its duty toward its citizens.” 94 The language of Mr. Lansing in these successive memoranda shows the strong urge for verbal conflict that is often typical of men who are mild in their personal relationships. In this regard his belligerent atti¬ tude brings to mind that revealing remark wrung from William E. Gladstone after he had borne with patience an unwonted attack from a usually pacific member of Parliament: “There is no animal so fero¬ cious as a mad sheep.” It is to the eternal credit of Secretary Bryan that he fought strenu¬ ously to counteract these militant suggestions of Mr. Lansing to the President. He was untiring in his efforts to find paths to peace rather than follow the broad highway to war, and the sincerity of his efforts deeply touched the President. On March 18, 1915, Secretary Bryan received from the Chief Executive a birthday letter which is important as an indication of the feeling which existed between the two men: — My dear Mr. Secretary: — ... We have now been associated for two years and I feel that I have greatly profited by the association. I have learned not only to value you as a friend and counsellor, but, if you will let me say so, I have found a very strong affection for you growing in my heart. Your high motives and constant thought of the public interest have been an example and stimula¬ tion to me throughout these years.95 94 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, April 7, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 296-297. 95 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, Bryan MS. Secretary Bryan had also made a most favorable impression upon Mr. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, who wrote on March 3, 1915, to Mr. J. C. Burns, and in the course of his letter remarked: “Bryan is a very much larger man and more competent than the papers credit him with being.” The Letters of Franklin K. Lane (ed. by A. W. Lane, and L. H. Wall, Boston, 1922), p. 167.

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Secretary Bryan knew how well he deserved such a high compliment from the President, and in this hour of national emergency he hastened to advise him with regard to the course the Administration should follow in connection with armed merchantmen. It seemed to him that the main points involved in the sinking of the Falaba were: — First — The use of submarines in attacking merchant vessels. Second — The right of merchant vessels to arm themselves to resist the submarine. Third — The effect of such arming on the rules that govern the con¬ duct of the submarine as to the rescue of passengers. Does the arming of a merchant vessel so change the character of the vessel as to increase the risks of passengers and crew ? This third question appeared to Secretary Bryan as the “most deli¬ cate” one pressing for immediate settlement. This was true not only because it involved a possible loss of human life, but also because America was dealing with a nation that had been made sensitive by the course adopted by the Administration with regard to the export of munitions of war. He was confident that the almost . . . unanimous desire of our country is that we shall not become involved in this war, and I cannot help feeling that it would be a sacrifice of the in¬ terests of all the people to allow one man, acting purely for himself and his own interests, and without consulting his government, to involve the entire nation in difficulty when he had ample warning of the risks which he as¬ sumed.96 The next day Secretary Bryan, in a desperate endeavor to find some formula that would keep America from a break in diplomatic relations with Germany, sent the following “proposition” to the President for his consideration: — An American citizen, after being warned of the dangers involved, takes passage on a British ship and loses his life with other passengers as a result of an attack by a submarine. Query : What Claim can this Government rightfully make for an un¬ intended loss which ordinary diligence would have avoided.97 This “query” of the Secretary of State anticipated the very situa¬ tion that confronted the American Government at the time of the 96 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, April 7, 1915, Bryan MS. 97 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, April 8, I9i5> ibid.

258

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Lusitania incident. If the President had followed the lead of his Secre¬ tary of State rather than that of Mr. Lansing, the sinking of the Lusitania would not have involved the loss of American lives, and American public opinion would not have received the great shock that sent it reeling on towards war. The real fight for American neutrality was waged in April, 1915, and it is important to note that at this stage in our relations with Germany “big business” played no part in influencing the mind of the President. America finally entered the war because of serious difficulties with Germany arising out of the sub¬ marine warfare. These difficulties may be traced directly to the re¬ action of the President to the declaration of the German war zone, and the subsequent activities of submarines. If the President had taken any decisive action against the admission of armed British merchant¬ men into American harbors, and if he had warned American citizens of the dangers that attended passage on belligerent vessels, America might well have been spared the great sacrifice of 1917-1918. The responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the President. The official who above all others helped to place it there was Robert Lan¬ sing. After his note to the President of April 8 Secretary Bryan waited some ten days before taking any further action relative to the sinking of the Falaba. He knew only too well that this incident was merely the prelude to a more serious situation. The sinking of any large British passenger ship with Americans on board was bound to mobilize American public opinion in favor of decisive action against Germany. Unlike Mr. Lansing he did not believe that the theoretical right of Americans to sail unmolested on the high seas should be supported to the point of actual warfare with Germany. If Americans could be kept off British ships, and if the British Government would agree to disarm their merchantmen, the submarine warfare would cease to be a for¬ midable threat to American neutrality. With this idea in mind he wrote to the President and emphasized the necessity of handling the Falaba case in a thoroughly objective spirit. He believed that there was no doubt as to ... the sentiment in Germany and the view they take is a natural one. 1st, They have warned Americans not to travel on British ships. Why do Americans take the risk? Not an unreasonable question. 2nd, If we allow the use of our flag, how can we complain, if in the confusion one of our boats is sunk by mistake ? 3rd, Why be shocked at the drowning of

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a few people, if there is to be no objection to starving a nation? ... If we are to prove our neutrality — and unless we do we are likely to be drawn into the conflict by the growing feeling in Germany — it seems to me we must prevent the misuse of our flag and warn Americans not to use British war vessels in the war zone.98 On the same day that Secretary Bryan sent this note to the Presi¬ dent, the Chief Executive himself made an address before the Daugh¬ ters of the American Revolution in which he stressed the importance of an objective spirit in the handling of American affairs: — There are many tests by which a nation makes proof of its greatness, but it seems to me the supreme test is self-possession, and the power to resist excitement, to think calmly, to think in moments of difficulty as clearly as it would think in moments of ease.99 On April 20, in the course of certain remarks to the representatives of the Associated Press, the President threw out a statement that had the ring of a challenge. The man to admire, he believed, was not the man who is ever eager for combat, but the “self-mastered man who watches you with calm eye and comes in only when you have carried the thing so far that you must be disposed of.” 100 But despite the martial tone of this speech to the leading newspaper men of America, the President was still seeking some pacific means of settling the Thrasher case. Unfortunately, he shut his eyes to the only real solution of the difficulty and vainly sought to draw from the outmoded bag of international law some ancient principle that would fit the present situation. If he had closed American harbors to bel¬ ligerent merchant ships carrying defensive armament the British Government would have immediately removed all guns from their merchantmen, and Germany would no longer have sunk enemy pas¬ senger ships at sight. His failure to take such action was a costly one, but it should be remembered that he did not pretend to be a scholar in the field of international law, and he leaned heavily upon the advice 98 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, April 19, 1915, Bryan MS. 99 The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (ed. by R. S. Baker and W. E. Dodd, N.Y. 1926), vol. Ill, pp. 299-300. 100 Ibid., vol. Ill, pp. 303-306. The eminent American historian, Mr. James Ford Rhodes, was deeply impressed by the President’s speech of April 20, and immedi¬ ately wrote to express his approval: “Admiration of the thoroughly patriotic and American tone of your Tuesday speech leads me to an expression of approval of the neutral position you have taken in this terrible European War. ... I believe that posterity will heartily approve your Tuesday speech and your foreign policy.” J. F. Rhodes to President Wilson, April 23, 1915, M. A. De Wolfe Howe, James Ford Rhodes (N.Y. 1929), P- 252.

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given him by Mr. Lansing and the Neutrality Board. In the matter of domestic legislation bearing upon American social, political, and eco¬ nomic problems he was often a pathbreaker, but his unfamiliarity with technical points in international law made him unduly conservative when radical revision should have been his keynote. After a brief period of indecision the President wrote to Secretary Bryan on April 22 and revealed his increasing concern over his in¬ ability to “work out some practicable course of action with regard to the death of Thrasher.” He outlined the draft of a note to Germany which he thought should emphasize the importance of ensuring the safety of the lives of the crews and passengers on merchant vessels. Under existing international law adequate safeguards were provided for every contingency that might arise, and it should be assumed that the German Government still adhered to the law of nations. On this basis the United States should send to Germany a “very moderately worded” but none the less “solemn and emphatic protest” condemning submarine warfare as contrary to “humanity, fair play, and a neces¬ sary respect for the rights of neutrals.” This stand would place the controversy on “very high grounds.” 101 To Secretary Bryan it was now obvious that the President could not think outside the precise categories so clearly presented to him by Mr. Lansing. Legal precedent loomed so large across his horizon that it completely blocked out any vision of a modified law of nations that kept pace with changing conditions of warfare. The core of the whole difficulty was the question of armed merchantmen, and the President resolutely refused to grapple with this problem in a manner that would speedily settle the dispute with Germany. The only outcome of such a policy was war, and Mrs. Bryan has given us a pathetic picture of her husband coming home from the Department of State with “blood¬ shot eyes and weary steps,” to burst out in excited accents: — “Mary, what does the President mean! Why can’t he see that by keep¬ ing open the way for mediation and arbitration, he has an opportunity to do the greatest work man can do! I cannot understand his attitude.” 102 Although deeply discouraged, Secretary Bryan still hoped that he might neutralize the pressure Mr. Lansing was exerting in favor of 101 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, April 22, 1915, Carlton Savage, oP ext., pp. 299-300. 102 William Jennings Bryan and Mary Baird Bryan, The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan (Phila., 1925), pp. 420-421.

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sharp words that would challenge Germany’s position. As a last effort to modify the President’s viewpoint, the Secretary of State prepared a note to the Chief Executive which indicated the abyss towards which America would drift if Mr. Lansing’s advice were followed: — As I have not been able to reach the same conclusion to which you have arrived in this case I feel it my duty to set forth the situation as I see it. The note which you propose will, I fear, very much inflame the already hostile feeling against us in Germany, not entirely because of our protest against Germany’s action in this case, but in part because of its contrast with our attitude toward the Allies. If we oppose the use of the submarine against merchantmen we will lay down a law for ourselves as well as for Germany. If we admit the right of the submarine to attack Merchantmen but condemn their particular act or class of act as inhuman we will be em¬ barrassed by the fact that we have not protested against Great Britain’s defense of the right to prevent foods reaching non-combatant enemies. . . . You do not make allowance for the fact that we were notified of the intended use of the submarine, or for the fact that the deceased knowingly took the risk of travelling on an enemy ship. I cannot see that he is differ¬ ently situated from those who by remaining in a belligerent country assume risk of injury. As an alternative to a challenging note to Germany condemning submarine warfare, Secretary Bryan suggested an “appeal to the na¬ tions at war to consider terms of peace.” To his mind the President had an “opportunity as has not come to any man before.” 103 This earnest letter from the Secretary of State gave definite pause to the President’s inclination to accept the counsel of Mr. Lansing. In his reply to Mr. Bryan he frankly admitted that he was not at all confident that ... we are on the right track in considering such a note as I outlined for Mr. Lansing to work on. I am not sure that my outline really expressed what I would myself say in the note, for, after all, the character of a note is chiefly in the way the thing is said and the points developed. Perhaps it is not necessary to make formal representations in the matter at all. With reference to the issuance of an appeal to the warring nations to consider terms of peace, the President, after carefully searching his “mind and conscience both to get the best and nearest approach to wisdom,” reluctantly came to the conclusion that the present moment was not opportune. On the basis of information he had recently re103 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, April 23, 1915, Bryan MS.

262

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ceived from Colonel House, he was now certain that any offers of American mediation would not only be futile, but possibly even “offensive” to the belligerent powers.104 While the President was still pondering over the exact phraseology he should use in a note to Germany protesting against the sinking of the Falaba, news came to the Department of State to the effect that on April 28 the American steamer Cushing had been attacked by a Ger¬ man seaplane, and that on May 1 the American tanker Gulflight had been torpedoed. No lives were lost on the Cushing, but two of the crew of the Gulflight had been drowned, and the captain had died of shock.105 In the case of the Cushing, Admiral Behncke, Acting Chief of the German Admiralty, informed Ambassador Gerard on May 29 that the attack had been an “unfortunate, unintentional accident,” which was “very much regretted.” The torpedoing of the Gulflight was an “un¬ intentional mistake” that was “unavoidable,” and Admiral Behncke assured the American Ambassador that “full recompense would be made for damage.” 106 Three days later von Jagow sent a note to Ambassador Gerard in which he discussed in detail the Gulflight incident. In conclusion he expressed the regret of the German Government for the attack, and offered “full recompense for the damage sustained by American citi¬ zens.” 107 From the German point of view there were extenuating circumstances surrounding the torpedoing of the Gulflight. On May 1 the commander of the German U-30 was engaged in a brief artillery battle with an armed British patrol boat when he noticed the approach of a large steamer accompanied by two smaller vessels. The smaller vessels had the appearance of patrol boats carrying armament. It was impossible, therefore, to stop the large steamer and search her papers to establish her identity. As the torpedo was launched an American flag was suddenly descried on “the staff on the poop,” but the attack had already been made. One of the smaller boats accompanying the 104 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, April 28, 1915, ibid. At this same time when Secretary Bryan was requesting the President to issue an appeal for world peace, Rear-Admiral F. E. Chadwick, April 30, 1915, sent to the President a similar request. He thought it was immoral for the American Government to “stand by and see this conflagration extend indefinitely. ... It seems to me that no country, in any age, ever had such a power for the good of the world as we have in our hands today. We can make peace, and we can make it, I believe, without injustice to any.” Henry White MS. 105 For. Ret., 1915, Suppl., pp. 378-381, 384, 419, 431, 436, 440, 526. 106 Ibid., p. 440. 107 Von Jagow to Ambassador Gerard, June 1, 1915, ibid., pp. 431-432.

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Gulflight immediately attempted to ram the U-30, which promptly submerged. When it next came to the surface the Gulflight had been towed into port.108 As might have been expected, the Cushing and the Gulflight inci¬ dents aroused the ready ire of Mr. Lansing and he quickly sent a note to Secretary Bryan advocating immediate and vigorous action. The attack on the Cushing appeared to him as a “more flagrant violation of neutral rights on the high seas” than the torpedoing of the Falaba. It indicated that the German naval policy was one of “wanton and in¬ discriminate destruction of vessels regardless of nationality.” More¬ over, German submarine warfare was now complicated by the appear¬ ance (May 1) of an advertisement in some fifty American newspapers warning American citizens against taking passage on British vessels traversing the war zone. Mr. Lansing believed that American citizens had an undoubted right to travel on British ships sailing through this war zone, and their lives should not be imperiled by submarine warfare. And not only should the American Government uphold the “right” of uncontrolled travel on the high seas, but some notice should be taken of this ad¬ vertisement in the American press warning American citizens against booking passage on British ships. The insertion of such an item in newspapers was “highly improper,” and was even “more insolent” than the publication of diplomatic correspondence. All communica¬ tions to the American public should be sent first to the Department of State, and if that Department gave its approval, they could then be given circulation. The failure to follow such a procedure was an “im¬ pertinent act” which warranted “summary action” if that should be deemed “expedient.” After this detailed criticism of German practice, Mr. Lansing came to the alarming conclusion that the German Government was making 108 The logbook or “Kriegstagebuch” of Commander von Rosenberg-Gruszczynski, of the U-30, for May 1, 1915, reads as follows: “Wie er gerade kentert, kommt ein kleiner Dampfer aus Sudost in Sicht, der mit sehr hoher fahrt auf ‘U 30’ zuhalt. Einige 8,8 bringen ihn, trotz scheinbar guter Lage in seiner Nahe, nicht zum Abdrehen; auch er feuert aus kleinem Kaliber, kurz 500-200 m. Trotz hochster Fahrt sackt er nicht. Seitlich kommt noch ein Fischdampfer auf ‘U 30’ zu. Gleichzeitig voraus ein grosser Dampfer in Begleitung eines kleinen in Sicht. Getaucht, Angriff, G-Torpedo, trifft den Tankdampfer beim Fockmast. Er fuhr in Begleitung zweier Fischdampfer als U-Boots-sicherung, einer davon mit FT. Beim Schuss wurde amerikanische Flagge ausgemacht. Der Erfolg des Schusses konnte nicht beobachtet werden, da die Begleitdampfer auf ‘U 30’ zudrehten und die beiden anderen noch hinter mir her waren. Auf 20 m. gegangen. Beim Wiederhochkommen ist nichts mehr in Sicht, Wetter noch unsichtiger geworden. Aufgetaucht.” MS. Marine Archives, Berlin.

264

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a “determined effort to affront” the United States and thus force an “open rupture of diplomatic relations. This hysterical mood was confirmed when he later heard of the attack upon the Gulflight. He no longer harbored any doubts that the German Government wished to provoke “radical action by the United States which would result in the “severance of diplomatic rela¬ tions.” America was being forced to the “breaking point in her relations with Germany, and he was certain that the attacks upon American vessels were dictated by a desire for open hostilities. Mr. Lansing’s “thorough” conviction that the attack upon the Gulflight unmistakably indicated a desire on the part of the German Government for war with the United States was not without influence upon President Wilson.111 After reading Mr. Lansing’s note to the Secretary of State, May 3, 1915, he evidently became greatly per¬ turbed over the situation, and on the following day he anxiously cabled to Colonel House and solicited his advice as to “the best way of han¬ dling the matter of the sinking of the American oil boat in view of all you have learned.” 112 i°9 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, May I, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 303-304. With reference to the sources of information upon which Mr. Lansing relied for his opinion that the German Government and public were ready for war with the United States, the following excerpt from the Lansing Diary, April 19, 1915, may be suggestive. It is to the effect that Dr. James Brown Scott, the Chairman of the Neutrality Board, had just phoned to Mr. Lansing to convey some important information: “Scott phoned. Private letter on German feeling and willingness to be at war.” Lansing MS. 110 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, May 3, 1915, ibid., pp. 305-306. In the face of this evidence that Mr. Lansing’s mood toward Germany was one of mounting belligerence, we have the Lansing memorandum of May 3, 1915, recently published by Mr. Allen W. Dulles, in the New York Times Magazine, Jan. 31, 1937, pp. 3, 27. In this hitherto unpublished memorandum Mr. Lansing evinces a much more pacific attitude toward Germany than is revealed in his notes to Presi¬ dent Wilson and Secretary Bryan. Indeed the difference in attitude is so signifi¬ cant that one is at a loss to understand why Mr. Lansing did not draft his notes to Secretary Bryan in this conciliatory spirit and thus give much needed support to the contentions of the Secretary of State. If he had adopted this course it would not have been necessary for Secretary Bryan to resign, and the story of GermanAmerican relations would very possibly have had a different ending. 111 Mr. Lansing’s belief that the German Government was deliberately endeavor¬ ing to bring about a break in diplomatic relations with the United States was shared by Spring Rice, who probably received the tip from Lansing himself. In a letter to Sir Edward Grey, April 30, 1915, Spring Rice remarks: “There is undoubtedly a feeling that Germany is deliberately preparing trouble and that the violent and hostile language held by the German Americans here . . . and the German Embassy in Washington, is deliberately used for the purpose of bringing on a breach of relations. It is thought that Germany intends to procure a prohi¬ bition of the export of arms to the Allies by ... a rupture between the United States and Germany.” The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, vol. II, p. 264. 112 President Wilson to Colonel House, May 4, 1915, House MS. The attack upon the Gulflight raised some interesting questions concerning the conduct of

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The Colonel, at that time in London in quest of world peace, im¬ mediately advised that a firm and acidulous tone be adopted towards Germany. This should be expressed in a “sharp note” demanding “full reparation.” For the present this procedure might be sufficient, but he darkly hinted that a “more serious breach may at any time occur.” 113 Two days later the U-20 torpedoed the Lusitania in the waters off the southern coast of Ireland. The large loss of American lives sent a shudder through the entire Western Hemisphere, and mobilized American public opinion against submarine warfare. Against this background of increasing bitterness the belligerent counsel of Colonel House and Mr. Lansing took on a new significance. For a while there might ensue a wordy Battle of the Books in which the President as a master of literary expression would fence with phrases whose menace was covert and subtle, but in the end war was certain unless the Ger¬ man Government convinced the President of a change of heart and of a new attitude towards international conduct. The President was steering a course that led straight towards open conflict with Ger¬ many, and apparently neither time nor tide would wait until Secretary Bryan could alter the rudder or show the pilot the harbor of concilia¬ tion. submarine warfare, and on May 12 Mr. Lansing sent to the Neutrality Board the following note: “It will be observed from this statement [the affidavit of the master of the Gulflight] that the Gulflight was ordered to follow two British patrol boats, that the Gulflight steered her course as directed by them, and that in this situation the Gulflight was torpedoed. This case suggests to my mind the questions whether the Gulflight is to be regarded as under the convoy of British ships and whether a neutral vessel under belligerent convoy is subject to the same rules of visit and search by the enemy as when not under convoy.” The Board promptly replied that visit and search were not necessary when a vessel was under a legal convoy by enemy vessels of war, but that this deviation from ordinary procedure referred only to capture and not to the destruction of the ves¬ sel. The mere fact that the Gulflight was under convoy did not legalize her de¬ struction. Above all, it was necessary to ensure the safety of the crew before torpedoing the ship, and this was not done. Mr. Lansing, however, did not im¬ mediately approve this decision of the Board, and in large letters he wrote across the decision: Not Approved Yet.” The following memorandum was attached to the original of this opinion: “The Gulflight was bound to a French port and was ordered by a British patrol to follow it to a British port for search and examination. In these circumstances she was proceeding involuntarily and prac¬ tically was under seizure. How, therefore, can she be said to be under convoy ? This question is raised by the letter of reference to the Board and is not answered.” MS. Opinions of the Neutrality Board. 113 Colonel House to President Wilson, May 5, 1915. House MS. See also. The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 43I_432-

X THE LUSITANIA LEAVES FOR A RENDEZVOUS WITH DEATH In the fight for American neutrality which he so vigorously waged during the momentous years from 1914 to 1917, Mr. Bryan revealed an understanding of American habitudes of thought that was far deeper and infinitely more comprehensive than that possessed by Pres¬ ident Wilson and his coterie of astute advisers. In some mysterious manner he was able to “tune in” upon every important wave of American thought, and he seldom permitted the static of minority stations to blur the message that came so distinctly from the American masses. At times he could detect above all the loud clamor of popular expression the vibrant voice of the future calling to those who had the courage to forsake familiar patterns of political conduct in favor of new modes that would match new situations. Armed with this knowledge of things that are to be, Mr. Bryan constantly sought to share his vision of tomorrow with those who wished to linger in the present. There were millions who soon saw through his eyes. In the whole course of American history there has been no other political Pied Piper with so fervid a following even though the path he picked never led to green pastures. He was pre¬ eminently a leader of lost causes, and his greatest defeat was his failure in 1917 to keep America out of the war. He had pinned all his hopes upon the frail bulwark of American neutrality which was soon riven by forces whose strength he could not gauge. It would have been easy and profitable for him to ride the high tide of war sentiment that swept across the continent in 1916-1917, but he chose to fight it with all his amazing vitality until he went down, as many thought, to inglorious defeat. His vindication for that gallant strug¬ gle is now long overdue. It is not an easy task, however, to convince a critical world that Mr. Bryan often pointed the way to important political reforms. Some of our intelligentsia still believe he was accurately described in a pun-

THE LUSITANIA LEAVES

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gent phrase of John Hay — “a blatant wild ass of the prairies.” 1 In that same Cleveland circle of critics which Mr. Hay impressed with his mordant wit was the budding historian, Mr. James Ford Rhodes. Mr. Rhodes could never quite forget the acid accents of John Hay, and he always regarded Mr. Bryan as something of a political mounte¬ bank.2 Many others who shared this adverse opinion saw in Mr. Bryan nothing more than an irrepressible exhibitionist who would strike any attitude the public called for. But the “Great Commoner” was too big a personality to fit into any glib formula. He was forwardlooking without having the fixed gaze of the visionary, and even the most cursory study of his attitude toward American neutrality shows that he was a political prophet whose principles America is now adopt¬ ing with belated enthusiasm. In his struggle to preserve American neutrality Mr. Bryan re¬ peatedly urged upon President Wilson the expediency of forbidding American citizens to travel on belligerent merchant ships. He often expressed the view that it was grossly wrong for “one man, acting purely for himself and his own interests, and without consulting his government,” to involve America in war by taking passage on a bel¬ ligerent merchant ship that might be torpedoed. He understood only too well the numerous dangers that might attend the constant use of the American flag by belligerent ships. Although this ruse de guerre was approved by publicists in the field of international law, it was clear to Mr. Bryan that it might lead to serious complications. He was wholeheartedly opposed to the flotation of large loans in the United States by belligerents through public subscription, believing that it would align these investing classes behind the nations to whom they had loaned their money. If Mr. Bryan had won the support of the President to his view that American citizens should be kept off belligerent merchant ships, there would have been no Lusitania incident and the controversy with Ger¬ many regarding submarine warfare would not have grown so bitter that it inevitably merged into war. And in this same regard, Mr. Bryan’s views as to the status of the armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers were so enlightened that the President would have profited greatly had he even leaned toward their acceptance. 1 John Hay to Henry White, August 5, 1896, White MS. 2 The opinion of Mr. Rhodes concerning Secretary Bryan is clearly expressed in one of his letters to Sir George Otto Trevelyan, February 28, 1915. See M. A. De Wolfe Howe, James Ford Rhodes (N.Y. 1929), pp. 248-249.

268

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Since the termination of the World War American public opinion has swung rapidly in favor of the Bryan proposals, although in one respect Mr. Bryan himself failed to read the future. As Secretary of State he did not oppose the trade with belligerents in munitions of war. He may have thought that if the warring nations were prevented from floating loans in the United States this trade would never reach any large proportions. At any rate he took no active steps to hamper the American “merchants of death” from plying their calling.3 As for the proposals that Mr. Bryan actively supported during the years 1914-1917, it was soon apparent that public opinion in Amer¬ ica would demand their enactment into Federal law. In April, 1934* Mr. Charles Warren (who had served as United States Assistant Attorney General from August, 1914, to April, 1917) brought out an important study of the whole neutrality problem. It was clear to him that in order to preserve American neutrality it would be neces¬ sary, upon the outbreak of any important war in either hemisphere, for the American Government to adopt the measures so strongly urged by Mr. Bryan while he was Secretary of State.4 3 In the United States since 1918 the movement to restrict the export of muni¬ tions of war grew so fast that in May, 1934, during the Chaco conflict in South America, Congress authorized the President to prohibit the shipment of arms and munitions of war to the belligerent nations. The President made prompt use of this authority, and the Supreme Court on December 21, 1936, held that this del¬ egation of power was constitutional. In August, 1935, a Neutrality Act was passed by Congress which authorized the President to prohibit the shipments of arms, ammunition and implements of war (not to include raw materials or food¬ stuffs) to all belligerent states or to any neutral port for transshipment to, or for the use of, a belligerent country. In February, 1936, Congress voted to extend the duration of this act to May 1, 1937. See Public Resolution No. 67, 74th Cong., approved August 31, 1935, and Public Resolution 74, 74th Cong., approved Feb¬ ruary 29, 1936. See Dr. Joseph P. Chamberlain, “The Embargo Resolutions and Neutrality,” International Conciliation, June, 1929; “A Study of Neutrality Legis¬ lation,” Rept. of Committee of the National Peace Conference, in International Conciliation, January, 1936; Phillips Bradley, Can We Stay Out of War (N.Y. 1936) ; Allen W. Dulles and Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Can We Be Neutral? (N.Y. 1936) ; and Elton Atwater, Neutrality Revision Before Congress (Washing¬ ton, 1937). 4 The following suggestions were made by Mr. Warren in an article entitled “Troubles of a Neutral,” in Foreign Affairs, April, 1934, reprinted in International Conciliation, June, 1934, pp. 196-213 : — 1. The Government should be prepared in the event of war to take over the control of all high-power radio stations. 2. Forbid the supply or sale of arms and ammunition to all belligerent nations.

3. Forbid American vessels to transport arms and ammunition to belligerent nations. 4. Forbid American citizens to travel as passengers or crew on any ship, whether belligerent or domestic, which carries munitions of war. 5. Forbid the entrance into American ports or waters of commercial ships of belligerents which carry armament. Forbid American citizens from traveling either as passengers or crew on such armed merchantmen.

6.

Forbid the entrance into American ports or waters of any ship of a bellig-

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It is interesting to compare the suggestions of Mr. Warren with the proposals of Mr. Bryan while he was Secretary of State. There is no doubt that Mr. Warren regards with favor such proposals, and ap¬ parently this is now the view of President Roosevelt and the Congress of the United States. In the Act of August 31, 1935, the President is authorized during the existence of a foreign war to issue a procla¬ mation admonishing American citizens to abstain from traveling on vessels of the belligerent powers.* * * * 5 After the outbreak of hostilities between Ethiopia and Italy, President Roosevelt issued (October 5, 1935) a proclamation to this effect, and this procedure was warmly commended by the American press.6 A similar proclamation in February, 1915, would have safely blocked the road to war.7 It is against this background of what “might have been” that we are best able to survey the situation arising out of the sinking of the Lusitania. By May, 1915, German submarine warfare had destroyed a large number of British merchant ships, and American lives had been lost in attacks upon the British steamer Falaba and the American tanker Gulflight. In the memoranda and notes that had passed be¬ tween President Wilson, Secretary Bryan, and Mr. Lansing, the dif¬ ferent aspects of submarine warfare had been thoroughly canvassed, and the President had inclined towards Mr. Lansing’s viewpoint that Germany should be held to strict accountability. erent nation which permits its vessels to fly the American flag for purposes of deception. 7. No prize should be allowed to be brought into American ports. 8. Submarines, whether war or commercial, should be forbidden to enter Amer¬ ican waters during a war, and aircraft similarly forbidden to descend within jurisdiction of the United States or pass over its territory. 9. Merchant ships of belligerent nations in American ports should be required to leave within stated time or else be taken into control. 10. Forbid the entrance into our ports and waters of any ship of a belligerent nation which shall have violated our neutrality laws. 11. Forbid the public flotation of loans in America by belligerents. 12. Forbid the assembly and dispatch abroad of reservists in belligerent armies and the enlistment of American citizens in the armed forces of these bel¬ ligerent nations. & Public Resolution No. 67, 74th Congress, approved August 31, 19356 Press Release, Department of State, October 5, 1935. 7 In this regard the following remarks of Senator Bennett Champ Clark, of Mis¬ souri, are distinctly pertinent: “I would not be content with warning American citizens not to travel on belligerent vessels. I would make the forfeiting of the passports the penalty for such traveling, one of the most dangerous possibilities of rousing public sentiment against one of the belligerents which could exist. It was the lives lost on the Lusitania which enraged so many in this country, not the loss of the vessel nor her cargo; lives of American citizens who, under my idea of what the law should be, would be kept off belligerent vessels.” Washington Star, January 10, 1937-

270

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As one reads over these notes and memoranda of Mr. Lansing it is apparent that he was convinced that Germany desired war, and his constant counsel to the Secretary of State was to adopt a stern note in dealing with the German Government. America must uphold her rights! It is with distinct surprise, therefore, that one examines the long memorandum Mr. Lansing wrote on May 3, 1915? f°r 'his own guidance.” This document has long been in the possession of Mr. Al¬ len W. Dulles, a nephew of Mr. Lansing, and was published in the New York Times Magazine, January 31, 1937. The contrast between the moderate and conciliatory tone of this memorandum and the threatening language of his other notes and memoranda is quite startling. With reference to the conduct of the European nations dur¬ ing the World War Mr. Lansing, in this memorandum of May 3, makes the following detached and calm comments: — What is the observance of law compared to a nation’s life? . . . Can we blame . . . the governments of warring Europe . . . for their in¬ difference to our legal rights? . . . The conditions are abnormal. The state of mind of the men directing the affairs of the belligerent powers is abnormal. ... It is obvious that with the belligerent powers desperate and lawless a neutral government seeking to preserve the commercial rights of its citizens has a well-nigh hopeless task. What can be done? Appeal to established rules governing a belligerent’s treatment of neu¬ trals ? How much attention would be paid to it ? Threaten the offender with retaliation? What would be the use of that? ... To threaten without carrying out the threat would be worse than useless. It would be humiliat¬ ing and might lead to grave consequences. . . . The most sensible course seems to be patience, and treat the warring nations as if irresponsible for their acts.8

If Mr. Lansing had followed the counsel of his own memorandum the relations between the United States and Germany would never have become so embittered, and the sequel of war might have been averted. On the very same day that he wrote this pacific memorandum he also wrote a note to Secretary Bryan which breathed a very dif¬ ferent spirit. With reference to the submarine attacks upon the Falaba, the Cushing, and the Gulflight, he believed the American Government could not avoid making a “vigorous” protest. A “mere appeal or a deferential complaint” would not “satisfy the American people nor be in accord with the duty of the Government or with the rights of the 8 N.Y. Times Magazine, Jan. 31, 1937, pp. 3, 27.

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United States.” 9 He realized that the situation was “critical,” and felt that America was being “forced near to the breaking point” in her relations with Germany. Moreover, the German Government was adopting an aggressive attitude “wilfully,” through a misconception of conditions in the United States.10 With Mr. Lansing in this critical mood it would take merely one more submarine “incident” to convince him that war with Germany was the only solution for American difficulties with that country. The “patience” about which he preached in his memorandum was soon to be put to a severe test, and it evaporated the moment he heard of the sinking of the Lusitania. As one reads the diary or logbook of Lieutenant-Commander Schwieger of the U-20 it seems like a trick of fate that the Lusitania should have been torpedoed on the afternoon of May 7. Schwieger himself had begun his voyage back to Emden when he sighted the Lusitania. In defiance of express orders to the contrary, Captain Turner had reduced the speed of his vessel to some eighteen knots, and at 1 : 40 p. M. he changed the course of the Lusitania to starboard and began in a leisurely manner to take a “four-point bearing” to determine his exact location. Although he had received wireless warn¬ ings from the British Admiralty informing him that German sub¬ marines were iii the vicinity, he continued to disregard instructions and not only came close to the Old Head of Kinsale (submarines often lurked near capes or headlands), but failed to steer a “zigzag course.” The turn to starboard at 1: 40 p. m., and the failure to steer a zig¬ zag course, which would have made it more difficult for a submarine to take careful aim, were factors that greatly helped in the destruction of the Lusitania. Indeed, the alteration of the ship’s course to star¬ board brought the U-20 within range of the Lusitania, thus making “possible an approach for a shot.” At 2: 10 p.m., the torpedo struck the Lusitania on the starboard side just behind the bridge. A loud explosion followed the impact of 9 Mr. Charles Warren, op. cit., p. 207, has the following comment upon the procedure of the American Government during 1914 to 1917 in insisting that bel¬ ligerent nations give strict observance to American “rights”: “What is the use of talking about neutral ‘rights,’ in view of such a situation? ... It is evident that the citizens of a neutral nation do not now possess any rights on the high seas which can be successfully asserted against a belligerent without danger of such assertion leading to war. ... In any future war ... it will be wise for our Sec¬ retaries of State to cease using the words ‘neutral rights of trade.’ If we continue to contend for such ‘rights,’ we will inevitably be implicated in the war.” 10 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, May 3, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit.,

PP- 305-306.

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the torpedo with a thick cloud of smoke and flying debris reaching far beyond the front funnel. A second explosion was soon heard, and the Lusitania stopped immediately and began to heel over to star¬ board as though it were about to capsize. After observing the “great confusion” that broke out on the torpedoed vessel, with tragic at¬ tempts to launch several life-boats that foundered with all their oc¬ cupants, the U-20 submerged and “ran out to sea.” Just before leav¬ ing the sinking liner to her fate, Commander Schwieger descried some golden letters on her bow and made out the name Lusitania-11 When the U-20 next viewed the scene through its periscope the Lusitania had completely disappeared. To the surprise of Commander Schwieger the giant Cunard liner sank in about eighteen minutes; and — partly because of the confusion that seized a somewhat inex¬ perienced crew, partly because a second explosion added serious dam¬ age to that resulting from the torpedo — more than half the passen¬ gers and crew perished. It was one of the major maritime catastrophes of modern times, and it had a profound effect upon German-American relations.12 The unfortunate results that would follow the destruction of any large belligerent merchant vessel with Americans on board had long been apparent to many friends of Germany in the United States, and some weeks before the sinking of the Lusitania an effort was made to prevent such a dread contingency. In April, 1915, the German “Propaganda Cabinet” in America held an important meeting to dis¬ cuss the success of their efforts to build up a pro-German sentiment 11 The story of the sinking of the Lusitania is told in graphic fashion in the Diary of Lieutenant-Commander Schwieger. This may be consulted in the trans¬ lation given in the article entitled “The Sinking of the Lusitaniaby Professor Thomas A. Bailey, American Historical Review, October, 1935, pp. 54ff.; in Pro¬ fessor Bailey’s “German Documents Relating to the Lusitania,” Journal of Modern History, September, 1936, pp. 320-337; or in the article by Robert L. Duffus in the New York Times, May 3, 1935. See also Charles E. Lauriat, The Lusitania’s Last Voyage (N.Y. 1915) ; Walter Millis, The Road to War (N.Y. 1935), chap, v; Wesley Frost, German Submarine Warfare (N.Y. 1918), pp. I73ff.; RearAdmiral Arno Spindler, “The Lusitania Case,” Berliner Monatshefte, May, 1935, pp. 402-410: Capt Friedrich Luetzow, “Der Lusitania-Fall,” Sueddeutsche Monats¬ hefte, March, 1921, pp. 39iff.; U. S. For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 384-387, 391-392 409-412. 12 The passenger and crew list of the Lusitania numbered 1,959. As a result of the destruction of the vessel 1,198 perished. Of this number 270 were women and 94 were children. There were 197 Americans on board, and 128 of them lost their lives. See Sen. Doc., 67 Cong., 2 sess., no. 176. Among the Americans who were drowned on the Lusitania were such well-known personages as Elbert Hubbard Charles Frohman, Charles Klein, Justus M. Forman, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Her¬ bert S. Stone and Dr. S. Pearson.

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in certain circles.13 They were in “high fettle” over the results of their endeavors, but Mr. George S. Viereck, the editor of the periodical The Fatherland, sounded a note of warning : — Sooner or later some big passenger boat with Americans on board will be sunk by a submarine. Then there will be hell to pay. He was answered by a German naval expert, who alluded to the fact that the British blockade carried a threat of starvation to thou¬ sands of German children; therefore Americans should be impressed with the magnitude of the British operations as compared with Ger¬ man submarine activities. His viewpoint carried little weight, how¬ ever, and it evoked a crushing reply from Dr. Dernburg : — The American people cannot visualize one hundred thousand or a mil¬ lion children starving by slow degrees as a result of the British blockade, but they can visualize the pitiful face of a little child drowning amid the wreckage caused by the torpedo of a German submarine.14 Dr. Dernburg’s language was so forceful and his illustration so im¬ pressive that Dr. Fuehr inquired as to the date of departure of the next belligerent passenger ship for England. When it was discovered that the Lusitania would soon sail, Mr. Viereck excitedly shouted : — “Then publish a warning before the Lusitania sails.” The Propaganda Cabinet unanimously adopted this suggestion and prepared a warning soon to be published in the leading New York newspapers, but owing to “technical difficulties” its appearance was postponed until May 1, which was the day the Lusitania sailed for England.15 This unusual advertisement was duly noted by Americans who had planned to leave on the Lusitania, and it aroused definite apprehensions in their minds. These were partially dispelled by assur¬ ances that a convoy would be sent by the British Admiralty to meet the Lusitania when she reached the war zone.16 Fears were also al¬ layed by Mr. Charles P. Sumner, general agent of the Cunard Line, 13 The principal members of this Propaganda Cabinet were Mr. George S. Viereck, Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, Dr. Heinrich Albert, Dr. Karl A. Fuehr, and Mr. William Bayard Hale. 14 George S. Viereck, Spreading Germs of Hate (N.Y. 1930), pp. 60-61. 15 See New York Times, May 1, 1915. Also New York American, New York Herald, New York Evening Post, New York Tribune, New York Journal of Commerce, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 1, 1915. 16 Charles E. Lauriat, The Lusitania’s Last Voyage, p. 6.

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who hurried to the pier on May 1 to spread the cheerful information that the voyage of the Lusitania would not be attended by any “risk whatever.” 17 But notwithstanding these assurances there still persisted in New York a strong fear that the Lusitania might be torpedoed by a Ger¬ man submarine, and on May 3 the Washington Post published a dispatch from New York which declared that “grave apprehension” was felt for the safety of the large liner. On May 7 a Cabinet meeting was held at the White House. After the meeting had been adjourned and the Cabinet members had re¬ paired to a local hotel to continue their discussion of certain pressing questions, the President decided to take an automobile drive. But before he could leave the Executive Mansion the news was brought to him of the sinking of the Lusitania. The first real crisis in German-American relations had arisen.18 The reaction in America to the sinking of the Lusitania was one of caustic criticism of the German Government. The Des Moines Reg¬ ister and Leader regarded the destruction of a passenger vessel with¬ out proper precautions for the safety of the passengers and crew as an act of “deliberate murder”; 19 the New York American echoed the same sentiment, and charged that it was a “deed of wholesale mur¬ der”;20 the Boston Transcript thought it was nothing less than a “massacre”; 21 the New Orleans Picayune called it an “outrage”; 22 while the Louisville Courier-Journal expressed the opinion that “noth¬ ing in the annals of piracy can in wanton and cruel ferocity equal the destruction of the Lusitania.” 23 The Los Angeles Times endeavored to be objective in its attitude towards the incident, and summed up its viewpoint as follows: — An American, in trying to preserve an attitude of fairness, must not forget that “war is war” and that Germany had announced her purpose 17 Washington Post, May 8, 19x5. 18 According to the account given in R. S. Baker’s Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters, vol. V, pp. 330-331, the President was advised of the sinking of the Lusi¬ tania at the “close of a busy cabinet meeting.’’ It seems more likely, however, that the account given in the Washington Post of May 8 is correct, and this indicates that the Cabinet had been dismissed less than an hour before the arrival of the news of the torpedoing of the Lusitania. 19 May 9, 1915. 20 May 8, 1915. 21 May 9, 1915. 22 May 30, 1915. 23 May 9, 1915.

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as an act of war to torpedo the Lusitania, an enemy ship with arms and ammunition for the enemy on board.24 But notwithstanding the wave of indignation that swept over America with reference to the sinking of the Lusitania, there was lit¬ tle newspaper sentiment in favor of war with Germany. The Chicago Tribune failed to see any strong movement that pointed towards war; 26 the Atlanta Constitution was certain that “the people of the United States do not want war”; 26 and the New York American felt that the “Lusitania incident in itself is of course no cause for a declaration of war.” 27 In fact, David Lawrence accurately analyzes the situation in the following sentence: — It is a singular thing that while a few people on the Eastern seaboard were clamoring for war, a careful examination of the editorials showed that out of 1,000 compiled by telegraph in the three days after the Lusitania was sunk in May, 1915, less than one-half dozen indicated a belief that war should be declared.28 Individual reactions to the sinking of the Lusitania varied as greatly as did newspaper comments, but the great majority of Amer¬ icans were bitterly opposed to this type of submarine warfare. When the news came to Mr. Frank A. Munsey, owner of several newspapers and a person endowed with a volcanic temperament, he hurriedly tele¬ phoned to Mr. J. Edwin Murphy, managing editor of one of the Munsey newspapers, the Washington Times: —

“Has Wilson declared war yet?” “No, Mr. Munsey.” “Is he going to ?” “I don’t think so. He hasn’t indicated it.” 24 May 8, 1915. 25 June 5, 1915. 26 May 9, 1915. 27 May 12, 1915. A large portion of the business world was sharply critical of the sinking of the Lusitania, but had no desire for war. This viewpoint is well expressed by the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, May 15, 1915, vol. G, p. 1624: “It is plain that the President’s claim to fame wifi rest on a securer foundation if he keeps the country out of the war than if he plunges it into it” The New York Call (Socialist) affected to see in the sinking of the Lusitania a dastardly plot of “big business” to “rig” the stock market on the basis of inside information: “As long ago as last Wednesday there were in Wall Street men who were absolutely confident that the great ship would never reach Liverpool. ‘She will go down,’ they said.” New York Call, May n, 1915. 28 The True Story of Woodrow Wilson (N.Y. 1924), PP- 197-198. See also the account given by Mr. David F. Houston, Eight Years with Wilson’s Cabinet (N.Y. 1926), vol. I, p. 132, with reference to the apparent indifference of the people of California to the sinking of the Lusitania.

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“Well, where is he?” “He is out playing golf just now.” “My God! Send out and get him right away. Tell him to declare war against Germany at once.” Furious that President Wilson did not immediately rush to war with Germany, Mr. Munsey hastily wrote an editorial which con¬ cluded as follows: — When all this was happening, accounts that wring the soul of all human¬ ity save that of German blood, the President went off to the country for a day at golf. Great God! Has there been such a spectacle as this since Nero fiddled at the burning of Rome ?29 There were certain Americans, however, who did not join in this storm of disapproval over the destruction of the Lusitania by a Ger¬ man submarine. Vice-President Thomas Marshall expressed the opin¬ ion that when “a person boarded an English vessel he was virtually on English soil and must expect to stand the consequences.” 30 Several other prominent Americans, like Senator Stone, of Missouri, Senator Jones, of Washington, and Mr. A. Mitchell Palmer, of Pennsylvania, gave voice to sentiments that were opposed to the prevailing practice of Americans in taking passage on vessels belonging to belligerent powers.31 Secretary Bryan himself was distinctly of this opinion, and in a letter to President Wilson (May 9) he contended that Germany had a 29 George Britt, Forty Years — Forty Millions, The Career of Frank A. Munsey (N.Y. 1935), pp. 281-282. Mr. J. P. Morgan was as deeply disturbed as Mr. Munsey over the sinking of the Lusitania. In the biography of Dwight Morrow (N.Y. 1935) by Harold Nicolson, pp. 188-189, there is a graphic picture of tense feeling in the House of Morgan when the news came. Thus: “The morning on which the news of the sinking of the Lusitania reached New York, Mr. Jacob Schiff, of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., came round to 23 Wall Street and entered the main partners’ room. Mr. J. P. Morgan himself was standing in the room. Mr. Schiff approached him with some timidity, murmuring regrets at this most unfortunate outrage. Mr. Morgan was completely ungracious; he made some cutting rejoinder and turned on his heel. Crestfallen and crushed, old Mr. Schiff walked sadly from the building. An awkward silence followed. ‘I suppose,’ said Mr. Morgan to his partners, ‘that I went a little far. I suppose I ought to apologize?’ The silence remained both awkward and prolonged. Dwight Morrow drew a writing pad towards him and scribbled these words: ‘Not for thy sake, but for thy name’s sake, O House of Israel!’ He tore off the sheet and passed it across to Mr. Morgan. The latter read the message, nodded in complete acquiescence, reached for his hat, and hurried across to Kuhn, Loeb & Co. to apologize to Mr. Schiff.” 30 Washington Post, May 14, 1915. 81 New York Times, May 9, 11, 1915.

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■ . . right to prevent contraband going to the Allies, and a ship carrying contraband should not rely upon passengers to protect her from attack — it would be like putting women and children in front of an army.32 Rear-Admiral F. E. Chadwick had a viewpoint that was closely similar to that of Secretary Bryan, and in a letter to Henry White (May 23) he expressed himself with clarity and force: — I do not think the Lusitania which was one of the two specially subsi¬ dized naval reserve ships . . . should have been allowed to use our ports. She was loaded, too, with 5700 cases of ammunition. . . . Wood [Gen¬ eral Leonard Wood] . . . phrased it to me at Mohonk: “You can’t cover 10,000 tons of ammunition with a petticoat.” Thus, while with every sympathy for those who lost their lives, the loss was due to their own un¬ patriotic unwisdom, and to the outrage (one can call it no less) of the British carrying such a cargo in a mail steamer. War is war, and can an enemy belligerent, at any cost, allow the safe transport of material for its own destruction ? I do not see how we can demand that under any circum¬ stances . . . that the lives of our citizens can be guaranteed in such ships.33 In Germany the general feeling with reference to the sinking of the Lusitania was one of satisfaction that England had received a severe blow in retaliation against her hunger blockade of Germany. It hap¬ pened that Mary Heaton Vorse, the well-known American novelist, paid a visit to Germany immediately after the destruction of the Lusitania, and her narrative of what she heard in that war-torn land is colorful. In a German cafe near the Holland frontier, many cur¬ rents of conversation swept past her: — “As for me,” said one woman, “I have no pity for those people on the Lusitania at all. Why should they travel on a munitions ship ? People who travel on munitions ships must expect to be blown up.” ... A tall man with jowls and huge mustaches joined the group, wip¬ ing his mouth. “Well, they blew up the Lusitania,” he said cheerily, “a good job. Our U-boat commanders are keen fellows!” Everybody nodded and murmured approval. . . . The same conversation that I heard in the railway station was repeated in the train. From the north to the south, I heard not one word of pity or 32 W. J. Bryan and Mary B. Bryan, The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan, pp.

398-399-

33 E. E. Chadwick to Henry White, May 23, 1915, White MS.

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mercy to the victims of the Lusitania. People repeated over and over, “Well, it serves them right! Traveling on a munitions ship!” 34 Prominent individuals in Germany rushed into print to justify the sinking of the Lusitania, and they first stressed the viewpoint that the Cunard liner was an auxiliary ship of war and therefore could be sunk at sight. This idea is expressed by Professor Max Fleischmann, of the University of Koenigsberg,35 Professor Karl Binding, of the University of Leipzig,36 and Professor Siegfried Brie, of the Uni¬ versity of Breslau. Professor Brie was quite positive in his claim that the Lusitania was really a ship of war: — No doubt exists that the Lusitania, as well as her sister-ship the Maure¬ tania, was built with the co-operation of the British Admiralty and was immediately armed with powerful guns in order that in the event of naval warfare she could at once be converted into an auxiliary cruiser of the British war marine. ... A hostile attack upon the Lusitania, without previous warning or search, was fully justified.37 Other German professors were certain that if the Lusitania was not an auxiliary cruiser of the British navy she was at least an armed merchant ship and therefore could be sunk at sight. This was the opinion of Professor Heinrich Harburger, of the University of Munich,38 Professor Johannes Niedner, of the University of Jena,39 and Professor Heinrich Triepel, of the University of Berlin.40 The German press was equally positive in its defense of the sinking of the Lusitania. The Koelnische Zeitung announced that the destruc¬ tion of the Lusitania would be . . . received by the German people with unconcealed satisfaction, because it will prove to England and to the world that Germany is in earnest in conducting her U-boat warfare.41 The Berliner Tageblatt was certain that there was ... no one in Germany who does not with deepest regret learn of the fact that with the sinking of the Lusitania so many civilians were compelled 84 A Footnote to Folly, pp. 91-92. 38Der Lusitania-Fall {Breslau, 1915),.PP- 5#- This volume is a symposium of German opinion on the sinking of the Lusitania, emphasizing the viewpoints of Ger¬ man professors. 36 Ibid., pp. i8ff. 87 Ibid., pp. 2off. 88 Ibid., pp. 4off. 89 Ibid., p. 65. 40 Ibid., p. 97. 41 Second morning edition, May 8, 1915.

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to offer their lives as a sacrifice to the operations of the war. But, at the same time, one dare not for a single moment overlook the fact that they perished as a result of English pride and English irresponsibility as well as their own indifference. They had been warned, but to their own sorrow, they cast this warning to the winds.42 The Muenchner Neueste Nachrichten believed that there was not a person in Germany who would not be filled . . . with the deepest sympathy for the large number of casualties result¬ ing from the sinking of the Lusitania. If anything can add to the tragedy of the circumstance of these sacrifices, it is the fact that they were warned as no one had ever been before, . . . and they were deceived through the conscienceless effort of the English Admiralty, the English shipping in¬ terests . . . and in part by the American press as to the value of the warning. ... It is our opinion that it is no more than the simplest duty and responsibility of the American officials to support the warnings of the German ambassador . . . against taking passage ... on ships of na¬ tions at war with Germany.43 In a considerable portion of the German press sorrow was ex¬ pressed for the large loss of lives on the Lusitania, and responsibility was cast upon England for her blockade of Germany. In some news¬ papers, however, a grim note of satisfaction was sounded over the success of submarine warfare, and a challenge was hurled at the United States because of her well-known sympathies for the cause of the Allies. In this regard the following excerpt from the Berliner Neueste Nachrichten is typical: — The torpedoing of the giant British liner Lusitania fills us with satisfac¬ tion in spite of the fact that it brings to mind the grewsome fate of the Titanic. Now finally, the firm of Wilson and Grey will realize that we will no longer be deterred by anything and are determined to go on in full, bloody earnestness. An Anglo-Saxon newspaper claims that now Woodrow Wilson must act since so many citizens of free America have found a watery grave. Should he crave action with us, just let him begin. . . . We could willingly bear the American declaration of war along with the Italian. Of victory we are certain.44 To President Wilson the news of the destruction of the Lusitania came as a terrific shock. Shortly after he had been informed of the 42 Evening edition, May 8, 1915. Morning edition, May 9, 1915. 44 Morning edition, May 10, 1915.

43

280

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tragedy he left the White House hurriedly and walked alone for a long distance, looking neither to the right nor to the left.45 The depth of his feeling in this regard is well described by Mr. Tumulty, who endeavored to call to the President’s attention some of the details that appeared in the press. He was quickly halted by the admonition that it “would be much wiser for us not to dwell too much upon these matters.” Then, with tears in his eyes, the President turned to Tumulty and explained his struggle to remain objective: — If I pondered over those tragic items that daily appear in the newspapers about the Lusitania, I should see red in everything, and I am afraid that when I am called upon to act with reference to this situation I could not be just to any one. . . . I have spent many sleepless hours thinking about this tragedy.46 It is possible, of course, that the President’s overwhelming sorrow for the loss of lives on the ill-fated Lusitania may have been partly based upon the fact that he had ignored the pleas of Secretary Bryan to take some action to restrain American citizens from sailing on bel¬ ligerent merchant ships. Indeed, if one can believe Senator La Follette, it would seem that . . . four days before the Lusitania sailed, President Wilson was warned in person by Secretary of State Bryan that the Lusitania had six million rounds of ammunition aboard, besides explosives. . . . Mr. Bryan ap¬ pealed to President Wilson to stop passengers from sailing upon the Lusi¬ tania.*7 With the President in this overwrought state of mind, and with Mr. Lansing leaning more and more towards a break in diplomatic 45 New York Herald, May 9, 1915. 46 Joseph P. Tumulty, Woodrow Wilson as 1 Know Him, p. 232. 47 John K. Turner, Shall It Be Again (N.Y. 1922), p. 101. In the St. Paul Pioneer Press, September 21, 1917, this item in Senator La Follette’s speech is given as follows: “President Wilson was warned before the Lusitania sailed that it carried 6,000,000 rounds of ammunition, Secretary Bryan asking that passengers be warned not to sail on it.” This statement that the Lusitania carried a large cargo of munitions of war was resented by many Americans, and the difficulties in which Senator La Follette was soon involved are told by Mr. Dudley Field Malone in a letter to the New York Nation, January 3, 1923, p. 15: “A committee of super¬ patriots of both parties in the United States Senate were preparing to expel Senator La Follette for his St. Paul speech. . . . To prove his contention [about munitions on Lusitania] Senator La Follette demanded from the Treasury Department a copy of my report on the Lusitania. The Treasury Department replied that the report had been sent to the Department of State. And when he demanded the report of the Department of State he was told that the report had gone into the archives as a secret document. ... I gladly gave Senator La Follette’s attorney a copy of the Lusitania report.”

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relations with Germany, it was only to be expected that the diplomatic notes from the American Government concerning the sinking of the Lusitania should sound a stern note. It was Mr. Lansing’s task to draft these notes, and the mood in which he essayed this task is now well known from certain passages in his War Memoirs: — It was difficult to restrain one’s feelings and to conduct a dispassionate correspondence with the German Government concerning the Lusitania affair, when nature revolted at the callousness of the perpetrators of the crime and of the officials who so unhesitatingly defended the act. Expres¬ sion of good will and courteous phrases seemed very much out of place.4'8 The American notes and the German replies dealt in detail with the facts pertinent to the sinking of the Lusitania, and there was a wide diversity of opinion as to what were the actual facts. A cursory can¬ vass of recent data relative to the “Lusitania incident” will help to clarify this situation. It is now known that Lieutenant-Commander Schwieger had not lain in wait at the entrance of the Bristol Channel for the express purpose of torpedoing the Lusitania.49 His encounter with the giant Cunard liner was entirely fortuitous. If Captain Turner had obeyed orders it is likely that the tragedy would never have happened. He had been instructed to steer a mid-channel course; to avoid capes or head¬ lands ; to sail at high speed; and to zigzag.50 He ignored each one of these important instructions and thereby assisted in the destruction of his own vessel. The commander of the U-20 had not expected the Lusitania to sink in the appallingly short time of eighteen minutes. On the previous day he had been impressed with the fact that vessels not even one fifth the size of the Lusitania had remained indefinitely afloat or had sunk slowly after having been struck by one torpedo. In his logbook, on May 7, he noted the “unusually heavy explosion” that followed the impact of the torpedo, and concluded that there must have been a sec¬ ond explosion, possibly of a “boiler or coal or powder.” 51 Whether this second explosion was caused by boilers that had been 48 P. 25. 49 For a scholarly survey of all pertinent materials bearing upon the destruction of the Lusitania see the definitive article by Professor Thomas A. Bailey, “The Sinking of the Lusitania.” The American Historical Review, October, 1935, pp. 54-73. 50 Parliamentary Papers (Command 381) Repts., 1919, vo\. XXV, pp. 2ff. 61 Rear-Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. II, p. 115.

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injured by the torpedo or by munitions of war that were set off by the first explosion is a question that has for many years attracted the at¬ tention of numerous publicists. As early as May 8 certain naval ex¬ perts in Washington expressed the opinion that . . . inside explosions following the attack might have aided in the work of destruction, as the ship is understood to have carried a vast quantity of war materials for the Allies, including much ammunition.52 It is now definitely known that the Lusitania had in her cargo 4200 cases of metallic cartridges, and 1250 cases of shrapnel. The metallic cartridges were packed twenty in a box, “1000 to a case,” and con¬ tained “5 pounds of powder to a thousand cartridges.” The cases of shrapnel contained “no fuses and no explosives of any description whatsoever.” 63 The powder contained in these 4200 cases of cartridges amounted to some ioj4 tons, and it is possible that this part of the cargo might have exploded with terrific force. There is still a further chance that other explosives may have been smuggled on board the Lusi¬ tania, and their explosion could have materially added to the dam¬ age wrought by the powder in the cartridges. Mr. Malone, the Col¬ lector of Customs of the Port of New York, admits in his report to the Secretary of the Treasury (June 4, 1915) that it was “entirely impracticable to make a physical examination of each package or case going into the cargo of an outgoing ship.” 64 In a conversation with Professor Thomas A. Bailey in August, 1934, Mr. Malone conceded that “considerable quantities of high explosives” might have been smuggled on board the Lusitania,55 In view of these admissions by Mr. Malone, Professor Bailey is inclined to give some credence to this theory of exploding munitions as one of the causes of the rapid sinking of the Lusitania. Since 1915 definite evidence has become available indicating that the U-20 fired but one torpedo. This being true, — 82 Washington Post, May 8, 1915. 63 Report of the Collector of Customs of the Port of New York (Mr. Dud¬ ley Field Malone) to the Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. McAdoo), June 4, 1915, in Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 335. 84 Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 337. See also the letter of Mr. Malone to the Nation (N.Y.), January 3, 1923, pp. 15-16. 88 Thomas A. Bailey, op. cit., p. 62.

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. . . the odds in favor of the exploding munitions theory are considerably increased, although the possibility of an explosion from the boilers or from some other source must not be disregarded.56 The pity of it all is that our American experts in the SteamboatInspection Service, on May 2, 1911, ruled that “small arms ammuni¬ tion” could be transported “without restrictions on steamers carry¬ ing passengers.” This decision was arrived at after tests had been made with reference to the handling of small arms ammunition by passenger steamers, and the Steamboat-Inspection Service was cer¬ tain that the transportation of this type of munitions would not be attended by any “risk of danger from fire or explosion.” 67 Another question of importance in connection with the sinking of the Lusitania is with reference to whether any armament was carried on board the Cunard liner. The German press was confident that the Lusitania was armed, and because of this alleged fact they justified her destruction without warning. It was well known that the Lusi¬ tania, and her sister ship the Mauretania, had been built by the Cunard company with money advanced by the British Government at a 66 Ibid., p. 62. According to the distinguished German naval expert, Rear-Admiral Arno Spindler, there “is not the slightest doubt that the torpedo caused the muni¬ tions to explode, and this view is in accordance with the observation made by the commandant of the U-20, and it is this fact alone which can explain the rapid¬ ity with which the great steamer sank. For the most part . . . the ships that were struck by only one torpedo . . . were able to stay on the surface long enough to disembark without haste all their passengers.” La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. II, p. 120. See similar statement by Admiral Spindler in his article “The Lusitania Case,” Berliner Monatshefte, May, 1935, p. 406. Also Capt. Friedrich Luetzow, “Der Lusitania-Fa\\,” Sueddeutsche Monatshefte, March, 1921, pp. 400-401. 67 Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 335-336. In the official report of Lord Mersey, wreck commissioner of the United Kingdom, Parliamentary Papers (Command 8022), 1915, Reports, vol. XXVII, p. 6, there is a statement that the ammunition was stored forward some 150 feet from the point of impact by the torpedo. Such a statement must be viewed with caution. In this same Mersey Report, p. 8, there is an interesting paragraph relative to the explosion of the munitions on board the Lusitania: “One witness, who described himself as a French subject from the vicinity of Switzerland, and who was in the second-class dining-room in the after part of the ship at the time of the explosion, stated that the nature of the ex¬ plosion was ‘similar to the rattling of a maxim gun for a short period,’ and sug¬ gested that this noise disclosed the ‘secret’ existence of some ammunition. The sound, he said, came from underneath the whole floor.” Lord Mersey’s comments on this statement were characteristic, and are as follows: “I did not believe this gentleman. His demeanour was very unsatisfactory. There was no confirmation of his story, and it appeared that he had threatened the Cunard Company that if they did not make him some immediate allowance on account of a claim which he was putting forward for compensation, he would have the unpleasant duty of making his claim in public.” ...» ~ , , , The doubtful authenticity of the statement m the Mersey Report that the torpedo did not strike the Lusitania in the vicinity where the munitions were stored is demonstrated by Capt. Luetzow, op. cit., pp. 399ff-

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nominal rate of interest. A large annual subsidy was also paid to the Cunard company for holding these two steamers in readiness for government service during time of war. After the outbreak of the World War the Lusitania was taken over by the British Admiralty, but owing to her large consumption of coal she was turned back to the Cunard company.58 In the 1914 edition of Jane’s Fighting Ships a silhouette of the Lusitania was printed, and in the Naval Annual it was listed as an “armed merchantman.” 59 In the plans published in the British tech¬ nical periodical, Engineering, there were emplacements for twelve six-inch quick-firing guns. From the drawings these guns appeared to be mounted.60 On May 14, 1915, Engineering reproduced these plans of the Lusitania, which indicated that the guns were mounted,61 and the German press was quick to point out that the Cunard liner apparently carried armament. In the Berlin Vossische Zeitung, RearAdmiral Hofe stated that this armament was arranged in three bat¬ teries — one on the forecastle, one on the bridge deck, and one on the afterdeck. It was likely, he thought, that the battery on the bridge deck had never been mounted, but the other two batteries could easily have been hidden from the inquiring gaze of passengers. It was even possible that American harbor officials had been deceived with regard to this armament.62 These suspicions of the German press were stimulated by some remarks of Winston Churchill in the House of Commons (March 16, 1914) in which he admitted that some forty British merchant ships were “defensively armed.” 63 They were further strengthened by a significant paragraph which appeared in the New York Tribune relative to the alleged armament carried by the Lusitania: — The reason why the crack liner Lusitania is so long delayed at Liverpool has been announced to be because her turbine engines are being completely 58 Sir Julian S. Corbett, Naval Operations (London, 1020-1921), vol. I, pp. 29-30; vol. II, p. 391. These facts had long been known to the German Govern¬ ment, and the German press was filled with detailed knowledge of the relations between the Cunard company and the British Government. See Professor Oswald Flamm in the Berlin Vossische Zeitung, evening edition, May 10, 1915; also the same newspaper for May 11 and May 12, 1915. For similar comments see Das Echo, May 20, 1915, p. 789, the Koelnische Zeitung, May 11, and July 30, 1915; and the Berlin Taegliche Rundschau, May 18, 1915, morning edition. 69 Fred. T. Jane, Fighting Ships (London, 1914), p. 32; Viscount Hythe and John Leyland, eds., The Naval Annual (London, 1914), p. 207. 60 August 2, 1907, drawings, plate xxxiii. 81 May 14, 1915, drawings, plates xxxvi-xxxvii. 62 June 27, 1915, morning edition. 83 Parliamentary Debates, 5th series, vol. LIX, col. 1583.

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replaced, but Cunard officials acknowledged to the Tribune correspondent today that the greyhound is being equipped with high power naval rifles in conformity with England’s new policy of arming passenger boats.64 »

In contradiction to this evidence indicating that the Lusitania car¬ ried armament we have the official report of Mr. Malone in which he states very positively that . . . when the steamship Lusitania sailed from the Port of New York on May 1, 1915, on her last trip to England, she did not have any guns of any calibre or description on any deck or decks, on her stern or bow, mounted or unmounted, masked or unmasked.65 There is also a memorandum prepared by Mr. Lansing for the use of the Department of State, May 10, 1915, in which he makes the following unqualified statement: — The absolute fact is that the Lusitania had no guns mounted or un¬ mounted and so was entirely unarmed.66

As additional evidence we have a letter from Secretary Lansing to President Wilson (September 12, 1915) in which he remarks that “up to the present time the British Admiralty as a result of an in¬ formal understanding have kept guns off British merchant vessels entering American ports. For a year, therefore, the question has not been discussed as no case has arisen.” 67 In confirmation of Mr. Lansing’s statement that the Lusitania was not armed we have the testimony of one hundred and nine witnesses who stated during the Mersey investigation, or before Judge Mayer, that they had not seen any guns on board the steamer.68 It would appear, therefore, that the Lusitania was not armed, but the question naturally arises as to why Mr. Lansing and Secretary Bryan remained so silent about the alleged fact that British merchant¬ men entering American ports were without any armament. If there was an “informal understanding” that these British ships should carry no guns whatever, why was this fact not made public ? Such an 64 June 19, 1913. 65 Report of Mr. Malone to the Secretary of the Treasury, June 4, 1915; Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 332. 66 Lansing MS. 67 Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 384. 68 Thomas A. Bailey, op. cit., p. 59.

