War Memoirs of Robert Lansing

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War Memoirs of Robert Lansing

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War Memoirs OF

Robert Lansing Secretary of State





Copyright, 1935 By The Bobbs-Merrill Company

Printed in the United States of America

PUBLISHERS’ NOTE Robert Lansing, subsequent to his retirement from official life, undertook the preparation for eventual publication of a personal narrative reviewing the foreign affairs of the United States during the period (June 23, 1915, to February 13, 1920) when he held the office of Secretary of State. At the time of Mr. Lansing’s death (October 30, 1928) the work was still incomplete. Events dealt with terminated with the year 1917 and the manuscript itself was obviously not in the finished form in which the author would have desired to publish it. It seemed, however, to those who acquired the rights to the manuscript that this unfinished narrative had his¬ torical value justifying publication, recording as it did many facts not heretofore made public and reflecting the personal views and judgments of one who played a leading role in affairs of vital importance to this nation. It was also felt that the lapse of time had not only removed the obstacles to publication but had rendered timely the bringing out of this intimate story of the circumstances of our entry into the World War, since today the question of the preservation of American neutrality in the event of future conflict is again engaging the attention of those responsible for the conduct of our foreign relations. There are omitted from the present volume certain portions of the manuscript not directly relevant to the World War. There has also been a slight rearrangement, notably in the insertions at the end, of comment on certain personalities and on social life in Washington, the inclusion of which in the main text seemed to interrupt the flow of the chronological narrative.

FOREWORD It is the purpose of the author to review the foreign affairs of the United States and the way in which they were conducted during the period from June 23, 1915, to February 13, 1920, when he held the portfolio of State in the Cabinet of President Woodrow Wilson. The narrative will avoid technicalities and endeavor to trace in a simple way the development of the policies which were adopted by the Wilson Administration and their application to the then existing international situations, to discuss the progress, successes and failures of negotiations, and also to recite, in so far as it seems proper, the personal opinions, informal conferences, memoranda and undocumented incidents which affected the relations between the American Government and foreign governments during this critical period of world history. In the formulation and application of governmental policies, those relating to foreign affairs differ materially from those relat¬ ing to domestic affairs, in that the personal element is far more important in the former than in the latter. Most of the internal policies of the United States are determined by congressional legislation after they have been investigated and debated, the executive officers charged with their application having no choice other than to pursue the course of action prescribed by law without regard to their own personal judgment as to the wisdom of the policy adopted. Foreign policies, on the contrary, depend upon the initiative, the discretion and the independent action of the execu¬ tive. To such policies, except those creating a state of war, con¬ gressional action is incidental and generally nonessential, unless a policy requires for its application the appropriation of adequate funds, or unless a policy eventuates in a treaty, in which case sen¬ atorial consent is necessary before it can go into effect. It is evident, therefore, that the personal element is always an important and generally a controlling factor in the determination and carrying out of foreign policies. Any review of the conduct of American foreign affairs is inadequate and incomplete unless due consideration is given to the personal qualities and mental attitude of the individuals having the responsibility or the power to direct the course of action taken by the Government of the

WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING United States. It follows that private conversations, unofficial negotiations and the personal opinions and differences of par¬ ticipants in international intercourse, whether they are of the same or of different nationalities, belong in a narrative dealing with the foreign policies of the United States, and these when known and understood frequently explain the reasons for the for¬ mal action embodied in official documents, which, if considered alone, will give a false conception of the purposes of the govern¬ ment and cause misunderstanding and unjust or unintelligent criticism of its action. While the essential element of personality should be recognized, contemporaneous events and the resulting conditions have an im¬ portant influence on the formulation and modification of a foreign policy, since they affect and should affect individual opinions, and raise, in the minds of those responsible, questions as to the ex¬ pediency or inexpediency of continuing an adopted course of action. A policy which denies or repudiates facts, which is based on an impracticable theory or has as its object an unattainable end, is a menace to the wise administration of foreign affairs. Idealism which cannot be harmonized with sound common sense is worse than useless. In considering the relations of the United States with other nations, events and conditions should be reviewed in a general way and to the extent that they affect such relations, the endeavor being to determine how far individual opinions and judg¬ ments have been impressed by them. When the personal element is presented with the contemporaneous events and the new condi¬ tions created by them as a background, the conduct of American foreign affairs for a given period will be better understood. The motives inducing such conduct, the wisdom or expediency of pur¬ suing a course of action, and the causes of success or failure of a policy will appear more clearly than if the presentation consists of a chronicle and analysis of events and official utterances, or of journals or memoirs which unduly emphasize the views of a writer who may, on very meager information, have assumed that he knew the actual situation at the time when he wrote. Such an assumption of knowledge, unless it is true, impresses his opinions with error because based on false premises. The years covered by my secretaryship may be conveniently divided into three periods, each of which is characterized by a dif¬ ferent relationship of the United States to other nations.^ These periods, presenting three different phases of American foreign affairs, may be entitled the Period of Neutrality, the Period of

FOREWORD War and the Period of Peace. The first of these includes the time from June, 1915, to February, 1917; the second from February, 1917, to October, 1918; and the third from October, 1918, to February, 1920. The foreign policies of the United States and the intercourse of its government with other governments are in each period pri¬ marily dependent on the condition of neutrality, of war or of peace, which then existed. With the change of the international status of the United States, the motives and purposes of the gov¬ ernment necessarily changed, and with the change of motives and purposes came as a matter of course a change in policies. In re¬ viewing the conduct of American foreign relations, this funda¬ mental fact of change of status should never be lost sight of, and an accurate appreciation of the then existing conditions should be the viewpoint from which an official act or the adoption of a particular policy is judged, though the wisdom of the policy will necessarily be determined by the results of its application, results which, in some cases, are still uncertain. R. L.




Underlying Considerations Affecting Policies TOWARD THE



Appointment as Secretary op State


18 27 34 43 54


The Lusitania Case Continuance of the Submarine Controversy The Arabic Case Traffic in Munitions of War German






the United States


The Ancona and the Persia


Armed Merchant Vessels Controversies with Great Britain The Case of the Sussex The Continuance of Lusitania Negotiations The Presidential Campaign of



Efforts for Peace The Severance of Diplomatic Relations with




Armed Neutrality The Declaration of a State of War Relations with Austria-Hungary Visiting Diplomatic Missions The






219 238 245 272

War — Lansing-Ishii

Publicity and Secrecy

281 307 318

Relations with Russia




99 118 130 146 158

Latin-America and the War

APPENDIX Woodrow Wilson


Arthur James Balfour

351 354 356

General Joffre Count von Bernstorff

CONTENTS—Concluded Page


Baron Zwiedinek Official




State Social Life in Washington Index



361 365 373




on June 9, 1915, that the Honorable William Jennings Bryan resigned the portfolio of State in President Wilson’s Cab¬ inet, which he had held for over two years. On the same day I was authorized to act as Secretary of State ad interim for a period of thirty days or until Mr. Bryan’s successor was appointed. Under that authority I signed the note to the German Government con¬ cerning the sinking of the Lusitania, to the terms of which Mr. Bryan had objected on the ground that it would in all probability involve the United States in the World War. Because of this belief he preferred to resign rather than affix his signature to the note. was

For two weeks after the dispatch of the note there was much speculation in this country as to whom the President would name to succeed Mr. Bryan. With his usual deliberateness in such mat¬ ters Mr. Wilson delayed reaching a decision. He undoubtedly considered, among other names, those of Secretary McAdoo and the Honorable Walter Hines Page, the American Ambassador to London. Possibly the latter, whose appointment was, as I have been informed, strongly urged by Colonel E. M. House, the Presi¬ dent’s most influential adviser, would have received more favorable consideration under other conditions. The President and Mr. Page were old friends. There was a marked similarity between their methods of thought, their cultural developments and, above all, their idealism. In many ways the minds of the two men were in harmony, while there existed a mutual admiration and attraction. However, Mr. Page’s prejudice in favor of Great Britain had embarrassed the Administration and caused Mr. Wilson many anxious hours. In view of the President’s fixed determination to preserve a strict neutrality, he hesitated to give consideration to Mr. Page’s name. It was the Ambassador’s lack, or apparent lack, of conformity with the President’s policy of preserving a neutral attitude toward all the belligerents that was the obstacle which stood between him and the vacant secretaryship; and this objection even the powerful support of Colonel House, whose personal in-




fluence with Mr. Wilson was at the time very great, could not remove, though I believe that the President, on account of his friendship for Mr. Page, would have been glad in other circum¬ stances to have named him as Mr. Bryan’s successor. The President had planned to leave Washington on June twenty-third for Cornish, New Hampshire, where he had taken a house for the summer. Only a few hours prior to his departure he summoned me to the White House and without any preliminaries told me that he had decided to appoint me Secretary of State if I would first say that I would accept the appointment. My name had been frequently mentioned in the press in connection with the office, a fact which was gratifying because it showed the friendli¬ ness of the Washington correspondents, though many of my friends were disturbed by this support, knowing that the President was disposed to resist such influence as he believed it to be inspired by the person under consideration, though that was certainly not true in my case. I personally had never shared the hope of some of my acquaint¬ ances that I would be appointed, because my selection would in no way add to Mr. Wilson’s strength in dealing with Congress as to domestic legislation, for, though I had always been a Democrat, I had not been active in a political way for many years and never in Washington; therefore I had no especial influence with the Democratic leaders at the Capitol. Such influence was and is an important qualification for a Cabinet officer in carrying through a general legislative program, a fact which had been proved by the invaluable services rendered to the Administration by Mr. Bryan during his two years as Secretary, and without which some of the important legislation sought by the President would un¬ doubtedly have failed. The President’s offer came to me, therefore, as something which I had not really expected. I told him frankly that I had grave doubts as to the wisdom of his selection, as I thought that his Administration ought to be strengthened by appointing a man with more influence in the councils of the Demo¬ cratic Party, but that I was greatly honored by his offer and would of course accept if he desired me to do so. He replied that he would not have asked me unless he had con¬ sidered the matter from every point of view and satisfied himself that it was the thing to do. He added: “By experience and train¬ ing you are especially equipped to conduct the foreign affairs of the United States. This, under present conditions, is far more important than political influence.” He went on to say that he



was gratified to have me accept the appointment, since he was convinced that we were of the same mind concerning international policies. Of this he had been able to judge on account of our intercourse during my year’s service as Counselor for the Depart¬ ment of State. On the following day I took the oath of office, transferred my files and papers from the Counselor’s office to the room of the Secretary of State, and entered upon my duties as the executive head of the Department of State.


effect upon me personally of the inhumanity of the Germans in their conduct of submarine warfare had been such as to remove any doubt that I had previously held that sooner or later the United States would be forced to enter the war on the side of the Allies, for it seemed certain at that time that the German Govern¬ ment had no intention of abandoning its lawless methods, whatever civilized nations might think of its conduct. Though convinced of this, I believed that it was unwise to attempt to obtain from Congress a declaration of war until American public opinion was practically unanimous in demanding such action. While it was hard to await the slow process of complete conversion to the cause of the Allies and to a right appreciation of the menace to human liberty in the possibility of a triumphant Germany, which then seemed more remote than in the autumn of 1914, there was no other course for the Administration to take, even though it aroused bitter criticism in many quarters. The

It seemed to me that anyone who had followed the course of events since August, 1914, and analyzed with impartiality the purposes of the German Government as evidenced by its acts and utterances, could really have little doubt as to the result, or the part the United States would ultimately be compelled to take in the struggle for world supremacy. I felt sure in my own mind, but I did not find that the same certainty existed in the minds of all my associates in the government. Several of them hoped, and I think believed, that the United States would not be drawn into the conflict. The President certainly cherished this hope as was indicated in his adherence to a strict neutrality when facts justified its abandonment, and also in his subsequent efforts to become an impartial mediator for the purpose of restoring peace between the belligerents before a military decision had been reached. This disposition of some of the chief officials of the Adminis¬ tration was even more general and more evident among leading members of the Senate and House of Representatives, who were emphatically in support of our continuing neutral. Thus, the open announcement that the foreign policies of the Administration would 18



be based on the presumption that the United States would finally declare war against Germany would have been a serious mistake, even if the President had been won over to that course of action, which I am sure he could not have been in the summer of 1915, or at any time prior to March, 1917. Having, however, the settled conviction that eventually this country would enter the war on the side of the Allies I prepared for my own guidance a memorandum as to our foreign policies based on the hypothesis that the United States would join in the conflict against the Central Powers. That memorandum shows what was in my mind during the preparation of the reply to the German note of July eighth regarding the Lusitania case, and it will explain certain other official acts in connection with our for¬ eign affairs. The memorandum, which is entitled “Consideration and Outline of Policies,” is dated July 11, 1915, and reads as follows: “I have come to the conclusion that the German Govern¬ ment is utterly hostile to all nations with democratic institu¬ tions because those who compose it see in democracy a menace to absolutism and the defeat of the German ambition for world domination. Everywhere German agents are plotting and in¬ triguing to accomplish the supreme purpose of their government. “Only recently has the conviction come to me that de¬ mocracy throughout the world is threatened. Suspicions of the vaguest sort only a few months ago have been more and more confirmed. From many sources evidence has been coming until it would be folly to close one’s eyes to it. “German agents have undoubtedly been at work in Mexico arousing anti-American feeling and holding out false hopes of support. The proof is not conclusive but is sufficient to compel belief. Germans also appear to be operating in Haiti and San Domingo and are probably doing so in other Latin American Republics. “I think that this is being done so that this nation will have troubles in America and be unable to take part in the Euro¬ pean War if a repetition of such outrages as the Lusitania sinking should require us to act. It may even go further and have in mind the possibility of a future war with this Republic in case the Allies should be defeated. “In these circumstances the policies we adopt are vital to


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING the future of the United States and, I firmly believe, to the welfare of mankind, for I see in the perpetuation of democracy the only hope of universal peace and progress for the world. Today German absolutism is the great menace to democracy. “I think that we should, therefore, adopt the following for the present and pursue these policies until conditions material¬ ly change: “1. The settlement, for the time being at least, of the present submarine controversy because the American people are still much divided on the merits of the war. As it progresses, I believe that the real objects of the German Gov¬ ernment will be disclosed and there will be united opposition. Meanwhile we should get ready to meet the worst. “2. A rigorous and continuing prosecution of all plots in this country and a vigilant watch on Germans and their activi¬ ties here. “3. Secret investigations of German activities in Latin America, particularly Mexico, and the adoption of means to frustrate them. “4. The cultivation of a Pan-American doctrine with the object of alienating the American republics from European influence, especially the German influence. “5. The maintenance of friendly relations with Mexico. To do this it will be necessary to recognize Carranza’s faction, which seems to be the stronger. Union with the other American republics will have a good effect upon them. “6. The purchase of the Danish West Indies as soon and as secretly as possible because Germany may conquer Denmark and come in that way into legal title. If Denmark be¬ lieves that Germany covets the islands she will sell to us and prevent their possession being a menace to Danish independ¬ ence. The Danish Government must be told this. “7. The prevention by all means in our power of German influence becoming dominant in any nation bordering the Caribbean or near the Panama Canal. In this connection we should settle in some way with Colombia, for the Germans are particularly active there. “8. The actual participation of this country in the war in case it becomes evident that Germany will be the victor. A triumph for German imperialism must not be. We ought to look forward to this possibility and make ready to meet it. “There is a future possibility, which does not change the



foregoing policies but which emphasizes the last one. It is that the war may end in a draw or with the German Empire dom¬ inant over its enemies. “The argument could then be made by the German Gov¬ ernment that, in spite of the fact that the world was arrayed against it, it succeeded in preventing the defeat of the Em¬ pire, and that having thus proved its superior efficiency it should be continued and supported as the agency best fitted to restore the German nation to a state of prosperity. “I believe that this argument would be potent with the Ger¬ man people, who are in the habit of unquestioning obedience to their rulers in thought as well as action. Of course, the terrible cost of war, when the time to consider that arrives, will weaken the argument, for the people will ask what is the. recompense for the great sacrifices they have made, the great suffering which they have endured, and the government will have nothing to show. The nation may then rise and demand a change to a political system in which their voice will be su¬ preme. But, if the argument should prevail and the present military oligarchy be perpetuated, then what? “My judgment is that the German Government, cherishing the same ambition of world power which now possesses it, would with its usual vigor and thoroughness prepare to renew its attack on democracy. I think, however, that it would not pursue the course taken in this war, which has failed, because it would realize that the democratic nations would be more watchful and less trustful and better prepared to resist. It would probably endeavor to sow dissensions among the nations with liberal institutions and seek an alliance with other gov¬ ernments based to a more or less degree on the principle of absolutism. “The remedy seems to me to be plain. It is that Germany must not be permitted to win this war or to break even, though to prevent it this country is forced to take an active part. This ultimate necessity must be constantly in our minds in all our controversies with the belligerents. American public opin¬ ion must be prepared for the time, which may come, when we will have to cast aside our neutrality and become one of the champions of democracy. “We must in fact risk everything rather than leave the way open for a new combination of powers, stronger and more dangerous to liberty than the Central Allies are today.”


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING While mj personal views as to the ultimate position of the

United States were thus clear, the time was not ripe to take defini¬ tive action. The opposition to entering the war on the side of the Allies was strong in 1915 in spite of the Lusitania affair. It came from several elements of the population which were inspired by different motives and influenced by different reasons. Of these the largest body were undoubtedly Americans who thought that the war was not our affair but an European quarrel with which we had nothing to do. They had not reasoned out the underlying principles at stake, nor were they disposed to consider them as important. They could see no reason for the United States be¬ coming involved in what they believed did not concern this country. They clung tenaciously to the traditional policy of aloofness from European questions as they interpreted the words of Washington’s “Farewell Address.”1 Among other groups of citizens who opposed the entrance of the United States into the war were the bulk of the naturalized citizens of German and Austrian extraction and many Americans of German and Austrian descent, together with the Irish-Ameri¬ cans who sympathized with those who were striving to free Ireland from British domination. Then there were also the Americans whose business and commercial enterprises were affected by the activities of the British Navy. These saw their expectations of large profits waning. To these groups should be added the pacifists, who were opposed to all war out of principle, and, though this group was not numerous, it was sincere almost to the point of fanaticism in its opposition, and carried on a vigorous propaganda against the idea of the United States in any way participating in the conflict. There was also an influence which affected unconsciously many Americans in their sympathy toward the belligerents and caused them to hesitate in giving approval to the United States joining the Allies. This influence was a product of the textbooks used in teaching American history to the youth of the land. Unavoid¬ ably there was implanted in the minds of the student in our public schools the idea that England was our hereditary foe. Our two principal foreign wars, that for independence and that of 1812, were waged against Great Britain. These two conflicts were em¬ phasized in our school histories and embellished with numerous anecdotes illustrating American patriotism and valor, while the unrighteousness of the British Government in causing our people to take up arms in defense of their rights was bitterly denounced.



The general consequence of the feeling thus engendered was to keep alive a spirit of antagonism toward the British Empire and an unwillingness to join with it in any enterprise of a political or military nature. While studious Americans knew that this attitude of mind was unreasonable in view of the new conditions which pre¬ vailed and of the ties of blood and common language, the prejudice of childhood and the traditions handed down from generation to generation were not easily cast aside or forgotten. They unques¬ tionably weakened American sympathy toward the Allies, though their influence was offset in no small degree by the time-honored friendship for France, whose timely aid with troops, ships and money during the American Revolution was also given a promi¬ nent place in textbooks. Many Americans were deeply incensed at the interference of Great Britain with our sea-borne commerce and with the detentions and seizures by British naval ships of American vessels and cargoes destined to neutral ports. Under the accepted rules of interna¬ tional law these detentions and seizures were illegal and indefens¬ ible, as were the lists of contraband issued from time to time by the British Government, which included numerous commodities lacking entirely in the qualities which are usually supposed to impress articles with contraband character. Many more Ameri¬ cans were directly affected by these British practices than were affected by the activities of the German submarines. Thus, while I was convinced that this country would ultimately become a belligerent because of the peril to the world if autocratic Germany were victor, and while my ideas as to foreign policies were based upon this conviction, I, like some other believers in active support of the cause of the Allies, realized that the sensible thing to do was to defer action until, by a gradual process of education and enlightenment, the American people had been brought to a full understanding of the design of the German Gov¬ ernment to become overlord of the world. In writing to the President on July 14, 1915, concerning our answer to the German note of the eighth, I commented thus on American public opinion at that time: “As I read the state of mind of the majority of the people, it is that they do not want war, that no war spirit exists, 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. Of course this attitude, if I read it aright, is most


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING difficult to meet. To carry out both ideas is well-nigh impos¬ sible.”

Yet it was this problem which the government had to face. There was only one solution possible and that was delay. Judgment as to the wisdom of delay until the temper of the people had changed was confirmed as time passed. The majority of my callers during the summer and autumn of 1915, and for many months after that time, senators, representatives, and men high in financial and business circles, frankly said that they were against war, or else stated that, though they favored it, the bulk of the people with whom they came in contact were opposed to it. Even in December, 1916, a year and a half after the sinking of the Lusitania, when other submarine outrages had been added to the long score against Germany, one of the most prominent and in¬ fluential of the Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, Henry D. Flood, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that he had quietly made a personal canvass of the House and that there was unquestionably a majority opposed to a declaration of war against Germany. He himself, he said, favored a declara¬ tion but was not in favor of attempting to obtain it until it was certain of passage by a decisive vote. He said, in commenting further on the situation, that he believed that Congress was grad¬ ually becoming convinced that this was unavoidable, but that it would not abandon hope of keeping this country out of the strug¬ gle until the President’s efforts as a peacemaker proved of no avail. If such was the situation at the Capitol in December, 1916, six weeks after Mr. Wilson’s reelection as President when the campaign cry, “He kept us out of war,” had been so potent, the passage of a declaration of war against Germany in the summer of 1915 was certainly impossible, for the war-feeling was then much weaker. To have attempted it and to have failed would have been an irrep¬ arable disaster to the cause of the Allies. In fact it might have been America’s final decision, for it would have discouraged those who were seeking to arouse the people to the true meaning of the war. What then would have been the consequences? Would the Allied Powers have triumphed in the war? The whole course of history might have been changed if President Wilson had attempted and failed to obtain a declaration of war against the German Em¬ pire soon after the Lusitania disaster. The uncertainty of the re¬ sult was too great to warrant the attempt, and Mr. Wilson wisely



adopted a policy of delay which also accorded with his declared hopes of restoring peace. As the submarine controversy progressed and the attitude of the public mind was disclosed, the wisdom of the President’s policy of delay was confirmed. It became more and more evident to those in the Administration who were friendly to the Allies, that it was necessary before definite action was taken to convince the people of the evil nature of the German Government’s aims and of the menace of those aims to our own national safety as well as to the principles of democracy, in the maintenance of which the United States was vitally interested. It was a long slow process, the process of enlightenment. It covered a period of almost two years. It might have failed even then but for the crass stupidity of the Germans in declaring their purpose of renewing unrestricted submarine warfare on February 1, 1917, in later attacking and sinking American merchant ships, and, finally, in attempting to induce Mexico to make war upon the United States in the event that we declared war against Germany. The German Admiralty’s obstinacy in refusing to heed the admonitions of Count von Bernstorff as to the fateful consequences of renewed submarine warfare, and the folly of the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs in direct¬ ing the German Minister in Mexico to propose to that country that, if the United States entered the war, she should invade her northern neighbor, offering as a bribe the return of the territory which the Mexican Republic had lost in the War of 1848, turned the scale, and the American people, with only a few opposing voices, demanded a declaration of war against a government which was plotting secretly to involve this country in a conflict with the Latin-American republic across the Rio Grande. It was difficult to restrain one’s feelings and to conduct a dispassionate correspondence with the German Government con¬ cerning the Lusitania affair, when nature revolted at the callous¬ ness of the perpetrators of the crime and of the officials who so unhesitatingly defended the act. Expressions of good will and courteous phrases seemed very much out of place. To conduct such a correspondence was all the harder for me in view of my sympathy with the Allies, and of my steadfast conviction that their cause was in truth the cause of all liberty-loving peoples through¬ out the world. Satisfied, however, that the preponderance of public opinion in the United States, or at least a very large majority of the people, favored a continuance of neutrality and the avoidance of a rupture of diplomatic relations with Germany, there was no



other course to take. Though it was hostile to one’s natural in¬ clinations, notes had to be written and interviews held without exhibiting in any way the real repugnance one felt toward those who attempted to justify inhumanity and crime. How much more satisfying it would have been to have denounced the whole wicked business, to have sent Bernstorif home, and to have declared war against the government which was the instigator and defender of the barbarous outrages.