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announcement would have quieted German fears, and would have removed any doubt that British merchant ships coming from Amer¬ ican ports were really unarmed. Unfortunately, the commanders of German submarines did not have this assurance, and moreover they had to cope with the un¬ doubted fact that the masters of British merchantmen were under instructions never “tamely” to surrender to a submarine. These in¬ structions indicated that all vessels had “an excellent chance” to escape from submarines by quick maneuvers and by “zigzagging.” If a sub¬ marine should come up suddenly “close ahead” of the merchant ship it would be advisable to steer “straight for her” with the “utmost speed.” In the event that a submarine should pursue a merchant ship and appear to be gaining upon it, the instructions then directed the merchantman to turn the bow of the ship toward the submarine and “make straight at him.” 69 Added to this obvious danger of being “rammed” by a belligerent merchant ship which had been hailed and ordered to show its papers, the German submarines were also exposed to the fire of armed mer¬ chantmen and by the menace of bombs being thrown upon them if they came alongside a ship that had been halted.70 There was a further danger that vessels appearing to be enemy merchant vessels might in reality be “decoy” or “Q-boats” which were specially armed for the destruction of submarines. The German Government had learned as early as February, 1915, that masters of British merchantmen had been promised large re¬ wards for the sinking of submarines. These rewards were soon claimed by venturesome British masters who rammed German U-boats or who successfully beat off their attacks.71 Such a procedure, of course, was the subject of bitter criticism in the German press, which pointed out how impossible it was for submarines to visit and search belligerent merchant ships in view of these instructions. And in the case of the Lusitania it was certainly true that Captain Turner was sailing under orders whose execution would have made it highly dan69 These instructions to the masters of British merchant ships were issued by the British Admiralty on February 10, 1915. The German Government secured copies of them on British vessels that were captured. See Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, December 10, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 652-654. 70 Ambassador Bernstorff to the Secretary of State, February 15, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 104-105. 71 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, June 18, 20, 1915, ibid., pp. 442-443; New York Times, March 6, 1915.

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gerous for the U-20 merely to appear on the surface and request the ship’s papers. The German viewpoint in this regard is clearly expressed in an arti¬ cle in the Koelnische Zeitung some weeks after the destruction of the Lusitania: — The London Shipping Gazette reports . . . the following uncontested and doubtless authentic announcement: “Captain Bell, of the steamer Thoris, of the Manchester Ship Canal Co., who during the first part of March succeeded in ramming a submarine which had halted his boat, on his return received a letter from the Admiralty in which he was notified of his appointment as Lieutenant of the Royal Marine Reserve. The letter also contained the announcement, that His Majesty, the King, had been pleased to bestow upon Lieutenant Bell the service cross for his service on the Thoris, namely, the ramming of a German submarine.” ... At all events, King George herewith has given the royal answer to the American demand that German submarines must first halt English merchantmen in order to offer them the opportunity of peacefully disem¬ barking their crew before they are torpedoed, by indicating that it is to be considered a meritorious act ... to reply to such exercise of humane ac¬ tion by the ramming of the German submarine.72 It is impossible to forecast just what action Captain Turner, of the Lusitania, would have taken if the U-20 had appeared close ahead and summoned him to stop. In previous months several large steamers had been able to escape attacking submarines, and it was a well-known fact that up to May, 1915, no steamer traveling more than fourteen knots an hour had been torpedoed by the Germans.73 It is apparent that the officials of the Cunard Line must have reposed great confidence in the ability of the Lusitania to outrun any U-boat that endeavored to stop it. And this confidence must have been shared by the British Ad¬ miralty, which made no effort to send a convoy to meet the Lusitania when it neared the war zone. In Queenstown harbor three torpedo boat destroyers lay at anchor while the Lusitania neared the Irish coast, but they received no orders to meet the giant Cunard liner.74 72 June 18, 1915, noon edition. In this same connection we have the statement of Amhassador Gerard who believed that it was difficult to place “English passenger ships sailing with orders to ram submarines and often armed” in the category of “altogether peaceful merchantmen.” Gerard to the Secretary of State, July 5, 1915, For. Ret., 1915, Suppl., p. 461. 73 New York Times, March 28, June 17, 1915. 74 Charles E. Lauriat, The Lusitania’s Last Voyage (N.Y. 1915). PP- 6-7. See also Capt. Friedrich Luetzow, “Der Lusitania-Fall,” Sueddeutsche Monatshefte, March, 1921, pp. 402-403.

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Such inaction is difficult to explain when one remembers that the British Admiralty was constantly sending wireless reports to the Lusitania warning it of the appearance of submarines at different points along the Irish coast.75 In England there was open criticism of the Admiralty for not pro¬ viding some degree of protection to the Lusitania, especially after the warning the German Government published on May 1 in the promi¬ nent New York newspapers. In the House of Commons Mr. Churchill was pressed very hard upon this point, and finally admitted that on two previous occasions the Admiralty had sent out convoys to protect British vessels with cargoes of American horses.76 This frank admis¬ sion was deeply shocking to many persons both in Europe and in the United States, and the Kaiser suggested to Ambassador Gerard that England was really responsible, as England had made the Lusitania go slowly in English waters so that the Germans could torpedo it and so bring on trouble.77 That this suggestion of the Kaiser was not merely the vagary of a biased mind is proved by the fact that the distinguished American historian, Professor Samuel F. Bemis, has expressed a viewpoint somewhat similar. With reference to the failure of the British Ad¬ miralty to provide any convoy for the Lusitania through the war zone, Professor Bemis remarks: — One might well wonder whether the British Government purposely ex¬ posed to attack the Lusitania and other British passenger vessels carrying American citizens, in order to lead the Germans on to a rash act which might bring the United States into the war. . . . This same exposure, possibly deliberate, was true in the case of the unarmed cross-channel passenger boat, Sussex. ... It was lumbering along, without escort, through a sea littered with the wreckage of recently torpedoed vessels. The truth probably will never be known whether the British and French Governments deliberately exposed these ships for high diplomatic stakes.78 In 1915 President Wilson would have met with sharp anger any suggestion that British officials were in any way involved in the sink¬ ing of the Lusitania. He could never have harbored a thought that re-

76 251 Federal Reporter, p. 76 Parliamentary Debates,

722. House of Commons, 5th series, vol. LXXI

cols 1361-1362. ’ 77 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, May 6, 1916, For Rel 1016 ouppL, p. 200. 9 9 78 A Diplomatic History of the United States (N.Y. 1936), p. 610.

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sponsible statesmen would gamble with American lives in a grim game where Death was a certain winner. Such conduct would indeed make diplomacy the “craft sinister,” and the President would have indig¬ nantly denied that any British leaders would stoop to serve an appren¬ ticeship in so evil a guild. It is more than possible that the President believed that official absent-mindedness was the only charge that could be leveled against the British Government with reference to the Lusitania tragedy. He was too much of an idealist to keep fresh in his memory the fact that this same negative quality has long been associated with British suc¬ cess in world politics. The formulas of a far-flung empire were not familiar to a political novice whose vision had long been limited to a university campus.

XI MR. LANSING LEADS THE PRESIDENT ALONG THE ROAD TO WAR The sinking of the Lusitania was more of a shock than a surprise to British and American statesmen. From the date the German war zone proclamation went into effect until May 7, many persons in public life had anticipated just this contingency. By some strange coincidence, Colonel House and Sir Edward Grey drove out to Kewon the morning of May 7, and one subject of conversation was the “probability of an ocean liner being sunk” by a German submarine. At this point Colonel House informed Sir Edward that “if this were done, a flame of indignation would sweep across America, which would in itself probably carry us into the war.” An hour later Colonel House was engaged in conversation with King George in Buckingham Palace. Again this fateful topic came up for discussion, and the King directed a most significant inquiry at the Colonel: — “Suppose they [the Germans] should sink the Lusitania with American passengers on board ... ?” 1 The Colonel’s answer is not recorded but it was probably in a bel¬ ligerent key. On the evening of May 7 Colonel House and his wife were guests at a dinner given in their honor in the American Em¬ bassy, and when the news of the destruction of the Lusitania was brought to him he immediately declared: “We shall be at war with Germany within a month.” 2 To Ambassador Page it seemed obvious that Germany was wag¬ ing war “under the black flag.” America must either “declare war or forfeit European respect.” 3 Ambassador Gerard was so certain of an immediate break in diplomatic relations between the United States and Germany that he made hurried preparations to close the Em-

1

The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 432. 2 Burton J. Hendrick, The Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. II, p. 2. 8 Ambassador Page to Secretary Bryan, May 8, 1915, For. Rel., 1015, Suppl' PP- 385-386.

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bassy,4 and Brand Whitlock, in Brussels, took similar steps to meet the emergency.5 In the industrial sections of America public opinion reflected a war spirit and this had an instant effect upon the stock market. On May 7, after the news of the sinking of the Lusitania reached Wall Street, some 600,000 shares of stock changed hands in “one hour of riotous trading.” 6 Prices of popular stocks broke with abrupt suddenness: Bethlehem Steel from 159 to 130; Amalgamated Copper from 74% to 63; National Lead from 653^ to 56; and Westinghouse Electric from 100 to 79.7 Important financial journals adopted a belligerent tone that helped to increase the atmosphere of uncertainty. Commerce and Finance expressed the opinion that “Germany has alienated all the world,” and that it was “our duty not only to ourselves but to humanity” to resort to such force as was necessary to compel “respect for law.” 8 The Wall Street Journal was quick to remind all Americans that “a shameful . . . peace is a viler thing than war.” 9 There were some members of the President’s Cabinet who believed, even before the sinking of the Lusitania, that America had been craven in its attitude towards Germany, and should show more spirit. Secre¬ tary Lane, one of the best-balanced of the President’s advisers, wrote to Colonel House on May 5 and indicated his evident distaste for the conciliatory manner in which the attacks upon the Falaba, the Gulflight, and the Cushing had been handled by the Administration. It seemed to him that “notwithstanding all the insults of Germany,” the President was . . . determined to endure to the limit, to turn the left cheek and then the back, if necessary; but of course, he cannot suffer insult after insult to the point of humiliation, for the country would rise in rebellion. We are a sen¬ sitive people, as our English friends discovered a hundred years ago.10 4 James W. Gerard, My Four Years in Germany (N.Y. 1917), p. 236. 8 Brand Whitlock, Belgium (N.Y. 1919), vol. I, p. 618. 8 New York Press, May 8, 19x5. 7 Washington Post, May 8, 1915. According to the New York Herald, May 8, 1915, the news of the Lusitania disaster precipitated a “sensational break” in the cotton market. To Mr. Camillus G. Kidder, who was close to Wall Street, it ap¬ peared that the sinking of the Lusitania had “an effect something like that of the first shot on Fort Sumter.” Mr. Kidder to C. J. Bonaparte, May 12, 1915, Bonaparte MS. 8 May 12, 1915. 9 May 13, 1915. 10 Secretary Lane to Colonel House, May 5, 191S1 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 458.

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After the destruction of the Lusitania Secretary Lane was even more convinced that it was not consistent with American honor to be too conciliatory towards Germany, and this was the opinion of most of the men who had access to the President. Mr. Lansing, as Coun¬ selor of the Department of State, had an important responsibility with reference to offering advice to the President on points of inter¬ national law, and he did not fail to sound a note of hostility towards Germany. In his Diary for May 7 he has an interesting item relative to the torpedoing of the Lusitania: — W. K. Kavanaugh phoned that in elevator this morning at 9: 30 he heard messenger of German Embassy tell Miss Cleaves (Klees?) that this was the day the Lusitania would be blown up.11 On the following day he had consultations with Secretaries Bryan and Garrison concerning the Lusitania incident, and followed these up with conversations on the same topic with the Minister from Belgium, with Mr. Henry Breckinridge, and with Mr. Wayne MacVeagh. On May 10 he talked with the British and with the French Ambassa¬ dors concerning the sinking of the Lusitania, and catching the bel¬ ligerent cadence of their excited mood he discussed the matter with the warlike Wayne MacVeagh, who advised him to resign if the President failed “to act.” He was saved from this bold step by an assurance from Secretary Garrison that the President would send a strong note to Germany.12 While Mr. Lansing was working himself up to a high pitch of excitement with reference to the attitude he thought the President should adopt towards Germany, Secretary Bryan was taking a far more objective view of the situation. On May 9 he wrote to the Presi¬ dent and suggested that “ships carrying contraband should be pro¬ hibited from carrying passengers.” 13 He also talked with Mr. Lansing relative to some solution of pending difficulties with Ger¬ many. It seemed to him that Americans, taking passage in a British vessel bound for a British port and passing through the German “war zone,” did so, in a measure at least, at their own peril, and therefore, were not entitled to the full protection of this Government.

11 Lansing 12 Lansing

MS. Diary, May 8-11, 1915, Lansing MS. 13 W. J. Bryan and Mary B. Bryan, The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan, P- 398.

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Mr. Lansing, however, thought very differently. The acceptance of such a view would be equivalent to an admission that . . . the Government of the United States failed in its duty to its own citizens and permitted them to run risks without attempting to prevent them from doing so. By its note to the German Government on February 10th this Government declared that it would hold Germany to a strict ac¬ countability for the loss of American lives and property within the “war zone.” It did not discriminate as to the vessels carrying American citizens and property. If it intended to discriminate, it was its manifest duty to its own people to have said so, and to have issued a public warning to them to keep off British ships.14 If any one person was responsible for the failure of the American Government to issue such a warning in February, 1915, it was cer¬ tainly Mr. Lansing. He had long opposed Secretary Bryan’s conten¬ tion that Americans should refrain from traveling on belligerent merchant ships, and he had been able to bring the President around to his viewpoint. To be consistent he must still oppose any suggestion of a restriction upon the right of all Americans to sail any part of the seven seas at any time they so desired. He must also be prepared to refute any arguments the German Government might advance to justify the destruction of the Lusitania; so on May 10 he wrote a detailed memorandum which he thought would cover the principal points that would be raised. It was likely that the German Foreign Office would maintain that the Lusitania carried a large cargo of munitions of war, and, therefore, could be “properly destroyed.” This argument was regarded by Mr. Lansing as very weak. The mere presence of munitions of war in the Lusitania’s cargo did not in itself “relieve the German naval authorities from stopping the vessel and permitting those on board to take to the boats before the torpedo was launched.” As a further justification of the attack upon the Lusitania the German Government would probably contend that the liner carried some armament. Such a contention was regarded by Mr. Lansing as entirely false because he had been assured that the Lusitania carried “no guns mounted or unmounted.” Finally, the German Government would probably try to evade re¬ sponsibility by claiming that they had given public warning to all

14 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, May 9, 1915. Carlton Savage, op. cit., PP- 309-310.

294

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American citizens not to travel on British merchant ships passing through the war zone. But the warning that had been published in the American press on May i could not be considered by the Department of State as relieving the German Government of any responsibility that it had incurred through the sinking of the Lusitania. This warn¬ ing had not been communicated to the Government of the United States, but instead had been addressed to the American people. Such a procedure was nothing less than an “act of insolence.” 15 After completing this memorandum to be used primarily for his own guidance, Mr. Lansing sent to Secretary Bryan a note indicating the course that should be followed in dealing with Germany. First of all, an “earnest protest” should be addressed to the German Govern¬ ment against the torpedoing of an unarmed passenger steamer with¬ out a warning and without providing for the safety of the passengers and crew. Such an act had violated the “established rules of inter¬ national law and the principles of humanity.” The American Government should again assert its intention to hold Germany to a “strict accountability” for any loss of American lives and property, and should then make the following “de¬ mands” : — (i) That the German Government disavow the act and apologize for it; (2) that the officers guilty of the offense be punished; (3) that the Ger¬ man Government acknowledge liability and promise to pay a just indem¬ nity ; and (4) that the German Government will guarantee that in the future ample measures will be taken to insure the safety of the lives of American citizens on the high seas. In the event the German Government refused to comply with these demands, diplomatic relations “could be severed.” 16 Before the President could find time to examine any memoranda from Mr. Lansing he had already spent many anxious hours working upon the draft of a note to Germany. He found it a very exhausting 16 “Memorandum by the Counselor for the Department of State, May 10 iqis” Carlton Savage, op. ctt., pp. 311-313. ' ’ 16 MrWLanA'nf t?1 the Secretary of State, May 10, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 313. Mr. C. J. Bonaparte was in agreement with this view of Mr. Lansing It seemed to him that when the President notified the German Government that it would be held to a strict accountability* for injuries to the persons or property of American citizens arising from the ‘submarine blockade’ . he said everything which there was the slightest use to say; his duty under the Constitu¬ tion, now is to call Congress together, and to submit to that illustrious body Boss Tweed s famous question.” C. J. Bonaparte to C. G. Kidder, April 13, 1915/ Bona-

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task, and Mr. Tumulty noticed how “serious and careworn” he looked.17 As an interlude he decided to go to Philadelphia to deliver an address before a large audience of recently naturalized American citizens. During the course of this address (May 10) he gave voice to sentiments that he felt very deeply; sentiments that were a challenge to all war-mongers: — The example of America must be a special example. The example of America must be the example not merely of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and elevating influence of the world and strife is not. There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight.18 But this lofty note that the President sounded did not fall upon re¬ ceptive ears. Portions of the American press sharply condemned such open pacifism, and the Chief Executive soon beat a hasty retreat and began to qualify his Philadelphia speech. The challenging words about America being “too proud to fight” must not be construed as having any reference “to the sinking of the Lusitania.” His speech was in no sense a “declaration of policy.” 19 After this significant admission had been wrung from the Presi¬ dent, the New York Herald made the following illustrative com¬ ment : — Well for the country that he did disavow! It was unfortunate that he used an expression so susceptible of misconstruction.20 Fire-eaters like Theodore Roosevelt felt that the soul of America had been stifled,21 and even intimate friends of the President were at a loss to explain such an attitude of apparent crouching cowardice. Colonel House was deeply perturbed. While walking in Piccadilly he chanced to read on a placard carried by a London sandwich man a startling sentence: “We are too proud to fight — Woodrow Wilson.” It was like being betrayed by a trusted friend, and he plaintively con¬ fessed to the sympathetic ears of Ambassador Page that he felt as 17 Joseph P. Tumulty, op. cit., p. 232. 18 The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. Ill, p. 32119 New York Evening Post, May xi, IQIS20 New York Herald, May 12, 1915. 21 From May 8 to May 13 the press carried characteristic comments of Theodore Roosevelt. One of his mildest outbursts was that “a policy of blood and iron cannot be met efficaciously with a policy of milk and water.”

296

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though he had been given “a kick at every lamp post coming down Constitution Hill.” 22 On the morning of May 11 a lengthy Cabinet meeting was held to discuss relations with Germany. As a preliminary to any discussion of the situation the President read a telegram he had received from Colonel House. It expressed a distinctly martial mood. It was ap¬ parent, thought the Colonel, that America had come . . . to the parting of the ways, when she must determine whether she stands for civilized or uncivilized warfare. We can no longer remain neu¬ tral spectators. ... We are being weighed in the balance, and our posi¬ tion amongst nations is being assessed by mankind.23 After this telegram had been “favorably commented on” by certain members of the Cabinet, the President then read the draft of a note he intended to send to the German Government. In this draft he re¬ peated some of the phraseology of the note of February 10. The de¬ struction of unarmed merchant ships without the formality of visit and search was not in accordance with international law, and the Ger¬ man Government would be held to “strict accountability” for any losses of American lives or property.24 During the reading of this note it was evident that the President’s emotions were deeply affected. When he had finished there was a long discussion as to what action the German Government would take upon receipt of the note. If it flatly refused to comply with the American demands, would this mean a break in diplomatic relations between the two countries? Would such a break be a prelude to open warfare? Mr. Garrison, the Secretary of War, expressed the opinion that any severance of diplomatic relations would probably mean that America would soon be involved in hostilities with Germany. The President disagreed with this viewpoint and adduced several instances where diplomatic relations had been broken between nations without an in¬ evitable drift into open warfare. Secretary Bryan now interposed with the view that the existing tension need not develop to the point where any break in relations was 22 Burton J. Hendrick, Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. II, p. 6. One important effect of the President’s Philadelphia speech was the assurance it seemed to carry to Wall Street that war with Germany was not in the immediate prospect. By May 12 the stock market had largely recovered from the fright given it by the sinking of the Lusitania. 28 Colonel House to President Wilson, May 9, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 433-434. 24 R. S. Baker, op. cit., vol. V, p. 337.

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necessary. In this stand he was supported by Mr. Burleson, the Post¬ master General, who had long been his intimate friend. It was dif¬ ficult, however, to secure any harmony of thought in this Cabinet meeting, which dragged out some three hours.25 Several members of the Cabinet were strongly pro-Ally, and the President himself was far from objective in his attitude towards the belligerents. On the previous day (May 10) Secretary Bryan had forwarded to the President a memorandum from Mr. Lansing which contained suggestions that might be useful in drafting a note to Germany. The President adopted some of these suggestions in the note he read to the Cabinet on May 11, and later he turned his draft over to Mr. Lansing and invited further assistance. The Counselor immediately sought the advice of Secretary Garrison on the “necessity of haste” with reference to the sending of a note of protest to Germany. After three conferences with the very positive Secretary of War, Mr. Lan¬ sing was able to put the note in final shape and send it to the Presi¬ dent.26 The significance of these conferences with Secretary Garrison is apparent when one remembers that it was the Secretary of War who was constantly breathing a spirit of hostility towards Germany. Ac¬ cording to David Lawrence it was largely through the counsels of Mr. Garrison that the first Lusitania note was . . . made as emphatic as it was. In those days Mr. Garrison’s influence was in the ascendancy, and, as it rose, Mr. Bryan’s hold on the President was correspondingly weakened.27 This sentiment in favor of holding Germany to a strict accounta¬ bility for her actions in the war zone was given additional strength by the publication in American newspapers (May 11-12) of the report of the Bryce Commission.28 The very fact that the sensational dis¬ closures of this report were given to the press in the week following 25 Washington Post, May 12, 1915. 26 Lansing Diary, May 12, 1915, Lansing MS. 27 The True Story of Woodrow Wilson, p. 150. Mr. Lawrence has the following comment on the attitude of Secretary Garrison towards Germany in February, 1915: “He dissented vigorously from the sending to Germany of the note warning the Imperial Government that it would be held to a ‘strict accountability’ for the acts of its submarine commanders. Mr. Garrison objected to the announcement, in advance, of any specific course, declaring that the United States should not commit itself to any general policy until each case could be examined on its merits.” Op. cit., p. 150. 28 The personnel of the Bryce Commission was as follows: Viscount Bryce, Sir Frederick Pollock, Sir Edward Clarke, Sir Alfred Hopkinson, Sir Kenelm E. Digby, Herbert A. L. Fisher, and Harold Cox.

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the sinking of the Lusitania indicated to many minds the efficient manner in which British propaganda worked. To certain American editors, however, it seemed infamous for anyone to suggest that propaganda played a part in the sudden publication of these highly colored and dubious data. The New York Evening Post was shocked at such an intimation : — It may be rashly charged that the publication of this report in America was skillfully timed so as to deepen the feeling caused by the sinking of the Lusitania. But this is absurd.29 There is no mistaking the fact that the publication of the report of the Bryce Commission had far-reaching effects in America. From 1907 to 1912 Lord Bryce had served as the British Ambassador at Washington, and his “American Commonwealth” had stamped him as a penetrating though friendly critic of American institutions. His evident scholarship and unimpeachable character had raised him to a high place in American estimation. There would be few critics to as¬ sail any report that he signed. Upon the President himself the results of the Bryce Inquiry must have made a deep impression. He had long been acquainted with the famous British publicist, and he had the highest regard for his opinions. There was no reason for him to suspect that Lord Bryce had become so senile that he could no longer weigh evidence impartially or that he was a mere propaganda agent for the British Government. The established reputation of Lord Bryce for critical scholarship seemed a guarantee against conclusions dictated by war hysteria. From the early days of the World War there had come to America numerous rumors of German atrocities. For a while these rumors were partially discredited by a telegram signed by such celebrated newspaper correspondents as Roger Lewis, Irvin S. Cobb, Harry Hansen, O’Donnell Bennett, and John T. McCutcheon. According to this telegram the current stories of German atrocities were “ground¬ less.” 30 The Department of State had further evidence that these atrocity stories were manufactured for propaganda purposes. On September 17, 1914, the American Consul at Aix-la-Chapelle wrote to Secretary Bryan with reference to German conduct in Belgium. He was con29 May 12, 1915. 30 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 801-802.

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vinced that there had been gross exaggeration in the stories that had been told of alleged German cruelty. There had been instances of harsh treatment of Belgian nationals, but this severity had been at¬ tended by extenuating circumstances.31 But these dispatches were more than balanced by stories depicting German soldiers as engaged in the heartless murder of defenseless Belgians. Brand Whitlock, the American Minister at Brussels, was early convinced of German brutality, and while he admitted that some stories might be of doubtful veracity he was sure that most of the accounts were “in spirit true.” 32 Walter Hines Page, the President’s intimate friend, was an early and ardent convert to the belief that German troops were guilty of nearly every crime in the calendar of misconduct. In the second week in September, 1914, he was certain that it was “impossible longer to doubt the wholly barbarous conduct of the Prussians.” 33 In the American press there was a strong inclination to accept the conclusions of the Bryce Commission. The Philadelphia Public Ledger thought there was little doubt that the word of the Commis¬ sion “will be accepted by Americans as final.” The Public Ledger also believed that “no denunciation could add to the force of this plain tale” of German barbarity. The New York Evening Post expressed the opinion that Germany stood “branded with a mark of infamy such as in our time has not been stamped upon the face of any people,” and the Washington Herald remarked that the German authorities who were responsible for the “frightfulness” in Belgium were the . . . same authorities who sank the Lusitania and murdered 115 Ameri¬ cans because England interfered with her commerce, and because they doubted America’s neutrality.34 31 Robert J. Thompson to the Secretary of State, September 17, 1914, For. Rel. 1914, Suppl., pp. 799-801. 32 Minister Whitlock to the Secretary of State, undated (received September 29, 1914), op. cit., p. 799. „ 33 Ambassador Page to the Secretary of State, September 11, 1914, op. cit., p. 795. 34 Literary Digest, May 29, 1915, pp. 1257-1259. In his Life of James Bryce (N.Y. 1927), vol. II, pp. 134-135, Mr. Herbert A. L. Fisher makes the follow¬ ing comment on the Report of the Bryce Commission: “In its broad findings the Report has not been and will not be overthrown. Its influence on public opinion . . . all over the world . . . especially in America, was very great.” Professor Harry Elmer Barnes, In Quest of Truth and Justice (Chicago, 1928), p. 96, ex¬ presses a very different opinion as to the authenticity of the Bryce Report: “The whole framework of the contention that the Germans were only a collection of super-gorillas, devoid of human traits, has collapsed no less completely than such war-guilt fictions as the Potsdam Conference. A friend of the writer approached James Bryce about the Bryce Report some time before Mr. Bryce’s death, but Bryce

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President Wilson was very responsive to press opinion. After making his “too proud to fight” speech in Philadelphia on May io he soon bowed before hostile newspaper comments and hurriedly ex¬ plained that this pacific phrase had no reference to the situation aris¬ ing from the sinking of the Lusitania. It is quite possible that the sharp criticism of Germany that appeared in the American press after the publication of the Bryce Report strengthened his purpose to hold the German Government to a “strict accountability.” He doubtless felt that he could not afford to be conciliatory in the face of a bitterly ad¬ verse public opinion. Secretary Bryan saw very clearly the dangers of the situation. So, on May 12, he forwarded to the President the draft of a note to Ger¬ many as modified by Mr. Lansing. He greatly preferred the Presi¬ dent’s original draft because “the words used by Mr. Lansing are a little harsher than the words used by you.” This was particularly true in the sentence dealing with submarine attacks on unarmed merchant¬ men. President Wilson had written that such attacks were without regard for all ‘those rules of fairness, reason, justice, and humanity, which all modern opinion regards as imperative.” Mr. Lansing would substitute for the words modern opinion the more incisive phrase “the civilized world.” This phrase, Mr. Bryan thought, would “virtually charge Germany with being uncivilized.” In conclusion Secretary Bryan expressed the view that it would be expedient to send the note to Berlin in cipher and not to give it to the press until it had already reached Berlin.35 In a second note to the President, Secretary Bryan disclosed his fear that American “jingoes” would assume from the tone of the note to Germany that war impended. In order to obviate any embar¬ rassment that might result from such an interpretation he thought it would be wise to give to the press not only the note to Germany but an additional statement to the effect that the American Government refused to attempt any defense beyond the assertion that one must expect almost anything in war-time.” In this connection it should be remembered that Mr. H. A. L. Fisher was a member of the Bryce Commission. Mr. Arthur Ponsonby, in his valuable volume Falsehood in War-Time (N.Y. 1928), p. 181, after a pitiless ex¬ posure of the lies that were forged about alleged German atrocities, has a few remarks to make on the widespread acceptance in America of Allied falsifications: “Atrocities, Germany’s sole responsibility, the criminal Kaiser, and all the other fabrications started in Great Britain, were worked up by American liars with great effect. The Belgian baby without hands was a special favourite.” See also, Mr. C. Hartley Grattan, Why We Fought, pp. 68ff. 36 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, May 12, 1915, Bryan MS.

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did not wish the note to be regarded as an ultimatum. This statement could be phrased as follows: — The words “strict accountability” having been construed by some of the newspapers to mean an immediate settlement of the matter, I deem it fit¬ ting to say that that construction is not a necessary one. In individual mat¬ ters friends sometimes find it wise to postpone the settlement of disputes until such differences can be considered calmly and on their merits. So it may be with nations. The United States and Germany, between whom there exists a long standing friendship, may find it advisable to postpone until peace is restored any disputes which do not yield to diplomatic treatment.36 But the President had some qualms as to this procedure, so on the following morning he wrote to Secretary Bryan to suggest a varia¬ tion. It would be better for the Secretary of State to give to the press merely the text of the note to Germany. While this was being done the White House could then issue a statement indicating the con¬ ciliatory attitude of the Administration towards the German Gov¬ ernment. This statement, the President thought, should be couched in the following terms: — There is a good deal of confidence in administration circles that Ger¬ many will respond to this note in a spirit of accommodation. It is pointed out that, while Germany is not one of the many nations which have recently signed treaties of deliberation and inquiry with the United States upon all points of serious difficulty, as a means of supplementing ordinary diplo¬ matic methods and preventing, so far as feasible, the possibility of conflict, she has assented to the principle of such a treaty; and it is believed that she will act in this instance in the spirit of that assent. A frank issue is now made, and it is expected that it will be met in good temper and with a desire to reach an agreement, despite the passions of the hour, — passions in which the United States does not share, — or else submit the whole matter to such processes of discussion as will result in a permanent settlement.37 This conciliatory gesture, however, was never made. Once again Mr. Lansing indulged in his favorite occupation of pushing the Presi¬ dent towards war with Germany. On the afternoon of May 12 Secre¬ tary Bryan showed Mr. Lansing the statement which he had prepared for the press. Mr. Lansing immediately “declined to endorse it.” 38 36 Ibid. 87 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 13, 1915, Bryan MS. 88 Lansing Diary, May 12, 1915, Lansing MS.

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The next morning (May 13), during the course of a telephone con¬ versation with Mr. Tumulty, Secretary Bryan happened to remark that he was “very much pleased” with the statement the President had prepared for the press. When Mr. Tumulty confessed that he knew nothing of such a statement it was at once apparent to Secretary Bryan that he had made a mistake in referring to it. In order to avoid any check to his plans he immediately wrote a short note to the Presi¬ dent and requested him to “caution” Mr. Tumulty to keep silent on this important matter.39 Unfortunately, the President did not receive this note from Secre¬ tary Bryan until after Mr. Tumulty had telephoned to Mr. Lansing with reference to the text of this proposed statement. Mr. Lansing had already that very morning discussed the matter with Secretary Garrison, who was opposed to any White House “tip” to the press. It was highly pleasing to Mr. Lansing to learn that Tumulty and Garri¬ son were in agreement on this point. All of them were bound together by a common dislike for any show of conciliation towards Germany, and they could now plot like Three Modern Musketeers to bring speedy disaster upon the pacific plans of Secretary Bryan, who was too little like Richelieu to suspect any cabal behind his back. In order to be of service to Mr. Tumulty, Mr. Lansing hurried to the office of Secretary Bryan, where he secured a copy of the state¬ ment meant for the press. After sending it to the President’s secretary he waited but a short time and then talked to Mr. Tumulty over the telephone. It was important for the President to arrive at an early de¬ cision about this press “tip,” because Mr. Lansing felt that his own position was “becoming difficult.” It would never do to be too courte¬ ous to Germany. After this admonition, Mr. Tumulty hastened to talk over the whole question with the President. There is little doubt that he al¬ luded to this veiled threat of Mr. Lansing to resign if the friendly “tip” was given to the press. It is also more than likely that he adverted to the strong support that Secretary Garrison was giving to Mr. Lan¬ sing’s viewpoint. At any rate the President yielded to Mr. Tumulty’s entreaties and decided to withhold the press statement. Flushed with this easy success, Mr. Tumulty rushed to the Shoreham Hotel, where he announced to Mr. Lansing and Secretary Garri¬ son the glad tidings of the President’s decision. Mr. Lansing then re89 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, May 13, 1915, Bryan MS.

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turned to the Department of State, where he had a conference with Secretary Bryan.40 The Secretary of State had just received a brief note from the President which stated that he had . . . heard something, indirectly, from the German Embassy which con¬ vinces me that we should lose all chance of bringing Germany to reason if we in any way or degree indicated to them, or to our own public, that this note was merely the first word in a prolonged debate. I will tell you what I have in mind when I do not have to write it. . . . Please withdraw the message (the supplementary statement) altogether. If we say anything of the kind it must be a little later, after the note has had its first effect.41 The wording of this note is quite suggestive. The President had heard indirectly from the German Embassy something which con¬ vinced him that it would be highly inexpedient to give out the “tip” to the press. This something was so confidential that the President did not care to “write it” but would inform the Secretary of State of it when he next saw him. It was so secret that Mr. Tumulty had known nothing of it before talking with Mr. Lansing that morning, and its questionable character is evident to anyone who is familiar with Mr. Lansing’s bias against Germany. Secretary Bryan confessed to Mr. Lansing that he “could not un¬ derstand” the President’s “change of mind.” 42 If he had known of the secret conferences between Mr. Lansing, Mr. Tumulty, and Sec¬ retary Garrison, his “understanding” of the situation would have been greatly illuminated. The President apparently felt that some further explanation was due Secretary Bryan, so he sent a second note in which he expressed his great regret that he had believed it necessary to insist upon the withdrawal of the press statement. It had cost him a struggle to do so, but the . . . intimation was plain from the German Embassy (and I cannot doubt the source of my information) that we were not in earnest, would speak only in a Pickwickian sense if we seemed to speak with firmness, and I did not dare to lend colour to that impression.43 40 This narrative of the plot spun by Mr. Lansing, Mr. Tumulty, and Secretary Garrison, to break down the effort of Secretary Bryan to assure Germany of the friendly attitude of the Administration, is based upon the statements in the Lansing Diary, May 12-13, 1915, Lansing MS. 41 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 13, 1915, Bryan MS. 42 Lansing Diary, May 13, 1915, Lansing MS. 43 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 14, 1915, Bryan MS. In his True Story of Woodrow Wilson, pp. 145-146, Mr. David Lawrence gets rather badly

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By these devious devices Mr. Lansing destroyed any possibility that the Lusitania negotiations would be handled in a spirit of con¬ ciliation. But this was not all. On May 13 Secretary Bryan was read¬ ing over the draft of the note that was about to be sent to Germany when he was struck by the fact that there was “no concluding reitera¬ tion of our friendship as in other messages we have sent.” Upon call¬ ing this omission to the attention of Mr. Lansing he received the cool reply that there was really no reason why this long background of German-American friendship should receive any mention. But Secre¬ tary Bryan refused to accept this viewpoint. It was important, he thought, to get the President’s reaction to such a significant omission, so he sent a note to the White House requesting a reply to this ques¬ tion. The answer came back quickly, and it showed that the President and Mr. Lansing were now thinking in the same terms: — I am sorry to say that in this matter my judgment is with Mr. Lansing. I think the body of the note contains a sufficient tone of sincere friendli¬ ness.44 Secretary Bryan had no further suggestions, so the note of May 13 was sent to the German Government. Its tone was stern and its phrasing was so clear that no one could fail to grasp its meaning. Even a hasty reading of its pointed paragraphs revealed the indis¬ putable fact that the President had adopted the reasoning of Mr. Lan¬ sing rather than that of the Secretary of State. Mr. Bryan was anx¬ ious to save American lives by interposing some restraint upon the alleged right of American citizens to sail on belligerent merchant ships even through the war zone. The President was opposed to any mixed-up when he discusses the withdrawal of this “tip” to the press. According to this account: “President Wilson yielded to Mr. Bryan’s persuasive arguments and permitted him to draft an instruction to Ambassador Gerard to be sent simul¬ taneously with the Lusitania note advising the German Government of the willing¬ ness of the United States to submit the questions at issue to a commission of investigation on the principle of the Bryan treaties. This instruction to Ambassador Gerard which has been variously called a ‘postscript’ or a ’supplementary note’ was never sent from Washington. It was under the circumstances as exciting as it was significant. It would have made a world-wide sensation at the time but the swift passage of events since those dramatic days has . . . robbed the incident of its true importance in the history of the neutrality period. . . . The President . . . finally ordered the supplementary instruction suppressed and the note went forth to Berlin with the strong words undiluted by any suggestion of weakness.” There was no question of a supplementary instruction to Ambassador Gerard which would indicate a conciliatory attitude on the part of the Administration. The intention had been merely to issue a press “tip” which would intimate that the note to Ger¬ many should not be regarded as an ultimatum. 44 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 13, 1915, Bryan MS.

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such restrictions, even though such a procedure might prevent Amer¬ ica from becoming involved in serious difficulties with Germany. When America sorely needed a realist in the White House it was un¬ fortunate that President Wilson allowed himself to be so largely in¬ fluenced by the legal maxims of Mr. Lansing. The uncompromising attitude of the President with reference to this unrestricted right of American citizens to sail the high seas is well expressed in the following excerpt from this note of May 13 : — This Government has already taken occasion to inform the Imperial German Government that it can not admit the adoption of such measures or such a warning of danger to operate as in any degree an abbreviation of the rights of American ship-masters or of American citizens bound on lawful errands as passengers on merchant ships of belligerent nationality; and that it must hold the Imperial German Government to a strict account¬ ability for any infringement of those rights, intentional or incidental. . . . The Imperial German Government will not expect the Government of the United States to omit any word or any act necessary to the performance of its sacred duty of maintaining the rights of the United States and its citi¬ zens and of safeguarding their free exercise and enjoyment. But not only did the note assert the right of American citizens to travel with safety on belligerent merchant ships: it also delivered a sharp attack upon submarine warfare, which was declared to be in conflict with all “those rules of fairness, reason, justice, and humanity which all modern opinion regards as imperative.” 45 This strong stand of the President was upheld by the American press in no uncertain terms. The Washington Post thought that the note to Germany had the . . . true American ring to it in its demands for freedom of the seas and its stand for protection of the lives and property of citizens of the United States.46 The Baltimore Sun believed that there was “all the red blood in the message that a red-blooded nation can ask.” 47 The Boston Tran¬ script expressed the opinion that the President was “standing up for the Government and the people of the United States,” and it was cer¬ tain that the American people stood “behind him to a man.” 48 The 48 For. Ret., 1915, Suppl., pp. 393-396. 48 May 15, 1915. 47 May 14, 1915. 48 Ibid.

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New York Times had a similar viewpoint, and was positive that the President had “the united support of the American people.” 49 The Chicago Tribune insisted that the President had undoubtedly “voiced the sentiment of the nation,” 60 while the Los Angeles Times adhered to the conviction that the note to Germany was written in the “best terms of statecraft and couched in the right temper.” 51 , In the meantime the German Government had been making a care¬ ful canvass of the situation. On May 6 (the day before the sinking of the Lusitania) the Chancellor wrote to Admiral Bachmann, the Chief of the Naval Staff, and complained about the conduct of submarine warfare. A large number of neutral ships had recently been torpedoed. This fact had created serious difficulties with neutral states and might eventually lead them to join the enemies of Germany. The diplomatic representatives of the governments of these neutral states had presented strong objections against the manner in which sub¬ marine warfare was being waged. In the face of this serious situation the Chancellor declared that he could no longer . . . assume the responsibility for a further aggravation of our relations with the neutral powers by a continuation of the U-boat war in the man¬ ner thus far conducted. I therefore must insist with all the determination at my command that the high command of the German naval forces fur¬ nish necessary guarantees that, in accordance with agreements that have been concluded, further attacks by our U-boats upon neutral ships be avoided under all circumstances.52 On May 9 Admiral Bachmann sent a telegram to Admiral von Mueller, the Chief of the Naval Cabinet, in which he referred to the Chancellor’s complaint against the conduct of submarine warfare. It was impossible, he believed, to furnish any guarantee against the sinking of neutral ships in the war zone: — Everything has been done that caution demands. Any further restraint upon U-boat commanders in a manner going beyond existing orders is quite impossible. Would mean complete abandonment of submarine war49 May 13, 1915. 50 May 14, 1915. 61 Ibid. 82 Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg to Admiral Bachmann, May 6, 1915, MS. Kriegswissenschaftliche Abteilung der Marine (hereafter cited as German Marine Archives).

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fare. . . . Further restrictions . . . could only be considered as weak¬ ness.68 Admiral Bachmann then sent a reply to the Chancellor’s note of May 6. After referring to the Chancellor’s desire to have a guarantee that would protect neutral shipping from all submarine attacks, Ad¬ miral Bachmann remarked: — In this connection permit me to state that I am unaware of any agree¬ ments to prevent under all circumstances further attacks upon neutral ships by our U-boats. At the present time such agreements could not be ob¬ served. . . . The memorandum of the Foreign Office, February 4, 1915, emphasizes that . . . neutral ships may be destroyed in attacks aimed at enemy ships. . . . Measures which since that time have been carried out by the British Admiralty to an increasing extent . . . make greater the possibility of mistakes. ... At the beginning of the submarine warfare (February 22) ... our U-boats received special instructions to avoid the sinking of American and Italian ships. . . . All these restrictive amendments to the original order, not intended at the beginning, have made the exacting task of the U-boats difficult in the extreme and, at times, have brought the submarine warfare almost to a standstill without thereby furnishing a guarantee for the safety of neutrals. If . . . the neutral gov¬ ernments . . . keep protesting energetically the answer can be given that they have disregarded repeated and urgent warnings on the part of Ger¬ many to avoid the war zone. ... To impose further restrictions upon U-boat commanders would be equivalent to an abandonment of submarine warfare.54 In the telegram of reply that Admiral von Mueller sent to Admiral Bachmann the political implications of the submarine warfare are clearly perceived. As Chief of the Naval Cabinet, Admiral von Mueller was close to the Kaiser and he reflected the Imperial desire to conciliate America. He informed the Chief of the Naval Staff that it was the Emperor’s wish that “in the near future” the sinking of neu¬ tral ships should “be avoided.” It would be better to allow an enemy ship to escape rather than take a chance and sink by mistake a neutral vessel. He was convinced that it was “absolutely necessary” for the Chancellor and the Chief of the Naval Staff to reach an agreement concerning submarine warfare. In no case should the Emperor be 63 Admiral Bachmann to Admiral von Mueller, May 9, 1915, MS. German Marine Archives. B* Admiral Bachmann to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, May 10, 1915, MS. German Marine Archives.

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placed in a position where, with regard to a political question, he would be forced to make a decision contrary to the wishes of the Chancellor. He was certain that the most successful commanders of submarines had been able to determine the nationality of the vessels they encountered. In conclusion he expressed the view that “within the next few days” some means would be found whereby it would be possible to take the “objections of the Chancellor into considera¬ tion.” 55 At this same time, while the Chancellor was waging his fight for a sharply restricted submarine program, Ambassador Bernstorff, at Washington, was endeavoring to avert a break in diplomatic rela¬ tions. On May 9 he telegraphed to the Foreign Office that the Lusitania incident had caused “great excitement,” but that President Wilson was regarding “matters calmly.” He recommended an expression of regret for the loss of so many American lives in “whatever form may be possible without admission of our responsibility.” 56 The next morning (May 10) Ambassador Bernstorff had an inter¬ view with Secretary Bryan for the express purpose of conveying the “deep regret” he felt for the loss of American lives on the Lusitania,57 Secretary Bryan immediately embraced this opportunity “very seri¬ ously” to discuss with the Ambassador the strained relations between America and Germany. His friendly manner gave Bernstorff “good grounds” for hope that peace would be preserved, but Theodore Roosevelt was busy beating upon a “patriotic drum,” and his frenzied efforts might stir up martial ardor in America. It seemed to Bernstorff that a diversion might be effected by en¬ couraging American mediation between the belligerents. A discussion of peace terms might be a subtle way to shelve the Lusitania difficulty. Also, it was still possible to raise a new issue by offering to “give up submarine warfare provided that England adheres to the principles of International Law, and gives up her policy of starvation.” 58 The German Foreign Office was fully aware of the importance of sending some message to the American Government which would help to calm the aroused public opinion in the United States. On 56 Admiral von Mueller to Admiral Bachmann, May 10, 1915, MS. German Marine Archives. 66 Count Bernstorff to German Foreign Office, May 9, 1915, Count Johann von Bernstorff, My Three Years in America (N.Y. 1920), pp. 144-145. 57 “Memorandum by Secretary of State,” For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 387. 58 Count Bernstorff to German Foreign Office, May 10, 1914, Gaunt Johann von Bernstorff, op. cit., p. 145.

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May 10 Secretary von Jagow handed to Ambassador Gerard a note which expressed the “deepest sympathy” for the loss of American lives on the Lusitania. Responsibility for this tragedy was thrown upon the British Government, which, . . . through plan preventing importation foodstuffs and raw materials for civilian population, forced Germany resort to retaliatory meas¬ ures, and answered German offer to stop submarine war in case this plan be given up by even more stringent blockade measures.59 In the German press this same note of British responsibility for the sinking of the Lusitania was sounded with infinite variations. The Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung thought that it was plain enough for anyone to see that the directors of the Cunard Line had . . . used American citizens as a shield of protection for the transportation of dangerous contraband. Acting upon the assumption that, for the Ger¬ mans, the Americans would be “touch-me-not plants,” the directors of the Cunard Line allowed American citizens to be added to the freight. . . . Smart! Smart! Such “citizen-freight” just suited the English. . . . Amer¬ ican citizen-freight means no more to the English than slave-freight. Just so much per head.60 The same viewpoint was expressed in an article by Georg Bernhard in the Berlin Vossische Zeitung, which boldly asserts that the Ameri¬ can passengers on the Lusitania were not the victims of a German torpedo but were killed by American munitions. The responsibility . . . for the death of so many American citizens, which is deeply regretted by everyone in Germany, in a large measure falls upon the American Gov¬ ernment. It could not admit that Americans were being used as shields for English contraband. In this regard America has permitted herself to be misused in a disgraceful manner by England. And now, instead of calling England to account she sends a note to the German Government.61 The Berlin Neueste Nachrichten made much of a statement by Richmond P. Hobson, a member of the Congress of the United States. Mr. Hobson referred to the fact that not only were many British merchant ships armed but that their masters had been given instructions to ram German submarines. This being true, it seemed 89 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, May 10, 1915, For. Ret., 1915, Sup pi., p. 389. , w 60 Cited in the Koelnische Zeitung, evening ed., May 15, 1915. 61 Evening edition. May 18, 1915.

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to Mr. Hobson that if the American Government wished to maintain it position . . . against Germany, as laid down in the note of the President, without at the same time demanding a recall of the orders of the British Admiralty, then it is synonymous with the demand that German submarines should not attack British merchantmen having Americans on board, while these same British merchantmen enjoy the freedom, yes, have orders, to attack German submarines. Mr. Hobson then made a most interesting statement which has been overlooked by American historians: — A widowed cousin of mine wanted to secure passage on the Lusitania at the New York Bureau oi the Cunard Line. The particular agent, an old friend of her family, took her aside and told her that the ship belonged under the jurisdiction of the British Admiralty, and under no circum¬ stances was she to travel across on it. She had to promise him to keep this matter a secret until after the departure of the ship.62 Most of the editorials in the German press agreed with the state¬ ment in the Berliner Tageblatt that the American note of May 13 was worthy of but “scant consideration.” The answer of the German For¬ eign Office to the American demands should be a negative one, and America would then be able to see that she lacks “every right to register any manner of protest against the torpedoing of the Lusi¬ tania.” 63 While the German Government was pondering over the answer they should give to the American note of May 13, Mr. Lansing was devoting a portion of his time to the pleasant occupation of studying the question of the “severance of diplomatic relations” with Ger¬ many. After lunching with Mr. Gregory at the Metropolitan Club he was fortunate enough to meet his friend Wayne MacVeagh, who con¬ gratulated him on the knowledge and artistry revealed in the note of May 13. When he returned to the Department of State his martial mood was suddenly shattered by Secretary Bryan, who indicated the importance of balancing the note to Germany of May 13 by a stiff note to England.64 The drafting of such a note, however, would take some little time, and Mr. Lansing informed the Secretary of State that it could not 62 Evening edition, June 7, 1915. 63 Evening edition, May 18, 1915. 84 Lansing Diary, May 14, 1915, Lansing MS.

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possibly be ready before May 17. Mr. Lansing then discussed another suggestion that Secretary Bryan had made to him with reference to the issuance of a public notice advising American citizens not to take passage on belligerent merchant ships. It seemed clear to Mr. Lansing that the only course for the American Government to pursue in this case would be merely to request American citizens not to engage pas¬ sage on these ships. There was no law that would authorize the im¬ position of any restraint upon Americans who desired to sail in ships belonging to belligerent powers. Indeed, the only feasible thing to do would be to issue a notice in the following words : — The President in view of the present diplomatic situation requests that American citizens, intending to proceed abroad and to traverse waters ad¬ jacent to the coasts of Great Britain and France, will refrain from taking passage on vessels of belligerent nationality pending the exchange of views between this Government and the Government of Germany regarding the use of submarines in interrupting vessels of commerce in those waters.65 In conclusion Mr. Lansing gave voice to the opinion that it might be inexpedient for the American Government to issue such a notice of warning. Why had this action been postponed so long? Why had it not been issued before the sinking of the Falaba, the Gulflight, and the Lusitania? On the afternoon of May 14 Secretary Bryan wrote a note to President Wilson in which he referred to this proposed warning to American citizens to keep off the ships of belligerent nations. He also enclosed a copy of the text of the notice that had been prepared by Mr. Lansing. In answer to Mr. Lansing’s fears that many people would ask why this notice had not been issued before, Secretary Bryan thought it best to have this question . . . asked and answered, rather than run the risk of any more attacks. I believe the issuance of such a notice would not only be likely to protect the lives of some Americans and thus lessen the chance of another calamity, but would have its effect upon the tone of the German reply and might point the way to an understanding.66 The President’s answer to Secretary Bryan’s note indicated how completely he had accepted the viewpoint of Mr. Lansing. There was very little accord now between his ideas and those of the Secretary of 65 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, May 14 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 318-319. 66 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, May 14 1915, Bryan MS.

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State. To him it appeared obvious that a warning to American citizens against traveling on ships belonging to belligerent nations was devoid of any real value. It was unnecessary . . . if the object is to save lives, because the danger is already fully known and those who do not refrain because of the danger will not, in all proba¬ bility, refrain because we request them to do so; and this is not the time to make it, not only for the reason Mr. Lansing suggests, but also because, as I urged this morning, it weakens the effect of our saying to Germany that we mean to support our citizens in the exercise of their right to travel both on our ships and on belligerent.87 Later on during the same afternoon the President must have had some feeling that he had recently shown himself so unsympathetic with the ideas of Secretary Bryan that some little gesture of friend¬ ship was required to placate the Secretary of State. For this reason he sent to the “Great Commoner” a brief note in which he confessed how hard it was for him to . . . turn away from any suggestion that might seem to promise safety for our travellers, but what is suggested seems to me both weak and futile. To show this sort of weak yielding to threat and danger would only make matters worse.68 Mr. Lansing was now having things so much his own way that he must have felt a little sorry for Secretary Bryan. He had received in¬ structions to prepare a sharp note to England with reference to the de¬ tention of American ships and cargoes, and he made no effort to evade this responsibility. Notwithstanding his warm sympathies and open admiration for the Allied Powers, he drafted an instruction to Am¬ bassador Page which read almost like an ultimatum. It was an “un¬ compromising presentation” of the American case; one that clearly showed “its teeth.” 69 Needless to say, this draft instruction with its explosive phraseol¬ ogy was never sent to London, where it would have driven Ambas¬ sador Page to fresh fury and might have disturbed even the stoic calm of Sir Edward Grey. Any spirited protests to England were quickly emasculated, and this particular one was lost in the mazes of a scheme of Colonel House to effect a compromise between England 87 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 14, 1915, Bryan MS. 68 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 14, 1915, ibid. 69 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, May 15, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit.,

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and Germany. To the Colonel the time seemed ripe for an agreement whereby Germany would cease her submarine warfare on condition that England would permit staple foodstuffs to go to neutral coun¬ tries without question. His efforts towards this end were entirely futile, and they served merely as a diversion which saved England from the worry of preparing an answer to an American note that made no pretense of being polite.70 But this did not mean that all criticism of England was averted by these tactics of Colonel House. In many American circles there was deep indignation over the manner in which American commerce was treated in English waters, and the President himself received a letter from Admiral Chadwick which breathed an air of hostility against British practices. He was certain that England was no friend that America could trust. She was playing . . . a mighty game; let us beware; it is not for us. Never in our history was there greater need of caution; never was there greater need of all the serpent’s wisdom. English diplomacy is a deep and subtile game of which our people in general are as ignorant as kittens. She needs to be warily dealt with. . . . The future of our country is in the balance in this war, and it is England which will tip the scales against us if we are not cau¬ tious.71 These vehement letters of Admiral Chadwick had little weight against the frequent communications in which Colonel House ur¬ gently besought the President to heed the clear call of English culture. British statesmen like Grey and Balfour made a most favorable im¬ pression upon the sensitive Colonel, and he was quick to recognize the ability and “drive” of Lloyd George. He was never quite aware of the fact that he was being patronized by these astute Englishmen who quickly took the measure of this amateur diplomat. Even so cold a man as Lord Kitchener showed surprising cordiality when Colonel House called to see him. Kitchener was usually distant and reserved to civilians, but with the Colonel he suddenly became loquacious. Of course the theme was a moving one — the theme of American inter¬ vention in the European struggle. Elated by the vision of AngloAmerican co-operation, Kitchener assured Colonel House that the war was one of “attrition,” and from the moment America made com70 See ante pp. 200-203. 71 Rear-Admiral F. E. Chadwick to President Wilson, May 16, 1915, Henry White MS.

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mon cause with England the Germans would hasten to “make the best terms they could.” The Colonel always showed immediate interest in any proposed peace terms that followed an English formula. Such terms could be extracted only from a thoroughly vanquished foe, and Kitchener now painted a little word-picture that made the Colonel’s patriotic pulse wildly flutter: — With American troops joined with the British, we will not need French troops on the West Front, but can keep them as a reserve. The ecstatic Colonel regarded such silly chatter as a “magnificent tribute” to American valor. He was certain that Kitchener was not trying to patronize him because, as he innocently expresses it, how could such a bluff Britisher really “know what would or would not influence me?” 72 Yes, how could he? But these crowded hours in London were not always pleasant. One of the unpleasant interludes was the so-called “Dumba incident” with its numerous echoes. It began with a conversation between Secretary Bryan and Dr. Constantin Dumba, the Ambassador from AustriaHungary.73 Dr. Dumba expressed his desire to be of assistance in bringing to a friendly conclusion the dispute between the United States and Germany concerning the sinking of the Lusitania. He knew that Germany had “no desire for war but, on the contrary, was anxious to maintain friendly relations with the United States.” After this amicable introduction he inquired whether “if assurances were given for the future it would not be possible to arbitrate the question so far as past transactions are concerned.” Secretary Bryan met this overture in a friendly spirit and assured Dr. Dumba that he might indicate to the German Government that in the United States there was “no desire for war.” Moreover, the American Government expected Germany to “answer the note in the same spirit of friendship that prompted ours.” Dr. Dumba then suggested that it might make it easier for the Ger¬ man Government if she could, in her reply, say that she expected the United States to insist “in the same spirit upon freedom of trade with neutrals.” Secretary Bryan at once objected that such an expression 72 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 437. 78 The best record of this conversation between Dr. Dumba and Secretary Bryan is contained in a letter that Secretary Bryan sent to President Wilson on the very day that the conversation occurred. May 17, 1915. Bryan MS.

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in the German reply to the American note of May 13 might “em¬ barrass” the American Government and make it “more difficult to deal with the Allies along that line.” It would be better for Berlin to “assume” that America would uphold her rights. When Dumba in¬ quired whether “confidential assurances” to that effect would be given to the German Government, he was promptly informed that these “as¬ surances” would not be “necessary.” If the German Government wished to justify, before her own people, her acceptance of the doc¬ trine elaborated in the American note, the best procedure would be to issue a public statement saying that she had no doubt that America would insist that all neutral rights should be respected by England. The advantage in addressing this general statement to the German public rather than to the American Government lay in the fact that it would require no answer from the United States. This would prevent any insinuations that America was adopting a firm attitude towards Great Britain because of German pressure. Dr. Dumba was so strongly impressed with the friendly spirit shown by Secretary Bryan that he immediately sent the following telegram to the Foreign Office at Vienna : — The United States desires no war. Her Notes, however strongly worded, meant no harm, but had to be written in order to pacify public opinion of America. The Berlin Government therefore need not feel itself injured, but need only make suitable concessions if it desires to put an end to the dispute.74 This telegram from Dr. Dumba was sent by radio, via Berlin, and therefore was known to Mr. Zimmermann, the German Under Secre¬ tary of State, before it had been read in Vienna. Zimmermann was 74 Count Johann von Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, p. 156. Ambassa¬ dor Dumba, in his Memoirs of a Diplomat (Boston, 1932), p. 234, gives the fol¬ lowing outline of his conversation with Secretary Bryan: “Secretary Bryan af¬ firmed that as a result of the much excited state of public opinion an earnest protest must be made by the State Department; that the Note was severe, but stated in friendly terms; that he hoped that the German answer would be animated by the same friendly spirit, but that German agreement to cease unrestricted and ruthless employment of submarines, which he anticipated in the German reply, must be unconditional and not made to depend upon a strong American protest against the English blockade; that he had added that the German Government might make a public proclamation to the German nation of the confident expectation that the State Department would take vigorous action against the blockade, but that the two matters were not to be made interdependent, since this would give the impres¬ sion in London that the United States were protesting against the blockade on account of pressure put on them from Berlin; and finally, that he (Bryan) had repeatedly emphasized the tremendous impression that had been made and the boundless indignation that had been aroused by the terrible deaths of so many American citizens and had indicated that some reparation was necessary.”

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far from clever as a diplomat, and he was piqued at Ambassador Gerard because of the “blunt and abrupt manner” that had been af¬ fected by the American Ambassador when he had presented his de¬ mands that Germany abandon submarine warfare.75 According to Ambassador Dumba, Mr. Gerard had further irritated Mr. Zimmermann by a dramatic flourish. Wishing to impress the German Under Secretary of State with the gravity of the situation, Ambassador Gerard went personally to the sleeping-car office in Unter den Linden and “reserved places for himself and his family as if a break of dip¬ lomatic relations between Germany and the United States were im¬ minent.” 78 Mr. Zimmermann now decided to “meet bluff with bluff.” When Ambassador Gerard paid his next visit to the German Foreign Office Mr. Zimmermann was so indiscreet as to read to him the text of the Dumba telegram and then remark: — “You see from Dumba’s telegram that the State Department’s Note is not meant to be taken very seriously but only as a sop to public opinion.” 77 This little scene between Zimmermann and Ambassador Gerard took place on May 21, and on the following day Gerard sent a telegram to Secretary Bryan informing him of the situation: — Zimmermann told me yesterday, that Dumba, Austro-Hungarian Min¬ ister, had cabled that you had told him Lusitania note was not meant in earnest and was only sent as sop to public opinion.78 In the meantime, on May 17 there had been forwarded to President Wilson, in New York, a copy of the memorandum which gave an ac¬ count of the conversation between the Secretary of State and Ambas78 Count Johann von Bernstorff, op. cit., p. 156. 76 Dr. Constantin Dumba, op. cit., p. 234. 77 Ibid., p. 235. According to Ambassador Gerard, My Four Years in Germany, pp. 231-232, he first heard of this Dumba telegram during a luncheon that was given in the American Embassy in Berlin. Zimmermann was talking to an American woman, married to a German, and Gerard overheard him tell her that Dr. Dumba had just sent a telegram that had been received in the Foreign Office to the effect that the American note of May 13 need not be taken seriously. Gerard immediately made inquiries on this point and was shown the telegram. In discussing his action in this matter he remarks: “It was very lucky that I discovered the existence of this Dumba cablegram in this manner which savours almost of diplomacy as represented on the stage. If the Germans had gone on in the belief that the Lusitania Note was not really meant, war would have inevitably resulted at that time between Germany and America.” 78 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, May 22, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 407.

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sador Dumba. This was sent in care of Mr. Yardley, a special mes¬ senger, who was to return that night on the twelve-thirty train. Mr. Yardley approached the President according to schedule, and brought back to Secretary Bryan a hastily “scribbled note” indicating the President’s approval of the Bryan memorandum. On May 20 Presi¬ dent Wilson forwarded to the Secretary of State another short note of approval: — I think your position in the conversation with the Austrian Ambassador was admirable.79 It was not until the afternoon of May 23 that Secretary Bryan received the telegram from Ambassador Gerard to the effect that Dr. Dumba had intimated that the American note relative to the sink¬ ing of the Lusitania was not to be taken seriously. It was only too evident to Mr. Bryan that this false impression would have to be corrected at once. In his answering telegram to Ambassador Gerard he stated that Dr. Dumba would be requested to call at the Department of State in order that a denial could be secured. The Dumba telegram that Mr. Zimmermann had shown to the American Ambassador was based on a misunderstanding of the Dumba-Bryan conversation. There was “absolutely no justification” for such a version, and the German Government should not, “for a moment, misunderstand the language or intent of the note regarding the submarine attack on the Lusitania, Gulflight, Cushing, and Falaba.” 80 On May 24 Secretary Bryan addressed a letter to President Wilson enclosing a copy of a note he had just received from Dr. Dumba. In this note Dr. Dumba “endorsed” the “correctness” of the Bryan ver¬ sion of their interview. He also expressed the view that the German Foreign Office must have “tried to bluff Gerard.” 81 On this same day Secretary Bryan forwarded to Ambassador Gerard a copy of a telegram that Ambassador Dumba was sending in cipher. Mr. Gerard was instructed to deliver this copy to the German Foreign Office for their information. It was a complete endorsement of the Bryan version of the incident. Ambassador Dumba alluded to Mr. Zimmermann’s statement that the first Dumba telegram indicated 79 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 20, 1915, Bryan MS. 80 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Gerard, May 24, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 407. 81 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, May 24, 1915, ibid., pp. 407-408.

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that the American note of May 13 was sent merely as a sop to public opinion.” Such a statement was incorrect, and Dr. Dumba declared that he could not understand how his telegram . . . could produce such an erroneous impression. Mr. Bryan emphasized the difference between the destruction of many human lives and material damage, the high tension of public opinion and the correspondent earnest¬ ness of his protest which does not exclude a friendly tone and spirit. It would be a great mistake to minimize the earnestness of this protest.82 The “Dumba incident” was thus brought “officially” to a close, but there were many reverberations. On July 27, after Mr. Bryan had re¬ signed as Secretary of State, Ambassador Gerard made the following confession to Colonel House: — I am afraid the late Secretary of State mixed matters considerably— certainly he told Dumba and Bernstorff things which were reported here — were told to me — and put me and the authorities here a little “off” as to the President’s intentions. If we have trouble with Germany, he will be responsible. He gave the idea of weakness here.83 Mr. Lansing was equally critical of Secretary Bryan for his “un¬ fortunate trustfulness” in Dr. Dumba ... to whom he apparently said or intimated in confidence that, in spite of anything that the Government of the United States might say in its notes to Germany, it would not go to war over the submarine outrages. ... It is very possible that the German replies would have been drafted in a dif¬ ferent tone and would have gone further toward bringing the controversy to a satisfactory conclusion but for this unfortunate interview with the astute Austrian. ... It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that he said something which conveyed to Dr. Dumba an intimation such as the latter 82 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Gerard, May 24, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 408. In a second telegram to Ambassador Gerard on May 24 Secretary Bryan enclosed a statement from Ambassador Dumba with reference to the Bryan version of the conversation that had occurred between them: “I find the memorandum you had the kindness to send me quite correct and rendering faithfully the substance of our conversation.” For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 409. In his Memoirs of a Diplomat, p. 235, Dr. Dumba remarks as follows concerning the request of Secretary Bryan to confirm his version of their conversation: “The latter [Mr. Bryan] requested me to explain and confirm the accuracy of his very detailed memorandum of our interview. I was able to accede to this demand immediately and to substantiate my account by repeating the text of my telegram. At the same time, I laid par¬ ticular stress on the fact that Zimmermann had carefully omitted to read to Mr. Gerard a cable that I had sent off a few days earlier in which I had pointed out very plainly that a repetition of the torpedoing of a passenger ship without warning meant war with the United States.” 83 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, July 27, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 26.

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sent to his government. So keen a diplomat as Dumba would not have made up the conversation “out of whole cloth.” 84 It is difficult to say how greatly the President himself was influ¬ enced by the criticism of Colonel House relative to this “Dumba in¬ cident.” The Colonel was the President’s most trusted adviser, and Ambassador Gerard promptly informed him of the Dumba telegram and the interpretation that Mr. Zimmermann had placed upon it.85 The Colonel immediately cabled to President Wilson an outline of the situation. His actual comments on the policy of Secretary Bryan have not been published. It is very likely, however, that the President’s estimation of Mr. Bryan as Secretary of State was not enhanced by this episode. As might have been expected, the “Dumba incident” had persistent echoes that caused Mr. Bryan distinct embarrassment in later years. In 1917 a newspaper man, Mr. Carl Ackerman, published a book en¬ titled Germany, the Next Republic? In this volume he devoted some attention to the “Dumba incident,” and finally observed as follows : — Mr. Gerard has been accused of not being forceful enough in dealing with the Berlin Foreign Office. In Berlin he has been criticized for just the opposite. The Ambassador’s position was that he must carry out Mr. Wilson’s ideas. So he tried for days and weeks to impress officials with the seriousness of the situation. At the critical point in the negotiations various unofficial diplomats began to arrive. . . . One of these was a politician who through his credentials from Mr. Bryan met many high officials, and informed them that President Wilson was writing his notes for “home consumption.” . . . Secretary Bryan had informed also former Ambas¬ sador Dumba that the United States would never take any position against Germany even though it was hinted so in the Lusitania note. Dumba tele¬ graphed this to Vienna, and Berlin was informed immediately. Because of Mr. Gerard’s personal friendship . . . with Under-Secretary of State Zimmermann, he was acquainted with Secretary Bryan’s move. He tele¬ graphed to President Wilson and the result was the resignation of Mr. Bryan.86 84 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, pp. 30-31. Ray Stannard Baker, in his Woodrow Wilson, vol. V, p. 349, expresses a somewhat similar viewpoint. He believes that although the statements of Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Dumba were “scrupulously in accord with the policy adopted by the administration, the intent was plainly to mitigate the President’s reply. ... In his agonizing solicitude he no doubt betrayed, less by what he said than by the way he said it, his lack of sympathy with the note of May 13th.” 85 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 451. 86 (N.Y. 1917), PP- 101-102.

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Shortly after the publication of Mr. Ackerman’s book this state¬ ment was called to Mr. Bryan’s attention who wrote to President Wilson on December 8, 1917, and requested a denial.87 Mr. Tumulty replied on December 11 that the President was . . . perfectly willing that you should say as from him that Mr. Acker¬ man’s statements, or, rather, his implications, are entirely false. Of course, the President did not request or desire your resignation, and your resigna¬ tion had no connection whatever with the so-called Dumba incident.88 Mr. Bryan, however, was desirous of securing from the President a more detailed and explicit statement relative to the “Dumba inci¬ dent.” On December 13 he wrote to Mr. Tumulty to thank him for his note of December 11. That note had conclusively answered . . . the implications that the Dumba incident caused my resignation but it does not refer to the criticism in regard to Dumba incident, and I do not know whether the President is willing to say anything on that subject. The criticism has been in circulation in the newspapers since my resignation and I have answered it several times without taking further notice of it, but now that it appears in book form, is seemingly based on conversation with Ambassador Gerard and brings in the President I must take notice of it. To deny the resignation part without denying the Dumba part would be regarded as an admission that the criticism based on the Dumba interview was just. I do not care what hostile critics may say of my unofficial acts but I am not willing to be misrepresented as to official conduct. ... I can compel a retraction in court but it can be secured without suit if the President feels justified in broadening his letter so as to cover the Dumba incident.89 The President immediately acceded to this request, and on Decem¬ ber 17 sent Mr. Bryan the following letter, which covered every as¬ pect of the situation: — My attention has been called to a book in which the author states by very clear implication that I demanded your resignation as Secretary of State because of language used by you in an interview with Ambassador Dumba soon after the first Lusitania note. You may quote me as saying that I did not ask for your resignation or desire it, as anyone can learn from my note accepting your resignation. And this statement ought also to be a sufficient answer to the criticism of you based upon the Dumba interview, for I could 87 Mr. Bryan to President Wilson, December 8, 1917, Bryan MS. 88 Mr. Tumulty to Mr. Bryan, December 11, 1917, ibid. 88 Mr. Bryan to Mr. Tumulty, December 13, 1917, ibid.

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not make it if I thought you responsible for the misinterpretation placed upon that interview in Berlin. But knowing at the time all the facts, I did not give the matter serious thought and I may add, in justice to you, that as you promptly corrected the misinterpretation when, within a few days, it was brought to your attention, it could not have affected the diplomatic situation.90 This letter was so explicit that it stopped in most circles any fur¬ ther rumors connecting the Bryan resignation with the “Dumba in¬ cident,” but as the recently published War Memoirs of Robert Lan¬ sing clearly show, certain important Americans continued to cherish the belief that Mr. Bryan’s indiscretions had seriously affected the course of the Lusitania negotiations. 90 President Wilson to Mr. Bryan, December 17, 1917, Bryan MS.

XII THE “GREAT COMMONER” HEEDS THE CALL OF CONSCIENCE It did not require any “Dumba incident” to shake the faith of Presi¬ dent Wilson in the counsel of Secretary Bryan. From the beginning of the German submarine blockade he had leaned more and more upon Mr. Lansing for advice, and by the latter part of May, 1915, there were very few suggestions of Secretary Bryan that met with Presidential approval. This drift away from the Secretary of State is clearly illustrated in the attitude the President adopted with ref¬ erence to the course to be followed in dealing with England. Secretary Bryan was warmly in favor of sending a strong note to England to balance the one sent to Germany on May 13. In accordance with this viewpoint he instructed Mr. Lansing to draft a note to London pro¬ testing against British violations of American rights. The President, however, immediately rejected this line of procedure. The more he thought about the whole situation the “clearer” it became to him that the American Government should not . . . send this note, or any other on this subject, to Great Britain, until we have the reply of the Imperial German Government to our note to it, be¬ cause we cannot afford even to seem to be trying to make it easier for Ger¬ many to accede to our demands by turning in similar fashion to England concerning matters which we have already told Germany are none of her business. It would be so evident a case of uneasiness and hedging that I think it would weaken our whole position fatally. ... In every such de¬ cision I feel very keenly the force of your counter judgment and cannot claim that I feel cocksure of the rightness of my own conclusions.1 There was to be no show of conciliation towards Germany in order to help her “save face” if she acceded to the American demands. The phrase “strict accountability” seemed ever-present in the President’s mind, and on May 27 Secretary Bryan was instructed to send the 1 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, May 20, 1915, Bryan MS.

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following note of warning to the German Foreign Office through Ambassador Gerard: — Please point out kindly and unofficially, but very earnestly, that the con¬ ditions now prevailing in the marine war zone are rapidly becoming intol¬ erable to the whole world.2 Gerard immediately replied that he had learned from the “best naval sources” that no change would be made in methods of sub¬ marine warfare “even if consequences involve war between Germany and United States.” 3 On the following day he sent the long-awaited reply from the German Government to the American note of May 13. The most important points raised in this German note of reply were: (1) that the Lusitania was an auxiliary cruiser of the British Navy; (2) that it was armed; (3) that the British Government had au¬ thorized the use of the American flag as a ruse de guerre; (4) that British merchant vessels were instructed to ram or otherwise de¬ stroy German submarines; (5) that the Lusitania carried munitions of war.4 After a lengthy recital of these charges the German Government closed with a hope that the United States would not fail to order a “careful examination” into the facts surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania. With special reference to attacks upon neutral vessels by German submarines, the note pointed out the difficulties of conduct¬ ing submarine warfare in the war zone. These attacks could be traced to the misuse of neutral flags by British vessels, or to the carelessness or 2 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Gerard, May 27, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 418. 3 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, May 28, 1915, ibid., p. 419. 4 “The Imperial Government must state . . . the impression that certain im¬ portant facts most directly connected with the sinking of the Lusitania may have escaped the attention of the Government of the United States. . . . The Imperial Government begs in this connection to point out that the Lusitania was one of the largest and fastest English commerce steamers constructed with Government funds as auxiliary cruisers, and is expressly included in the navy list published by British Admiralty. . . . According to reports at hand here, the Lusitania when she left New York undoubtedly had guns on board which were mounted under decks and masked. . . . The Imperial Government furthermore has the honor to direct the particular attention of the American Government to the fact that the British Ad¬ miralty . . . advised the British merchant marine not only to seek protection behind neutral flags and markings but even when so disguised to attack German submarines by ramming them. . . . The German Government believes that it acts in just self-defense when it seeks to protect the lives of its soldiers by destroying ammunition destined for the enemy with the means of war at its command. . . . There can be no doubt that the rapid sinking of the Lusitania was primarily due to the explosion of the cargo of ammunition caused by the torpedo.” Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, May 29, 1915, received May 31, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 419, 421. The German note was dated May 28, 1915.

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suspicious actions on the part of the captains of neutral ships. In all cases where a neutral vessel . . . through no fault of its own has come to grief through the German submarine or flyers according to the facts as ascertained by the German Government, this Government has expressed its regret at the unfortunate occurrence and promised indemnification where the facts justified it.5 In the American press this German note received sharp castigation. It is true that George Sylvester Viereck, in the Fatherland, expressed the opinion that “Germany’s answer is sweetly reasonable,” but most American editors had a very different viewpoint. The Philadelphia North American characterized the note as “impudently trifling in spirit and flagrantly dishonest in matter”; the Chicago Herald be¬ lieved that the note ignored “the whole fabric of international law and the rights under it of American citizens on the high seas”; the Springfield Republican was certain that “nothing new” was brought out in the German note which “could possibly modify the criticism of the entire neutral world or change in the least the attitude of the President of the United States”; and the St. Louis Times frankly de¬ clared that it had “no sympathy for the kind of warfare that sinks ships loaded with women and children.” 6 Shortly after the President received the note from Germany he began to outline his reply. After several hours of arduous labor he completed his draft on the evening of May 31, and the next morning at eleven o’clock he met with the Cabinet. There was a tense atmos¬ phere in the meeting. Secretary Bryan seemed to be laboring under a “great strain,” and most of the time sat with his eyes closed, saying very little. After the President had finished reading the note he had prepared, a heated discussion arose with reference to the expediency of sending a note of protest to London as well as to Berlin. When certain Cabinet members objected to this procedure as tending to place England and Germany on the same plane, Secretary Bryan charged that they were not “neutral.” At these words the President turned to him with a “steely glitter” in his eyes and uttered a pointed rebuke:— 5 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, May 29, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 419. • Ltterary Digest, June 12, 1915, pp. 1383-1385.

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Mr. Bryan, you are not warranted in making such an assertion. . . . There are none of us who can justly be accused of being unfair.7 Although Secretary Bryan apologized for his remarks he was by no means convinced by the President’s assertion that it was a “sin¬ gularly inappropriate time” to send simultaneous protests to London and Berlin.8 At the close of the Cabinet meeting he told the President that he could not sign the note as drafted: he believed “arbitration was the proper remedy.” 9 The rift in the Cabinet was almost at hand. On the same day that this eventful Cabinet meeting was held, Mr. Lansing sent a note to Secretary Bryan which the latter could inter¬ pret only as provocative. Mr. Lansing was entirely out of sympathy with the spirit of conciliation that Secretary Bryan constantly showed towards Germany, and this note was like a challenge to the pacific at¬ titude of the Secretary of State. To Mr. Lansing it seemed clear that the German note of May 28 had been drafted . . . with the design of drawing this Government into a controversy as to the facts and avoiding the questions of the principles involved. In my opin¬ ion the reply to the German note should state that a discussion of the facts of specific cases would be premature before the rights asserted in the American note had been admitted and assurance given that in future those rights would not be violated. Mr. Lansing was distinctly displeased with the tone of the German note, which he regarded as envincing an unfriendly sentiment towards the United States. It revealed, he thought, an . . . inflexible purpose to continue a course of action which this Govern¬ ment has frankly asserted to be illegal and inhuman. In view of the tone of the German note I do not think that the reply should be less firm or should repeat the friendly expressions of the note of May 13th.10 This viewpoint was strikingly like that of Ambassador Gerard, who wrote to Colonel House that it was the hope of the Foreign Office to keep T The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 5-6. 8 David F. Houston, Eight Years with Wilson’s Cabinet (N.Y. 1926), vol. I, p. 137* William G. McAdoo, Crowded Years (N.Y. 1931), p. 333. 10 Mr. Lansing to 'die Secretary of State, June I, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., PP. 330-331.

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. . . the Lusitania matter “jollied along” until the American people get excited about baseball or a new scandal and forget. Meantime the hate of America grows daily.11 On June 2 Mr. Lansing sent another note to Secretary Bryan with reference to the phraseology that should be used in the American re¬ ply to the German note of May 28. In the American note of May 13 it had been argued that the lives of all noncombatants could not law¬ fully or rightfully be put in jeopardy by the destruction of unarmed merchant vessels belonging to one of the belligerent powers without adequate provision being made for the safety of passengers and crew. It would have been better, Mr. Lansing thought, if the American note had used the expression “unresisting” rather than “unarmed” merchant vessels. It was entirely legal for a merchant vessel to carry “defensive” armament without losing “her character as a vessel of commerce.” The Department of State had issued a circular to this ef¬ fect. It had been unwise, therefore, to employ the term “unarmed” in¬ stead of “unresisting,” because it implied that “if armed a vessel changed her status and was subject to different treatment, which practically contradicted the Department’s statement.” It was also true that the word “unresisting” was broader in its application. It could certainly be used to cover not only an armament on a vessel but would extend to any attempt “to ram a submarine which had signalled a vessel to stop.” The German Government had taken advantage of this unfortunate phraseology in the note of May 13 to build up an argument on the allegation that the Lusitania was armed. The affidavits that had been sent to the Department of State by the German Government relative to this alleged armament were of dubious validity, but nevertheless this question had now been raised, and it would have been better if no basis for such an argument had ever been afforded.12 While Secretary Bryan was reading over this note from Mr. Lan¬ sing he received from President Wilson a request for assistance in drafting a reply to Germany. The Chief Executive stressed the fact that while he would welcome a memorandum from Mr. Lansing on the points involved in the proposed answer to Germany, he would 11 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, June 1, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 454-455. 12 Mr. Lansing to the Secretary of State, June 2, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., PP- 331-332.

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“chiefly value” any counsel that Mr. Bryan himself would send him.13 Secretary Bryan was glad to accede to this request from the Presi¬ dent, and he promptly sent him a long letter in which he disclosed a viewpoint in sharp contradiction to that of Mr. Lansing. First of all he wished to avoid any haste in this matter of coming to an agreement with the German Government. There were two reasons why it was not necessary to send an immediate answer to the German note of May 28: — (a) Because it is more important that the answer should be wisely drawn than that it should be speedily sent. (b) That time itself is a factor of no mean importance. In our peace plan we have emphasized the advantage of time for investigation and deliberation. . . . Our note to Germany, while unequivocally stating this Government’s position, was couched in friendly language and the German reply is in the same tone. There is apparently no desire on either part for war; and there is always hope of an amicable ad¬ justment where neither side desires war. Secretary Bryan next indicated a complete disagreement with Mr. Lansing regarding the use of the word “unresisting” rather than “un¬ armed” as applied to belligerent merchant ships: — I do not agree with Mr. Lansing as to the propriety of using the word “unresisting” instead of “unarmed.” It seems to me that the character of the vessel is determined, not by whether she resists or not, but by whether she is armed or not. ... If we use the word “unresisting” the attacking party would not be entitled to employ force until after the vessel had actu¬ ally used her arms, which would give the vessel attacked a great advantage over the vessel attacking. Finally, Secretary Bryan took issue with Mr. Lansing’s viewpoint that the German Government should recognize certain American rights before any discussion should take place concerning the “facts” in the Lusitania case such as the carrying of armament and the trans¬ port of ammunition. Secretary Bryan was sure that it was the “cus¬ tom of the State Department” to investigate “the facts before taking a position.” In the case of the Lusitania . . . we stated our position, upon a state of facts as we understood them. If a question is raised as to the correctness of the assumed facts, I can see no reason why we should refuse to consider the question of facts.14 13 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, June 2, 1915, Bryan MS. 14 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, June 2, 1915, Bryan MS.

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

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In a postscript to this letter to the President, Secretary Bryan ad¬ verted to the fact that Ambassador Bernstorff had suggested that the German note had raised this question of fact for the purpose of giving the . . . German Government a plausible excuse for accepting our position if the grounds upon which its action was based proved to be erroneous. If Germany is really looking for a way out we cannot do otherwise than assist her.15 The President, however, was not in any mood to help Germany find “a way out” of its difficulty with the United States concerning the sinking of the Lusitania. In the first of three notes that he sent to Secretary Bryan on June 2 he remarked how “interesting and sig¬ nificant” it seemed to him that the German Government kept going over the . . . same ground in different words, and always misses the essential point involved, that England’s violation of neutral rights is different from Ger¬ many’s violation of the rights of humanity.16 Later in the day he sent a second note in which he thanked Secre¬ tary Bryan for the suggestions he had offered, but he clearly indicated that he was not in accord with the Secretary’s belief that it was not necessary to send an immediate answer to the German note of May 28. To the President it seemed that . . . time (though of course not haste) is of the essence in this matter in order that the German Government should be made to feel that we regard it as pressing; for they show not the least inclination or purpose to change their methods even pending this interchange of views.17 The third note that the President forwarded to Secretary Bryan re¬ vealed his close dependence upon Mr. Lansing’s train of thought. The Counselor had urged Secretary Bryan to discard the phrase “un¬ armed merchantman” in favor of “unresisting merchantman.” The President regarded this suggestion as particularly happy, and it had furnished him “with exactly what” he was looking for.18 In two of these notes that the President sent to Secretary Bryan on June 2 he requested suggestions with reference to a note of reply 15 18 17 18

Secretary President President President

Bryan to President Wilson, June 2, 1915, Bryan MS. Wilson to Secretary Bryan, June 2, 1915, ibid. Wilson to Secretary Bryan, June 2, 1915, ibid. Wilson to Secretary Bryan, June 2, 1915, ibid.

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to Germany. After giving these requests careful consideration Secre¬ tary Bryan drafted two letters of advice. In the first letter he dis¬ cussed the attacks upon the American vessels the Cushing and the Gulflight. The German Government had disclaimed any intention to injure neutral vessels, and had promised an apology and adequate reparation. It had also suggested an adjustment through a report to be made by an “international commission of inquiry” pursuant to the Hague Convention of October 18, 1907. This suggestion of a commission of inquiry was welcomed by Secretary Bryan. It was apparent, he thought, that the United States could not . . . object to arbitration where arbitration is possible. Neither can we object to investigation in any case. Our thirty treaties commit us to the doctrine of investigation in all cases, and since this form of treaty was of¬ fered to Germany and the principle accepted by her (Germany was the twelfth nation to accept the principle) we could not consistently refuse to apply this document to all questions that may arise between us. . . . The plan for investigation of all difficulties is the simplest plan that can be found for dealing with disputed questions and, though simple, gives the greatest promise of effectiveness.19 With particular reference to the questions arising out of the sink¬ ing of the Lusitania Secretary Bryan thought that the chief concern of the American Government was the protection of American citizens. With this end in view it was now of imperative importance that these citizens be prevented from incurring . . . unnecessary risks. The precedents for this are abundant. Take the case of a riot, for instance. The authorities are not absolved from the duty of enforcing order and of punishing those guilty of violence, but as a matter of precaution, they restrain citizens from the exercise of their rights in order to prevent injuries that might otherwise be inflicted unintentionally. The bystander is always in danger when there is shooting upon the street. . . . For the same reason we advised all American citizens to leave Mex¬ ico, not because they did not have a right to stay there, but because we thought it unwise for them to incur the risks involved in staying. On the basis of these precedents the American Government had not only the right but the duty to warn American citizens 19 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, June 3, 1915, Bryan MS.

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

. . . against going into the danger zone on foreign ships — especially on ships which, by carrying ammunition, invite extraordinary risks. It is not sufficient to say that, according to international law, American citizens have a right to go anywhere and that the Government’s protection will fol¬ low them no matter what risks they take. If the authorities of a city are justified in warning people off the streets of the city in which they reside, surely a nation is justified in warning its citizens off of the water highways which belong to no nation alone, but to all the nations in common. Once again Secretary Bryan stated his belief that Germany was “looking for a way out.” If the American Government could an¬ nounce that . . . passenger ships will not hereafter be allowed to carry ammunition, I think Germany would be very likely to say that no passenger ship would be attacked if assurances were given that it did not carry ammunition.20 On the evening of June 3 Secretary Bryan sent to the President a second letter in which he enclosed a memorandum prepared by Mr. Lansing. Although the arguments presented by Mr. Lansing were “for the most part reasonable,” yet Secretary Bryan did not hesitate to state his disagreement with some of them. Mr. Lansing had stated that even though the Lusitania “were entirely owned by the British Government and yet put in trade as a merchant vessel, it would oc¬ cupy exactly the same character as a privately owned merchant ves¬ sel.” Such an extreme statement as this was regarded by Secretary Bryan as somewhat far-fetched. Mr. Lansing had also expressed the opinion that it would be “im¬ possible” for a ship the size of the Lusitania to ram a submarine. Al¬ though Mr. Lansing’s argument on this point seemed “quite con¬ clusive,” there were certain implications that should be considered. If it was true that secret instructions had been issued to commanders of merchant vessels to ram submarines, this fact deserved attention. In other words, . . . if a submarine is to be bound by the rules applicable to merchantmen, then the merchantmen ought also to be bound by the rules applicable when the merchantmen are attacked by a cruiser. In conclusion, Secretary Bryan remarked that to him it seemed that the most serious question raised by the German note of May 28 was 20 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, June 3, 1915, Bryan MS.

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in connection with the alleged cargo of munitions carried by the Lusitania. Secretary Bryan could not share Mr. Lansing’s view . . . that we can ignore entirely the question raised as to whether our law was violated. Even if we say that the enforcement of our laws must be en¬ trusted to our own officials and not to commanders of submarines of bel¬ ligerents, still we must consider the moral effect of a position which would make us seem to acquiesce in the carrying of American citizens with am¬ munition in violation of law.21 These notes from Secretary Bryan to President Wilson always emphasized the importance of arriving at an amicable understanding with Germany. While the replies of the President failed to reflect the friendly note sounded by the Secretary of State they did not indicate any desire for war. It is evident, therefore, that the dramatic picture given by Ambassador Bernstorff of his audience with the President on June 2, and his own agency in preventing the outbreak of a war, is too highly colored to be accurate. According to his narrative it was obvious to him on June 2 that something would have to be done at once to avert serious complications. Without awaiting instructions from Berlin he asked for an audience with President Wilson, and this request was granted. He was not a moment too soon : — As I discovered later, on the very day of my visit to the President, all preparations had been made for a breach of relations and the consesquent war. I had a long private interview with the President, whom I found much shaken and most heartily anxious to avoid war. We were both agreed that time must be gained, and this unanimity led to the application of a pal¬ liative. ... At my suggestion, we agreed that I should send Gen. Reg.Rat. Meyer-Gerhard, who had travelled with Dernburg to America . . . to Germany forthwith, so that he might make an oral report to our Gov¬ ernment. Wilson promised to take no irremediable steps until the results of the Meyer-Gerhard mission could be seen. In the meantime the ex¬ change of sharp-toned Notes between Washington and Berlin went on 21 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, June 3, 1915, Bryan MS. On May 23, 1915, Rear-Admiral F. E. Chadwick wrote a letter to Henry White in which he states several of the arguments used by Secretary Bryan in his letters to President Wilson. He could not “take the view that neutrals can be specially protected in the ships of a belligerent power under such circumstances as exist. I told the President I thought that our country people who took passage in the Lusitania, when right alongside her was an American ship sailing the same day and to the same port, and who thus risked creating a difficult situation for their country, did an unpatriotic act; that I thought the situation was similar to that in Mexico wherein the administration warned those in Mexico of danger, and that if they chose not to leave, they remained at their own risk.” Henry White MS.

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AMERICA

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TO WAR

. . . but the excitement in the United States gradually died down and the first crisis was overcome.22 As one looks through the Bryan and Lansing manuscripts it is ob¬ vious that Count Bernstorff did not prevent any break in diplomatic relations by his audience with President Wilson on June 2. There is not the slightest intimation in either of these collections of private papers that a crisis was at hand. If such had been the case there would have been some hint in the Lansing Diary that a serious situation had arisen, and Mr. Lansing would have taken up the congenial task of studying the severance of diplomatic relations with Germany. After his audience with the President, Count Bernstorff sent a cipher cablegram to the Foreign Office in which he pointed out that the main object the American Chief Executive had in mind was the . . . complete cessation of submarine warfare, and from point of view of this ultimate aim, smaller concessions on our part could only be regarded as half measures. . . . Our voluntary cessation of submarine warfare would inspire Wilson to press for a raising of English hunger blockade. . . . American reply may be expected to lay little stress on purely legal aspect of matter and to dwell rather on question of humanity ... in a sharper form. Cordiality of conversation must not blind our eyes to se¬ riousness of situation. If our next Note does not tend to tranquillize mat¬ ters, Wilson is bound to recall his Ambassador.23 On June 4 Mr. Lansing was paid the courtesy of a request from President Wilson to attend the Cabinet meeting on that day with ref¬ erence to a reply to the German note of May 28.24 On the following day he had an interview with Secretary Bryan, who handed to him the draft of an answer to Germany that had been prepared by the President. The Secretary also informed Mr. Lansing that he was op¬ posed to this answer as drafted by the President.25 On this very day (June 5) Secretary Bryan had endeavored to convince the President that the note to Germany, as the President had outlined it at the Cabinet meeting on the day before, would be likely to cause a “rupture of diplomatic relations” with Germany. He then submitted three suggestions for the President’s consideration: (1) 22 Count Johann von Bernstorff, Memoirs, p. 143. 28 Count Johann von Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, p. 153. 24 Lansing Diary, June 4, 1915, Lansing MS. 28 Lansing Diary, June 5, 1915, ibid.

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the settlement of all disputes with Germany by a resort to arbitration; (2) immediate action by the Government to prevent passenger ships from carrying munitions of war; (3) a note of protest to be dis¬ patched to Great Britain before any reply be sent to Germany with reference to her note of May 28.28 This was Secretary Bryan’s last attempt to influence the President in favor of a more conciliatory attitude toward Germany. It proved to be just as futile as his previous efforts in that regard. The Presi¬ dent’s note of reply did indicate a slight inclination towards the views of the Secretary of State, but it was hardly more than a gesture. There was an assurance of high respect for the judgment of Secre¬ tary Bryan, whose opinions always carried “such weight of reason” that it was with “deep misgiving” that the President rejected them. With regard to the question of American citizens traveling on mer¬ chant ships belonging to belligerent powers the President seemed al¬ most at the point of agreement with the Secretary of State : — I am inclined to think that we ought to take steps, as you suggest, to prevent our citizens from travelling on ships carrying munitions of war, and I shall seek to find the legal way to do it. I fear that, whatever it may be best to do about that, it is clearly impossible to act before the new note goes to Germany.27 Secretary Bryan could not understand why the President should be in such hot haste to send the note to Germany. Nothing could be lost through a short postponement of the answer to the German note of May 28. Moreover, he was deeply disappointed at the President’s re¬ fusal to send a note of protest to London as a sort of offset to the note that was about to be sent to Berlin. He was growing increasingly fearful that the President’s policy would lead to war with Germany, and this apprehension was deepened by a joint letter he received from two important leaders in the Democratic Party, Senator Thomas S. Martin and Representative H. D. Flood. On June 4 these two Vir¬ ginia politicians had an interview with Secretary Bryan with special reference to public opinion in their state. They were profoundly im¬ pressed with the gravity of the situation the country was facing, and the next morning they sent Secretary Bryan a letter voicing their fears: — 26 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, June 5, 1915, Bryan MS. 27 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, June 5, 1915, ibid.

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AMERICA

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We do feel that we are well justified in expressing a deep anxiety and an intense desire that peace may be preserved. We will not go further than to say that with the limited knowledge we have, we have not been able to reach the conclusion that war should result from any questions growing out of the destruction of the Lusitania and the incidental loss of American lives. We say this notwithstanding the fact that the reasoning of the Presi¬ dent in his first note to Germany is exceedingly strong and we do not see how Germany can make satisfactory answer. ... We will add that we believe public opinion in Virginia is entirely in accord with the views we herein express.28 This letter greatly increased the anxieties of Secretary Bryan con¬ cerning the drift towards war with Germany. Perhaps some supreme sacrifice on his part would check this dangerous inclination before it gained such headway that war would be the inevitable result. It was possible that his resignation as Secretary of State would cause the President to reconsider his foreign policy! With this thought uppermost in his mind Secretary Bryan called Mr. Lansing into his office and gave him the President’s draft of the answer to Germany. It was Saturday afternoon and the Counselor was about to break the tension of the last few days by attending a baseball game at the American League park. There was no desperate rush to complete this assignment, and Mr. Lansing’s Diary indicates that he and Mr. Lester H. Woolsey put the finishing touches on the draft note on Sunday afternoon (June 6).29 In the meantime Secretary Bryan had fully decided that his resigna¬ tion as Secretary of State was necessary as a means of correcting the President’s unfortunate leaning towards war with Germany.30 On Saturday afternoon he paid a visit to the home of Secretary McAdoo to unburden his mind. His haggard face and nervous manner revealed the great mental strain he was under. He began the conversation by remarking that he had sought out Secretary McAdoo because he had 28 T. S. Martin and H. D. Flood to Secretary Bryan, June 5, 1915, Bryan MS. 28 Lansing Diary, June 5-6, 1915, Lansing MS. 30 Many other prominent Americans beside Secretary Bryan were deeply con¬ cerned over the apparent drift toward war with Germany. In a letter to Henry White, June 6, 1915, Rear-Admiral F. E. Chadwick unburdens his soul as follows: “For us to think of going to war with Germany ... is madness, and would bode ill for the future. . . . John Bassett Moore said at Mohonk that our present diffi¬ culty was on account of the hysteria of a very large class. ... I can say (very confidentially) that he [Moore] did not like the form of the President’s late note.” Henry White MS.

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a strong affection for him, and also because Mr. McAdoo enjoyed close personal intimacy with the President. He was sorely afraid that “if the President should send the second Lusitania note ... it would surely lead to war with Germany.” He was most anxious that the President make some attempt to settle the dispute over the sinking of the Lusitania by resorting to arbitration. After this short prelude concerning the Lusitania incident, Secre¬ tary Bryan observed that he “thought his usefulness as Secretary of State was over, and that he proposed to resign.” His purpose in dis¬ cussing the matter with Secretary McAdoo was to discover some way whereby his resignation would cause “the least possible embarrass¬ ment to the Administration.” When Secretary McAdoo endeavored to break down this resolution to leave the Cabinet he invariably drew from the Secretary of State the reply that there was “no alternative but to resign.” Secretary McAdoo then went to the Bryan residence and talked matters over with Mrs. Bryan. He learned that Secretary Bryan had long been unhappy because the President’s habit of preparing all im¬ portant state papers himself had led the Secretary of State to feel that he was a mere figurehead. None of Mr. McAdoo’s explanations seemed to carry any special weight with Mrs. Bryan, and the Secre¬ tary of the Treasury went straight to the White House to tell the President of the situation. President Wilson was not surprised at the news of the impending resignation of the Secretary of State who had been “growing more and more out of sympathy with the Adminis¬ tration in the controversy with Germany.” He requested Secretary McAdoo to see the Bryans again on Monday.31 At this next conference (May 7) Mr. Bryan repeated his deter¬ mination to resign. When Secretary McAdoo uttered a warning that such an action would carry destruction with it, Mr. Bryan meditated for just a moment, and then remarked : — I believe you are right; I think this will destroy me; but whether it does or not, I must do my duty according to my conscience, and if I am de31W. G. McAdoo, Crowded Years, pp. 333-336. The account given in the Journal of Mrs. Bryan, The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan, pp. 422ff., is obviously incorrect in some details. During a recent interview with Mrs. Grace Hargreaves, a daughter of William Jennings Bryan, I was informed that Mrs. Bryan was strongly opposed to the resignation of her husband as Secretary of State, and that she employed every argument she could marshal to make him re¬ consider his decision.

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stroyed, it is, after all, merely the sacrifice that one must not hesitate to make to serve his God and his country.32 After this interview with Secretary McAdoo, Bryan called at the residence of Secretary Josephus Daniels, and during their ride down¬ town he disclosed his intention of resigning as Secretary of State.33 He then went to the Department of State where he found a note from the President relative to the letter that had been received from Senator Martin and Representative Flood. The views expressed by these two politicians had made a “deep impression” upon the President who had no doubt that they represented ... a great part of public opinion. I wish with all my heart that I saw a way to carry out the double wish of our people, to maintain a firm front in respect of what we demand of Germany and yet do nothing that might by any possibility involve us in the war.34 With the President in this mood of indecision it might still be pos¬ sible to convince him that it was not expedient to send the note to the German Government in the form in which it had been drafted by Mr. Lansing. Hurrying to the White House Secretary Bryan had an audience with President Wilson. For an hour he pleaded for a change in attitude towards Germany, but the President did not share his fears that war was imminent. Thoroughly discouraged and broken with emotion, Secretary Bryan returned to the Department of State to prepare his letter of resignation.35 The next morning (June 8) he presented this letter to the Presi¬ dent, who accepted it with a “feeling of personal sorrow.” 36 He then attended his last Cabinet meeting, and on the morning of June 9 he bade farewell to the personnel of the Department of State. His task as Secretary of State was over.37 The news of Bryan’s resignation as Secretary of State brought a 32 President Wilson felt certain on Sunday, May 6, that Bryan would resign as Secretary of State. On that day he invited Mr. Tumulty to have luncheon with him, and during the course of the meal he broke the news of Secretary Bryan’s dissatisfaction with the way things were going and the fact that he would probably resign on Monday. New York Times, July 28, 1925. 33 New York Times, July 28, 1925. 84 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, June 7, 1915, Bryan MS. 35 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, June 8, 1915, ibid. Also articles in Springfield Republican and New York Times, July 27-28, 1915. 36 President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, June 8, 1915, Bryan MS. 37 W. G. McAdoo, Crowded Years, pp. 335-336; W. J. Bryan and Mary B. Bryan, The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan, pp. 423-424; D. H. Houston, Eight Years with Wilson’s Cabinet, vol. I, p. 145.

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flood of friendly letters and telegrams from his many friends. John Skelton Williams, Comptroller of the Currency, believed that the an¬ nouncement of the resignation would be received throughout the country . . . as a shock — not as a mere surprise. You have been such a large part of this administration and have contributed in every way so marvellously to the successful accomplishment of the vital and constructive measures for which it has been distinguished, that it will be hard to think of the admin¬ istration without you.38 Secretary Daniels was equally cordial and assured the outgoing Secretary of State that “nothing can separate us, I feel, in life or death.” 39 Mr. Tumulty was profoundly disturbed at the thought of Mr. Bryan’s resignation, and “ could not express in words” his deep feeling with regard to it.40 Other prominent Democrats sent similar letters and telegrams. One interesting message came from Dr. Wil¬ liam E. Dodd, at that time Professor of American History in the University of Chicago, and recently the American Ambassador to Germany. It was somewhat belated but none the less sincere. Profes¬ sor Dodd first confessed that he had voted for Mr. Bryan “several times” as a Presidential candidate. If Mr. Bryan had been elected to the Presidency in 1896 America might have been saved . . . from the clutches of powerful interests which seek to destroy all that is worth while in our national life. ... I want to say how much I honor you and what a magnificent place you must have in our history when that comes to be written impartially. ... I was doubly distressed when you found it necessary to leave Mr. Wilson’s cabinet, both for your sake and for that of the Administration. . . . Wilson’s mistake consists in yielding to the militaristic forces of our time.41 Other eminent Americans expressed themselves in a very different vein. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge was certain that Bryan’s resigna¬ tion as Secretary of State was ... a good thing for the country because he was so singularly unfitted for the position of Secretary of State. . . . Why he went at this particular moment is hard to understand because the note of May 13th to which his name was appended was a good note and made the right demands while 38 J. S. Williams to Secretary Bryan, June 8, 1915, Bryan MS. 39 Secretary Daniels to William Jennings Bryan, June 17, 1915, ibid. 40 Joseph P. Tumulty to W. J. Bryan, June 9, 1915, ibid. 41 William E. Dodd to William Jennings Bryan, May 17, 1916, ibid.

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the note which appeared yesterday is a very mild document and simply means that this most grave question of the destruction of American lives is to be lost in a protracted correspondence.42 The American press was in accord with this feeling of Senator Lodge that Bryan was unfitted for the post of Secretary of State, and while they criticized him bitterly for resigning in the midst of a political crisis they hailed his resignation as a good thing for the country. The New York Times thought that Bryan had . . . done well in resigning. It is perhaps the wisest act of his political career. ... It was out of the question that he should continue to be Sec¬ retary of State.43 Other newspaper editors thought about the same thing. The New York World did not deny the “honesty” of Bryan’s convictions or the “integrity of his purpose,” but it did strongly impeach his judg¬ ment which never worked to “more deplorable purpose than when he broke with President Wilson on an issue which, in its present aspects, is still academic.” 44 The World later condemned Mr. Bryan’s conduct as “contempti¬ ble” ; 45 the New York Herald was certain that his influence had been “noxious”; 46 the Brooklyn Eagle considered his attitude far worse than “disloyal”; 47 and the Louisville Courier-Journal was so stirred up about his resignation that it published the following bitter de¬ nunciation : “Men have been shot and beheaded, even hanged, drawn and quartered for treason less heinous.” 48 In Germany there was little sympathy expressed for Bryan because of his resignation from the Wilson Cabinet. The Berlin Vossische Zeitung,49 the Berliner Neueste Nachrichten,50 and the Berliner Tage42 Henry Cabot Lodge to Henry White, June 12, 1915, Henry White MS. Lord Bryce, in a letter to Henry White, July 7, 1915, is sharply critical of Bryan: “It does not look to me as if pacifism and the doctrines of Tolstoi, of which Mr. Bryan is a follower, have any hold upon the mind of the people who have hitherto sup¬ ported Bryan in the Middle West. . . . He struck me, when I had dealings with him, as being almost unable to think in the sense in which you and I would use that word. Vague ideas floated through his mind but did not unite to form any system or to crystallize into a definite practical proposition.” Henry White MS. 43 June 9, 1915. 44 June 9, 1915. 40 June 12, 1915. 46 June 12, 1915. 47 June ix, 1915. 48 June 12, 1915. 49 June 12, 1915, morning edition. 60 June 13, 1915, morning edition.

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blatt 51 could not see why Secretary Bryan, after signing the Ameri¬ can notes of February 10 and May 13, had resigned rather than put his signature to the note of June 9. The Berliner Morgenpost re¬ garded the Bryan resignation with joy: — It is pretty generally accepted in Germany that the Secretary of State Bryan proved to be the main spring in the unfriendly action of the Ameri¬ can Government against Germany, and that President Wilson allowed himself to be forced into this course by his chancellor. . . . When yester¬ day the announcement of Bryan’s resignation was known here ... it left the general impression that with his resignation the most dangerous antiGerman in America has passed off the scene.52 The Berliner Neueste Nachrichten shared this distorted viewpoint, that Bryan had been anti-German: — Wide circles in Germany will first of all be inclined to . . . greet the departure of William Jennings Bryan as a happy event. Mr. Bryan, as President Wilson’s Secretary of State . . . has bitterly disillusioned us Germans.53 The bitter attacks in the American press regarding Mr. Bryan’s resignation as Secretary of State must not be taken as an indication that his hold upon the average voter in the Middle West was irrep¬ arably broken. In a few months there was such clear evidence of his popularity in the region west of the Alleghenies that the leaders in the Democratic Party began feverishly to court his support of Presi¬ dent Wilson in the political campaign of 1916. During the summer of 1916 the speeches of Mr. Bryan were a potent factor in stemming the rising tide of Republicanism in the Mississippi Valley. A victory for Mr. Hughes would mean American participation in the World War: the re-election of Mr. Wilson would insure the continuance of Amer¬ ican neutrality. This was the message with which Bryan carried the Middle West for the Democratic Party. 61 June 9, 1915, evening edition. 62 June 10, 1915. 63 June 9, 1915, morning edition. The German-language press in the United States during the fall of 1914 and the spring of 1915 expressed the utmost con¬ tempt for Bryan as Secretary of State. He was characterized as a “mountebank,” “faker,” “political wire-puller,” “church-dome politician,” “Billy-Sunday humbugger,” “grape-juice clown,” and “ward politician.” But when Bryan resigned as Secretary of State this German-language press immediately changed its tune. The “vile abuse of earlier months now became honeyed words of praise.” Professor Carl Wittke, German-Americans and the World War (Columbus, 1926), p. 49.

XIII COUNT BERNSTORFF BRINGS TO A HAPPY CLOSE A GERMAN COMEDY OF ERRORS The most costly mistake of the German Government in its relations with America during the pre-war years was the failure to establish a close accord with Secretary Bryan. For some strange reason Bethmann-Hollweg did not seem to understand the significance of Secretary Bryan’s struggle to maintain an impartial policy with refer¬ ence to the European belligerents. Perhaps it was Bernstorff’s fault that the German Government did not show a sympathetic appreciation of Bryan’s earnest efforts to temper the tone of the American notes of protest against submarine warfare. At any rate, it is highly unfor¬ tunate that the German Foreign Office did not insist upon keeping Sec¬ retary Bryan in close touch with every decision of the Emperor that implied a concession to American demands. There is little doubt that both Bethmann-Hollweg and von Jagow were sincerely anxious to preserve friendly relations between the United States and Germany, but they appear to have lacked the cour¬ age and force that were necessary to defy the wishes of certain naval leaders. In former years Bismarck would have scorned such opposi¬ tion, and through the strength of his dominating personality he would have compelled the adoption of a program in which the political items bulked larger than the military. But Bethmann-Hollweg was hardly more than the shadow of the old Iron Chancellor. The dispute between the Chancellor and Admirals von Tirpitz and Bachmann antedated by several months the sinking of the Lusitania. After the declaration of the war zone in February, 1915, this antago¬ nism rapidly increased, and Bethmann-Hollweg sharply complained to Admiral Bachmann about the destruction of so many neutral vessels. Neutral nations were sending emphatic notes of protest; relations were daily growing more strained. Admiral Bachmann, however, was very positive that no additional concessions should be granted despite the pressure from important

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neutrals like the United States. This opinion had little weight with the Emperor, who promptly indicated his agreement with the Chancellor and expressed the view that extra precautions should be adopted to prevent any further sinkings of neutral ships. This viewpoint of the Emperor was made known to Admiral Bachmann on May 10, but it failed to win his approval. Some days later, hearing that the Foreign Office had sent to Ambassador Gerard a note dealing with submarine warfare, the Admiral at once addressed a letter of protest to Secretary von Jagow. First of all he expressed his regret that he had not been consulted by the Foreign Office in the framing of this note to the American Ambassador. He then outlined his objections to the policy of Bethmann-Hollweg and von Jagow: — One of the main objects of the declaration of February 4 was to dis¬ courage neutral ships from sailing to and from England by strongly em¬ phasizing the dangers that threatened in the war zone. This course was im¬ perative not only in order to increase the pressure upon England but also for the purpose of excluding, as far as possible, all causes of friction with neutral nations. . . . The memorandum presented to the American Am¬ bassador, contrary to these principles of submarine warfare, mentions only the measures and obligations voluntarily assumed by us to lessen the harsh¬ ness of the U-boat warfare. ... In so doing it cancels the intended effect of that warning in such a manner that neutral navigation, as far as traffic with England is concerned, is now freed from any anxiety whatever re¬ garding material losses.1 It was obvious to the Chancellor that, if possible, these differences of opinion would have to be reconciled. For this reason he requested the Emperor to arrange for a conference between representatives from the Foreign Office, the Army, and the Navy, to meet at Pless on May 31. At this meeting the Emperor himself was present together with the Chancellor, General von Falkenhayn, and Admirals von Tirpitz, von Mueller, and Bachmann. The Chancellor announced at once that he could no longer be re¬ sponsible for submarine warfare as it was then being conducted. He was supported in this stand by General Falkenhayn, who declared that the military situation could not permit the accession of any of the neutral powers to the ranks of the enemies of Germany. At this point both Admirals Tirpitz and Bachmann insisted that no 1 Admiral Bachmann to Secretary von Jagow, May 26, 1915, MS. German Marine Archives.

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guarantees should be given to any neutral powers insuring their ships against destruction. Such a guarantee would mean the end of sub¬ marine warfare. The Emperor then remarked that the Chancellor would have to accept the responsibility for the entire abandonment of submarine warfare or otherwise the existing orders would continue in force. As a result of the ensuing discussion it was decided to issue to the submarine commanders (on June 1) a new order which directed them to refrain from any attack upon vessels unless they were firmly con¬ vinced that they belonged to an enemy. It would be better to permit an enemy ship to escape than to sink a neutral vessel by mistake.2 Encouraged by this success, the Chancellor on June 2 wrote to Ad¬ miral Bachmann and suggested that large enemy passenger vessels be exempt from submarine attack. Bachmann immediately rejected this suggestion but the Chancellor appealed to the Emperor for support. In view of the humanitarian and pacific stand that Wilhelm II had taken at the very beginning of submarine warfare it was inevitable that he should incline towards the Chancellor. On June 5 Admiral von Mueller informed Admirals Tirpitz and Bachmann that the Emperor was in favor of an order directing submarine commanders to spare large passenger boats of the enemy. They immediately replied with a telegram to the Emperor which pointed out the serious consequences of such an order. If it were enforced it would mean the “complete abandonment’’ of submarine warfare, and it would result in an “irrep¬ arable loss of military prestige.” It could only be interpreted by ... the enemies of Germany, by neutral nations, by our own people, and by our navy as a dangerous sign of weakness. The undersigned beg your Majesty most urgently to refrain from issuing this order. They are not in a position to assume responsibility therefor.3 The Emperor, however, refused to heed their entreaty, and on June 6 the order was issued. Admirals Tirpitz and Bachmann at once ten¬ dered their resignations, which were refused in a “most ungracious manner.” They continued in office but were in no mood for any fur¬ ther concessions. Unfortunately, this fact led the Emperor and Chan¬ cellor to commit a most serious blunder. The order, approved on June 5, was to be kept “absolutely secret” and was not to be sent to Am2 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 134-135. 3 Admirals Tirpitz and Bachmann to the Emperor, June 5, 1915, MS. German Marine Archives.

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bassador Bernstorff in Washington lest it be regarded as an indication of weakness.4 If it had been cabled to Bernstorff on the morning of June 6 it would very probably have so strengthened the hand of Secre¬ tary Bryan that his resignation would not have been tendered at that critical moment. Had he remained as Secretary of State there is a strong likelihood that America would not have entered the conflict in April, 1917. But even if Mr. Bryan had withheld his resignation there is little reason to think that the American note of June 9 would have been greatly altered in its general phraseology. It was not a serious chal¬ lenge that smacked of an ultimatum to the German Government. With reference to the sinking of the Lusitania it denied several of the state¬ ments contained in the German note of May 28: — It is stated in the note [German note of May 28] that the Lusitania was undoubtedly equipped with masked guns, supplied with trained gunners and special ammunition, transporting troops from Canada, carrying a cargo not permitted under the laws of the United States to a vessel also carrying passengers, and serving, in virtual effect, as an auxiliary to the naval forces of Great Britain. Fortunately, these are matters concerning which the Government of the United States is in a position to give the Im¬ perial German Government official information. ... It is able ... to assure the Imperial Government that it has been misinformed. The primary interest of the American Government in the sinking of the Lusitania was the fact that American lives had been lost through a palpable breach of widely accepted principles of inter¬ national law: — The sinking of passenger ships involves principles of humanity which throw into the background any special circumstances of detail that may be thought to affect the cases. . . . Whatever be the other facts regarding the Lusitania, the principal fact is that a great steamer, primarily and chiefly a conveyance for passengers . . . was torpedoed and sunk with¬ out so much as a challenge or a warning, and that men, women and children were sent to their death in circumstances unparalleled in modern warfare. . . . The Government of the United States cannot admit that the procla¬ mation of a war zone from which neutral ships have been warned to keep away may be made to operate as in any degree an abbreviation of the 4 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 133—136; Admiral A. von Tirpitz, My Memoirs, vol. II, pp. 156-158; Admiral R. Scheer, Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War, pp. 232-233.

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rights either of American ship masters or of American citizens bound on lawful errands as passengers on merchant ships of belligerent nationality. In conclusion the note indicated the attitude of the American Gov¬ ernment towards the much-mooted question of armed merchantmen. The viewpoint of the Department of State was that the “lives of noncombatants cannot lawfully or rightfully be put in jeopardy by the capture or destruction of an unresisting merchantman.” 5 This American note of June 9 was “well received” in Germany, where it awakened hopes that “some arrangement” could soon be worked out between the two governments.6 Ambassador Gerard was particularly impressed with the fact that “many commercial mag¬ nates” had arrived in Berlin for the express purpose of exerting pres¬ sure upon the German Government in favor of peace with America.7 From Washington Count Bernstorfif was sending dispatches that helped to quiet any alarms entertained by the German Foreign Office. On June 9 he reported that the political outlook in America was as “calm as a summer’s day.” Indeed, he was inclined to believe that the President and his Cabinet were “more neutral than is commonly sup¬ posed.” 8 To Bethmann-Hollweg and von Jagow, struggling hard to hold the naval leaders in check, this news from Bernstorff was reassuring. They were further encouraged when General Falkenhayn bluntly told 6 Mr. Lansing, Acting Secretary of State, to Ambassador Gerard, June 9, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 436-438. It should be kept in mind that Mr. Lansing and Secretary Bryan had fundamentally disagreed over the use of the phrase — “un¬ resisting merchantman.” It seemed to the Secretary of State that the mere fact of armament on a merchant vessel might very well alter its status. Mr. Lansing, how¬ ever, clung to the idea that this status was not affected by the fact of armament but by the use which was made of this armament. On June 7, 1915, Mr. Charles Warren, the Assistant Attorney-General, wrote to Mr. Lansing with special ref¬ erence to this very question of phraseology. He ardently hoped that the note that was about to be sent to Germany would not be framed in such a way as “to estop this country from forever, in the future, insisting that the passengers and crews of armed merchant vessels have the same rights as those on unarmed merchant vessels, so long as the armed vessel is not acting on the offensive, or attempting to use its arms.” Mr. Lansing sent an immediate reply (June 7, 1915) to Mr. Warren which set his fears at rest: “I am in entire accord with you as to ‘armed’ and ‘unarmed’ merchant vessels. I have consistently urged this point asserting that it was not a question of being armed but of resisting. I have directed attention to the fact that the only ground for attacking a merchant vessel is that she resisted by force or that she continued to attempt to escape by flight after being ordered to stop for the purpose of visit.” Lansing MS. 6 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, June 13, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 439. See also Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, June 16, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 13-14. 7 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, June 22, 1915, op. cit., vol. II, p. 14. 8 Count Bernstorff to German Foreign Office, June 9, 1915, quoted in Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 159-160.

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Admiral Bachmann (June 17) that the officers responsible for Ger¬ man naval policy would have to find some means of preserving peace with the United States. This necessity did not arise from any fear of American military prowess but because of the effect that American intervention would have upon other neutrals like Rumania, Bulgaria, and Holland.9 It was impossible to keep from Ambassador Gerard all knowledge of the open disagreements between Bethmann-Hollweg and von Jagow on one side, and Admirals Tirpitz and Bachmann on the other. On June 18 he informed Secretary Lansing that certain personal feuds between these German leaders were complicating the situation, and that General Falkenhayn was likely to throw his support behind the Chancellor.10 A week later he again wrote to the Secretary of State with reference to the effect that this internal conflict would have upon German-American relations. The Foreign Office was drafting a note that would offer security to merchant vessels engaged in passenger traffic. This was opposed by von Tirpitz unless a guarantee were given that these ships would not carry arms and ammunition. If President Wilson would favor such a guarantee it would greatly help to solve the existing difficulties between Germany and the United States. It would also give some much-needed encouragement to the Chancellor, who was being hard pressed by his opponents.11 The President, however, regarded these suggestions from Ambas¬ sador Gerard as “entirely unwise, or, at the least, impossible of accept¬ ance.” 12 Deprived of any assistance from President Wilson, the Ger¬ man Chancellor was further handicapped by a report submitted on June 28 by three officers in the German Navy. These officers, whose opinions were highly regarded by Admirals Tirpitz and Bachmann, had strongly advised against any further restrictions on the conduct of submarine operations.13 It was possible, of course, for Bethmann-Hollweg to drive ahead in his campaign to conciliate America despite the bitter opposition of naval leaders. He could inform the Department of State of the deci9 Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. II, pp. 222-223. 10 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, June 18, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, p. 442. 11 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, June 24 1915, ibid., p. 453. 12 President Wilson to Secretary Lansipg, July 2, 1915, Hearings Before the Special Senate Committee on the Investigation of the Munitions Industry, Exhibit No. 2567. 18 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 217-222.

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sion of the Emperor (June 5) to spare large passenger ships, and in this way he could convince President Wilson of the earnest desire of the German Government to modify submarine warfare in reponse to American pressure. But such a stand would bring down upon his head a storm of disapproval from many quarters, and he doubted his ability to weather such a tempest. He chose therefore to spar for time, even though American impatience threatened trouble at any moment. In the German note of July 8 there was an evident attempt to throw the onus of responsibility upon England for her numerous infrac¬ tions of international law. After a lengthy catalogue of these infrac¬ tions the German Government then put forward the following sug¬ gestion in the hope of arriving at a compromise: — In order to exclude any unforeseen dangers to American passenger steamers . . . the German submarines will be instructed to permit the free and safe passage of such passenger steamers when made recognizable by special markings and notified a reasonable time in advance. The Im¬ perial Government, however, confidently hopes that the American Gov¬ ernment will assume the guarantee that these vessels have no contraband on board. ... In order to furnish adequate facilities for travel across the Atlantic Ocean to American citizens, the German Government submits for consideration [a proposal] to increase the number of available steamers by installing in the passenger service a reasonable number of neutral steamers. . . . The Imperial Government believes that it can assume that in this manner adequate facilities for travel across the Atlantic Ocean can be afforded American citizens. There would therefore appear to be no compelling necessity for American citizens to travel to Europe in time of war on ships carrying an enemy flag.14

This compromise note was equally displeasing to the average Amer¬ ican citizen and to German navalists like von Tirpitz. In the United States there was a rapidly rising tide of sentiment against Germany, and Theodore Roosevelt, some weeks before the German note was received, fulminated against the President for his do-nothing attitude. He was convinced that the Chief Executive had merely intended ... to talk about the Lusitania and consume time so that people might forget; and I believe they have now forgotten. They are cold; they have 14 Secretary von Jagow to Ambassador Gerard, July 8, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 463-466.

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been educated by this infernal peace propaganda of the last ten years into an attitude of sluggishness and timidity.15 The President, however, had no intention of allowing the Lusitania incident to be speedily forgotten by the American people. He was intent upon securing from the German Government some admission of the illegality of the sinking of the large Cunard liner together with a pledge to refrain from conducting submarine operations except in accordance with cruiser warfare. On July 10 Colonel House wrote to the President to suggest certain ideas that might be included in the answer to the latest German note. It seemed to him that it was impera¬ tive to insist upon the unabridged rights of American citizens to sail upon the high seas. If the American Government would be willing to bargain for less than . . . our inalienable rights, then any belligerent nation might transgress the rights of our citizens in other directions and would confidently count upon our trafficking with them for concessions.16 The President was delighted with these suggestions which ran “very much along the lines” of his own thought. It would be quite pertinent, he believed, to inform the German Foreign Office that the American Government was “not engaged in arranging passenger traffic, but in defining neutral and human rights.” 17 While the President was deliberating upon the phraseology of a note to Germany, Count Bernstorff wrote to Colonel House to inquire if there was anything he could do “in the present crisis.” He had managed . . . to influence our people so far that our note is extremely friendly and that there is much said in it about the “freedom of the seas.” As to the rest we must find some way out.18 16 Theodore Roosevelt to Senator H. C. Lodge, June 15, 1915, Selections from the Correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, p. 459. On June 24, 1915 Roosevelt also wrote to Henry White to express his indignation concerning the acquiescent attitude of President Wilson. He was certain that America had “richly earned the contempt of foreign powers.” Henry White MS. It is interesting to contrast this belligerent attitude of Mr. Roosevelt with the calmer opinion of John Morley, the great British Liberal. In a letter to Mrs. Carnegie, June 29, 1915, Mr. Morley remarked: “The one comfort that I have is that the U. S. A. listens to the voice of reason and humanity. What sort of an England will emerge from all this hellish revel of hate, waste, carnage and ruin, I am perplexed even to guess.” Carnegie MS. Colonel House to President Wilson, July 10, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 16. 17 President Wilson to Colonel House, July 12, 1915, House MS. 1* Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, July 10, 1915, ibid.

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Upon the receipt of this letter Colonel House immediately wrote to President Wilson to ascertain whether he believed it was expedient to meet this overture from Bernstorff.19 The reply was favorable: — Perhaps it might be just as well for you to see Bernstorff, if only to make him feel not only that some way out should be found but that some way out must be found and that his Government owe it to themselves and to the rest of the world to help find it. . . . Apparently the Germans are modifying their methods: they must be made to feel that they must con¬ tinue in their new way unless they deliberately wish to prove to us that they are unfriendly and wish war.20 During this exchange of views with Colonel House the President also turned to Secretary Lansing for counsel. It appeared to him that the American Government could not discuss with the German Foreign Office any “special arrangements whereby a few vessels may enjoy the rights all are entitled to.” It should also be made clear that the American Government was not . . . merely contending for the rights of Americans to cross the seas as they will without fear of deliberate breaches of international law, but con¬ ceive ourselves as speaking for the rights of neutrals everywhere, rights in which the whole world is interested and which every nation must wish to see kept inviolable. This right of all Americans to travel unhindered and unharmed through a war zone on enemy ships carrying contraband seemed so sacrosanct to the President that he believed it required no argument to justify it. There were certain difficulties in the situation, however, that caused him deep concern. It was plain that the American people had grown weary of a succession of notes that settled nothing. It was equally obvious that public opinion was opposed to giving this cor19 Colonel House to President Wilson, July 12, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 17. 20 President Wilson to Colonel House, July 13, 1915, House MS. It was true that the Germans were “modifying their methods” of submarine warfare. Around the first of May the German submarines were equipped with cannon for cruiser operations. From this date until the end of July the German High-Sea submarine flotilla sank, in the waters surrounding England, 94 ships according to the rules of cruiser warfare, and 22 without warning. Ten of these ships that were sunk without warning belonged to neutral nations, and indemnities were paid for their destruction. It is also true that according to the order of June 6 large passenger vessels were spared when it would have been possible to sink them without warn¬ ing. See Admiral Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 146-148, 238-240.

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respondence such a belligerent complexion that war would be inevita¬ ble. To temporize without seeming to do so was the task that con¬ fronted the President.21 Before Secretary Lansing could receive the President’s letter, writ¬ ten at Cornish, New Hampshire, he addressed a letter to the Chief Executive in which he outlined his first impressions of the German note of July 8. It was clear to him that certain sarcastic phrases in this note were inserted for the express purpose of appealing to German public opinion. It was an ancient practice in the conduct of diplomatic negotiations to introduce a note of challenge which was specially de¬ signed for “home consumption.” The American Government need not take this phraseology too seriously. Moreover, he felt himself faced with a dilemma very similar to that which the President had perceived. The vast majority of the American people did not desire war but “at the same time they want the Government not to recede a step from its position but to compel Germany to submit to our demands.” To carry out both ideas was “well nigh impossible.” 22 On the following day, after having received the President’s letter of July 13, Secretary Lansing sent a specific reply. He expressed entire agreement with the ideas outlined by the Chief Executive, and was impressed with the fact that the proposed American note was based upon high moral grounds. He was perplexed, however, about the question of the demands that should be made upon the German Gov21 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, July 13, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 355-35622 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, July 14, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 356-357. At this very time (July 13) Secretary Lansing received from Ambassador Gerard a memorandum from the German Foreign Office relative to the torpedoing of the Nebraskan on May 25. (For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 468-469). The hostile reaction of Secretary Lansing to this German memorandum is well described in his own War Memoirs, pp. 32-33: “While the [German] reply of July 8 was being considered by the Department of State, a memorandum was re¬ ceived from the German Government relative to the case of the American steamer Nebraskan which on May twenty-fifth had been attacked by a submarine. . . . The defense was that the vessel was within the ‘war zone,’ . . . and that, furthermore, the Nebraskan had shown no flag or other sign of neutral nationality. . . . This explanation had an effect upon the American Government directly contrary to the one intended, for it emphasized the American position that submarine activities against ships of commerce could not be properly conducted without ‘visit and search.’ ... If any doubt remained as to the impossibility of using in a proper way submarines as commerce destroyers the German statement as to the Nebraskan removed it. This memorandum furnishes an excellent example of the persistent stupidity of German Foreign Office diplomacy. Whoever prepared the memorandum seemed to have no conception of the real issue as brought out in the notes ex¬ changed in regard to the Lusitania case. . . . German diplomacy has always labored under the handicap of never being able to understand a point of view other than its own.”

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ernment. Would it be possible to '"be firm and at the same time to compromise” ? 23 Some members of the President’s Cabinet had little thought of compromise. Franklin K. Lane, usually well-balanced, grew berserk when he thought of the German note of July 8. The only answer he could think of would be couched in “short and somewhat ugly AngloSaxon words, utterly undiplomatic.” Such language was entirely fit¬ ting to use in communications to bumptious Germans who, “filled with struttitudinousness,” had, in principle, “spit upon the American flag.” 24 Ambassador Gerard was equally militant. In a letter to Colonel House he expressed the view that it might be worth a war with Ger¬ many to have it decided that the . . . United States of America is not to be run from Berlin. The people here are firmly convinced that we can be slapped, insulted, and murdered with absolute impunity, and refer to our notes as things worse than waste paper.25 The American note was firm in its demands upon the German Gov¬ ernment and it was regarded by Ambassador Gerard as a “veritable masterpiece.” 26 In an early paragraph the German Foreign Office was advised that British violations of international law as affecting American rights could not be discussed in any diplomatic notes that passed between Germany and the United States. Also the alleged right of retaliation was sharply challenged: — . . . Illegal and inhuman acts, however justifiable they may be thought to be against an enemy who is believed to have acted in contravention of law and humanity, are manifestly indefensible when they deprive neutrals of 23 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, July 15, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 359-360. On July 13 Secretary Lansing received a letter from Ellsworth R. Bathrick, Akron, Ohio, with reference to public opinion in that state concerning a possible war with Germany: “I think many in this section of the country share my fear that we are now closer to ‘Strict Accountability’ than at the time of our second note. There was a splendid break of public sentiment toward the President at the time of Bryan’s resignation but most of the people are afraid we will be drawn into this war and Bryan has taken the popular side. ... I believe a certain insistence upon our rights was the safest course to avoid war, yet this may be the time to go very easy upon insistence. We evidently cannot compel Germany with¬ out war, and under no circumstances now in sight will Congress vote for war.” Lansing MS. 2* Franklin K. Lane to George W. Wickersham, July 18, 1915, The Letters of Franklin K. Lane, p. 176. 25 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, July 20, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 23. 26 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, July 27, 1915, ibid., p. 25.

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their acknowledged rights, particularly when they violate the right to life itself. . . . The rights of neutrals in time of war are based upon principle, not upon expediency, and the principles are immutable. It is the duty and obligation of belligerents to find a way to adapt the new circumstances to them. For two months the German submarines had largely conducted their operations according to the rules of cruiser warfare. The whole world had . . . looked with interest and increasing satisfaction at the demonstration of that possibility by German naval commanders. It is manifestly possible, therefore, to lift the whole practice of submarine attack above the criticism which it has aroused and remove the chief causes of offense. In view of these facts the Government of the United States could not believe that the Imperial German Government would any longer . . . refrain from disavowing the wanton act of its naval commander in sinking the Lusitania or from offering reparation for the American lives lost, so far as reparation can be made for a needless destruction of human life by an illegal act. . . . The Government of the United States . . . feels obliged to insist upon . . . the protection of its own citizens. . . . Friendship itself prompts it to say to the Imperial Government that repe¬ tition by the commanders of German naval vessels of acts in contravention of those rights must be regarded by the Government of the United States, when they affect American citizens, as deliberately unfriendly. In order to balance the menace so evident in the words “deliberately unfriendly,” the American Government included in this note of July 21 a paragraph which associated the United States and Germany in the struggle for the “Freedom of the Seas.” An invitation was then extended to the German Government to co-operate with America in working towards this goal at a time “when cooperation may accom¬ plish most and this great common object be most strikingly and ef¬ fectively achieved.” 27 This little gesture towards co-operation with Germany in a move¬ ment to bring about an international acceptance of the principle of the “Freedom of the Seas” did not disguise the fact that the phraseology of the American note was undeniably sharp. Lord Newton immedi¬ ately wrote to Henry White a short note which expressed the view¬ point of many prominent Englishmen : — 27 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Gerard, July 21, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 480-482.