The Lusitania case was the chief subject connected with the Euro¬ pean War which was before the Department of State when I became Secretary in June, 1915, although we were at that same time engaged with the British Government in a diplomatic contro- • vers3r> or rather, in a series of controversies arising out of the violations of the neutral rights of American citizens on the high seas. These violations had been many and flagrant from the point of view of the established law of nations, though the correspondence regarding them was, for the time, overshadowed in the public mind by the torpedoing and destruction of the great passenger steam¬ ship by a German submarine. The news of the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915, sent a wave of horror throughout the country, particularly the East. The public denunciation of German barbarism was bitter. Many newspapers were outspoken in demanding an immediate severance of diplomatic relations with Germany, and no small number clam¬ ored for war. As one went westward, however, the demands for drastic action grew less emphatic and were tempered with queries as to the pro¬ priety of Americans traveling on British vessels, and also as to the right of Germany to retaliate against Great Britain. It was ap¬ parent to anyone studying critically and impartially the state of public opinion in the United States that it was by no means a unit as to the policy which the American Government should adopt. In fact, as far as one could judge from the press and from statements of observers in various parts of the country, a majority of the people were opposed to taking steps which would lead to war with Germany; and it seemed almost certain, from interviews with lead¬ ing senators and representatives, that Congress would refuse to adopt a declaration of war if the President requested it. At all events, even if a declaration of war could have been passed, which seemed doubtful, there would have been strong opposition disclosed, and anything less than practical unanimity would have been unfortunate because it would have made the subsequent course of action of the United States difficult. While many of us in the




Administration desired to declare war, it seemed wise to avoid the issue until the indignation of the great bulk of the American people against Germany could be sufficiently aroused to force their representatives in Congress to vote for war with substantial unanimity. It meant a slow and irritating period of education and enlightenment as to German aims and the meaning of the great European conflict. If the Lusitania had been an American ship, there would, I believe, have been no hesitation by the President in severing diplo¬ matic relations and in appealing to Congress to declare a state of war with Germany; and there can be little question that, under the impulse of a deep sense of national wrong, the declaration would have been passed in Congress by a large majority. As it was, there prevailed in many quarters a feeling that, as the great steamship was British, the Germans had not intended to injure Americans, that Americans had no right to jeopardize our peace with Ger¬ many by traveling on a British vessel, and that the German Government had been forced to adopt radical measures in retaliation for the illegal manner in which Great Britain was maintaining her blockade of Germany and her allies. Or, if this gross violation of right and humanity had occurred in the autumn of 1914, even though the vessel was of British nationality, the consequences would in all probability have been war between this country and Germany. The destruction of American lives by the attack on the Lusitania, coming when it did, made no such impression on the public mind in this country as it would have made during the first months of the war. Prior to the destruction of the Lusitania on that fateful seventh of May, the British passenger steamer Falaba with American citi¬ zens on board had been torpedoed on March twenty-eighth, and on May first the American vessel Gulflight had been attacked. In the first case an American citizen had been drowned, and in the second case two or more Americans had lost their lives. These cases, while arousing less excitement because so few were killed, involved the same principle, the same disregard of rights, and were, therefore, joined with the Lusitania sinking in the represen¬ tations and the protest made to the German Government against the use of submarines as commerce-destroyers. These representa¬ tions were embodied in an instruction sent to Ambassador Gerard at Berlin on May thirteenth, in which appears the following significant phrase:



“that it [the Government of the United States] must hold the Imperial German Government to a strict accountability for any infringement of those rights [of American citizens], intentional or incidental.” The instruction in substance called upon the German Govern¬ ment to cease submarine attacks against merchant ships since they could not be made according to the accepted rules of humane naval warfare. On May twenty-eighth the German Minister of Foreign Affairs made a long and detailed reply to the American note, which he supplemented with another on June first concerning the case of the American vessel Gulflight. These notes contained excuses for the method employed by German submarine commanders and sought to cast the blame upon the British and American shipowners in subjecting their vessels to the risk of being attacked by passing through the sea war-zone, which had been proclaimed by Germany without color of legal right and which covered a great ocean area embracing the waters about the British Isles. There was, however, in the German reply no intimation that the existing practice would cease. It was the note in answer to these two unsatisfactory German communications to which Mr. Bryan objected. Rather than sign it he resigned from the Cabinet, believing that, if the American note as drafted were delivered to the German Government, it would result in war, and Mr. Bryan was unalterably opposed to the United States becoming a participant in the conflict whatever the provocation might be. With his conscientiousness in dealing with all questions, with his belief that war was always avoidable and, therefore, unjustifiable, and with his firm conviction that the reply of the United States, which the President had approved, would in the end bring about war between the United States and Ger¬ many, Mr. Bryan’s withdrawal from the Cabinet was consistent with his avowed principles and with his conception of right and duty. On the day that he resigned Mr. Bryan issued a public state¬ ment giving the reasons for his action. In that statement he said: “Two of the points on which we (the President and I) differ, each conscientious in his conviction, are: “First, as to the suggestion of investigation by an interna¬ tional commission, and,


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING “Second, as to warning Americans against traveling on belligerent vessels or with cargoes of ammunition.”

He argued on the first point that the principle of the “Bryan Peace Treaties,” as to an investigation before going to war, should be applied to the Lusitania case, although he had failed prior to the war in an attempt to negotiate such a treaty with the German Empire. Furthermore, the first draft of the note to Germany, which Mr. Bryan approved, included this principle, and the Presi¬ dent agreed to it. Later, however, Mr. Wilson struck out the pro¬ vision when some of his advisers strongly objected to it. As to the second point, Mr. Bryan declared that no American citizen should do anything which might involve his country in war even though he were compelled to surrender a strict legal right in order to avoid becoming the cause of such a disaster. No one who knew the high-mindedness of Mr. Bryan and his earnestness of purpose ever questioned for a moment the sincerity of his course of action or blamed him for refusing to be a party to a policy which he felt convinced would plunge his country into the terrible European conflict. He acted on principle without ap¬ parent consideration of the effect upon his personal fortunes. I had a long interview with Mr. Bryan before he actually resigned and endeavored to induce him to change his mind, but nothing that I could say affected his views or weakened his determination. He refused to consider a compromise of any sort with a course which he deemed fundamentally wrong. While the note to which he ob¬ jected did not result in war as he anticipated that it would, I am by no means sure that his expectations as to the future consequences of the note of June ninth were not, at the time, in a measure jus¬ tifiable, while there is a ring of common sense about his second point which is more or less appealing to the average man who is not strongly impressed with the idea that individuals should insist on exercising a legal right when such exercise will cause serious international differences. One ought not, therefore, to be severe in criticizing Mr. Bryan in thus following the dictates of his conscience as to the proper policy in dealing with the Lusitania case. There was, however, another incident connected with the negotiations concerning sub¬ marine warfare in which Mr. Bryan’s conduct was indiscreet and tended to defeat the very purpose of the demands which had been made upon the German Government before his resignation, and to jeopardize the peace which he so much desired to preserve. This



was his unfortunate trustfulness in the Austro-Hungarian Am¬ bassador, 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. He, at the same time, apparently con¬ veyed the idea that it was necessary to write sharp notes and make peremptory demands in order to pacify the excited public opinion in America. Doctor Dumba, highly elated with his interview, immediately transmitted a report of this conversation, as he understood it, or as he wished to understand it, to his government so that it might be passed on to the German Government, which could regulate its action accordingly. Thus the force of the earlier notes sent to Berlin from Washington was weakened and their effect discounted, while the anxiety of the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs was allayed. It is very possible that the German replies would have been drafted in a different tone and would have gone further toward bringing the controversy to a satisfactory conclusion but for this unfortunate interview of Secretary Bryan with the astute Austrian, who certainly did not minimize the Secretary’s assertions in re¬ porting them to his government and apparently expanded them beyond the truth. I think that it is fair to say that Mr. Bryan in a letter to the President detailed the conversation, denying the statement credited to him by the Ambassador. But it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that he said something which conveyed to Doctor Dumba an intimation such as the latter sent to his govern¬ ment! So keen a diplomat as Dumba would not have made up the conversation “out of whole cloth.” He was too clever to do that. It is a pity that at that time there was not a dictograph installed in the Secretary of State’s office, as was done later. If there had been, there would have been a record of Mr. Bryan’s words. To the American note, which caused Mr. Bryan’s resignation and to which, after Mr. Bryan read it, no additions or amendments were made, as some have asserted, the German Government sent a reply dated July 8, 1915. It contained the assurance “that American ships will not be hindered in the prosecution of legitimate shipping and the lives of American citizens on neutral vessels shall not be placed in jeopardy.” The italics are mine, and indicate the two words which made the assurance worthless. The word “legiti¬ mate” was open to various interpretations and would unavoidably introduce discussion and controversy in every case that might arise. The word “neutral” was intended to limit the rights of



American citizens bj forcing them to take passage on vessels belonging to nations which were not at war, and practically denied to them the protection to which they were entitled under interna¬ tional law, when traveling on inoffensive merchant ships of belliger¬


ent nationality. The assurance in no way met the demands of the United States or insured against a repetition of the Lusitania horror. The United States had insisted that the international rules requiring a bellig¬ erent to “visit and search” a merchant ship should be complied with. As to that, the German Government replied that to have done so in the case of the Lusitania would have been to expose the submarine to almost certain destruction by being rammed by the great liner, an act for which, the Germans asserted, the British Government had offered a substantial pecuniary reward. The German note was wholly unacceptable to the American Government and left the controversy no nearer settlement than when the note of June ninth was telegraphed to Berlin. While the reply of July eighth was being considered by the Department of State, a memorandum was received from the German Govern¬ ment relative to the case of the American steamer Nebraskan which on May twenty-fifth had been attacked by a submarine off the west coast of Ireland. The defense was that the vessel was within the “war-zone,” which the German Government had proclaimed and which had several months before been the cause of a vigorous protest by the United States, and that, furthermore, the Nebraskan had shown no flag or other sign of neutral nationality so that the submarine commander presumed from his experience in those waters that it was a British vessel. This explanation had an effect upon the American Government directly contrary to the one intended, for it emphasized the Ameri¬ can position that submarine activities against ships of commerce could not be properly conducted without “visit and search.” Un¬ less that rule was strictly complied with, neutral vessels, as well as enemy merchant vessels, were in constant jeopardy from sudden attack by German undersea craft, which launched their torpedoes first and investigated their victims’ nationality afterward. If any doubt remained as to the impossibility of using in a proper way submarines as commerce destroyers the German statement as to the N ebraskan removed it. This memorandum furnishes an excellent example of the per¬ sistent 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 exchanged in regard to the Lusitania case, or how the statement in regard to the N ebraskan strengthened the argument of the United States against the use of submarines. But this diplomatic blunder, which in itself was inexcusable in one handling the foreign affairs of a nation engaged in ruthless submarine attacks, was rendered even worse from being forwarded to Washington at the very time when the note of July eighth was under consideration. German diplomacy has always ^ labored under the handicap of never being able to understand a point of view other than its own or of seeing the way in which its own arguments may be turned to the support of the other side. It blocks the path of negotiations with foolish statements and then itself tumbles over them. It is not exactly dullness of mind but rather a distortion in the German mentality which sees only one side of a question and that the German side.






to the President’s policy of continuing negotiations with the German Government, at least for a time, an instruction was sent to Ambassador Gerard on July 21, 1915, directing him to deliver a note to the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the text of the note being embodied in the cablegram. In reading over this note and others addressed to Germany on submarine warfare I sometimes wonder that, feeling as we (I refer to my associates in the Department of State) did toward the German authorities because of their brutal deeds and their defense of those deeds, it was possible to write as we did. The temptation was great, almost irresistible, to speak bluntly and to bring things to a head regard¬ less of consequences. Only the President’s determination to preserve our neutrality and the recognized necessity for delay on account of the doubtful state of public opinion in the United States prevented “putting teeth” into the notes sent to Berlin.. The American note of July twenty-first contained a few phrases which may be quoted here, since they set forth clearly the position of our government in regard to submarine interference with the rights of neutrals and neutral ships on the high seas. These read as follows: Pursuant


“. . . 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 their acknowledged rights, particularly when they violate the right to life itself. If a belligerent cannot retaliate against an enemy without injuring the lives of neutrals, as well as their property, hu¬ manity, as well as justice and a due regard for the dignity of neutral powers, should dictate that the practice be discon¬ tinued. If persisted in, it would in such circumstances con¬ stitute an unpardonable offense against the sovereignty of the neutral nations affected. . . . “In view of the admission of illegality made by the Imperial Government when it pleaded the right of retaliation in defense of its acts, and in view of the manifest impossibility of con-




forming to the established rules of naval warfare, the Gov¬ ernment of the United States cannot believe that the Imperial Government will 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. . Friendship itself prompts it [the Government of the United States] to say to the Imperial Government that repeti¬ tion by the commanders of German naval vessels of acts in contravention of those rights must be regarded by the Gov¬ ernment of the United States, when they affect American citizens, as deliberately unfriendly.” Although these declarations were embedded in courteous sentences traversing the untenable and badly reasoned arguments advanced by the German Government in defense of its use of submarines as commerce-destroyers, they stand out clearly as marking the atti¬ tude of the United States toward the lawless conduct of Germany’s submarine commanders. We could not go further without a threat of direct action, and we could not say less without conceding that there was force in the German arguments.' If we had known then what we learned from later experience, that the Germans were as “thick-skinned” as pachyderms and would not, if they could avoid it, have let the controversy reach an impasse, it is probable that the note of July twenty-first would have been briefer and more emphatic. To speak bluntly would have been a personal satisfac¬ tion though it would have accomplished no more than polite phrases. The terms of that note must not, however, be judged by our later knowledge of German temperament and policy, but by the knowl¬ edge and beliefs which then prevailed. We had no reason to expect that German officials were so impervious to offensive language or so indifferent to having their truth and honesty challenged, as they subsequently proved themselves to be. The hoary old adage, “Hindsight is better than foresight,” is constantly verified in the course of history but never more fre¬ quently or more convincingly than in the field of diplomacy, where presumption and hypothesis are unavoidable bases for action, and where the successful diplomat is generally the one who is able to “outguess the other fellow” and anticipate his opponent’s next move. Diplomacy has always been very much a game of wits, though that does not mean necessarily the employment of crooked-



ness and deceit. Diplomats may be honest and still be clever. Cleverness by no means implies dishonesty. In the long run hon¬ esty and frankness pay, as the world is beginning to realize, but when falsehood and deception are practiced by an opponent, the honest and straightforward diplomat must be on his guard and not assume that the other party to the controversy will follow his example. The force of example cuts little figure in international relations. To lay all one’s cards on the table when an antagonist has some cards concealed generally results in losing the game. Watchfulness, caution and reserve in the handling of negotiations are essential until statesmen come to a full realization that truth¬ fulness and openness are as essential in diplomacy as they are in business. The “shirt-sleeve” diplomacy, which we talk about as being characteristically American, means bluntness and honesty; but does it not also mean that one’s coat is off and his fists are clenched? If it means that, then it hardly impresses our diplomacy with the purpose of peaceful adjustment regardless of conse¬ quences. Nevertheless we pride ourselves on its being the American way of dealing with other nations. We believe in openness and honesty but in firmness as well. It is my conviction that the President was the more ready to adopt a policy of prolonging the controversy between the Depart¬ ment of State and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and endeavoring to maintain a character of strict neutrality, because he hoped that, through his personal intervention as an impartial friend of both sides in the war, he might find some means of bring¬ ing about peace. It was a noble ambition, which grew more intense as time progressed and as the sacrifices of life and property in¬ creased. It possibly made him overzealous in keeping the scales even between the belligerents and avoiding any action which indi¬ cated partiality for either. It culminated with the futile effort, which Mr. Wilson made in December, 1916, and January, 1917, to find a common ground on which the warring powers could nego¬ tiate peace. Even after that failure Mr. Wilson, with his usual tenacity of purpose, clung to the hope of a negotiated peace and I do not think that he entirely abandoned that hope until he de¬ termined, after the middle of March, 1917, to summon Congress and to ask the passage of a declaration of a state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government. In July, 1915, while peace-making was an object which the President unquestionably had in mind, since he had sent Colonel House abroad as his personal emissary to sound out the belligerent



governments, I do not believe that he had worked out a very definite plan of achieving this object. He must have felt, however, that an open break with Germany would entirely debar him from be¬ coming a mediator between the belligerents. This attitude of mind toward the war showed itself in Mr. Wilson’s apparent intention to equalize, in so far as it was possible, the blame for aggressions between the two parties to the conflict and to put them both in the wrong, from the point of view of neutral nations, in the conduct of their naval operations. He even met those who complained of Germany’s acts by pointing to the British violations of law, while those who complained of the misdeeds of the British were told to consider the wickedness of the Germans. There was another matter in connection with German submarine warfare and the illegal interruption of American commerce by the British which undoubtedly influenced the President in his attitude of complaint against both governments. It was his idea that the United States must maintain “the freedom of the seas,” and in the American note sent to Berlin on July twenty-first one of the few changes in the note, drafted in the Department and sent to him at Cornish for approval, was in relation to this subject. In that note appears the following:

“They [the Government of the United States and the Im¬ perial German Government] are both contending for the freedom of the seas. The Government of the United States will continue to contend for that freedom, from whatever quarter violated, without compromise, at any cost. It invites the practical co-operation of the Imperial German Govern¬ ment at this time when co-operation may accomplish most and this great common object be most strikingly and effectively achieved.”

It is manifest to one reading the foregoing sentences that this invitation of the President to “practical co-operation” is open to two interpretations. It may have meant that the German co-opera¬ tion was to be through ceasing to conduct submarine warfare in the brutal and lawless manner in which it had been conducted; or it may have meant that Germany should co-operate by joining with the United States in resisting the illegal practices of the British naval ships which were violative of the neutral rights of the Ameri¬ cans engaged in legitimate commerce. Of course, between these



two possible interpretations the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs did not hesitate. He immediately assumed that the latter was the correct one, though there can be no doubt that the first meaning given was the one that the President had in mind when he wrote the paragraph, probably failing to perceive that it was open to any other interpretation than the one which he intended. It was unfortunately expressed. I think it is not doing Mr. Wilson an injustice to say that his language was on several occasions unin¬ tentionally ambiguous and that he was, as a result, criticized for assuming positions which were entirely contrary to his ideas and which he never intended to take. Count von Bernstorff, astute diplomat that he was, hastened to seize upon the phrase quoted as a suggestion that the United States and the German Empire should unite in the protection of neutral ships from such British interference as was not authorized by the existing rules of international law relating to neutral rights. It must be confessed that it was a substantial ground on which to base an argument, for it gave force to the German claim of a right of retaliation upon an enemy who failed to conform his naval opera¬ tions to the settled practice of civilized nations, while it seemed to link the United States and Germany in a partnership to resist, by force, the British naval policy. The phrase “freedom of the seas” became thus early an Ameri¬ can watchword which President Wilson used on many occasions and of which he seemed peculiarly fond, as he was of many other phrases which he adopted or coined. From a political standpoint this expression, as applied to neutral commerce, sounded wonder¬ fully well, appealing as it did to the sympathizers with the Allies, who were incensed against Germany for her submarine warfare, and also to those who complained against Great Britain for her violations of neutral rights on the high seas. Personally, I was at a loss how to convert the phrase into concrete terms and in my conversations with the President I was unable to obtain a verv clear definition of his understanding of it. It seemed to be a term which went no further than the affirmation of the long-established right that the high seas were a common highway free to the ships of all nations engaged in commerce and trade, provided that in time of war they did not interfere with belligerent operations. If it meant only that, it in no way advanced the right of common use beyond the principles of international law laid down centuries before by Grotius. If it meant more than that, the way in which neutral rights on the high seas were to be extended was never disclosed by