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Your reply to the German note has just been published here, and it cer¬ tainly looks pretty stiff. I suppose that the Germans will take a long time to answer it, in the hope that delay will be in their favour.28 The German newspapers regarded the note in much the same light as did Lord Newton. The Muenchner Neueste Nachrichten was of the opinion that if Germany recognized . . . the basic viewpoint of this note it would signify the practical termina¬ tion of the submarine war against England. . . . One must conclude that the American Government under the theoretical aspects ... of inter¬ national law has taken a definite stand against submarine warfare. In this manner she comes to the assistance of England, and we may without great difficulty recognize from the fervor with which the English for months have angled for this help, how necessary . . . England considers this assistance to be.29 The Berliner Neueste Nachrichten believed that President Wilson was so pro-English that it was impossible for him to be neutral in his attitude towards the belligerents. He was . . . unteachable because he no longer desires to be taught. The Mexican situation he looked at through the eyes of North American capitalism, and he views the European situation through the eyes of England.30 The Frankfurter Zeitung inclined towards the view that the de¬ mands in the American note could not be complied with. With regard to the demand that the action taken by the submarine commander in sinking the Lusitania be disavowed, the Zeitung remarked: — Either the commander of the submarine acted in accordance with orders and therefore does not deserve a reprimand, ... or he failed to observe instructions and for that reason instead of deserving a reprimand he should be punished.31 The Koelnische Zeitung frankly announced that the German Gov¬ ernment would not accede to the demands made in the American note of July 21: — We will not do Mr. Wilson the favor either to disavow the action of the submarine commander who sank the Lusitania, or to offer reparation for the lives of the careless Americans who went down with that ship. 28 29 30 81

Lord Newton to Henry White, July 25, 1915, Henry White MS. July 25, 1915, morning edition. July 29, 1915, morning edition. July 25, second morning edition.

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We are faced with the duty of national preservation, and whatever that duty prescribes we shall carry out.82 The militant tone of the American note gave such deep concern to Count Bernstorff that he called at the Department of State on July 23 to discuss the situation with Secretary Lansing. Mr. Lansing did not mince words: — I told him that ... we could not continue writing notes; and that, unless we received explicit assurances that submarine attacks on private ships would cease, the American Government would not be responsible for the consequences.33 Count Bernstorff, in great distress, turned to Colonel House for assistance. In the last American note such “strong language” was used that he feared he would not be able to “do much in the matter.” He was quite fearful that his efforts with the German Foreign Office would “certainly fail” if the expected American note to England were softer in tone than the one to Germany. Of one thing he was certain: the publication of “sharp and unsatisfactory notes” would have to cease or serious consequences must ensue.34 After unburdening his soul to Colonel House, Count Bernstorff then sent a dispatch to Berlin that was filled with good advice. He was confident that President Wilson 32 July 26, 1915, morning edition. On July 30 Mr. Oswald Garrison Villard wrote to Secretary Lansing with reference to a canvass he had made of “the semi¬ official and official German sentiment” in New York. The Germans to whom he had talked were “stunned by the severity of the last note and for forty-eight hours in great distress lest a reply mean the recall of Bernstorff. They feel that the danger has now been averted, and are hopeful that no answer will come from Berlin until reports have been received from them. . . . One of the points that they raise is this: why does the United States say to England that the laws of blockade can be altered during war, and insist to Germany that the laws governing attacks on ships cannot be altered ? Personally, I am more emphatically of the opinion than ever that the United States should not delay in sending forward the note to England beyond a reasonable time for the announced new note of Sir Edward Grey. . . . Believing that the situation is grave, I make my earnest prayer to you that the Department do everything possible to expedite the note to England.” On August 10, 1915 Secretary Lansing answered Mr. Villard’s letter and assured him that he had given “special weight” to his suggestions. Lansing MS. 33 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 40. In his Memoirs, p. 144, Count Bern¬ storff tells much the same story: “Days after the despatch of that Note, the new Secretary of State Lansing asked me to come and see him, and told me that the American Government could see no other way out. If Americans again lost their lives through the torpedoing of a merchant ship, war could not be avoided. The United States would write no further Notes, which would indeed be useless, but he asked me to undertake the further negotiations.” 3* Ambassador Bernstorff to Colonel House, July 27, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 27.

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. . . does not want war with us, nor does he wish to side with England, despite all statements to the contrary in the Press of the Eastern States. This Press ... is Anglophile to a degree and not altogether averse to a war with Germany; but this view is not shared by Mr. W ilson, or the large majority of the American people. In conclusion Count Bernstorff expressed the hope that Germany and the United States could act in concert in order to make possible a situation in which the phrase “Freedom of the Seas” would have a real meaning. President Wilson himself had recently remarked to a friend: “If I receive a favorable answer from Germany I will see this thing through with England to the end.” 36 To Dr. Karl Helfferich, the German Secretary of State for the In¬ terior, this opportunity for German-American co-operation seemed heaven-sent. On August 5, 1915 he sent a voluminous memoir to the Chancellor in which he stressed the numerous advantages to be de¬ rived from such a concert. With Germany and America acting to¬ gether it would soon be possible to secure wide acceptance of this ancient principle of the “Freedom of the Seas,” and to force England to admit American products to German ports. It was evident that such a program would receive strong support from the cotton planters in the southern part of the United States.36 The possibilities of this proposed German-American concert were so far-reaching that Secretary Lansing in later years wondered why the German Government did noj: immediately follow the advice of Bernstorff and Helfferich: — I have wondered sometimes what would have been the result if Count von Bernstorff’s advice had prevailed with his government. . . . Would not the United States have been forced to continue her unheeded protests to Great Britain for the many flagrant violations of international law by the British Navy? . . . Could a clash with the British Navy have been 38 Count Bernstorff to the German Foreign Office, July 28, 1915, quoted in Bernstorff, My Three Years m America, pp. 169-171. Count Bernstorff urged that the Foreign Office reply to the American note of July 21 and emphasize the following three points: (1) Although Germany was justified by the law of re¬ prisal in sinking the Lusitania it does regret the loss of American lives and will agree to an indemnity therefor. (2) The German Government promises that no liner is to be torpedoed without warning. (3) The German Government welcomes the opportunity to co-operate with the United States in the maintenance of inter¬ national law. 36 Karl Theodor Helfferich, Der Weltkrieg (Berlin, 1919), p. 322; Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 248-252; Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, My Memoirs, pp. 160-161.

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avoided ? . . . The Allied Powers may thank German stupidity and stub¬ bornness for saving the situation.87 On August 7 the Chancellor had an interview with Admiral Tirpitz concerning the memoir of Dr. Helfferich. The Admiral was opposed to this concert with America at the price of concessions that would impose further limitations on the conduct of submarine warfare. If the Foreign Office did not have the “courage to reply to America in a manner suitable to American impudence it was better not to send any reply at all.” 38 While the Chancellor and von Jagow were con¬ sidering what course to take their opportunity slipped through their fingers and a new crisis in German-American relations was at hand. The story of this crisis reads like the plot in a movie thriller. As might be expected, the German Ambassador and some of his agents are the villains in the piece, with Uncle Sam’s sleuths providing the action. The narrative begins some time in May, 1915, when President Wilson sent for William J. Flynn, the Chief of the United States Secret Service, and instructed him to make ... a discreet but thorough investigation of the activities of Count von Bernstorff and his staff, as it had been reported they were violating all the rules of neutrality, and the President wanted facts.39 In order to check on the activities of Bernstorff and his agents it was necessary to tap the telephone wires of the German and AustroHungarian embassies in Washington. This procedure was “approved by the State Department and carried out by the best telephone men in America.” 40 It also required a staff of competent linguists, who made a record of the conversations, which took place in several foreign languages. Each night a stenographic report of these conversations was placed in the hands of Mr. Flynn, who turned them over to the Department of State. In some reports there were “uncomplimentary references to high personages in the White House and in the State Department.” Of what avail then were Bernstorff’s eloquence and expressions of good faith “if reports of this type poisoned the mind of the President 87 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 41. 88 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, p. 253. 89 W. H. Houghton, “The Albert Portfolio,” Saturday Evening Post, August 17, 1929, p. 43. 40 W. j. Flynn, “Tapped Wires,” Liberty, June 2, 1928, pp. ipff.

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and of the Secretary of State.” 41 That they did have some effect upon the attitude of the President towards the German Ambassador is revealed in the letter he wrote to Colonel House in which he re¬ marked : — I do not feel that Bernstorff is dealing frankly with us, somehow, and if you have the opportunity, you might see what you can do to make him feel that it is up to him to do more than he has done to make his Govern¬ ment realize the facts as they are.42 Needless to say, the very fact of this tapping of wires to listen in on telephone conversations at the German Embassy indicates how little neutral the Administration really was. But not content with this telephone tapping in Washington the American Government went further and authorized the Department of Justice to tap the wires of German agents in New York City.43 It was not long before an im¬ mense amount of data hostile to Germany was ready for the inspection of American officials. This, however, was not deemed enough to in¬ criminate these loquacious Teutons. The German agents themselves were to be shadowed by Secret Service detectives who would watch their every movement. Such espionage was certain to bring results. The “break” came on a hot Saturday afternoon in the last days of July, 1915, when George Sylvester Viereck and Dr. Heinrich Albert boarded the Sixth Avenue “L” at Rector Street. They were closely shadowed by Mr. W. H. Houghton and Mr. Frank Burke of the Se¬ cret Service. At Twenty-third Street Mr. Viereck left the train, fol¬ lowed by Mr. Houghton. Dr. Albert immediately lapsed into a com¬ fortable doze from which he was suddenly awakened when the “L” glided into the Fiftieth Street station. Still half-asleep he hurriedly left the train, his bag of important papers remaining on the train seat. This was the opportunity for which Mr. Burke had waited. Seizing the bag, he also left the train, and went immediately to headquarters.44 A hurried inspection seemed to confirm the belief that damaging evi¬ dence of German plots in the United States had been procured. Secre¬ tary McAdoo was notified of this bag-snatching episode, and he and Secretary Lansing went carefully through Dr. Albert’s papers and se41 Anonymous. “War Propaganda,” Saturday Evening Post, August 17, 1929, P- 4342 President Wilson to Colonel House, July 20, 1915, House MS. 43 “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German Bolshevik Propaganda,” Sen. Doc. 62, 66th Cong., 1st sess., vol. II, pp. 1893, 2130, 2140-2141. 44 W. H. Houghton, “The Albert Portfolio,” Saturday Evening Post, August 17, 1929, p. 43; G. S. Viereck, Spreading Germs of Hate, pp. 68-74.

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lected the most sensational for publication. The New York World was given this “scoop,” and on August 15, 1915, the first of a series of ar¬ ticles on German plots and intrigue was published. To a large extent these documents were merely “duds” that failed to explode. There was evidence that certain attempts had been made by German agents to purchase munitions factories in order to prevent them from being used to manufacture war supplies for the Allied Governments. There was a letter to Dr. Albert in which an offer was made to foment strikes in certain industrial plants, but there was no record that such a deal had ever been closed. Certain documents also indicated that a scheme was on foot to buy the American Press Associ¬ ation for about $900,000 to serve as a means of supplying a large number of newspapers with data favorable to Germany.45 There was nothing in these documents, however, that would in¬ criminate any German agents so that legal action could be taken against them. But their publication in the World did create a great stir throughout the United States, and press comments reflected the widespread suspicion of German plots and sinister designs. Colonel House was an early convert to the belief in German perfidy. In a letter to the President (August 2) he adverted to recent interviews with Spring Rice and Mr. Burns, who were fearful that America was faced with a volcano that might erupt at any moment. At this time the President seemed to regard the Colonel as a foun¬ tain of knowledge whose waters were never clouded by the silt of prejudice. If the Colonel were alarmed at German plots it was evident that plots existed, and he felt “sure that the country is honeycombed with German intrigue and infested with German spies. The evidences of these things are multiplying every day.” 46 45 New York World, August 15-21, 1915. When questioned about this transac¬ tion, Mr. Courtland Smith, the President of the American Press Association, declared that no one had ever approached him with an offer to buy the Association on the terms as described in the World’s disclosures, and he stated quite bluntly that “if it had been made he would have rejected it.” There was some evidence published which revealed an attempt to buy control of the New York Evening Mail. In the New York World, August 18, a statement is made that the German Govern¬ ment had been sending into America some $2,000,000 a week in order to promote these devious schemes. On August 18, 1915, Count Bernstorff wrote a letter to Secretary Lansing in which he minimized the importance of the documents published in the World. He frankly admitted the expenditure of certain sums for propaganda purposes but was certain that it was far less than the sums spent by the Allies. He failed to see anything reprehensible “in the desire of Germany to get its case before the American people.” For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 927-931. 46 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 4, 19x5, House MS.

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After a second note of warning from the hysterical Colonel, the President became genuinely alarmed : — I note what you say [August 23] about being prepared for a possible outbreak in this country, but where and how? I have thought of that, of course, and with the greatest solicitude, but, though we have followed up every clue, even the most vague, when reports reached us of alleged prepa¬ rations for outbreak, we have found nothing definite enough to form the basis for even so much as guessing where we ought to be ready.47 It is against such a lurid background of hysteria and suspicion of Germany that we have to view the attitude of the American Govern¬ ment towards the sinking of the Arabic on August 19.48 This large British passenger vessel was sunk without warning and without any provision for the safety of the passengers. Two American lives were lost as a result of the attack.49 In his journal the commander of the German submarine (U-24) stated that he fired the torpedo because on August 14 he had been at¬ tacked by a large British passenger steamer and therefore felt that he could take no further chances. He also recorded in his journal that this steamer which he torpedoed did not carry a flag of any description. There is little doubt, however, that he could have avoided coming close to the Arabic, and need not have been exposed to any attack. He was bound by the order of June 6 to spare large passenger vessels even though they belonged to the enemy. His action was in clear violation of specific instructions to the contrary.50 47 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 25, 1915, ibid. In the New York World, August 17, 1915, it is stated that the “President and various members of his Cabinet are known to be deeply concerned in the serious developments brought out by the World." On August 19 the World announced that the President was evincing the “keenest interest in the subterranean undertakings of the German propagandists. ... It is admitted, however, that enough evidence has been pre¬ sented by the World and secured by the Government agents to intensify the gravity of the relations between the United States and Germany, already near a crisis.” 48 One should also take into account the effect of the letters of Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House as factors in the anti-German sentiment that was fast developing in Administration circles. On August 3 Gerard wrote a short note to Colonel House in which he indicated the extent of German hostility towards the United States. Von Jagow himself had confessed to Gerard that the German Gov¬ ernment had “tried to get England to interfere with them in Mexico,” and the Ambassador was certain that the “Germans ‘Gott strafe’ the Monroe Doctrine in their daily prayers of Hate.” The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 28. 49 The Vice Consul at Cork (Thompson) to the Secretary of State, August 20, 1915; Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, August 23, 1915, For. Red., 1915, Suppl., pp. 517-520. 60 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 334-335- It is pertinent to note that in the journal of the commander of the U-24 the tonnage of the Arabic was estimated at approximately 5,000. This would have made it a small vessel liable to attack. In reality the Arabic was a large vessel with a cargo capacity of 16,500

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The U-24 did not arrive in Wilhelmshaven until August 26, a week after the sinking of the Arabic. It was not until September 2 that the commander sent his detailed report to the Chief of the Admiralty Staff. In this document he states his belief that the Arabic was about to ram the U-24 when he launched the torpedo.51 In the New York World, August 20, 1915, there is a short paragraph that gives some support to the contention of the submarine commander: — The Arabic’s last visit to New York was paid July 23. She bore evidence then that an attack had been expected, for her stern rail was banked high with sand bags as a protection against shell fire directed against her steer¬ ing gear. Further precautions had been taken, it became known, by the organization of a rifle squad by members of the crew. By evening the men practised shooting at rafts trailing 100 yards astern and bearing sticks about the size of periscopes. By day the men shot at kites representing aeroplanes. In the meantime, on the afternoon of August 19 the American Government was advised of the destruction of the Arabic and the controversy over submarine warfare took a turn that seemed to lead straight to war. The following day Count Bernstorff cabled to Berlin that he could not prevent a “rupture this time if our answer in Arabic matter is not conciliatory.” 52 At the same time, in order to calm American public opinion, which was becoming violently hostile,53 he announced, without waiting for instructions, that the , , . United States would be given full compensation, if the commander of the Arabic should be found to have been treacherously dealt with.54 tons. It should also be noted that the Arabic had taken “first place among the ships carrying munitions of war from the United States.” On her last eastward voyage, July 28, she carried a cargo of munitions valued at $1,887,452. N. Y. World, August 20, 1915. 61 Admiral Arno .Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 346-34762 Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, p. 173. 63 With reference to the sinking of the Arabic the following excerpts from the American press are typical: Philadelphia Evening Bulletin: “If the sinking of the Arabic proves to have been a deliberate assault, there would seem to be no course open to the United States Government than to consider the action as ‘unfriendly’ and to sever diplomatic relations.” Washington Herald: “We are surely near the breaking point with Germany. There is no virtue in further forbearance.” Buffalo Express: “Here, then, is the deliberately unfriendly act which the President de¬ scribed in his note of July 23. By this act Germany is insolently asking the United States: ‘What are you going to do about it?’” Bridgeport Standard: “The sinking of this ship Wc.s not only ‘deliberately unfriendly,’ but it was maliciously unfriendly.” Quoted in the New York World, August 21, 1915. 34 Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, p. 173. Also, Count Bernstorff, Memoirs, p. 145-

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After these anxious efforts to keep America from going to war over submarine outrages, Count Bernstorff then wrote to Colonel House and laid the situation frankly before him. Apparently, no real progress was being made towards a peaceful settlement of the Arabic incident, and he was fearful that some new development might lead to . . . very grave results and create a situation which makes war inevitable. Although I am sure that the English version of the “Arabic” incident is made in Great Britain for American consumption, we are nevertheless, so to speak, sitting on a barrel of gunpowder. I have been endeavoring to get instructions from Berlin for the purpose of beginning confidential negotiations with the United States Government, which might lead to a favorable answer to the last American note. I know now that we will cer¬ tainly make concessions, but German public opinion must be prepared for such concessions. . . . Before I can do anything in this matter I must be able to give my people . . . some proof of my contention that Presi¬ dent Wilson wishes to give us a square deal.55 President Wilson also wrote to Colonel House for advice. Two things seemed plain to him: — 1. The people of this country count on me to keep them out of the war. 2. It would be a calamity to the world at large if we should be drawn actively into the conflict and so deprived of all disinterested influence over the settlement.56 This letter to Colonel House is a convincing revelation that Presi¬ dent Wilson did not desire to have the Arabic incident serve as a pre¬ text for war with Germany. His chief interest was to find some means of bringing to a speedy conclusion the conflict in Europe, and then to arrange for a concert of powers that would outlaw future wars. He was far more pacific than his advisers, and he looked upon the hostile comments that Gerard was constantly sending from Berlin as “extraordinary stuff” that was worth very little.57 Colonel House, however, gave a great deal of credence to the re¬ marks of Gerard, and he had little patience with the German Govern¬ ment. To him it was quite obvious that the American people wanted action and no further notes to Germany. If he had his way he would “send Bernstorff home and recall Gerard.” 58 In a letter to the Presi55 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, August 21, 1915, House MS. 66 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 21, 1915, ibid. 57 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 21, 1915, ibid. 88 The Diary of Colonel House, August 21, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 31.

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dent (August 22) he did not urge this course except by implica¬ tion : — If you do not send Bernstorff home and if you do not recall Gerard, then Congress should be called to meet the emergency and assume the re¬ sponsibility. To a high-spirited President this was a distinct challenge. And then to quiet any qualms the Chief Executive might have with regard to immediate action against Germany, the Colonel made a bold state¬ ment that appeared more naive than impressive: — For the first time in the history of the world, a great nation has run amuck, and it is not certain that it is not a part of our duty to put forth a restraining hand.50 He was somewhat fearful, however, that the President was so closely wedded to peace that he would not adopt a belligerent attitude towards Germany: — He evidently will go to great lengths to avoid war. . . . There is a limit to all things and, in the long run, I feel the nation would suffer more in being supine than in taking a decided stand.60 Such advice from an intimate and highly trusted adviser like Colo¬ nel House was not calculated to turn the President’s mind towards a conciliatory policy with reference to the sinking of the Arabic. The situation was critical, but fortunately Count Bernstorff intervened at this moment with a letter to Secretary Lansing. He had been ad¬ vised by the German Foreign Office that no reliable information had been received in Berlin concerning the “Arabic incident.” The German Government hoped that the Government of the United States would “refrain from taking any decided steps, so long as it only has before it one-sided reports which ... do not in any way correspond to the facts.” If any American lives were really lost by the torpedoing of the Arabic the German Government wished to extend its “deepest regrets” and its “most heartfelt sympathy.”

61

69 Colonel House to President Wilson, August 22, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 31. 60 The Diary of Colonel Plouse, August 22, 1915, ibid., p. 32. 61 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, August 24 1915, in Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, p. 174. On August 10 Secretary Lansing sent an instruction to Ambassador Gerard relative to the sinking of the American ship William P. Frye. In the last paragraph of this note which was to be given to the German Foreign Office there was a suggestion of arbitration: “If this proposal proves acceptable to the Imperial German Government, it will be necessary also

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Secretary Lansing was not greatly influenced by this letter from the German Ambassador begging the American Government to with¬ hold its final judgment on the sinking of the Arabic until complete in¬ formation was available. He agreed with Colonel House in believing that Germany should be dealt with in a firm manner. Also, he did not share the President’s viewpoint that American participation in the World War would deprive the United States of a large measure of influence in determining the terms of peace. It was his opinion that America had lost the friendship of Germany and much of the good will of the Allies as a result of its neutral stand. For this reason the United States would have . . . little influence upon [either group of powers] in bringing about negotiations or in molding the terms of peace. It would take but little to eliminate us entirely in the final settlement. . . . Now, on the assump¬ tion that we sever diplomatic intercourse with the German Government, which responds by a declaration of war, the consequences internationally would seem to be the complete restoration of friendship and confidence with the Allies and the necessary recognition of the United States as a party to the peace negotiations. ... If the foregoing views are sound, it would appear that our usefulness in the restoration of peace would cer¬ tainly not be lessened by a state of war between this country and Germany, and it might even be increased.62 On August 25 Secretary Lansing prepared a memorandum out¬ lining the course of action he intended to follow. It was a very bold one. He was convinced that the time for mere words was past; im¬ mediate action was demanded. He was determined to “take the bull by the horns” and put the matter up to the German Ambassador so firmly and emphatically that he would understand that unless his govto determine whether, pending the arbitral award, the Imperial German Govern¬ ment shall govern its naval operations in accordance with its own interpretation, or in accordance with the interpretation maintained by the United States, as to the obligations imposed by their treaty stipulations.” On August 23, 1915, Mr. Chandler P. Anderson had an interview with Count Bernstorff in New York City, and on that same day he wrote the following note to Secretary Lansing: “I told Bernstorff as I suggested to you over the telephone on Sunday about the possibilities contained in the last paragraph in the Frye note if they would agree not to repeat the acts complained of pending arbitration, pointing out that the same arrangement in the Lusitania case would deprive Great- Britain of the only bases they have ad¬ vanced in defence of their so-called blockade which in turn is the only excuse Germany has for its submarine attacks on merchant vessels. He saw at once that they could throw the entire responsibility for illegal interference with American rights upon G. B. by adopting this course. . . . He is turning the matter over in his mind and is going to prepare a cable to his Government.” C. P. Anderson to Secre¬ tary Lansing, August 23, 1915, Lansing MS. 62 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, pp. 44-45.

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ernment repudiated the sinking of the Arabic it would “probably mean war.” He would not seek the President’s “authorization” for this “radical course” because in the event that it failed the Chief Executive could repudiate the words of the Secretary of State and declare that he had not been empowered to go “so far as to threaten war.” He realized only too well that if his belligerent words were challenged by Count Bernstorff he could not “make good.” He had resolved, however, to “make the threat and take the chance that it will bring Germany to terms.” 63 On the very day that this memorandum was written, Secretary Lansing talked with President Wilson over the telephone and discov¬ ered that the German Ambassador had called at the White House to ask for some delay in securing an answer from his Government. The President was firm in his refusal to grant any postponement of the issue and demanded “a reply at once.” This news was reassuring to Secretary Lansing who was now ready to surprise the German Am¬ bassador with his ultimatum. On August 27 Count Bernstorff called at the Department of State by appointment and without wasting any words Mr. Lansing informed him that the . . . time for debating the question of submarine warfare had passed, and that, unless the German Government frankly declared that there would be no more surprise attacks on vessels carrying passengers, and lived up to that declaration, the United States would certainly declare war on Ger¬ many.84 Count Bernstorff must have winced under Secretary Lansing’s truculent tone, but he made no attempt to question the right of the Secretary of State to threaten war. He could only hope that the Presi¬ dent was more pacific. And in this regard his hopes were well founded. On August 25 the Chief Executive had written to Colonel House to inquire what action should be taken in response to Bernstorff’s request that the Administration 63 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 46. 84 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 47. This blunt talk that Secretary Lansing had with Ambassador Bernstorff seemed to have a good effect upon the relations between Germany and the United States. That same afternoon (August 27) Post¬ master General Burleson phoned to Secretary Lansing and extended his “congratu¬ lations on outlook in Germany," while shortly afterwards the well-known news¬ paper correspondent, Cal O’Laughlin, called to see the Secretary of State about the “good situation of German crisis.” Lansing Diary, August 27, 1915, Lansing MS.

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. . . suspend judgment until we hear the German side of the sinking of the Arabic. I am suspicious enough to think that they are merely sparring for time in order that any action we might take may not affect the unstable equilibrium in the Balkans. Do you think that is too far-fetched a suspi¬ cion ? And how long do you think we should wait ? 65 The Colonel’s answer was not friendly to Germany. He was “al¬ ways suspicious of German diplomacy.” One should never trust the promises of the Foreign Office, and it was possible to “arrive at their intentions” only by the use of “inverse methods.” He thought it was quite possible that the German Government was “playing for time.” After this sweeping condemnation of German duplicity, the Colonel once more took up a favorite theme — German plots in the United States. He was afraid that attempts would be made to blow up water¬ works, electric light plants, subways and bridges. There would be no organized outbreak but “merely some degree of frightfulness in order to intimidate the country.” 66 It is possible that this unfriendly attitude of Colonel House towards Germany may have been inspired by his correspondence with his in¬ timate English friend, Sir Edward Grey. Grey had long been aware of the close bond that existed between the Colonel and the President, and he doubtless hoped that some of his strictures upon German policy would be passed on to the occupant of the White House. He had made no comments upon the sinking of the Arabic because it was merely one of . . . several incidents every week of sinking merchant and passenger ves¬ sels without regard to civilian lives. But people here are of course watch¬ ing with intense interest what you are going to do about it. There is I think disappointment that the feeling in America is not more combative. The ruthless invasion of Belgium, by Germany, the revelations of the crimes committed there, the sinking of the Lusitania and now of the Arabic each in turn produces emotion and indignation in America which seems to evaporate; and people here become less hopeful of the United States taking a hand and more critical of the President.67 Before the Colonel could receive this depressing letter from Sir Edward Grey he heard from Secretary Lansing, who wrote in a distinctly optimistic tone. He regarded the German situation as “much 80 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 25, 1915, House MS. 88 Colonel House to President Wilson, August 26, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 34-35. 87 Sir Edward Grey to Colonel House, August 26, 1915, House MS.

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more favorable than it has been.” There was a “decided tendency on the part of the German Government to reach an amicable settlement.” It was understood, of course, that the American Government would not recede from its position relative to “warnings and provision for the safety of passengers and crews on vessels torpedoed.” The atti¬ tude of the German Foreign Office was one of “compliance” with American demands.68 Count Bernstorff also wrote to Colonel House to express his pleas¬ ure over the “great improvement in the political situation.” Although his information was still “very fragmentary,” and he did not “quite know as yet how far” his Government was ready to go, he was cer¬ tain that the Foreign Office was “ready to make concessions in order to meet the President’s wishes.” 69 Colonel House immediately forwarded to the President this letter from Count Bernstorff. On August 31 the President replied that the attitude of the American Government to . . . Germany’s overtures of conciliation will have to depend a great deal on the terms in which they are actually made. Bernstorff has only stated the principle which will be accepted, and you know I trust neither his accuracy nor his sincerity. But it certainly does look as if a way were opened out of our difficulties, so far as Germany is concerned.70 In Berlin the sinking of the Arabic led to further friction between the Chancellor and von Tirpitz. At the request of Bethmann-Hollweg a message was sent to the Admiral in command of the High Sea Fleet directing him to call to the attention of the commanders of submarines the order of the Emperor (June 6) to spare large passenger ships.71 On August 26, at the chateau of Pless, a conference was held at which Bethmann-Hollweg, Admiral Bachmann, Admiral von Tirpitz, Ad¬ miral von Mueller, General von Falkenhayn, and Herr von Treutler from the Foreign Office were present. The Emperor presided. The Chancellor referred to the difficulties that confronted him as a result of the sinking of the Arabic. He felt that the situation was very grave, and he insisted that he could not continue to remain on the top of a volcano. It was imperative, he thought, to assure the Ameri68 Secretary Lansing to Colonel House, August 28, 1915, House MS. 69 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, August 28, 1915, ibid. 70 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 31, 1915, ibid. 71 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, p. 351.

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can Government that in the future submarine commanders would not sink any passenger boat (large or small) without previous warning and without making adequate provision for the safety of the passen¬ gers and crew. In addition, an offer should be made to the American Government to submit to arbitration the question of indemnities for the loss of American lives on the Lusitania. To balance these conces¬ sions the American Government would be requested to see to it that England observed the provisions of the Declaration of London. Admiral von Tirpitz was vehemently opposed to these suggestions of the Chancellor. To exempt all passenger ships from attacks without warning would put an end to submarine warfare. Moreover, it was vain to expect that these concessions to America would bring about better relations with her. This fact should be apparent from the failure of the American Government to respond to the friendly notes that had been sent to her from Berlin.72 After a warm discussion of the different aspects of submarine warfare it was finally decided that the Chancellor, together with Ad¬ mirals von Tirpitz and Bachmann, should prepare the draft of a note to America. On the following day (August 27), however, the Chan¬ cellor had an audience with the Emperor and secured his approval of the program that had been outlined at the conference at Pless. This would mean that henceforth no passenger ships, whether large or small, could be sunk without warning and without provision for the safety of the passengers and crew. Arbitration would be offered con¬ cerning the Lusitania case, and America would be requested to hold England to an observance of the provisions of the Declaration of London.73 These instructions were sent to Count Bernstorff on August 27 over the heated protests of Admirals Bachmann and von Tirpitz. On August 30 the Emperor sent a telegram to the Chief of the Admiralty Staff advising him of this new order. When this instruction was re¬ layed to Admiral von Pohl, in command of the High Sea Fleet, he promptly sent in his resignation rather than carry out the order. But Admiral von Mueller refused to bring this resignation before the Em¬ peror who insisted that no naval officer had any authority to protest 72 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 352-353 72 Admiral Arno Spindler op. cit., vol. II, p. 355. With reference to this new or¬ der of August 27, Admiral Scheer, Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War p. 233, remarks: “The prohibition with regard to passenger boats was made more stringent, for the order was given that not only large liners, but all passenger steamers must be warned and the passengers rescued before the ship was sunk.”

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against an imperial order that had been issued with full knowledge of the military and political situation.74 Armed with these instructions, Count Bernstorff called at the De¬ partment of State on September 1 and informed Secretary Lansing that he had been instructed to say that the Imperial Government ac¬ cepted the American note of July 21 in principle. But Secretary Lan¬ sing was not satisfied with a mere oral statement, so that afternoon the Ambassador sent to the Department of State a formal note which included the following important paragraph : — Liners will not be sunk by our submarines without warning and with¬ out safety of the lives of the noncombatants, provided that the liners do not try to escape or offer resistance.75 The publication of this note evoked a reprimand from the German Foreign Office to Count Bernstorff, who was reminded of the fact that his instructions were supposed to remain confidential and were to be communicated only to the American Government.70 Count Bernstorff did not permit this reprimand to modify his pacific policy, and he wrote to Colonel House that he now hoped that negotiations would move “rapidly to the goal which you and I have always wished to reach.” 77 But there were serious difficulties in the way of any settlement of the question of submarine warfare. The German Government had not disavowed the attack upon the Arabic, and when the Hesperian was torpedoed on September 4, without warning, the promises of the German Foreign Office seemed of little 74 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 362-363. The Emperor was weary of the opposition raised by Admiral Bachmann to his plans, so on September 1, 1915, he had Admiral von Mueller write to the Chief of the Admiralty Staff to inform him that his retirement from that position was desired. Bachmann was then placed in charge of the naval station at Kiel. 76 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, September 1, 1915, Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 48. 76 Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 179-180. Secretary Lansing had a strong suspicion that Count Bernstorff had anticipated his instructions and had drafted the assurance in the letter of September 1 without specific authority. Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 49. William Jennings Bryan regarded the Bern¬ storff note of September 1 as a great concession that put an end to the submarine dispute. In a telegram to Secretary Lansing, September 1, 1915, Mr. Bryan con¬ gratulated him upon “the successful settlement of the submarine controversy.” Bryan MS. Oswald Garrison Villard was equally pleased with the situation and telegraphed to Secretary Lansing to present his “heartiest congratulations and felicitations upon your share of the wonderful triumph of the United States in this German matter. You must be proud indeed to have helped the President to write what will remain, I am sure, one of the most glorious pages in our national his¬ tory.” Lansing MS. 77 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, September 4, 1915, House MS.

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value.78 The Hesperian was a large passenger vessel of approximately 11,000 tons, and it had made no attempt to fire upon or ram the sub¬ marine that launched the torpedo. The action of the submarine commander in this case was clearly in contravention of the recent Imperial order of August 30. The fact that the U-20 left Ems on August 29 makes it very probable that Commander Schwieger knew nothing of this latest order, but he was certainly acquainted with the old order of June 6 with respect to large passenger vessels. In defense of his action he states that the Hesperian had the appearance of an auxiliary cruiser, and was outside the usual lanes of commercial traffic.79 The attack upon the Hesperian convinced Ambassador Gerard that naval leaders would pay scant attention to any promises made by the Foreign Office. In a letter to Colonel House he observed that the . . . navy people frankly announce that they will not stop submarining, no matter what concessions are made by the Chancellor and Foreign Office. We have outlined this in cables and now the torpedoing of the Hesperian proves it.80 The President was in accord with these views of Ambassador Gerard, and he wrote to Colonel House in the same pessimistic vein. His thoughts were full of this . . . Hesperian business. It looks, I fear, as if it were going to be ex¬ tremely difficult to get at any real facts in the case; and yet the facts are essential to any intelligent handling of the case. Shall we ever get out of the labyrinth made for us all by this German “frightfulness” ? 81 While the President was anxiously awaiting some authentic in¬ formation concerning the attack upon the Hesperian, Count Bernstorff wrote a letter to Colonel House which reveals the Ambassador’s lack of understanding of the American viewpoint. It appeared to him that the Hesperian incident 78 The Consul at Cork (Frost) to the Secretary of State, September 5, IQIS, For. Ret., 1915, Suppl., pp. 533-53478 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 336-337- The Hesperian did carry a small armament which represented some degree of menace to the submarine commander. On September 4, 1915, Count Bernstorff wrote to Secretary Lansing to complain that British merchant vessels on August 15 and 18 had fired upon German submarines. For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 535. 80 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, September 7, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 37-38. 81 President Wilson to Colonel House, September 7, 1915, House MS.

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. . . in no way changes our general policy regarding submarine warfare. According to all reports the Hesperian was armed. This seems exceed¬ ingly important, as the whole controversy between the United States and Germany turns about “unarmed merchant vessels.” Therefore, in my opinion, the case of the Hesperian has no bearing at all on the negotiations I am carrying on.82 As a matter of fact the sinking of the Hesperian had a most impor¬ tant bearing upon the negotiations that Count Bernstorff was “carry¬ ing on.” The American Government had constantly contended that it was perfectly legal for merchant ships to carry a defensive arma¬ ment. The only distinction that Secretary Lansing had made between merchant ships was with reference to the two categories — “resist¬ ing” and “unresisting.” The American Government was bound to regard the sinking of the Hesperian as directly contrary to German pledges relative to the conduct of submarine warfare. The American press took the same view, and Count Bernstorff soon discovered that German-American relations were still dangerously strained. On September 7 Secretary Lansing instructed Ambassador Gerard to inquire at once at the German Foreign Office for the details with reference to the attack upon the Hesperian. He was to “emphasize orally” the importance of a “prompt reply.” 83 Two days later Secre¬ tary Lansing telegraphed to Ambassador Gerard that the Department of State was “impatiently awaiting” the receipt of the full instruc¬ tions which the German Government had given to the submarine commanders. These had merely been referred to in Count Bernstorff’s note of September 1. 84 On the afternoon of September 9, after Secretary Lansing had sent the last note to Ambassador Gerard, the Department of State re¬ ceived from Count Bernstorff a note which indicated the general tenor of his instructions regarding the future conduct of submarine war¬ fare. He was authorized to inform Secretary Lansing confidentially that . . . since several months the commanders of our submarines had orders not to attack the large ocean liners without warning and safety for non82 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, September 8, 1915, ibid. On this same day (September 8) Count Bernstorff wrote a note to Secretary Lansing in much the same language as the note to Colonel House. For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 538-53983 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Gerard, September 7, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, ^USecretary Lansing to Ambassador Gerard, September 9, 1915, ibid., p. 538.

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

combatants. Therefore, if the Arabic was attacked without warning, this would have been done contrary to the instructions given to the command¬ ers of the submarines. These orders have now been modified, so as to comprise all liners.85 To Secretary Lansing it seemed significant that Count BernstorfF had refrained from giving the actual text of the instructions that had been issued to the commanders of German submarines. His dissatis¬ faction was heightened by the receipt (September 9) of a note from the German Foreign Office defending the sinking of the Arabic. The report of the submarine commander had asserted that he believed the Arabic was attempting to ram him and in self-defense he fired the torpedo. While the German Government expressed its regret at the loss of American lives it refused to acknowledge “any obligation to grant indemnity in the matter, even if the commander should have been mistaken as to the aggressive intentions of the Arabic.” It was willing, however, to submit this “difference of opinion” to the “Hague tribunals” for an arbitral settlement. This decision, of course, should not have any bearing on the general subject of sub¬ marine warfare.86 Secretary Lansing was deeply displeased at the tone of this Ger¬ man note of September 7, and he was further annoyed by a telegram from Ambassador Gerard which reached the Department of State on September 11. In reply to the request of the American Ambassador for a report on the sinking of the Hesperian, Secretary von Jagow said that he could not see . . . what business it was of the United States unless American citizens had lost their lives, and said unless American lives had been lost he would give you no report. He intimated that the explosion was caused by a mine.87 This curt reply to Secretary Lansing’s request for information relative to the Hesperian incident shows that von Jagow was unfit for 85 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, September 8, 1915 (received September 9), For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 540. 86 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, September 7, 1915 (received Sep¬ tember 9), ibid., pp. 539-540. This Foreign Office memorandum of September 7 appeared to be in such open contradiction to the Bernstorff note to Secretary Lansing (September 1) that Ambassador Gerard was convinced that important naval leaders like von Tirpitz had been successful in bringing about a sudden “re¬ versal of policy. Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, September 9, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 543. Needless to say, Mr. Gerard was entirely mistaken in his viewpoint. 87 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, September 10, 1915 (received September 11), For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 545.

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the position of Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It would have been the part of wisdom to conciliate Secretary Lansing by answering in a courteous manner his simple request for information. This was espe¬ cially true in view of the adverse publicity that was flooding Ameri¬ can newspapers at this time with reference to the “Dumba incident.” The Ambassador from Austria-Hungary had been so indiscreet as to entrust to the safekeeping of Mr. James F. J. Archibald, an Ameri¬ can citizen, some documents intended for the Foreign Office in Vi¬ enna. On August 30, at Falmouth, the British naval authorities ar¬ rested Mr. Archibald and confiscated the documents he carried. Copies of some of them were given to the American Ambassador, Mr. Page, who sent them to Secretary Lansing.88 It was at once evident that Dr. Dumba had looked with favor upon a plan to foment strikes among Hungarian workers in certain Ameri¬ can factories producing munitions of war for the Allies. By using Mr. Archibald as a dispatch-bearer Dr. Dumba had also “violated the well-known rules governing the conduct of a diplomatic represent¬ ative accredited by a belligerent government to a neutral nation.” 80 After a short interview with Dr. Dumba, Secretary Lansing asked the Austro-Hungarian Government for his recall.90 Before this re¬ quest was granted another one of the documents taken from Mr. Archibald was printed in the British and American press. In it there was a sentence that contained the following phrase: “Having regard to the self-willed temperament of the President.” 01 Such a flippant reference to the President was resented by the Department of State, which on September 22 asked that Dr. Dumba be recalled “imme¬ diately.” This long comedy of German and Austrian errors needed only one more scene to arouse American sentiment to a peak of indignation. This came with the publication of a letter from Captain von Papen to his wife. After alluding to the exposures in the New York World 88 Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, August 31, Sept. 1, 3, 1915> ibid., pp. 932-933; 936-941. . „ „r. , , , 89 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 64. With reference to the detention of Mr. Archibald and the seizure of the Dumba documents see James F. J. Archibald, “New Light on Ambassador Dumba’s Recall,” Current History, vol. XXXV, pp. 210-2x5. 90 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Penfield, September 8, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 933-93491 The Acting Secretary of State to Ambassador Penfield, September 22, 1915, ibid., p. 941. For Ambassador Dumba’s version of this incident see Constantin Dumba, Memoirs of a Diplomat, pp. 252-272.

372

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(August 15—21), Captain von Papen concluded with a contemptuous flourish: — How splendid in the East! I always say to these idiotic Yankees that they should shut their mouths, and better still be full of admiration for all that heroism.92 These derisive comments were not relished by the President or by the American public, but no immediate attempt was made to have Captain von Papen recalled by the German Government. It would, however, have been a friendly gesture on the part of von Jagow to defer to this hostile American sentiment and find some other post for the unpopular military attache. Instead, he foolishly permitted von Papen to remain in Washington where his very presence stirred up fresh hatred against Germany. It is probable that von Jagow did not suspect how serious the Arabic crisis had grown. But Count Bernstorff was not long in recog¬ nizing the belligerent tone of the American press. His fears are re¬ vealed in a letter he wrote to Colonel House : — The press reports about the Arabic case are so alarming that I will have to go to Washington again, although Mr. Lansing has not yet ex¬ pressed the wish to see me. If there is any truth in the newspaper reports the situation looks very serious. . . . Now that we have accepted the prin¬ ciple for which the President is contending, our people at home would cer¬ tainly not understand another sharp American note, and I am convinced that such a note would inevitably lead to war. ... As far as I can see, there is nothing in the Arabic incident now, but a question of conflicting evidence, and it would be terrible, if such a difference should bring about war after the question of principle has been settled. I have not seen the evidence against us and only know it by the newspapers. If it is not better than what the press gives us, it is very weak. . . . The American press has never given us a square deal, but I have always hoped that the Govern¬ ment would. I still cling to this hope, although I am beginning to fear that I will be disappointed.93 In the Department of State certain officials like Mr. Frank L. Polk, the Counselor, believed that it would “be difficult, if not impossible,

92 Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, September 3, 1915, enclosing copy of the letter of Captain von Papen to his wife, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 941. 93 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, September 11, 1915, House MS.

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to avoid a rupture” with Germany.94 Colonel House was equally pes¬ simistic. In a letter to Ambassador Gerard he expressed the gloomy opinion that “things seem to be going from bad to worse and I cannot tell you how critical they are at this moment.” 95 The next day he in¬ formed Sir Edward Grey that the situation was “more tense than it has ever been, and a break may come before this letter reaches you.” 98 On September 7 Ambassador Gerard forwarded the statement of the German Foreign Office relative to the sinking of the Arabic. It was an attempt to defend the action of the submarine commander, and it refused to admit any obligation to pay an indemnity for injuries to American citizens. After reading this statement Secretary Lansing wrote to President Wilson that he regarded this communication from the German Government as a . . . cold and uncompromising declaration that the commanders of sub¬ marines have practically a free hand though bound, technically, by some general form of instructions, and that if they make mistakes, however un¬ warranted, their government will support them. ... It seems to me that the Bernstorff statement of principle is valueless.97 With Secretary Lansing so thoroughly dissatisfied with the Ger¬ man attitude towards submarine warfare it behooved the German Ambassador to take some steps to relieve the tension. On September 13 Count Bernstorff had an interview with Secretary Lansing who emphasized the “continued seriousness of the situation” which the note from the German Government on the sinking of the Arabic had in “no way lessened, much less removed.” It was important, the Secre¬ tary of State declared, to broaden the statement of the German For¬ eign Office so as to include “all merchant vessels and not to be limited to passenger steamers.” 98 This conference with Secretary Lansing made a deep impression upon Count Bernstorff, who realized how narrowly war had been averted. In a telegram to the Foreign Office he explained that Secre¬ tary Lansing did not accept the German viewpoint that the submarine commander was justified in sinking the Arabic. He felt “quite certain 94 The Diary of Colonel House, September 12, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 40. 98 Colonel House to Ambassador Gerard, September 13, 1915, ibid., p. 45. 96 Colonel House to Sir Edward Grey, September 14, 1915, ibid., p. 45. 97 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, September 11, 1915, Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 50. 98 Robert Lansing, op. cit., pp. 51-52.

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that if we fail to reach an agreement, severance of diplomatic rela¬ tions cannot but follow.” 99 Despite the seriousness of the situation Count Bernstorff was hopeful that matters could be arranged amicably. In a letter to Colonel House he described his “very friendly conversation” with Secretary Lansing. As a result of this frank talk he believed that some agree¬ ment could be reached “now that no more notes are to be written.” Inasmuch as Germany had “given in on the principle at issue” he could not “conceive that we should not be able to come to an agree¬ ment on all details.” 100 Colonel House considered this letter from Count Bernstorff of such importance that he sent it at once to President Wilson. The President was pleased with the turn things had taken but he could not get over his suspicion of Bernstorff, whom he regarded as a “most extraordinary person.” It appeared evident that the German Am¬ bassador was . . . anxious to get his government off from any explicit or formal dis¬ avowal of the Arabic offence; but I do not see how we can with selfrespect do that. The country would consider us “too easy” for words, and any general avowal of a better purpose on their part utterly untrustworthy. . . . They are moving with intentional, and most exasperating slowness in the whole matter. I fear that when they have gained the time they need . . . they will resume their reckless operations at sea, and we shall be back of where we started. The country is undoubtedly back of me in the whole matter, and I feel myself under bonds to it to show patience to the ut¬ most.101 This Presidential patience was paired with tenacity: the Chief Executive continued to insist upon securing from the German Gov¬ ernment an explicit disavowal of the attack upon the Arabic. So deter¬ mined was the President upon this point that Count Bernstorff tele¬ graphed to the Foreign Office on September 22 that he hoped it would be possible to find some “formula for such disavowal.” 102 When the German Foreign Office did send their instructions to 86 Bernstorff to German Foreign Office, September 14, 1915, Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 182-184. 100 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, September 15, 1915, House MS. 101 President Wilson to Colonel House, September 20, 1915, ibid. 102 Count Bernstorff to German Foreign Office, September 22, 1915, Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 184-185.

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Count Bernstorff in the last days of September there was no mention of a disavowal of the action of the submarine commander in sinking the Arabic. The German Government was prepared to “give credence to sworn evidence of English officers of Arabic and agree that in reality no such intention existed.” The attack upon the large English steamer was “unfortunately not in accordance with instructions; communication to this effect will be made to commander.” For the sake of a friendly settlement of the existing dispute the German Government would not admit responsibility but would agree to pay an indemnity.103 Secretary Lansing, however, insisted upon a specific disavowal of the submarine commander’s action relative to the torpedoing of the Arabic. This demand placed Count Bernstorff in a delicate position. His instructions said nothing about a disavowal, but “in view of the fact that it was the only hope of avoiding a breach” with the United States, he acted on his “own responsibility” and sent the following note to Secretary Lansing: — . . . The orders issued by His Majesty the Emperor to the commanders of the German submarines — of which I notified you on a previous occa¬ sion — have been made so stringent that the recurrence of incidents similar to the Arabic case is considered out of the question. . . . The attack of the submarine, therefore, was undertaken against the instructions issued to the commander. The Imperial Government regrets and disavows this act and has notified Commander Schneider accordingly. Under these circumstances my government is prepared to pay an in¬ demnity for the American lives which to its deep regret have been lost on the Arabic. I am authorized to negotiate with you about the amount of this indemnity.104 For a second time Ambassador Bernstorff exceeded his instructions and found a peaceful solution for a crisis that had brought his coun¬ try to the brink of war with the United States. The German Foreign Office, with its eye upon the sanctity of instructions, repeated its repri¬ mand. Apparently it followed the ancient bureaucratic tradition that to lose battles by adherence to regulations was preferable to winning victories by violating rules. But with Bernstorff this reprimand

103 Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, p. 187. 104 Robert Lansing, IVar Memoirs, pp. 52-53.

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“weighed little.” He knew that he had saved his country from a mistake that later proved fatal: no diplomat could desire a more com¬ plete justification.105 108 In a letter to Colonel House, October 6, 1915, Secretary Lansing gives an outline of the last chapter in the “Arabic incident”: “You will have seen by the morning papers the successful outcome of the negotiations regarding the Arabic. Last Saturday, when I saw the German Ambassador, I felt a measure of dis¬ couragement on account of the note which he then handed me. I told him, how¬ ever, I would take the matter up with the President. I did so and the President agreed with me that we could not accept a note of that sort. After reaching this decision I asked Count Bernstorff to call upon me at the Department, which he did on Tuesday, and the published note is the result of our conference on that day.” (House MS.) Colonel House himself was quite ready to give Count Bern¬ storff great credit for the settlement of the Arabic dispute. In a letter to Ambas¬ sador Gerard he remarked: “I have seen much of Bernstorff during this Arabic crisis and I want to say again that, in my opinion, there is no German of to-day who deserves better of his country than Bernstorff. ... If it had not been for his patience, good sense, and untiring effort, we would now be at war with Ger¬ many.” The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 45.

XIV DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY IN SUBMARINE WARFARE During the negotiations leading up to the settlement of the “Arabic incident” it was apparent to Bethmann-Hollweg that any further sinkings of passenger ships by German submarines would make it impossible to arrive at any satisfactory agreement with the United States. He presented this viewpoint so forcefully to Admiral von Holtzendorff, the new Chief of the Admiralty Staff, that on Septem¬ ber 18 the latter issued an order which suspended all submarine ac¬ tivity on the west coast of England and in the Channel.1 Some weeks later, however, certain political factors wrought a fundamental change in the general situation, and von Holtzendorff began to look forward to a renewal of submarine operations. On October 14 Bulgaria entered the World War on the side of the Central Powers, and the rapid progress of the campaign against Serbia led many German military leaders to believe that the outlook in the Balkans was quite favorable. Von Holtzendorff was anx¬ ious to take advantage of these German successes, so on October 27 he sent a note to the Foreign Office in which he stressed the im¬ portance of renewing submarine warfare in all its former vigor at the earliest possible moment. He suggested that a note be addressed to the American Government giving assurances that certain English ships, carrying American passengers, would be exempt from attack if they had painted upon them special markings to indicate their identity.2 Secretary von Jagow vehemently disagreed with the Chief of the Admiralty Staff. The American Government had emphatically re¬ jected all suggestions that certain ships should carry special markings. Moreover, the German Government had given formal assurances that all enemy passenger boats should be spared from attacks without warning. To call in question such a concession would mean that the dispute with America would be re-opened with new rancor. Also, 1 Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. II, pp. 366-3671 vol. Ill, p. 92. 2 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. Ill, p. 93.

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it was advisable to give the American Government time to exert pressure upon England with reference to her violations of maritime rights.3 In the face of this determined opposition from the Foreign Office, Admiral von Holtzendorff was willing to abandon any idea of an immediate renewal of submarine warfare. But he was strongly of the opinion that the submarine was the most effective weapon against British sea-power; it should be developed and used with paralyzing force in the spring of 1916. Such a campaign would nullify any threats of American intervention. This interlude of German submarine inactivity did not mean that Secretary Lansing would now cease to send notes of protest to Ger¬ many. He had no intention of focusing all his diplomatic fire upon England and thus bringing belated recognition of American rights that had been constantly violated. There was still the “Lusitania incident” that he could use to exert pressure upon Germany and to keep alive American resentment. The sinking of the Lusitania involved a discussion of the most im¬ portant aspect of submarine warfare — the right to sink armed mer¬ chant ships without warning. International law had long recognized the right of merchant ships to carry defensive armament. This arma¬ ment was of little value against ordinary commerce destroyers, but against submarines it could be used with fatal effect. Furthermore, the British Admiralty had instructed these armed merchant ships to attack submarines on sight, and it was known that the Arabic had planned to fire upon any submarine that ordered it to stop. In view of these circumstances was it reasonable to insist that German sub¬ marines conduct their operations in accordance with the rules of cruiser warfare? Were not British “mystery ships” (sometimes known as Q ships), with their successful attacks upon submarines, proving beyond dispute the fact that the old rules of visit and search were no longer applicable to maritime warfare involving the use of submarines? There was little doubt that these “mystery ships” were taking a heavy toll of submarines. Their method of attack was clearly demonstrated in the so-called “Baralong incidents.” On August 19 the U-27 stopped the British freight steamer Nicosian and gave the crew ample time to take to the boats. It then opened fire upon the Nicosian for the purpose of sinking her, but 3 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. Ill, p. 93.

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during this cannonade a vessel approached flying the American flag, with a “board on the side with a small American flag painted on it.” 4 The U-27 permitted this vessel to approach within a few hundred meters when suddenly it opened fire upon the submarine. The U-27 was struck by several shells from the Baralong and sank within a few minutes. Some of the crew were able to swim to the Nicosian, which had been abandoned by the British. While hanging to the ropes that dangled over the side of this British vessel, several of them were killed by gunfire from the Baralong. Four Germans who succeeded in climbing on board the Nicosian were hunted down by British marines, who shot them at sight. The commander of the U-27, witnessing this cold-blooded series of murders, seized a life belt and leaped into the sea. There he was shot while his hands were upraised in a signal of surrender.5 Secretary Lansing at once realized the dangerous implications of this first “Baralong incident,” and he called upon the Neutrality Board for an opinion. The Board, however, did not seem greatly concerned over the use of the American flag by the Baralong, even though according to the testimony of Mr. Curran this flag was not hauled down until after the submarine had been fired upon.6 The Board merely noted that ... no protest has apparently been received from the German Govern¬ ment concerning this incident, which is an aggrieved party if the use of a false flag is not permissible as a ruse de guerre. ... If the affidavits are correct, this was a British naval vessel, and the use of a false flag in the ap¬ proach leading up to an attack is a permissible one by international law, provided no overt act of hostility takes place until the false flag is hauled down and the real flag displayed. The Board sees no occasion in this in¬ cident to make any representations to the British Government.7 4 Affidavit of Henry Christy, an American citizen on board the Nicosian, con¬ tained in the telegram from Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, August 29, 1915, For. Ret., 1915, Suppl., p. 528. According to the affidavits of several other American citizens on board the Nicosian there was a shield on the side of the Baralong painted with the American colors. Admiral Spindler, La Guerre SousMarine, vol. II, p. 326. 5 Some of the correspondence and the affidavits of several Americans who were on board the Nicosian are given in For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 527-529, 543, 577, 605-606, 651. See also Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 324-329; R. H. Gibson and Maurice Prendergast, The German Submarine War, 1914-1918, PP- 53-55,' and Rear-Admiral Gordon Campbell, My Mystery Ships (London, n.d.). In the volume by E. K. Chatterton, Q-Ships and Their Story (London, 1922), pp. 20-23, there is an account of the first “Baralong incident” without any mention of the murder of the members of the crew of the U-27. 6 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., pp. 326-327. 1 MS. Opinions of the Neutrality Board.

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Secretary Lansing did not take this action of the Baralong so lightly.8 On October 18 he sent a telegram to Ambassador Page in which he rehearsed the details of the destruction of the German sub¬ marine (U-27) and inquired as to their authenticity. He was es¬ pecially anxious , to obtain full and complete official information on the above inquiries with a view to determine whether, if these reports prove true, it is not incumbent upon this Government to change its lenient attitude toward the arming of merchant vessels for defensive purposes. Recently the

Waimana,

a British vessel, entered Norfolk with one mounted gun on board and, in view of the above reports this Government refused to clear the vessel until the gun had been removed.9

The reply from Ambassador Page indicated a lack of sympathy with the spirit of Secretary Lansing’s inquiry. It was evident that the Department of State had been reading affidavits other than those sent from the American Embassy in London. After this gentle slap, Ambassador Page assured Secretary Lansing that the affidavits sent from London were so authentic and informing that there was no reason to make any inquiry of Sir Edward Grey as to the use of the American flag. Moreover, it appeared to the Ambassador that there was nothing unusual in the British practice of employing “mystery ships” against submarines. Indeed, Sir Edward Grey, in an informal conversation with the American Ambassador, had spoken of “such a 8 On September 24, 1915 the second “Baralong incident” occurred. After the U-41 had captured the British steamer Urbino, and had given the crew ample time to evacuate it, a new steamer approached the submarine. It stopped upon signal and apparently prepared to disembark its crew. As it slowly drifted towards the U-41 it suddenly opened fire. The submarine was so seriously damaged that it soon sank but not before two of the crew were able to leap into the sea. The treatment meted out to these Germans struggling in the water is described in a statement by one of them, Herr Godau, who served as a pilot on the U-41: “After a while I noticed that the steamer approached us again. When it had come within 200 meters of us I heard cries for help and at the same time there came from the steamer a noise of yelling, calling and whistling. It then passed at about 20 meters distance. There were deafening howls and whistles made by those on board the steamer. Also missiles were thrown at me and I was only able to escape them by swimming away rapidly. I assumed that I was to be run over. Even then I noticed that the steamer was still flying the American flag. . . . After a considerable time I no¬ ticed an empty life boat and was dragged into it in a thoroughly exhausted con¬ dition by First Lieutenant Crompton. After an interval the steamer again came toward us. . . . Inasmuch as it did not slacken its speed we assumed that it was planning to ram us. Shortly before this actually happened we jumped into the bow wave. The boat was badly damaged and was thrown back in such a manner that I . . . immediately got back into it. . . . In the meantime I . . . helped First Lieutenant Crompton into the boat. . . . The steamer, after moving on a short distance, stopped alongside and threw us a line.” MS. German Marine Archives. 9 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Page, October 18, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Sup pi, pp. 576-577-

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38l

disguise as a legitimate and even usual ruse de guerre.” After this pronouncement there could be no further argument on such a point. Ambassador Page concluded his dispatch with an intimation that Secretary Lansing was in danger of being influenced by German propaganda. He called attention to the fact that according to the prin¬ ciples of international law it was entirely legitimate for nations to permit merchant ships to carry defensive armament. Sir Edward Grey had discussed this very point with Ambassador Page and had expressed the hope that the American Government would not insist upon any serious modification of this long-established practice: — He spoke with a good deal of earnestness, . . . and he hoped that the principle would not be questioned. He did not say in so many words that he suspected that this incident arose because of German suggestion, but he made the impression on my mind that this is what he thought.10 Secretary Lansing was fully aware of this British insistence that no change be made in the practice of nations with reference to the arming of merchant vessels. At times certain British statesmen be¬ came almost hysterical when they discussed this question, and even Arthur Balfour lost his philosophic calm when he touched upon this topic. In a letter to Colonel House he argued with much feeling against any proposal to forbid merchant ships to carry armament. The German practice of sinking ships without warning was “inhu¬ man.” It was only to be expected that captains of merchant vessels should attempt to ram submarines at sight. If he were a captain he would do the same “although well aware that if my attempt failed the submarine would attempt to sink me.” The Germans were an enemy “who knows no law.” Their conduct of submarine warfare had de¬ generated into “cold-blooded butchery,” and nothing should be done to aid their villainy.11 The viewpoint of Mr. Balfour made less impression upon Secre¬ tary Lansing than it did upon Colonel House. On October 2 the Colonel had a conversation with the Secretary of State on this ques¬ tion of armed merchantmen. In his Diary for that day Colonel House makes the following laconic entry : — 10 Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, October 22, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 604-606. 11 Arthur Balfour to Colonel House, September 12, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 211-214.

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Lansing takes the ground that if we are to hold the Germans respon¬ sible for sinking ships without warning, we must also insist that merchant¬ men be unarmed. If a merchantman is armed, and we insist that sub¬ marines do not sink without warning, the advantage is all with the merchantman and against the submarine. I can see the English point of view better than Lansing does, but I do not consider it wholly fair.12 To Colonel House it seemed quite beside the point for Secretary Lansing to enter into an extended legal discussion with the British Government over this question of armed merchant ships. The Allies were fighting to preserve civilization, and that struggle deserved American sympathy, and if need be, American assistance. It was no time for legal quibbling. If Germany were victorious over the Allies “our turn would come next; and we were not only unprepared, but there would be no one to help us stand the first shock.” Co-operation with the Allies against German militarism was the only safe course for America to follow.13 In September (1915) the President himself appeared to be leaning towards American intervention on the side of the Allies. It was not long before the Department of State began to entertain similar ideas. On October 11, at a lunch with Mr. Polk, Colonel House broached the topic of American assistance to the Allies. It would not do for the “United States to let the Allies go down and leave Germany the dominant military factor in the world. We would certainly be the next object of attack, and the Monroe Doctrine would be less indeed than ‘a scrap of paper.’ ” Mr. Polk thought that this idea of Colonel House was “good from every standpoint.” He was soon warmly supported by Secretary Lan¬ sing, who informed Colonel House that he was willing to advise “a strong course.” 14 In order to lay the basis for such a course it was necessary to keep alive American disaffection towards Germany. One means of accomplishing this end was to press for an immediate settlement of the Lusitama dispute, and to make such demands upon Germany that compliance would be difficult. On November 2 Secretary Lansing had a conference with Ambas¬ sador Bernstorff relative to the Lusitania case. He pointed out to the Ambassador that the German Government had issued instructions 12 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 73. 18 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 85. 14 The Diary of Colonel House, October 11, 1915, ibid., p. 86.

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forbidding attacks upon passenger vessels. This being true there seemed to be “no practical reason why they should insist that the attack on the Lusitania was justifiable.” Of course German public opinion would resent any admission of liability for the loss of Amer¬ ican lives on the Lusitania, but it should also be taken into account that American public opinion was counting on just such an admission. Count Bernstorff was convinced that his Government would refuse to admit such liability, and he was certain that “some other method” of settlement would have to be found. If America insisted upon this point he was not hopeful of any progress. Secretary Lansing had found just the issue that he wanted; it would serve to keep German-American relations at the breaking point until the President thought it expedient to intervene on behalf of the Allies. In concluding this conversation with Count Bernstorff, Secre¬ tary Lansing uttered some remarks that were filled with covert menace: — I also said to him that I thought the matter should be settled because we had already been extremely patient in the matter. ... I said that . . . I felt that the question must be settled and very soon.15 On November 11 Secretary Lansing wrote to the President and enclosed a “formula” which he thought might be satisfactory with regard to the Lusitania case. The German Government was to admit that the Lusitania was sunk in pursuance of a policy of retaliation against the enemies of Germany. But such retaliatory measures were essentially “acts in contravention of the recognized rules of war¬ fare.” American citizens on board the Lusitania had every reason to believe that the German Government would adhere to these “recog¬ nized rules.” The sinking of the Lusitania, being in violation of these rules, was “illegal.” The German Government, in its recent instruc¬ tions having indicated that it believed the sinking of the Lusitania was in “contravention of international law,” was to offer to “make reparation for the lives of citizens of the United States ... by the payment of a suitable indemnity.” 16 The President was not satisfied with this formula but he believed that it was probably “the best that can be drawn.” He hoped that is Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, November 2, 1915, Carlton Savage, Policy of the United States Toward Maritime Commerce in War, pp. 408-409. 16 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, November 11,1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 412-413.

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Secretary Lansing would “press it upon the German Imperial Gov¬ ernment.” 17 His wishes were immediately carried out that afternoon in a conference between Secretary Lansing and Count Bernstorff. Mr. Lansing was blunt and direct. He informed the German Ambas¬ sador that “the Lusitania case should be settled if possible within a very short time.” After this threat, he handed the formula that he had prepared to Count Bernstorff, and pointed out to him that he had avoided any use of the word “disavow.” In its place he had sub¬ stituted an acknowledgment of “illegality.” After Count Bernstorff had stated that he would send the formula to Berlin and await instructions, Secretary Lansing emphasized the importance of having the Lusitania dispute settled before Congress convened in December. Unless this were accomplished it was possible that the National Legislature would, in deference to an aroused public opinion, declare war against Germany.18 Secretary Lansing did not regard this threat to Ambassador Bern¬ storff as an idle one. There were many indications that throughout America popular patience with Germany was nearly exhausted.19 There were many reasons for this growing hostility, one of the prin¬ cipal points of irritation being the conduct of German submarine warfare. On November 7 the U-38 (commanded by Lieutenant Max Valentiner) sank the Italian passenger Ancona in the Mediterranean Sea near the island of Sardinia.20 Some twenty Americans lost their lives as a result of this sinking, and press opinion in the United States unsparingly denounced this action of the U-boat commander. The 17 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, November 17, 1915, Lansing MS. 18 “Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador, November 17, 1915,” Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 413-414. Before this conference with the German Ambassador, Secretary Lansing had an inter¬ view with Mr. L. W. Nieman, of the Milwaukee Journal, who believed that Amer¬ ican public opinion was in favor of “war against Germany.” Lansing Diary, Novem¬ ber 17, 1915, Lansing MS. 19 In a letter to Professor John H. Wigmore, December 8, 1915, Secretary Lane made the following pertinent remark: “Things are not looking at all nice as to Germany and Austria. I know that the country is not satisfied, at least part of it, with our patience.” Letters of Franklin K. Lane, p. 188. 20 The journal or logbook of the commander of the U-38 is given in Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. Ill, pp. 37-38. The U-38 fired a warning shell over the bows of the Ancona and ordered her to stop, but the Italian liner attempted to escape. She was captured after a hot chase, during which several shells struck her. The U-38 allowed the passengers and crew of the Ancona about 45 minutes to abandon ship. At the end of this period there was still a consider¬ able number of passengers on board the Ancona. The commander of the U-38 (Lieutenant Max Valentiner) believed that these passengers were stubbornly re¬ fusing to leave the Ancona. For this reason, and because he feared an approaching vessel, he fired the torpedo. The Ancona did not sink until 45 minutes after being struck by the torpedo. See also For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., p. 614.

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New York Times regarded the destruction of the Ancona as “wanton savagery”; the Journal of Commerce condemned such an act as an “outrage” that would array American sentiment on the side of the Allies; the Brooklyn Eagle feared a “deliberate revival of submarine frightfulness”; while the New York Evening Sun looked upon this manner of waging war as “stupid as well as brutal.” 21 To Secretary Lansing it seemed that the sinking of the Ancona was “more atrocious than any of the submarine attacks that had previously taken place.” For “cold-blooded inhumanity the conduct of the submarine commander scarcely finds an equal in the annals of modern warfare.” 22 While the Austrian Government assumed the responsibility for the torpedoing of the Ancona (Lieutenant Valentiner flew the Austrian flag over the U-38), Secretary Lansing was certain that a German submarine had actually made the attack. The “act was that of a Prussian and not of an Austrian.” 23 Secretary Lansing’s sensibilities were further wrought upon by the news of the execution of the British nurse, Edith Cavell. Even the German-language press in the United States found it somewhat diffi¬ cult to defend this action of the German military authorities, and Mr. Herman Ridder, the editor of the New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung, made the following adverse comment: — It is a terrible thing. . . . There should never be a necessity for the execution of a woman under any circumstances. . . . There are times when German commanders may do things in the heat of war in which even their own people will not support them.24 It is difficult to estimate the effect that these unfortunate incidents had upon the minds of President Wilson and Secretary Lansing, but there is no question that they helped to confirm their belief in Ger¬ man “frightfulness.” And this feeling of hostility and suspicion towards the German Government was heightened by the discovery of certain German plots to blow up American munitions factories and 21 Literary Digest, 22 Robert Lansing, 23 Robert Lansing,

November 20, 1915, PP- 1139-1 I4°War Memoirs, p. 88. War Memoirs, p. 89. The Austro-Hungarian Government, on December 29, 1915, sent a note to Secretary Lansing which admitted that the torpedoing of the Ancona was in violation of the principles of international law. It also announced that the guilty officer had been punished and that the AustroHungarian Government was ready to pay an indemnity for the American lives and property lost on the Ancona. Ambassador Penfield to Secretary Lansing, December 29, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 655-658. 24 Literary Digest, November 6, 1915, PP- 1001-1002.

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

to sink merchant ships with war supplies from America. It will not be possible to unravel all these mysterious intrigues until the German archives are open and the records in the Departments of State, Treas¬ ury and Justice are accessible to students. A large amount of informa¬ tion, however, has been published about these German activities, and in the autumn of 1915 the American press was filled with sensational stories of bomb-plots that were supposed to have been hatched by German agents. Secretary Lansing, in his discussion of this situation, refers to the “extraordinary mania which seemed to be epidemic all over the country and to affect all classes, just as did the witch-hunting mania of the seventeenth century.” 25 The arrest of Robert Fay, Walter Scholz, Paul Daeche, Herbert Kienzle, and Max Breitung, on a charge of planning to destroy mer¬ chant ships with cargoes of munitions, brought all this fear of Ger¬ man conspiracies to a climax. The New York Herald expressed the opinion that if the German Government was privy to these plots it meant that “Germany is now waging war within the United States.” The New York Evening Sun was convinced that “German intriguers in this country, including the military attache [Captain von Papen],” had long been engaged in dubious schemes, while the Washington Times looked upon these German activities as a “most flagrant vio¬ lation of the neutrality of this country.” 26 These alleged German plots were divided into several categories. According to Secretary Lansing they could be . . . classified as direct action against the British along the Canadian border and against ships destined to ports of the Allies; the purchasing or forging of American passports for the use of German and Austrian reservists in the United States; conspiracies to prevent the manufacture and transportation of arms, ammunitions and other war supplies to the Allied Powers; and intrigues in Latin American countries to cause quarrels between their governments and the Government of the United States.27 26 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 84. There is a great deal of significant data in the two volumes entitled “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda,” Sen. Doc. 62, 66th Cong. 1st sess. See also French Strother, Fighting Germany’s Spies (N.Y. 1918) ; John P. Jones and Paul M. Hollister, The German Secret Service in America (Boston, 1918) ; Thomas J Tunney and P. M. Hollister, Throttled (Boston, 1919) ; and Earl E. Sperry and Willis M. West, German Plots and Intrigues in the United States During the Period of Our Neutrality (Washington, 1918). 26 Literary Digest, November 6, 1915, pp. 993-995. 27 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 71.

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In November, 1915, in certain American newspapers, there were strong intimations that Captain von Papen, the military attache at the German Embassy, and Captain Boy-Ed, who was serving as naval attache, were both implicated in these plots. In the columns of the Providence Journal, Dr. Joseph Goricar, formerly connected with the Austrian consular service, made serious charges against Captains von Papen and Boy-Ed. According to his story there were some 3,000 Teutonic spies in the United States whose activities were directed by von Papen, Boy-Ed, and the Austrian Consul-General Nuber in New York City. In spite of their . . . assertions that they are innocent of any wrong-doing or of any knowl¬ edge of the burning of munitions-plants or of wrecking of ships, they are in immediate touch with every such transaction.28 These charges by Dr. Goricar led Count Bernstorff to write to Secretary Lansing on November 16 to complain of the “baseless attacks on myself and the colleagues of my Embassy in the Provi¬ dence Journal.” For the past fifteen months everyone connected with the German Embassy had been shadowed by . . . a whole army of American private detectives. . . . Day and night they have pursued us in the service of our enemies. Yet, although official German documents have been stolen, no one has yet succeeded in produc¬ ing a single proof of illegal activities on the part of any one of us.29 Secretary Lansing placed little confidence in these assurances from Count Bernstorff. On the previous day he had received a letter from Mr. Charles Warren, Assistant Attorney General, which told a very different story: — In a personal and confidential letter addressed to you on Friday last, I called attention to the fact that in recent grand-jury proceedings in New

28 Literary Digest, November 27, 1915, p. 1208. See also articles by Captain F. von Rintelen in the Washington Herald, Sept. 10, 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19, 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24 1933. 29 Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, p. no. On October 22, 1919, in his testimony before the Second Subcommittee of the Committee of Inquiry into the responsibility for the World War, Count Bernstorff remarked: “In my opinion, there were no conspiracies by German agents in the United States. I take the ground that nothing ever occurred which appeared to justify the ex¬ pression ‘conspiracy.’ There were only individual transactions, which . . . were in violation of the laws of the United States but with which we over there, or at least I personally, never had anything to do.” German Docs. Rel. to World War, vol. I, p. 255.

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York, we had direct testimony that Captain Boy-Ed supplied funds for the purchase of the steamship Evelyn for the purpose of coaling German warships last Fall. I enclose herewith further testimony which shows that Captain Boy-Ed provided $750,000 for the purpose of sending out supply ships from the ports of the United States in violation of the neutral obligations of the United States; $350,000 of the above sum was sent to San Francisco for use of equipping the steamship Sacramento, and we have the direct testimony to this effect in the Sacramento grand jury pro¬ ceedings in San Francisco.30 Some time later, Mr. Bruce Bielaski, of the Department of Justice, inclined toward the belief that enough evidence had been collected to make possible the conviction of both von Papen and Boy-Ed for vio¬ lation of American laws : — I think we could have convicted von Papen and Boy-Ed at least, and possibly others if it had not been for their diplomatic immunity.31 If “diplomatic immunity” were to serve as a cloak for protection for these two attaches under the cover of which they could plot against American interests, it was high time, thought Secretary Lansing, to ask for their recall.32 Moreover, Colonel House had written to the President (November 21) and raised the question whether it would not be “possible immediately to let some of the obnoxious underlings Charles Warren to Secretary Lansing, Personal and Confidential, November 191S, Lansing MS. 31 “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda,” Sen. Doc. 62, 66th Cong., 1st sess., p. 1599. According to Mr. Gaston B. Means, the position of Captain Boy-Ed “was entirely different from that of any of the other Germans in this country. He was opposed, every time, to their high-handed methods. . . . Boy-Ed never asked me to do anything that pertained to the breaking of a law.” Ibid., pp. 2128, 2130. 32 The dangers that attended the proposed publication of some of the data on file in the Department of Justice relative to the German plots in the United States are clearly outlined in a letter from Secretary Lansing to Attorney-General Thomas W. Gregory, September 21, 1916: “I have been over the papers which you sub¬ mitted through Mr. Warren relative to German activities in this country and must say that considering the subject as a whole I can see no benefit in publishing any of the material which was submitted. ... In regard to the German activities the question will be asked at once why this Government, with knowledge of all these matters, has permitted the German officials involved to continue in this coun¬ try, and in certain cases I believe that the Department of Justice will be criticized for not having prosecuted certain of the persons mentioned in the documents. As to the diplomatic situation, the Department of State will be put immediately upon the defensive to explain why we have not acted in these cases, and it will require very considerable explanation to show the excellent reasons which we have for avoiding an open rupture with Germany. In regard to your Department — and I speak with reserve as to that — I think you would be compelled to explain the fact that while the evidence was sufficient to convince you of the guilt of the parties, it was not of a character which would stand a judicial test, and, in many cases, no statute existed under which a prosecution could be taken.” Confidential, Lansing MS. 30

15,

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of the offending Embassies go ?” 33 Secretary Lansing heartily agreed with this suggestion. On November 29 he wrote to President Wilson that he believed that the American Government had been “over¬ patient” in its attitude toward von Papen and Boy-Ed. He then asked permission to inform Count Bernstorff, orally, that the offending attaches were personae non gratae,34 After securing the President’s approval of the recall of von Papen and Boy-Ed, Secretary Lansing had a conversation with Count Bern¬ storff (December 1) and announced to him that both attaches were “unacceptable” to the American Government. When Count Bern¬ storff inquired as to the reasons for this proposed recall, Secretary Lansing informed him that Captains von Papen and Boy-Ed had been engaged in activities that “involved violations” of American laws, and for that reason they should not be shielded “under diplomatic privileges from being subject to our Courts.” When Count Bern¬ storff pleaded for a delay in making public this request for the recall of the attaches, Secretary Lansing refused to grant any postpone¬ ment. On December 3 the news was given to the press.35 This somewhat precipitate action on the part of the Secretary of State indicated how slight was the official inclination to be considerate of German feelings. It is only against this background of open dis¬ like and sharp suspicion that the attitude of Secretary Lansing during the last two weeks in November, 1915, can be viewed in proper per¬ spective. As early as November 19 he had discussed with Secretary 33 Colonel House to President Wilson, November 21, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 47. 34 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 80. 35 Ibid., p. 81. At the request of Ambassador Bernstorff, Colonel House wrote to Secretary Lansing with reference to postponing the publication of the news that the recall of von Papen and Boy-Ed ha'd been requested. In reply, Secretary Lansing informed the Colonel that his letter had arrived “too late” to change the “making public the request for the recall of Boy-Ed and von Papen. I did so this afternoon. ... I have seen Bernstorff two or three times in regard to this matter and am impressed with the fact that he was more fearful of his own skin than the skins of his Military and Naval Attaches. I attempted, in making the announcement, to put it on grounds which could not apply to the Ambassador himself, and I agree with you that he is entitled to consideration.” (Lansing to Colonel House, Decem¬ ber 3, 1915, House MS.) In his testimony before the Committee appointed by the National Constituent Assembly to inquire into the responsibility for the war, Cap¬ tain von Papen on April 16, 1920, remarked as follows concerning his activities in America: “I may state at the outset that, regardless of the duties which were im¬ posed upon me from the military-political side, it was always my endeavor — and, so far as I know, I always remained faithful to it —to do nothing within the territorial limits of the United States which would have been in conflict with the laws of the country or which could have resulted injuriously to the welfare of the United States on its own territory and soil.” Official German Documents Relating to the World War, vol. II, pp. 1308-1309.

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Tumulty the general situation and had agreed with him that there should be more “punch” in Presidential policy.38 After this searching of hearts, Secretary Lansing immediately sent a note to President Wilson which expressed open pessimism concerning American rela¬ tions with Germany. He was afraid that negotiations with regard to the Lusitania case were coming to “an impasse.” Count Bernstorff had frankly confessed serious doubts whether his Government would admit “any liability for the lives of Americans lost on board of a British vessel.” If this were true, and if the American Government did not recede from its position, a deadlock would ensue. Certain rumors had reached the Department of State to the effect that the German Government wished to prolong the discussion of the Lusitania case until the American people had “forgotten it and this Government had let it drop.” This shrewd scheme, thought Secretary Lansing, should be decisively defeated. Any further delay in the Lusitania matter would invite the criticism that the Administration was “too supine and ready to go any lengths in order to avoid a direct issue with Germany.” Such being the case, there were only two courses for the President to pursue. He should sever diplomatic rela¬ tions with Germany, or he should lay the facts before Congress and state that inasmuch as negotiations had broken down it was up to the war-making branch of the Government to take action. These al¬ ternatives were imperative lest the Administration lose popular sup¬ port. In addition, there were political considerations of great impor¬ tance with regard to the next Presidential election. The pro-German vote was “irrevocably lost” by the Democratic Party. Unless a reso¬ lute stand were taken in the Lusitania case there would be serious danger of losing the vote of Americans who were “hostile to Ger¬ many.” 37 The President rejected both these suggestions. It would be suf¬ ficient merely to advise Count Bernstorff that from the viewpoint of the Administration “the matter of the Lusitania is just as important and just as acute now as it was the day the news of her sinking ar¬ rived.” In this same connection he should also be informed that any failure to settle the Lusitania dispute along the same lines that had been followed in the Arabic case would be regarded by the Adminis36 Lansing Diary, November 19, 1915, Lansing MS. 87 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, November 19, 1915, Carlton Savage op. cit., pp. 414-416.

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tration as “little less than a repudiation of the assurances then given us.” 38 Count Bernstorff promptly reported to the Foreign Office the de¬ velopments in the Lusitania case and the personal factors involved. The Administration was fearful of attacks in Congress upon the apparent do-nothing policy of the Government. President Wilson himself had little faith in the possibility of finding a solution for the Lusitania dispute, but was hoping to “keep the matter in the air until the conclusion of peace.” He had great plans for the future but his freedom of decision was “seriously compromised by his anxiety to be re-elected.” 39 It is obvious that Count Bernstorff believed that the President was essentially pacific in his attitude towards Germany and had no desire to push the Lusitania dispute to the point of war. He scarcely realized the profound impression that had been made upon the President’s mind by the reports of German plots in the United States. On the afternoon that the German Ambassador was sending his reassuring message to the German Foreign Office, the President granted an au¬ dience to Henry Ford. The motor magnate was most anxious to find some means of putting an end to the World War, and he believed this could best be effected through an international peace conference which would work “without ceasing until peace is secured.” To the President such a scheme seemed too visionary to promise any real results. Peace would come to a war-torn world only when German militarism had been pitilessly stamped out. A new crusade was being preached with facile skill by adherents to the Allied cause, and the President felt his old Covenanter blood stir at the thought of another struggle with unrighteousness. But Mr. Ford was not allured by this formula of “war to put an end to all wars,” and he was “startled” at this unexpected revelation of Presidential sympathy for Allied as¬ pirations.40 With the President in an exalted mood it was inevitable that Sec¬ retary Lansing would seek to make the most of this moment. The Lusitania case was now pressed upon Count Bernstorff for immediate 38 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, November 21, 1915, ibid., p. 416. 39 Count Bernstorff to the German Foreign Office, November 23, 1915, Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 213-215. 40 New York Sun, March 3, 1916. It is possible that the President’s viewpoint was influenced by the glib announcement of Mr. Frank H. Simonds that the “steady process of attrition will give the victory to the Allies.” Literary Digest, November 27. 1915, P- 12x2.

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TO WAR

settlement. On November 24 a note was sent to the German Ambassa¬ dor which was terse and to the point: — I have not heard from you since our conversation in regard to the Lusitania case. I hope that you have been able to accomplish something. It is imperative that we should reach a speedy settlement of this contro¬ versy for the reasons which I stated to you when we talked the matter over. I hope that a conclusion may be reached within a very few days.41 Count Bernstorff was aware that he was being pushed to the wall. In his reply he pointed out that he had received the proposals of the American Government only a few days previous; it would be sev¬ eral weeks before he could hear (by mail) from the Foreign Of¬ fice. He was confident, however, that his Government would not be “prepared to make any further concessions.” Public opinion in Ger¬ many would not understand such surrenders “without any equiva¬ lent.” For this reason he feared that if the Lusitania case was “pressed too much on my Government, the effect will be contrary to the one you desire.” 42 Count Bernstorff also wrote to Colonel House in the “most strict confidence” and enclosed copies of the correspondence that he had exchanged with Secretary Lansing. He ardently hoped that the Colonel, with his “usual kindness,” would find “some way” of saving the situation. If the German Government was “ready to do anything at all,” it was certainly not ready to act “so suddenly.” 43 The reaction of Colonel House to this plea from Bernstorff was quite contrary to the expectations of the Ambassador. On November 28 the Colonel recorded in his Diary the result of a conversation with Secretary Lansing: — I tried to impress upon Lansing the necessity of the United States mak¬ ing it clear to the Allies that we considered their cause our cause, and that we had no intention of permitting a military autocracy to dominate the world, if our strength could prevent it. ... I pointed out that it was impossible to maintain cordial relations with Germany. . . . Lansing agreed to this and we discussed the best means of reaching an understand¬ ing.44 41 Secretary Lansing to Count Bernstorff, November 24, 1915, Lansing MS. 42 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, November 25, 1915, Carlton Savage op. cit., pp. 416-418. 43 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, November 25, 1915, House MS. 44 The Diary of Colonel House, November 28, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 100-101.

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The Colonel then talked over matters with the President in “much the same way” that he had talked with Secretary Lansing. The re¬ sponse from the Chief Executive was gratifying: “He feels that we should let the Allies know how our minds are running.” 45 The Colonel was to be the herald of this comforting news to the Allies; Secretary Lansing was to continue his policy of pressure upon Count BernstorfL On November 29 Mr. Rathom, whose Providence Journal was featuring sensational stories of alleged German intrigue, called at the Department of State to see Secretary Lansing. On the following day the Secretary had two conferences with Mr. Polk, the Counselor, on the popular theme of “German activities.” 46 He was getting in the proper frame of mind for an exchange of views with Count Bern¬ storff. On December 1 Secretary Lansing announced to the German Am¬ bassador during a formal interview that Captains von Papen and Boy-Ed were personae non gratae. He also threw out some general hints as to German-American relations. There was real danger that Congress would decide to take a hand in the settlement of GermanAmerican disputes, and such action might lead to grave difficulties. Count Bernstorff immediately sent a telegram to the Foreign Of¬ fice advising prompt action in the Lusitania case as a means of avoid¬ ing “unpleasant surprises.” If Congress should take an active interest in the conduct of American foreign relations it would be impossible to forecast the line of policy it would adopt with reference to existing disputes with Germany.47 A few days later Count Bernstorff sent another dispatch to the Foreign Office in which he emphasized the necessity of further nego¬ tiations concerning the Lusitania case. In the event that the German Government refused to grant any concessions in this matter he was certain that America would sever diplomatic relations and war would ensue. He believed that it was . . . out of the question to find a formula that will satisfy public opinion on both sides. It may, however, be possible to find a formula that will skim over the points of contention, as was done in the Arabic case.48 48 Ibid., p. 102. 46 Lansing Diary, November 29, 30, 1915, Lansing MS. 47 Count Bernstorff to German Foreign Office, December 2, 1915, Count Bern¬ storff, My Three Years in America, pp. 215-216. 48 Count Bernstorff to the German Foreign Office, December 7, 1915, Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 216-217.

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While Count BernstorfF was sending this dispatch to the Foreign Office, President Wilson was delivering his annual message to Con¬ gress (December 7, 1915). In one pungent paragraph he referred to the German bomb plots and made a vitriolic attack upon GermanAmericans who were supposed to have participated in them. He was extremely . . . sorry to say that the gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, . . . who have poured the poison of dis¬ loyalty into the very arteries of our national life. . . . They are not many, but they are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them at once.4” But it was not only the German-Americans who were giving the President deep concern. On the morning of December 15 Colonel House and Secretary Lansing were called to the White House to discuss the international situation. At the suggestion of the Colonel, President Wilson read to Secretary Lansing a dispatch recently re¬ ceived from Ambassador Gerard. Its contents were alarming. Dur¬ ing the course of a conversation with the American Ambassador the Kaiser uttered a threat against the United States that could not be ignored: “He would attend to America when this war was over.” 50 It is doubtful whether the Emperor ever talked such silly nonsense to Ambassador Gerard, but Secretary Lansing had long been con¬ vinced that the German Government was hostile to the United States and only awaited a favorable opportunity to attack. This dislike of Germany prompted him once more to press Count BernstorfF for an early settlement of the Lusitania case. The German Ambassador was visiting New York City, and as soon as he received Secretary Lan¬ sing’s letter he telegraphed a reply that it was not his “fault if the events of the last weeks postponed a solution of the older question.” He was, however, sending a “wireless to Berlin.” 51 A few days later Count BernstorfF advised Secretary Lansing that the German Government had informed him that they were sending 49 Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. XVI, pp. 8113-8114. The Germanlanguage press in the United States bitterly resented this attack upon “hyphenatedAmericans,” and denied that there was any truth in the President’s charges. See Carl Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, pp. 42-44. 50 The Diary of Colonel House, December 15, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 103. 61 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, December 16, 1915, Lansing MS.

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by mail some instructions that would cover the Lusitania case. The Secretary of State immediately expressed his regret that these in¬ structions had not been telegraphed instead of mailed. He thought it possible that the “time occupied in transit by the mails may seriously affect the negotiation.” In America public opinion was daily growing more bitter because of the protracted delay in the settlement of this case. Such a state of affairs could not continue much longer “without the gravest consequences.” 52 This program of pressure upon Count Bernstorff was sharply challenged on December 21 when Senator Stone called to see Secre¬ tary Lansing. The Senator expressed the opinion that the American Government was “bearing too strongly upon the Teutonic Allies” and was not “pressing” Great Britain as strongly as it should. Secre¬ tary Lansing then produced his stock argument which he used con¬ stantly with the German Ambassador. The loss of life resulting from submarine warfare required “more drastic treatment than loss of property” : the right to life was an inherent right, the right to property merely a legal right. This Lansing formula had been used with great effect upon the German Ambassador, whose answers were disdainfully brushed aside by the Secretary of State. With Senator Stone the formula was not so effective. He immediately countered with the statement that Ger¬ man babies were “dying because Great Britain would not allow us to send them condensed milk.” Secretary Lansing was not prepared for this sally, which he confessed to the President “disturbed” him. Such an attitude on the part of the Chairman of the Senate Com¬ mittee on Foreign Relations was a “serious matter,” for it indicated that he would not support the policies of the Administration “whole¬ heartedly or enthusiastically.” With Senator Lodge, radically proAlly, at the head of the minority of the Senate Committee, there was danger of political complications. To Secretary Lansing the situation was so alarming that he in¬ truded upon the privacy of the President’s second honeymoon and sent him a short note setting forth the gist of his conversation with Senator Stone.53 Three days later the President sent a brief reply: — 82 Secretary Lansing to Count Bernstorff, December 20, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 423-424. 83 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, December 21, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 425-426.

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This is not a little disturbing. ... I shall have a talk with the Senator at the earliest possible moment after my return.84 It was a bad season for honeymoons, and to Secretary Lansing’s way of thinking, there was a strong likelihood that Mars would soon overshadow Venus. In this pessimistic mood he again wrote to the President and pointed out the close proximity of war. In the event that the Austro-Hungarian Government refused to meet the Amer¬ ican demands relative to the settlement of the Ancona case, it might be necessary to sever diplomatic relations with that country. Under conditions then existing this severance of relations would probably result in war. Inasmuch as Congress was the war-making power, any Presidential policy that precipitated the outbreak of war might be severely avoided by the Ancona government be the wise

criticized in legislative circles. This criticism could be sending to Congress the diplomatic correspondence in case and thus place upon the legislative branch of the the responsibility for further action. Such a course might one to pursue, for even Secretary Lansing himself felt

some qualms about any undue extension of Presidential powers.55 But President Wilson was too keen a student of history and politics to have any fear that he might exceed the powers entrusted to him by the Constitution. He was quite surprised that Secretary Lansing should suddenly feel that a severance of relations with AustriaHungary would inevitably mean war. He did not agree with this viewpoint, and he did not think it wise “in any case to lay the matter publicly before Congress.” He might, of course, consult with “the leaders on the hill,” for there were “some wise and experienced men on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.” With respect to the diplomatic situation he felt that it was incumbent upon the Adminis¬ tration to continue to give careful consideration to the explanations of the Austro-Hungarian Government until “all the world is con¬ vinced that rock bottom has been reached.” 56 This refusal to be stampeded into a hasty decision on the Ancona case was justified when the Austrian Foreign Office on December 29 sent a note to Ambassador Penfield complying with the American 54 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, December 24, 1915, Lansing MS. 05 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, December 28, 1915, Carlton Savage op. cit., pp. 426-427. 56 President Wilson to the Secretary of State, December 29, 1915, Carlton Savage op. cit., pp. 427-428.

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demands.57 Instead of waiting, however, until he had heard from Vienna with regard to the sinking of the Ancona, Secretary Lansing sent a personal note to Count Bernstorff which was couched in words of menace that had grown familiar : — The Lusitania case is causing me anxiety because of the continued sus¬ pension of the negotiations. I am loath to make a formal representation to your Government on the subject, as it might cause you embarrassment, but I feel that the time is very near when I shall have to do so.58 Fortunately for Count Bernstorff the German Foreign Office now sent instructions to Washington covering the Lusitania case. On December 31 the Ambassador had an interview with Secretary Lan¬ sing on the basis of these instructions from Berlin. The German Government merely offered to submit to arbitration the question whether, and to what extent, she should pay an indemnity for the death of Americans “caused by the sinking of the Lusitania.” The judgment of the court was not to be taken as “deciding the question whether or not the German submarine war is justified according to international law.” Secretary Lansing made no attempt to conceal his disappointment at these instructions. He had already discussed the “illegality” of Germany’s retaliatory measures, which operated to the serious dis¬ advantage of neutral countries. As far as the “legal point of view was concerned” he could not see that there was “anything to arbitrate.” He then called to the attention of Count Bernstorff the last paragraph in the reply of the German Government in the Frye case (November 29) in which it was specifically stated that “persons on board a vessel about to be sunk should be placed in safety.” The German Ambas¬ sador seemed unacquainted with this admission and inquired : “Have they gone as far as that ?” Secretary Lansing assured him that they had, and that their language applied ... as well to belligerent merchant ships as to neutral merchant ships engaged in contraband trade because the only legal ground for sinking a neutral vessel would be its temporary belligerent character. After hearing this interpretation of the Frye note of November 29, Count Bernstorff expressed the hope that an agreement could be 57 Ambassador Penfield to Secretary Lansing, December 29, 1915 (received De¬ cember 30, 3:50 p. m.), For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 655-658. 68 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Bernstorff, December 29, 1915, Lansing Mi>.

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reached along those lines.59 On January 7 he called at the Department of State and handed to Secretary Lansing two memoranda from the Foreign Office. The first one dealt with submarine warfare and it contained the clause upon which Secretary Lansing had insisted: — German submarines are . . . permitted to destroy enemy merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, i.e., passenger as well as freight ships as far as they do not try to escape or offer resistance, only after passengers and crews have been accorded safety.60 The second memorandum referred to submarine warfare and the Lusitania case. It contained a defense of the practice of retaliation against the illegal acts of enemy powers, and it rejected the American viewpoint that such retaliation should not in any serious way affect the rights of neutral nations. It did, however, indicate a willingness to make concessions in order to preserve amity with the United States. As an evidence of this good will the Imperial Government expressed its “deep regret at the death of American citizens caused by the sink¬ ing of the Lusitania,” and it declared its readiness to pay an indemnity for the losses thereby inflicted.61 This attempt by the German Government to arrange a compromise in the Lusitania dispute was not regarded with favor by Secretary Lansing. In a letter to President Wilson he pointed out that this German memorandum lacked any recognition of liability for the destruction of American lives and property on the Lusitania. The proposed indemnity was to be paid only to insure a continuance of friendly relations with the United States. In the event, however, that the agreement to pay an indemnity could be construed into a “recogni¬ tion of liability it would seem as if a final settlement of the case was very near.” 62 The President himself, try as he would, could not accept the second German memorandum as satisfactory. Although the German Gov¬ ernment was now willing to pay an indemnity for American losses on the Lusitania, without any recourse to arbitration, such a conces¬ sion was merely one “of grace, and not at all of right.” He thought it was essential that the German Foreign Office should be ready to 59 “Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador, December 31, 1915,” Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 428-430. 60 Italics are the author’s. 61 “The German Embassy to the Department of State,” undated, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 437-438. 62 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, January 7, 1916, ibid., p. 436.

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recognize “very frankly the justice of the contentions of the United States with regard to the rights of American citizens and assume the responsibility which she . . . had incurred by the . . . ignoring of those rights.” 63 Before he received the President’s letter, Secretary Lansing had an interview with Count BernstorfF, who had just heard from Berlin. The memorandum which the German Foreign Office sent to Count Bernstorff referred to the illegal blockade that had been adopted by Great Britain. German submarine warfare had been resorted to as a means of retaliation against British illegality. Owing to American protests, Germany had modified her conduct of submarine warfare, and if neutral ships had been sunk by torpedoes, these incidents should be regarded as “regrettable mistakes for which due reparation has been made.” 64 There was little likelihood that this memorandum would be fa¬ vorably received by Secretary Lansing. He at once pointed out that, “in a strict sense,” retaliation was illegal conduct, and that the Ger¬ man Government should recognize that such a policy when applied to neutral countries necessarily implied a distinct liability. It was imperative that Germany should admit this liability because such an admission would “amount to a disavowal,” and a “disavowal in some form” was required by the American Government.66 To the President it appeared that the German Foreign Office was showing signs of yielding to American demands, and on January 12 he wrote to Colonel House that it looked as if “our several difficulties with Germany would be presently adjusted.” 66 This optimism was rudely dashed when Count Bernstorff (January 22) sent to Secre¬ tary Lansing two new memoranda from the German Foreign Office with regard to the Lusitania case. While the German Government was willing to express its deep regret that American lives had been lost as a result of the sinking of the Lusitania, and was also ready to pay an indemnity for these losses, it would not go so far as to admit liability and to disavow the action of the submarine commander.67 «3 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, January 10, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 438-439. . 64 “The German Foreign Office to the German Embassy at Washington, tend., p.

65 “Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador, January 10, 1916,’’ ibid., pp. 439-440. 66 President Wilson to Colonel House, January 12, 1916, Home MS. 67 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, January 22, 1916, enclosing two memoranda from the German Foreign Office, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 444—440*

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Secretary Lansing would not recede from the position he had con¬ sistently held from the beginning of the Lusitania dispute: the present offer of indemnity was merely “based on good will,” and was not a “matter of right.” He believed that there was no other course but to make a formal demand upon the German Government for admis¬ sion of illegal conduct by the submarine commander and of liability for the lives of citizens of the United States destroyed by the sink¬ ing of the vessel.” If Germany failed to comply with these American demands there was nothing else to do but send Bernstorff home or to announce that such action would be taken within a definite time unless full satisfaction was given.68 The President was not ready for immediate action with reference to a severance of diplomatic relations with Germany. He thought that it would not be “prudent to take any step towards a diplomatic break” until he had heard from Colonel House. The Colonel had requested him to “take no steps against Germany” until he had read a letter which should reach Washington (from London) by January 27.69 This feeling of the President that the time was not just ripe for a break in diplomatic relations was shared by Mr. Polk, the Counselor for the Department of State, who was more worried over British disregard for American rights. In a letter to Colonel House he ex¬ pressed the fear that “unless we are very careful we shall be lined up with Germany against the Allies, as the Allies are not showing that desire to keep us neutral that they should.” 70 Secretary Lansing, however, was determined to continue his pres¬ sure upon Count Bernstorff without waiting to hear from Colonel House. On January 25 he had a conversation with the German Ambas68 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, January 24, 1916, ibid., pp. 446-447. It is possible that Secretary Lansing’s attitude toward Germany may have been somewhat influenced by the following letter sent to him from Mr. Herbert French, Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, England, January 3, 1916: “I ask myself, all sane and mature men are asking themselves, is it possible that Mr. Wilson, your excellent President, & Mr. Lansing, can even remotely realize the abysmal con¬ tempt into which the American name is everywhere falling, owing to the continued inaction of your President’s foreign policy with regard to the ‘Central’ Powers? Hear what Henry James, who has at least a mind of some prescience (& who is an acquaintance of mine personally) said the other day, after hearing of the ‘Ancona’ incident: “ ‘What will the United States do? “ ‘They will turn another big ugly cheek to be slapped, I suppose.’ ” Lansing MS. 69 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, January 24, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 447. 70 Mr. Frank Polk to Colonel House, January 21, 1915, House MS.

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sador during the course of which he informed him that inasmuch as the German memoranda had not admitted liability for the loss of American lives on the Lusitania it was not acceptable to the American Government. When Count Bernstorff inquired what course the Presi¬ dent would follow in the event that Germany refused to accede to the American demands, Secretary Lansing promptly answered that diplomatic relations would at once be severed.71 Count Bernstorff had no means of knowing that Secretary Lansing was making threats without express authorization from the Presi¬ dent. Fearing that war was imminent, he returned to the Department of State the next morning, and together with Secretary Lansing, prepared a memorandum which was to be submitted to the German Government for acceptance. It was a complete surrender to the Ameri¬ can demands. There was a frank admission that a policy of retaliation is illegal “if applied to other than enemy subjects,” and it specifically recognized the “illegality” of the sinking of the Lusitania.72 But Count Bernstorff had little hope that his memorandum would be accepted by the Foreign Office, and on January 29 Ambassador Gerard telegraphed to Secretary Lansing that he had been informed by Undersecretary Zimmermann that the “Bernstorff proposition” would be rejected because of adverse public opinion in Germany.73 Ambassador Gerard then sent a second telegram which repeated a letter that Colonel House had just received from Undersecretary Zimmermann. Serious objections had been raised against the ad¬ mission in the Bernstorff memorandum that retaliation is illegal when it affects neutral rights, and a protest was made against the Bernstorff recognition of the “illegality” of the sinking of the Lusitania. If the American Government insisted upon the retention of this wording Undersecretary Zimmermann believed that a “break” between the two nations was “unavoidable.” 74 Before these dispatches from Gerard had been received at the De¬ partment of State, Secretary Lansing drafted another minatory mes71 “Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador, January 25, 1915,” Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 450-451. 72 “Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador, January 26, 1916,” ibid., pp. 4SI-45373 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, January 29, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., p. 153. 74 Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State, January 29, 1916, enclosing copy of letter from Undersecretary Zimmermann to Colonel House, January 29, 1916, ibid., p. 154.

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sage to Count Bernstorff. He demanded that the German Government declare the sinking of the Lusitania to have been illegal, admit liability for the Americans killed, agree to pay a just indemnity for these losses, and see to it that the submarine commander responsible for the destruction of the Lusitania be punished. In his War Memoirs he states that this note was never sent, because Germany came “part way in meeting our wishes.” 75 This may be true, but there is a possi¬ bility that Secretary Lansing withheld his threatening note after he had been informed of the contents of a letter from Colonel House to President Wilson (January 16). In this communication the Colonel stressed the importance of keeping on such terms with Germany “that our diplomatic relations may be maintained.” 76 The “part way” that Germany came to meet the wishes of the American Government was shown by a telegram from Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing. On the previous evening the Ambas¬ sador had been a dinner guest at the home of von Jagcw, who told him that Germany would admit “liability” for the sinking of the Lusitania but would reject the demand that the sinking was “il¬ legal.” 77 Several days later (February 5), Undersecretary Zimmermann gave a statement to the Associated Press in which he confirmed the viewpoint of Secretary von Jagow. The German Government was willing to do “everything in its power ... to meet American wishes, but there are limits beyond which even friendship snaps.” The Ger¬ man Government had regarded the submarine issue as settled when the United States suddenly “made its new demands which it is impossible for us to accept. ... You must not attempt to humiliate Ger¬ many.” 78 These intimations by von Jagow and Undersecretary Zimmermann as to the nature of the instructions sent to Count Bernstorff were shown to be correct when, on February 4, Count Bernstorff left a memorandum at the Department of State. This memorandum ad¬ mitted that while retaliatory acts were justifiable as against an enemy they should not “aim at other than enemy subjects.” In addition, the German Government expressed its profound regret at the loss of 76 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 154. 70 Colonel House to President Wilson, January 16, 1916, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 133. 77 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, February 1, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Sup pi., p. 156. 78 New York World, February 5, 1916.

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American lives through the sinking of the Lusitania, and in assuming liability therefore, it offered to pay a suitable indemnity.79 Although there was no mention in this German memorandum of the “illegality” of the sinking of the Lusitania, Secretary Lansing believed that it came “so near meeting all our demands” that he would have to study it with great care to ascertain if it could be considered “acceptable.” It might be possible for the American Government to phrase its acceptance in such a manner as to indicate that it re¬ garded the German Foreign Office as having made a “direct admission of wrong.” 80 While Ambassador Bernstorff was discussing with Secretary Lan¬ sing the phraseology of the German memorandum of February 4, Secretary von Jagow was destroying every possibility for such an accord. In a conversation with Ambassador Morgenthau, visiting in Berlin, he observed that Germany had . . . never agreed to give up their torpedoing vessels without notice, but had merely stated that orders had been given not to torpedo vessels with¬ out notice, and that Germany reserved the right to change these orders at any time.81 This statement was in the nature of a warning that the German Government would soon resume submarine warfare in a more ex¬ tended manner than had been practiced since the Arabic incident. A second step in this program for a renewal of submarine activity was the interview that Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg granted to Mr. Karl H. von Wiegand, of the New York World. The Chancellor de¬ clared that he was . . . willing to concede to America everything that Germany can concede within reason and fairness; within the principles of justice and honor. But I cannot concede a humiliation of Germany and the German people, or the wrenching of the submarine weapon from our hands, even to placate America.82 79 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, February 4, 1916, enclosing a mem¬ orandum from the German Embassy, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 455-456. 80 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, February 4, 1916, enclosing a mem¬ orandum from the German Embassy, Carlton Savage, op. at., pp. 455-45681 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, February 5, 1916, recounting a conversation of the previous day between Ambassador Morgenthau and Secretary von Jagow, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., p. 159. 82 Karl H. von Wiegand, New York World, February 9, 1916.

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These intimations of a resumption of unrestricted submarine war¬ fare did not disturb the even tenor of the ways of Count Bernstorff, who had a pleasant interview with Secretary Lansing on the after¬ noon of February 8. When certain changes in the German memo¬ randum were suggested to Count Bernstorff he agreed to get in touch with the Foreign Office at once, and he expressed the belief that they would be accepted. Although this optimism was not shared by Secre¬ tary Lansing, it did seem possible that the basis for an agreement had been laid. To newspaper men who interviewed him, Count Bernstorff was “all smiles.” According to the correspondent of the New York World he entered the office of the Secretary of State . . . smiling and left smiling. He obviously was happy. Count Bernstorff confirmed the information received from official sources to the effect that the two Governments are in agreement on all essentials and that any dan¬ ger of a break in friendly relations is past. “Everything is substantially all right, but it is not finished,” added von Bernstorff. ... It is under¬ stood that there will be no necessity for any further proposals by either side, and that Ambassador Bernstorff will notify his Government of the acceptance of its latest memorandum largely as a matter of official routine.83 This atmosphere of optimism in Washington was suddenly dis¬ pelled on February 11 when the Department of State received from Ambassador Gerard a copy of a memorandum from the German Foreign Office concerning the treatment soon to be accorded to armed merchant ships. These vessels were to be regarded as public ships of war which could be sunk without warning and without provision being made for the safety of the passengers and crews.84 Further irritation between the two nations was supplied by state¬ ments in the press by Undersecretary Zimmermann and by Secretary Lansing. On February 5, Zimmermann commented upon the “new” American demands which could not be complied with by the German Government. Two days later Secretary Lansing issued a counter¬ statement in which he expressed great doubt that Dr. Zimmermann “ever made such a statement because he must know it is utterly false.” On February 11 the American press published a second statement by Zimmermann, to the effect that the remarks attributed to him in the 88 New York World, February 9, 1916. 84 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, February 10, 1916 (received Feb¬ ruary 11, 10 p. M.), For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 163-166.

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newspapers of February 5 were correct and had been approved by him before they were cabled to America.85 The question of the ve¬ racity either of Undersecretary Zimmermann or of Secretary Lansing was thus directly raised. This controversy as to the exact nature of the American demands attracted additional attention when Secretary Lansing took issue with the remarks ascribed to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg in an inter¬ view on February 8. The Chancellor claimed that the American de¬ mands were so onerous that their acceptance would impose an “impossible humiliation” upon Germany. On February 12, the American press published a statement by Secretary Lansing which denied that anything had been asked of Germany that was “not reasonable and fair, and with which a nation could not comply without doing violence to its honor and dignity.” This was followed by a state¬ ment from Senator Stone expressing the “confident belief that no officer connected with the Government of the United States has any wish or purpose to humiliate the German Government or the German people.” Representative Flood and Vice-President Marshall made similar comments.86 These friendly gestures made little impression upon the German Foreign Office, and on February 16 Count Bernstorff presented a memorandum to Secretary Lansing which was very similar to the one of February 4. There were no new concessions relative to a settle¬ ment on the Lusitania case. Once more it was admitted that retalia¬ tion, as practised by German submarine commanders, should not affect neutral nations but should be confined to “enemy subjects.” The pro¬ found regret of the German Government for the loss of American lives was again expressed, and a recognition of “liability” for this de¬ struction was clearly indicated. It was significant, however, that there was no mention of the “illegality” of the sinking of the Lusitania. There would be no retreat in this regard, and President Wilson would have to be satisfied with a compromise rather than a victory.87 Although Secretary Lansing was well aware of the fact that the German Government had not conceded the “illegality” of the sinking of the Lusitania, he was inclined to look favorably upon this German 85 New York World, February 11, 1916. 88 Ibid., February 12, 1916. 87 Ambassador Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, February 16, 1916, enclosing a copy of the memorandum from the German Foreign Office, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 458-459.

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memorandum of February 16. It seemed to him that “substantially” all the American suggestions had been accepted by the German Foreign Office. The main difficulty was the issuance of the declaration of February 8 relative to armed merchantmen. Because of this new stand taken by the German Government he could not see how the United States could “accept this answer as a settlement of the Lusitania case.” 88 The President’s pacific attitude towards Germany is revealed in his evident disappointment at this failure to find a solution for the Lusitania difficulty. If the German Government had not decided to make war upon armed merchant ships he would have felt that it was his “duty” to accept the German memorandum of February 16 as “satisfactory.” It was now necessary to “think the situation out afresh.” 89 There was little need, however, for any deep thought upon this question of discovering some formula that would solve the Lusitania dispute. The question of armed merchantmen was soon to take the center of the stage, and for the rest of the period of our neutrality the Lusitania case remained somewhere in the wings with no cue to bring it forward. Its last appearance was on February 17, during a conversation between Secretary Lansing and Count Bernstorff. The Secretary of State was speaking of the fatal effect of the German declaration of February 8 upon the settlement of the paramount ques¬ tion in German-American relations. This observation led Count Bern¬ storff to observe that he failed to see how this declaration relative to armed merchantmen could affect German assurances as to submarine warfare: these assurances had referred only to “liners.” Secretary Lansing was quick to reject this interpretation. To him it was obvious that the German assurances had not been limited “in any way, nor was anything said about vessels being armed or unarmed.” When Count Bernstorff finally inquired whether he could say to his Govern¬ ment that, aside from the declaration of February 8, the latest Ger¬ man memorandum was satisfactory, Secretary Lansing returned a cautious answer: “the German Foreign Office should be informed that their proposition was “acceptable” rather than “satisfactory.” 90 88 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, February 16, 1916, ibid., p. 459. 89 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, February 16, 1916, ibid., p. 460. 90 “Memorandum of the Secretary of State of a conversation with the German Ambassador (Bernstorff), February 17, 1916,” For. Rel., 1916, Sup pi., p. 172.

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After talking with Count Bernstorff, Secretary Lansing sent a telegram to Ambassador Gerard informing him of the situation: — Germany’s recent proclamation setting forth future conduct towards enemy merchant ships comes at a moment when we were about to con¬ clude a satisfactory settlement covering her past conduct. The decree has entirely upset the negotiations, with the result that the Lusitania case re¬ mains unsettled.91 The epilogue to the Lusitania case was written by Count Bernstorff himself in answer to a letter from Andrew Carnegie. The leading advocate for world peace was frankly worried about the implications of the Lusitania dispute, and he wrote to the German Ambassador to voice his apprehensions : — I cannot but strongly feel that President Wilson has not been properly treated by Germany in its promises of a settlement in the Lusitania case. The Emperor is, I know, overwhelmed with many and pressing duties, yet I cannot rest without venturing to call his attention, through you, to the fact that Germany’s tardiness in complying with her promises to the United States is the cause of the recent stirring speech by our foremost statesman, Honorable Elihu Root. In common with other prominent lead¬ ers of opinion in this country, he feels that the Emperor’s representatives have been lax in their duty. ... It is my firm conviction that unless a speedy settlement of the negotiations between Germany and the United States is reached, a rupture of diplomatic relations is certain. ... I beg that you urge the Emperor to at once urge his country to meet the requests of the United States in the Lusitania negotiations. Well does the Emperor know that I am with him, heart and soul, in all that aims towards peace¬ ful ends.92 Count Bernstorff’s reply was a strong defense of the German position — a last word on a tangled topic: — 91 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Gerard, February 17, 1916, ibid.., p. 173. In a short account of the last stage of the Lusitania dispute in the New York World, February 18, 1916, there is the following paragraph relative to the attitude of Count Bernstorff: “When Count Bernstorff went to the State Department today (February 17) at the request of Secretary Lansing, he appeared to be jubilant in the belief that the President had accepted the Lusitania note presented yesterday, and that before night he could cable his Government that the submarine situation . . . was a thing of the past. When he left the department after a short talk with Mr. Lansing, he appeared to be extremely downcast. While he would not discuss the request made by this Government, it is understood that he fears Germany will not modify its orders.” 92 Andrew Carnegie to Count Bernstorff, February 21, 1916, Carnegie MS.

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With regard to the Lusitania case you seem to have been wrongly in¬ formed, as an agreement was reached on February 16th, in which Ger¬ many has practically met all the requests of the United States. I can¬ not discuss any of these questions with you in writing although I do not agree with you that President Wilson “has not been properly treated by Germany.” On the contrary I am firmly convinced that Germany — in¬ cluding her allies — is the only one of the belligerents who has paid atten¬ tion to the protests of the United States and the only one who has honestly tried to meet the American wishes.93 93 Count Bernstorff to Andrew Carnegie, February 29, 1916, ibid. The allusion of Mr. Carnegie to Elihu Root had reference to Mr. Root’s speech on February 15, 1916, in Carnegie Hall, New York City, in which a sharp attack was made upon the record of the Wilson Administration. See New York Times, February 16, 1916.

XV COLONEL HOUSE BLOCKS A PATH TO PEACE The most pressing problem that faced President Wilson and Secretary Lansing in the conduct of American foreign relations in 1915-1916 was the one dealing with the right of merchant ships to carry defensive armament. According to the ancient principles of in¬ ternational law this right was well established, but legal principles are subject to change even as the arts and weapons of war are modified to meet new situations. With the appearance of the submarine as an important factor in naval operations it was essential that some con¬ sideration be given to modes of warfare most conducive to submarine success. The British Admiralty was quick to recognize how seriously the German U-boats threatened to wrest the control of the seas from the British fleet. It was a new and thoroughly alarming threat. For centuries England had been safe from invasion because of a naval armament no European power could match. The far-flung British Empire had rested upon the secure basis of an unchallenged maritime supremacy, and a hundred years had elapsed since America had failed in her fight for a free sea. Was Germany about to carry to a successful conclusion the challenge thrown out by Yankee tars in naval combats that will always nestle in American memories ? It was not against British ships of war that the German submarine was such a potent threat. It was the British merchant marine that faced destruction, and any large losses that it sustained would check the flood of wealth that poured into England from all quarters of the globe. The balance between British success and German victory seemed so delicate that those who guided the destinies of the empire grew hysterical at the mere thought of any concession from neutral nations to the Central Powers. To question the right of merchant ships to carry defensive armament was regarded as the prelude to an attack upon British sea power, and both the Foreign Office and the Admiralty rallied to a spirited defense of the time-honored principles

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of international law. Any proposed change in the law of nations dur¬ ing the progress of the World War was looked upon with deep sus¬ picion : any suggested amendment that would restrict British rights upon the high seas was branded as a bit of German propaganda.1 This British viewpoint was not accepted by the Dutch Govern¬ ment, which in 1914 issued regulations that forbade armed merchant vessels to enter the harbors of the Netherlands. Such action led to an extended controversy with the British Government. The Dutch Gov¬ ernment was willing to recognize the right of a merchant vessel to carry defensive armament, but it was determined to preserve a strictly neutral status by refusing to permit such a vessel to come into Dutch ports. In order to test how far the Dutch Government would go in this matter of excluding armed merchant ships, the master of the British steamship, Princess Melita, decided to enter Dutch territorial waters 1 The practice of arming merchant vessels dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was not only admitted as a right but was imposed upon subjects by sovereigns as a duty. During the course of several centuries, however, this practice largely lapsed, due probably to the disappearance of piracy and the outlawry of privateer¬ ing by the Declaration of Paris (1856). But there were some publicists who pre¬ dicted a revival of this belligerent custom, and in 1881 Sir John Colomb, in a lecture delivered at the Royal United Service Institution, expressed the opinion that the “exigencies of maritime war will necessitate our arming not merely a careful selection of the best, but every ocean-going British steamer.” (Sir Archi¬ bald S. Hurd, The Merchant Navy, vol. II, p. 231.) In the United States Pro¬ fessor Freeman Snow, in his International Law (Washington, 1888), p. 83, made a similar prediction: “It may be reasonably expected in coming naval wars that steamers of the great mail lines will be armed so as to defend themselves from attack.” It is also true that in 1877 and in 1894 the Department of State recog¬ nized the right of American vessels engaged in trade to the South Sea Islands or to Hayti to carry armament. This was in accordance with American law, which did not prohibit armed vessels belonging to citizens of the United States from sailing from American ports; it only required the owners to give security that this arma¬ ment would not be used to commit hostilities against foreign powers at peace with the United States. (See J. B. Moore, Digest of International Law, Washington, 1906, vol. II, pp. 1070-1071.) The United States Naval War Code (1900), Article 10, page 3, provides: “The personnel of merchant vessels of any enemy, who in self defence and in protection of the vessel placed in their charge, resist an attack, are entitled, if captured, to the status of prisoners of war.” In 1913 Winston Churchill, First Lord of the British Admiralty, announced the policy of placing armament upon British merchant ships. This proposed action was attacked by Dr. Georg Schramm, legal adviser to the German Admiralty, and by Professor W. J. M. von Eysinga, of the University of Leyden. (See Sen. Doc. 332, 64th Cong., 1st sess., pp. 39ff.) It was defended by Prof. A. Pearce Higgins, “Defensively Armed Merchant Ships,” in Studies in International Law and Relations (Cambridge, 1928), pp. 239-295. See also, Sanford D. Cole, “Bellig¬ erent Merchantmen in Neutral Ports,” Trans, of the Grotius Society (London, 1918), vol. Ill, pp. 23ff.; Prof. Hugh L. Bellot, “The Right of a Belligerent Mer¬ chantman to Attack,” Trans, of the Grotius Society (1922), vol. VII, pp. 43-58; L. Oppenheim, International Law (London, 1926), 4th ed., pp. 318-321; Charles C. Hyde, International Law Chiefly as Interpreted and Applied by the United States (Boston, 1922), vol. II, pp. 465-476; Prof. Edwin Borchard and William L. Lage, Neutrality for the United States (New Haven, 1937), pp. 83-124.

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at the Hoek of Holland. He was promptly ordered out. Later he re¬ turned with the single gun in his armament dismounted, but this was not enough. Before he could enter the harbor he was compelled to cast the gun overboard.2 It was this sort of incident that led to a renewal of the discussion between the Department of State and the British Government relative to the complicated question of armed merchantmen. On September 12, Secretary Lansing wrote to the President and called his attention to the fact that the British merchant vessel Waimana had entered the harbor at Newport News with a 4.7 gun mounted as a defensive armament. The British Admiralty had been requested to direct the removal of this gun, but had refused to comply with such a request and had asserted that this small armament was permitted under the provisions of the circular of the Department ^of State (September 19, 1914).3 This circular of the Department of State had been issued before submarine warfare against mercantile marine had been developed to any high point of efficiency. It was true, wrote Secretary Lansing, that at the beginning of the World War there was little knowledge of the vulnerability of submarines to the fire of small guns mounted on merchant ships. In recent months, however, it was manifest that what was hitherto regarded as a defensive armament against surface ordinary destroyers could now be considered as an offensive arma¬ ment against so “small and unarmored a craft as a submarine.” The German Government had recently complained of attacks upon sub¬ marines by British passenger steamers, and Secretary Lansing in2 Professor Amry Vandenbosch, The Neutrality of the Netherlands During the World War (Grand Rapids, 1927), pp. 112-119. See also the American Journal of International Law, Suppl., vol. XII, pp. 196-242. 3 Upon the insistence of the American Government the British Admiralty finally consented to the removal of the gun from the Waimana, which sailed from New¬ port News, September 22, 1915, with the gun in the safekeeping of the American authorities. For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 850-851. Sir Archibald S. Hurd, The Merchant Navy, vol. II, p. 232, states that on Sep¬ tember 3, 1914, the British Government “decided to abandon running defensively armed merchant ships to United States ports, without in any way waiving the prin¬ ciple involved.” He then discusses the attitude of the Department of State towards armed merchant ships and comments upon the circular of September 19, 1914. In this connection he remarks: “A considerable number of vessels, under these regu¬ lations, cleared from New York with their guns mounted aft.” (See op. cit., p. 243.) Professor Edwin Borchard and William P. Lage, in their volume Neutrality for the United States, p. 96, assume that these British vessels kept clearing from New York after the circular of the Department of State, September 19, 1914. This seems hardly possible in view of the statement of Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, September 12, 1915: “Up to the present time the British Admiralty as a result of an informal understanding have kept guns off British merchant vessels entering American ports.” (Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 384.)

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dined towards the view that these offensive tactics made it difficult “to demand that a submarine shall give warning and so expose itself to the heavy guns carried by some of the British passenger vessels.” Because of these new developments, Secretary Lansing believed it was necessary to amend the circular of September 19, 1914, by declaring that . . . in view of the successful employment of submarines as commerce destroyers and the possibility of offensive operations against them by a merchant vessel carrying an armament regardless of the number, size or location of the guns composing it, this Government will hereafter treat as a ship of war any merchant vessel of belligerent nationality which enters an American port with any armament.4 President Wilson was prompt in expressing his approval of these suggested amendments to the circular of September 19, and he in¬ structed Secretary Lansing to go ahead and prepare the new “general regulation,” but not to “publish it or put it into effect until we see what we are going to be able to work out of this Arabic business.” 5 Secretary Lansing also had the support of the Neutrality Board, which turned in an opinion that was strongly opposed to granting concessions to armed merchantmen. The Board first adverted to an article by Professor A. Pearce Higgins in the American Journal of International Law (October, 1914), which proved definitively that merchant ships had a right to defensive armament. After this ad¬ mission the Board then considered the advisability of the practice of arming merchant ships : — A question that arises at once is: Does it add to the safety of neutral passengers or cargo? With respect to the former the answer must be in the negative. A ship that fights is less safe than one that runs away, or than one that surrenders without fighting if she have not the speed to run away successfully. An unarmed ship that received one or two shots will surrender unless she is rapidly distancing her pursuer; an armed ship, if she make any adequate use of her armament for the purpose of justifying it, will fight on until the fight is hopeless. The Board then expressed the opinion that the risk to the pas¬ sengers was greater if the ship were armed rather than unarmed: “It appears that there is no gain to neutral passengers or cargo in 4 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, September 12, 1915, Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 384. 8 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, September 13, 1915, ibid., p. 385.

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making passage in an armed belligerent merchant ship.” The question then arose as to whether neutral goods of an innocent nature would be prejudiced in a prize court of a captor if they had been a part of the cargo of an armed ship of the enemy? In answer to this query the Board stated that the decisions of the English and American courts held that carriage in an armed merchant ship did not taint innocent neutral goods. Certain German authorities, however, had a very different opinion, and it was not safe to say “that the fact of passage in an armed ship will not prejudice innocent neutral cargo in the prize courts.” In its conclusion the Board candidly confessed that the practice of arming merchant ships was a . . . very questionable one, bristling with possibilities of embarrassment and friction. Save only the possibility of military advantage to a belligerent, it has nothing to commend it and everything to condemn it. . . . Should the General Board [the General Board of the United States Navy] report that the supposed military advantages are illusory, the Joint State and Navy Neutrality Board recommends that the Government of the United States refer the entire question to the next Hague Conference for settle¬ ment, and in the meantime that it announce its intention to treat private armed belligerent vessels by the rules applicable to belligerent vessels of war, or to subject them to other special treatment.8 This opinion of the Neutrality Board, that the established practice of placing armament upon merchant ships had “nothing to commend it and everything to condemn it,” was uncompromising in its denunci¬ ation. It was a viewpoint fundamentally different from that held by British statesmen and naval experts. In a speech in the House of Commons (February 21, 1917), Winston Churchill explained the advantages to be derived from arming merchant ships: — The object of putting guns on a merchant ship is to compel the sub¬ marine to submerge. If a merchant ship has no guns, a submarine with a gun is able to destroy it at leisure by gun fire, and we must remember that on the surface submarines go nearly twice as fast as they do under the water. Therefore the object of putting guns on a merchant ship is to drive the submarine to abandon the use of the gun, to lose its surface speed, and to fall back on the much slower speed under water and the use of the tor* MS. Opinions of the Neutrality Board.

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pedo. The torpedo, compared with the gun, is a weapon of much more limited application.7 A week earlier Lord Curzon, in answer to a question from Lord Beresford, made some important statements concerning armed merchantmen. He emphasized the fact that armament upon merchant ships constituted such a menace to submarines that upon a large number of occasions armed merchantmen were able to beat off attacks that would have been successful upon unarmed merchant ships : — The noble Lord [Beresford] was correct when he pointed out that armed vessels are much less exposed to attack by submarines than un¬ armed vessels. The exact proportion of armed vessels that have escaped from submarine attack is three to one as compared with unarmed vessels.8 In the summer of 1915 this data was not available to British leaders, but they were none the less convinced that any impairment of the right to arm merchant ships would be a serious blow to British sea power. On September 12 Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to Colonel House in which he warmly protested against any curtailment af the right to arm merchant vessels,9 and Sir Horace Plunkett soon fol¬ lowed with another letter of the same tenor.10 Secretary Lansing was not deeply impressed with the British argu¬ ments in favor of placing armament upon merchant ships,11 and President Wilson was openly skeptical in this regard. In a letter to Colonel House he remarked that he had read the letters from Sir Horace Plunkett and Mr. Balfour with the “greatest interest,” but the matter of armed merchantmen was not ... so simple as Balfour would make it. It is hardly fair to ask sub¬ marine commanders to give warning by summons if, when they approach

7 Parliamentary 8 Parliamentary

Debates, Commons, 5th Series, vol. XC, cols. 1380-1381. Debates, Lords, 5th Series (February 13, 1917), vol. XXIV, col. 86. The following table, given in Sir Archibald S. Hurd, The Merchant Navy (London, 1929), vol. Ill, p. hi, is quite pertinent: Effects of Defensive Armament January i, 1916, to January 25, 1917 Sunk Escaped Total Attacked By torpedo By gunfire Defensively armed 62 12 236 310 Unarmed 30 205 67 302 9 A. J. Balfour to Colonel House, September 12, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 211-214. 10 Sir Horace Plunkett to Colonel House, September 17, 1915, House MS. 11 The Diary of Colonel House, October 2, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colo¬ nel House, vol. II, p. 73.

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as near as they must for that purpose they are fired upon, as Balfour would evidently have them fired upon. It is a question of many sides and is giving Lansing and me some perplexed moments.12 The news of the second “Baralong incident” gave considerable con¬ cern to Secretary Lansing, who instructed Ambassador Page to obtain “full and complete details” of the sinking of the German submarine by the British “mystery” ship. If some of the reports that had come to the Department of State with reference to this incident were true it might be incumbent upon the American Government to “change its lenient attitude towards the arming of merchant vessels for defensive purposes.” 13 Ambassador Page was unpleasantly surprised at this unexpected drift of Secretary Lansing towards the position taken by the Ger¬ man Government relative to armed merchantmen. The British For¬ eign Office would never consent to any compromise on this point, and Sir Edward Grey had expressed to the American Ambassador the hope “that the principle would not be questioned.” 14 In the case of the British ship Waimana, held temporarily at Norfolk because of its armament, it was finally decided by the British Admiralty that the gun could be removed “without prejudice to the principle involved.” 16 With matters in this unsettled state, the British Government was seriously worried about the final attitude Secretary Lansing would adopt towards armed merchantmen. Perhaps some information might be gleaned from persons close to Cabinet circles. For this reason Sir Horace Plunkett called upon Mr. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to ascertain his views upon the subject. Dur¬ ing the course of the conversation, Sir Horace stated that there was a question that he would like to ask Mr. Roosevelt ... as a private individual and as a frequent passenger across the At¬ lantic. I had heard that the United States had prohibited all arming of merchantmen. As the son of a sailor, with a nephew a commander in the Navy, and having many friends in the service, I had learned that no mat¬ ter what laws might be enacted submarines would continue to act very much as the German submarines had acted and that all the authorities 12 President Wilson to Colonel House, October 4, 1915, House MS. 13 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Page, October 18, 1915, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 576-S77_ _ .... , , , 14 Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, October 22, 1915, ibid., pp. 604-606. 15 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Page, October 18, 1915, ibid., p. 577.

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were agreed as to the necessity of allowing merchantmen, more especially those carrying passengers, to be equipped for defense. Mr. Roosevelt said that the . . . whole difficulty was to find some means of distinguishing between purely defensive armament and armament which might constitute con¬ verted cruisers. ... He said he believed . . . some satisfactory solu¬ tion could be found. A Captain Oliver in his Department had suggested that a limitation of the calibre of the one or two guns to be authorized, and the placing of these guns only in the stern of the ship should satisfy the requirements.16 It would seem that the views of Mr. Roosevelt were not in accord with those of Secretary Lansing, who clearly stated his attitude towards armed merchant ships in a note to the Italian Ambassador on December 31, 1915. The Ambassador had requested a copy of the circular of the Department of State of September 19, 1914, and Secretary Lansing sent it with an explanatory letter which indicated the change in the viewpoint of the Department of State: — Since this memorandum was drawn up the situation has been changed by the use of submarines as commerce destroyers, and for that reason this Government feels that these rules should be modified, as a small caliber gun on a merchant ship is just as effective for purposes of attack against the submarine as the large caliber gun. Therefore, the presence of any gun on a merchant ship of a belligerent nationality could well create pre¬ sumption that the armament was for offensive purposes.11 In a conversation with Mr. Colville A. Barclay, the Counselor of the British Embassy, Secretary Lansing expressed the view that a “merchant ship carrying a gun or guns would have to be considered and treated as a vessel of war if it entered our ports.” He also wrote to the President immediately after the turn of the New Year and once again stressed the advisability of amending in a fundamental way the circular of September 19, 1914. This amended circular should set forth ... the new conditions resulting from the successful employment of sub¬ marines in interrupting and destroying commercial vessels, the impossi¬ bility of a submarine’s communicating with an armed merchant ship with16 Sir Horace Plunkett to Arthur J. Balfour, December 11, 1915, House MS. 17 Secretary Lansing to the Italian Ambassador (Macchi di Cellere), December 31, 1915, For. Rel. 1916, Suppl., p. 749.

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out exposing itself to the gravest danger of being sunk by gunfire because of its weakness defensively, the unreasonableness of requiring a submarine to run the danger of being almost certainly destroyed by giving warning to a vessel carrying an armament, and that, therefore, merchant vessels should refrain from mounting guns large enough to sink a submarine.18 A few days later Secretary Lansing sent to the President a copy of a memorandum he had prepared on the subject of armed merchant¬ men. In his covering letter he stated that he could “appreciate the German point of view,” and that he could not see how the Entente Powers could “reasonably object” to the arrangement that he had outlined.19 The memorandum itself was merely a repetition of his recent arguments against armed merchantmen, and it ended with the following significant sentence : — A merchant vessel . . . carrying an armament should be treated by a belligerent or a neutral as an armed ship of the enemy and not possess the immunities attaching to private commercial vessels of belligerent na¬ tionality as now set forth in the rules of international law.20 As one reads this memorandum of January 7 it is obvious that Secretary Lansing had moved very far from the position he had taken in the circular of September 19, 1914. He could “appreciate the Ger¬ man point of view,” and was willing to give it active support. This advocacy of the German contention is quite puzzling when one reads in Secretary Lansing’s War Memoirs a memorandum which he wrote on January 9, 1916, to “crystallize” his thoughts on German-Ameri¬ can relations. It is filled with venom against Germany. He was certain that the . . . military oligarchy which rules Germany is a bitter enemy to de¬ mocracy in every form; that, if that oligarchy triumphs over the liberal 18 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, January 2, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 430-432. If merchant ships should “refrain from mounting guns large enough to sink a submarine” they would have to refrain from mounting any guns at all. This fact was familiar to Secretary Lansing and it was given wide currency by a “high ranking officer” in the American Navy in an interview in the New York World, February 17, 1916: “From the standpoint of the submarine, there is no room for doubt that an armed merchantman flying an enemy flag is a ship of war. Any gun, regardless of calibre, would be a menace to a frail submarine at close quarters. . . . A submarine is a submarine. Its shell is thin and extremely vulnerable. The army rifle can pierce fourteen inches of solid oak. A bullet from such an arm, fired at short range, easily could go through the shell of a submarine.” 19 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, January 7, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 434. 20 “Memorandum by the Secretary of State, January 7, 1916,” ibid., p. 435.