Mr. Wilson or others who used the phrase so frequently during the latter years of the war. The nearest to a formula which I have been able to find, defining the President’s idea when he used the phrase, is in his address to Congress on January 8, 1918, when he listed his famous “Fourteen Points.” The second point on that list reads: “Absolute freedom for navigation upon the high seas, out¬ side territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.” This declaration is almost as uncertain as the phrase itself; first, because it contemplated “international action” in closing sea areas without explaining the means of determining such action; and, second, because it would seem to exclude a belligerent from inter¬ rupting enemy commerce or interfering with the merchant vessels of an enemy outside the territorial waters of a belligerent. Of course nations at war, with their national safety at stake, would disregard such a limitation upon their naval activities and would resort to the old right to seize enemy ships and cargoes applying probably the rules of visit and search and trade in contraband, which have been established by the practice of nations. It took generations and several naval wars to build up the accepted code of rules relating to the respective rights of neutrals and belligerents on the high seas. The principles underlying the rules had been long recognized and accepted prior to July, 1915, but the rules themselves were based on practical experience and on application of the principles to concrete cases. Thus, while the conditions and methods of naval warfare and of neutral commercial activities might change, the principles remained as bases on which to build new rules of practice to meet the change in conditions. To attempt to change the principles was Utopian. It was an endeavor to sup¬ plant established practice by untried theory. The phrase, despite its ambiguity, played a not unimportant part in the discussions of 1915. Its use in the American note en¬ couraged the Germans to hope that the United States would go to extremes with Great Britain in insisting on an uninterrupted trade with the neutral nations adjoining the German Empire, par¬ ticularly Holland and Denmark, which would have had the effect of breaking down the indirect but effective blockade that was pre¬ venting foodstuffs and the necessaries of industrial life from reach-



ing the German people. When the hope failed to materialize and the President showed no disposition to convert “the freedom of the seas” into action, I believe that it constituted a strong excuse to the German Government to increase their submarine activities as the only method of forcing the British to abandon their blockade. On the other hand, the British Government and press in 1915 and later showed great anxiety as to the interpretation of the phrase and its application to their operations on the high seas, an anxiety that was reflected in the American press which sympathized with the cause of the Allies and favored every means to weaken the Central Powers. The unfortunate invitation to the Germans to “co-operate,” which was generally misinterpreted, added to this anxiety and caused much unfavorable comment. In my personal interviews with Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British Ambassador, and with Monsieur Jusserand, the French Ambassador, they ex¬ pressed the fear that President Wilson was disposed to magnify the wrong of interference with American commerce and to minimize the greater wrong of destroying or jeopardizing American lives. In view of the ambiguous suggestion as to German co-operation in making the seas free and also of certain other expressions in our correspondence with Berlin I could not blame them for their apprehension. Nevertheless, I am sure that the President, in spite of his scrupulous impartiality, never lost sight of the relative proportions of the wrongs done by Great Britain and the crimes perpetrated by Germany. From my conversations with him I drew the conclusion that he never put in the same category American property and American lives, as the Germans invariably did. On Friday afternoon, July twenty-third, two days after the dispatch of our reply to Berlin and the day following its publica¬ tion in this country, the German Ambassador called to see me to discuss the contents of the note. I told him that in making any reply other than a peremptory demand on his government we had shown a restraint which must not be wrongly interpreted at Berlin; that it was true we did not wish to enter the war but that Germany’s conduct was forcing us to the point where we would be compelled to take that step; 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 consequencs. Count von Bernstorff’s manner showed that he was greatly ex¬ ercised over the situation, and from remarks which he let fall I concluded that he was personally opposed to a continuance of sub-



marine warfare as it was being conducted and was exerting his influence with his government to bring to an end the illegal methods which were being practiced. This was, however, merely an opinion on my part, for the Ambassador carefully avoided saying anything that could be construed into a criticism of Germany’s naval opera¬ tions. He was too well trained a diplomat to do that. Bernstorff was, I believe, honestly opposed to the use of submarines against “unarmed” vessels, and I have since learned that a considerable party at Berlin supported him in his endeavor to limit their activi¬ ties, but the opponents of that type of warfare were not strong enough to defeat the policy of the German Admiralty. I have wondered sometimes what would have been the result if Count von Bernstorff’s advice had prevailed with his government and if submarine warfare had been abandoned. 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? Would not the American people have become more and more irritated at the British disregard of their rights and demanded naval convoys or armaments for American ships engaged in legitimate trade with neutral countries bordering on the North Sea? Could a clash with the British Navy have been avoided? And would a clash have resulted in war? An American today, reviewing the two years preceding the declaration of war by Congress in April, 1917, may feel a chill of fear as he sees how the mere change of policy at Berlin in regard to submarine war¬ fare, a change that nearly took place, might have reversed the whole course of events, and how that change did not take place because those then in control of the German Government turned a deaf ear to the wise counsel of the German Ambassador at Wash¬ ington. The Allied Powers may thank German stupidity and stub¬ bornness for saving the situation. Submarine warfare may have been a blessing in disguise. The same afternoon that Count von Bernstorff called to see me, President Wilson returned to his summer home at Cornish, and Mrs. Lansing and I left Washington to take a brief holiday, which we spent with Colonel and Mrs. E. M. House at Manchester-bythe-Sea, the Colonel having urged me to visit him, as he had seen the German Ambassador, but could not himself come to Washington on account of his health. During the day or two spent with Colonel House we discussed the submarine question, which he had also dis¬ cussed with the German Ambassador, and I found that his opinion coincided with mine that the Ambassador was using all his powers



of persuasion to induce his government to abandon a practice which was turning the tide of American sentiment strongly against Germany. Bernstorff had undoubtedly spoken more frankly to the Colonel than he had to me, not only because the Colonel was on more intimate terms with him but because he naturally spoke more freely to a private citizen than to one holding an official position. I was glad to have this additional light upon the German Ambassador’s views and his purpose. Colonel House, who knew the Berlin situation by personal observation, was very hopeful that Bernstorff’s advice would prevail and that a satisfactory settlement would be reached. He saw in a settlement the possibility of Ameri¬ can mediation for peace which was his chief purpose in visiting Europe. I shared his hopes that Bernstorff’s counsel would prevail, although I could not but speculate upon the new embarrassments which the government would have to face if Germany abandoned the improper use of submarines against commercial vessels and agreed to make reparation for the wrongful acts already committed.


the four weeks following the dispatch of the note of July twenty-first the submarine controversy slumbered, and, while the press continued to comment on the note and to show impatience at Germany’s delay in replying to it, the landing of marines at Haiti, the assembling of the Pan-American Conference on Mexico and other international matters of immediate importance in a measure diverted public attention from the controversy and usurped the front pages of the newspapers. The President returned to Washington on the morning of August eleventh while I was in New York attending a session of the Pan-American diplomats who were considering the Mexican situation, but on my return to the capital on the following day I had a conference with him concern¬ ing the various phases of our foreign relations. While he showed disappointment that no reply had been received from Berlin, he counseled patience and advised against demanding an immediate answer. My own view was contrary to his, but I think now, as I review the whole situation, that he was right and that I was wrong. A week later, however, an event occurred which caused renewed excitement in the United States and the conviction that Germany had no intention to lessen the activities of her submarines or to modify the brutality of their attacks on commercial vessels. This event was the torpedoing of the British passenger liner Arabic on August nineteenth, which took place without warning and without any effort being made to safeguard the lives of the people on board, For

among whom were several Americans. Coming as it did when the whole country was growing impatient at the apparently intentional delay of the German Government in answering our note of July twenty-first, this new outrage created another critical situation. It was evidently useless to continue the correspondence relating to the Lusitania until something definite was done by Germany to remove the stigma of illegality and in¬ humanity which attached to the attack of the Arabic, since that could be interpreted as an evidence of the policy of the German Government. The state of affairs called for direct action, but it was a question how far our government could go in taking such action and retain the support of Congress and of American public




opinion, for in Washington and throughout the country Mr. Bryan’s propaganda against Americans traveling on British vessels was having considerable effect and he was gaining many supporters for his ideas. It was a difficult and perplexing situation, which required careful consideration before a course of action was defi¬ nitely adopted. The desire of the President to bring about peace in Europe through mediation on his part was seriously menaced. While he had discussed this subject with me only casually, his purpose of bringing the belligerents together in a peace conference I knew from what Colonel House had told me, and I, therefore, assumed it to be a policy of the government, which I was bound not to defeat, even though it did not conform to my own views as to its practicability. Because of this hope and intention of Mr. Wilson, which Colonel House had strongly encouraged by his reported interviews with European statesmen, the possible consequences of the Arabic affair presented questions which had to be considered from the point of view of expediency as well as of right. In order to obtain Mr. Wilson’s ideas as to a course of action, and also to see if his expectation as to mediation had not been destroyed or at least weakened by the new situation, I wrote him the following letter: August 24, 1915. “My dear Mr. President: “In view of the situation created by the torpedoing of the Arabic and the danger of being involved in war with Germany in case we should sever diplomatic relations, which appears probable, I have been considering the general effect of a state of war between this country and Germany upon the part we desire to play when negotiations for peace may seem prac¬ ticable. “The position which we have hoped to occupy was that of a mutual friend to the belligerents, who would act as inter¬ mediary in opening negotiations and as a restraint upon either party in making oppressive demands. “As the war has progressed I have become more and more convinced that we were losing constantly the friendship of both parties and that we would have little influence upon either in bringing about negotiations or in molding the terms of peace. It would take but little to eliminate us entirely in the final settlement.



“So far as Germany is concerned, I think that we have lost irretrievably any influence we may have possessed over her government, and that our participation in any way in the restoration of peace would be resented. “As to the Allies, I believe that their distorted views as to our attitude, which is certainly misunderstood in Great Britain, would deprive us of influence with them. “Now, on the assumption that we sever diplomatic inter¬ course with the German Government, which responds by a declaration of war, the consequences internationally would seem to be the complete restoration of friendship and confi¬ dence with the Allies and the necessary recognition of the United States as party to the peace negotiations. We would be in a position to influence the Allies, if they should be vic¬ torious, to be lenient in their demands and to regain a part of the good will of Germany by being a generous enemy. If, on the other hand, Germany should triumph, we would be included in any settlement made, and Germany would be de¬ prived of the free hand she would otherwise have in dealing with us after she had overcome her European adversaries. “If the foregoing views are sound, it would appear that our usefulness in the restoration of peace would certainly not be lessened by a state of war between this country and Germany, and it might even be increased. “I have endeavored to analyze the situation impartially from the standpoint of our international relations and not from the standpoint of domestic policy. As to the latter my ideas are less definite. I do not know what effect war would have upon the American people. Of one thing though I am convinced, it will not arouse very much enthusiasm, however it may be approved by the American people other than those of German birth or descent. Beyond this I do not wish at the present time to express an opinion. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.” The next day, August twenty-fifth, I wrote the following memo¬ randum outlining the course of action which I purposed to take: “The sinking of the Arabic has stirred the people deeply and there is much indignation against Germany. This is especially true of the Eastern States.

The reports from the


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING West show that the region is disposed to be indifferent to this last outrage. This lack of unity of popular feeling makes the adoption of a strong policy in discussing this matter with the German Ambassador very difficult. “I am sure that only strong words will force the German Government to admit liability and give guarantees for the future. If at this time we employ mild language, it will be credited to weakness or at least to doubt of popular support. The latter is the course which prudence dictates and which a divided public opinion seems to warrant. On the other hand an appeal to instead of a demand on the German Government will get us nowhere, and put us, I fear, in a very humiliating position. “I have, in view of the circumstances, come to the conclusion that it is necessary ‘to take the bull by the horns’ and put the matter up to the German Ambassador so firmly and emphati¬ cally that he will be convinced that, unless his government repudiates the brutal act of its submarine commander in attacking the Arabic and promises not to repeat the offense, it will probably mean war. “I shall not seek the President’s authorization to take this radical course because, if it fails, it may be desirable for him to repudiate my words and to declare that I was not empowered to go so far as to threaten war. I am satisfied, however, that only a blunt statement to Bernstorff will bring results. Be¬ lieving this, my duty seems plain. I must take the personal risk of being humiliated in case this course fails, since it appears to be the only way to avoid national humiliation, for Germany will certainly continue her submarine warfare unless she fears that we will resist with force. “After I receive full reports on the Arabic from both sides I shall endeavor to impress on Count von Bernstorff that our patience is at an end and that there is danger of war unless Germany acts promptly. Failure means a most embarrassing situation. We cannot enter the war with the country divided as it is at present. So if my declaration is challenged I cannot make good. If we get into this war, and it seems to me that we will have to in the end, we can only go in effectively as a united people. “I shall make the threat and take the chance that it will bring Germany to terms.”



On the day that this memorandum was written I had talked with President Wilson over the private telephone which connected our offices and he informed me that Count von Bernstorff had been to see him to ask for delay and that he (the President) had told him that we would wait no longer, but must have a reply at once. I was naturally much gratified that Mr. Wilson’s attitude was uncon¬ sciously in conformity with my plan of action and I determined to act without further knowledge of the facts regarding the attack upon the Arabic. On the following morning the German Ambassador came to see me, but, as it was Thursday, “Diplomatic Day,” and other ambas¬ sadors and ministers were in the diplomatic anteroom seeking an interview, the time to discuss the matter did not seem opportune. However, on Friday morning, the Count, at my request, came to my office and I proceeded to carry out the plan embodied in my memorandum. I told 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 declara¬ tion, the United States would certainly declare war on Germany. I told him further that immediate action was necessary, that we would listen to no excuses or explanations, and that it would, therefore, be of no use to see me again unless he brought me the assurances which the United States must have in order to continue to maintain friendly relations with his country. Bernstorff seemed to be expecting some such demand from me, for he showed neither perturbation nor resentment. Outwardly he was calm and collected. He said that he appreciated our position and also the gravity of the crisis, and that he would do all that he could to remove the causes of difference between our governments, as war between our countries was almost unthinkable. He doubtless thought that I spoke at the President’s direction, and he apparently realized that Mr. Bryan’s vague assurance to Ambassador Dumba could no longer be relied on. I believe, however, that he had come to that conclusion long before this interview. The Ambassador did not come to see me again until Wednesday morning, September first. In the meanwhile he had communicated with his government through other channels than the Department of State, and had received a reply which he considered satisfactory, for he was evidently elated when he entered my office and announced that the German Minister of Foreign Affairs had instructed him to say that the Imperial Government accepted our note of July



twenty-first in principle and would so state in their reply. While I was gratified and personally relieved at the result of my previous interview with the Ambassador, in which I had practically given him an ultimatum, I told him that an oral statement did not go far enough. I also said that I wished it in writing in order that by publishing it the American people might learn that Germany had receded from her untenable position and would no longer persist in a warfare which was illegal and utterly unworthy of a civilized nation and which was surely forcing the United States to take up arms against Germany. His reply was that he thought that he could meet my wishes but would like to consider the matter. That same afternoon or the following morning I received from Count von Bernstorff this letter: “GERMAN EMBASSY “Washington, September 1, 1915. “My dear Mr. Secretary: “With reference to our conversation of this morning, I beg to inform you that my instructions concerning our answer to your last Lusitania note contain the following passage: “ ‘Liners will not be sunk by our submarines without warning and without safety of the lives of noncombatants, provided that the liners do not try to escape or offer resistance.’ “Although I know that you do not wish to discuss the Lusitania question until the Arabic incident has been defi¬ nitely and satisfactorily settled, I desire to inform you of the above because this policy of my government was decided on before the Arabic incident occurred. “I have no objection to your making any use you may please of the above information. “I remain, etc. “J.


There was a suspicion at the time in Department circles that the Ambassador had anticipated his instructions and had drafted the assurance in his letter without authority. This suspicion was based primarily on the fact that it was supposed that all communications between Berlin and the Embassy went by way of the Department of State in cipher known to the American officials and that the mes¬ sages before going forward were decoded with the code book fur-



nished to the Department of State by the German Government. These assurances given by Count von Bernstorff did not, as I have said, pass through the Department. However, in view of the fact that it was later discovered that the Count was communicating with his government through other channels, it is possible that he did receive definite instructions from Berlin. And yet, as these instructions were to be disclosed to the American Government I have always doubted whether they came to Count von Bernstorff by the secret route, for such a course would have needlessly disclosed the fact that he had means of communicating with his government other than through the Department, thus deny¬ ing his constant plea that the only expeditious way he had to correspond with Berlin was through our good offices. Further¬ more, there was no reason for keeping the Department in ignorance of these instructions unless he was directed to use them only if the situation became critical. Possibly that is the explanation. If it is not, and if he told the truth about his means of communicating with Berlin, then the Ambassador, in giving the assurances that he did, acted independently and without authority from his government. In confirmation of this belief we later received reports from Berlin that he had displeased the German Foreign Office in going as far as he did. If Count von Bernstorff did exceed his instructions in this matter it rebounds to his credit as a loyal servant of the Kaiser, for it would indicate that, appreciating the temper of the American Government, he was ready to risk his official position in order to prevent his country from having the United States added to the list of its enemies. There is one thing that is an almost unforgivable offense in German officials and that is departing in the slightest degree from orders given or proceeding independently without orders, no matter if a sudden change of conditions requires an immediate change of policy. It was no small thing for the German Ambassador to bind his government by promises which he was not instructed to give. If he did so, and I think it may be assumed that he did though presumably he would not admit it, he showed a courage most unusual in an official of the German Empire. On September seventh Ambassador Gerard forwarded the Ger¬ man statement concerning the torpedoing of the Arabic, by which an effort was made to show that the submarine commander was justified in his course because of the actions of the Arabic, which he asserted indicated a purpose to ram him. Comparing the state¬ ments in the report with the facts which we had collected, I felt that



the note was altogether unsatisfactory.

On the eleventh I wrote to

the President a letter in which I said: “I would submit the following comments on the German note. “The statements as to what occurred do not purport to be by the commander of the submarine. Every allegation might easily be constructed from the press reports of the incident. The only fact alleged which appears to be solely within the knowledge of the officers of the submarine, is the alleged attack in the Irish Sea on August fourteenth, five days before the Arabic was sunk, and this may have been reported to the German Admiralty before the Arabic incident occurred. “The question arises—Did the submarine commander make any report? If he did, why does the note fail to say so, and why does it not give the language of the report as to the facts ? “Reference is made to the instructions issued to the com¬ mander of the submarine. Why is not the language of the instructions given ? “The failure to admit liability for indemnity for the lives of American citizens lost amounts to a justification of the com¬ mander. If the commander is justified in drawing such con¬ clusion, as it is alleged in the note the commander of the submarine did draw from the facts in this case, then the lives of persons on board merchant ships are in as great danger as they were before the instructions were issued. “The note proposes to submit the question of liability to The Hague for arbitration, expressly withholding the ques¬ tion of the legality of submarine warfare in general. “The whole tenor of the note is a cold and uncompromising declaration that the commanders of submarines have practic¬ ally a free hand though bound, technically, by some general form of instructions, and that if they make mistakes, however unwarranted, their government will support them. It seems to me that we must reach a conclusion that the Bernstorff statement of principle is valueless and cannot be relied upon as a protective measure.” On the thirteenth I had an interview with the German Am¬ bassador, in the course of which I emphasized the continued serious¬ ness of the situation, which his government’s note on the sinking of the Arabic had m no way lessened, much less removed. In reporting the substance of the interview to the President I wrote:



“We discussed the German note on the Arabic and I pointed out to him very explicitly the objectionable features which made it impossible for us to reply to it in its present form. I told him that the attack upon the Arabic and the unconditional support of the submarine commander’s conduct by his govern¬ ment made the Ambassador’s acceptance of the principles insisted upon by the United States as valueless. He replied that he understood perfectly that such must be our feeling; that he had done all he could to prevent such a crisis as the present; and that he was greatly disappointed at what had occurred. He said that all the information which his govern¬ ment had, of course, was the report of the submarine com¬ mander and that he wished they might know of the evidence which we possessed, and which I had read to him. I told him that in view of the critical state of affairs the government was disposed to transmit for him a cipher message to his govern¬ ment in order that he might explain fully the situation, and that we would send to Ambassador Gerard, at Bernstorff’s request a summary of the evidence which we had in regard to the Arabic. “I pointed out to him at the same time that the Arabic note did not disclose that any report had been received from the submarine commander, and if the statements were based on such a report I thought that his government should so inform us. “I said that the instructions to the submarine commander had never been revealed to us except in the most general terms, and, therefore, we did not know what discretionary powers had been conferred upon the commander. “The Ambassador seemed particularly grateful for our will¬ ingness to transmit a message for him and said that he would impress upon his government the seriousness of the present situation. “I also said that such a mistake as was made by the officer who attacked the Arabic made this government very doubtful as to the efficacy of the instructions. “He said that he realized that that must be so and that he was very much distressed at what had happened; that he was not sure that he could accomplish what was desired; but that he would use every effort to do so. “I also said to him that I thought the German Government should broaden its declaration so as to include all merchant


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING vessels and not be limited to passenger steamers; that in the past the practice of the German submarines has been not to warn freight vessels and I could not see why an exception should be made in their case as to the general principle, since some of these freighters might have American citizens in their crews. He replied that he would do what he could to obtain such an extension of the principle which his government had announced. “We also spoke of the matter of arbitration and I said to him that I thought it was valueless at the present time to dis¬ cuss it because I considered the evidence was so clear in the case of the Arabic that we could not arbitrate the justification of the submarine commander and that the only question left was the amount of indemnity; that I thought his government should admit that the mistake was without justification and disavow the act of the officer; and that it would then be a proper time to discuss whether or not we could arbitrate the amount of indemnity which Germany should pay. “The whole attitude of the Ambassador was conciliatory and an evidence of willingness to do anything to avoid a rupture between the two governments. I think I may say he was extremely ‘docile.’ There was none of the aggressiveness which he has shown on other occasions. He seemed to be much depressed, and doubtful as to what he could accomplish with his government.”

The Ambassador was evidently able to impress his government by his representations of the critical state of affairs, for I received from him the following letter, which was a redraft of one that he had given me at the Hotel Biltmore in New York on October second, to certain passages of which I objected at a conference which I had with him at the Department of State on the fifth. “GERMAN EMBASSY “Washington, October 5, 1915. “My dear Mr. Secretary: “Prompted by the desire to reach a satisfactory agreement with regard to the Arabic incident my government has given me the following instructions. “The orders issued by His Majesty the Emperor to the com¬ manders of the German submarines-—of which I notified you on a previous occasion—have been made so stringent that the



recurrence of incidents similar to the Arabic case is considered out of the question. “According to the report of Commander Schneider of the submarine that sank the Arabic, and his affidavit as well as those of his men, Commander Schneider was convinced that the Arabic intended to ram the submarine. On the other hand, the Imperial Government does not doubt the good faith of the affidavits of the British officers of the Arabic, according to which the Arabic did not intend to ram the submarine. The attack of the submarine, therefore, was undertaken against the instructions issued to the commander. The Imperial Govern¬ ment regrets and disavows this act and has notified Commander Schneider accordingly. “Under these circumstances my government is prepared to pay an indemnity for the American lives which to its deep regret have been lost on the Arabic. I am authorized to nego¬ tiate with you about the amount of this indemnity. “I remain, etc. “J. Bernstorff.” These assurances of the German Government in regard to its conduct of submarine warfare may be considered as bringing to an end the first chapter of that long controversy, which was renewed a ' short time later with even greater bitterness, and after being carried on for over a year, culminated in forming one of the chief, if not the chief, ground for the United States declaring a state of war with the Imperial Government of Germany.


after the war began in August, 1914, British, French and Russian agents were sent to the United States to contract for the manufacture, purchase and delivery of arms, ammunition, accout¬ erments and other munitions of war, and, in consequence of the vast amounts ordered, many American factories were enlarged, while others were hastily erected, to manufacture the articles con¬ tracted for by these agents with concerns in the United States. From the pro-German, anti-British and pacifist elements in this country there arose a general outcry that this traffic was unneutral and should be prevented by the American Government, because only one side could profit by it. In response to the demands of these complainants, resolutions were introduced in Congress in December, 1914, providing for the prohibition of trade of such war supplies. The question of the way in which this government was observing neutrality was also raised in a more general way by a letter, dated January 8, 1915, addressed to the Secretary of State by Senator William J. Stone, then Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, in which he set forth a score of charges of unneutral conduct and of alleged partiality for the Allies, which, he asserted, were not made by him but were being publicly made by certain newspapers and individuals in the United States. Among the twenty charges listed was that of trade in munitions. Soon

On January twentieth a letter from Secretary Bryan replied categorically to Senator Stone’s list of charges and, in answering the charge that the government had not suppressed the traffic in war materials, it was stated that “the duty of a neutral to restrict trade in munitions of war has never been imposed by international law or by municipal statute”; and that “ it has never been the policy of this government to prevent the shipment of arms or ammunition into belligerent territory, except in the case of neighboring Ameri¬ can Republics, and then only when civil strife prevailed.” The answer further pointed out that German manufacturers, during the Russo-Japanese War and the Balkan wars, had furnished “enormous quantities of arms and ammunition” to the belligerents and that the German Government as late as December 15, 1914,




had admitted the legality of the traffic, if the American Government itself was not a party to it. This brief statement of the attitude of the United States and its legal right as a neutral to trade in munitions was sufficient to check the contemplated congressional action, but it did not by any means end the agitation in favor of prohibiting the traffic. During the succeeding six months articles appeared in the press and many letters were received by the Department condemning the manu¬ facture and shipment of arms and munitions, which, as has been said, on account of the enforced isolation of Germany and the Central Powers, and because of British control over the sea, was wholly to the advantage of the Allies. The German Ambassador also continued to press for action by the American Government on the ground that, while the strict legal right of neutral manufactur¬ ers and shippers existed, the fact that the trade was, in the circum¬ stances, limited to sales to Germany’s enemies made its continuance in practice unneutral'. This illogical proposition, which was based on the naval inferiority of the Germans, the Department of State declined to consider and rested its case on the legality of the traffic. The discussion was at this stage when the Lusitania disaster occurred and diverted the attention of the two governments to the controversy concerning submarine warfare, and if my recollection is not at fault, it was never renewed with Germany. However, a few days after I became Secretary of State, the ques¬ tion was revived by the Austro-Hungarian Government, possibly at a suggestion from Berlin, in a note dated June 29, 1915, which was telegraphed to the Department of State on July first. In this note the legal right of a neutral to carry on trade in munitions was questioned and an urgent appeal was made to the American Govern¬ ment to intervene and prevent the manufacture, sale and delivery of articles of this nature to the enemies of Austria-Hungary. I immediately forwarded the note to the President, then at Cornish, and he suggested that no categorical answer be made but that it be merely acknowledged. To that suggestion I was not favorable as appears from the following letter: “July 8, 1915. “Dear Mr. President: “I think that we could dismiss the Austrian statement re¬ garding the sale of arms and ammunition with an acknowledg¬ ment, as you suggest in your note of yesterday, but it seems to me that it offers an excellent opportunity to make a full and


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING clear statement of our attitude. While the communication would be addressed to Vienna, we could by making the corre¬ spondence public present the matter in a favorable and, I believe, convincing way to the American people. “Home consumption would be the real purpose; and answer to Austria the nominal purpose. “Convinced of the strength of our position and the desir¬ ability of placing the case frankly before the people in order to remove the opposition to sales of war materials, which many persons have on moral grounds and not because of pro-German sympathy, it seems to me advisable to prepare an answer to the Austrian communication, which I will submit to you as soon as it is drafted. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”

Mr. Wilson perceived the advisability of replying to the AustroHungarian note and of attempting to bring to an end the agitation in this country for prohibitive legislation or for restraint by the executive. Having the President’s approval of the proposed course of action, the Austrian note became the subject of careful study in the Department and drafts of an answer were made. The importance of ending this unprofitable discussion and making perfectly clear the policy of the United States and the right of a neutral to trade in war materials impelled me, in accord¬ ance with my letter to the President, to give personal attention to the preparation of the American answer to the Austro-Hungarian note. While I worked over it at other times, I spent one entire day, July thirty-first, in revising and rewriting the draft prepared by Mr. Lester H. Woolsey, Law Adviser to the Secretary, with whom I had previously had daily conferences as to the treatment of the subject. Mr. Woolsey’s draft dealt almost exclusively with the legality of the traffic, and from the technical point of view of international law his arguments were complete and convincing. I was not satisfied, however, to let the case rest on the legal right alone, but felt that the American people should be shown the practical effect of the outlawing of such traffic upon our national policy and upon the wisdom of the manufacture of arms and am¬ munition by peaceful nations. To that branch of the argument I gave my chief attention because I felt that it would make the strongest appeal to those who were influenced by moral considera-



tions rather than by legal arguments in urging that the traffic be stopped. On the second of August the revised draft of the answer was sent to Mr. Wilson, who appears to have had some misgivings about the position taken by the government and questioned whether it would not be “taken as an argument in sympathy with the Allies and against German militarism.” In a letter which I wrote the Presi¬ dent on August sixth, I commented on this expressed fear as follows: “The argument might, and I have no doubt would by proGerman sympathizers, be construed as you suggest by your question. But, if we do not mean it, do we not run the risk of resting our whole case on the principle that to change our laws in time of war would be unneutral, and also on the past usage of nations, and especially on the practice of Germany and Austria?” I added to this point the further one, that“While probably that argument is sufficient to meet the contention of Austria, it may be held to be technical and will not, I am afraid, satisfy the humanitarians. For that reason it seemed to me politic to insert the practical reason against prohibition and to show that it would compel general armament and so make for war rather than peace.” The argument here given will be understood better when one reads the excerpt from the American reply, which is given in the succeeding pages. President Wilson was apparently satisfied with these reasons, for on August ninth he approved the draft of the answer with some verbal changes, which was a customary practice of his and resulted in a document prepared by another having a “Wilsonian flavor.” This practice of injecting certain favorite expressions and words into an official paper frequently caused a popular impression that the President was the author of it. I would not suggest for a moment that Mr. Wilson had any intention, when he changed the language of a document, of conveying the idea that all important notes to foreign governments, or even the large majority of them, were written by himself. In fact, I do not think that he gave a thought to the effect on the public of introducing into a note phrases which were distinctly Wilsonian. I am sure that he was above any



such intellectual deceit. His consistent practice of reading a draft, submitted to him for approval, with especial attention to the language and changing it to make it clearer, more conciliatory, more euphonious or more striking without changing the general line of thought or the substance, stamped with his style many papers issuing from the Department of State, a style which was so charac¬ teristic that it was almost invariably recognized by the press and public when the documents were given publicity. Following the President’s approval of the draft of our answer the note was put into final form on August eleventh and telegraphed the next morning to Ambassador Penfield at Vienna. This note ended the controversy regarding American traffic in arms, so far as the Central Powers were concerned, and silenced, if it did not satisfy, the Americans who were demanding that their government should compel manufacturers in this country to cease supplying munitions to the Allies so long as they could not deliver similar car¬ goes to Germany and Austria-Hungary. The note, after reviewing historical precedents and the applicable principle of international law, continued: “But, in addition to the question of principle, there is a practical and substantial reason why the government of the United States has from the foundation of the Republic to the present time advocated and practiced unrestricted trade in arms and military supplies. It has never been the policy of this country to maintain in time of peace a large military establishment or stores of arms and ammunition sufficient to repel invasion by a well-equipped and powerful enemy. It has desired to remain at peace with all nations and to avoid any appearance of menacing such peace by the threat of its armies and navies. In consequence of this standing policy the United States would, in the event of attack by a foreign power, be at the outset of the war seriously, if not fatally, embarrassed by the lack of arms and ammunition and the means to produce them in sufficient quantities to supply the requirements of national defense. The United States has always depended upon the right and power to purchase arms and ammunition from neutral nations in case of foreign attack. This right, which it claims for itself, it cannot deny to others. “A nation whose principle and policy it is to rely upon inter¬ national obligations and international justice to preserve its political and territorial integrity might become the prey of an

TRAFFIC IN MUNITIONS OF WAR aggrcs^vc nation whose policy and practice it is to increase its military strength during times of peace with the design of conquest, unless the nation attacked can, after war has been declared, go into the markets of the world and purchase the means to defend itself against the aggressor. “The general adoption by the nations of the world of the theory that neutral powers ought to prohibit the sale of arms and ammunition to belligerents would compel every nation to have in readiness at all times sufficient munitions of war to meet any emergency which might arise and to erect and maintain establishments for the manufacture of arms and ammunition sufficient to supply the needs of its military and naval forces throughout the progress of a war. Manifestly the application of this theory would result in every nation becoming an armed camp, ready to resist aggression and tempted to employ force in asserting its rights rather than appeal to reason and justice for the settlement of international disputes. “Perceiving, as it does, that the adoption of the principle that it is the duty of a neutral to prohibit a sale of arms and ammunition to a belligerent during the progress of a war would inevitably give the advantage to the belligerent which had encouraged the manufacture of munitions in time of peace and which had laid in vast stores of arms and ammunition in anticipation of war, the Government of the United States is convinced that the adoption of the theory would force mili¬ tarism on the world and work against that universal peace which is the desire and purpose of all nations which exalt justice and righteousness in their relations with one another. “The Government of the United States in the foregoing discussion of the practical reason why it has advocated and practiced trade in munitions of war, wishes to be understood as speaking with no thought of expressing or implying any judgment with regard to the circumstances of the present war, but as merely putting very frankly the argument in this matter which has been conclusive in determining the policy of the United States. “While the practice of nations, so well illustrated by the practice of Austria-Hungary and Germany during the South African War, and the manifest evil which would result from a change of that practice render compliance with the suggestions of the Imperial and Royal Government out of the question, certain assertions appearing in the Austro-Hungarian state-



WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING ment as grounds for its contentions cannot be passed over without comment. These assertions are substantially as fol¬ lows: (1) that the exportation of arms and ammunition from the United States to belligerents contravenes the preamble of The Hague Convention No. 13 of 1907; (2) that it is incon¬ sistent with the refusal of this government to allow delivery of supplies to vessels of war on the high seas; (3) that, ‘accord¬ ing to all authorities on international law who concern them¬ selves more properly with the question,’ exportation should be prevented ‘when this traffic assumes such a form or dimensions that the neutrality of a nation becomes involved thereby.’ “As to the assertion that the exportation of arms and ammu¬ nition contravenes the preamble of The Hague Convention No. 13 of 1907, this government presumes that reference is made to the last paragraph of the preamble, which is as fol¬ lows : ‘Seeing that, in this category of ideas, these rules should not, in principle, be altered, in the course of the war, by a neutral power, except in a case where experience has shown the necessity for such change for the protection of the rights of that power.’ “Manifestly the only ground to change the rules laid down by the Convention, one of which, it should be noted, explicitly declares that a neutral is not bound to prohibit the exportation of contraband of war, is the necessity of a neutral power to do so in order to protect its own rights. The right and duty to determine when this necessity exists rests with the neutral, not with a belligerent. It is discretionary, not mandatory. If a neutral power does not avail itself of the right, a belliger¬ ent is not privileged to complain, for in doing so it would be in the position of declaring to the neutral power what is neces¬ sary to protect that power’s own rights. The Imperial and Royal Government cannot but perceive that a complaint of this nature would invite just rebuke. “With reference to the asserted inconsistency of the course adopted by this government in relation to the exportation of arms and ammunition and that followed in not allowing sup¬ plies to be taken from its ports to ships of war on the high seas, it is only necessary to point out that the prohibition of sup¬ plies to ships of war rests upon the principle that a neutral power must not permit its territory to become a naval base for either belligerent. A warship may, under certain restrictions, obtain fuel and supplies in a neutral port once in three months.



To permit merchant vessels acting as tenders to carry supplies more often than three months and in unlimited amount would defeat the purpose of the rule and might constitute the neutral territory a naval base. Furthermore, this government is un¬ aware that any Austro-Hungarian ship of war has sought to obtain supplies from a port in the United States, either directly or indirectly. This subject has, however, already been discussed with the Imperial German Government, to which the position of this government was fully set forth December 24, 1914. “In view of the positive assertion in the statement of the Imperial and Royal Government as to the unanimity of the opinions of text-writers as to the exportation of contraband being unneutral, this government has caused careful examina¬ tion of the principal authorities on international law to be made. As a result of this examination it has come to the con¬ clusion that the Imperial and Royal Government has been misled and has inadvertently made an erroneous assertion. Less than one-fifth of the authorities consulted advocate un¬ reservedly the prohibition of the export of contraband. Several of those who constitute this minority admit that the practice of nations has been otherwise. It may not be inopportune to direct particular attention to the declaration of the German authority, Paul Einicke, who states that at the beginning of a war, belligerents have never remonstrated against the enact¬ ment of prohibitions on trade in contraband, but adds ‘that such prohibitions may be considered as violations of neutrality, or at least as unfriendly acts, if they are enacted during a war with the purpose to close unexpectedly the course of supply to a party which heretofore relied on them.’ “The Government of the United States deems it unnecessary to extend further at the present time a consideration of the statement of the Austro-Hungarian Government. The princi¬ ples of international law, the practice of nations, the national safety of the United States and other nations without great military establishments, the prevention of increased armies and navies, the adoption of peaceful methods for the adjustment of international differences, and, finally, neutrality itself are opposed to the prohibition by a neutral nation of the exporta¬ tion of arms, ammunition or other munitions of war to bellig¬ erent powers during the progress of the war. “Lansing.”



The note was immediately given publicity in this country, and from that time forward the movement to persuade or compel the American Government to prevent private individuals and concerns in the United States from manufacturing, selling and delivering arms and other contraband of war to Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia ceased, though it was incidentally revived for political purposes during the presidential campaign of 1916. The unques¬ tionable legality of the traffic from the international standpoint, and the practical reasons for the American policy of purchase as well as sale were too manifest to encourage continued discussion. The pacifists began to doubt whether their demands, if granted, would not compel a general increase in national armaments, which they were always seeking to reduce, while the supporters of Germany and Austria-Hungary gave up their propaganda to obtain federal legislation suppressing the American companies which were running at full capacity to fill the large orders of the governments of the Allies. The more ardent supporters of the Central Powers, therefore, turned their attention to other and more reprehensible means of interference with the manufacture and transportation of munitions destined to the Allied countries. Of sabotage, labor agitations and other lawless acts perpetrated or instigated by German and Austrian agents in this country, a brief account will be given at another place.


the submarine controversy continued, during the months of November and December, 1915, centering chiefly upon the dis¬ pute with the Austro-Hungarian Government over the sinking of the Ancona, the subject may be conveniently postponed for the present while we consider the questions which assumed greater prominence and excited at the time more general public interest. Of these questions the one relating to the activities of German and Austrian officials and agents in this country in violation of our neutrality laws and in criminal interference with our industries aroused much excitement in November, 1915, and culminated in the recall of the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador and, early in Decem¬ ber, of Captain von Papen and Captain Boy-Ed, the military and naval attaches of the German Embassy at Washington. During the summer of 1915 an American war correspondent named Archibald, who had previously visited the Central Powers and was said to be in their pay, had returned to the United States and delivered a series of lectures in favor of the Teutonic cause. The tone of his lectures and his open association with Bernstorff and Dumba in New York, where the two Ambassadors spent much time, naturally aroused the suspicions of the British and French secret agents, of whom there were many watching German and Austrian activities in America. For that reason when Archibald sailed from New York to travel again through the Central Empires, he was carefully watched, and on the arrival of his steamship at the English port of Falmouth, he was detained by the British authori¬ ties. In spite of his vigorous protest as an American citizen, his stateroom was searched and the papers found in his possession were


seized and examined. Among the documents taken from Archibald were communica¬ tions from Doctor Dumba to his government, which the American was secretly conveying through the blockading forces of the Allies, relying upon the passport, issued to him by the Department of State, to protect his private effects from examination. Among these contraband papers was found a plan proposed by Dumba to institute a propaganda in Magyar newspapers circulating in America to induce Hungarians employed in the munitions plants in 63



the United States to go on a strike, a plan which Dumba reported had been approved by Captain von Papen, the German military attache at Washington. Count von Bernstorff, though the oppor¬ tunity had been offered him at a dinner with Dumba and Archibald at the Hotel Ritz in New York to use the nationality of the Ameri¬ can as an aegis to protect any secret messages which he might desire to send to Berlin, had considered the risk of exposure too great and had refused to avail himself of the services of this willing messenger. The wisdom of his refusal was soon manifest. He was in no way compromised by the papers which fell into the hands of the British authorities at Falmouth. Doctor Dumba, on the other hand, found himself in a sad pre¬ dicament, for in using Archibald as a dispatch-bearer he had violated the well-known rules governing the conduct of a diplomatic representative accredited by a belligerent government to a neutral nation, and had taken improper advantage of the hospitality and confidence of the American Government in order to convey impor¬ tant information through the enemy’s lines to his own government. The act was so flagrant a breach of diplomatic usage and his reports showed so evident a purpose to injure the industrial interests of the United States that it was impossible to ignore his offense, even if there had been a disposition to do so. The British Government had promptly furnished the Depart¬ ment of State, through the American Embassy at London, with copies of the papers obtained from Archibald, and it also made public the facts of the seizure and the contents of several of the papers. The publicity given the incident aroused much criticism of Doctor Dumba in the press of this country and it was particu¬ larly bitter in commenting on his plan to injure American indus¬ tries, although the employment of the American messenger was, in some respects, a more serious offense against this Government. At the time of Archibald’s apprehension and the publication of the papers in his possession, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador was at his summer embassy in New England. Appreciating the serious position in which he had been placed by the exposure of his secret activities in this country, though he apparently was not greatly disturbed by his improper employment of an American citizen as a messenger, he hastened to Washington, where he arrived on Tuesday, September 7, 1915. What took place on the arrival of Doctor Dumba can best be told in the language of a memorandum which I wrote not very long after the incident:

ACTIVITIES IN UNITED STATES “The Ambassador at once sought an interview and we had a long talk in regard to the affair. He had evidently prepared a carefully thought-out defense, which would explain away or excuse what he had written. To do him justice he made a very plausible plea, talking rapidly and in perfect English, for he was exceptionally fluent in our language. I did not interrupt him with question or comment, but when he had finished I said: ‘And now, Mr. Ambassador, please answer this question: Do you think it proper for a diplomatic representative of a bellig¬ erent government in the United States to employ an American citizen traveling under the protection of an American pass¬ port as a messenger to carry official dispatches through the lines of the enemy?’ “For once Dumba seemed taken by surprise and very ill at ease. His eyes became more watery, his lips trembled and he kept locking and unlocking his fingers. I sat watching him, but he avoided my gaze and moved about nervously in his chair. Finally as the silence became more and more oppressive he coughed two or three times and then stammered that he was not prepared to answer my question as he had not thought of it before. I replied: ‘You should have thought of it, sir, before you employed Archibald, as you have cast suspicion on every American going to Germany. How can we condone so grave a breach of diplomatic propriety as that?’ He answered, with the perspiration standing in beads on his forehead: ‘I don’t know yet. I must think it over. I must think it over. Per¬ haps I might ask for leave of absence. It would prevent em¬ barrassment.’ I made no reply. A moment later he rose and took his departure. Within an hour after he left me the re¬ quest for his recall was being prepared. “Later a newspaper correspondent, who saw him leave my office, followed him to the hotel and interviewed him. The correspondent told me that Dumba came from my door ‘look¬ ing a thousand years old’ and very much worried. In the subsequent interview the correspondent asked what our gov¬ ernment intended to do in the matter, to which the Ambassador replied with some vehemence: ‘I’m damned if I know. I found out nothing, nothing. Lansing never gave me the slightest clue, but I know it is bad and I’m in the devil of a fix. I think I’ll go home on leave.’ But he did not, because I acted too promptly. “A few days later, before he could carry out his scheme to



WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING avoid being recalled, his government in response to my telegram removed him. His remark had disclosed to me his intention, so I hastened the telegram to Vienna in order that he might not by wireless interfere with his summary recall, a penalty which by reason of his conduct he richly deserved. If he had ac¬ complished his purpose it would have deprived the affair of the moral effect of deterring other diplomats in Washington from employing Americans as secret couriers. “I cannot say that I had the slightest compunction about forcing Dumba to leave the country or that I felt any par¬ ticular regret in thus abruptly closing our intercourse which had been of an unpleasant sort. He was a man whom I did not admire. I suspected him, possibly unjustly in some cases, of engaging in all sorts of underhand dealings. If I did him injustice I regret it, but his manner and methods certainly furnished grounds for suspicion. I could not, however, close my eyes to his ability. I considered him the most adroit of the diplomats in Washington and I was astonished that so old a fox as he was caught in such a situation as that which resulted in his recall. It was so contrary to his character to take such a chance of disclosure and it showed such a lack of wisdom that I have sometimes wondered if I had not overestimated his shrewdness.”

The cabled instructions to Ambassador Penfield, which were prepared and coded on Tuesday evening immediately following my interview with Doctor Dumba, and which were sent forward the next morning, stated succinctly the position of the United States and asked for his recall. In order to make sure that Doctor Dumba would not attempt to ask his government for leave of absence even after our request had been sent and so avoid the humiliation of being recalled, the cabled instructions to Ambassador Penfield were made public in the United States without delay. This course of procedure, which under other conditions might have been considered discourteous and open to criticism, made it impossible for the Austrian diplomat to act, for he could not assert, after reading the newspapers, that he was ignorant that the American Govern¬ ment had requested his recall. It accomplished its purpose. It is true that Doctor Dumba sought to offset the effect by publishing a defense of his conduct embodying a complaint of the way in which he had been treated, but even the foreign-language papers in the United States gave him little comfort. He had been caught and



that was an unforgivable offense from a Teutonic point of view. The recall of the Ambassador, which was formally notified to me on November eighth by the Charge of the Austro-Hungarian Em¬ bassy, ended “the Dumba Incident.” Shortly after the note was received the Austrian diplomat left these shores and sailed for Europe, leaving Baron Zwiedinelc, the Counselor of the Embassy, in charge of its affairs. It is appropriate to follow this narrative of the discovery of Doctor Dumba’s plots and its consequences with an account of the improper activities of other German and Austrian officials and agents in this country, which, though conducted with great secrecy, were then a matter of persistent rumors and of constant investiga¬ tions by the United States Secret Service, the special agents of the Department of Justice, and the inspectors of the Post Office De¬ partment, who were also aided by the police in many of our cities. Within a short time after the Great War began in the midsum¬ mer of 1914, the superiority of the British Navy drove all German commercial vessels off the ocean. Those which were able to avoid the British cruisers returned to Germany or sought refuge in neutral ports where, in many cases, they remained throughout the war. (The public ships of Germany which were in neutral waters either put to sea on learning that war had been declared by Great Britain, or, if capture seemed certain, they submitted to intern¬ ment.) The German cruisers which were able to reach the open sea and those which chanced to be there at the time of the declara¬ tion of war by Great Britain, of which they learned by wireless messages, began at once to operate against enemy merchantmen. These commerce-raiders were in a measure successful, but the terror which they caused was far greater than their achievements warranted. One of the principal obstacles to the successful operation of the German sea-rovers, which were seeking to intercept ships of the Allies engaged in commerce, was the difficulty of obtaining fuel and other supplies necessary for the continuance of their voyages. There were no German ports to which they could resort, and they were not permitted, under the rules of international law, to remain in a neutral port more than twenty-four hours. In addition to the brief time allowed for taking on coal and ship’s stores in neutral waters, there was the danger of their presence being brought to the attention of the enemy, and of their being attacked by a superior naval force on leaving port, for British cruisers seemed to be ubiquitous.



In order to overcome this handicap German agents in the United States surreptitiously purchased or chartered, generally in the name of Americans, vessels of American registry, loaded them with sup¬ plies, cleared them for some neutral port and sent them out to be met or nominally seized by German cruisers which, having been advised by radio of the clearances and destinations, easily inter¬ cepted them and transferred their cargoes at sea, permitting the vessels to proceed on their way after the transshipments had taken place. The agents who purchased the supplies and loaded the vessels, while acting secretly as far as possible, made pretense in obtaining clearances that the cargoes were intended for legitimate trade with other neutral countries, for which the vessels were cleared. It was often known, however, that the articles on board were destined for the use of commerce-raiders cruising off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of America. In fact many of the supplies were, during the first year of the war when less secrecy was observed, purchased from dealers in the United States in the name of German consignees and even in some cases on account of the German Govern¬ ment, purchases which were entirely legal, as legal in fact as the purchase of arms, ammunition, horses and foodstuffs by the Allies, though how the German Government was to use the supplies which were bought, was undisclosed. The American authorities were seriously embarrassed by this practice, because, if the goods were intended to be delivered to German cruisers, it was a means of evading the spirit of the interna¬ tional rule against refitting of a belligerent warship in a neutral port, which was a direct violation of the neutrality statutes of the United States. The result was that a careful watch was kept on the chartering of vessels and the purchase of fuel and stores by German agents, and, whenever there was sufficient proof (which was by no means easy to obtain because of the many subterfuges which could be employed) that a cargo was destined for a cruiser hovering off the coast or in the intended sea-route to the port of destination, clearance was refused and the vessel was detained on the ground that the practice was constructively using a neutral American port as a base for naval operations by a belligerent, which was in violation of law. The supplying of coal and ship’s stores to German naval vessels was not only carried on in this manner, but in their anxiety to serve the German Government, some of its agents overstepped the bounds of discretion and came in conflict with the American authori¬ ties.