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governments of Great Britain and France, it will then turn upon us as its next obstacle to imperial rule over the world; and that it is safer and surer and wiser for us to be one of many enemies than to be in the future alone against a victorious Germany.21 Mr. Lansing explains to the readers of his Memoirs the reasons for the memorandum of January 7, which adopted the German view¬ point relative to armed merchantmen. He was playing a subtle game. American public opinion was still hopelessly divided as to the merits of the struggle between the Allied Governments and the Central Powers. It was necessary to guide this opinion into the proper chan¬ nels, and this would require Mr. Lansing’s master touch. The Ad¬ ministration should continue for a while longer its pretense of neu¬ trality in order to convince a dubious public that “everything had been done to avoid war.” This apparent impartiality, and Germany’s un¬ appreciative attitude towards it, would finally awaken a “public de¬ mand” for American intervention on the side of the Allies. In his War Memoirs Mr. Lansing assigns to himself a task fit for a Talleyrand, and one wonders if this dual role he was supposed to play was not a mere afterthought which he invented to impress posterity. It would require consummate art to appear before the American public as a sincere advocate of the German viewpoint relative to armed merchantmen and then anxiously await some German mistake that would arouse American enmity and thus permit one to assume the hostile role so immediate to one’s heart. Such a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance would require the co-operation of President Wil¬ son, and the Chief Executive would never stoop to such low levels to gain an end. The President did not regard Secretary Lansing’s memorandum of January 7 as an empty gesture that would impose upon German credulity; he thought that it indicated a means of controlling submarine warfare, and he returned Secretary Lansing’s draft with the following notation written upon it: “This seems to me reasonable and thoroughly worth trying.” 22 His sincere belief that America was now advancing along the road to conciliation with Germany is attested by his letter to Colonel House in which he hope¬ fully remarked that it looked “as if our several difficulties with Ger¬ many would be presently adjusted.” 23 21 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 103. 22 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, January 10, 1916, Lansing MS. 23 President Wilson to Colonel House, January 12, 1916, House MS.

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Secretary Lansing endeavored to hasten this adjustment by send¬ ing to the President (January 17) the draft of a letter to the British Ambassador in connection with the issue of armed merchantmen.24 It simply repeated the arguments contained in the memoranda he had already laid before the President, and it received his immediate ap¬ proval : — This draft has my entire approval. I hope that you will send it to the governments you have indicated . . . and I most sincerely hope that they will feel that we are right in our argument.26 This eagerness on the part of the President to have the Allied Governments accept the arguments presented by Secretary Lansing clearly shows that on the eve of the House-Grey Agreement (Febru¬ ary 22 ) the Chief Executive still hoped for peace through negotiation rather than through intervention. With Colonel House away in Europe the President was for the moment free from the dark sug¬ gestions of a counselor who seldom failed to find indications of war in the political horoscope. If the Colonel had been in Washington in January, 1916, the note to the British Ambassador (January 18) with reference to armed merchantmen would never have been sent. This note of January 18 followed the line of successive memoranda that had in recent months received the approval of the President.26 It reviewed the prevailing practice of nations relative to maritime war¬ fare and then gave careful consideration to the new state of affairs ushered in by the development of submarines. Because of the fact that a submarine was particularly vulnerable to any gun fire when it came to the surface of the water it seemed to Secretary Lansing that “any armament ... on a merchant vessel would seem to have the character of an offensive armament.” Therefore, it would appear to be a reasonable and reciprocally just arrangement ... if it could be agreed by the opposing belligerents that submarines should be caused to adhere strictly to the rules of international law in the matter of stopping and searching merchant vessels . . . and removing the crews and passengers to places of safety before sinking the vessels 24 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, January 17, 1916, Sen. Rept. No. 944, pt. 5. 74th Cong., 2d sess., p. 37. . ..., 26 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, January 17, 1916, ibid., p. 3726 On the same day (January 18) similar notes were sent to the French and Russian Ambassadors and the Belgian Minister. On January 19 a note was sent to the Italian Ambassador, and on January 24 to the Japanese Ambassador.

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. . . and that merchant vessels of belligerent nationality should be pro¬ hibited and prevented from carrying any armament whatsoever.27 To such eminent American publicists as Professors Charles C. Hyde and Edwin Borchard this note of January 18 has always seemed both sound and unassailable from the viewpoint of international law.28 In this regard they merely expressed the opinion of a multitude of Americans. The New York American regarded it as beyond dis¬ pute that “an armed vessel is a war vessel”; the Washington Post thought that the arming of merchant vessels was “an absurdity which the United States cannot be expected to approve”; while the Brooklyn Times inclined towards the view that as “soon as the Central Powers gave guaranty that ships of peace would not be attacked under any circumstances, just so soon ceased the reason, and with it the justi¬ fication, for their arming.” 29 The reaction in England to the Lansing note of January 18 was instant and highly unfavorable. On January 25 Sir Edward Grey invited Ambassador Page to visit the Foreign Office for the purpose of talking over the subject of armed merchantmen. It was a depress¬ ing experience for Mr. Page. Sir Edward seemed “grave and disap¬ pointed” at this turn in affairs, and he spoke “as one speaks of a great calamity.” The Lansing proposal was “wholly in favor of the Germans theoretically and practically.” Sir Edward frankly admitted to Mr. Page that he would not dare to mention the Lansing letter in the House of Commons for fear of the “storm” that would immedi¬ ately develop. Ambassador Page was as highly alarmed as Sir Edward Grey over the situation. If the Department of State continued to press its pro¬ gram with regard to armed merchantmen it would arouse “intense 27 Secretary Lansing to the British Ambassador, January 18, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 146-148. 28 With regard to the attitude of Secretary Lansing as expressed in his letter to the British Ambassador (January 18, 1916), Professor C. C. Hyde remarks as follows: “It is believed that the Secretary of State sought to formulate no new principle of law, but rather to gain recognition of the inapplicability of an old rule to existing conditions of maritime warfare, which were at variance with the theory on which the rule was based, and that he endeavored to encourage a practice both in harmony with that theory and responsive to the requirements of justice. Nor did his proposal indicate the abandonment of any neutral right.” International Law Chiefly as Interpreted and Applied by the United States, vol. II, p. 467. In this same connection Professor Edwin Borchard made the following comment in The Nation, July 20, 1921, pp. 72-73: “This [the note of January 18] was the highwater mark of the American legal position.” For a similar comment see the same author’s recent volume (along with W. P. Lage), Neutrality for the United States (New Haven, 1937), pp. iodff. 29 Literary Digest, February 26, 1916, pp. 490-491.

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bitterness” in Allied circles against the United States. This feeling of hostility might well result in the placing of future orders for muni¬ tions in Canada rather than in America, and this would be a severe blow to the whole structure of American prosperity.30 Secretary Lansing was not frightened by this bogey of British economic retaliation against American insistence upon the disarming of belligerent merchant ships. Ambassador Page had cried “Wolf!” so many times that his excited warnings were no longer regarded seriously. In a letter to President Wilson (January 27) Secretary Lansing refers to this message from Page and then indicates his utter weariness at having to read these successive explosions from the Ambassador. He was . . . very considerably disturbed as to Mr. Page’s attitude on all subjects which in any way affect the policies of Great Britain. He certainly is in¬ fluenced very strongly by the atmosphere in which he is and I frequently doubt whether he urges the cases involving American rights with the force and vigor which he should as American Ambassador. With regard to the proposal of January 18, it was Secretary Lan¬ sing’s belief that Great Britain would be opposed to the arrangement as outlined. While it was not necessary for the American Govern¬ ment to act immediately, it was expedient to consider what course to adopt in connection with American citizens traveling on vessels carrying armament. He greatly doubted whether the Department of State could “insist that vessels so armed can be considered other than as auxiliary cruisers of the respective navies of the Allies.” 31 A few days later he sent a telegram of the same tenor to Colonel House. After referring to the fears voiced by Ambassador Page relative to the transfer of munitions orders to Canada, Secretary Lansing then expressed the view that his proposal of January 18 was 30 Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, January 25, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 151-152. With regard to this threatened economic pressure upon the United States by the Allied Powers in the event that the American Government took action against armed merchantmen entering American ports, the New York World, February 11, 1916, has the following pertinent paragraph: “It was said at one of the Embassies here [Washington] that if the United States, in face of the desperate need of ships to carry its products abroad, could afford to exclude from its ports allied merchantmen, because they are armed for defense, the Govern¬ ments owning them could afford to send in only enough unarmed ships to take out goods consigned to themselves. ... It was said at the Embassy that such action virtually would amount to a boycott of American ports.” 31 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, January 27, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 453-454-

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. . . fair and the only humane solution of submarine warfare. If mer¬ chant vessels are armed and guns are used to sink attacking submarines, as has been done and as merchant vessels are now instructed to do, then it is unreasonable to insist that submarines should risk coming to the sur¬ face to give warning.82 As this telegram to Colonel House clearly indicates, Secretary Lansing was holding fast to his opinion that armed merchantmen could not expect submarines to give them a warning before launching an attack. He had consistently held this viewpoint for some six months, and had received the support of both the President and the Neutrality Board. There were two factors, however, to which he had not given sufficient consideration, and they were now about to un¬ balance the whole equation. One was the influence of Colonel House, which would be decisive in molding the mind of President Wilson, and the other was the action taken by the German Government in connection with submarine warfare. This second factor would lead Secretary Lansing to reconsider his position, and would give him some excuse for yielding to Presidential pressure. It is this question of the revival of submarine warfare that will now be given extended consideration. After the entry of Bulgaria into the World War on the side of the Central Powers (October I4, 1915), some German naval officers like Admiral von Holtzendorff advocated a renewal of submarine war¬ fare without the restrictions that hampered its efficiency. Von Jagow was able to block any such move in the autumn of 1915, but the Admiralty did secure permission to issue, on November 21, an im¬ portant order to U-boat commanders with reference to military trans¬ ports plying between Dunkirk and Havre. This order provided that all . . . ships manifestly bound for or leaving the French ports between Dunkirk, inclusive, and Havre, inclusive, may be destroyed without warn¬ ing. An exception is to be made relative to hospital ships and passenger steamers connecting Folkestone and Boulogne. This order does not apply to ships flying neutral flags and showing neutral marks, unless a sub¬ stantial number of troops is seen on board.38 This secret order directing German submarine commanders to sink without warning the military transports sailing between Dun82 Secretary Lansing to Colonel House, February 3, 1916, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 215. 88 Order of November 21, 1915, MS. German Marine Archives.

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kirk and Havre was only the first step in the new German program to revive submarine warfare in an effective fashion. At the request of General von Falkenhayn a conference was held in the Ministry of War (December 30, 1915) to discuss the advisability of launching a submarine campaign in the early spring.34 During the early months of 1915, von Falkenhayn had supported the Chancellor and the For¬ eign Office in their efforts to restrict submarine operations in order to prevent a break with America. The situation was now very dif¬ ferent, and the General was strongly inclined to urge a vigorous Uboat offensive against the British merchant marine.35 In a conversa¬ tion with the Chancellor he remarked that he could not “understand why it was that we did not resume in all severity the U-boat war against England.” In response to an objection that such a course would make a break with America unavoidable, the General assured the Chancellor that “America was no longer in a position to do us injury.” 36 Admiral von Holtzendorff expressed himself in a similar vein. Since the early months of 1915 he had employed a large number of economists to study the effects of the World War upon the British Empire, and he was able to speak with some authority on the economic aspects of submarine warfare. He was convinced that a resumption of submarine warfare in the spring of 1916 “with all the means at our disposal and without limitation which will cripple its effectiveness at the very start,” would be attended with such success that English opposition would “come to an end within six months at the most.” 37 Both at this conference on December 30 and in a memorandum to Bethmann-Hollweg (February 13, 1916), Admiral von Tirpitz indi¬ cated that he was in hearty agreement with the views of General Falkenhayn and Admiral von Holtzendorff. There was a distinct possibility that a renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare would bring America into the war on behalf of the Allies, but American intervention should not be regarded as a serious consequence. From 34 Those who attended the conference included General von Falkenhayn, Gen¬ eral Wild von Hohenborn, the Minister of War, Admiral von Holtzendorff, Ad¬ miral von Tirpitz, and Vice-Admiral Koch. 38 Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. Ill, pp. 94-97Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War, pp. 234-237. 36 “Memorandum” by Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, January 4, 1916, Official German Documents Relating to the World War, vol. II, pp. 1116-1117. 37 Admiral Spindler, op. cit., vol. Ill, pp. 94-97; Admiral von Holtzendorff to Bethmann-Hollweg, January 7, 1916, Official German Documents etc., vol. II, pp. 1117-1121.

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the military point of view, the assistance that America could give to the Allies would be of negligible value.38 At the conclusion of this conference it was decided that there was no “military” objection to a renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare. Such a campaign would cause very serious damage to England and would make her glad to sue for peace before the close of 1916. The date for the commencement of the new operations was fixed at March i.30 This accord between the army and navy leaders was not shared by the Chancellor who still cherished doubts about a renewal of unre¬ stricted submarine warfare. During a conversation that he had with Admiral Holtzendorff (January 8) he expressed himself with vigor and clarity. He was not ready to consent to the program that had been approved by the conference of December 30 unless he was con¬ vinced that it was impossible through any other means to secure an honorable peace. He regarded submarine warfare as a last resort which would constitute such an affront to the entire world that unless it were successful it would mean the destruction of Germany.40 Admiral von Holtzendorff had better luck with the Emperor. In a report on the necessity for a renewal of submarine warfare he in¬ cluded copies of the instructions issued by the British Admiralty to the masters of armed merchant vessels. According to these confi¬ dential orders the masters of these armed merchantmen should never “tamely surrender,” but should either attempt to ram the submarine or should open fire “in self-defense” even though the U-boat “may not have committed a definite hostile act.” 41 After reading this report of Admiral von Holtzendorff it seemed apparent to the Emperor that armed merchant ships of the Allied Powers were no longer acting merely on the defensive but were attacking submarines before any hostile move was made. For this reason it was necessary to regard armed merchantmen as ships of war which could be sunk at sight. The Chancellor was taken by surprise by this sudden decision of the Emperor, and interposed no objection to the proposed action 88 Admiral Spindler, op. ext., vol. Ill, pp. 98-99; Admiral von Tirpitz to Bethmann-Hollweg, February 13, 1916, Official German Documents etc. vol II pp. 1122-1128. ’ 8» Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. Ill, p. 99. See also Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, My Memoirs, vol. II, pp. 172-173. 40 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. Ill, pp. 100-101. 41 These instructions were found on captured British merchant ships, and were published in For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 653-654, and in For. Rel., 1916, Sup pi., pp. 191-198.

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against armed merchant ships. The Foreign Office, however, called attention to the fact that a pledge had been given to the American Government not to sink any passenger boats without warning or without making provision for the safety of the passengers and crews.42 It should also be remembered that the negotiations for the settlement of the Lusitania dispute had just about reached a successful conclusion, and any renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare might seriously affect the progress that had been made in this regard. The Emperor gave careful consideration to these important politi¬ cal factors, but he finally decided to lend his support to the program that had been suggested by the military and naval leaders. On Febru¬ ary 8 the Foreign Office completed its memorandum on the subject of armed merchantmen, and two days later Ambassador Gerard tele¬ graphed it to the Department of State. After denouncing the practice of the British Government relative to placing armament upon mer¬ chant vessels for offensive operations, this memorandum then indi¬ cated the future policy of Germany in connection with such ships : — The German Government has no doubt that a merchantman assumes a warlike character by armament with guns, regardless of whether the guns are intended to serve for defense or attack. . . . It is . . . plain that the armed English merchantmen have official instructions to attack the Ger¬ man submarines treacherously wherever they come near them. ... In the circumstances set forth above, enemy merchantmen armed with guns no longer have any right to be considered as peaceable vessels of com¬ merce. Therefore the German naval forces will receive orders, within a short period, paying consideration to the interests of the neutrals, to treat such vessels as belligerents.43 On February 11 the following Imperial order was sent to the naval officers in charge of submarine operations : — Enemy merchant ships armed with cannon are to be considered as war ships and are to be destroyed by all available means. In this regard the commanders should keep in mind the fact that mistakes may lead to a rup¬ ture in the relations with neutral powers, and therefore the destruction of a merchant ship because of its armament should be undertaken only if the commander is certain of the existence of this armament. In view of the *2 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. Ill, pp. 115-116. This pledge had re¬ ferred only to passenger boats which did not offer resistance to capture. 43 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, February 10, 1916 (received Feb¬ ruary ii, 10 p. m.), For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 163-165.

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warning given to neutrals through diplomatic channels this order does not go into effect until the 29th of February.44 Secretary Lansing, of course, was not acquainted with the exact phraseology of this Imperial order of February 11, but he was familiar with the text of the German memorandum dealing with armed merchantmen. It was not difficult to see that a new German submarine campaign was about to be launched. This fact alone would have given pause to any program that had the appearance of co¬ operation with Germany.45 But there was a more weighty reason why Secretary Lansing was ready to abandon a legal and logical policy that he had followed for many months in favor of a policy that was dictated from certain pro-Ally quarters. Once more the shadow of Colonel House fell across Secretary Lansing’s path to preferment. The first occasion had been in connection with the negotiations con¬ cerning the Declaration of London, when the Colonel brushed aside an instruction to Ambassador Page and substituted one drafted by himself and the British Ambassador. Now the Colonel was to issue orders for a second time to the Department of State, and Secretary Lansing was too fond of office to interpose the slightest objection to the wishes of the President’s confidential adviser.46 It is very likely, moreover, that the President would have paid scant heed to any counsel from Secretary Lansing if it had run counter to the desires of Colonel House. For many weeks the Colonel had been discussing the international situation with the leading states¬ men in Europe, and surely his perspective of world politics must be clearer than the hazy vision of a Secretary of State who seldom left Washington! With this idea in mind the President wrote to Colonel House on February 13 and confessed the extent of his dependence upon the advice of such a trusted counselor: — 44 Imperial Order of February 11, 1916, MS. German Marine Archives. 45 In his War Memoirs (pp. 108-109) Secretary Lansing discusses the astute manner in which the Berlin Foreign Office labored to give the impression that their declaration of February 8, relative to armed merchantmen, “would not have been issued except on the assumption that the [American] identical letters to the Ambassadors of the Allied Powers defined the future policy of the United States in dealing with armed merchant vessels. . . . Though unwarranted it was a plausi¬ ble assumption which . . . placed this government in a very awkward position.” 48 Colonel House was very appreciative of the yielding attitude which Secretary Lansing invariably showed when the Colonel wished to formulate American foreign policy. In a letter to Secretary Lansing (May 30, 1916), Colonel House is fulsome in his flattery: “I am sorry to hear that you are not well. . . . You have done great work, greater, I think, than any of your predecessors.” House MS.

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We are trying to be guided by what you think and shall await your full report upon your return home before taking any steps that might alter our opportunity, providing the sea operations of the Central Powers make it possible for us to maintain the status quo.47 The Colonel replied with a telegram to Secretary Lansing which could only be interpreted by the latter as a command. It was terse and forceful: — There are so many other issues involved in the controversy concerning armed merchantmen that I sincerely hope you will be able to hold it in abeyance until I return. I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of this.48 The President instantly perceived in this telegram to Secretary Lansing the implication that the German Government was a wicked one whose word could not be trusted. Perhaps the German leaders were playing a double game and were seeking to enlist the support of America to aid some sinister purpose. The suspicions of the Chief Executive were at once aroused, and his telegram to Colonel House (February 16) revealed his close accord with the viewpoint of the Colonel: — Germany is seeking to find an excuse to throw off all restraints in under-sea warfare. If she is permitted to assume that English steamers are armed, she will have found the excuse.49 In the face of this intimate co-operation between the President and Colonel House, it was apparent to Secretary Lansing that he would have to hurry and devise a “strategic retreat” from the position he had taken in his proposal of January 18 with respect to armed merchant¬ men. In a circular telegram (February 16) to “Diplomatic Officers in European Countries,” he clearly showed that this retreat was already in motion. As a cover to this withdrawal he still declared that the American Government was impressed with the reasonableness of the argument that a merchant vessel is . . . presumptively armed for offensive purposes if it carries in these days an armament which makes it superior offensively to the submarine. . . . It feels that the present rule of international law permitting bel¬ ligerent merchant vessels to arm ought to be changed. 47 President Wilson to Colonel House, February 13, 1916, House MS. *8 Colonel House to Secretary Lansing, February 14, 1916, ibid. 4» President Wilson to Colonel House, February 16, 1916, ibid.

428

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After this little concession to the position he had maintained for so many months, Secretary Lansing then indicated that his rapid movement to the rear had taken him all the way to the Allied camp. The Government of the United States did not feel that . . . during the war it can change or disregard the established rule [con¬ cerning armed merchantmen] without the consent of the contending belligerents. ... If the Entente Powers reject it [the Lansing proposal of January 18] the Government will, of course, feel compelled to cease its efforts to have the modus vivendi accepted and will rely upon the present established rule of international law that merchant ships are entitled to armament for defensive purposes only. In his conclusion Secretary Lansing revealed a distinct facility in the use of Allied ammunition. He vehemently anounced that . . . there was no present intention to warn Americans to refrain from traveling on belligerent merchantmen armed with guns solely for the pur¬ pose of defense; ... If Americans should lose their lives in attack by submarines without warning upon merchantmen so armed, it will be necessary to regard the offense as a breach of international law.60 It is apparent that this last paragraph in the circular telegram of February 16 reflected the Allied rather than the American point of view. Secretary Lansing was too good a lawyer not to see the fallacy in this argument. There was no rule of international law that protected an armed merchant ship from being sunk at sight by a submarine. For a hundred years American jurists had recognized the belligerent character of an armed merchant ship, and in the famous Nereide case, Chief Justice John Marshall had frankly stated the opinion of the Supreme Court. With reference to the status of the Nereide, the Chief Justice remarked: — She does not rove the ocean hurling the thunders of war while sheltered by the olive branch of peace. She is not composed in part of the neutral character of Mr. Pinto, and in part of the hostile character of her owner. She is an open and declared belligerent; claiming all the rights, and sub¬ ject to all the dangers of the belligerent character.61 If Americans insisted upon sailing upon armed merchantmen they were in serious danger of losing their lives through submarine attacks 60 For. Rel., 1916, SuppL, p. 170. r,M 9 Cranch 388, 430. Edwin Borchard and William P. Lage, Neutrality tor the United States, pp. 111-112, H9ff.

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without warning, and, unlike the attacks upon unarmed merchant vessels, this type of submarine warfare was entirely legal. The Ger¬ man Government in its declaration of February 8 (which simply ex¬ pressed the ideas in Secretary Lansing’s proposal of January 18) was standing on firm ground, and if it had not been for the untimely intervention of Colonel House the Department of State could have followed the example of Holland by refusing to admit armed mer¬ chantmen into American harbors. Such action would have compelled the disarmament of British merchant ships and would have led to a friendly understanding between the United States and Germany relative to the conduct of submarine warfare. It would have removed the only serious cause of friction in German-American relations. America’s entry into the World War may be traced in part to this failure of the President to follow a course dictated by American rather than Allied interests. It is largely due to Colonel House that such a tragic and fateful decision was made.

XVI AMERICA SEEKS WORLD PEACE IN TERMS OF ALLIED SUCCESS The World War came at a time when the President and his most intimate advisers were dreaming of a new world order in which righteousness should prevail through American leadership. In his inaugural address President Wilson had alluded to a government that could be “put at the service of humanity,” 1 and some months later he earnestly maintained that it was the obligation of strong nations to establish the “standards of righteousness and humanity.” 2 The American flag should no longer be regarded as merely the symbol of America — it was a banner that belonged to all humanity.3 The old political pattern of international selfishness was about to be super¬ seded by a new and beneficent design of American inspiration. Secretary Bryan was an early convert to the belief that American idealism would usher in a new era of world understanding and inter¬ national peace. He was confident that the United States would become the “supreme moral factor in the world’s progress and the accepted arbiter of the world’s disputes” 4 Walter Hines Page was equally en¬ thusiastic about the possibilities of American assistance in a program of world betterment, and he yearned to have President Wilson and King George V stand “side by side” so that an admiring world could get a clear vision of true virtue personified.5 Colonel House was quick to recognize the importance of influencing world opinion by ap¬ propriate pictures. On June 17, 1914 he naively suggested to Sir Edward Grey that “the Kaiser, he, and I meet at Kiel” for the purpose of clearing away all the misunderstandings that had long darkened the path to Anglo-German amity. Before the startled eyes of Old Europe this new triumvirate could move with impressive majesty to 1 March 4, 1913, The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. Ill, p. 4. 2 Address at Gettysburg, July 4, 1913, ibid., p. 42. 3 Address at Philadelphia, July 4, 1914, ibid., p. 147. 4 The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan, p. 501. 8 The Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. I, p. 275.

AMERICA SEEKS WORLD PEACE

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decisions that would reshape world history along more intelligent lines. But Sir Edward was unwilling to pose for such a picture, and Colonel House mournfully recorded in his Diary that this absorbing subject was “not gone into further.” 6 It is unfortunate that this obvious willingness on the part of Ameri¬ can statesmen to dedicate their services to the cause of humanity was not given an adequate opportunity for expression. Had they been less amateur in their outlook, and more experienced in the ways of European diplomacy, perhaps something significant could have been accomplished with reference to preventing the World War. As early as July 28 Ambassador Herrick, at Paris, realized that a crisis had been reached in Europe. It was quite possible that a . . . strong plea for delay and moderation from the President of the United States would meet with the respect and approval of Europe.7 This telegram from Herrick suggests to each student of the critical “Twelve Days” that preceded the outbreak of the World War one of the great “might have beens” of all history. Was this a glorious opportunity that President Wilson overlooked ? Could America have mediated successfully at this moment and pointed out some path to peace that the nations of Europe could have followed rather than to plunge recklessly down the dread road to war? This is a question than can never be answered, but one cannot help regretting that the President did not take the matter into his own hands and make an impassioned plea for peace. On this same day (July 28) Bethmann-Hollweg was strongly pushing the Emperor’s well-known “pledge plan” which advocated a temporary military occupation of Serbia until certain promises made to Austria-Hungary were carried out.8 It is certain that the German Government did not want war, and a vigorous American note advo¬ cating a peaceful settlement of the Austro-Serb dispute might have given pause to Berchtold’s belligerent plans. As it was, Secretary Bryan merely sent to Ambassador Page (in London) an inquiry as to 6 The Diary of Colonel House, June 17, 1914, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 260. 7 Ambassador Herrick to Secretary Bryan, July 28, 1914 (received July 28, 7:30 p. m.), For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 18-19. 8 Sidney B. Fay, The Origins of the World War (N.Y. 1929), vol. II, pp. 420426; Bernadotte E. Schmitt, The Coming of the War (N.Y. 1930), vol. II, pp. 121133-

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whether American good offices would be “acceptable ... in the present crisis.” 9 Ambassador Page had already placed this very question before Sir Edward Grey who merely expressed his thanks.10 On July 31 Sir Edward again expressed his gratitude for the offer of American mediation but made no attempt to place it before France or Russia or to make use of it in any serious way to prevent war.11 It is apparent that he had little faith in the efficacy of these American overtures, and he bears a distinct responsibility for the cavalier manner in which he rejected a possible means of stemming the onrush of war. But Sir Edward Grey was not the only man prominent in the public eye of that day who strongly favored American inaction in this world crisis. If it had not been for the critical counsel that Colonel House kept pouring into the ears of President Wilson in August, 1914, it is very possible that Secretary Bryan might have found some formula to preserve peace. At this time it seemed to be the chief concern of the Colonel to defeat any attempt on the part of the Secretary of State to take an active part in a program that would ensure a pacific solution of the difficulties that threatened war in Europe. It was es¬ sential, thought the Colonel, to keep Secretary Bryan from making even the slightest gesture towards peace: “Please let me suggest [he wrote to the President] that you do not let Mr. Bryan make any overtures to any of the Powers involved. They look upon him as absolutely visionary, and it would lessen the weight of your influence if you desire to use it yourself later.” 12 From London Ambassador Page sent a telegram to the Secretary of State to express the view that there was not the “slightest chance” of American mediation being accepted by any of the European powers that were about to go to war.13 This was followed by a note from Colonel House to the President in which reference was made to the criticism that was being directed against the Administration for its failure to act promptly in favor of peace.14 Such a viewpoint was dis9 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Page, July 28, 1914 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 19. 10 Ambassador Page to Secretary Bryan, July 29, 1914, ibid., pp. 19-20. 11 Ambassador Page to Secretary Bryan, July 31, 1914, ibid., pp. 24-25. 12 Colonel House to President Wilson, August 1, 1914, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 279. 13 Ambassador Page to Secretary Bryan, August 3, 1914, For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., P- 3714 Colonel House to President Wilson, August 3, 1914, The Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. I, pp. 317-318.

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turbing to the President who had no wish to appear remiss in his duty to humanity. Anxious to know what course to pursue he telegraphed to the Colonel to inquire if he “could and should act now and if so how.” 15 After a consultation with Richard Olney, who is chiefly re¬ membered as a Secretary of State with belligerent proclivities, the Colonel replied that it would be “unwise” to make any attempt at mediation until the “proper moment” arrived.16 He followed this Delphic answer with a letter in which he once more warned the Presi¬ dent against any association with Secretary Bryan in a movement towards mediation.17 Before he received this counsel from Colonel House, the President had already decided to offer the “good offices” of the United States to the powers who were on the verge of hostilities. On August 4 a short note was sent to the American ambassadors at Berlin, London, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Vienna, advising them that the President would welcome any opportunity to act “in the interest of European peace.” 18 After taking this step in the direction of American mediation, the President then read the telegram from Colonel House advising against any tender of “good offices” until the “proper moment” had arrived. It gave him deep concern that he was not in accord with the Colonel’s wishes, and an explanation of his course was dispatched at once to his intimate adviser: — Events moved so fast yesterday that I came to the conclusion that if you had known what I knew as soon as I knew it, the advice of your tele¬ gram would probably have been different. At any rate, I took the risk and sent messages to the heads of the several countries. It can, at least, do no harm.19 The Colonel’s letter of August 5 gave the President additional discomfort, and he hastened to reply in a tone of frank apology : — I hope you do not disapprove my little attempt at mediation. . . . All I wanted to do was to let them know that I was at their service.20 It is apparent that the President at this time regarded Colonel House as a mentor whose advice was worthy of the utmost respect. It 16 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 4 1914, ibid., p. 3X816 Colonel House to President Wilson, August 5, 1914, ibid., pp. 318-319. 17 Colonel House to President Wilson, August 5, 1914, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 282-283. 18 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 42. 19 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 5> 1914> House MS. 20 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 6, 1914, ibid.

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was difficult for him to harbor any ideas that did not meet with the Colonel’s approval, and he decided that it was best to proceed slowly with reference to any further tender of American good offices to the belligerent powers. The replies of these powers to the American offer of August 4 were evasive and discouraging.21 On August 25 he wrote to Colonel House that there was nothing America could do or “even attempt.” 22 It was evident that the Colonel’s “proper moment” had not arrived. Secretary Bryan, however, thought very differently, and he was determined not to overlook any opportunity to put an end to the war that was devastating Europe. After the receipt of the note from the Czar which expressed the view that it was “premature to contemplate the possibility of peace,” Secretary Bryan wrote the following note to the President: — If you will examine the five answers received, you will be reminded of that passage in the Scriptures which says “that they all with one accord began to make excuses.” Each one declares he is opposed to war and is anxious to avoid it and then lays the blame upon someone else. . . . The fact that they all declare themselves against war and express regret that it has been gone into would seem to make it easier when a way opens to present the matter again. An appeal could then be reinforced by quota¬ tions from their replies.23 This note from Secretary Bryan was balanced by one the Presi¬ dent received from Ambassador Page, who emphasized the fact that in England there was a general expression of hope that . . . neither the American Government nor the public opinion of our country will look upon any suggestion for peace as a serious one which does not aim, first of all, at the absolute destruction of the German bu¬ reaucracy.24 This prescription of peace from the British viewpoint did not greatly impress the President. He was most eager to employ every effort to put a stop to the European conflict, and he welcomed a strange interlude which seemed to promise a definite hope that hos21 For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 48, 49-50, 60-61, 78-79. 22 President Wilson to Colonel House, August 25, 1914, R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters, vol. V, p. 65. 28 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, August 28, 1914, Bryan MS. 24 Ambassador Page to President Wilson, September 3, 1914, Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. I, p. 402. See also Ambassador Page to Secretary Bryan, September 3, 19x4, For. Rel,, 1914, Suppl., p. 87.

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tilities might be brought to a close. This interlude began on Saturday evening, September 5, at the home of Mr. James Speyer, an important German-American banker. Mr. Speyer had as dinner guests Mr. Frank A. Vanderlip, Count Bernstorff, and Mr. Oscar S. Straus. Mr. Straus had seen extended service as American Ambassador at Con¬ stantinople, and he was quite familiar with the practice of diplomacy. He was deeply interested, therefore, when Count Bernstorff spoke with fervor of the blessings of peace. Upon prompt inquiry from Mr. Straus, Count Bernstorff expressed the opinion that the German Government would be willing to accept American mediation.25 With all the ardor of a sincere pacifist, Mr. Straus left New York City that night, and on the following morning he had a long confer¬ ence with Secretary Bryan. With the President’s approval, Secretary Bryan requested Count Bernstorff to come to Washington immedi¬ ately, and he urged Mr. Straus to get in touch with the British and French Ambassadors in Washington. On September 7 a telegram was sent to Ambassador Gerard informing him of the situation,26 and the next day a similar telegram was sent to Ambassadors Page and Herrick.27 If the Administration had shown this same energy during the critical days between July 28 and August 3, something might have been accomplished with reference to preventing the outbreak of the World War. Now that the conflict had actually broken out there was little likelihood that the passions of war would permit any favorable reception of proposals for peace from a neutral nation like the United States. Moreover, repeated “leaks” from the Department of State to the American press further complicated the situation. On the very day that Secretary Bryan sent his instruction to Ambassadors Page and Herrick, there appeared in the Chicago Herald a long article by John C. O’Loughlin which gave a detailed account of the BryanStraus attempt at mediation.28 25 Secretary Bryan to Ambassadors Page and Herrick, September 8, 1914, For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 99. 26 Secretary Bryan to Ambassador Gerard, September 7, 1914, ibid., p. 98. 27 For this whole episode see Oscar S. Straus, Under Four Administrations (Boston, 1922), pp. 378ff.; Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 68-69; Burton J. Hendrick, The Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. I, pp. 402-410; and Stephen Gwynn, The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, vol. II, pp. 221-223. 28 In this article by J. C. O’Loughlin in the Chicago Herald, September 8, 1914, it is stated that Germany “desires to enter into negotiations for the termination of the great world conflict now raging. . . . Germany has everything to gain and nothing whatever to lose by her move. . . . Today is her opportunity, and Ger-

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This premature publication of the efforts Secretary Bryan was making to intervene on behalf of peace was a severe blow to the Ad¬ ministration’s program. Neither Ambassador Herrick nor Ambas¬ sador Page bothered to make any formal presentation of the instruc¬ tion of September 8. At an informal conference with Sir Edward Grey, Ambassador Page discussed the question of American media¬ tion and received no encouragement. He was reminded of the alleged fact that Germany had “deliberately planned and prepared for a war.” No peace could be concluded with the Central Powers unless militarism was completely destroyed and adequate reparation was made for ruined Belgium.29 Ambassador Herrick had such slight regard for the instruction of September 8 that he did not take the trouble even to have an informal conference with any of the officials of the French Foreign Office. He was confident that any proposal for mediation would be “refused by the Entente powers.” Moreover, it appeared to him that this peace move might well be a bit of German propaganda designed to enlist many has seized it. . . . Oscar Straus . . . came hurriedly to Washington during the day [September 7]. He saw Secretary of State Bryan. Mr. Bryan at once con¬ ferred with the President. Then the secretary summoned the various ambassadors to his home for private conferences. The German ambassador came hurriedly to Washington. He, too, saw the Secretary of State. Following the secretary’s inter¬ views with the ambassadors, Mr. Straus called upon the diplomats. At 4 o’clock this afternoon the German ambassador and Mr. Straus took the same train for New York.” Mr. Straus himself, in a letter to Secretary Bryan (September 8), endeavored to absolve himself from any responsibility for this leak to the newspapers. He assured the Secretary of State that the “confidences were securely kept by me, as I deemed it most important to keep firmly in mind your very wise caution. I hope you will assure the President that I am in no way responsible for this leakage. . . . I imagine the matter leaked out in this way: When I called on the British Am¬ bassador he had with him Mr. Cal O’Loughlin, who represents, and is part owner of the ‘Chicago Record-Herald.’ As I came into Spring Rice’s room O’Loughlin said: ‘There must be something big in the air,’ and both the Ambassador and I replied: ‘Oh, no, we are simply old friends.’ After I came to the train, and Bernstorff and I were seated together, and O’Loughlin came in in order to consult the Ambassador about a plan of his paper to send Christmas presents from the children here to the children in Europe, he again remarked: ‘There must be something big in the air if you two are together.’ The Ambassador, as well as I, made an evasive reply. How he obtained the information that he printed, I am unable to say unless he got it from some clerk in the Department, or from the British Ambassador, or whether he used his imagination and pieced things together. . . . Bemstorff and I talked all the way down. He seems to have considerable confidence that the prop¬ osition will be entertained by his Government, while Spring Rice and Jusserand seem to be very suspicious, and I think without just cause. Bernstorff whom I have known for many years, strikes me as being very frank and sincere in this matter.” Bryan MS. 29 Ambassador Page to Secretary Bryan, September 10, 1914, For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., pp. 100-101.

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the sympathies of pacifists in all countries for the stand Germany had taken.30 Mr. Straus, in New York City, was not familiar with all the dis¬ patches that came to the Department of State from its European representatives, and he continued to feel optimistic about the pos¬ sibilities of American mediation. On September 16 he wrote to Sec¬ retary Bryan to express his belief that the European powers would accept the good offices of the United States: — As time runs on I feel quite confident that the mediation proposal will not be cast aside, but will go through. Of course I understand we must first get the answer of the German Chancellor. I can not see how he can decline to express his willingness to entertain your proposition for media¬ tion. That being so, the Allies will not refuse to entertain them. After that it is a question of terms and conditions which, of course, will be subject to negotiation. I received yesterday a letter from Spring Rice, from which I wish to quote for your information. He says: “Grey told me that of course he was most anxious for peace, but Belgium which has suffered so fearfully must be the first consideration.” And then he adds: “I hope they will all operate as you are doing, for something that will put an end to all future war.” ... I trust you feel as hopeful about the ultimate acceptance of the proposition of mediation as I do. That done, the plans of course must be left to the process of negotiation between the belligerents, with such as¬ sistance as our Government I am sure will be glad to give.31 Mr. Straus, however, was due for a serious disappointment with regard to American mediation. Once more a newspaper “leak” helped to jeopardize these best laid plans for peace. On this occasion there appeared in the Chicago Herald (September 10) a paraphrase of a conversation between Sir Edward Grey and Ambassador Page. This conversation was reported to have taken place either on the evening of September 8, or on the morning of September 9. With reference to the statement alleged to have been made by Sir Edward Grey, the Herald commented as follows: — It shows that Great Britain will not be content with a peace which will be merely a truce: that as far as possible she proposes to end war through the conflict in progress. It shows finally that Great Britain is determined 30 Ambassador Herrick to Secretary Bryan, September 9, 1914, ibid., p. 101. 31 Oscar S. Straus to Secretary Bryan, September 16, 1914, Bryan MS.

438

AMERICA

GOES

TO

WAR

to stand by Belgium and to insist that Germany compensate that little na¬ tion for the terrible losses in life and property which she incurred in the defense of her neutrality. That the negotiations . . . will get very far is a matter of grave doubt.32 The unconciliatory tone adopted by Sir Edward Grey in this re¬ ported conversation with Ambassador Page made it impossible for Germany to accept American good offices. The outlook for mediation seemed hopeless. On September 16 the Department of State received the German reply. It expressed an attitude very similar to that taken by England and France. Germany had no wish for war: “It had been forced upon her.” It was now “up to the United States” to secure from the enemies of Germany new proposals for peace. These pro¬ posals would not be considered unless they gave promise of a “real and lasting peace.” Any present acceptance of America’s offer of mediation would be interpreted by Germany’s enemies as a “sign of weakness.” 33 Although this note from the German Government was a clear re¬ jection of American mediation, Count Bernstorff let it be known that Germany was still ready to make peace on “moderate terms.” In order that England should not be placed in a position where she seemed to balk at all moves toward peace, Sir Edward Grey now telegraphed to Spring Rice that the British Government was also ready to make peace if certain conditions were met. First of all it was essential that German militarism be completely destroyed, and it was also necessary that an indemnity be paid to Belgium so that the “vandalism” of the German army could be repaired.34 Although these terms of peace as outlined by Sir Edward were not 82 It is quite surprising how Mr. J. C. O’Loughlin, of the Chicago Herald, got hold of the news of this conference between Sir Edward Grey and Ambassador Page. Mr. O’Loughlin’s article was written on September 9. Ambassador Page’s own account of this informal conversation with Sir Edward Grey was not sent from London until September 10 (4 a. m.), and was received in Washington early that morning (September 10, 6:55 a. m). See For. Rel., 1911, Suppl., pp. 100-101. It is possible that the Department of State received an earlier telegram that was not published in Foreign Relations. 38 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Bryan, September 14, 1914 (received Sep¬ tember 16), For. Rel., 1914, Suppl., p. 104. Ambassador Page was frankly derisive of the Straus-Bryan peace movement. It seemed to him that “such men as Straus . . . may be able to let (by helping) the Germans appear to the Peace people as really desiring peace. Of course, what they want is to save their mutton. ... If we are so silly as to play into the hands of the German-Hearst publicity bureau, our chance for real usefulness will be thrown away.” Page to Colonel House, Sep¬ tember 10, 1914, Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. I, pp. 410-411. 34 Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Cecil Spring Rice, September 18, 1914, The Letters and Friendships of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, vol. II, p. 224.

AMERICA

SEEKS

WORLD

PEACE

439

likely to win German acceptance it did appear that further talk of peace might bring some results. Secretary Bryan continued to be hopeful of finding some pacific solution for the European difficulties, and in a letter to the President (September 19) he fervently urged him to make a new tender of American good offices. It would be eminently worth while for the President to address a note to all the belligerent powers reciting the horrors of war and pointing out that . . . all deny responsibility for the war and that all express a desire for peace; . . . that responsibility for a continuance of such a war is as un¬ desirable as responsibility for beginning it, and that such responsibility attaches to this nation as well as to participants. Because of this responsibility that rested upon the United States it was important for the President to appeal to the belligerents to meet and “exchange views as to the terms upon which permanent peace can be insured.” 35 As usual, it was Colonel House who sought to plant suspicion in the President’s mind concerning all the items of the Straus-Bryan peace plan. On the same day that Secretary Bryan wrote to the Presi¬ dent urging him to issue a plea to the belligerent nations to consider terms of peace, Colonel House telegraphed to the Chief Executive to advise him to do nothing: — From the beginning I have thought it was a mistake to push this peace movement too strongly at first. The publicity given to the BernstorffStraus conversations has not had a good effect. It is an exceedingly del¬ icate undertaking and any misstep may be fatal to your final influence.86 Colonel House, of course, wished to take over all peace negotiations himself, and the President wired back that he could see “no harm in your going on.” 37 On the basis of this Presidential permission the 35 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, September 19, 1914, The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan, pp. 388-392. 36 Colonel House to President Wilson, September 19, 1914, R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson; Life and Letters, vol. V, p. 286. Lord Bryce joined with Colonel House in putting pressure upon the President to induce him to refrain from offer¬ ing mediation to the belligerent powers. On September 24 Lord Bryce wrote to the President to assure him that “the wisest friends of peace on this side the Ocean think you were altogether right in not renewing at this moment your offer of mediation.’’ H. A. L. Fisher, Life of Lord Bryce (London, 1927), vol. II, p. 130. 37 President Wilson to Colonel House, September 19, 1914, ibid., p. 287. It is evident that Colonel House was bending every effort to discredit Secretary Bryan in order that he himself might conduct all peace negotiations. In his Diary, September 5, 1914, he records: “I am dining out to-night to meet Ambassador Dumba. I am laying plans to make myself persona grata to all the nations involved in this European war, so that my services may be utilized to advantage and with-

440

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Colonel began to build an elaborate edifice of diplomatic bargaining. On September 18 he had an interview with Count Bernstorff, who ap¬ peared willing to meet with Spring Rice for the purpose of discussing possible bases for peace.38 Without further ado the Colonel then telephoned to Spring Rice to come to New York at once. When the British Ambassador objected that he could not leave Washington, the Colonel merely held firm and Spring Rice caught the midnight train for New York. On September 20 the Colonel met Spring Rice at the railway station and whisked him off to the privacy of the Colonel’s library. In the heart-to-heart conversation that ensued the Colonel indicated how American good will towards the Allies would be seriously en¬ dangered if the impression prevailed that only the Central Powers were willing to discuss peace terms. He had talked with Bernstorff, who expressed the belief that the Emperor was not averse to an ac¬ ceptance of American mediation. The Colonel himself was of the opinion that if the “military party in Berlin receive a check, the Em¬ peror would be able to reassert his power and exercise his influence for peace.” In this event it was probable that Germany would be willing to agree to a disarmament program, and would grant “com¬ pensation to Belgium.” Although Colonel House was anxious to have Spring Rice agree to meet Bernstorff, the British Ambassador refused to do so because he regarded the Count as a “thoroughly unreliable” person. As a re¬ sult of this negative stand the Colonel was able to accomplish little beyond having Spring Rice send a cable to Sir Edward Grey in which a warning was given that it would be “dangerous” for England to “persist in non possumus attitude.” In England, Ambassador Page was far more excited over these attempts at peace than was Sir Edward Grey. His strong anti-German feeling made him look upon any effort to conciliate the Central Powers as something utterly foolish. Peace talk he regarded as “old women’s prattle or else it is insincere.” American pacifists were “mutton-headed victims of German special pleaders.” 39 out objection in the event a proper opportunity arrives.” The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 322. 38 Spring Rice to Sir Edward Grey, September 22, 1914, Stephen Gwynn, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 224-227; The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 326-330. 39 Ambassador Page to President Wilson, September 22, 1914, The Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, vol. Ill, pp. 145-147.

AMERICA

SEEKS WORLD

PEACE

441

The most important American pacifist at this time was Secretary Bryan, and Colonel House himself heartily agreed with Ambassador Page that the Secretary of State should be pushed aside in order that other counsels should prevail. The President, apparently, shared the Colonel’s suspicion of Secretary Bryan’s incapacity: — The President now wants me to keep in touch with the situation, and I do not think there is any danger of any one on the outside injecting him¬ self into it unless Mr. Bryan does something on his own initiative.40 But one could never count upon Secretary Bryan’s remaining quiet. His anxiety for world peace led him to visit New York on October 4 and speak in the Broadway Tabernacle. His theme was the duty of America to “use such influence as we may have to hasten the return of peace.” 41 It was imperative that the Administration make new efforts to bring the European war to a speedy close. Upon his return to Washington Secretary Bryan again exerted his full influence upon the President in favor of putting the United States at the head of a group of neutral nations that wished to restore world peace.42 It was a unique opportunity for American leadership, but President Wilson failed to grasp it. Instead he wrote to Secretary Bryan that he believed it would be better for “a single nation” to offer mediation “rather than several.” 43 As a result of this cautious attitude the peace movement received a serious set-back. But this did not mean that Secretary Bryan would cease to push his famous peace treaties, which provided that whenever a serious dispute broke out between signatory nations there would be a report by a committee of investigation before any resort to hostilities. On September 15 both Great Britain and France announced their ratification of this Bryan peace treaty, and on October 6 Spring Rice wrote to Secretary Bryan in praise of the project. It was possible . . . that some people at first spoke lightly of your idea. No one who has studied the diplomatic history of the events leading to the present disas¬ trous war can ever speak lightly of your idea again. For it is abundantly manifest that even one week’s enforced delay would probably have saved the peace of the world.44 40 Colonel House to Ambassador Page, October 3, 1914, ibid., vol. I, p. 413. 41 42 43 44

New York Times, October 5, 1914. Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, October 7, 1914, Bryan MS. President Wilson to Secretary Bryan, October 8, 1914, ibid. Spring Rice to Secretary Bryan, October 6, 1914, ibid.

442

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Greatly pleased with this success, Secretary Bryan wrote to An¬ drew Carnegie and requested him to urge the German Emperor to ratify the treaty that had been submitted to him many months before. Mr. Carnegie promised to do so, but was not hopeful as to the result: — The Emperor is not in Berlin at present, but I shall watch my chance and write him as you suggest. I believe he is today one of the saddest men living. Twenty-seven years of peace to his country tells the story. I shall not fail to give him our views. . . . But I take it that we must wait pa¬ tiently until we reach peace thru the exhaustion of one or the other par¬ ties. Then is the time to go with the healing bandages in our possession.45 Secretary Bryan was such an invincible optimist that he was still hopeful that Mr. Carnegie could accomplish something for peace if he would write to the German Emperor and point out that “the re¬ sponsibility for continuing a war is as grave as the responsibility for beginning it.” The acceptance of American mediation would . . . enable the world to locate the responsibility for continuing the war, for any nation that refused to accept peace upon reasonable terms would thus become responsible before the world for the continuation of the awful horrors of this conflict.46 Mr. Carnegie, however, had no success with the German Emperor, and no progress was made towards paving the way for mediation. Secretary Bryan had no better luck than Andrew Carnegie, and he was not even able to persuade the German Government to follow the example of France and England and ratify one of the Bryan peace treaties. The failure of the German Government to take favorable action on this peace treaty was one of the most serious mistakes com¬ mitted by German diplomacy during the World War. Its ratification would have meant that even after a breach in diplomatic relations between the two countries there could be no war until after the filing of a report by a committee of investigation. This procedure would consume many months, and would make possible a pacific adjustment of all disputes. It would have been impossible for America to go to war in April, 1917, if the German Government had given its adher¬ ence to such a treaty.47 45 Andrew Carnegie to Secretary Bryan, October 5, 1914, Carnegie MS 46 Secretary Bryan to Andrew Carnegie, October 7, 1914, ibid. 47 T.he Bryan peace treaty was first submitted to the German Ambassador in Washington on April 24, 1913. On June 5, 1913 Count Bernstorff sent the following

AMERICA SEEKS WORLD PEACE

443

But these repeated rebuffs to such sincere advocates of peace as Mr. Carnegie and Secretary Bryan were not serious enough to cause them to lose all hope of securing American mediation in the World War. Appeals kept pouring into the Department of State from neutral nations requesting American assistance in creating a league of neutral states that could work for a restoration of peace. Andrew Carnegie believed that such a league might accomplish a great deal, but his intimate friend, John Morley, thought that England was not ready to listen to reason : — You may be right in hoping for a day when a union of neutrals may

compel peace. It may prove so. But Gt. Britain today is deaf. No such storm of unreason has swept over it in my long life. . . . Bryce, for once, is not talking good sense.48 Despite this adverse opinion of John Morley, Carnegie continued to feel optimistic about possibilities for peace, and on November 23 he wrote to President Wilson that he would feel distinctly disap¬ pointed if American mediation “be not accepted by the Allies. Even the German Emperor . . . would not be unfavorable to you per¬ sonally.” 49 Secretary Bryan also refused to abandon hope of effecting peace through American good offices. In a long letter to President Wilson (December 1) he referred to the necessity for immediate mediation. America owed a duty to other neutral nations to do . . . everything in our power to bring the war to a close. They are suf¬ fering relatively more than we are and are less able than we to endure the hardships which, without their fault, have been thrown upon them. . . . We owe it to the belligerent nations, as a friend to all of them, to earnestly advise them to consider the peaceful settlement of their differences. . . . Mediation does not mean that any of the combatants shall accept terms that are unsatisfactory, but that they shall propose terms, and surely these note to Secretary Bryan: “In accordance with directions from the Imperial Gov¬ ernment I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that it noted with interest the proposal for the establishment of a Committee of Investigation, and it looks for¬ ward to further concrete proposals.” For some unknown reason, these requested “concrete proposals” were not sent by Secretary Bryan to the German Foreign Office, and consequently no formal action (with regard to the peace treaty) was ever taken by the German Government. See MS. Politisches Archiv, No. 632, Auswartiges Amt. (German Foreign Office). 48 John Morley to Andrew Carnegie, November 13, 1914, Carnegie MS. 49 Andrew Carnegie to President Wilson, November 23, 1914, ibid.

444

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Christian nations ought to be willing to state to the world the terms upon . . . which they are willing to cease hostilities.50 The President, however, was still undecided as to what course to pursue. In a very candid and appealing letter to Colonel House he revealed his doubts as to his personal fitness to handle some of the questions that were pressing for settlement: — The questions of the immediate future are no doubt to be foreign ques¬ tions and I am not at all sure that I have the wisdom to meet and solve them, but with the help of counsellors like yourself I hope that it will be possible to guide the old ship in a way that will bring her credit and make her serviceable to the world. These things give me, you may be sure, deep concern and solicitude.51 Colonel House could interpret this letter only as an appeal to visit Washington at once and give the President the benefit of his advice. He was glad to answer this summons to service, and he had little difficulty in persuading the Chief Executive that the time was not ripe for America to undertake a project for mediation between the belligerent powers. It was better for the Colonel himself to go on a secret mission to Europe in order to discover the exact condition of affairs.52 After settling this important question as to his status, the Colonel then had a luncheon with Count Bernstorff, who still believed that his Government would be willing to promote peace by agreeing to a program of “drastic disarmament.” And in addition to this conces¬ sion, Germany would also evacuate Belgium and pay an indemnity for the destruction of property there. It is no wonder that House recorded in his Diary that he regarded this conversation with Count Bernstorff as “satisfactory.” 53 The interview with Spring Rice was not so pleasant. He informed Colonel House that Sir Edward Grey was “personally agreeable” to 60 Secretary Bryan to President Wilson, December i, 1914, Bryan MS. B1 President Wilson to Colonel House, December 2, 1914, House MS. 52 The late Professor J. V. Fuller, in his sketch of Secretary Bryan in The American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy, vol. X, p. 33, made the fol¬ lowing comments upon the relative roles played by Colonel House and Secretary Bryan with reference to American meditation: “Bryan’s appeals now fell upon deaf ears. The President had come under the spell of Colonel House’s plausible scheme of a personally conducted, confidential negotiation.” 83 The Diary of Colonel House, December 17, 1914, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 340-341.

AMERICA SEEKS WORLD PEACE

445

American mediation but that he had not found time to take this matter up “with his own Cabinet, much less with the Allies.” 54 Such inaction was puzzling to Colonel House and the President; it seemed of prime importance to send the Colonel at once to Europe to put an end to this procrastination. In the letter of credentials that was given to Colonel House on the eve of his departure for Europe one can see very clearly the infinite trust the President had in the judgment of his intimate adviser: — It gives me peculiar pleasure to give you my commission to go, as my personal representative, on the mission you are now so generously under¬ taking, and which may, in the kind providence of God, prove the means of opening a way to peace. . . . Your conferences will not represent the efforts of any government to urge action upon another government, but only the effort of a disinterested friend whose suggestions and offers of service will not be misunderstood and may be made use of to the advan¬ tage of the world. . . . Our single purpose is to be serviceable, if we may, in bringing about the preliminary willingness to parley which must be the first step towards discussing and determining the conditions of peace.68 Before the Colonel sailed for England (January 30) he heard in¬ directly from Sir Edward Grey that England could take no step relative to the acceptance of American mediation until the other En¬ tente Powers had been consulted. It was well for the Colonel to un¬ derstand, however, that British public opinion was becoming “un¬ favorably and deeply impressed” by the attitude of the American Government toward recent British measures. He should realize that in England it was universally felt that Germany had “deliberately planned a war of pure aggression.” She had also devastated large districts in Russia, Belgium, and France. No denunciation of these malign activities had ever been issued by the American Government 64 The Diary of Colonel House, December 23, 1914, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 341-342. It is apparent that Sir Edward Grey had not been entirely silent on this matter of peace negotiations because Ambassador Page (January 19, 1915) wrote as follows to Secretary Bryan: “I lunched today with General French who came here secretly for a council of war. . . . Speaking only for himself and in the profoundest confidence he told me of a peace proposal which he said the President, at Germany’s request, has submitted to England. He tells me that this proposal is to end the war on condition that Germany gives up Belgium and pays for its restoration. French’s personal opinion is that England would have to accept such an offer if it should be accompanied with additional offers to satisfy the other allies.” House MS. 88 President Wilson to Colonel House, January 29, 1915, House MS.

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which, on the contrary, had watched them in silence while “singling out Great Britain as the only Power whose conduct is worthy of re¬ proach.” 56 This truculent tone affected by Sir Edward Grey in his dispatch to Spring Rice (January 22) was softened to a most dulcet note in his conversations with Colonel House. The Colonel reached London on February 6 and soon was lunching with Sir Edward, who cast over him the same spell that had long bound Ambassador Page. They had many intimate chats about a wide variety of things wholly unrelated to world politics. As Colonel House very directly puts it: “We talked of

nature,

solitude,

Wordsworth.” 57

These

topics

seemed

safe

enough, and the Colonel hardly realized the skill with which Sir Edward feathered his shafts so that each weighty word touched the goal of an ardent friendship. There was a compelling charm about the British Foreign Secre¬ tary that drew many Americans close to him in the same inevitable manner that gravitation attracts celestial bodies. And in this regard Sir Edward was quite different from President Wilson, who some¬ times took on the appearance of an adventurer in austerities who could busy himself with people without loving them. Sir Edward, on the other hand, had a human quality that was most engaging, and one could easily imagine him writing to certain sinners without any flavor of sin but with a strong suggestion that human weakness was not alien to him. In such an atmosphere Colonel House threw away the last vestige of neutrality and soon saw only through Sir Edward’s eyes.58 This quick deference to the ideas of the British Foreign Secretary had a most unfortunate effect upon the program for American media¬ tion. Colonel House failed to heed the opportunities that clearly 68 Sir Edward Grey to Ambassador Spring Rice, January 22, 1915, The Inti¬ mate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 347. The reluctance of the British states¬ men to entertain any idea of mediation is clearly expressed in a letter from Lord Bryce to Henry White, December 24, 1914: “It is to be hoped that no person of importance in the United States will offer mediation now, for it could not be accepted. There is unfortunately a good deal of feeling against the German nation as a whole and it is tuned up by the torrid part of our press.” White MS. 57 The Diary of Colonel House, February 13, 19x5, op. cit., vol. I, p. 371. 68 In the recent biography of Lord Grey by Professor George Macaulay Trevel¬ yan, p. 353, mention is made of the close friendship between Colonel House and Sir Edward, and of the “similarity of their general attitude to questions of peace and war. Almost any other statesman would have treated House with rather more of correct politeness and less of that opening of the mind which proved the way to his confidence, and enabled Grey to throw a line over the President.”

AMERICA

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beckoned to him, and he bears a heavy load of responsibility for the course that he followed. On February io Ambassador Gerard wrote to the President that there was a “disposition” in Berlin to accept suitable peace proposals.59 Several days later Gerard wrote to Colonel House that Germany would make no peace proposals but would ac¬ cept a “reasonable peace.” It would be expedient for the Allies to send to the American Kmbassy in Berlin their peace terms “verbally and secretly.” It was imperative, however, for this to be done im¬ mediately, for the “peace matter” was a question “almost of hours.” 60 On February 19 he telegraphed to Secretary Bryan that the favorable moment for peace was “passing.” If Colonel House could come to Berlin with a “reasonable proposal” it would be accepted “in all probability.” 61 These repeated urgings from Gerard were supplemented by a note from Undersecretary Zimmermann, of the German Foreign Office, who assured Colonel House that he would be welcome in Berlin, and that the German Government was willing to do its share “to bring about the desired termination of the war.” There were, however, “certain limits” which the Foreign Office could not “overstep,” and the suggested indemnity to Belgium seemed “hardly feasible.” 62 Colonel House hastened to talk over with Sir Edward Grey the im¬ plications of this letter from Zimmermann, and at first he had a feel¬ ing that the “sooner” he went to Germany the “better.” But not for long. Sir Edward quickly informed him of certain German military operations against Russia that might greatly affect the general situa¬ tion. In view of this unsettled state of affairs it would be wise for the Colonel to defer his visit to Berlin. After throwing out this suggestion for the Colonel’s consideration, Sir Edward then turned the conversa¬ tion into a forecast of the future when it would be possible to outlaw wars and relieve mankind from the crushing burden of large arma¬ ments. These pacific phrases confirmed the Colonel’s belief that he and Sir Edward were kindred spirits, and “several times” he repeated the deep conviction that he, Sir Edward, and President Wilson were ani59 Ambassador Gerard to President Wilson, February 10, 1915, R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters, vol. V, p. 308. 60 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, February 15, 1915, The Intimate Pa¬ pers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 376. 61 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Bryan, February 19, 19x5, For. Rel., 1915, Suppl., pp. 15-16. 62 Herr Zimmermann to Colonel House, February 4, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 370-371-

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

mated by a “common purpose” with regard to the objects to be se¬ cured in the “terms of peace.” 63 After this conference with Sir Edward the Colonel wrote to the President that he was “still undecided as to what to do about Berlin.” The British Government had been “extremely careful” about giving “any encouragement whatever” about mediation, and no one in Eng¬ land believed that Germany was ready for peace.64 It seemed to him that it would be better to “let matters develop somewhat further” be¬ fore going to Berlin.65 Before he could receive this letter from London, the President sent a telegram to Colonel House urging him to seize the “present opportunity” to “bring about the greatest peace which has ever been signed.” It would be fatal to “hesitate or wait a moment.” 66 The Colonel received this message from the President on February 16, and on the 18th he read the letter from Ambassador Gerard which indicated the pressing need for immediate action relative to media¬ tion.67 These communications, however, made little impression upon him. He had discussed the situation with Sir Edward Grey and Prime Minister Asquith, who strongly argued that it would be “footless” to visit Berlin until the German campaign against Russia had reached some conclusion. The Colonel finally came to the conclusion that “the psychological time to have ended this war was around the . . . first of December.” 68 This was the very time, it should be remembered, when Secretary Bryan had urged action and Colonel House had coun¬ seled delay. The President became somewhat impatient when he realized that the Colonel was being beguiled by British statesmen into a policy of delay that would ruin any chance for success along the lines of media¬ tion. On February 20 he sent a telegram that was far more tart than his usual communications to the Colonel: — Your dispatch of the 17th received. It will of course occur to you that you cannot go too far in allowing the English government to determine 63The Diary of Colonel House, February 13, 1915, ibid., pp. 371-373. See also George Macaulay Trevelyan’s volume entitled Grey of Fallodon, pp. 358-359. 64 Colonel House to President Wilson, February 15, 1915, op. cit., pp. 373-374. 66 Colonel House to President Wilson, February 15, 1915, R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters, vol. V, p. 311. 66 President Wilson to Colonel House, February 15, 1915, R. S. Baker, Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters, vol. V, p. 311. 67 Ambassador Gerard to Colonel House, February 15, 1915, The Intimate Pa¬ pers of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 376-377. 68 Colonel House to President Wilson, February 18, 1915, ibid., pp. 378-379.

AMERICA SEEKS WORLD PEACE

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when it is best to go to Germany because they naturally desire to await some time when they have the advantage because of events in the field or elsewhere. If the impression were to be created in Berlin that you were to come only when the British government thought it the opportune time for you to come, you might be regarded when you reached there as their spokesman rather than mine.69 The Colonel seemed strangely unworried about this Presidential explosion, and his confidence in the hold he had upon the Chief Ex¬ ecutive was justified when several days later another telegram came from the White House couched in the usual friendly, dependent tone:— I am of course content to be guided by your judgment as to each step.70 With the situation well in hand, the Colonel waited until March 7 when Sir Edward Grey finally came to the conclusion that it was op¬ portune for the American peacemaker to visit Berlin. Before reaching the German capital the Colonel stopped at Paris for a conference with Delcasse, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Colonel had feared that he would find a cool reception in Paris, and even Sir Ed¬ ward had been a “little worried” about the attitude of Delcasse. But the Colonel was quite discreet and assured his French auditors that President Wilson had no wish to “hurt their sensibilities in any way by making an immature suggestion of peace.” This diplomatic phras¬ ing of the President’s desires evoked the customary courteous re¬ sponses, and the Colonel went on to Berlin.71 He was cordially received by the Chancellor and the officials in the Foreign Office, and came to the conclusion that the diplomats in both England and Germany were more in favor of peace than the popula¬ tion in general. He was surprised at the friendly attitude of the Ger¬ man leaders towards the much-mooted question of the Freedom of the Seas, and he was careful “not to whisper in Berlin that he be¬ lieved the British would win the lion’s share of advantage.” It seemed to him that it was the “great irony” of the war that his proposal for a free sea was “so eagerly swallowed by the Germans, so scornfully refused by British opinion.” 72 But the Colonel was able to accom69 President Wilson to Colonel House, February 20, 1915, House MS. 70 President Wilson to Colonel House, February 25, 1915, House MS. T1 Colonel House to President Wilson, March 14, 1915, The Intimate Papers

of Colonel House, vol. I, pp. 395-39772 Ibid., p. 409.

450

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

plish little, and Zimmermann frankly informed him that if any peace parleys were begun upon “any terms that would have any chance of acceptance, it would mean the overthrow of this Government and the Kaiser.” 73 There was nothing for the Colonel to do but return to Paris where he made no attempt to discuss American mediation. He found that the French leaders regarded the President as “inclined to be proGerman,” and many believed that he was “catering to the ProGerman vote” in the United States. Delcasse himself, however, was “good enough” to “approve” of what Colonel House had “said and done” in Berlin, and he expressed his appreciation of the “fairness” with which the President had conducted his relations with the bel¬ ligerent powers.74 This praise from the Foreign Minister of a nation that had so com¬ pletely misjudged him was highly pleasing to the President. To find one man in France who was not critical seemed so stupendous that the Chief Executive rose to lyric heights in his warm appreciation of this microscopic French favor: — I am particularly gratified by what you report concerning your con¬ ference with the French Minister for Foreign Affairs. Please express to the Minister and to the President my feeling of warm gratitude that they are so generous as to receive our offers of friendship in just the spirit in which they are offered and with such full and sympathetic comprehension of the part we wish to play. America will remember these things as she re¬ members many another generous attitude of France in her relations with the United States.78 After presenting to Delcasse the substance of this fulsome letter from the President, Colonel House returned to England. On June 5 he left for America, convinced that war with Germany was merely a matter of weeks. He had badly bungled an excellent opportunity for world peace, and his main endeavors for the next year were to knit so close the bonds that bound the United States to the Entente Powers that American participation in the World War would de¬ pend upon the whims of Sir Edward Grey. The background of this House-Grey Agreement (February 22, 78 The Diary of Colonel House, March 24, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. I, p. 403. 74 Colonel House to President Wilson, April 13, 17, 1915, ibid., pp. 415-416. 78 President Wilson to Colonel House, April 15, 1915, House MS.

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45I

1916) is a study in secret covenants secretly arrived at. Even before Colonel House left for America, Sir Edward dropped to Colonel House the important suggestion that America should abandon her ancient policy of isolation for one of leadership in a parliament of world powers. He was convinced that the United States . . . must take a hand in the larger aspects of the peace, if humane ideals are to get and keep the ascendancy over material militarism and political ambition. Germany is the peril today, but the peril will recur every cen¬ tury in Europe, if Europe is left to itself. And the peril now cannot be confined to one continent — the world is too closely knit together by mod¬ ern inventions and conditions.76 Sir Edward next wrote to Colonel House about certain peace pro¬ posals that had come to him through the agency of an American correspondent for the Chicago Tribune: — Mr. Bell, of the Chicago ‘Tribune,’ asked through my private secretary, that I should see Mr. Swinge of his newspaper, who had been to Berlin and lately had a talk with Bethmann-Hollweg, in which the latter had spoken of peace, and said certain things to Mr. Swinge which he had au¬ thorized him to repeat to me. ... I saw Mr. Swinge a few days ago, and what Bethmann-Hollweg said amounted to this: There might have been a peace last February, if we had made proposals then; and Germany might still make peace with England, but it was a question of days as to when the opportunity might pass. The terms on which Germany might make peace with England would be the restitution to Germany of all her Colonies, the restitution of Belgium to independence, and the payment of a war indemnity by England to Germany. . . . I said that it was an insult to propose a war indemnity to a country that had not been conquered. A war indemnity meant that, until it was paid off, the people of the country paying it must work like slaves for a foreign country. Mr. Swinge admitted that he had rather shuddered when Bethmann-Hollweg mentioned a war indemnity, but he supposed that it was regarded in Germany as payment to Germany for giving up Bel¬ gium.77 These well-meant efforts of amateur diplomats and “go-betweens” were bound to end in failure, and Sir Edward informed Colonel House that any effective steps toward mediation could be taken only by the United States. But even though American mediation was suc76 Sir Edward Grey to Colonel House, June 2, 191S1 House MS. 77 Sir Edward Grey to Colonel House, August 10, 1915, ibid.

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cessful in terminating the World War there would always remain the danger of another conflict after a few more years had elapsed. The outstanding need of the times was some association of nations to pre¬ vent future wars.78 Colonel House was deeply interested in the possibility of outlaw¬ ing future wars, and he wrote to Sir Edward (September 3) about the importance of including in any proposed peace terms the “elimina¬ tion of militarism and navalism.” Sir Edward promptly replied that the best way to dispense with any large armaments in the future was to erect a barrier of nations against any threat of aggressive warfare: — Would the President propose that there should be a League of Nations binding themselves to side against any Power which broke a treaty, . . . or which refused, in case of dispute, to adopt some other method of settle¬ ment than that of war ? 79 In an unpublished portion of his letter of September 22, Sir Ed¬ ward Grey not only inquires as to the position President Wilson would take with regard to a proposed League of Nations but he also discusses the probability of American involvement in the World War on the side of the Allies: — I like very much your saying that your people are awakening slowly but surely to the issues involved in this war and that you believe they will be found willing to go to limits heretofore unthinkable to bring about a just solution, whether you are finally involved in the war or not. England is bound to fight on with her Allies, as long as they will fight, to ensure victory. . . . For us and for France defeat would mean our disappear¬ ance as Powers that counted in the world.80 An Anglo-American entente was in the offing and Colonel House was anxious to make it a reality. This would mean that the United States might be called upon to underwrite peace terms that the Allied Governments desired to impose upon Germany, and American life and American treasure would be sacrificed upon the unholy altar of European imperialism. It is probably true that Colonel House was not aware of all the implications that went along with his pious efforts for peace, but it is certainly very strange that he indicated such a 78 Sir Colonel 79 Sir 80 Sir

Edward Grey to Colonel House, August 26, 1915, The Intimate Papers of House, vol. II, pp. 88-89. Edward Grey to Colonel House, September 22, 1915, ibid., p. 89. Edward Grey to Colonel House, September 22, 1915, House MS.

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slight understanding of the realities of the international situation. With the President’s approval he sent a letter to Sir Edward Grey which outlined the American attitude: — In my opinion, it would be a world-wide calamity if the war should con¬ tinue to a point where the Allies could not, with the aid of the United States, bring about a peace along the lines you and I have so often dis¬ cussed. . . . Whenever you consider the time is propitious for this inter¬ vention, I will propose it to the President. ... It is in my mind that, after conferring with your Government, I should proceed to Berlin and tell them that it was the President’s purpose to intervene and stop this de¬ structive war. ... I would not let Berlin know, of course, of any under¬ standing had with the Allies, but would rather lead them to think our pro¬ posal would be rejected by the Allies. This might induce Berlin to accept the proposal, but, if they did not do so, it would nevertheless be the pur¬ pose to intervene.81 This letter with its suggestions of a disingenuous attitude toward Berlin in order to hoodwink the German Government into an accept¬ ance of American mediation is a revelation of how low the Colonel would stoop to conquer. It also indicates the folly of entrusting to amateur diplomats the conduct of American foreign relations. The Colonel was innocent of any clear understanding of the forces that had long moulded European diplomacy, and it is certain that he had no adequate conception of the secret “understandings” and pledges that existed in Entente circles. He had supreme faith in the idealism of Sir Edward Grey without realizing that Sir Edward would not have a “free hand” in the making of a European peace. The President was also blinded by an idealism that was sharply at odds with reality, and he had nothing but warm praise for the House letter: “The letter is altogether right. I pray God it may bring results.” 82 On November 9 Sir Edward cabled to Colonel House to ask if the proposal contained in the House letter of October 17 was to be taken in conjunction with the proposal for a League of Nations that had been emphasized in the letter to the Colonel on September 22.83 Colonel House, with the President’s approval, immediately answered 81 Colonel House to Sir Edward Grey, October 17, 1915. The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 90-91. 82 President Wilson to Colonel House, October 18, 1915, House MS. 83 Sir Edward Grey to Colonel House, November 9, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 91.

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in the affirmative.84 The way was now prepared for a radical change in American policy. If Germany refused to heed American proposals for peace,’President Wilson would consider this an adequate cause for war. At the close of such a war America would abandon her tradi¬ tional isolation and would enter an international league to preserve world peace. But Sir Edward Grey was still somewhat dubious about the reality of American assistance, and with reference to mediation he informed Colonel House that the Allies could not “commit themselves in ad¬ vance to any proposition without knowing exactly what it was and knowing that the United States . . . were prepared to intervene and make it good if they accepted it.” 85 This excessive caution on the part of the British Foreign Secretary was annoying to Colonel House, who confided to his Diary that Sir Edward is evidently taking a pessimistic view of the situation. . . . The offer which I made in my letter — which was practically to ensure victory to the Allies — should have met a warmer reception. The British are in many ways dull.86 In order to save the British from their own obtuseness the Presi¬ dent decided to send Colonel House to London in order to convince Sir Edward Grey and other members of the British Cabinet of Amer¬ ican eagerness to make “incalculable” sacrifices on behalf of the Allies.87 He would rescue them in spite of themselves. As the Colonel made hurried preparations to leave for Europe in an unobtrusive manner that would not excite comment, David Lawrence got wind of the proposed mission and spread the story in the columns of the New York Evening Post. According to Mr. Lawrence the Colonel’s visit to Europe was to “canvass the prospects for peace.” This visit did not necessarily signify that there was “anything in the 84 Colonel House to Sir Edward Grey, November io, 1915, ibid., p. 91. 86 Sir Edward Grey to Colonel House, November 11, 1915, ibid., p. 98. 86 The Diary of Colonel House, November 25, 1915, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 98. 87 Ibid., p. 99. It is interesting to see how Sir Cecil Spring Rice feared that Colonel House would ask for his recall and he hurriedly forgot his usual asperity and became excessively friendly and polite. In a note to Secretary Lansing, De¬ cember 19, Colonel House remarks upon the change in Spring Rice: “Sir Cecil came to see me Friday. I have never seen him more reasonable or more sympa¬ thetic. His manner to me was almost affectionate and his compliments to you were many and seemingly sincere.” House MS. As a result of this fawning policy Spring Rice avoided a recall which both House and Lansing had really decided upon.

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air concerning peace — anything tangible or intangible.” The Presi¬ dent placed great reliance on Colonel House’s . . . masterful judgment and keen powers of observation, his apt knowl¬ edge of European diplomacy and politics and his capacity, moreover, for telling exactly which way the political winds are blowing. . . . And it must not be forgotten that William Jennings Bryan has been urged time and time again to go to Europe, and has not given up the idea either. Suppose he should suddenly decide to voyage across the Atlantic, carry¬ ing with him the prestige of personal friendship with the President and the record of having been Secretary of State and three times the leader of the very party now in power.88 Colonel House was surprised and irked at this article by David Lawrence, which he regarded as “sensational.” 89 The President him¬ self was . . . deeply annoyed by the Evening Post’s performance. David Lawrence is a nuisance. He has written me a long letter of explanation in which he says that he had learned that Mr. Bryan intended to sail on the twentyeighth and that he reasoned that it would be best to tell about your trip first, for fear there might be surmised to be some connection between Mr. Bryan’s errand and your own.90 Finally, in spite of these minor annoyances, Colonel House was able to leave New York on December 28, and on January 6, 1916 he reached London.91 He immediately began a series of conversations with Sir Edward Grey and other British statesmen on the inflam¬ mable topic of Freedom of the Seas. Sir Edward was in favor of a free sea if militarism on land were destroyed, and if the United States would “join in a general covenant” to preserve world peace.92 88 New York Evening Post, December 21, 1915. On December 22 Mr. Lawrence wrote for the Evening Post that Colonel House was going to Europe “to tell the Ambassadors exactly what the President thinks and the state of American public opinion on various pending questions.” On this same day the President issued a dubious statement to the effect that the Colonel’s trip “was in no way connected with the peace movement.” New York Evening Post, December 22, 1915. 89 Colonel House to Secretary Lansing, December 21, 1915, House MS. 90 President Wilson to Colonel House, December 24, 1915, ibid. 91 It is important to note that on this trip to Europe Colonel House carried no instructions from President Wilson. In a letter to the Colonel, December 17, 1915, the President makes the following comment: “I am deeply obliged to you for generously consenting to go once more to Europe and speak as my trusted and confidential friend to those in authority. . . . You need no instructions. You know what is in my mind and how to interpret it, and will, I am sure, be able to make it plain to those with whom you may have the privilege of conferring.” House MS. 92 Colonel House to President Wilson, January 7, 1916, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 116-117.

456

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When Colonel House inquired by cable if the President was in favor of American membership in a League of Nations, he received the following reply: — Would be glad if you would convey my assurance that I shall be willing and glad when the opportunity comes to co-operate in a policy seeking to bring about and maintain permanent peace among civilized nations.98 This historic cablegram envisaging a complete change in American foreign policy did not make the impression in England that Colonel House had expected. Arthur Balfour did not appear overenthusiastic about the situation and remarked to the Colonel that he would see “what concessions his colleagues would be willing to make to Amer¬ ican opinion.” This comment evoked from House a protest that America was the nation that was willing to make concessions rather than England. Nothing could be accomplished unless the British Government were willing to approach the American proposals in an “unselfish spirit.” 94 After this little lecture to Balfour, Colonel House had a confer¬ ence with Ambassador Page, Lloyd George, Reginald McKenna, Austen Chamberlain, and Lord Reading. In order to start things off in a cordial key, Ambassador Page called upon Colonel House to state what he desired Great Britain to do at this critical time. The Colonel was in fine fettle and his reply to the Ambassador was exactly what one might expect from a loyal servant of the Crown: “The United States would like Great Britain to do those things which would en¬ able the United States to help Great Britain win the war.” 96 Such a warm co-operative spirit as the Colonel showed by this utterance made it inevitable that as a trusted adviser of the President he should be invited to attend confidential councils which discussed im¬ portant secrets of state. The next step was to permit the Colonel to use a cipher code of the British Foreign Office, a favor never before granted to a foreigner. Every courtesy he could desire was every¬ where shown him, and he repaid these favors with apparent devotion to the British cause. But he was not willing to further any plans to crush or dismember Germany, and the peace terms that he regarded as desirable were: The cession of Alsace-Lorraine to France; restora93 President Wilson to Colonel House, January 9, 1916, House MS. 94 Colonel House to President Wilson, January 11, 1916, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 121. 96 The Diary of Colonel House, January 11, 1916, ibid., p. 124.

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tion of Belgium and Serbia; and the cession of Constantinople to Rus¬ sia. To safeguard this settlement he believed it would be highly expe¬ dient to create a League of Nations. With these ideas in mind he left England on January 20, and six days later arrived in Berlin. On January 27 the Colonel had a very interesting talk with Dr. Solf, the German Secretary of State for the Colonies, who appeared to be the “fairest and broadest of all the German officials.” From a letter that Dr. Solf wrote to Secretary von Jagow the day after his conversation with Colonel House (January 28), it would seem evi¬ dent that the Colonel was more communicative than usual. He in¬ formed Dr. Solf that Sir Edward Grey was anxious for peace but was handicapped by the opposition of other British leaders, who were less pacific. Colonel House then waxed critical of English leaders. The King was a “nobody,” and there was not a statesman of out¬ standing capacity in the whole British Cabinet. Although he had been advised of the unfriendly feeling in Germany towards America, he was now aware of the fact that in England this anti-American feeling was “even stronger” than it was in Germany.96 During the course of a conversation with the Chancellor, the Colo¬ nel discussed the question of the Freedom of the Seas, and he gave assurances that the President would be willing strongly to support the principle of a free sea. When it came to the question of possible terms of peace, the Chancellor’s statements were deeply discouraging. Germany could “neither be menaced from the Polish side nor the Belgian side,” and she would also require an indemnity for the evacua¬ tion of the northern part of France.97 These terms of peace as outlined by the Chancellor were so outside the Colonel’s usual categories of thought that he hurriedly left Berlin with a feeling that the German Government would not agree to “peace terms that even the most moderate of the Allied statesmen would offer.” 98 It was a relief to get to Paris, where he informed both 96 Secretary of State Solf to Secretary of State von Jagow, January 28, 1916, MS. Auswartiges Amt (Berlin). See also Official German Documents Relating to the World War, vol. II, pp. 1280-1281. 97 “Memorandum of the Imperial Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg on a Conver¬ sation with Colonel House, January 28, 1916,” MS. Auswartiges Amt. See also the Diary of Colonel House, January 28, 1916, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 140-143. 98 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 154. With reference to the two visits that Colonel House made to Berlin, Admiral Spindler writes as follows to Professor Charles Seymour: “The main cause that House on two occasions quickly and without having found an understanding turned his back on Berlin, appears to have been that House, through his Anglo-Saxon sentiments did not

458

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Premier Briand and Jules Cambon that America’s most ardent wish was for the French leaders to “do those things which would help us to help them best.” 99 After this cordial overture the Colonel decided he would “open his mind completely to the chiefs of the French Government.” If they felt that France could win a victory over Ger¬ many, unaided, the President would “remain aloof and they might dictate their own terms.” If, however, they were at any time afraid that they were losing ground, the President would then “intervene to save them and guarantee a settlement based upon justice.” In other words, the “lower the fortunes of the Allies ebbed, the closer the United States would stand by them.” 100 After this tremendous commitment, — whereby Colonel House and the President were willing, without the knowledge of Congress or the American people, to pledge American armed support to the cause of the Allies, — the Colonel journeyed to London to reduce this pledge to writing. In a “memorandum” dated February 22, 1916, the well-known House-Grey Agreement was clearly outlined, and on March 8 Colonel House reported to Sir Edward Grey the endorse¬ ment of the President with only a minor amendment. The first two paragraphs of this memorandum indicate the extent of the American obligation: — Colonel House [writes Sir Edward Grey] told me that President Wil¬ son was ready, on hearing from France and England that the moment was opportune, to propose that a Conference should be summoned to put an end to the war. Should the Allies accept this proposal, and should Ger¬ many refuse it, the United States would probably enter the war against Germany. Colonel House expressed the opinion that, if such a Conference met, it would secure peace on terms not unfavourable to the Allies; and, if it failed to secure peace, the United States would [probably] 101 leave the bring to Berlin an inner objectivity necessary to a successful negotiator. There was a gap which could not be crossed. Thus it was possible to construct the GreyHouse memorandum of the 22d of February, 1916, notwithstanding the fact that considering the war aims of the belligerent Powers the opposition between Wash¬ ington and London-Paris was far greater than that between Washington and Berlin.” Spindler to Seymour, October' 7, 1933, House MS. 99 Colonel House to President Wilson, February 3, 1916, The Intimate Papers 0} Colonel House, vol. II, p. 156. 100 Ibid., p. 163. 101 This word “probably” was the only amendment made by the President to the draft of the House-Grey Agreement.

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Conference as a belligerent on the side of the Allies, if Germany was un¬ reasonable.102 It was just as the negotiations leading up to the House-Grey Agree¬ ment were about to be brought to a successful conclusion that Colonel House became fully aware of the recent stand of Secretary Lansing relative to armed merchantmen. He could only regard as crass folly any movement to limit the rights of the Allied Powers upon the high seas. It was the duty of America to aid rather than to hinder the efforts of the Allies to crush German militarism. With this thought in mind, he sent the terse telegram to Secretary Lansing (February 14) indicating the necessity of postponing any program that would embarrass the Allied Governments. President Wilson immediately perceived the Colonel’s objective. It was evident that the Colonel had succeeded in persuading the Allies to accept American mediation in bringing the World War to a speedy close. The Lansing circular of January 18 would have to be promptly repudiated, and a new orientation given to American foreign policy. American neutrality was to be quietly and effectively strangled. 102 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 201-202.

XVII CONGRESS CALLS A HALT WHEN THE PRESIDENT MOVES TOWARDS WAR It is only too apparent that Colonel House exercised great influence upon both the President and Secretary Lansing relative to the final attitude the Administration assumed towards the question of armed merchantmen. The Colonel’s telegram of February 14 requesting a postponement of any action by the Department of State revealed to Secretary Lansing the expediency of a rapid change of viewpoint. His circular telegram of February 16, to the “Diplomatic Officers in European Countries,” indicated a strategic retreat from the position he so confidently held on January 18. The Secretary was in full flight for the Allied camp, and his intuition told him that an AngloAmerican entente was merely the matter of a few days. This new attitude on the part of Secretary Lansing received im¬ mediate support from Ambassador Page, who sent a long telegram to the President urging that diplomatic relations with Germany be severed and that prompt action be taken to break down German credit. If this course were followed the President would . . . receive immortal credit even from the German people and the full and grateful loyalty of the whole British Empire, the British Fleet, and all the Allies. The great English speaking nations, without formal alliance, will control the conditions of permanent peace.1 But this sudden change of viewpoint on the part of Secretary Lan¬ sing was not entirely due to pressure from the President or from Colo¬ nel House. Count Bernstorff himself was somewhat responsible for this new orientation, and thereby hangs an interesting tale of diplomatic intrigue. It begins with a conference between Secretary Lansing and Baron Zwiedinek on January 26. The Austrian Charge hastened to inform the Secretary of State that the Central Powers would soon announce to the neutral powers their intention of treating all armed 1 Ambassador Page to President Wilson, February 17, 1916, MS. Dept of State.

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merchantmen as ships of war that could be sunk at sight. Secretary Lansing was anxious to have such a declaration made at once, so that the American Government could demand its withdrawal as one of the necessary terms of settlement of the still pending Lusitania case. When he assured Baron Zwiedinek that the “sooner” such a declara¬ tion was issued the “better” it would be for smoothing the rough course of American relations with the Central Powers, the Austrian Charge at once sent a telegram to Vienna that Secretary Lansing would “welcome” such a move. The Baron himself believed that the Department of State was glad to have the Central Powers take some action that would force the Allies to accept the Lansing proposals of January 18. A few days later one of the American secret service agents heard, by means of a tapped Embassy wire, a conversation between Count Bernstorff and one of his American friends. The Count was jubilant. He was certain he could force the resignation of Secretary Lansing because the latter had . . . been so indiscreet as to approve the German and Austrian declara¬ tion regarding the future treatment of armed merchantmen before the declaration was issued.2 When Secretary Lansing was advised of this Bernstorff conversa¬ tion he immediately summoned Baron Zwiedinek and informed him that prompt action was required to correct an obvious “misunder¬ standing.” It had arisen over the use of the word “welcome.” The Baron was certain that the Secretary had used the word “welcome,” and he insisted that he had acted in perfect “good faith.” Secretary Lansing assured him that there was little doubt of that fact but never¬ theless it was true that Vienna believed the Secretary of State would “welcome” a declaration by the Central Powers for the purpose of putting pressure upon the Allies, whereas in truth such a declaration would be “welcome” only because thereby the Secretary could force Germany to withdraw it as one of the items in the pending Lusitania settlement.3 Baron Zwiedinek lost no time in sending to Vienna the Lansing version of the word “welcome” and thereby prevented a second 2 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, pp. 112-113. 8 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. H4-

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“Dumba incident.” 4 This little misunderstanding, however, had last¬ ing results because it convinced Secretary Lansing that Count Bernstorff was a most sinister person who could never be trusted. Such a complete lack of confidence in Bernstorff was a definite factor in the rapid retreat of Secretary Lansing from the position he had taken in January, 1916, in connection with armed merchant ships. This retreat was just in time. Already in Congress there was a strong sentiment in favor of regarding armed merchant ships as ships of war which should be excluded from American ports. For this sentiment Secretary Lansing himself was largely responsible. In his proposals to the Allied Government (January 18) he admitted how strongly the Department of State had been impressed with . . . the reasonableness of the argument that a merchant vessel carrying an armament of any sort, in view of the character of submarine warfare and the defensive weakness of undersea craft, should be held to be an auxiliary cruiser and so treated by a neutral as well as by a belligerent government, and is seriously considering instructing its officials accord¬ ingly.6 Although many Congressmen did not favor such drastic action against armed merchantmen, they did look with approval upon the issuance of a warning to American citizens to refrain from traveling on merchant ships that carried armament. This viewpoint was ex¬ pressed by Representative Jeff McLemore, of Texas, who introduced in the House of Representatives (February 17) a resolution that made provision for just such a warning.6 On the following day he made a speech in which he took sharp issue with the President’s contention that American citizens had an unlimited right to sail upon the high seas in armed ships of belligerent nationality. His attitude with regard to the sinking of the Lusitania was a challenge to the Administra¬ tion : — When the Lusitania . . . was destroyed by the torpedo fired by a German submarine Americans reacted in two distinct ways. Some held that the German act . . . was a crime and an outrage. Others felt at once that those who had lost their lives were themselves primarily to blame for having traveled on a ship which they knew to be in danger; and many 4 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Gerard, March 9, 1916, For. Ret., 1916, Suppl., pp. 202-204. 6 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Spring Rice, January 18, 1916, Carlton Sav¬ age, op. cit., p. 444. 6 House Res. 143, February 17, 1916, Cong. Rec., vol. 53, p. 2756.

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felt, furthermore, that a nation struggling for its life against a ring of enemies could not in justice to its own soldiers and to the women and children whom those soldiers were protecting, refrain from sinking any and every possible enemy ship which carried in its hold the weapons of death.7 This deep concern that was felt in Congress relative to the dangers that threatened Americans who traveled on the armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers was primarily due to the fact that the new German submarine campaign was soon to be launched. According to the German declaration of February 8 all “enemy merchantmen armed with guns no longer have any right to be considered as peace¬ able vessels of commerce” and therefore could be sunk at sight. What would happen if several armed merchant ships were sunk and a large number of American lives were lost? The answer to this question caused as much worry to the Depart¬ ment of State as it did to Congress. On February 16 one of the “high officials” of the Department admitted that an armed merchant ship was the “superior of a submarine,” and he commented upon the “ex¬ treme difficulty of drawing a line between what constitutes ‘offense’ and ‘defense.’ ” Spring Rice, the British Ambassador, in an endeavor to lighten the load of the Department of State, made the following suggestion: — If the United States will guarantee that Germany will keep her promise not to sink unarmed ships without warning I believe the Entente allies will be glad to adopt the suggestions of the State Department.8 The United States was, of course, not in a position to offer such a guarantee, and this suggestion was worthless. The situation re¬ mained distinctly dangerous and Administration officials showed “much temper” when questioned about the rapid retreat of Secretary Lansing from the bold stand he had taken on January 18 regarding armed merchant ships.9 Secretary Lansing himself felt that Count Bernstorff had “talked too freely to newspaper reporters,” 10 and he was so “irritated” at the actions of the German Ambassador that re¬ lations had become “strained.” 11 7 Cong. Rec., February 18, 1916, vol. 53, Appendix, pp. 361-363. 8 New York World, February 16, 1916. 9 Ibid., February 17, 1916. 10 Ibid., February 21, 1916. 11 David Lawrence, in New York Evening Post, February 21, 1916. /

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

It was not easy, however, for Secretary Lansing to make Count Bernstorff a “scapegoat” for his own failure to realize that Colonel House would never permit the Department of State to adhere to a pro-German attitude relative to the status of armed merchant ships. In an editorial in the New York Evening Post the situation was clearly described: — In the extraordinarily muddled situation that has been developed in the matter of the submarine issue, one fact seems at last definitively established — that the United States will adhere to its position of the past in regard to merchantmen equipped with purely defensive armament. ... As for the complaints current in Washington against the Teutonic Ambassadors, it must be said that whatever blame may justly attach to them for any aggravation of the difficulties of the situation, it is clear that our own Administration has not been without fault. The envoys may possibly have gone too far in their interpretation of Mr. Lansing’s language, . . . but the concluding paragraph of his modus-vivendi note pointed so strongly towards an intention on the part of our Government to change its atti¬ tude on the subject of armed merchantmen that it is not surprising that it should have been understood as meant to encourage Germany and Austria to take an aggressive position on the subject.12 This “muddled situation” was not helped by a word of warning from ex-Secretary Bryan that the President was “joy riding with the jingoes and is applauded by grandstanders whose voices are unfamiliar to Democratic ears.” 13 After this unfriendly prelude Mr. Bryan flung a challenge at the President which could not be ignored. In the February issue of the Commoner a searching analysis was made of the President’s purpose in supporting a “preparedness” campaign. Preparedness for what? Was the President anxious to build up the army and navy of the United States in order that he might effectively intervene in the European struggle? Mr. Bryan thought so, and he did not hesitate to express this viewpoint. If the President’s recent speeches meant anything at all they seemed to indicate that the . . . preparedness for which he asks is not for the purpose of preventing future wars, but is for use in the present war, if he thinks it neces¬ sary. . . . The President’s . . . speeches have raised a much more seri¬ ous question than that raised by the manufacturers of munitions. These traffickers in war supplies simply want the money that can be made out 12 February 21, 1916. 13 New York World, February 19, 1916.

CONGRESS CALLS A

HALT

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of “getting ready”; they expect to coin a profit out of the policy of keeping the country in fighting trim. But the President’s speeches indicate that he is actually considering a state of war in which the United States will be the aggressor; that is, will go to war for the enforcement of in¬ ternational RIGH'fts.14 It was obvious to the President and to important leaders in Con¬ gress that something would have to be done immediately to clarify the situation. Senator Stone was quite fearful that certain Senators like Gore, of Oklahoma, and Hoke Smith, of Georgia, might be able seriously to embarrass the Administration relative to the right of American citizens to sail on armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers. Senator Gore was already endeavoring to bring to a vote a resolution directing that clearance should be withheld from all armed belligerent merchant ships carrying American passengers. Such a resolution was in direct opposition to the President’s viewpoint that American citizens had an unquestioned right to sail on both armed and unarmed merchant ships of belligerent nationality. Plans would have to be perfected to insure the defeat of these Congressional in¬ surgents, and for this reason the President invited to the White House for a conference, Senator Stone, Chairman of the Senate Com¬ mittee on Foreign Relations, Senator Kern, majority leader in the Senate, and Representative Flood, Chairman of the House Com¬ mittee on Foreign Affairs. Although Mr. Flood later assured newspapermen that the confer¬ ence was “without special significance,” it was noticeable that in cer¬ tain Washington circles there was a growing pessimism about the continuance of friendly relations with Germany. As one “high of¬ ficial” phrased it: “Things are in a mess. It is all up to the Presi¬ dent.” 15 At this White House conference attention was mainly directed towards the question of the probable attitude of the Amer¬ ican Government in the event that American citizens were drowned as a result of submarine attacks upon armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers. President Wilson showed no hesitation in indicat¬ ing his attitude. If Germany . . . insisted upon her position the United States would insist upon her position; that it would probably result in a breach of diplomatic relations; 14 The Commoner, February, 1916, vol. 16, no. 2. 15 David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, February 22, 1916. See also the New York Times and the New York World of the same date.

466

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

that the breach of diplomatic relations would probably be followed by a state of war; and that a state of war might not be of itself and of neces¬ sity an evil, but that the United States by entering the war now might be able to bring it to a conclusion by midsummer, and thus render a great service to civilization.16 This positive declaration that war with Germany would result from any loss of American lives through the sinking of armed mer¬ chant ships by submarines seemed to galvanize Senator Stone into immediate action. Banging his fist upon the table, he suddenly broke out with dramatic intensity: — “Mr. President, would you draw a shutter over my eyes and my intel¬ lect ? You have no right to ask me to follow such a course. It may mean war for my country. I must follow my conscience in this matter.” 17 But the President held firm and stopped “speaking English and talked United States.” There was no academic pose and no attempt was made to gloss over the situation with fine phrases. Many of his words were “not of the sort that fall usually from Presidential lips.” 18 The conference continued in a somewhat stormy atmosphere and at one point Senator Stone again lost his composure and vehe¬ mently exclaimed: — “Mr. President! I have followed you in your domestic policies but — By God! I shall not follow you into war with Germany.” 19 This belligerent attitude on the part of the President aroused grave apprehension in the minds of the Congressional leaders who attended this conference on February 21. When they returned to their offices on Capitol Hill, Senator Stone was still so excited that he walked down the corridor of the Senate Office Building “swearing like a trooper.” He was on the point of telling the whole story of the con¬ ference to Senator Gore, when Senator Ollie James came in sight and the conversation was brought to an abrupt close. But the news of the President’s inclination towards war soon spread throughout Con¬ gress and “consternation broke out among the Democrats.” As Rep¬ resentative C. B. Miller aptly remarked : — 6 This is the statement of Senator Gore, who secured his information from Senator Stone. Cong. Rec., vol. 53, Appendix, p. 833. 17 New York Times, February 24, 1016. ™Ibid. 19 This account is based upon an extended conversation between Senator Gore and the author.

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Those Democratic gentlemen came from the presence of the President feeling that our Chief Executive was headed directly for a war with Ger¬ many, not only unnecessarily, but over a very questionable proposition.20 The more these Democratic leaders talked over the situation the more excited they became, until finally there was a decided “flurry” in Congress.21 Representative McLemore was so wrought up that his anger was appeased only with great difficulty. His friends finally per¬ suaded him to abandon his intention of introducing a resolution cen¬ suring the President. At length, at four o’clock on the afternoon of February 21, Speaker Clark called the White House on the telephone and asked for a conference the next day. At eleven o’clock that night word came from the President that the best time for consultation was at seven-thirty on the following morning. This so-called “Sun¬ rise Conference” was limited to the President and three members of the House of Representatives: Champ Clark, the Speaker; Claude Kitchin, the Floor Leader; and Henry D. Flood, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Apparently, the President in¬ formed this committee of three that ... in his opinion the time had arrived to put the United States into war and he wished the House and Senate leaders to co-operate with him to this end. He expressed the opinion that with American participation the war would be ended in six months. Clark, Kitchin, and Flood all disagreed and told the President flatly that if any effort were made to bring about a declaration of war on Germany they would fight it openly and vigorously on the floor. Thereupon . . . Wilson stated that it would not be neces¬ sary to declare war on Germany. He said by presenting Count von Bernstorff, the German ambassador, with his passports, the result could be accomplished by a declaration of war by Germany against America.22 20 Cong. Rec., vol. 53, Appendix, p. 832. 21 According to David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, February 24, 1916, it was possible that the “President talked too frankly, or those who saw him were somewhat indiscreet, but little by little the strong words of the President got back to Congress generally, and late yesterday there was a flurry.” 22 Gilson Gardner, “Why We Delayed Entering the War,” McNaught’s Monthly, June, 1925, vol. 3, pp. 171-173. In order to combat the tactics of his opponents who sought to make capital out of the warning the Administration had issued to Ameri¬ can citizens to stay out of Mexico, the President had Secretary Lansing give out a statement which showed that the rules for the protection of human life and property at sea differed materially from the rules that pertain to life and property on land. According to this statement the “high seas are common territory to every nation. Territory is always under the sovereignty of a nation. They can do what they please in that sovereignty. On the high seas a noncombatant, whether neutral or not, has a right to pass to and fro without having his life endangered. ... In a territory he only has the right to pass to and fro with the consent of the authori¬ ties.” New York Times, February 23, 1916.

468

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Another account of the “Sunrise Conference” which is quite similar to that given by Gilson Gardner may be found in an article by David Lawrence in the New York Evening Post. According to this version one of the three Democratic leaders during the “Sunrise Conference” asked the President the following questions: — “Supposing we do not warn Americans off armed belligerent ships and ... a vessel is sunk and Americans lose their lives, what then ?” “I believe we should sever diplomatic relations.” “Then what will happen ?” “Count von Bernstorff told Secretary Lansing that a break in diplo¬ matic relations would be followed by a declaration of war by Germany.” 23 It was very evident to these Democratic leaders that a crisis in German-American relations had been reached with war as a distinct possibility. Impressed with the gravity of the situation, Senator Stone could no longer remain silent. On February 24 he addressed a letter to the President in which he clearly voiced his fears that war would follow any further adherence to the position that American citizens had a right to sail on armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers: — I think I should say to you that the Members of both Houses feel deeply concerned and disturbed by what they read and hear. . . . The situation in Congress is such as to excite a sense of deep concern in the minds of careful and thoughtful men. ... I think you understand my personal attitude with respect to this subject. As much and as deeply as I would hate to radically disagree with you, I find it difficult for my sense of duty and responsibility to consent to plunge this Nation into the vortex of this world war because ... of foolhardiness, amounting to a sort of moral treason against the Republic, of our people recklessly risking their lives on armed belligerent ships.24 The President immediately replied to Senator Stone in a letter which stated his position so clearly that no misunderstanding of his viewpoint was possible: — No nation, no group of nations, has the right while war is in progress to alter or disregard the principles which all nations have agreed upon in mitigation of the horrors and sufferings of war; and if the clear rights of American citizens should ever unhappily be abridged or denied by any 23 New York Evening Post, March 2, 1916. 24 Senator Stone to President Wilson, February 24, 1916, Cong. Rec., vol. 5a, Appendix, p. 832.

CONGRESS CALLS A HALT

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such action, we should, it seems to me, have in honor no choice as to what our own course should be. For my own part I cannot consent to any abridgement of the rights of American citizens in any respect. . . . What we are contending for in this matter is of the very essence of the things that have made America a sovereign nation.25 The tense situation in Congress at this time and the quieting in¬ fluence of the President’s letter to Senator Stone is clearly described in the following entry in the Lansing Diary: — February 25, 1916: Monday night [February 21] many members of the House were informed that the President desired war with Germany. This followed an interview between the President, Senators Stone & Kern & Representative Flood. On Tuesday the House was seething. Wednes¬ day and Thursday it was the same. Opposition to war developed consid¬ erable strength. Thursday night the President sent a letter to Senator Stone. Friday the conditions were less hysterical.26 The “seething” condition of affairs in the House of Representa¬ tives on February 22 was in part caused by the introduction of a resolution by Mr. McLemore, of Texas, which requested the Presi¬ dent to warn American citizens against the dangers of travel upon armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers. This resolution was drafted by a smooth-quilled Irish-American poet, Shaemas O’Sheel, who was in close touch with both German and Irish propagandists.27 O’Sheel was certain that a majority of the members of the House of Representatives was in favor of this warning to American citizens, and when McLemore introduced the resolution it was soon apparent that it would receive strong support. On the day following the introduction of the McLemore resolu¬ tion, the revolt in Congress against the President’s policy of inaction gathered strength so rapidly that “veteran legislators” said that “not for many years had they seen a situation so dramatic and sensational.” It was apparent that 28 President Wilson to Senator Stone, February 24, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, pp. 177178. The reaction of the British press to the President’s letter to Senator Stone was warmly favorable. It appeared to the Daily Chronicle that the President’s words had “the right ring to them”; the Times was glad to see that the President remained “immovably true to his lofty, moral attitude”; while the Morning Post was certain that the American Chief Executive had “earned the respect of the civilized world.” Quoted in the New York Times, February 26, 1916. 26 Lansing Diary, February 25, 1916, Lansing MS. 27 George S. Viereck, Spreading Germs of Hate, pp. 104-105.

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... a. majority of the House was ready to act. This majority — militant in knowledge of its strength and urged to action by what was described as a panic — demanded immediate action on a resolution of Representative McLemore . . . directing that a warning be issued to American citizens not to take passage on armed belligerent merchant ships. A meeting of the Democratic members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs was called at once to consider the affair. Afterwards members who attended the meeting declared that sentiment was unanimous among them in favor of the McLemore resolution or a measure of similar purpose.28 Speaker Clark and Representative Kitchin, while admitting to their party friends that they “were in favor of having Americans warned to keep off armed merchantmen,” endeavored to prevent their associates from forcing the President’s hand. It was clear to these Democratic leaders, however, that a “large majority” of the members of the House were in favor of some resolution of warning despite Presidential opposition.29 But this majority had to contend with a long-accepted principle in the conduct of American foreign policy — the right of the President to control foreign relations without any serious interference from Congress.30 These dissidents would also have to face the fact that they would be denied any share of the Presidential patronage, which was important in the way of rewards to faithful constituents. The manner in which Executive displeasure was meted out to rebellious Democrats is well illustrated in the case 28 New York Times, February 24, 1916. 29 New York Times, February 24, 1916. David Lawrence, in the New York Evening Post, February 24, 1916, expressed the opinion that if a resolution like the one introduced by Mr. McLemore “came to a vote, it would have a surprising support. The general sentiment in Congress reflects popular feeling to a certain degree in holding that, while Americans have legal rights on armed merchant¬ men, they ought not jeopardize the country’s safety by deliberately asserting them at this time.” According to Louis Seibold the “leaders of the Administration forces in both Houses frankly admit they are having a great deal of trouble in keeping the legislative lid clamped down to prevent a Congressional explosion.” New York World, February 24, 1916. One of the reasons for this excitement was the publi¬ cation of an interview that the German Foreign Secretary von Jagow gave to Mr. Karl H. von Wiegand. In this interview Secretary von Jagow was alleged to have declared that German submarines would attack the armed merchant ships of bellig¬ erent powers “whether carrying passengers or not.” New York World, February 23, 1916. 30 For a discussion of the constitutional implications of this struggle between the President and the leaders in both branches of Congress, see Prof. Quincy Wright, The Control of American Foreign Relations (N.Y. 1922), pp. 280-281; Prof. J. M. Mathews, The Conduct of American Foreign Relations (N.Y. 1928), pp. 222, 528; Prof. E. S. Corwin, The President’s Control of Foreign Relations (Princeton, 1917), p. 45; Prof. Charles C. Tansill, “War Powers of the President of the United States with Special Reference to the Beginning of Hostilities,” Po¬ litical Science Quarterly, March, 1930, pp. 1-55.

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of Mr. Claude Kitchin, Democratic Floor Leader in the House of Representatives. In the autumn of 1915 Mr. Kitchin had been warmly opposed to the Presidential program of “preparedness.” It was not long before he felt the sting of Executive displeasure. In a letter to Mr. H. F. Mooney, he explained the situation: — Between us, confidentially, I am sure, so far as patronage is concerned, I have little influence with the Administration because of the fact that I cannot throw up my hat for and agree with the President in everything he advocates.31 Writing to Victor Murdock at this same time he clearly describes his difficulties: — I would anticipate no trouble ... if I were so constituted that I could throw up my hat and hurrah for anything “our President” wants or advocates, or because he wants or advocates it. If I could do the latter I would have a “cinch” as Leader and enjoy the happiness of many a Presidential smile, and the bowings and “sashaings” of departmental “flunkeys” would be a joy forever. But, as the darkey would say, “I ain’t built that way” and will, I fear, have to forego many of such pleasures.32 He had early discovered that a “majority of the Democrats” would not hesitate to “fling away their convictions to please the Presi¬ dent.” 33 In February, 1916, he became aware of the fact that the “President absolutely dominates Congress.” 34 He came to this con¬ clusion after seeing how quickly the opposition in Congress responded to Presidential pressure. On February 24, after two days of wild excitement, a “calmer tone” was noticeable in Congressional utter¬ ances.35 On the morning of February 25 the President again called to the White House the same three gentlemen who had attended the “Sunrise Conference” — Speaker Champ Clark, Floor Leader Claude Kitchin, and Henry D. Flood, the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. When he announced to them that he was still unshaken in his position that Congress should take “no action em¬ barrassing his contention that the rights of Americans on the seas must be upheld at any cost,” he was advised by Speaker Clark that a 31 Claude Kitchin to H. F. Mooney, October 23, 1915, Kitchin MS., University of North Carolina Library. 32 Kitchin to Victor Murdock, October 18, 1915, Kitchin MS. 33 Kitchin to Representative W. W. Bailey, October 8, 1915, ibid. 34 Kitchin to Rev. C. Lauterback, February 28, 1916, ibid. 35 New York Evening Post, February 24, 1916.

472

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. warning resolution would carry two to one if they ever got a chance for a vote. Some enthusiastic gentlemen . . . thought it would carry three to one.36 The President, however, did not accept this estimate of Speaker Clark, and he was encouraged by the open support of Republicans like Senator Lodge who declared that he was in “full accord” with the views of the Chief Executive.37 Within the Democratic Party, however, the President continued to have his troubles. Senator Gore gave voice to his fear that the “ship of state” was “driving headlong upon the breakers.” 38 This alarming statement was followed by a telegram from Mr. Bryan to Representative Bailey which expressed the hope that Congress would “speedily announce legislation refusing passports to Americans travelling on belligerent ships; or, still better, refusing clearance to belligerent ships carrying passengers.” 39 Inspired by the Bryan influence, Senator Gore introduced a con¬ current resolution which declared it to be the sense of Congress that ... all persons owing allegiance to the United States, should, in behalf of their own safety and the vital interest of the United States, forbear to exercise the right to travel as passengers upon any armed vessel of any belligerent power; ... it is the further sense of the Congress that no passport should be issued or renewed by the Secretary of State ... to be used by any person owing allegiance to the United States for purpose of travel upon any such armed vessel of a belligerent power.40 It was soon apparent that this resolution had little chance of secur¬ ing a majority vote in the Senate. Although it was realized that Con¬ gress would “exert a powerful check” upon the President if he should become “unduly belligerent,” 41 yet most observers perceived that there was a growing disinclination in Congressional circles to em¬ barrass the Chief Executive in the conduct of foreign relations. 86 New York Evening Post, February 25, 1916. 87 The attitude of many of the important papers in the East is indicated in the following excerpt from an editorial in the New York Times, February 24, 1916, relative to the Gore-McLemore resolutions: “It is with no friendly intent that bills are drawn and plans hatched to palsy the arm with which he [the President] directs the country’s foreign policy. . . . The influence of the implacable and vindictive Bryan is at work, the poison of the detestable German propaganda is making itself felt, and the effort is visibly directed to the fomenting of strifes within the party in power that will tie the Administration hand and foot . . . and make the Gov¬ ernment voiceless and powerless at a critical and perilous moment.” 88 New York Evening Post, February 24, 1916. 39 Ibid., February 25, 1916. 40 Cong. Rec., February 25, 1916, vol. 53, pp. 3405-3406. 41 David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, February 25, 1916.

CONGRESS CALLS A

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Senator Stone indicated that he was in “active support” of the Ad¬ ministration,42 and Speaker Clark forgot his previous fears and an¬ nounced that any effort to discredit the foreign policy of the President would be “promptly voted down by a large majority.” 43 On the following day (February 26) Secretary Lansing exerted his influence to quiet the opposition in Congress to the President’s plans. He informed Mr. Flood, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “that the agitation in Congress had already done incalculable damage and had perceptibly stiffened the hand of Ger¬ many in its negotiations with the United States.” Mr. Flood was a “sympathetic listener” and promised his co-operation in Congress “with the executive branch of the Government.” This intervention of the Department of State into the controversy between the Presi¬ dent and the opposition in Congress was of considerable assistance in saving a situation which had “almost got away from Mr. Wil¬ son.” 44 It was the opinion of David Lawrence that “some of the blame for the mix-up must rest squarely on President Wilson,” who permitted the situation to “drift out of his hands.” The “bewildering tactics” of the President gave his foes in Congress the opportunity to claim that his leadership was a “will-o’-the-wisp thing that might one day commit the country to passive neutrality, and suddenly con¬ vert it on the next into militant belligerency.” 45 There is little doubt that some of the most important Democratic leaders had grave fears that the President was ready to plunge America into war. Chief among these was Claude Kitchin, who was convinced of the President’s belligerent tendencies. As early as Febru¬ ary 26 he wrote to Victor V. Aderholdt that he would not be surprised if America was at . . . war with Germany in thirty days, unless Congress shall pass a reso¬ lution warning American citizens not to take passage on vessels of the belligerents which are armed.46 42 New York Times, February 25, 1916. 43 New York World, February 26, 1916. 44 David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, February 26, 1916. One can safely discount the dubious statement of the choleric Carter Glass with reference to the extent of the opposition to the President: “I have been unable to discover any revolt. A few cloakroom statesmen have jumped on the political hand car bound for hell. ... I fail to find any coaches trailing after the hand car.” New York World, February 25, 1916. 45 New York Evening Post, February 28, 1916. 46 Kitchin to V. V. Aderholdt, February 26, 1916, Kitchin MS. Because of his opposition to the policies of the Administration, Mr. Kitchin had to bear the brunt

474

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Three days later he expressed the view that the President was anxious to have America enter the war on the side of the Allies: — The President, in his unreasonable and obstinate stand in the present sub-marine controversy, is making the biggest mistake of his life. How¬ ever, I think Congress has tended to modify him somewhat. Confiden¬ tially, I think the President is anxious for war with Germany, — his sym¬ pathies are so strong for the Allies. ... I fear the President is going to watch for the first opportunity to strike at Germany and involve this coun¬ try in a world-wide war.47 The President’s opportunity in this regard would largely depend upon the action of the German Government relative to the threatened sinking of enemy armed merchant vessels. It should be remembered that on February 8 the German Foreign Office had announced that “within a short period” the armed merchant vessels of enemy powers would be sunk at sight. In the Imperial order to naval officers in charge of submarine operations (February 11), it was clearly pointed out that enemy merchant ships should be destroyed only if the sub¬ marine commanders were “certain” that they carried armament. On February 23, through the agency of Admiral von Holtzendorff and Vice-Admiral Scheer, a new order was drawn up which provided that passenger boats, even though armed, should not be destroyed. “Passenger boats” were defined in accompanying oral instructions as “large ships which are devoted exclusively to the transport of pas¬ sengers.” 48 It was unfortunate that J;his latest order regulating submarine warfare was not immediately communicated to the American Govern¬ ment. Instead, Count Bernstorff, in a statement to the press (Febru¬ ary 28), simply repeated the provisions of the Imperial order of February 11: — German submarine commanders, in opening the new campaign, have positive orders to attack without warning no ships unless they have abso¬ lute knowledge that the merchantmen are armed.49 of every type of abuse from pro-Ally supporters in all parts of the country. The following letter from the Reverend Le Roy Weller, President of Beaver College, Beaver, Pennsylvania-, is typical: “The country was shocked to find that we had so many pro-German rebels in Congress — traitors to the honor and moral in¬ tegrity of our nation. We could hardly believe that the yellow streak was so deeply ingrained in you.” 47 Kitchin to the Rev. Charles H. Nash, February 29, 1916, Kitchin MS. 48 Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. Ill, pp. 118-119. 49 New York World, February 29, 1916.

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He also submitted a memorandum to Secretary Lansing in which it was stated that . . . the Imperial Government reiterates the pledges given on Septem¬ ber i and October 5, 1915, and does not consider that these assurances have been modified by subsequent events. The negotiations conducted between the American and German Governments concerning the Lusitania incident never referred to armed merchantmen. . . . The orders issued to the German naval commanders are so formulated that enemy liners may not be destroyed on account of their armament unless such armament is proved.50 It is a pity that Count Bernstorff was not instructed to assure the American Government that all liners, whether armed or not, were to be exempt from destruction by German submarines. This was the substance of the instructions given to submarine commanders on February 24, and if Secretary Lansing had been advised of this fact it might have eased the tension between the two governments. The German Government failed in this respect, and the news that came to Washington from Berlin was quite discouraging. According to Karl H. von Wiegand an impression prevailed in “responsible quar¬ ters” in Germany that President Wilson wanted “a break with Ger¬ many and that Germany must look that possibility squarely in the face.” 51 This alarming press notice from Berlin helped to keep alive the fear in many Congressional minds that the President was still inclined towards war with Germany. His insistence upon the rights of Ameri¬ can citizens to take passage upon armed merchant ships of belligerent powers was regarded by some Democratic leaders as quixotic and war-provoking. The Gore-McLemore resolutions had been introduced as a means of impressing the President with the strength of anti-war sentiment in Congress, and their passage by large majorities had been confidently predicted. The President had never believed in these pre¬ dictions, and on February 29 he suddenly decided to force the fight and compel a vote on these resolutions. On that day he wrote a letter to Representative Edward W. Pou, Acting Chairman of the Com50 Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, February 28, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 181-182. 51 New York World, February 28, 1916.

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mittee on Rules, and frankly urged him to press for an early vote upon them.52 The President followed this letter to Mr. Pou with a request that Senators Stone and Kern, together with Representative Flood, attend a White House conference on this matter of American travel on armed merchantmen of belligerent powers. Shortly after this con¬ ference adjourned the President called Speaker Clark and Representa¬ tive Kitchin to the White House to consult with them upon the same topic. In Congress there was unusual turmoil as the news of these con¬ ferences spread through Democratic ranks. It was apparent that the President was “not personally popular with Congress,” and if it had been a “mere personal question,” he would have found “half the Democrats against him.” But the members of Congress realized “only too well that the President has the whip-hand in international situa¬ tions,” and that in matters of foreign policy he can “always rouse the patriotism of the country to his support.” 53 In accordance with the desire of the President the question of armed merchant ships was debated in the Senate on March 2 and Senator Stone embraced the opportunity to present the President’s viewpoint: — As I understand it, the President’s attitude is this: That he has con¬ cluded to support the contention that belligerent merchant ships have a right under international law to bear arms for defensive purposes. What he may regard as a defensive armament I do not know, . . . Further62 President Wilson to Representative Edward W. Pou, February 29, 1915, For. Rel., 1916, p. 185. This letter to Representative Pou insisting upon a vote on the Gore-McLemore resolutions caused “a sensation and created a situation of almost unparalleled import. Foreign diplomats regarded it with astonishment. Students of constitutional government looked on it as a new turn in Mr. Wilson’s conception of the Presidency, an effort, by analogy to the English Ministerial situa¬ tion, to obtain a vote of confidence representative of the desires of the people.” (David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, March 1, 1916.) See also the New York Herald, March 1, 1916, which considered the situation resulting from the send¬ ing of the President’s letter to Mr. Pou as “one of the most remarkable in the history of the American government. . . . Congress is panicstricken by the suddenness of the President’s demand, but the President is calm and confident of success.” Accord¬ ing to the New York Sun, March 2, 1916, Postmaster Burleson had “counselled the writing of the letter to Representative Pou and was mainly responsible for initiat¬ ing it.” 33 David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, March 1, 1916. With reference to the President’s letter to Representative Pou the New York Herald (March x) stated that it had “stunned” such Democratic leaders as Speaker Clark and Repre¬ sentatives Flood and Kitchin. They had “strongly resented the course of the Presi¬ dent in ignoring Congress. Speaker Clark has not forgotten the fact that the President kept him waiting six hours last week before informing him whether the Speaker would be received at the White House.”

CONGRESS CALLS A HALT

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more, if a German war vessel should, without warning, fire upon and sink an armed merchantman of the enemy, he would hold the attack to be a lawless act, and if American citizens should suffer therefrom he would hold the German Government to the strictest account. If, notwithstand¬ ing, the German Government should persist in their policy he would sever diplomatic relations and submit the matter to Congress, which under the Constitution is the war-making power. The Senator then stated his own attitude, which was in sharp contrast to that of the President: — I can not but believe that a belligerent merchant ship heavily armed — no matter whether it be called defensive or offensive armament — en¬ gaged in transporting contraband war material to the army or navy of her sovereign, is in all essential respects the equivalent of a duly commissioned war vessel.54 After a short debate in which Senators Lodge, Williams, and James opposed the resolution as an invasion of the President’s right to direct and control the foreign policy of the United States, the Senate passed on to a consideration of other topics. The next day (March 3) Senator Gore introduced the following modification of his resolution: — Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring). That the sinking by a German submarine without notice or warning of an armed merchant vessel of her public enemy, resulting in the death of a citizen of the United States would constitute a just and sufficient cause of war between the United States and the German Empire.55 In the wording of this amended resolution Senator Gore stole the thunder of the President and presented the real viewpoint of the Administration. It would never do, of course, for the recusant Senator from Oklahoma to act as the President’s spokesman, and moreover, the President did not wish to have a clear vote on the attitude of the Administration. He would much prefer to hide his leaning toward war under the cloak of an ardent defense of the right of American citizens to sail on armed merchantmen of the belligerent powers. It would be best to lay this provocative resolu64 Cong. Rec., vol. 53, pp. 3405-3406. It is important to call attention to the fact that the American press, on this question of the right to travel on the armed merchantmen of the belligerent powers, fell in line behind the President “with al¬ most complete unanimity.’’ Literary Digest, March 11, 1916, p. 625. 55 Cong. Rec., vol. 53, p. 3464-

478

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TO

WAR

tion on the table; and this was accomplished through a vote of 68 yeas to 14 nays.56 This action of the Senate was in no sense a clean-cut victory for the President. Even Senator Gore voted to table his own amended resolution, and Senator Jones, of Washington, declared that the Senate had “not passed on the issue. We have only done like the ostrich, and in the face of danger have covered our heads in the sand.” 67 The hollow nature of the President’s victory was instantly recog¬ nized by newspapermen like David Lawrence, who expressed the opinion that the affirmative vote in the Senate gave “small solace” to the Chief Executive. He was certain that the President had really gained “very little,” and could not . . . rest content with such contradictory, confusing, befogging votes as came to-day. The larger issues underlying the whole controversy lie un¬ settled. As many Senators as before are in favor of warning Americans to keep off belligerent ships. Germany knows what a considerable num¬ ber that is and, furthermore, by the evasive tactics of the Senate, is clearly encouraged to believe that the matter of protecting Americans on the high seas never will be a casus belli between the United States and Germany.58 In the House of Representatives the vote on the McLemore reso¬ lution was equally unsatisfactory. In the letter of the President to Mr. Pou, Acting Chairman of the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives, it was asserted that a vote on the pending resolutions (Gore-McLemore) was important because it would clear away all “doubts and conjectures” as to the attitude of Congress upon the question of armed merchantmen. The President was particularly anxious to have a vote upon the McLemore resolution, because he knew very well that it was awkwardly drafted. It had a long, rambling preamble which many members of Congress regarded as highly un¬ satisfactory, and for this reason the resolution could not command a majority vote.59 What was chiefly desired by the opponents of the President was a simple resolution of warning to American citizens to 69 Cong. Rec., vol. 53, p. 3465. 67 New York Evening Post, March 3, 1916. Senators Chamberlain and O’Gorman were the only Democrats to vote against the Administration. The other twelve anti-Administration votes were all Republican. Forty-seven Democrats and twentyone Republicans voted to table the resolution. 88 David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, March 3, 1916. 99 Kitchin to D. C. Syme, March 9, 1916, Kitchin MS.

CONGRESS CALLS A HALT

479

refrain from traveling on armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers. Such a resolution might very well secure a majority vote, and the President was determined to defeat any such possibility. The will of a large number of the members of the House of Representatives was to be deliberately thwarted by the President’s insistence upon a vote on the unamended McLemore resolution. When Mr. McLemore discovered that the long preamble to his resolution was distasteful to many important Democrats he appeared before the . . . Rules Committee and asked it to strike out all of his resolution, ex¬ cept the warning feature, but the Committee declined to do so.60 Under Presidential pressure both the Rules Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs refused to permit a simple resolution of warning to be substituted for the unpopular McLemore resolution. The situation was clearly described by Mr. Kitchin in a letter to a friend : If we were to get to a square vote on the proposition in the House, I am confident that a large majority of the House would favor such a resolution, but under the rules of the House we cannot get to a vote on it, unless the Foreign Affairs Committee would report out a resolution and the Rules Committee make it in order to be voted on. The Foreign Af¬ fairs Committee will not report out such a resolution.61 After defeating every attempt of his opponents to bring before the House of Representatives a substitute for the McLemore resolution, the President then had Secretary Lansing furnish to Mr. Flood a lengthy memorandum which rehearsed a number of arguments against this unpopular measure of Mr. McLemore. It was “useless,” declared Secretary Lansing, to warn Americans not to travel on armed ships, because “the present discussion of the question must have brought the matter home to their minds more forcibly than could be done by any Congressional resolution.” Moreover, if Ameri¬ can citizens had a right to travel on these armed ships, any warning to them that they traveled at their own risk was “to take away from them a right which belongs to them instead of defending a right which they are entitled to enjoy.” Finally, there was no “just ground for Congressional interference in the effort to change the Government’s 60 Kitchin to Frank W. Schilling, March 9, 1916, Kitchin MS. 61 Kitchin to Edwin C. Smith, March 4, 1916, ibid.

480

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

position or to weaken its position in the midst of pending diplomatic negotiations.” 62 Fearing that these data were not sufficiently convincing, Secretary Lansing then sent (March 4) another memorandum to Mr. Flood (Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs), drafted by a group of so-called “experts,” relative to the question of travel on armed merchant ships. This memorandum first alluded to the right of merchant ships to carry armament and to resist capture. It then de¬ veloped the idea that inasmuch as submarines could not make ample provision for the safety of the passengers and crews of prizes, the commerce-destroying activities of submarines would have to cease. The United States was under a sacred obligation to protect the lives and property of its citizens. Any failure to carry out this obligation in the face of a German threat illegally to sink armed merchantmen would amount to a base betrayal of American national honor.63 It is remarkable that in these memoranda submitted to Representa¬ tive Flood there is no mention of the paragraph in the Nereide case which indicates that an armed merchant ship is “an open and declared belligerent; claiming all the rights, and subject to all the dangers of the belligerent character.” From this explicit statement of the law in the case it clearly follows that armed merchant ships can legiti¬ mately resist capture, but, by so doing, they render themselves liable to be fired upon and destroyed. Citizens of neutral countries on board these armed merchant ships are on no safer footing than the actively hostile crews. It is apparent, therefore, that these memoranda, which were submitted to Mr. Flood for his enlightenment, were based upon an unsound interpretation of law. The Administration had no basis for its claim that armed merchantmen had a “peaceful character,” and it was equally at fault in its contention that these armed merchant ships could not be destroyed if such action imperiled the lives of American citizens taking passage on them.64 The attitude of the Administration with regard to the McLemore resolution was more disingenuous than is usually realized. We have already indicated how the President purposely blocked every attempt to bring before the House of Representatives a simple resolution of 92 Secretary Lansing to Representative Henry D. Flood, March 3, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 463-464. 93 President Wilson’s Foreign Policy, (ed. by J. B. Scott, N.Y., 1918), Appendix p. 411. 84 Edwin Borchard and William P. Lage, Neutrality for the United States, pp. 105-106. See also ante pp. 428-429.

CONGRESS CALLS A HALT

481

warning to American citizens to refrain from sailing on the armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers. Through pressure upon the Rules Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, he wished to force a vote upon the unpopular McLemore resolution which did not express the viewpoint of the majority of the members of the House. He would then use this vote as an indication that the House of Rep¬ resentatives was in support of his viewpoint and was opposed to a resolution of warning. With regard to the memoranda submitted to Mr. Flood by Secre¬ tary Lansing and by certain “specialists” in international law it should be noted that the President was probably aware of the dubious quality of these data. It seems incredible that the Secretary of State and these associated “specialists” would have had the effrontery to suppress, without the knowledge of the President, the paragraph in John Mar¬ shall’s opinion in the case of the Nereide which gave the lie to their contentions. This would have been going a little too far for a Secre¬ tary of State who was usually overdeferential to authority. The responsibility for this little exercise in deception rests upon the President’s shoulders; its exact nature is described in the following excerpt from a statement by John Bassett Moore: — Of Marshall’s opinion in this famous case [the Nereide] a garbled ver¬ sion was got out here, a version so false as to constitute practically a forgery; but it was widely disseminated, and was used in speeches even in Congress. I repeat that this version practically involved forgery, because it omitted from Marshall’s opinion the passage in which it was declared that the ship, by reason of the fact that she was armed, was to be regarded as “an open and declared belligerent, claiming all the rights, and subject to all the dangers of the belligerent character.” 65 Armed with these partisan memoranda of a most suspicious nature, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs proceeded on March 4 to report the McLemore Resolution with a recommendation that it be 65 “Memorandum” by John Bassett Moore submitted to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings on S. 3474, 74th Cong., 2d sess., Jan. 10-Feb. 5, 1936, p. 185. It is interesting to note at this point the following telegram sent by Hamilton Fish, Progressive Assemblyman from Putnam County, New York, to Representatives James R. Mann and Nicholas Longworth, Jr.: “Thought you would like to know that John Bassett Moore is opposed to President Wilson on the question of armed merchantmen on the ground that a submarine is a belligerent warship and has the right of visit and search, and that guns on merchantmen are for the purpose of defending themselves against the given right of visit and search. He believes in warning Americans.” New York Evening Post, March 7, 1916.

482

AMERICA

GOES

TO WAR

tabled. This action was taken after Secretary McAdoo and Post¬ master Burleson had indicated to certain members of the committee that it was the President’s desire to have the resolution reported with¬ out any statement by the committee. This Presidential desire was thwarted by an adverse vote of thirteen to five.66 In view of the strength of the opposition in Congress, the Presi¬ dent was by no means confident of victory at this time, and he sent a wireless to Colonel House (en route from London to New York) to hasten to Washington as soon as he landed. This request was gladly complied with by the Colonel, who was anxious to give the Chief Executive some much-needed lessons in the conduct of American foreign policy. He felt annoyed that the President and Secretary Lansing had revived the armed merchant ship issue with the resulting storm in Congress. If they had “held the situation quiescent” it would have been far easier to pave the way for American intervention on behalf of the Allies.67 Early on the morning of March 6, the Colonel arrived in Washing¬ ton, and it was not long before he had the President in a most peni¬ tent mood for permitting the armed merchant ship controversy to assume such dangerous proportions. As recorded in the Colonel’s Diary, the President “took occasion to blame himself and Lansing for allowing this controversy to crop out. The President showed an admirable spirit in refusing to shirk responsibility.” 68 Like a schoolboy taken to task for some serious infraction of rules,69 the President hastened to give a most cordial endorsement to everything the Colonel had done in Europe. The House-Grey agree¬ ment of February 22 was instantly accepted with but one amendment — the insertion by the President of the word “probably.” In the memorandum as drafted by Sir Edward Grey it was provided that the President, upon hearing from France and England, should pro¬ pose that a Conference be summoned to put an end to the war. If such a Conference met and failed to agree upon peace terms, the United States would leave the Conference as a belligerent on the 66 New York Herald, March 4, 1916. According to this account in the Herald it was admitted that “many members of Congress, in fact, the majority of the committee, felt as a matter of personal conviction that Americans should be warned off armed merchantmen, but did not care to interfere with the administration.” 67 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 218-219. 68 Ibid., p. 219. 69 In this connection it is pertinent to record the description of Colonel House as given in the Paris Journal des Debats to the effect that he was the “friend, inspirer, boss, and alter ego” of President Wilson. Literary Digest, March 18, 1916.