Among these were officers of the Hamburg-American Line,



the principal one being Dr. Karl Buenz, the aged Director of the Company at the port of New York. Many vessels of this German line were tied up at their wharves in New York, having been caught in that port by the British declaration of war. These officers were indicted by a federal grand jury and on December 2, 1915, con¬ victed of conspiring to defraud the United States by seeking to obtain clearances for several vessels of neutral nationality by means of false manifests which were intended to conceal the nature of the cargoes and the real destination of those secret supply ships. Their guilt merited the sentence of one and a half years’ imprisonment, which the court imposed upon them, though there was a measure of pity felt for Doctor Buenz on account of his advanced age— he was then in his seventy-third year—and efforts were made to have him pardoned or his sentence suspended. Throughout this period when German cruisers were active on the high seas, the British and French officials in this country were in a constant state of trepidation lest the great German passenger liners, which lay at their wharves in the harbor of New York, would attempt to make a dash for the open sea and join some cruiser or cruisers, from which they could obtain guns and ammunition and thus become incorporated in the naval forces of Germany and increase the menace to Allied shipping and trade. While the crews remained on board and the vessels were used as meeting-places for German agents and sympathizers, the amount of fuel and supplies which they received from time to time was closely watched and it was known that there was never a sufficient quantity of coal on any of these steamships for it to undertake a voyage, even if it was able to evade the watchful British warships which were constantly cruising off Sandy Hook and the eastern end of Long Island. In spite of the strict watch kept on the vessels, particularly those of the Hamburg-American Line, whose officers were, as has been said, very active in behalf of German interests prior to the indict¬ ments found against them, the air was full of rumors about the intended movements of these steamships, whose size and speed and the possibility of their obtaining armaments at sea made them potential cruisers. Most of these rumors were false on their face or too improbable for belief, especially those which related to the whole fleet rushing suddenly out of the harbor to join the German naval vessels presumed to be lying a considerable distance off the coast awaiting the escape of the steamships. Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British Ambassador, was especially susceptible to rumors of all sorts respecting German plots and intrigues in this country and



seemed to give credence to every story that came to his ears. He was of an exceedingly nervous temperament, due in my opinion to his impaired health, so that he became easily excited over un¬ believable rumors and sometimes lost his temper when others doubted the tales which he vigorously asserted to be true beyond a doubt. He was constantly coming to me, while I was counselor for the Department, with reports that at such and such a time the German liners in New York were to put to sea, though he generally declined to disclose the sources of his information. Whenever he made these assertions I at once communicated them to an official of the Treas¬ ury Department who telegraphed them to Dudley Field Malone, Collector of Customs at the Port of New York, and in every case there came back word that there was no unusual activity on any of the vessels and that none of them had coal enough in its bunkers to carry it five hundred miles. So frequent became the Ambassa¬ dor’s stories, which I promptly Repeated to the Treasury officials, that we all became irritated and were disposed to pay less and less attention to them. One night about one o’clock I was summoned from my bed to the telephone and recognized the voice of Sir Cecil, which was tremulous with agitation as he informed me that all the German steamships were to make a dash out of New York harbor before daylight that very morning. Provoked at this renewed cry of “Wolf! Wolf!” I replied with an audible yawn, “What, again?” A rather em¬ barrassed laugh came over the wire and then in a half apologetic voice, the assertion, “But this time I have it on absolutely reliable authority. It is certain to happen.” I answered, “Oh, very well,” hung up the receiver and went back to bed without awaking any officers of the Treasury Department. In the morning the German steamships were still at their docks. I think that was the last time the Ambassador brought to me reports of the intention of the Ger¬ mans to take their vessels out to sea, for I told him, when I next saw him, that our officials were tired of following up rumors which had no foundation in fact, and that they were amazed that he believed these “cock-and-bull” stories which could not possibly be true, and which I believed were sent to him by the Germans for the sole pur¬ pose of exciting him and making him a nuisance to the American officials. By midsummer of 1915 the efforts of the Germans in the United States to provision and coal the German cruisers at sea had almost ceased, though the danger of supply stations in the West Indies and



of secret submarine bases in those islands and along the Atlantic seaboard still existed, or at least was believed to exist. The energies of the German and Austrian officials and agents in this country were thereafter concentrated on the other activities which had been going on for some time in aid of the Central Alli¬ ance. These may 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; con¬ spiracies to prevent the manufacture and transportation of arms, ammunition and other war supplies for the Allied Powers; and in¬ trigues in Latin American countries to cause quarrels between their governments and the Government of the United States. To these may be added a well-organized propaganda against the Entente and in favor of the Central Powers. Although this was not illegal and was not confined to the Germans, the endeavor by propaganda to excite hostility against President Wilson and the Government of the United States on the ground of unneutral conduct toward Ger¬ many, if directed, as it was in this case, by German officials, was contrary to the practice of nations, and naturally aroused public indignation toward those attempting it. The direct action along the Canadian border took place during the early months of the war and consisted in attempts to blow up railway bridges and canal locks. The purpose of those engaged in these schemes was primarily, I think, to destroy valuable prop¬ erty belonging to an enemy and also, as a secondary object, to interrupt the lines of transportation, though in some ways this latter purpose was Ihe more important. The plots were hatched in New York and Chicago where the operators were in close touch with German and Austrian officials. The two most notorious of these schemes were the attempt of a German, named Horn, to blow up the international bridge of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Vanceboro, Vermont, for which he was arrested, and the plan to wreck the Welland Canal, in which Paul Konig, the so-called “Chief of Police of the Hamburg-American Line,” was implicated and for which he and two of his associates were arrested by federal officers on December 17, 1915. The failure of the conspirators was largely due to the efficiency of the United States Secret Service and the special agents of the Department of Justice, though they were aided unofficially by British and French secret agents who were numerous in the Eastern States and especially watchful along the Canadian border, where they anticipated all sorts of hostile



acts, most of which never materialized and probably were never planned. The other line of direct attack by German agents, while the United States was neutral, was against the steamships engaged in the transporting of arms, ammunition and other supplies to the Allied Powers, against munition factories and also against Ameri¬ can railways, over which war material was carried from the place of manufacture to the seaports for shipment to Europe. The in¬ struments of destruction employed by the agents engaged in the carrying out of these designs were explosive and incendiary bombs. In the latter part of 1915 the United States Secret Service un¬ covered a bomb-plot of serious proportions which resulted in the arrest of five Germans. Robert Fay, one of the arrested men, when faced with the evidence against him, admitted that he was an officer in the German Army. He made a confession in which he stated that he had been sent to the United States to blow up ships and munition plants serving the Allies. For over six months mys¬ terious explosions had taken place on vessels, chiefly British, laden with war supplies and also in various plants engaged in manufac¬ turing arms and ammunition for the Allied Governments. Four of these unexplained explosions occurred within two weeks at the plant of the Du Pont Company at Carney’s Point, New Jersey. The amazing frankness of Fay in his statement was believed to have been for the purpose of removing suspicion that German officials in the United States were implicated in the outrages by placing the responsibility for his mission on his superiors in Ger¬ many. If that was his purpose, it did not succeed, for it was known that he and his co-plotters had expended in experiments and in the purchase of high explosives and apparatus over thirty thousand dollars, the bulk of which sum Fay obtained in this country, since it was proved that he had brought with him from Germany only four thousand dollars. The balance of the money which he paid out was undoubtedly furnished by some German official or sym¬ pathizer in the United States. I mention these particular cases because they bear more directly upon the subsequent action of the Department of State in regard to von Papen and Boy-Ed than others which were unearthed at about the same time by our government detectives. The records of the numerous plots and conspiracies of this nature belong to other Departments of the Government rather than to the Depart¬ ment of State. They were not directly connected with the conduct of our foreign affairs, though they unavoidably affected our rela-



tions with the Central Powers. To review the records in detail would add little to the topics dealt with in this narrative, and I therefore shall not attempt to do so. It may be of interest, how¬ ever, to note that between March 6, 1915, and September 13, 1915, there were explosions on thirteen ships outward-bound from American ports, and that between March fifth and August twentyninth, there were ten explosions in industrial plants in this country which were employed in filling munition orders received from the Allied Governments. All of these explosions were believed to be caused by bombs placed by German plotters and fired by clock¬ work, a fact of which there was little doubt but which was difficult to prove. The experiments of Fay and his associates, of which our government agents had evidence, showed that they were perfecting apparatus for bombs which by carefully adjusted mechanism de¬ layed their explosions to a fixed time, and it was fair to presume that other agents utilized similar contrivances. In addition, German and Austrian officials in the United States were involved in activities which, though less reprehensible from the moral point of view, were none the less in violation of the laws of this country and contrary to the usage and practice of officials and individuals of belligerent nationality while residing in the territory of a neutral nation and enjoying its hospitality. Chief among these acts was the improper use of passports issued by the United States and by other neutral countries to secure the safe passage of Germans through the enemy’s lines of blockade to ports in neutral territory adjacent to Germany, which was their ultimate destination. At the time of the unexpected outbreak of the war a large num¬ ber of German and Austrian subjects who were working or travel¬ ing in America were desirous of returning to their country to do military service under their respective flags. Besides these, there were many recently naturalized Americans of German and Austrian blood who had come to the United States after maturity and who, retaining a love for the land of their origin and strongly stirred by the European struggle, were determined to abandon their new allegiance and seek to enter the armies of the Central Powers, in which most of them had previously served. During the first months of the war a few of these Germans and Austrians managed to elude the enemy’s naval authorities and reach the Netherlands or one of the Scandinavian countries. Tightening of the British blockade against Germany and the increased vigilance of the British Navy in intercepting ships of neutral nationality though destined to



neutral ports, made attempts to reach their country very hazard¬ ous, since apprehension meant internment in a British prison camp. In the circumstances the German and Austrian agents in this country determined that the reservists whom they had located, listed, and in a measure mobilized at certain centers, and others who believed in the righteousness of the Teutonic cause could only travel with safety under the protection of American, Swiss or Scandinavian passports. To obtain these necessary passports three methods were resorted to—-making of false affidavits and oaths as to birth and nationality, with which to obtain genuine passports; the purchase of passports duly issued to American citizens; and the forging of passports and other documents together with the reproduction of official seals, watermarked paper, engraved insignia and other evidences of genuineness. A regular “passport mill” was established in New York, from which passports were turned out upon order of secret agents who were employed, as it was ultimately proved, by the German military and naval attaches at Washington. The method of producing these false passports and the clandestine way of ob¬ taining them was well thought out. The machinery worked smooth¬ ly, since the principals, who furnished the funds, wTere carefully protected from exposure. Probably hundreds of reservists were able, by using these spurious documents, to reach the Central Powers and to be enrolled in the fighting forces of their respective empires. The frauds which were being perpetrated were finally uncovered by the American Secret Service, and Captain von Papen and Captain Boy-Ed were shown by the evidence to be implicated in these violations of the laws of the United States. Thus matters stood in the latter part of November, 1915. While the criminality of the perjurers and forgers engaged in the passport frauds was undeniable and warranted severe penalties, I did not feel that the German and Austrian officials implicated were as morally guilty as the persons who were profiting in a pecuniary way by perjury and forgery. These officials were in a hard position. Large numbers of reservists were in the United States and many of these, inspired by motives of patriotism and by a self-sacrificing desire to fight for their country, sought some means of reaching the Central Powers. It was natural that these men should appeal to the officials of their respective governments in the United States to find a way for them to cross the Atlantic without danger of arrest and internment by the British authorities. It was also comprehensible that the officials should take the risk of



falsely conferring on them the character of nationals of a neutral country even though to do so they were compelled to become accomplices in schemes which, under other conditions, they would have themselves condemned. In a way, therefore, the officials of the Central Empires in this country did what they conceived to be their patriotic duty when they violated the laws of the United States in connection with the passport frauds. They doubtless felt regret that they were found out, but only because they were no longer able to serve their country in the United States by con¬ tinuing to send their compatriots to join the armies in the field. In the latter part of 1915 we received circumstantial reports from several private citizens, who were conducting independent investigations, detailing secret conversations between German agents and General Huerta and other Mexican political refugees in the United States looking toward the financing of a revolutionary expedition into northern Mexico. This would, if it materialized, presumably embroil the United States in civil war across the inter¬ national boundary. I personally had no doubt that the Germans were intriguing to cause trouble between this government and the de facto Government of Carranza and also between the American authorities and the rebellious Villista generals. Another branch of activity by the Central Powers in the United States was the propaganda conducted by German-Americans and by agents of the Central Powers charged with that duty. This was chiefly of German origin and under direction of accredited agents of the German Government. The propaganda in favor of the Cen¬ tral Alliance and against the Entente Powers was begun early in the war by the German-language newspapers and periodicals pub¬ lished in this country and also by publications in the Magyar tongue and by a few journals published in English which were pro-German or anti-British for various reasons. There was nothing culpable, as I have said, in presenting and supporting the German and Austrian cause even when publicity agents were sent out by the German Government to aid the propa¬ gandists in their endeavors to influence American public opinion in favor of the side which they represented. In fact, agents, officials and friends of the Allied Powers were engaged in the same business. When, however, the writers in the employ of Germany began, through a subsidized press, to attack the President and the principal officials of his Administration, that was another matter. In view of the fact that these editorials and articles were inten¬ tionally, or possibly in some cases unintentionally, published in



order to affect the political situation in this country by creating among certain groups of foreign-born Americans hostility to the Democratic Administration, the German direction of the policies and utterances of these subsidized publications was manifestly an attempted interference by the German Government or its agents with the political situation in the United States. A government has always resented, and rightly, any attempt by a foreign government to influence its people in regard to questions of a domestic nature, and especially those which relate to party politics. No government with a due sense of its dignity will allow to pass unnoticed so flagrant a breach of international propriety. The difficulty, however, of making the matter an immediate subject of official representations was the lack of incontrovertible proof of the connection between the agents admittedly employed by Ger¬ many and the papers whose attacks on the Administration reeked with vituperation, slander and falsehood. Secret Service men were put on the case, and for a long time they shadowed the leading German propagandists who were known to have been sent to Amer¬ ica by the Imperial Government. Considerable evidence of their various activities was collected but the proofs of their complicity were inconclusive until July, 1915, when an incident occurred which removed all doubt as to the German Government’s relations to the American papers which were attacking the Administration. Dr. Heinrich Albert, who was listed by the German Embassy as “Commercial Adviser of the German Government” was traveling one day on an elevated train in New York. When he left the car he chanced to leave in the seat which he had been occupying a portfolio filled with his confidential correspondence and other pa¬ pers of a very informative character concerning German activities. Missing the portfolio just as the gates of the car were closed, he hastened to the nearest telephone booth and telephoned to the next elevated station to have a careful search made for the portfolio. The search of the train was made but the lost article could not be found. It had vanished. The truth is that it left the train at the same station as that at which Doctor Albert alighted, and was carried down from the platform to the street below at the very heels of the German agent, who was rushing down the stairs with the one thought of finding a telephone before the train reached its next stopping place. Not long after this incident many of the compromising papers, which the German official had been carrying in his portfolio, were printed in a New York daily, The World, exposing the improper



activities of the agents of the German Government in the United States and discounting the propaganda material appearing in certain papers by showing that many of the facts stated were of German origin and that the publication of the articles was paid for out of funds furnished by Germany. All the documents in the portfolio were not printed. In fact only those appeared which Secretary McAdoo and I, after a secret conference at his apart¬ ment in New York, decided that it would be wise to make public. He also arranged at that conference the way in which the selected documents should be given publicity. The purpose of publishing this interesting correspondence of Doctor Albert was to counteract, in a measure, the political effect of the articles slanderous of the government and its officials, which were constantly appearing in the newspapers and periodicals receiving subsidies from the Ger¬ man Government. We also considered it advisable to keep secret, for the time being at least, the way in which The World obtained the documents, as it was important that the German agents should not know that they were under constant surveillance by detectives of the Ameri¬ can Government. To have made public the whole story at that time would have put the Germans on their guard and resulted in closing many useful channels of information concerning their ac¬ tivities. Instead of being suspicious and cautious, as we feared they would be after The World’s disclosures, the directors of Ger¬ man propaganda continued with their plans, apparently confident that they were deceiving the “idiotic Yankees,” as Captain von Papen contemptuously named us. Of all the pro-German publications in this country none was so contemptible as a New York weekly named The Fatherland, which was published in English. The fulminations of its editor against President Wilson and his policies were couched in language insulting and vituperative to the last degree. That many of his assertions were untrue did not appear to trouble him in the least. Possibly of course he believed them, for no one can be sure of the mental processes of such a man. During the winter and spring of 1915 the editor repeatedly abused and ridiculed the government and vilified the principal officials by name or innuendo. His ob¬ jective was to have the Administration abandon its policy of deal¬ ing severely with Germany in the submarine controversy and adopt harsh measures toward Great Britain. He apparently believed that he could do this by making the government a target for his venomous attacks and that the President would weaken if he



thought that his political strength was menaced by the numbers of German-Americans who would accept The Fatherland’s state¬ ments as true. How little this narrow-minded editor knew Mr. Wilson! The Albert papers contained letters between the editor of The Fatherland and the German “Commercial Adviser” which indicated that the former was receiving a monthly stipend from the German Government. Though the editor with indignation vigorously denied that this was true and claimed to be intensely American, few be¬ lieved him. It was said that he had sold his pen and large vocabu¬ lary of abusive words to the German Government and that he was receiving orders from Doctor Dernberg, the head of the Teutonic propaganda. From that time forward The Fatherland was read as a paper subsidized by the German Government and the editor, who was also the publisher, was looked upon as a man who wrote not from conviction but as a hireling of Berlin. There were other disclosures which contributed to checking the German propaganda. One of the most important resulted from the seizure of the Yon Igel papers by federal operatives in a raid made on an office in New York. They were in a safe which was forcibly broken open in spite of the protest of the occupants of the office, who claimed to be agents of the German Government. Almost immediately after the seizure and examination of the docu¬ ments the German Ambassador came to me and demanded that they be returned, having been taken in defiance of the diplomatic immunity with which papers of such a nature are clothed. I re¬ plied that if the Ambassador would declare that the documents belonged to the files of his Embassy, they would be returned to him, but that if he did not make such a declaration, he could not claim that they were immune from seizure. I added that, of course, if the papers belonged to the Embassy, he, as Ambassador, would be responsible for their contents, that a cursory examination of them showed that he would be placed in a very embarrassing posi¬ tion if he assumed such responsibility and that it might result in our government asking for his recall. Bernstorff saw the point. He left my office without making the declaration required, and he ceased his efforts to obtain the seized documents. In November, 1915, the Mexican situation had become less critical, at least temporarily, by the agreement of the Pan-Ameri¬ can Conference to recognize Carranza; the Haitian treaty had been signed and the excitement over the submarine controversy had, for the time, subsided, though the Ancona case was a new



cloud on the diplomatic horizon. More careful consideration could then be given to the question as to what should be done in regard to the illegal and improper conduct of German and Austrian diplo¬ matic and consular officers. The President was greatly incensed over the conduct of these foreign representatives, and was especially indignant at their immunity from criminal prosecution for viola¬ tion of the laws of the United States because they were attached to the Embassies of the Central Powers. After Mr. Wilson and I had conferred several times on the subject and had carefully re¬ viewed the record prepared by those engaged in investigating these officials, he reached the conclusion, in which I fully concurred, that the German Government should be notified that Captain von Papen, the German military attache, and Captain Boy-Ed, the naval attache, were no longer acceptable to the Washington Govern¬ ment. Mr. Wilson also decided that it would be advisable to cancel the exequatur of Alexander Nuber, the Austro-Hungarian Consul General at the port of New York, who was strongly suspected of being a party to many of the criminal acts which were being per¬ petrated. President Wilson was disposed to include Albert with von Papen and Boy-Ed in our representations to the German Government. But after reviewing the evidence against him, which was not convincing, in spite of the seized correspondence, it was decided that it would be unwise to request his recall, though the President was very reluctant in accepting the arguments which I advanced against taking such action in his case, as he considered them too technical and legalistic. The cases of Captain von Papen and Captain Boy-Ed were dif¬ ferent from that of Albert. Von Papen was directly connected with Carl Ruroede, who was convicted and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for passport frauds. The Captain had paid money to this dealer in fraudulent passports and also had given him three hundred dollars for von Wedell, an associate, who used the money to make his escape to Havana. Subsequent evidence showed that von Papen paid Horn, who attempted to blow up the bridge at Vanceboro, Vermont, the sum of seven hundred dollars. The case against Captain Boy-Ed was not so strong as that against Captain von Papen, and none of the suspicions of being involved in the bomb outrages along the Canadian border and at munition plants in this country attached to the naval officer as they did to his military colleague. He was doubtless connected indirectly with the passport frauds. His method was to give money to a reservist and tell him to obtain an American passport or a



Swiss passport under a name which was not German, and also on one occasion at least, he appears to have furnished a sum to buy a birth certificate and other necessary papers to procure a genuine passport. Captain Boy-Ed also received in 1914 hundreds of thousands of dollars, which were to be used by him to buy vessels through other parties with the intention of sending them out laden with supplies for the German cruisers on the high seas. Some of these funds were expended in San Francisco, but the larger part went to the Hamburg-American Line in New York. All these acts of the naval attache pertaining to ships and supplies took place early in the war when the commerce-raiders of Germany were operating off both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States. While this latter charge against Boy-Ed was valid, and sufficient for demanding his recall, his connection with the passport frauds, though not as direct, was the chief reason for requesting his de¬ parture from the United States. On November twenty-ninth I wrote the President that I felt that we ought not to wait any longer in carrying out our intention in regard to von Papen, Boy-Ed and the Austrian, Nuber. “We have been over-patient with these people,” I wrote, “on account of the greater controversies under consideration for several months and did not wish to add to the difficulties of the situation by inject¬ ing another cause of difference.” I then suggested informing Bernstorff orally that his attaches were personae. non gratae and asked the President to authorize me to take such action. On the same day Mr. Wilson approved the suggestion, and on December first, when the German Ambassador came to the Department of State, I made the request for their recall. From a memorandum of my interview with Bernstorff on that occasion, which I sent to the President, I quote the following para¬ graphs : “I told the Ambassador that I had asked him to come to the Department and that I had an unpleasant duty to perform, which was to say that Captain Boy-Ed and Captain von Papen were both unacceptable to this government, and we desired them tb withdraw from the country. “The Ambassador seemed very much perturbed and asked me if I did not think his government would desire the reasons for their recall. I said that was possibly so but that of course he appreciated it was only necessary for me to say that they



were unacceptable to this government, without giving any reasons. “However, I told him briefly that their activities in military and naval affairs were such that they involved violations of our laws, and fraudulent practices, and that on that account they ought not to be shielded under diplomatic privileges from being subject to our Courts.” The Ambassador said that he would notify his government by wireless of our wishes regarding von Papen and Boy-Ed, and asked me how they could depart without danger of being captured, to which I replied that we would do all that we could to secure safe-conducts for them from the Allies. I further told the Count that it was my purpose to make public announcement of our re¬ quest in two or three days, “probably on Friday.” Our interview was on Wednesday. With the purpose of obtaining a postpone¬ ment of publicity the Ambassador called to see me on Friday morn¬ ing and pleaded for delay, but his plea was of no avail, for a few hours later I announced to the large group of newspaper cor¬ respondents who assembled twice a day at the Department of State that the government had asked for the recall of von Papen and Boy-Ed. On December tenth the Ambassador handed me a formal notification “that His Majesty the Emporer and King has been most graciously pleased to recall the Naval Attache of the Im¬ perial Embassy, Captain Boy-Ed, and the Military Attache, Captain von Papen.” It remains to review briefly the case of Consul-General Alexan¬ der Nuber. Nuber was the chief lieutenant of Doctor Dumba in the schemes upon which he was engaged at the time of his recall and which were partly disclosed by the documents taken from the American, Archibald, by the British authorities. While thoroughly convinced that the Consul-General was engaged in conspiracies to cause strikes in munition factories, if he was not also implicated in plots to attempt their destruction by bombs, the evidence against him was not conclusive. He was also believed to be paying heavy bonuses to Hungarian papers published in the United States, which were engaged in strike propaganda, and to be otherwise interfering with American industries. While the evidence, as I have said, fell short of being conclusive, the circumstances of his rela¬ tions with Ambassador Dumba, of his known association with labor agitators, and of the large sums of money which he was paying out to certain persons were considered by the President sufficient