CONGRESS

CALLS

A

HALT

483

side of the Allies. On March 6 the President amended this last clause so as to read that the “United States would probably leave the Con¬ ference as a belligerent on the side of the Allies.” 70 The President then hastened to sanction (on March 7) in the “most emphatic manner” the Colonel’s promise to the Allies by drafting a cablegram to Sir Edward Grey announcing the formal acceptance of the agreement with the insertion of the word “prob¬ ably.” For obvious reasons this cablegram was actually signed by Colonel House.71 On the very day that the President signified his desire to abandon American neutrality in favor of intervention on behalf of the Allies, the vote was taken in the House of Representatives on the McLemore resolution. In order to placate his opponents in Congress, who feared that the Administration was endeavoring to lead America into the World War, the President gave out some assurances through Senator Owen of Oklahoma. During a conversation with the Senator the President “took occasion to explain he never has had any other idea than if relations with Germany approach the point of breach he would lay the whole matter before Congress.” 72 In this manner the Presi¬ dent attempted to banish the “Stone-Kern War Bogey,” and he had high hopes that a majority in Congress would accept these peace gestures as genuine. In the House of Representatives the vote on the McLemore resolu¬ tion fulfilled the President’s expectations. It was tabled by a vote of 276 yeas to 142 nays.73 But it was a barren victory. An unpopular and awkwardly drawn resolution had been defeated largely because of a reluctance in Congress to embarrass the President in the conduct of American foreign relations. The vote, however, was in no sense an approval of a Presidential policy leading to war with Germany. Quite the opposite was true. As David Lawrence interpreted the situation, Congress would . . . not sanction war between the United States and the Central Powers because of the loss hereafter of any American lives on belligerent ships. This is the unwritten but unmistakable mandate of both Houses. Two

70 The

Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 201. 71 Charles Seymour, American Diplomacy During the World War, pp. 154 ff72 New York Herald, March 7, 1916. On March 5 the New York Herald pub¬ lished a rumor that the President was “contemplating resigning.” Such a rumor was circulated in the days of President Grant in order to frighten his lukewarm supporters into instant obedience. 72 Cong. Rec., March 7, 1916, vol. 53, 3720.

484

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

weeks of incursion in the field of diplomacy by the Congress has properly failed to put on the record an explicit abandonment of American rights, but even the most ardent and thick-and-thin supporters of the Administra¬ tion will reluctantly admit that one thing has been clearly settled — viola¬ tion of the rights of Americans to travel on belligerent vessels is not regarded as a just cause of war. . . . On the issue of peace and war, the Congress . . . made it perfectly evident that the peace of America was a much more precious thing than the defence of indiscreet Americans who venture across the seas under belligerent flags. . . . The outstanding fact is that . . . Congress will not vote for war, however insistent the Executive may be upon it.74 There is little doubt that David Lawrence was correct in his analysis of Congressional opinion with reference to the prevailing disposition for peace. Congress was in no mood for war and the tabling of the McLemore resolution was in no real sense a triumph for the Administration. But the White House refused to take a realistic view of the situation, and a telegram was sent to the Ameri¬ can Ambassadors in the “European Belligerent Countries” announc¬ ing the very questionable fact that the President had won a “decisive victory” in the House of Representatives.75 After hearing the news of the vote on the McLemore resolution the President (March 7) called Senator Stone to the White House for a conference. He quickly banished all the fears the Senator had entertained that the Administration was desirous of war with Ger¬ many. After the conference was over the Senator gave the following reassuring statement to the press: — 74 New York Evening Post, March 8, 1916. Of the same tenor is the statement of William Jennings Bryan on March 8, 1916. Mr. Bryan was certain that the vote on the McLemore resolution did not represent the real sentiment of Congress on the actual issue of warning Americans not to sail on the armed merchant ships of the belligerent powers. The question had been presented “in such a way that there is little significance in the vote. It does not represent the sentiment in Congress as to the wisdom of Americans travelling upon belligerent merchantmen. Had this question been presented and the opinion of Congress asked upon it, there is no doubt that a majority in both Senate and House would express themselves in favor of preventing Americans from travelling into the danger zone on belligerent ships.” New York Evening Post, March 8, 1916. 75 Secretary Lansing to the Ambassadors in European Belligerent Countries, March 8, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., p. 202. In a geographical analysis of the vote in the House of Representatives on the McLemore resolution the New York Times reveals the fact that “President Wilson’s chief support lay in the delega¬ tions from the Atlantic Seaboard States, while the Middle West recorded a major¬ ity against the President’s policy on the armed-ship issue.” While New England cast only three votes against the motion to table the resolution, the delegations from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin voted solidly against the Ad¬ ministration. Literary Digest, March 18, 1916, pp. 697-698.

CONGRESS CALLS A HALT

485

Last night [March 7] I had a very frank talk with the President. . . . I am sure I will not offend if I say that, so far from the President desir¬ ing to involve this country in this disastrous European war, his supreme wish is to avoid that calamity. I may not be in accord with some of his views; I have already stated that on the Senate floor, but it would be impossible for any Senator to believe that the President has so changed the attitude he has so long maintained as an advocate of peace as to wish now to make this country a party to this conflict.76 As a strange sequel to this talk of peace the President authorized (March 8) a telegram from Colonel House to Sir Edward Grey. It was a brief message which contained a pledge that America would co-operate with the Allies in order to bring peace to war-torn Europe. American involvement in the World War would merely await a sum¬ mons from London. In the graphic phraseology of Professor Sey¬ mour: “Thus did Opportunity knock loudly upon the door of the Allied Cabinets.” 77 But thanks to British obtuseness and not to the pacific desires of President Wilson, the entry of America into the war was postponed for another year.78 A strange interlude based upon the theme of a “Holy War” had been given its premiere before an 76 Statement of Senator Stone in the New York Evening Post, March 8, 1916. 77 The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 203. 78 President Charles Seymour, in his excellent volume American Diplomacy During the World War, pp. 161-172, treats in detail the reasons why the Allies neglected to follow the lead of President Wilson in this matter of the House-Grey Agreement and thus enlist the early assistance of the United States against the Central Powers. Lloyd George has sharply criticized the failure of the Allies to take up this American offer. Sir Edward Grey is made to bear the largest share of the blame in this regard, and President Wilson is castigated by Lloyd George be¬ cause he did not place the whole matter in a clearer, more definite light. Colonel House, July 20, 1933, expressed the opinion that it was “futile to speculate now on where the blame lay for not acting upon this offer, but that it was not accepted constitutes one of the monumental blunders of the war.” President Seymour himself indicates that one of the strongest reasons for the failure of the Allies to accept this Ameri¬ can offer was their disinclination to sacrifice “the right to dictate a peace based upon complete military victory.” Before closing this chapter it is important to take some notice of the divergence of opinion with reference to the so-called “Sunrise Conference.” This controversy started in June, 1925, when Gilson Gardner published in McNaught’s Monthly, for that date, an article entitled “Why We Delayed Entering the War.” Mr. Gardner based part of his account on letters he had received from Claude Kitchin, who attended this conference, and from Mrs. Champ Clark, whose husband also at¬ tended the conference. In neither of these letters is there any mention of the date of the “Sunrise Conference,” but it is apparent from the references in the letter of Mrs. Clark that she believes that this historic meeting took place at the time of the debate on the McLemore resolution (in February, 1916). Mr. Gardner, however, assumes that the conference “took place presumably early in April, 1916.” Mr. George S. Viereck (The Strangest Friendship in History, pp. 182-183), is of the opinion that the Sunrise Conference took place in February, 1916. Other publi¬ cists with a similar viewpoint are Walter Millis (Road to War, pp. 273-274), and C. Hartley Grattan (Why We Fought, pp. 363-364). Senator T. P. Gore, who was intimately acquainted with every aspect of Congressional opposition in 1916,

486

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

unappreciative audience which loudly called for the main show. For several months longer the drama of American Neutrality would still hold the stage in the national theater and would decline in popularity only when the Presidential hero, deserted by his entire cast, began to fumble his lines. believes that the Sunrise Conference was held on the morning of February 23, 1916 (Letter from Senator Gore to Mr. H. C. Peterson, June 20, 1934, Gore MS). This viewpoint that the Sunrise Conference was held in February, 1916, has been recently assailed by Professor Alex M. Arnett in a book entitled Claude Kitchin and the Wilson War Policies (Boston, 1937), chap, iii, who is certain that the conference took place in April, 1916. Whether the conference occurred in Feb¬ ruary or in April seems to Professor Arnett to be a “rather significant question.” In his opinion the “situation in April was more grave, and judging from the mili¬ tant press, the country was more warlike than ever before.” In order to prove his contention that this conference was held in April, 1916, Professor Arnett quotes from a letter from Congressman Kitchin to Mr. C. H. Claudy, April 2, 1921. In this letter Mr. Kitchin fixes the date of the Sunrise Conference as sometime in April, 1916. This letter to Mr. Claudy was written after Mr. Kitchin had suffered a “stroke” from the effects of which “he never entirely recovered.” (This is the opinion of Professor Arnett himself.) It is possible that this stroke affected the memory of Mr. Kitchin for exact details. Senator Bennett Champ Clark was Parliamentarian of the House of Represent¬ atives in the spring of 1916 and was intimately associated with his father (the Speaker) in all questions of Congressional interest. In a letter to Professor Arnett, August 15, 1936, Senator Clark expresses the opinion that the Sunrise Conference was held in connection with the “Sussex incident in April, 1916.” (Claude Kitchin and the Wilson War Policies, pp. 191-192.) But despite this support that Professor Arnett has been able to secure with reference to his contention that the Sunrise Conference was held in April, 1916, it seems to the present author that the older view is more correct. America was far closer to war in February, 1916, than in April of that year. This fact is apparent from a close reading of the Kitchin manuscripts in the library of the University of North Carolina. As one goes through these manuscripts it is clear that Mr. Kitchin himself was very fearful of war in the last week in February, 1916, at the very time when the Gore-McLemore resolutions were being hotly discussed in Congress. On February 28, 1916, this fear of Mr. Kitchin of the imminence of war reaches its climax, and we find him writing a series of letters expressing this deep anxiety to Mr. J. P. Pogue, Rev. C. Lauterback, Mr. J. S. McRae, Mr. O. A. Snipes, Capt. D. T. Ward, and Mr. J. L. Burchett. On March 3, 5, and 9 he is still fearful of the possibility of war with Germany, but by March 11, in a letter to Mr. T. C. Alston, he writes that the “excitement over the German situation has died out, but, on the quiet, we are still alarmed here over it.” The Sussex was torpedoed on March 24, 1916, and during the entire month of April there was a crisis which at times seemed serious. During this month there is practically no reflection in the Kitchin manuscripts of any fear that war is at hand. There is a letter of April 22 to Mr. R. S. Patterson which carries the fol¬ lowing illustrative comment: “I trust we can find a way to avoid war with Ger¬ many.” If Mr. Kitchin had felt any great anxiety about war in April, 1916, it is very probable that he would have expressed this fear in his confidential correspond¬ ence as he freely did in February and in the first two weeks in March. The Sun¬ rise Conference came at a time when this fear was uppermost in his mind and when the crisis was most acute — February, 1916. It is significant that the Lansing manuscript Diary fails to reveal any likelihood of war in March or April of 1916. The entries in the last week in February, 1916, show far more evidence of a crisis than those of a later period.

XVIII THE KAISER CHOOSES PEACE WITH AMERICA RATHER THAN VICTORY AT VERDUN The evident eagerness of the President to have the Gore-McLemore resolutions tabled by a decisive vote in Congress was not entirely due to a desire to protect the Presidential prerogative from invasion by an obtrusive Congress. It was more than a mere academic question. Once more the sinister shadow of German plots fell across the quiet corridors of the White House and gave the Chief Executive deep concern. For some months there had been increasing indications that the National German-American Alliance was preparing a program that would seriously embarrass the Democratic Administration, and in March, 1916, the New York World published a series of articles exposing what purported to be the malign activities of certain mem¬ bers of this Alliance. The three chief items in this calendar of German depravity were: a law that wished to travel on armed an embargo on contraband prohibit Federal Reserve

would refuse passports to Americans who merchant ships of the belligerent powers; of war; and finally, legislation that would banks from subscribing to foreign war

loans. From the viewpoint of today these three items appear thoroughly commendable. To Administration supporters in 1916 they had a most forbidding aspect and were nothing less than a part of an organized effort to “rule America from Potsdam.” According to some press dispatches “the President and his advisers” were fearful that there was a widespread German plot to secure the defeat of the Democratic party and to secure control of the American Government “in the interest of the German cause.” 1 The President seemed seriously concerned about the situation. He had little reason to doubt that subversive plots were being hatched by wicked Germans. Colonel House had several times warned him to be prepared for a “possible outbreak” fomented by persons in German 1 Literary Digest, March 18, 1916, p. 699.

488

AMERICA GOES TO WAR

employ.2 Other persons close to the President were equally suspicious of German intrigue and they helped to create an atmosphere of “watchful waiting.” It was very difficult, therefore, for the Chief Executive to view events in an impartial manner. The day after the tabling of the McLemore resolution, Count Bernstorff had a conference with Secretary Lansing and left at the Department of State a lengthy memorandum reciting British infrac¬ tions of international law and justifying German policy. The con¬ cluding paragraph of this memorandum expressed the confident feel¬ ing that the . . . people of the United States, remembering the friendly relations that for the last hundred years have existed between the two nations, will, in spite of the difficulties put into the way by our enemies, appreciate the German viewpoint as laid down above.3 Count Bernstorff was anxious to give this memorandum to the press as a means of influencing American public opinion, and Secre¬ tary Lansing assured him that he could see “no objection” to its being printed inasmuch as it “did not affect the negotiations between the two Governments.” 4 President Wilson, however, thought very differ¬ ently, and he voiced his pointed objections in the following note to Secretary Lansing: — In view of the wording of the last paragraph of this communication, it is evident to me that it is intended not in any sense as a proper memorandum for the information of this Government but as an appeal to American public opinion, and, for my own part, I resent being made use of in this way. Do you not think that it would be well to ask the German Ambassador why, since it is addressed to the American people and makes no reference whatever to a desire to inform the Government of the United States of the subject matter of its contents, it was handed to this Government at all?6 It was evident that the President was not in a friendly mood towards Germany and it is not surprising that he took further steps in the direction of an entente with the Allies. The opportunity for a display of this amicable attitude towards the Allied Powers was 2 8 pp. 4 6

President Wilson to Colonel House, August 25, 1915, House MS Count Bernstorff to Secretary Lansing, March 8, 1916, For. Rel., 1016 Subbl 198-200. ’ Ibid., p. 198. President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, March 8, 1916, MS. Dept, of State.

THE

KAISER

CHOOSES

PEACE

WITH

AMERICA

489

afforded by the replies of the Belgian, British, French, Italian, and Russian Governments to the Lansing proposal of January 18 relative to armed merchantmen. When these nations frankly rejected the American suggestion to remove armament from their merchant ships because Germany’s “lack of good faith’’ prevented them from accept¬ ing her assurances,6 the American Government hastened to place on record a definitive statement of its own position. In a memorandum of March 25, 1916, the Department of State completely reversed its position of January 18. It was now provided that a belligerent warship should determine the status of an armed enemy merchant¬ man encountered on the high seas before taking any action. The determination of warlike character must rest not upon presumption but upon “conclusive evidence.” A presumption based solely on the presence of an armament on board an enemy merchant vessel would not be a sufficient reason to declare it a warship liable to instant attack. Conclusive evidence of a “purpose to use the armament for aggres¬ sion is essential.” If this evidence is lacking it should be presumed that “the vessel has a private and peaceable character and it should be so treated by an enemy warship.” On the high seas a belligerent war¬ ship could test by “actual experience the purpose of an armament on an enemy merchant vessel, and so determine by direct evidence the status of the vessel.” 7 In the case of submarines this test by “actual experience” would often prove fatal, and this fact had been clearly recognized by Secre¬ tary Lansing many months prior to his proposal of January 18. The rules he now laid down with reference to armed merchant ships ran counter both to the historic American position and to common sense. 6 For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 211-213. In the British memorandum transmitted to Secretary Lansing by Ambassador Spring Rice on March 23, 1916, it is frankly stated that the “enemy’s lack of good faith, evidenced in too many instances to permit of their being regarded as isolated accidents, justifies the most serious doubt as to the possibility of putting into practice the suggestions thus formulated. . . . Great Britain is unable to agree that, upon a non-guaranteed German promise, human life may be surrendered defenseless to the mercy of an enemy who, in circumstances of this kind as in many others, has shown himself to be both faith¬ less and lawless.” For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 2x1-212. 1 “Memorandum on the status of armed merchant vessels, March 25, 1916,” For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 244-248. The absurdity of this test by “actual experi¬ ence” was clearly recognized by many Americans holding official positions. Some weeks previously (February 22, 1916) Ambassador Gerard wrote to Colonel House to express the opinion that it was “an absurd proposition that a submarine must come to the surface, give warning, offer to put passengers and crew in safety, and constitute a target for merchant ships, that not only make a practice of firing at submarines at sight, but have undoubtedly received orders to do so.” Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 210.

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

Unquestionably they were political rules which favored the Allied viewpoint, and they served to pave the way for American interven¬ tion in April, 1917. Their invalid character from the viewpoint of international law has been clearly demonstrated by Professor Charles C. Hyde.8 This evident inclination on the part of the Administration towards the side of the Allies made war a definite possibility when on March 25 news reached America that the Sussex, a French cross-channel steamer from Folkestone to Dieppe, had been torpedoed with Ameri¬ cans on board. The crisis in German-American relations that resulted from this attack can best be understood when it is studied in con¬ nection with the German submarine campaign that went into effect on February 29, 1916. In a previous chapter it has already been pointed out that the German Admiralty on February 24 sent to all commanders of submarines an order to spare “enemy passenger boats whether armed or not.” 9 This decision was partly the result of the strong stand taken by Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, with reference to the necessity of conciliating America and thus keeping her neutral. Because of the determined opposition of the Chancellor to any pro¬ gram of unrestricted submarine warfare, the Emperor believed it was expedient to call a conference to meet at Charleville to discuss the situation. But this Charleville conference led to no immediate results. Ad¬ miral von Holtzendorff was convinced that an unrestricted sub8 With regard to this memorandum of the Department of State, March 25, 1916, Professor Hyde remarks as follows: “It fails to heed the fact that the immunity of merchant vessels from attack at sight grew out of their impotency to endanger the safety of public armed vessels of an enemy, and that maritime States have never acquiesced in a principle that a merchant vessel so armed as to be capable of destroying a vessel of war of any kind should enjoy immunity from attack at sight. . . . That an armed merchantman may retain its status as a private ship is not decisive of the treatment to which it may be subjected. The potentiality and special adaptability of the vessel to engage in hostile operations fraught with danger to the safety of an enemy vessel of war, . . . have been and should be deemed the test of the right of the opposing belligerent to attack it at sight. In view of this fact the lawful presence on board the armed merchantman of neutral persons or property cannot give rise to a duty towards the ship not otherwise apparent. Every occupant thereof must be held to assume that the enemy will use every lawful but no unlawful means to subject the vessel to control or destroy it. To test the propriety of an attack at sight by the existence of conclusive proof of the aggressive purpose of the merchantman places an unreasonable burden on a vessel of war of an unprotected type. ... It is believed, therefore, that the equipment of a belligerent merchant marine for hostile service, even though designed to be defensive rather than offensive, serves, on principle, to deprive the armed vessels of the right to claim immunity from attack without warning.” C. C. Hyde, Inter¬ national Law Chiefly as Interpreted and Applied by the United States, vol. II, pp. 469-471. 9 See ante, pp. 474-475.

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marine campaign would in the course of six or eight months force England to sue for peace. General von Falkenhayn was certain that unless a drastic U-boat war was soon initiated Germany would suffer irreparable damage. But the Chancellor remained adamant in his opposition to unrestricted submarine warfare: the Central Powers could not afford to have America as an antagonist.10 The Emperor finally indicated to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg in the “warmest and most unreserved terms” his agreement with the view that no action should be taken that would involve Germany in hostilities with the United States. He also expressed his approval of the type of submarine warfare that had been outlined in the Chancel¬ lor’s memorandum of February 29 — warfare that would permit the sinking without warning of enemy merchant ships (both armed and unarmed) in the war zone.11 The result was the issuance of the fol¬ lowing order to submarine commanders: — 1. Enemy merchant ships encountered in the war zone are to be im¬ mediately destroyed. 2. Enemy merchant ships encountered outside the war zone are to be destroyed only if armed. 3. Enemy passenger steamers, armed or unarmed, must not be at¬ tacked without warning whether encountered within or without the war zone. 4. The order of November 21, 1915 . . . relative to action against ships plying between the port of Le Havre and Dunkirk remains in effect.12 One of the consequences of this restricted submarine campaign was the resignation on March 12 of Admiral von Tirpitz as Secretary of State for Naval Affairs.13 This event led the Chancellor to send for Ambassador Gerard on March 17, for the purpose of discussing the effect of this resignation upon German-American relations. Gerard believed that America would regard the resignation as a “guarantee of good relations.” Heartened by this comment, Bethmann-Hollweg then informed the American Ambassador that Admiral von Holtzendorff had given “very strict orders to submarine commanders” so that 10 Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg to Secretary ol State von 1916, Official German Documents Relating to the World War, 1142. See also Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., vol. Ill, pp. 140 11 Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg to Secretary of State von 1916, op. cit., p. 1142. 12 Order of March 13, 1916, MS. German Marine Archives. 13 Admiral von Tirpitz, My Memoirs, vol. II, 175-176.

Jagow, March 5, vol. II, pp. 1139ff. Jagow, March 5,

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friction with neutral countries would be avoided.14 He refrained, however, from giving to the Ambassador the text of the secret order of March 13. The provision that all “enemy merchant ships en¬ countered in the war zone are to be immediately destroyed would not be regarded with a friendly eye by the American Government. But the very fact that such an order had been issued by the German Admiralty meant that within a very short time a crisis in GermanAmerican relations would arise. That crisis came with the torpedoing of the Sussex.15 In the journal of Lieutenant Pustkuchen, commander of the UB-29, there is a short description of the events leading up to the torpedoing of the Sussex. Shortly after 3:30 p. m., on March 24, the UB-29 descried a ship that resembled a passenger steamer. This boat, however, had only one funnel and it was equipped with a bridge similar to those carried by warships. It was not following the route prescribed by the British Admiralty for merchant ships. Moreover, it did not carry any flag and it was painted entirely in black.16 Lieutenant Pustkuchen was familiar with the secret order of November 21, 1915, which provided that all ships plying between the ports of Dunkirk and Havre were to be regarded as troop transports that could be sunk without warning. He was also acquainted with the recent order of March 13, 1916, to the effect that all enemy merchant vessels encountered in the war zone were to be sunk at sight. Passenger vessels were to be exempt from this summary treat¬ ment, but in the case of the Sussex the usual insignia were missing and the U-boat commander decided to torpedo it without warning. The torpedo struck the Sussex in the forward part of the ship, 14 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, March 18, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., p. 207. It is very clear from the German documents that the Emperor was resolutely opposed to an early revival of unrestricted submarine warfare. On March 15 he informed General Falkenhayn that “such an undertaking was out of the question before the end of the summer.” Minister von Treutler to Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, March 15, 1916, Official German Documents Relating to the World War, vol. II, p. 1150. 15 In a letter from Admiral Spindler to the author, October 26, 1936, there is a paragraph which specially refers to the type of submarine warfare that was in¬ augurated by the German Government on February 29, 1916: “When the U-boat warfare was resumed on February 29 the operations that resulted were not in keeping with the published German memorandum of February 8, 1916. This situa¬ tion grew out of the fact that the orders of March 13 were kept secret. Not only were armed merchant vessels of the enemy sunk without warning but this was also the case with unarmed merchantmen in the war zone. In addition, certain neutral merchant ships were attacked. Suspicious America, therefore, arrived at the con¬ clusion that these operations indicated the secret beginning of an unrestricted sub¬ marine warfare.” 10 Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. Ill, pp. 170-171.

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which was seriously damaged. About eighty of her passengers, in¬ cluding citizens of the United States, were “killed or injured.” 17 Although badly crippled, the Sussex remained afloat and was towed into Boulogne. A careful examination of certain fragments found under some debris of the Sussex were identified as portions of an exploded German torpedo. There was little doubt that the vessel had been attacked by a German submarine.18 One of the first American reactions to the attack upon the Sussex was a hysterical telegram from Ambassador Page, who counseled immediate war: — Thoughtful men here agree that German-American break would end the war quickly. Nobody believes that a break would mean war. Not a shot need be fired and not a drop of blood need be spilled.19 Secretary Lansing was in favor of an immediate severance of diplomatic relations with Germany.20 In a letter to the President (March 27) he expressed with vehemence the view that the Ameri¬ can Government could no longer . . . temporize in the matter of submarine warfare when Americans are being killed, wounded, or endangered by the illegal and inhuman conduct of the Germans. Of one thing I am firmly convinced, and that is that the time for writing notes discussing the subject has passed. . . . The action that seems to me the most practicable would be to demand the immediate recall of Count Bernstorff and the severance of diplomatic relations with Germany. ... I realize that this action is drastic, but I believe that to be patient longer would be misconstrued both at home and abroad.21 Senator Stone may have received some inkling of the belligerent attitude of Secretary Lansing. At any rate we find him writing to the Secretary of State to request a conference before “anything is done.” He was anxious to “discuss the whole situation” with both 17 No American lives were lost as a result of the sinking of the Sussex. 18 For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 214-216, 218-223, 225-230. The affidavits, deposi¬ tions, and reports relative to the sinking of the Sussex may be found in the Ameri¬ can Journal of International Law, vol. 10, Special Supplement, pp. 230-294. 18 Ambassador Page to Secretary Lansing, March 26, 1916, MS. Dept, of State. 20 On March 27 David Lawrence noted that in Washington it was predicted that diplomatic relations with Germany would soon be severed. Mr. Lawrence then called attention to the fact that a “complete absence of any martial spirit or en¬ thusiasm for a break in relations was to be noted in Congressional quarters to¬ day.” New York Evening Post, March 27, 1916. 21 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, March 27, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 468-470.

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the Secretary and the President before “any definite action is deter¬ mined upon.” 22 As an offset to this sober note from Senator Stone the President was soon being pushed towards war by Colonel House. The attack upon the Sussex was so disturbing to the Colonel that, despite bad health, he went to Washington to advise a strong stand against the submarine warfare. The President was a little vague in his state¬ ments concerning the Sussex affair, and the Colonel had some diffi¬ culty in trying to “fathom what was in his mind.” But finally the President’s looks betrayed his feelings to such an extent that the following entry was recorded in the Diary of Colonel House: — From the way he looked at me, I am inclined to believe that he intends making excuses for not acting promptly in this new submarine crisis. ... He does not seem to realize that one of the main points of criticism against him is that he talks boldly, but acts weakly.23 Although the Colonel, in his role as Presidential mentor, continued his insistence upon drastic measures against Germany, the President remained calm and wrote to Secretary Lansing to express a difference of opinion regarding the best procedure to take in this Sussex case. His impressions concerning the attack upon this French passenger steamer were “not quite the same” as those of the Secretary. It seemed to him that even if it were proved that the Sussex had been damaged by a German torpedo there were still . . . many particulars to be considered about the course we should pursue as well as the principle of it. The steps we take and the way we take them will, it seems to me, be of the essence of the matter if we are to keep clearly and indisputably within the lines we have already set ourselves.24 Such obstinacy was too much for the omniscient Colonel, whose view of world affairs was so much clearer than the hazy vision of a 22 Senator W. J. Stone to Secretary Lansing, March 28, 1916, Lansing MS. At the Cabinet meeting on March 28 the prevailing sentiment was “in favor of a break in diplomatic relations with Germany unless the present incident could be satisfactorily explained and ironclad, unequivocal assurances given as to the future conduct of German submarines.” David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, March 28, 1916. According to the New York Herald, “both at the White House and at the State Department it was agreed today that the submarine situation looks darker and more menacing than it has at any other time since the first excitement over the sinking of the Lusitania.” J. K. Ohl, New York Herald, March 28, 1916. 23 The Diary of Colonel House, March 28, 1916, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 226. 24 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, March 30, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 470-471-

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stay-at-home President. He now arranged for an “executive session” with his august pupil and soon found to his dismay that the President was clinging tenaciously to a pacific course. The irony of the situation was that the President was setting this course with the aid of a formula that the Colonel himself had forged. The polar star of this Presidential policy was the necessity of keeping America neutral in order to serve as a mediator between the warring nations of Europe. The Colonel now plied the President with numerous arguments to show that this formula of peace was no longer valid. America could best bring world peace through a crusade against German militarism. As a participant in the war on the side of the Allies, the United States could do “greater and better work” for the cause of permanent peace.25 It is greatly to the President’s credit that he held firm against this pressure for war that was so strongly exerted by his most trusted counselor. The rest of the President’s entourage, “from the Secretary of State down,” were having an “unhappy time” because they were not being consulted during this time of crisis. They were as ignorant of the President’s intentions as any “man in the street,” and even Colonel House felt neglected. Returning to New York, the Colonel wrote to the President to express the view that a break with Germany seemed “inevitable.” In this state of affairs was it not advisable to cable to Sir Edward Grey and inquire whether it would not be ex¬ pedient for the United States “to intervene now rather than to permit the break to come?” 26 The Colonel followed this letter to Washington and began another series of conferences with the President and Secretary Lansing. On April 6 there was a conference at the White House between the President, Colonel House, and Secretary Lansing, for the purpose of discussing the draft of a note to Germany that had been prepared by the Secretary of State. It was couched in Mr. Lansing’s most bel¬ ligerent vein. The Imperial Government had broken its “solemn pledge to the Government of the United States,” and had resorted to a method of warfare that invited the “condemnation of the civilized world.” Because of this fact the United States was compelled to “sever diplomatic relations with the Imperial German Government 25 The Diary of Colonel House, March 30, 1916, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 228-229. 26 Colonel House to President Wilson, April 3, 1916, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, pp. 229-230.

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until such time as that Government . . . shall actually discontinue the employment of submarines against commercial vessels of bel¬ ligerent as well as of neutral nationality.” 27 It was apparent to the President that such a note would be a prel¬ ude to war with Germany and he hesitated to accept it. When Secre¬ tary Lansing returned to the Department of State, Colonel House remained at the White House and continued his unceasing counsel for war. Inasmuch as a break with Germany “was inevitable” it was necessary for the President to take prompt action which would give America the “advantage of two or three weeks’ time to get ready before the Germans knew of our purpose.” A cablegram should be sent at once to Sir Edward Grey informing him of the situation and requesting that he consult with France and Russia “with a view to acting immediately.” 28 The President finally yielded to the importunate Colonel and the cablegram was sent to Sir Edward Grey. American neutrality would now depend upon the whims of the Allies and not upon the desires of the American people. Convinced that war was only a mere mattter of weeks, the Colonel began to give numerous suggestions as to the best way to handle the problems incident to America’s entry into the World War. He hastened to inform Secretary Baker of the immi¬ nence of war, and he advised him to use a “firm hand” in suppressing any disorders that might break out in large cities like New York and Chicago. It was a “mistaken mercy” to temporize with troubles of “this sort.” 29 After making these Napoleonic suggestions the Colonel returned to New York City, where he found a letter from Sir Edward Grey. Although it was dated as far back as March 24, it served nonetheless as an answer to the cablegram that the President had drafted on April 6. It was a clear-cut refusal to take any immediate action on the basis of the House-Grey “Memorandum” of February 22. Sir Ed¬ ward pointed out that the fighting around Verdun was still in doubt, and he was certain that France would regard any talk of a possible peace conference as distinctly inopportune.30 It is the opinion of Lloyd George that the insertion by President 27 28 vol. 29 80

Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, pp. 135-136. The Diary of Colonel House, April 6, 1916, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, II, p. 231. The Diary of Colonel House, April 6, 1916, ibid., p. 232. Sir Edward Grey to Colonel House, March 24, 1916, ibid., pp. 273-274.

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Wilson of the word “probably” in the House-Grey “Memorandum” so “completely changed the character” of the proposed agreement that Sir Edward Grey “did not think it worth while to communicate the purport of the negotiations to the Allies.” 31 Lord Lothian entertained a similar opinion.32 But Sir Edward Grey himself never gave this impression, and Professor Seymour is confident that this amendment by President Wilson had “no significance whatever” as far as the British Foreign Secretary was concerned.33 It is certainly true that the President did give the Allies an “expression of absolute intention” with reference to the course he expected to follow in the matter of a peace conference, and the phrase that the “United States would [probably] leave the Conference as a belligerent on the side of the Allies, if Germany was unreasonable,” was as definite a pledge as Sir Edward could really wish.34 It is very likely that Sir Edward had a strong belief that it was not necessary to invoke the House-Grey agreement in order to draw America into the World War.35 German submarine warfare would soon involve the United States in hostilities with the Central Powers, and as an actual belligerent America would be far less interested in political idealism than as a neutral power.36 If Sir Edward had been acquainted with the attitude of Secretary Lansing towards Germany his belief that America would soon be a belligerent would have been greatly strengthened. On April 10 the Secretary of State sent to the President a new draft of a note to Germany relative to the Sussex 81 David Lloyd George, War Memoirs (Boston, 1933), vol. II, p. 139. 82 Charles Seymour, American Diplomacy During the World War, p. 155. 33 Charles Seymour, American Diplomacy During the World War, pp. 154-155. 34 Sir Edward Grey, Twenty-Five Years (N.Y. 1925), vol. II, pp. 124-135. 38 It is very apparent that Sir Edward was determined to take no step that was not entirely pleasing to the Allies of England. This is made clear in his “Memoran¬ dum” of February 18, 1916, with reference to the “position of Great Britain with regard to the Allies.” In this memorandum which was circulated to the War Com¬ mittee, Sir Edward remarks: “Our Allies are not dependent upon the issue of the war to the same extent as we are, because they could get tolerable terms if the war was not continued. It is at best doubtful whether we could secure ourselves if the Allies abandoned us; we are therefore dependent upon the Allies for our safety to a greater extent than they are upon us. ... We must be very careful not to proceed to threats or pressure that might alienate our Allies.” G. M. Trevelyan, Grey of Fallodon, pp. 360-361. 36 The dubious character of the House-Grey negotiations in the early months of 1916 was apparent to a seasoned diplomat like Henry White who wrote to Richard Olney on February 20, 1916, to voice his doubts: “Very confidentially I understand on authority which I can hardly doubt that Col. House’s mission had for its object a suggestion or request that the President be invited by the warring nations to mediate between them and end the war. France and England turned the proposal down. ... A matter handled in that way will not have increased our prestige, which I fear is not very high in any of the warring countries or elsewhere abroad.” Henry White MS.

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case. It was so provocative in tone that its acceptance by the President would have meant war. The tenor of this proposed communication is well illustrated by the following excerpt: — Even if the Sussex was torpedoed by mistake or in deliberate disobedi¬ ence of orders, the fact remains that the act is in accord with the spirit manifested by the German naval authorities in their general policy and practice of submarine warfare. In view of this fact no apology, no dis¬ avowal, no admission of wrongdoing, no punishment of a guilty officer, and no payment of indemnity will satisfy the Government of the United States.37 It is no wonder that the President rejected this draft because the language was “too severe and uncompromising.” Such action, how¬ ever, “greatly disappointed” Secretary Lansing, who had purposely drafted this note so as to say to Germany: “You have broken your solemn promise and must take the consequences.” 38 This language plainly pointed towards war; and it indicated an attitude far more uncompromising than that of Colonel House, who urged the Presi¬ dent (April 11) to say “if Germany declined to agree immediately to cease her submarine warfare that Ambassador Gerard was in¬ structed to ask for his passport.” 39 Secretary Lansing was opposed to giving Germany any chance to prove her good faith in this matter of submarine warfare. He would not threaten her with prompt action in case she continued her present mode of conducting submarine operations. It would be better to sever diplomatic relations with Germany at once, and not wait until an¬ other “outrage” before taking effective action.40 But before he could make any further suggestions the Department of State received from Germany a note with reference to the attack upon the Sussex. The 37 Robert Lansing, War Memoirs, p. 136. On the day that he sent this draft note to the President, Secretary Lansing’s feelings were so wrought up against Ger¬ many that he was not very courteous to Count Bernstorff when the latter called at the Department of State. In the Lansing Diary, April 11, 1916, is the following entry: “O’Loughlin on Mexican finances and statement — German Amb. worried, considered I gave him cold reception yesterday. I did.” Lansing MS. 38 Ibid., p. 137. 39 The Diary of Colonel House, April 11, 1916, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 236. On this day (April 11) some “Cabinet Secretaries—and it is understood Secretary Lansing was among them — favored the sending of a final note to Germany, demanding what in popular parlance is called a ‘show down’ on the whole submarine question. . . . The general opinion was that Germany had trifled too long with the United States, and that the moment for decisive action had come.” New York Evening Post, April 11, 1916. 40 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, April 12, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 472.

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unsatisfactory nature of this communication gave additional weight to the belligerent counsel of Secretary Lansing. Count Bernstorff regarded this note as the . . . most unfortunate document that ever passed from Berlin to Wash¬ ington. Mr. Wilson thought he detected a direct untruth, and the mixture of an uneasy conscience and clumsiness which the German Note appeared to betray prompted the sharp tone of the President’s reply.41 Certain publicists have not hesitated to denounce the German note of April 10 as “preposterous,” 42 and have assumed that the German Government wished to hide the fact that the attack upon the Sussex was made by a German submarine. Evidence to the contrary is found in the German Marine Archives, which indicates that the German Government was entirely honest in its belief that the Sussex was not a victim of a German torpedo. The journal of Lieutenant Pustkuchen reveals the fact that the commander of the UB-29 was not aware of the fact that on March 24 he had launched a torpedo at the Sussex. On that day he had attacked two steamers. The Sussex had been fired upon shortly after 3:30?. m., but inasmuch as it carried no flag, was painted entirely in black, was equipped with a bridge similar to those carried on warships, and was outside of the route prescribed by the British Admiralty for merchant ships, the commander of the UB-29 assumed it was a troop transport. He did not realize that he had at¬ tacked the passenger steamer Sussex.*3 The UB-29 returned from its cruise on March 26. The next day the Marine Corps sent to the Admiralty Staff a telegram which recited the fact that the UB-29 had sunk, on March 24, near Dungeness, two steamers — “neither one flying neutral colors.” The first steamer [the Sussex] was “a transport ship carrying numerous troops.” 44 The whole world was now acquainted with the fact that on March 24 the French passenger steamer Sussex had either struck a floating mine or had been seriously damaged by a torpedo. The Admiralty Staff in Berlin was exceedingly anxious to secure further information relative to the operations of the UB-29, so it was finally decided to put in a long-distance call to Zeebrugge. It was learned that on March 24 the UB-29 torpedoed, near Dungeness, 41 Count Bernstorff, My Three Years in America, pp. 247-248. 42 Walter Millis, Road io War, p. 292. 43 Admiral Arno Spindler, op. cit., \ol. Ill, pp. 170-171. 44 Telegram of the Marine-corps to the Admiralty Staff, March 27, 1916, MS. German Marine Archives.

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. . . two steamers. Neither carried neutral colors. One was a freight steamer and the other a transport. UB-29 was certain that it had not at¬ tacked either a mail boat or a passenger steamer because no flag was flown. It is supposed that the Sussex was sunk by a mine. This is probable since the waters at that point are filled with mines.46 On March 27 Secretary Lansing instructed Ambassador Gerard to inquire whether the Sussex had been “sunk by a submarine belonging to Germany or her allies.” 46 The German Foreign Office (March 29) sent a copy of this inquiry to the Admiralty Staff and requested an answer as “soon as convenient.” After an interval of several days the Chief of the Admiralty Staff returned the following answer to the Foreign Office: — In order to determine whether the attack upon the Sussex was made by a German submarine I require a statement indicating when, where, and under what circumstances the steamer Sussex was damaged. May I be permitted to leave it to Your Excellency to make inquiries of the American Government in this matter ? 47 On the previous day (April 1) Lieutenant Pustkuchen, commander of the UB-29, made the following statement before the Admiralty Staff in Berlin: — On the afternoon of March 24 I was travelling on the surface near the middle of the English Channel between Beachy Head and Dungeness. At 3:40 p. m., central European time, a vessel with two high masts was sighted. It approached rapidly under heavy clouds of smoke. I dived for the purpose of inspecting the ship at close proximity. As it approached I could see that it was a long black steamer with a gray smokestack and a short gray hulk. Its most striking feature was the slanting stern like those on war-ships. I was positive that it was a ship of war and judged that it was a mine-layer of the newly constructed “Arabic” class. I was led to this conclusion by: 1. The even lines of the deck. 2. The peculiar appearance of the stern. The assumption that it was a war ship was confirmed by the fact that the steamer was not following the route prescribed for merchant ship3 45 “Long Distance telephone conversation between the and the Marine-corps at Zeebrugge, March 27, 1916,” chives. 46 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Gerard, March Suppl., p. 215. 47 Chief of German Admiralty Staff to Secretary of 1916, MS. German Marine Archives.

Admiralty Staff in Berlin MS. German Marine Ar¬ 27, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Foreign Affairs, April 2,

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. . . but was in the middle of the channel with a course leading near Havre. In view of the fact that it flew no flag or special insignia I believed it was an enemy ship. . . . On the basis of these facts I decided to attack the ship. The torpedo was launched at 3: 55 p. m. . . . The entire bow up to the bridge was destroyed by the explosion. Immediately after this explosion I noticed that a very large number of men came on deck and I immediately got the impression that it was not a mine-layer but a troop transport. Because of the great distance from the steamer I could not see whether the men on board were in uniform. . . . The following sketch gives the silhouette of the ship as I remember it.4* After receiving this detailed information concerning the operations of the UB-29 the Chief of the Admiralty Staff wrote as follows to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs: — With reference to my telephone conversations I respectfully request Your Excellency to send immediately an inquiry [to the American Gov¬ ernment] with reference to when, where and under what circumstances the steamer Sussex suffered damages because without these data an in¬ vestigation cannot be conducted. From what can now be judged [of the matter] it is probable that the Sussex was not torpedoed by a German submarine.49 The Secretary of Foreign Affairs lost no time in sending a note to Ambassador Gerard based upon this information from the Ad¬ miralty Staff. That afternoon, Undersecretary Zimmermann attended a tea given in the American Embassy. Ambassador Gerard took him quietly aside and warned him that the note had made a “rather bad impression upon him.” He even used the expression: “You are fool¬ ing me.” In concluding his remarks he strongly advised Under¬ secretary Zimmermann to recall the note. This counsel was accepted by Zimmerman, who then discussed the matter with the Admiralty Staff. Admiral von Holtzendorff had no objection to the recall of this note of April 5, but he “expressly pointed out that he was convinced that no German submarine was in ques¬ tion.” He was at a complete loss to understand why Ambassador Gerard should get the impression that an attempt was being made to deceive him.50 48 “Statement of Lieutenant Pustkuchen, commander of the UB-29, before the Admiralty Staff in Berlin, April 1, 1916,” MS. German Marine Archives. 49 Chief of the Admiralty Staff to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, April 5, 1916, MS. German Marine Archives. 60 “Memorandum” in the archives of the German Admiralty Staff relative to conversations between Undersecretary Zimmermann and Ambassador Gerard.

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At the conclusion of a further investigation into the details of the attack upon the Sussex the Admiralty Staff sent a statement to the Foreign Office (April 8) which was made the basis of the German note to the American Government (April io).51 In this note the Ger¬ man Government first alludes to the difficulties that attended its in¬ vestigation. No exact data concerning the place, time, and circum¬ stances of this sinking were available, and it was not until April 6 that a picture of the Sussex could be obtained. Because of this lack of defi¬ nite information it was necessary to check with great care the state¬ ments in the journal of the commander of the UB-29. These would seem to indicate that the vessel torpedoed at 3 : 55 p. m. by the UB-29 was a ship of war and not the Sussex. This conclusion was confirmed by a sketch that Lieutenant Pustkuchen made of the first vessel that he attacked on the afternoon of March 24. From a comparison of this sketch with the actual photograph of the Sussex it was clearly demon¬ strated that some boat other than the Sussex was the victim of the first torpedo launched on March 24 by the UB-29. In view of these facts it seemed probable that the Sussex struck a floating mine. If the Ameri¬ can Government should have at its disposal additional evidence with reference to the Sussex affair the Imperial Government hoped that such evidence would be at once submitted to it. In the event that differ¬ ences of opinion should arise between the two Governments relative to the alleged attack upon the Sussex the Imperial Government was ready to submit this question to a commission of inquiry in accordance with the third clause of the Hague Convention of October, 1907.62 In America this note made a most unfortunate impression. It seemed to many American officials that the German Government was not sincere in its denial that the Sussex was attacked by a German submarine. In the American press the German note was attacked on the ground that it was filled with “ludicrous evasions.” The spectacle of a submarine commander 61 Chief of the German Admiralty Staff to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, April 8, 1916, MS. German Marine Archives. In a letter to the author, October 26, 1936, Admiral Spindler makes the following comment upon the attitude of the Admiralty Staff: “The Admiralty Staff was convinced up to April 8, 19x6, the day when it defined its final attitude in the Sussex case, that the steamer that’ was torpedoed by the UB-29 was not the Sussex. This viewpoint was partly based upon the fact that the exterior of the steamer that had been attacked by the UB-29, as described by Lieutenant Pustkuchen, did not correspond with the photograph of the Sussex.” 52 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, April 11, 1916, transmitting the German note of April 10, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 227-229.

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. . . making sketches of vessels he had torpedoed provoked no end of amusement in official quarters. The serious aspect of such a defence seemed to be that the German Government was at present in such a topsy-turvy condition as to permit communications on serious subjects to be handled by amateurish hands.83 It was only too evident to Count Bernstorff that a new crisis in German-American relations had been reached. As soon as he had been acquainted with the news of the attack upon the Sussex he made strenuous efforts to avert a break in diplomatic relations. On April 8 he telegraphed in cipher to Berlin that Colonel House had given him a “very gloomy view of the position with regard to the Sussex.” At the White House the situation was regarded as “hopeless because the view is held that, in spite of Tirpitz’s resignation, the German Govern¬ ment . . . cannot curb the submarine campaign.” A repetition of German “mistakes” in the conduct of submarine warfare would “be bound to drive the United States . . . into war with us.” 54 Anxious to ascertain the attitude of Secretary Lansing with refer¬ ence to the Sussex affair, Count Bernstorff called at the Department of State on April 10. The Secretary, in his usual blunt manner, in¬ formed the Ambassador that the situation was as “grave as it had been.” 55 Alarmed by this admonition, Count Bernstorff again ad¬ vised Secretary von Jagow that the American Government was “con¬ vinced that the Sussex was torpedoed by a German U-boat.” It was imperative for the Foreign Office to send to America a prompt re¬ assurance of its good faith.56 Secretary von Jagow immediately replied that ... if President Wilson is desirous of peace his wishes are in full accord with the desires of Germany, which entertains the hope that GermanAmerican relations can be so moulded as to make possible co-operation in the bringing about of peace.87 Upon receipt of this instruction Count Bernstorff immediately got in touch with Colonel House and endeavored to convince him of the 63 David Lawrence, New York Evening Post, April 13, 1916. 54 Count Bernstorff to the German Foreign Office, April 8, 1916, Count Bern¬ storff, My Three Years in America, p. 245. 55 “Departmental memorandum” by Secretary Lansing, MS. Dept, of State. 68 Count Bernstorff to the German Foreign Office, April 11, 1916, Official Ger¬ man Documents Relating to the World War, vol. II, p. 971. 87 Secretary von Jagow to Count Bernstorff, April 11, 1916, ibid., p. 971.

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TO WAR

good faith of the German Government in connection with submarine operations: My Government is willing to conduct the submarine warfare with due regard to neutral rights. It stands by our assurances given to the United States and has issued such precise instructions regarding this matter that according to human foresight errors are excluded. If contrary to expecta¬ tion any mistakes should happen, my Government is willing to remedy them in every way.58 Colonel House, however, was inclined to pay little attention to communications from Count Bernstorff at this time. In a letter to the President he expressed the view that it was difficult to “get anywhere” through Bernstorff because he did not seem “to know much more about what is in the mind of his Government” than did American officials.59 While Colonel House was advising the President to pay little heed to the efforts of Count Bernstorff to convey assurances of his Govern¬ ment’s good faith, Secretary Lansing was actively pushing the Presi¬ dent towards a break with Germany. On April 15 he sent a letter to the President suggesting certain changes in the proposed note to the German Government with reference to submarine warfare. The con¬ clusion which he submitted for the President’s consideration was so terse and direct that it carried the menace of an ultimatum. It was accepted with only a minor change that did not soften its tone.60 Secretary Lansing next transmitted to the White House all the affi¬ davits from the passengers and members of the crew of the Sussex regarding the attack on March 24. These were supplemented by other statements from French naval officers and British officials. To the President all these documents seemed to afford conclusive proof that the Sussex had been torpedoed by a German submarine. After a brief examination he returned them to the Department of State with the comment that they were “quite complete enough.” 61 If he had any remaining doubts they were quickly dissolved by Secre¬ tary Lansing, who was eager for the immediate dispatch of an ulti¬ matum to Germany. Indeed, the Secretary was greatly irked at the 68 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, April 14, 1916, House MS. 59 Colonel House to President Wilson, April 15, 1916, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 238. 60 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, April 15, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., p. 47361 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, April 17, 1916, Lansing MS.

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delay that had already occurred, and on April 17 he wrote to Colonel House that he was still waiting . . . with a natural impatience, for the President to determine, finally, our policy with regard to submarine warfare. I sincerely hope that it will be in accordance with the views which we mutually hold.62 This mounting impatience of Secretary Lansing found some ex¬ pression in an interview with Count Bernstorff on April 18. The Secretary promptly brought forward the fact that certain neutral ships had been torpedoed by German submarines. When Count Bern¬ storff assured him that this was against instructions that had been issued by the German Admiralty, Secretary Lansing burst out with vehemence: — It seems very strange they cannot control their commanders. They seem to torpedo a vessel and find out her nationality afterward, which is a dangerous proceeding. That is what makes the situation serious. I cannot understand the actions of the submarine commanders unless the Govern¬ ment has no control over them. At this outburst from Secretary Lansing, Count Bernstorff became highly excited and talked so rapidly and so brokenly that it was diffi¬ cult to understand him. He was finally able to murmur that his Government did not want . . . trouble. I would like to help because I have been worried. We could manage it better here. You know I have used every effort to preserve friendly relations.63 These pacific gestures of Count Bernstorff made little impression upon the President, who was now convinced that the German Govern¬ ment was endeavoring to evade the responsibility for the attack upon the Sussex. On April 18 he sent a note to Ambassador Gerard which unmistakably indicated the approach of war. It first referred to the circumstances surrounding the attack upon the French steamer and came to the “unavoidable conclusion” that the damage inflicted upon this vessel was caused by a torpedo “fired by a German submarine.” The German Government was next warned of its apparent failure to “appreciate the gravity of the situation” which had developed not 62 Secretary Lansing to Colonel House, April 17, 1916, House MS. 63 “Memorandum” made by Secretary Lansing after conversation with Count Bernstorff. Lansing MS.

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

only from this attack upon the Sussex but also from the “method and character of submarine warfare as disclosed by the unrestrained practice of commanders of German undersea craft during the past twelvemonth and more in the indiscriminate destruction of merchant vessels of all sorts.” The note then moved swiftly to its ominous conclusion: — The Government of the United States has been very patient. ... It has made every allowance for unprecedented conditions and has been will¬ ing to wait until the facts became unmistakable and were susceptible of only one interpretation. It now owes it to a just regard for its own rights to say to the Imperial Government that that time has come. ... If it is still the purpose of the Imperial Government to prosecute relentless and indiscriminate warfare against vessels of commerce by the use of submarines without regard to what the Government of the United States must consider the sacred and indisputable rules of international law, . . . the Government of the United States is . . . forced to the conclusion that there is but one course it can pursue. Unless the Imperial Govern¬ ment should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight¬ carrying vessels, the Government of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations.64 In order that the American people should get the substance of what was expressed in the American note to Germany, the President, on April 19, made an address before Congress on the state of relations with Germany. In quarters close to the President the note to Germany was . . . not regarded as a technical ultimatum, in that no time limit is fixed, but members of Congress who heard the note outlined to-day regard it, in effect, as such.65 But this atmosphere of indecision and possible war failed to dampen the ardent optimism of Count Bernstorff, who visited the Depart¬ ment of State on April 20 for a conference with Secretary Lansing. 66 64 Secretary Lansing to Ambassador Gerard, April 18, 1916, For. Rel., 1916 Suppl., pp. 232-234. 66 New York Evening Post, April 19, 1916. 66 At this conference with Secretary Lansing on April 20 Count Bernstorff attempted to justify German submarine warfare by referring to the terrible effects of the British blockade upon the population of Germany. According to a statement of the German National Board of Health the blockade was responsible for the deaths of 763,000 civilians; the prevention of one million births; and the reduction of the working capacity of the civil population by one third. See Maurice Parmelee, Blockade and Sea Power (N.Y. 1924), pp. 214 ff.

THE

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On his way to this conference he was surrounded by newspapermen, who inquired whether the “strong phrases of the American note, when translated into German,” would produce such a strong reaction in Germany that the Government would be compelled to reject the American demands ? The Ambassador . . . smiled his usual smile. “Oh, well,” he replied, “you know the note really need not be translated.” 67 It is very likely that some of this jaunty optimism faded when the Ambassador encountered Secretary Lansing, because the following excerpt from their conversation indicates that there must have been uncomfortable moments. B. . . . Germany cannot abandon submarine warfare. No government could come out and say “We give up the use of submarines.” They would have to resign. L. What possible methods in the use of submarines, that are effective from a belligerent standpoint, can be suggested which will comply with the law ? B. I had always supposed that warning was to be given. L. We do not consider that the people on board . . . are in a place of safety when put into an open boat a hundred miles from land. ... I do not know how your Government can modify submarine warfare and make it effective and at the same time obey the law and the dictates of humanity. B. Humanity! Of course war is never humane. . . . Our enemies vio¬ late all the rules and you insist on their being applied to Germany. L. One deals with life; the other with property. . . . The German method seems reckless to me. It is as if a man who has a very dim vision should go out on the street with a revolver in search of an enemy and should see the outline of a figure and should immediately fire on him and injure him seriously and then go up and apologize and say he made a mistake. . . . B. I myself cannot at all explain how it comes that so many neutral vessels have been attacked. . . . The question is what we can do. L. There would have to be a complete abandonment first and then if the German Government desires to discuss the matter — B. I want to do what I can, because I am perfectly convinced they do not want to break; quite apart from the sentimental side I think they do not want a break. 67 New York Evening Post, April 19, 1916.

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L. . . . The only possible course is an abandonment of submarine war¬ fare, whether limited or not would depend on the terms. . . . B. Then I am to understand that you do not recognize the law of retali¬ ation ? L. We do not recognize retaliation when it affects the rights of neutrals. B. The British retaliate by stopping all commerce to Germany. L. It is a very different thing. The right to life is an inherent right, which man has from birth; the right to property is a purely legal right. ... B. I perfectly agree with you that sinking without warning would have to stop entirely, sinking without warning is an international offense. . . . L. If they should now sink another vessel it would be very serious. ... I do not feel that breaking off of diplomatic relations necessarily means war. B. I do not say it myself but I do not see how it can be avoided. ... I came to see if something could not be done.68 The President himself continued to have hopes that the German Government would accept the American demands concerning the con¬ duct of submarine warfare. On April 21 he wrote to Colonel House that he thought it was . . . right to discuss with the German Government any plans it may sug¬ gest provided their maritime warfare is entirely stopped during the dis¬ cussion.69 The news from Berlin, however, was anything but encouraging. When Ambassador Gerard delivered the American note (of April 18) to the German Foreign Office he was informed by Secretary von Jagow that it looked as though the American demands upon Germany “meant a break” in diplomatic relations. Von Jagow then promised to consult the Chancellor but he expressed the belief that “Germany would not give up sinking merchant ships without notice in the war zone.” 70 The situation looked more hopeful on April 25, when a telegram was received from Ambassador Gerard indicating that the Chancellor 68 “Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the German Ambassador, April 20, 1916,” Lansing MS. See also Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 480-484. 69 President Wilson to Colonel House, April 21, 1916, House MS. 70 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, April 20, 1916, For. Ret., 1916, Suppl., p. 239. In connection with this statement of von Jagow, Ambassador Gerard telegraphed to Secretary Lansing on April 25 as follows: “Although he used the word ‘ships’ only, he plainly meant and I understood him to refer only to freight ships.” Ibid., p. 243.

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appeared to be in favor of accepting the American demands.71 This inclination towards peace was strengthened by representations made to the Chancellor by a deputation from “all branches of Socialists and most workmen’s unions” to the effect that the German people “do not want war with America.” 72 Additional strength was given to this peace movement by pressure from Bulgaria and Turkey against a “break” with America.73 The German Foreign Office responded to this pressure by sending a cablegram to Bernstorff which revealed a sincere desire to “avoid war.” Inquiry was made as to the meaning of the phrase “illegal sub¬ marine warfare” as contained in the American note of April 18. In¬ formation was also sought as to the probable action of the United States with reference to the British blockade in the event that the German Government acceded to American demands.74 Count Bernstorff immediately got in touch with Colonel House re¬ garding this conciliatory disposition of the German Government. He was afraid that ... a temporary complete abandonment of submarine warfare for the purpose of negotiating would be unacceptable to public opinion in Ger¬ many. I have once more urged my proposal, and will continue to do so, but I am afraid that my Government will not be able to put it through. Their idea seems to be to conduct all submarine warfare in future ac¬ cording to the rules of international law for cruiser warfare, as they were laid down in our notes and memoranda concerning the cases of the “Frye” and the “Persia.” 75 The response of the Department of State to this German overture was the publication on April 26 of the memorandum prepared by Secretary Lansing (March 25, 1916) on the status of armed mer¬ chant vessels. As already indicated in a previous chapter, this memo¬ randum meant a complete reversal of the attitude of the Secretary as expressed in his proposal of January 18.76 Under the terms of this memorandum of March 25 Germany would be held to an interpretation 71 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, April 24, 1916 (received April 25), For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., p. 242. 72 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, April 23, 1916, ibid., p. 240. 73 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, April 25, 1916, ibid., p. 244. 74 Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 238-239. During this period of crisis in German-American relations Secretary Lansing received a letter from Mr. Oswald Garrison Villard (April 24 1916) expressing his “profoundest wish for your success and that you will keep us out of war.” Lansing MS. 76 Count Bernstorff to Colonel House, April 26, 1916, House MS. 76 Ante, pp. 489-490.

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AMERICA GOES TO WAR

of international law which ran counter to American legal theory and which was repugnant to common sense. But Secretary Lansing would have gone even further in imposing limitations upon German sub¬ marine activity. He now presented to the President a supposititious case, in which a German submarine torpedoed illegally an enemy merchant ship. Even though no Americans were on board this enemy merchant ship, it would still be true that Germany had violated in¬ ternational law and therefore America would be interested. In the American note of April 18 a position was taken that was based on “hu¬ manity and neutral rights in general.” Did it not follow then that the American Government would have to “resent every lawless at¬ tack” on any merchant ship “whether Americans are or are not among the passengers?” 77 The President quickly rejected this strained interpretation of inter¬ national law that was suggested by Secretary Lansing. It seemed to him that the United States would “not be justified in assuming the general representation of neutral rights in this matter, whether our own citizens are affected or not.” 78 In the meantime in Germany a sharp struggle was being waged with reference to the attitude the Government should adopt in con¬ nection with the American demands as expressed in the note of April 18. Admiral von Tirpitz, even though he was without official position, hastened to write to the Emperor on April 27 and strongly argued for an unrestricted submarine campaign against English ship¬ ping. He was supported in this view by General von Falkenhayn, who believed that any cessation of unrestricted submarine warfare would mean such an advantage to England and France that it would be im¬ possible for Germany to continue military operations against Verdun. Admiral von Holtzendorff, however, was convinced that it would be a grave mistake to continue submarine operations in a manner that would give serious offense to the United States. Germany could not afford to have America as an active adversary. On May 1 the Em¬ peror decided in favor of accepting the American demands even though this meant that submarine warfare in the war zone should completely cease.79 77 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, May 10, 1916, Carlton Savage, op. cit., pp. 496-49778 President Wilson to Secretary Lansing, May 17, 1916, ibid., p. 497. 79 Admiral Arno Spindler, La Guerre Sous-Marine, vol. Ill, pp. 191-196. Ac¬ cording to Admiral yon Tirpitz, My Memoirs, vol. II, p. 180, the acceptance of the American demands in the Sussex affair “was a decisive turning-point of the war,

THE

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After a friendly conference between the Emperor and Ambassador Gerard 80 the German Government sent its reply to the American note of April 18. It was a distinct surrender to the American de¬ mands. After first defending the German conduct of submarine war¬ fare, the note finally gave the pledge which the American Government considered necessary for any maintenance of friendly relations be¬ tween the two countries: — The German Government . . . notifies the Government of the United States that the German naval forces have received the following orders: In accordance with the general principles of visit and search and de¬ struction of merchant vessels recognized by international law, such ves¬ sels, both within and without the area declared as naval war zone, shall not be sunk without warning and without saving human lives, unless these ships attempt to escape or offer resistance. After this pledge had been given, the German note then expressed the view that the German Government would follow this course only on condition that neutral governments compelled the Allies to respect neutral rights. Neutrals could not expect that Germany, forced to fight for her existence, would, merely for the sake of neutral interests, . . . restrict the use of an effective weapon if her enemy is permitted to continue to apply at will methods of warfare violating the rules of in¬ ternational law. . . . The German Government is confident that . . . the Government of the United States will now demand and insist that the British Government shall forthwith observe the rules of international law.81 The attitude of Secretary Lansing to this German reply of May 4 was a distinctly fluid one. When first he read the reply he regarded it as unsatisfactory. A second reading inclined him toward the belief that “it would do.” A third perusal of the note awakened his first ob¬ jections to it and he finally came to the conclusion that it should be the beginning of our capitulation. All the world could see that we were breaking down before America. From the time of this decision we went downhill.” The effect of this acceptance of American demands upon submarine warfare is clearly indicated by Admiral Scheer, Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War, p. 242; “As war waged according to Prize Law by U-boats in the waters around England could not possibly have any success, but, on the contrary, must expose the boats to the gravest dangers, I recalled all the U-boats by wireless, and announced that the U-boat campaign against British commerce had ceased.” 80 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, May 3, 1916, For. Rel., 1916, Suppl., pp. 253-255.

81 Ambassador Gerard to Secretary Lansing, May 4, 1916, ibid., pp. 257-260.

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rejected and that Count Bernstorff should be given his passports and sent out of the country.82 In keeping with this last viewpoint he hastily wrote the following short note to the President: — The more I study the German reply the less I like it. It has all the ele¬ ments of the “gold brick” swindle with a decidedly insolent tone.83 The Neutrality Board was also suspicious of the concessions made in the German reply of May 4. In its report to Secretary Lansing it indicated that the German Government apparently still adhered to the opinion that an armed merchant ship “forfeited its character as a merchant vessel, a doctrine to which this Government does not sub¬ scribe.” The use of the phrase “merchant vessel,” therefore, in the instructions given to the German naval forces, “might be interpreted by them in accordance with the views of their own government and not in accordance with the views of the United States.” The Board was next concerned with the question whether a mer¬ chant vessel that had attempted to escape but had finally been captured could be “sunk without warning and without saving human lives.” It seemed to the Board that the language of the German instructions was “perfectly open” to the interpretation that such a vessel could be sunk and that measures “to save human life need not be taken if she has attempted to escape.” The final paragraph of the German reply of May 4 gave the Board deep concern. This paragraph read: — Should the steps taken by the Government of the United States not at¬ tain the object it desires, to have the laws of humanity followed by all belligerent nations, the German Government would then be facing a new situation in which it must reserve itself complete liberty of decision. The Board was of the opinion that the German Government in this paragraph had made itself the judge of when this new situation might arise and had reserved the right to alter its instructions to sub¬ marine commanders whenever it thought proper to do so. It seemed to the Board that the German note was designed so as to . . . force the United States to exert diplomatic pressure toward the ac¬ complishment of Germany’s ends as a substitute for the accomplishment 82 The Diary of Colonel House, May 6, 1916, Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. II, p. 244. 83 Secretary Lansing to President Wilson, May 6, 1916, Lansing MS.

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of those ends by illegitimate submarine warfare. This would place upon the United States the onus of ensuring that the submarine warfare of Germany be carried on legitimately instead of leaving that onus where it belongs, upon Germany itself. In conclusion the opinion of the Board discussed the carriage of munitions on board merchant ships. Although the German reply had not referred to this transport of munitions it had plainly intimated that vessels engaged in such traffic need not be treated as ordinary merchant ships. If this were true it would mean that both armed mer¬ chant vessels and vessels engaged in the munitions trade could be excluded from the class of ordinary merchantmen and would there¬ fore be liable to attack. In this event the concessions to America in the German note of May 4 were “too small to be of much weight.” 84 Upon previous occasions the opinions of Secretary Lansing, strengthened by the support of the Neutrality Board, had tremendous influence upon the mind of the President. In this instance the Chief Executive broke away from such guidance and took a pacific view with reference to German intentions. And this is all the more re¬ markable when we learn from the Diary of Colonel House that on May 3 the President appeared to be deeply incensed against Ger¬ many : — He [the President] spoke with much feeling concerning Germany’s responsibility for this world-wide calamity, and thought those guilty should have personal punishment. . . . The last time I was here [Wash¬ ington] I . . . did all I could to make him stand firm. I evidently over¬ did it, for I now find him un