to direct me to have Nubers exequatur creeled. Oti tr.e atterroon of December tirst, the sane dav that 1 rad vay uitem ;ev* w--.tr tr.e German Ambassador Lvaceriiirg Boy-Ed and vctt Paper., Barer Zwnedinek. the Austrian charge, came to see me ry at'vX'.r.tmer.t, and I told him that the American Government felt test N uber was unacceptable and that it was the intention oi the President to revoke his exequatur. After the interview I reported to the President: "Barer Zwiedinek was verv much dtstnsscd sud showed great feeling. We discussed tr.e case are. re was most insistent that Nuber ir his publication of warrears to Arstro :irrgarian subjects in regard to work tr mu re. tier, taeter.es acted under instructions from the Embassy, which it rad received from the Vienna Government. He told me teat he considered the action of his government in this matter unwise and had so informed the Foreign Once: and that they tad subsequently advised these who proposed to participate in strikes to avoid doing so. He pleaded with me to reconsider the question, and while I gave him no hope that our view? w ould be changed 1 told him that I would do so. The fact is that his presentation of the ease has shaken my judgment as to the wisdom, of can¬ celing the exequatur. It is possible that -e are deii.g an in¬ justice and I should very much dislike being unable to furnish substantial grounds for our action, although, in my own mind, I believe von Papen had been very active in these matters. It is merely a question of evidence. "Of course ■■e do not need to give our reasons, but in this particular case if we give no reasons the inevitable conclusion is that we have accepted the statements of G-oricar. the rene¬ gade Austrian Consul, and others who have made unproved allegations against Nuber. "In any event I think it would be well to consider the matter a few days longer. If you approve of this course will von please advise me tomorrow morning, in order that I mav notifv Baron Zwiedinek that the exequatur will not be revoked tomorrow, as I told him that was the intention." To my letter President Wilson replied the next dav that he did not think that we need accede to the representations and requests of Baron Zwiedinek. and that he thought that we had abundant ground for the withdrawal of the exequatur of Nuber. He added



that a little prompt action just at that time would he better in its effect than any amount of action later. I answered by letter on the same day: “While I agree with you that we have ground for the revoca¬ tion of his exequatur I cannot say that I think it is ‘abundant.’ I have had the officers of the Department of Justice give me further information on the subject and am asking them to hasten the digest of other material which they have. If they do not furnish me with further evidence tomorrow, I will act in accordance with the plan adopted—that is, send notice of the revocation of Nuber’s exequatur. I hope though, for my own peace of mind, to have a little more convincing evi¬ dence on the subject.” The additional information, which I obtained from the Depart¬ ment of Justice, had little evidential value, and I took the respon¬ sibility of postponing action in regard to the revocation of the Consul-General’s exequatur until I could again talk over the matter with the President and further urge my views as to the undesirabil¬ ity of assuming that Nuber was guilty without proof which would be accepted in a court of law. While I have no record and no present recollection of further conversations with the President regarding the Nuber case, the fact is that the matter was dropped and the Consul-General continued in office. In the case of Nuber, there was no question of diplomatic immunity involved. A consular officer cannot claim exemption from arrest and criminal prosecu¬ tion. It was, therefore, safe to leave the case of the Consul-General in the hands of the Department of Justice, which had the power to proceed against him provided evidence sufficient to warrant a criminal action was secured. The recall of Captains Boy-Ed and von Papen checked, for a time, the German activities in the United States, as the German agents and spies knew they were under suspicion and were con¬ stantly being watched and investigated by the various branches of the government’s secret service. Furthermore, many private individuals with pro-Ally sympathies were eagerly seeking evi¬ dence of crimes and plots by Germans and Austrians. The most extraordinary reports from these amateur detectives, and in some cases from local police officials, poured into the offices of the execu¬ tive departments at Washington. Some of these were investigated but the great majority were considered too fantastic and improb-



able to be worthy of a second thought. From a very trivial incident one of these self-appointed investigators, inspired by love of coun¬ try or love of notoriety or love of mystery-making, would draw conclusions and would thereupon build up a complete narrative, which for imaginative ingenuity and extravagant deductions was worthy of a popular writer of fiction. It was an 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. Many an innocent German-American, loyal, honest and hating Prussianism, was suspected and spied upon by his neighbors and on their insistent demands became the subject of investigation by agents of the government. Certainly nine out of ten, and probably ninety-nine out of a hundred, of these sus¬ pects were guiltless of any wrongful act or intention, but much time had to be wasted by our Secret Service in proving their in¬ nocence and satisfying their accusers that they were mistaken. It was early in December, 1915, that an attempt was made to unite the secret agencies of the various departments and bring them under a single head, but the rivalries of the several services and the mutual jealousies of their chiefs prevented anything being done. This desirable consolidation could only have been effected by creating a new and independent executive agency in charge of all secret investigations, but this was impossible under the exist¬ ing laws. The meetings, which were held by the Cabinet officers whose Departments were involved, had a beneficial effect in co¬ ordinating the work of investigations and in bringing about a more general interchange of information. Consolidation, however, seemed impossible, since Secretary McAdoo was not willing to have the Secret Service taken away from the Treasury Department. At the time the Department of State had no organized Secret Serv¬ ice of its own, though it had operatives detailed to it from other services with J. M. Nye of the Treasury Department in charge. It was not until early in April, 1916, that a Secret Intelligence Bureau in connection with the Division of Foreign Intelligence was organized under the direction of Mr. Leland Harrison of the Diplomatic Service. The Bureau was later improved and enlarged. It rendered very valuable service from the time of its organization to the end of the war. The whole record of German activities in the United States would fill several volumes and the text would be replete with many interesting cases, in which American wit was matched against Ger¬ man scheming, with thrilling accounts of plots and counter-plots,



with tales of disguises, impersonations and deceptions, of arrests and escapes and of all the other incidents and situations which make detective stories popular. It is to be hoped that some day the annals of the various agencies may be published so that the Ameri¬ can people may know how much they owe to the cleverness, the zeal and the loyalty of the secret investigators in the employ of the government during this anxious period of our history.


The submarine controversy continued through the latter part of 1915 but during that period it took on a new phase. The scene of undersea activities passed from the North Atlantic to the Medi¬ terranean, the commanders and crews thus avoiding the rigors of the severe cold of the northern seas, which made life on the small and frail craft one of great hardship and danger. There was enough discomfort at any time of year in the cramped and cheer¬ less quarters of a submarine and this was much increased by winter storms, long nights and frigid temperatures. The operations of these commerce-destroyers in the Mediter¬ ranean were similar to those which had been conducted by the Ger¬ mans in the North Atlantic and were entirely at variance with the orders, issued to German submarine commanders, of which the American Government had been notified during the controversies concerning the sinking of the Lusitania and of the Arabic. We were disposed to believe that the submarines which were active in the Mediterranean had German crews and German commanders. But as they were undoubtedly operating out of Austrian ports in the Adriatic and as those who committed the crime of attacking or sinking passenger steamships, in one case at least, showed the Austro-Hungarian naval ensign, there was no other course open to the American Government but to assume that the Vienna Gov¬ ernment was responsible for these acts and to ask it whether or not its officers were committing these inhumane outrages. That gov¬ ernment admitted, though with evident reluctance, that it was responsible and that the submarines, whose conduct was complained of, were Austrian in nationality, which raised the presumption that they were manned by Austrians. We were thus forced into a new controversy over submarine warfare, this time with the other prin¬ cipal partner in the Central Alliance. The two cases which stood out prominently in this new dispute were the attacks made on the Italian steamship Ancona and the British P and O liner Persia, both of which were passenger vessels, although the affairs differed in that, in the case of the Ancona, the nationality of the submarine was known, while, in the case of the




Persia, the nationality of the attacking vessel was unknown and was never discovered. The Ancona left the port of Messina in Sicily on November 5, 1915, with three hundred and twenty-two passengers on board bound for New York. At noon on the seventh, when near the island of Sardinia, she was pursued and shelled by a submarine. Incidentally there should be noted here the progress which had been made in constructing and arming undersea craft, by which they had become more efficient and more deadly as an offensive arm of naval warfare. Originally the only instrument of attack employed by a submarine was the torpedo, but, some months before the Ancona affair occurred, cannons with disappearing carriages were mounted and came into general use. These were extensively employed during the chase of an enemy merchantman because they were operated when the submarine was on the surface where the vessel was able to make much more speed than when submerged. The art of submarine warfare was thus being perfected in de¬ structive armament, and the new undersea vessels were also larger in size and had much more speed than the old type, while the com¬ manders and crews were more experienced and more expert in handling their vessels. The submarine which gave chase to the Ancona was of the new type, being from two hundred and twenty-five to two hundred and fifty feet over all. It was armed with two guns of large caliber. When first sighted it was about five miles away and it began, at that distance, to shell the passenger steamer, which attempted to escape by flight. The submarine was, however, the faster vessel and gained rapidly on the fugitive, firing as it came. Perceiving that the Ancona would be finally overhauled and fearing the effect of the gunfire, her captain ordered the engines to be stopped and the Italian flag hoisted. The submarine, nevertheless, came on at full speed, continuing to shell the steamship until the vessels were within a quarter of a mile of each other, when the pursuer lay to, displayed a new Austrian naval ensign and sent two shots into the hull of the Ancona at this point-blank range. On board the doomed vessel boats were hastily lowered, some of which were capsized by the rush of passengers and crew, while others filled and sank because they had been shattered by the projectiles from the guns of the submarine. While the people, maddened by fear, sought to leave the vessel and while about forty of them with the captain were still on board, the submarine slowly submerged, approached the bow of the Ancona and sent a



torpedo into her hull. Immediately the steamship began to settle by the head and in a short time plunged beneath the waves carry¬ ing with her the poor wretches who had been unable to reach the boats or life-rafts. Only a few were saved as they struggled against the suction of the sinking vessel and strove to keep afloat amid the wreckage. This outrage caused the death of a large number (esti¬ mated as high as two hundred) of innocent and defenseless persons, among whom there were about twenty American citizens. I have gone into the details of this disaster because in many ways it was more atrocious than any of the submarine attacks which had previously taken place. For cold-blooded inhumanity the conduct of the submarine commander scarcely finds an equal in the annals of modern warfare. It was one of the worst examples of the horrors of submarine attack. This new outrage created intense indignation throughout the United States, for the people were not disposed to differentiate between the fact that the sub¬ marine which attacked the Ancona was admittedly Austrian, and the fact that the other outrages which had been committed were by German submarines. In the public mind submarine warfare was a single subject of controversy, whether conducted under the flag of Germany or of Austria-Hungary. The government, however, could not adopt this popular view, much as it would have liked to do so. It was forced to recognize that, while the German Government had made certain declarations, by which it agreed to restrict the conduct of its submarine com¬ manders within the bounds of legality or at least of humanity, the Austro-Hungarian Government had not committed itself to any restrictions, as no event had taken place up to the sinking of the Ancona which had made submarine warfare a subject of contro¬ versy between the latter government and that of the United States. From the first of the conversations which I had with Baron Zwiedinek, Austrian Charge d’Affaires, relating to the sinking of the Ancona, the fact that the submarine was of Austrian nationality was never denied and the whole negotiation proceeded upon the premise that the vessel was Austrian. The Italian naval experts were convinced, however, that the submarine was of German con¬ struction and manned by Germans and that the Austrian ensign was displayed in order to avoid the charge that Germany had attacked the steamship of a nation with which she was not then formally at war, also to avoid the further charge of bad faith on the part of the German Government in violating its pledges



to the United States. It was my personal opinion that the Italians were right, and that the submarine commander was German. This was conclusively shown by his conduct, which exhibited so little regard for moral obligation and was so wanting in human instincts. The act was that of a Prussian and not of an Austrian. I kept full memoranda of my conversations with the Austrian Charge during November and December, 1915, when he came to see me nearly every day to discuss the Ancona case. At one of our early interviews I referred to my belief that the nationality of the commander of the submarine was German. The following is my note detailing our conversation, which was made some days later: “We discussed the action of the submarine commander which according to the reports which we had received was extremely brutal and responsible for the death of many women and children. In the course of the conversation I said: ‘Baron, in spite of these reports I cannot believe that an Austrian officer ordered this. I have always considered the Austrians to be most chivalrous and kindly and that they would view the wanton murder of innocent people as dishonorable. The whole affair as reported seems so contrary to the character of your nation, so opposed to your traditions, that I am loath to believe the accounts which we have received.’ As I said this the Baron showed much emotion. His eyes filled with tears and he replied: ‘I thank your Excellency’—he invariably addressed me by that title—‘I thank your Excellency for what you have said. We are humane. We wish the world to think us honorable. We are proud of the fact that we place honor above life. I thank your Excellency because I know your judgment of us will be fair. I shall report what you have said to my government.’ “ ‘Do you not think it possible,’ I asked, ‘that it was a German submarine under your flag?’ “ ‘It is possible,’ he replied, ‘I do not know. But, if it was an Austrian boat, you can be sure that the reports are wrong. No Austrian officer is capable of an inhuman act. I know our people and they would resent the killing of women and children under any conditions.’ “Later, however, the Austro-Hungarian Government as¬ sumed responsibility for the Ancona disaster and attempted to explain the conduct of the submarine commander. Poor Zwiedinek was evidently nonplused by this admission, and I


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING do not think he believed it. In my own heart I did not believe it either.”

Whatever my personal conviction in the matter, the correspond¬ ence had to be conducted with the Vienna Government because of its official admission of responsibility. Not until the latter part of November was the evidence of the facts of the sinking of the Ancona sufficient to prepare a satisfactory note to the Austrian Govern¬ ment. I drafted the note and submitted it to the President, who on December third delivered it to me with the comment, “This is a peremptory note, but I see no other course open to us.” On the sixth it was telegraphed to Ambassador Penfield with instructions to deliver it to the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and on the same day I handed Baron Zwiedinek a copy. The note, after reviewing the facts and pointing out that the deed was in violation of the law of nations and the principles of humanity, ended with the following paragraphs: “As the good relations of the two countries must rest upon a common regard for law and humanity, the Government of the United States cannot be expected to do otherwise than to demand that the Imperial and Royal Government denounce the sinking of the Ancona as an illegal and indefensible act; that the officer who perpetrated the deed be punished; and that reparation by the payment of an indemnity be made for the citizens of the United States who were killed or injured by the attack on the vessel. “The Government of the United States expects that the Austro-Hungarian Government, appreciating the gravity of the case, will accede to its demand promptly; and it rests this expectation on the belief that the Austro-Hungarian Govern¬ ment will not sanction or defend an act which is condemned by the world as inhumane and barbarous, which is abhorrent to all civilized nations, and which has caused the death of innocent American citizens.” The Austrian reply, which was dated December fifteenth, was a quibble over the facts and the reliability of the witnesses. It contained assertions of doubt, expressions of regret that “citizens of the United States of America came to grief,” and a request for an explanation of the law violated by the submarine commander. There was no actual denial of the wrong done and no refusal to



comply with our demands. Neither were there any admissions of wrong-doing. It advanced the negotiations not a whit, and was almost an insult to one’s intelligence, it was so vapid and colorless. On the thirteenth, that is, three days before this reply was received, Baron Zwiedinek came to see me and asked whether it would be acceptable to my government if the Austrian Government should say that they would investigate the matter and that, if they found the facts substantially as stated in our note, they would comply with our three demands. I replied to him that that seemed a reasonable proposition, if it was a full and frank acceptance of the demands. In view of this interview, which seemed to promise a satisfactory step toward a settlement, the Austrian note of the fifteenth was most disappointing. I at once drafted a reply and sent it to the President on the seventeenth. In my letter of trans¬ mittal I wrote: “I have studied the note with care and feel that we should avoid the pitfall of further correspondence. The essential fact is admitted by the Austrian Admiralty; the principles of law and humanity cannot be debated. I feel that it would be con¬ trary to our dignity to continue a discussion of this sort. I realize that the proposed reply is practically an ultimatum and I feel fully the responsibility of sending it, but what other course is open to us if we wish to maintain our self-respect as a government? It is a crisis which seems unavoidable. “If there is any other way of treating the Austrian note I would be very glad to be instructed, but discussion of the sub¬ jects treated in the note seem to me impossible in view of the position we have taken.” The reply, which was approved by the President and went for¬ ward to Vienna on the nineteenth, contained a declination to con¬ sider the variations in the evidence alleged in the Austrian note, a refusal to discuss the international law and principles of humanity violated by the submarine commander, an assertion that the Aus¬ trian Government, in view of its admission, was responsible for the outrage, and a firm insistence on immediate compliance with our demands. Baron Zwiedinek fully appreciated that our reply was an ulti¬ matum. In an interview with him on the twenty-first he said that he knew that we could not recede from our demands but that the real difficulty lay in the Austrian Government agreeing to punish



the commander, especially if he was following instructions. memorandum recording the interview proceeds:


“To this I said: ‘Either the commander is guilty, or your government is guilty. If your government desires to take the responsibility they should frankly say so, exonerating the commander, but they should assume his guilt.’ He replied that that was a very difficult thing for a government to do. I said I realized that but it seemed to me the only alternative, and if it did assume such responsibility it would be necessary for the Austrian Government to apologize, in addition to de¬ nouncing the act and offering to indemnify the sufferers. “He said that he would take the matter up immediately with his government and hoped that they could reach a satis¬ factory conclusion.” On the twenty-fourth I received from the President, who was then at Hot Springs, Virginia, a letter commenting on this inter¬ view with the Austrian Charge, in which he said that he was not sure whether he was encouraged or not by this interview, but that he was clear that I had stated the right things to the Baron and that it was very wise to make him see the position of the United States “without any penumbra about the edges of the statement.” The necessity of anticipating possible situations caused me to consider what should be done in the event that certain conditions arose. One of these was the refusal of Austria-Hungary to comply with our demands. If that should happen, it would seem that we had no alternative but to break off diplomatic relations by with¬ drawing our Ambassador and handing Zwiedinek his passports. I wrote the President in regard to this on December twenty-eighth, indicating that I was much disturbed as to the expedient thing to do because of an interview which I had had on the twenty-first with Senator Stone, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. Of our conversation I wrote the President as follows: “I had a long conversation this afternoon with Senator Stone in regard to our relations with the belligerent countries, and I am disturbed at his attitude. He clearly indicated after we had talked a while that he thought that we were bearing too severely upon the Teutonic Allies and were not pressing Great Britain as strongly as we should in insisting upon ob¬ servance of our trade rights. When I suggested that loss of



life seemed to me to require more drastic treatment than loss of property, he replied that they both involved rights. I said to him that the right of life was an inherent right, the loss of which could never be indemnified, but that the right of prop¬ erty was a legal right, which could be fully remedied by an indemnity. I could see, however, that this in no way satisfied him, for he then referred to German babies dying because Great Britain would not allow us to send them condensed milk, and followed it up with dyes, potash, etc., etc. “This seems to me a serious matter, for, while I believe the Senator will not oppose the policies of the Administration, I do not think he will support them whole-heartedly or enthus¬ iastically. . . . “Probably Senator Stone is influenced by the fact that he has considerable German constituency, which he wishes to keep in good humor, but whatever the reason, his ideas of our neutral duty will make it difficult for him to deal with our foreign affairs in a way that will strongly support the Admin¬ istration and carry through its policies.” Another condition which had to be considered was the possibility of the Austrian Government proposing an international arbitra¬ tion to determine the facts regarding the sinking of the Ancona, a course which Ambassador Penfield reported was being suggested in certain quarters in Vienna, originating, I believe, with Dr. Henri Lammasch, a member of The Hague Tribunal. My per¬ sonal view was that arbitration was not to be considered, if for no other reason than that the German Government would imme¬ diately seize upon our commitment to the principle and demand arbitration in the Lusitania case and all other pending submarine cases. While the American people might have been complacent toward an arbitration with Austria-Hungary, since the feeling against that Empire was not very bitter because it was looked upon as an unwilling tool of the autocrats at Berlin, a tempest of protest would have broken out against the Administration if it had con¬ sented to, or even discussed, an arbitration with Germany regarding any question relating to submarine warfare. We could not agree to arbitrate with one Empire and refuse to do so with the other. It would have been too flagrantly inconsistent and too illogical for the government even to consider such an idea. Such was my opinion. The President’s reaction to Ambassador Penfield’s telegram was,



in a measure, different from mine. In a letter written on December twenty-seventh, in which he comments on the telegram, he told me that he had read the telegram with misgivings. Though asserting that we did not wish to be drawn into a correspondence with the Austro-Hungarian Government, he asked how we could refuse to consider arbitration, if they proposed it? To do so, he said, would be contrary to all our traditions and would place us in a position which it would be difficult to justify before the rest of the world. As a matter of fact none of the conditions which were anticipated arose, for under date of December twenty-ninth the Austrian Gov¬ ernment sent a reply which admitted that the torpedoing of the Ancona was in violation of the principles of law and humanity and that the commander of the submarine was culpable. It also announced that the guilty officer had been punished (though the punishment inflicted was not stated) and that the government stood ready to pay an indemnity for the American lives and prop¬ erty lost and for the injuries sustained by American citizens by reason of the attack. While the negotiations in relation to the Italian passenger liner had thus come to a fortunate conclusion, another tragedy had occurred in the Mediterranean which was even more sinister. This case was the torpedoing of the British P and O steamship Persia by a submarine operating about forty miles southwest of the island of Cyprus. The attack took place about one o’clock in the afternoon of December thirtieth, the day following the one on which the Vienna Government sent its note complying with our demands. The day when the outrage was committed was bright but the sea was rough. As the vessel plowed its way eastward toward the Suez Canal the officer of the deck standing on the bridge perceived the bubbling wake of a torpedo rushing toward the bow. A second later the heavy projectile struck the hull, the vessel was shaken with a violent explosion and began immediately to sink. Everything was done that could be done to save the people on board, but the efforts made were of little avail, for five minutes after the torpedo struck the Persia disappeared beneath the waves. Of the five hundred and fifty passengers and members of the crew of the steamship four hundred were drowned or died from exhaus¬ tion and exposure while clinging to capsized boats, life rafts and pieces of wreckage for many hours in the rough sea. It was a frightful catastrophe. The difficulty of dealing with the affair was that no submarine was seen before or after the Persia sank, and the only evidence that



one had been present and had launched a torpedo was the testimony of the officer of the deck, who was one of the few survivors, that he had seen the white wake of the torpedo as it sped toward the vessel. If there were other witnesses, they went down with the vessel. What, then, was the nationality of the undersea craft which had perpetrated this crime? To what government could complaint be made that its submarine had committed this deed, by which an American, Consul Neely, on his way to Aden, had been lost? The only course which the government could take was to inquire of Berlin, Vienna and Constantinople as to the whereabouts of the submarines belonging to their respective navies on the day when the Persia was torpedoed, and to demand whether or not any of their officers were responsible for this attack. As was to be ex¬ pected, each of these governments emphatically denied that any of its officers was guilty of the outrage, stating that none of its submarines, which, it was asserted, had all reported, was in the vicinity of the vessel when it was destroyed. Without the possibility of obtaining the least proof as to the nationality of the submarine, there was nothing to do but to accept as true the three denials, knowing that one was false. We were im¬ potent and utterly unable to solve the mystery. Nothing could be done to apprehend and punish the guilty so long as the sub¬ marine lurked beneath the surface and kept its nationality hidden. The situation could not be allowed to continue, for, if these tactics were followed, as they doubtless would be, the loss of human life would be appalling. Some way must be found to put an end to this abominable practice. It was to find this way that I devoted much time and thought endeavoring to work out some practical plan or formula which would make innocent travel through waters infested by submarines less perilous. The protection of non-combatants journeying on commercial vessels depended on observance of the rule of international law requiring visit and search. If the vessel which was stopped and visited was a neutral, she was allowed to proceed. If she was found to be of enemy nationality, she was seized as a prize, and, if the captor could not take or send her into a port of the captor’s coun¬ try or the port of an ally, she could be sunk after the persons on board had been removed to a place of safety. Those were the old and established rules of international law. They were intended to protect neutral ships from seizure and to avoid taking the lives of innocent people on board prizes of war. It had been customary, prior to the World War, for certain



merchant ships to carry small armaments for defensive purposes, a remnant of an old practice due to the fact that certain seas a century or more ago were infested by pirates. In recent wars these armaments had been found of little avail against armored ships though they were occasionally useful in flight from privateers and vessels of commerce which had been converted into unarmored cruisers and equipped with guns. Before the possibilities of under¬ sea craft as commerce-destroyers were realized and before German submarines began their extensive operations in the North Atlantic, the question of what armament was defensive and what was offensive had to be determined. A vessel with an offensive armament, that is, an armament which could attack and capture other commercial vessels, acquired the character of a naval ship and had to be so treated if it entered the neutral waters of the United States. If it had that character, it could remain only twenty-four hours to take on supplies, but was not permitted to ship a cargo. There was no settled rule as to when an increase of armament changed it from defensive to offensive. It was a difference, however, which had to be definitely determined in order that the treatment of ships of belligerent nationality entering American ports might be uniform. The Department of State, therefore, had issued in September, 1914, a declaration on the subject, in which it set forth the amount and nature of the armament a vessel might carry for defensive purposes without losing its private and commercial character. The rule was arbitrary hut it could not be otherwise in the circumstances, though the usual armaments of naval ships were given due weight in reaching a decision. Within a year after the issuance of this declaration as to armed merchantmen a new factor had entered into the problem. The prac¬ tical value of the submarine as a commerce-destroyer, whether legal or illegal, had been demonstrated. The method employed by this new arm of naval warfare, assuming that it was lawful to use it, compelled a reconsideration of the question of what was and what was not a defensive armament for a vessel of commerce when at¬ tacked by a submarine. The frail construction of an undersea boat made it peculiarly vulnerable. If a merchantman carried one or two guns, even though light, a submarine could not rise to the sur¬ face within range of those guns without danger of being sent to the bottom by a single shot. Unless it could come to the surface in comparative safety, how could a submarine be expected to con¬ form to the rule of visit and search? Had it any other course in the circumstances but to attack a vessel without disclosing its presence



if it would avoid almost certain destruction? Considering the weak defensive structure of a submarine and the damage that might be done to it by the projectile of a cannon of moderate caliber on board a merchant ship, the latter might, if it saw fit, take the offen¬ sive and sink the submarine. Could the armament of the merchant¬ man under such conditions be considered defensive? And, if it were potentially offensive, did it not lose its private character, and, did not the submarine have the right to attack it without visit and search ? It was by no means a one-sided question viewed dispassionately from the standpoint of the recognized right to interrupt and destroy enemy commerce, provided of course that the use of sub¬ marines for such purpose was held to be legitimate. Naturally the British and the other Allied Governments insisted on visit and search and also on the right of their commercial vessels to carry defensive armaments and to use neutral flags to deceive the enemy. From the purely legal standpoint, based on precedents established before the submarine and wireless telegraph were invented, they had all the best of the argument. But the submarine had changed condi¬ tions, which made the practical application of the rules difficult, since strict compliance with them would make impossible the em¬ ployment of submarines as commerce-destroyers. Of course, that was what the Allied Governments sought, and that was what the Central Powers would not relinquish. How could these two opposite points of view be harmonized so that the lives of non-combatants on merchant ships would be properly protected? The obligation of visit and search, the right of arming merchant vessels and their relations to submarine warfare were clearly brought out in the case of the Persia. The large P and O steamship mounted on her stern a 4.7 gun. It is to be presumed that the com¬ mander of the submarine observed this large piece of ordnance through his periscope and decided that to bring his boat to the surface, in order to use her guns, if she carried any, or in order to demand the surrender of the Persia, would have meant almost certain destruction to his craft since it would have been at point blank range for the cannon on the liner. He had to adopt one of two courses, either to abandon his prey and permit it to proceed, or else to ignore the rule of visit and search and attack the steamship without warning, and without bringing the U-boat to the surface. He chose the latter course with the dreadful results which have already been detailed. Deplorable and abhorrent as this act was to one’s idea of civilized warfare and to one’s sense of humanity,



a reasonable man could not deny that the presence on board the

Persia of so formidable a piece as a 4.7 gun instead of being a defense was a possible, if not a very probable, reason for the sudden and unheralded torpedoing of this vessel which resulted in so fright¬ ful a loss of life. Such was the conclusion which I reached after considering the circumstances and attempting to deduce from them the reasons why the submarine made its attack without coming to the surface, assuming of course that a German U-boat commander had an atom of mercy in his make-up.


In view of the situation set forth in the last chapter, and consider¬ ing the future disasters which were probable if the conditions as to submarine warfare remained unchanged, I wrote the following letter to President Wilson enclosing a memorandum setting forth what, in my judgment, was the effect of the arming of merchant vessels upon the use of submarines and what was the excuse which it furnished for attacking armed vessels without warning: “January 7, 1916. “My dear Mr. President: “I have been thinking over, as I know you have, some means of placing submarine warfare on a basis which will prevent the horrors which have characterized it in the past. “I think that I appreciate the German point of view in regard to the danger to a submarine in attacking an armed merchant vessel, and have prepared a memorandum on the subject, which I enclose. “If the argument has merit the method of reaching a settle¬ ment on a basis which would safeguard human life would seem to be an agreement by Germany and Austria not to torpedo enemy vessels without putting the people on board in safety, provided they did not continue to flee, in consideration of an agreement by the Entente Powers not to permit their merchant ships to carry an armament. “I am sure the Teutonic Powers would agree to this, and I cannot see how the Entente Powers could reasonably object to such an arrangment, particularly in view of the fact that there is no case recorded, to my knowledge, of a submarine being de¬ stroyed by gunfire from a merchant vessel. “This plan would be practically a modus vivendi and could be made reciprocal on account of the activities of British sub¬ marines in the Baltic. “Would you advise my attempting to obtain such agree¬ ments ?


“Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”



WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING [Enclosure] “memorandum

on armed



“The arming of merchant vessels is allowable when the armament is of a character which can be used only defensively. “When the statement as to the Status of Armed Merchant Vessels was issued in September, 1914, by the Department of State, the assertion contained as to the limitation of armament, which would give it a defensive character, was based on the use of naval ships in intercepting private commercial vessels. It was predicated manifestly on the defensive strength of ships of war, otherwise there would be no necessity to consider any restriction upon the armament carried by a merchant vessel. “Since the statement was issued the submarine has become a practical and successful agent in the capture and destruction of vessels of commerce, and, as a result, the principle on which the arming of merchant ships is declared to be allowable, should be applied to the new conditions created by this instru¬ ment of naval warfare. “Comparison of the defensive strength of naval vessels oper¬ ating on the surface and submarines shows that the latter are almost defenseless in construction, their only means of protec¬ tion from an enemy being their power to submerge. A mer¬ chant ship carrying a small caliber gun could destroy with one shot a submarine provided it came to the surface within range. Thus an armament, though falling within the limitations of defensive armament as previously defined, may be used ef¬ fectively against a submarine. If it can be so used, it would appear to lose its defensive character. “The rule of visit, which is the only means of protecting private vessels engaged in commerce from being suddenly attacked and is the only means of putting in force the rule that the people on board shall be put in safety before a vessel is sunk, could hardly be required justly of a submarine, if the observation of the rule compels the submarine to expose itself to almost certain destruction by coming to the surface and offering itself as a target to a gun mounted on the merchant ship which it is required to hail and order to ‘lie to.’ “If it is admitted that a submarine may be employed in in-



tercepting enemy’s commerce and that in doing this it must hail vessels and put the passengers and crews in places of safety, it would appear to be a reasonable requirement that all merchant vessels should be without armament of any sort since a gun of whatever caliber and wherever mounted could be used offensively against a submarine on the surface with good pros¬ pect of destroying it. “A merchant vessel, therefore, carrying an armament should be treated by a belligerent or a neutral as an armed ship of the enemy and not possessing the immunities attaching to private commercial vessels of belligerent nationality as now set forth in the rules of international law.” While this memorandum formed the basis for a discussion of a possible policy there were other phases of the question which had to be considered. There was a persistent rumor that the von Tirpitz party in Berlin had gained the upper hand in support of a vigorous naval policy, which meant a renewal of submarine warfare with a much larger fleet and with the same ruthlessness that had charac¬ terized U-boat activities in the spring of 1915. It was also claimed that the sinking of the Persia was the first step in this new cam¬ paign of lawlessness and cruelty, for it was the general belief, in spite of the Berlin Government’s denial, that the submarine respon¬ sible was of German nationality. But, even if this rumor as to a return to the indiscriminate use of submarines proved to be true, the temper of the American people did not appear to be sufficiently aroused for the government to go to extremes. Senator Stone’s attitude, stated during the progress of the negotiation concerning the Ancona, was an indication of the state of mind of a consider¬ able group in Congress and this could not be ignored. It was neces¬ sary to analyze American public opinion without prejudice and to determine upon a general course of action which would not abruptly challenge that opinion but would guide it in the right direction. We had to be able to show that everything had been done to avoid war in order to arouse a public demand for war. Two days after I sent my letter and memorandum on arming merchant vessels to the President I wrote a memorandum on the feelings of the American people toward the Germans in order to crystallize my thoughts and to have definite reasons upon which to work out a basis for the conduct of our intercourse with the Central Powers. The memorandum, to which I refer, reads as follows:




“We are not jet ready to meet the submarine issue squarely. Our people are not aroused to a sufficient pitch of indignation at the barbarism of the Germans. It is hard to comprehend this apparent indifference, but the fact that it exists cannot be doubted. The course pursued by the German Government finds many apologists in this country. Their arguments are based on the shipments of war supplies to the Allies and the blockade of neutral ports through which goods go forward to Germany. There is a plausibility about these arguments which appeals to the pro-German and the anti-English elements in our population and they are sufficiently potent to prevent our presenting a united front against Germany. “The first effort, in my opinion, should be to prevent, if possible, a situation arising which will force this government into open hostility to the German Government. The time for that has not come. The people are divided in sentiment. I do not believe that Congress would favor drastic action and would be resentful if the President should act without their authori¬ zation. It is a humiliating position, but some way will have to be found to postpone definite action until there is a change among a portion of our people. “This country is very different from other countries in that our people are not united by ties of blood. We are a mixture of many races and lack as a whole nationality in its ethnological sense. We are still too young a nation to have assimilated and amalgamated the various nationalities which compose our population. It will take generations before that can be ac¬ complished and we can speak correctly of an ‘American race.’ Language is doing much to change this condition, but racial traits and ideals, friendships and hatreds persist among the descendants of those who emigrated from foreign lands and these have been kept alive by the constant stream of immi¬ grants from Europe. “There is no stronger bond among a people than race, and lacking it the United States labors under a serious disadvan¬ tage, especially at the present time when the various races represented in our population are engaged in a war which arouses the rage and hatred of these races against one another. The sympathy founded on kinship, even though it has been



unexpressed for generations, is biased and unjust and un¬ reasoning. It causes a division of the American people into groups who are openly hostile to those who have different sympathies. “Since we cannot find a national tie in blood, we must seek to find one based on other grounds, otherwise we cannot claim to be a nation. That tie is to be found, I believe, in the political principle underlying our system of government. That princi¬ ple is democracy in our public relation and individual liberty in our private relation. Any attack upon this principle in either form of expression will unite our people and arouse in them a strong spirit of patriotism. “It is my opinion that the military oligarchy which rules Germany is a bitter enemy to democracy in every form; that, if that oligarchy triumphs over the liberal 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. “Public opinion is not yet ready to accept this point of view. The American people will have to be educated to a true vision of the menace that Germany is to liberty and democracy in America as well as in Europe. “I believe, therefore, that for the present we must endeavor to keep out of the war and avoid, if we can, being forced by German aggressions to employ severe measures. We must be patient and endure indignities and injustice until the people of this country realize that the German Government is the inveterate foe of all the ideals which we hold sacred and for which this Republic stands. When the mass of our people are convinced of the real character of the German Government and are awake to its sinister designs, the time for action will have arrived. We must wait patiently for that day and not act before if action can possibly be avoided. “I dread the next few months, because, if Germany renews her barbarous submarine attacks and we fail to retaliate, this government will be subject to violent criticism and outspoken contempt at home and abroad. There will be insistent demands for action and abuse of inaction. It will be most unpleasant but it must be borne, or else an irreparable blunder will be made, since we would go to war without the support of a united country, which would be fatal to the cause of democracy, or



Congress would refuse to declare war, which would be worse, ten times worse.” During the ten days following my letter to the President I had several conversations with him regarding the submarine situation and he directed me to attempt to obtain a modus vivendi regarding armed merchantmen such as I had suggested. Accordingly on January seventeenth I drafted an informal and confidential letter to the British Ambassador which was approved by Mr. Wilson. This letter was delivered to the Ambassador on the eighteenth. On the same day identical letters were handed to the French, Russian and Italian Ambassadors and the Belgian Minister, and on the twenty-fourth a similar letter was delivered to the Japanese Am¬ bassador. “DEPARTMENT OF STATE “Washington “January 18,1916. “My dear Mr. Ambassador: “It is a matter of the deepest interest to my government to bring to an end, if possible, the dangers to life which attend the use of submarines as at present employed in destroying enemy commerce on the high seas, since on any merchant ves¬ sel of belligerent nationality there may be citizens of the United States who have taken passage or are members of the crew, in the exercise of their recognized rights as neutrals. I assume Your Excellency’s Government are equally solicitous to protect their nationals from the exceptional hazards which are pre¬ sented by their passage on a merchant vessel through those portions of the high seas in which undersea craft of their enemy are operating. “While I am fully alive to the appalling loss of life among non-combatants, regardless of age or sex, which has resulted from the present method of destroying merchant vessels with¬ out removing the persons on board to places of safety, and while I view that practice as contrary to those humane princi¬ ples which would control belligerents in the conduct of their naval operations, I do not feel that a belligerent should be deprived of the proper use of submarines in the interruption of enemy commerce, since those instruments of war have proved their effectiveness in this particular branch of warfare on the high seas.



“In order to bring submarine warfare within the general rules of international law and the principles of humanity with¬ out destroying its efficiency in the destruction of commerce, I believe that a formula may be found which, though it may require slight modification of the practice generally followed by nations prior to the employment of submarines, will appeal to the sense of justice and fairness of all the belligerents in the present war. “Your Excellency will understand that in seeking a formula or a rule of this nature I approach it of necessity from the point of view of a neutral, but I believe that it will be equally efficacious in preserving the lives of all non-combatants on merchant vessels of belligerent nationality. “My comments on this subject are predicated on the follow¬ ing propositions: “1. A non-combatant has a right to traverse the high seas in a merchant vessel entitled to fly a belligerent flag and to rely upon the observance of the rules of international law and the principles of humanity if the vessel is approached by a naval vessel of another belligerent. “2. A merchant vessel of enemy nationality should not be attacked without being ordered to stop. “3. An enemy merchant vessel, when ordered to do so by a belligerent submarine, should immediately stop. “4. Such vessel should not be attacked after being ordered to stop unless it attempts to flee or to resist, and in case it ceases to flee or resist, the attack should discontinue. “5. In the event that it is impossible to place a prize crew on board of an enemy merchant vessel or convoy it into port, the vessel may be sunk, provided the crew and passengers have been removed to a place of safety. “In complying with the foregoing propositions which, in my opinion, embody the principle rules, the strict observance of which will insure the life of a non-combatant on a merchant vessel which is intercepted by a submarine I am not unmindful of the obstacles which would be met by undersea craft as com¬ merce destroyers. “Prior to the year 1915 belligerent operations against enemy commerce on the high seas had been conducted with cruisers carrying heavy armaments. Under these conditions interna¬ tional law appeared to permit a merchant vessel to carry an armament for defensive purposes without losing its character



as a private commercial vessel. This right seems to have been predicated on the superior defensive strength of ships of war, and the limitation of armament to have been dependent on the fact that it could not be used effectively in offense against enemy naval vessels, while it could defend the merchantmen against the generally inferior armament of piratical ships and privateers. “The use of the submarine, however, has changed these rela¬ tions. Comparison of the defensive strength of a cruiser and a submarine shows that the latter, relying for protection on its power to submerge, is almost defenseless in point of construc¬ tion. Even a merchant ship carrying a small-caliber gun would be able to use it effectively for offense against a submarine. Moreover, pirates and sea rovers have been swept from the main trade channels of the seas, and privateering has been abolished. Consequently, the placing of guns on merchantmen at the present day of submarine warfare can be explained only on the ground of a purpose to render merchantmen superior in force to submarines and to prevent warning and visit and search by them. Any armament, therefore, on a merchant vessel would seem to have the character of an offensive armament. “If a submarine is required to stop and search a merchant vessel on the high seas and, in case it is found that she is of enemy character and that conditions necessitate her destruc¬ tion, to remove to a place of safety all persons on board, it would not seem just or reasonable that the submarine should be compelled, while complying with these requirements, to expose itself to almost certain destruction by the guns on board the merchant vessel. “It would, therefore, appear to be a reasonable and recipro¬ cally 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, determining their belligerent na¬ tionality, and removing the crews and passengers to places of safety before sinking the vessels as prizes of war, and that merchant vessels of belligerent nationality should be prohibited and prevented from carrying any armament whatsoever. “In presenting this formula as a basis for conditional decla¬ rations by the belligerent governments, I do so in the full conviction that your government will consider primarily the



humane purpose of saving the lives of innocent people rather than the insistence upon a doubtful legal right which may be denied on account of new conditions. “I would be pleased if you would be good enough to bring this suggestion to the attention of your government and in¬ form me of their views upon the subject, and whether they would be willing to make such a declaration conditioned upon their enemies making a similar declaration. “A communication similar to this one has been addressed to the Ambassadors of France, Russia and Italy and the Minister of Belgium at this capital. “I should add that my government is impressed with the reasonableness of the argument that a merchant vessel carry¬ ing an armament of any sort, in view of the character of sub¬ marine 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 accordingly. “I am, etc., etc., “Robert Lansing.”

This communication, when it was made public in February, caused varied comments in the United States and in Europe. The American press was generally favorable to it, asserting that it was based on sound common sense and that it swept aside legal techni¬ calities and did away with international usages which had been rendered obsolete by new conditions. Of course the very strong pro-Ally papers opposed the disarming of commercial vessels, and the pro-German papers were equally opposed to the requirements of visit imposed upon a submarine. In Great Britain the proposed modus vivendi was not well re¬ ceived. It was declared to be all in favor of Germany, since to prohibit merchantmen from carrying guns for defensive purposes put such vessels entirely at the mercy of the commanders of the submarines. The British press denounced the proposal and charged the American Government with abandoning the established rules of law governing naval warfare at the instance and for the benefit of the Central Powers. In Germany the modus was assailed with equal vigor as being entirely to the advantage of Great Britain. One editor went so far as to say that the communication might as well have been signed “Grey” as “Lansing.” The argument was that to accept the pro-



posal would practically destroy the value of the submarine in inter¬ rupting commerce and that the American Government had lost sight of military advantage and given undue prominence to humanity. The conclusion to be drawn from the way in which the proposed arrangement was received by the belligerents was that it was a not unfair compromise of their respective interests. A compromise is never entirely satisfactory to either party because it means the relinquishment by each of a right or rights claimed or an actual advantage possessed. The German and Austrian Governments, however, took advan¬ tage of the situation caused by the sinking of the Persia to issue, on February 10, 1916, a new declaration on submarine warfare. This affirmed that, in view of the fact that merchantmen carrying guns, ostensibly for defensive purposes, were using them for offensive operations against submarines, being instructed so to use them by their governments, “enemy merchantmen armed with guns no longer have any right to be considered as peaceable vessels of commerce,” and that on March first submarines would proceed to act accord¬ ingly. I know that the American proposal for a modus vivendi did not induce this declaration, for the Austrian Charge informed me of the intended declaration at the very time that I informed him of the proposed modus vivendi. Those at Berlin who were respon¬ sible for the new policy were, however, adroit enough to give the impression that the declaration would not have been issued except on the assumption that the identical letters to the Ambassadors of the Allied Powers defined the future policy of the United States in dealing with armed merchant vessels, an assumption which was wholly unwarranted by the language of the note, and that the Central Empires were only seeking to act in accord with that policy and to meet the wishes of the American Government. Though unwarranted it was a plausible assumption, which ap¬ pealed to the Allies and to many of the American people. It placed this government in a very awkward position for, as we seemed to be attempting to force the commercial vessels of the Allied Powers to disarm on the grounds stated in our letter, the adoption of those grounds in the notes verbales of the German and Austrian Govern¬ ments gave color to the idea that they were co-operating with us in our efforts, and that they were doing so presumably with our approval if not at our request. The fact is that the German Ambassador for months had been insisting that any merchantman carrying even one gun would have to be considered an auxiliary cruiser as it could be used offensively



against a submarine. We had debated the question frequently, and, while I had been forced to admit that there was a measure of reason in his arguments, I had insisted that international law per¬ mitted the use of defensive armament and at the same time imposed the obligation of visit and search, and that this government could not ignore that law unless both belligerents agreed to a modification or one of them voluntarily relinquished its legal rights. Bernstorff said that, if we demanded a full compliance with the existing rules, it would mean that submarines could not be employed against vessels of commerce belonging to the enemy, to which I replied that this was probably true, and that he well knew that this government had always had serious doubts as to whether submarines could be used in a legal way as commerce destroyers, and that we might be compelled to adopt that position unless Germany ceased committing atrocities on the high seas. The German Ambassador was, therefore, fully advised that, unless we could obtain a modus vivendi modifying the rules of inter¬ national law, to which modus all the belligerents gave their assent, we intended to abide by the rules relating to naval operations as they existed and to insist on their observance in so far as Americans and their interests were endangered or neutral rights and obliga¬ tions were affected. He had no justification for the assumption that our proposal for a temporary agreement between the belliger¬ ents, which of course we would not have attempted if it were in conformity with the recognized rules of naval warfare, was in any sense an interpretation and declaration of the law. Yet that is what Bernstorff and his government intended the public to believe. Three weeks after the German and Austrian declarations as to armed merchantmen were put into operation, and two months after my notes were delivered to the Ambassadors of the Entente, they sent identical replies to the proposal for a modus vivendi, rejecting it and insisting on the strict observance of the law as it then stood regarding both defensive armaments and the obligation to visit and search. In view of this rejection by the Allies this government had no alternative but to withdraw its proposal and resort to the rules of international law, knowing full well that they would certainly be violated by the submarines of the Central Powers and result in a continued loss of life and of property confided to merchant vessels of belligerent nationality and, in many cases, to neutral vessels as well. The honest and humanitarian effort to avoid the horrors of sudden submarine attack ended, on April 7, 1916, with a note which



I sent to each Ambassador of the Allied Powers withdrawing the American proposal. As I review the record of submarine warfare subsequent to March 1, 1916, I am more than ever convinced that the decision of the Allied Governments to decline to enter into the proposed arrange¬ ment was unwise from the humanitarian point of view and resulted in the sacrifice of hundreds of lives which might otherwise have been spared. It seemed to me at the time that they lost a great opportunity, because, if the Germans performed their part of the modus, the lives of crews and passengers on commercial vessels of the Allies and neutrals would not have been in constant danger from surprise attacks by submarines. If the Germans did not live up to the agreement by visiting unarmed merchantmen and by put¬ ting the persons on board in places of safety before sinking enemy vessels, their conduct would arouse all neutral nations and might even cause some of them, and probably the United States among the number, to take up arms against the Powers which showed such bad faith and such disregard for the dictates of humanity. To abandon the arming of merchant ships, which had been of little value as a means of defense and manifestly invited submarine attack without warning, would have deprived the Germans of the one substantial excuse which they could offer for their ruthless method of dealing with private ships. However, with a short-sightedness which it is hard to comprehend, and with a stubbornness in insisting on legal rights which were in their exercise open to possible question in view of the new conditions that prevailed, the British rejected the modus vivendi proposed by this government, and the attempt to lessen the certainty of future horrors failed. The British Govern¬ ment, in refusing to consider any deviation from the strict letter of the law even by agreement, was not only blind to the strategic advantage to be gained but was utterly inconsistent in its own practice, for the British naval authorities had violated more rules of international law than the Germans, though their violations were not attended by such dreadful results. For a year and a half we had made protest after protest to London because of the illegal practices of the British authorities in their treatment of American commerce and in their disregard of American rights on the high seas, and these controversies were in progress at the very time that the proposal of the United States in regard to submarine warfare was rejected. Sifted down to the bare facts the position was this: Great Britain insisted that Germany should conform her conduct of naval war-



fare to the strict letter of the rules of international law, and resented even a suggestion that there should be any variation of the rules to make them reasonably applicable to new conditions. On the other hand, Great Britain was herself repeatedly departing from the rules of international law on the plea that new conditions compelled her to do so, and even showed resentment because the United States refused to recognize her right to ignore or modify the rules whenever she thought it necessary to do so. Briefly, the British Government wished international law enforced when they believed that it worked to the advantage of Great Britain and wished the law modified when the change would benefit Great Britain. There is no doubt that the good relations between the United States and Great Britain would have been seriously jeopar¬ dized by this unreasonable attitude, which seems unworthy of British statesmanship, except for the fact that the British violations of law affected American property while the German violations affected American lives. Nothing else saved our relations with Great Britain from becoming strained to the breaking point. Even as it was, there were many Americans, both in public and in private life, who considered that we were unjust or at least unfair because we differentiated between the illegal acts of the belligerents on the basis of their results. These complaints against the conduct of the British were increasing in the United States, were gaining more and more converts in Congress and were exert¬ ing more and more pressure upon the government to adopt vigorous measures to compel Great Britain to cease her illegal practices, when the Germans, with their genius for always doing the wrong thing in the wrong way and at the wrong time, perpe¬ trated new crimes in their submarine campaign. These events made the complaints against the British seem insignificant and ill-timed, and aroused anew the indignation of the American people toward the ruthless commanders of Germany’s undersea corsairs. The British have only the stupidity of the Germans to thank for saving them from having a very serious situation develop in their relations with this country in the spring of 1916. It was luck on their part and nothing more. They had done everything that they could to make the position of this government difficult; and the worst of it was that they did not appear to realize it, for which our Embassy at London, it must be admitted, was by no means blameless. Sympathetic as I felt toward the Allies and convinced that we would in the end join with them against the autocratic govern-



ments of the Central Empires, I saw with apprehension the tide of resentment against Great Britain rising higher and higher in this country. It was becoming increasingly difficult to avoid bring¬ ing the controversies between our two governments to a head and to keep from assuming positions which went beyond the field of discussion. I did all that I could to prolong the disputes by preparing, or having prepared, long and detailed replies, and introducing technical and controversial matters in the hope that before the extended interchange of arguments came to an end something would happen to change the current of American public opinion or to make the American people perceive that German absolutism was a menace to their liberties and to democratic institutions everywhere. Fortunately this hope and effort were not in vain. Germany did the very thing which she should not have done. The tide of sentiment in the United States turned, and it was possible to prevent a widespread demand being made that the Allied Powers be “brought to book” without further delay for their illegal treatment of our commerce. The attack on the cross¬ channel passenger steamship Sussex and the subsequent correspond¬ ence relating to it were probably the principal causes for this change in popular sentiment. An episode in connection with our proposed modus vivendi in regard to the disarming of merchant ships and the declaration of the Central Powers on February tenth, setting forth their purpose of treating all armed merchantmen as auxiliary cruisers, is interest¬ ing as showing what was going on behind the scenes. It arose in regard to a telegram which the Austrian Charge sent to his gov¬ ernment through the Department of State. On January twenty-sixth Baron Zwiedinek called at my office and I told him of our proposal to the Allied Governments. He then informed me that his government and the German Government intended to issue a declaration that they would after a certain date treat all commercial vessels carrying guns as auxiliary cruisers which would thereafter be liable to attack by submarines without warning. I had been afraid of some action by the Central Powers looking to a renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare and had not for that reason pressed to final settlement the negotiations concerning the Lusitania, concerning which this government was at that time very near an agreement with the German Government. If the Lusitania case was settled and the settlement was at once followed by the intended declaration, whatever the pretext for it might be, it would create a most embarrassing situation, for we



would almost certainly have had to denounce the declaration on the ground that it was an open violation of the assurance given by Germany as to the future treatment of passenger vessels, and those assurances formed an integral and important part of the proposed settlement. In the circumstances it was desirable that the declaration, if it were to be made, should be issued as soon as possible so that the Lusitania negotiations should be terminated, or else that they should proceed with the declaration as a factor, in which case we would be in a position to demand the withdrawal of the declaration as one of the necessary terms of settlement. Perceiving the strategic advantage to be gained if the Central Powers were induced to act promptly, I told Zwiedinek that I deplored such proposed action, since it would reopen the submarine controversy, but that, if his government persisted in its intention to issue such a declaration, “the sooner it was done the better.” The same day on which this interview took place the Austrian Charge telegraphed the substance of our conversation to his government, stating in his telegram, which was of course in German and in code, that I would “welcome” the issuance of such a declaration at once. I assume that the Baron in so interpreting my language acted in good faith. He did not know my reason for desiring immediate action, if any was to be taken. He probably thought that I meant that the declaration would influence the Allies to accept the proposed modus vivendi. I do not blame him in the least for his report, though the language of it was unfortunate, since it was open to an interpretation other than the one which I intended to convey. Possibly I would not have thought of the matter again, except for the fact that a few days later secret agents attached to the Department of State reported a telephone conversation between Count von Bernstorff and one of his American friends, in which the Ambassador said that he could force my resignation at any time because I had been so indiscreet as to approve the German and Austrian declaration regarding the future treatment of armed merchantmen before the declaration was issued, and so, to all intents, I had initiated the action. He even went so far as to talk over with his friend—a lady, by the way—my possible successor. He showed great elation over the predicament in which I had placed myself and the way I had played into the hands of himself and Zwiedinek, for he knew that I was sympathetic with the Allies in the war, and he would have been glad to have had me out of the way.



As soon as this conversation was reported to me I investigated the whole matter and found that Zwiedinek’s telegram to his gov¬ ernment, which had been decoded and passed upon by a subordinate officer of the Department, had used the word “welcome” in the way that I have explained, a fact which I had not previously known. I immediately summoned the Austrian to the Department and told him that he had misunderstood me and that I should so advise his government through our Ambassador at Vienna and also the Ger¬ man Government through Ambassador Gerard. The Baron said that he was sure that I had used the word “welcome” and that in reporting to his government he had acted in perfect good faith. As to his good faith I assured him that I had no doubt, but that I had not used the word “welcome” as he reported. He further said that, as the telegram went through the Department of State, I could have corrected the erroneous statement before it was sent. I replied to this that I could not pass upon the correctness of his statements to his government, because, if it was understood that this was done every time he sent a message, then I became respon¬ sible for the accuracy of everything that he said and practically endorsed as true whatever we allowed to go to Vienna. For that reason, I told him, we allowed his messages to be sent regardless of their truth or falsity provided they did not convey military or naval intelligence, though we might take cognizance of them for our own purposes. On March first I sent telegrams to Vienna and Berlin explaining Baron Zwiedinek’s misunderstanding of my words and requesting that the respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs be so informed. The explanation was accepted and this closed the incident. I can imagine the chagrin of Bernstorff upon learning how I had slipped through his fingers when he was so sure that he could compel me to resign by placing the responsibility for the declara¬ tion of February tenth upon my shoulders and giving publicity to that fact. He had, as I have said, sensed my pro-Ally bias in our intercourse, and wished me to resign. He was never on intimate terms with me, as he was with Colonel House. I never trusted him. Zwiedinek had been, as I knew from our Secret Service men, an un¬ willing participant in this conspiracy, for it was nothing less than that. Only the German Ambassador’s threat to have him recalled had forced him to have anything to do with it. Bernstorff was the one who seized on the unintentional mistake made by the Austrian Charge in his report and attempted to use it against me. Zwiedinek wished to amend his report after my conversation with him, but



his German colleague would not permit him to do so, and was very emphatic about it. I was not particularly surprised for it was just the sort of thing that I would have expected of the German Ambassador. But his disappointment would have changed to ap¬ prehension if he had realized how much we knew about his plans and opinions, which he was so incautious as to discuss with unusual frankness over the telephone and in drawing rooms with his Ameri¬ can and Austrian friends. There was one other consequence of the publication of our pro¬ posed modus vivendi and of the German and Austrian declarations as to the intended treatment of armed merchant vessels of the Allies. There had been for many months an agitation in favor of prohibiting American citizens from traveling on commercial ships of belligerent nationality, not alone for the humanitarian purpose of saving them from the danger resulting from submarine attacks, but also to prevent our relations with Germany from being con¬ stantly strained. Even at the time of his resignation Secretary Bry an had, as I have said, advocated keeping Americans off passen¬ ger vessels of the Allies, asserting that, even if they had the legal right to travel on such vessels, they should forego the right if its exercise menaced international peace. In this attitude, which he continued to advocate, Mr. Bryan was vigorously supported by the pacifists. The pro-German element also favored the idea be¬ cause, if the cause of the submarine controversy was removed, all our complaints as to violations of American rights on the high seas would be against Great Britain and her allies, and might result in an open rupture with them. At least so it was believed. In many ways the arguments advanced in support of this policy appealed to the average man. They sounded reasonable. The trouble was that the adoption of the policy would not have solved the difficulty because the submarine controversy would have gone on just the same, the subject being loss of property instead of loss of life, while the inhumanity of the practice would have continued to arouse popular indignation. Furthermore, there was no author¬ ity in law for the President to issue such a prohibition or warning to American citizens as the advocates of this policy demanded, and to have suggested the adoption of a law prohibiting our people from enjoying an established legal right would have been contrary to the dignity of the United States and would have been justly condemned by Americans in general, who were, as they always have been, jealous of their rights on the high seas, and who believed that it would be pusillanimous for our government not to insist that



those rights should be respected whatever might be the consequence of such insistence. The President took the position that he could not assume so humiliating an attitude. He preferred to stand firmly in support of the legal rights of American citizens on the high seas and to demand that those rights should not be violated by any belligerent. The agitation, in view of the unwavering policy of the government, subsided and it was only occasionally mentioned by pro-German sympathizers and by a few pacifists until it was suddenly revived by the situation created by our proposal in regard to disarming merchant vessels and by the submarine declaration of the Central Powers. This revival I ought to have anticipated but did not. The renewal of the efforts to force Americans to refrain from taking passage on steamships of the Allied Powers took the form of resolutions introduced in the Senate and House of Representa¬ tives, respectively. These, if adopted and approved by the Presi¬ dent, would have had the force of laws and would have materially weakened our position in the negotiations with Germany and Austria-Hungary regarding submarine outrages. The Senate resolution, introduced by Senator Gore, of Oklahoma, prohibited the issuance of passports to American citizens taking passage on vessels of the Allies, and denied protection by this government to any American who took such passage without a passport. The House resolution, fathered by Mr. McLemore, of Texas, provided for the issuance of a warning to Americans not to travel on armed commercial vessels of belligerent nationality. During the latter part of February these two resolutions were hotly debated in Con¬ gress and in the press and, while the supporters of the resolutions were vociferous, the strong opposition of the President, of the Ad¬ ministration leaders in both Houses, and of a large majority of the newspapers throughout the country swept aside the demands of those who urged the adoption of this policy of humiliation. The Senate resolution came to a vote on March third and resulted in its defeat by sixty-eight to fourteen; and on the seventh the McLe¬ more resolution was rejected in the House by a two to one majority. These decisive votes put an end to the movement to prevent Americans from traveling on defensively armed merchantmen, which, if it had been approved, even though the President had vetoed the bills, would have seriously limited the freedom of the Administration in dealing with the submarine controversy. The minority support of the policy showed, however, that if the members of the House truly represented the views of their constituencies,



there was still a large portion of the American people who were strongly opposed to assuming an uncompromising attitude toward Germany and who were willing to sacrifice the legal rights of our citizens and even the honor of our country in order to avoid being drawn into the war. Mr. Bryan, who had actively supported the Gore resolution and favored denying clearances from our ports to steamships carrying guns, declared that the affirmative votes on these two resolutions did not represent the full voice of the American people in favor of the restrictions which they contained. I think that he was right. I thought so at the time. The time for direct action had not arrived, though it was certainly drawing nearer. Whether others read the result of this attempted legisla¬ tion as I read it, I do not know, but I am sure that the diplomats of the Central Powers must have been encouraged by the presump¬ tive fact disclosed by the debates, namely, that the American people were by no means united in their support of Mr. Wilson’s policy of standing firmly for the unimpaired rights of Americans on the high seas.


not my purpose to enter into a detailed account of the numer¬ ous controversies which arose between the United States and Great Britain during the first two years of the World War. The im¬ portant thing in connection with the progress of international affairs and of the relations of the United States to the powers engaged in the European conflict was the influence of our contro¬ versies with Great Britain upon those relations and upon the temper and public opinion of the American people. If the disputes between the United States and Great Britain had eventuated in a rupture of diplomatic relations, as was the case in our disputes with the German Empire, it would be necessary to enter into a critical analysis of the numerous controversies and to review in detail the correspondence in order to show the way in which, by gradual steps, we finally reached the breaking point. Fortunately no such situation arose in the case of Great Britain and the con¬ troversies with that power are consequently of lesser importance from the point of view of diplomatic history, though from the point of view of international law they possess interest and value. The controversies between the United States and Great Britain related to illegal interference with the commercial rights and, to an extent, with the liberties of American citizens on the high seas and also to interruptions of the international communications of the United States. While the Declaration of London of 1909, which related to the conduct of naval warfare and to neutral rights and obligations in time of war, had never been formally accepted by the governments represented at the London Conference, it was the latest expression of the laws of naval warfare by an international body of experts. This unenacted code abandoned the American position on several important subjects, and was for that reason by no means satisfactory to this government. But the fact that it constituted a complete set of rules made it expedient to obtain, if possible, the consent of all the belligerents to accept it as a standard for determining the respective rights and duties of belligerents and neutrals, and thus avoid the constant friction which would result if those rights and duties were left in the

It is




uncertain state in which they were prior to the drafting of the Declaration. With this purpose in view the American Government, appreciat¬ ing the probable difficulty of maintaining its rights and performing its obligations as a neutral without a definite standard of such rights and obligations, approached the governments of the powers at war with the suggestion that the Declaration of London be accepted by all as a code of rules for regulating their conduct of naval warfare and for defining belligerent and neutral rights. This' suggestion was made on August 6, 1914, three days after Great Britain declared war on Germany. The Central Powers immediately indicated their willingness to accept the suggestion, but France and Russia stated that they would defer their answers until after Great Britain had replied. Before the end of August the British Government accepted the Declaration but with such sweeping modifications as to certain of its provisions that the rights of neu¬ trals would be greatly curtailed. The United States could not accept the body of rules thus mangled without seriously impairing the interests of Americans, and it was certain that the Berlin and Vienna Governments would not have approved the changes upon which the British Government insisted. These Ambassador Page heartily supported, even going so far as to show indignation that the Department of State did not accept the British views in toto. In the circumstances the United States, for the Department ignored Mr. Page’s attitude, had no alternative but to withdraw its pro¬ posal that the Declaration of London should be adopted as a tem¬ porary code of naval warfare. This withdrawal was formally made on October 22, 1914. As one looks back over the naval operations conducted by both sides in the Great War, there may appear a measure of justification for the British attitude and for the resentment which, according to Ambassador Page, was felt in Great Britain, because we proposed the adoption of the Declaration as a modus vivendi. The extraor¬ dinary conditions which later prevailed and which could not have been foreseen in the summer and autumn of 1914 might have rendered the adoption of the Declaration futile and at the same time operated to tie the hands of the British Government and pre¬ vent it from accomplishing certain things which seemed desirable from the British point of view. On the other hand, under the rules of the Declaration of London, submarine warfare against commer¬ cial vessels would have been practically impossible, and no war zone about the British Isles could have been declared, as was



done by the German Government early in 1915. However, the con¬ ditional acceptance of the Declaration of London by the British Government ended the possibility of its general adoption, and opened the way to the controversies which arose between the United States and Great Britain concerning neutral and belligerent rights. Every principle and rule of international law applicable to naval warfare advanced during the past hundred years was invoked by one government or the other and became the subject of debate and argument. There was no definite code, no fixed standard, which could be applied. Everything seemed to be vague and uncertain by reason of the new conditions, though the long recognized prin¬ ciples were in fact unaffected. As a result the discussions became endless and the correspondence filled hundreds of pages and the memoranda on the subjects in controversy covered hundreds more. The superiority of Great Britain on the ocean was manifest from the very beginning of the war. The menace of the British Grand Fleet kept the German Navy off the sea while the British cruisers drove German commercial ships to their home ports, or else forced them to take refuge in the harbors of neutral countries. No vessel, public or private, could enter or leave the German ports on the North Sea. The blockade thus established by the British Navy was complete. No direct sea-route between Germany and a neutral country remained open except that from Sweden through the Baltic Sea which was hazardous on account of the Russian gunboats in¬ festing those waters, and that along the coast of the Netherlands and Denmark. While the German ports were sealed to commerce, the blockade was, however, only partially effective, because goods could be shipped to Denmark and the Netherlands and from those countries transported overland across international boundaries into the German Empire. The futility of bottling up the German ports and the Belgian ports occupied by the Germans while trade-routes through neutral territory were open was evident. The British Government proceeded to work out plans which would close all possible avenues by which goods could reach Germany, realizing with much foresight that commercial isolation of the enemy would be a powerful, if not the most powerful, factor in winning the war. The blockade of an insular country or of one with an extensive seaboard presents little physical difficulty to a nation possessing a large navy, for the method of enforcing it is simple and definite, but the blockade of an inland country with neutral countries lying between it and the ocean is a very complex problem. Protected by this neutral territory from attacks by sea, a belligerent may also



utilize that territory for the passage of goods, unless the neutral objects and is strong enough to prevent it. How then is it possible to lay a blockade against an enemy country which is located inland ? How can such a blockade be made effective without controlling the trade of the neutral countries adjacent to enemy territory? Those were the questions facing the British, and perplexing questions they were. Before the blockade began to be extended to neutral ports and while it was practically confined to German seaports on the North Sea, the question of what articles were contraband and liable to seizure and condemnation was of chief importance. On August 4, 1914, the British Government issued lists of the articles which it declared it intended to treat as absolute contraband and as condi¬ tional contraband; but before the end of October these lists were materially amended by increasing the items of absolute contraband from twelve to twenty-six. In December, three more items were appended to the schedule, and in March, 1915, eight additional ones were declared. The extensive list of October caused great dissatisfaction among Americans engaged in trade with the neutral countries of northern Europe, because neutral vessels engaged in innocent commerce were intercepted and taken into British ports. There the cargoes were condemned and confiscated as contraband on direct evidence or more often on the presumption that the goods on board were ultimately destined for Germany though consigned in the bills of lading to persons and companies of neutral nationality. In pursuing this drastic policy, based generally on suspicion rather than actual proofs, the difference between absolute and conditional contraband was practically ignored so that foodstuffs, wool, cotton, metals, etc., were considered by the British Government liable to seizure. As the articles of contraband listed in the schedules in¬ creased, the vigilance and activities of the British naval authorities increased also, while the proceedings in the British prize courts became more and more severe in dealing with the ships and cargoes destined to neutral ports from which there was possible access overland to German territory. American shippers and shipping interests were greatly exasperated and complained angrily of the treatment which they were receiving. The Department of State was bombarded with hundreds of protests and with insistent de¬ mands that the government protect American owners in their rights and save them from the pecuniary losses which they were suffering as a consequence of the high-handed methods of the British, both



in declaring articles contraband which under the rules of interna¬ tional law were non-contraband and also in condemning cargoes destined to neutral countries. While the majority of the complainants were undoubtedly en¬ gaged in legitimate trade with neutrals, there were not a few who sought to send supplies to Germany by these indirect routes, and there were others whose interests were materially affected by being deprived of the German market, since its loss reduced prices and made difficult the disposal of surplus articles of trade at a fair profit. Though the majority had the better reasons for complaint, being innocent of any purpose to send goods into Germany, it was the minority, whose goods were destined for the German market, who were loudest in their protests and most persistent in sending their senators and representatives and attorneys to the Department of State to demand vigorous action by the government. Knowing, or at least suspecting, that pro-German sentiment or purely selfish interest was at the bottom of these numerous demands, I would have been disposed to ignore them, except for the fact that so many innocent Americans were suffering from acts similar to those which inspired the intemperate language of the minority. In December, 1914, a vigorous protest was sent to the British Government as to the unwarranted and illegal interferences with American trade going to and from neutral countries. The Ameri¬ can note indicated in no uncertain terms the irritation which was being caused in the United States by the new type of blockade established by Great Britain, which so injuriously affected legiti¬ mate trade between neutral countries and gave the Allies oppor¬ tunity to purchase supplies for themselves at reduced prices. This was the beginning of a long and voluminous correspondence which continued down to the time that the United States severed diplo¬ matic relations with the German Empire on February 3, 1917. While this extended and highly technical controversy was taking place, forming substantial grounds for future claims against Great Britain, the use of the submarine against commercial vessels had developed into a very real menace, for thousands of tons of shipping were being sunk every week. This introduced a new factor into the problem of dealing with neutral ships intercepted by British cruisers on the high seas. At the very time that the British Govern¬ ment was vigorously demanding that new conditions did not relieve the German submarines from strict compliance with the accepted rule of “visit and search,” the British naval authorities declared that they could not comply with the rule themselves as the new



conditions resulting from submarine warfare forced them to modify it to meet these conditions. The grounds for modifications were these: In order to visit a ship for the purpose of determining her nationality and of searching her for the purpose of determining whether or not she carried contraband of war, it was necessary for the ship and for the cruiser as well to lie to; a vessel at sea, when not in motion, was an easy target for a submarine and liable to be torpedoed; and, in order to avoid this danger to the cruiser as well as to the vessel intercepted, the latter had to be taken into port before being visited and searched. There was much force in this argument, but, as long as the British Government insisted that the Germans should comply with the rule of visit and search on the high seas, they were hardly in a position to assert that they had a right to modify the same rule by refusing to visit and search while at sea. The United States had, in the circumstances, to adhere to the rule as it stood and to protest against either belligerent modifying it to suit its own necessities. The British authorities, however, proceeded with their policy regardless of protests and complaints. Neutral ships were inter¬ cepted 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. Even a vessel which was finally permitted to proceed on her voyage, was often detained so long a time that the profits to the owners or charterers were eaten up by the additional expenses of lying in port and by the loss of the use of the vessels during the period of detention. If the examinations had been promptly made and if the law of the high seas had been rigorously observed in the matter of search after the ships had been brought into port, there would have been less complaint and less bitterness toward the British Government. But the British authori¬ ties 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 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 violation of the law of nations. The principal port to which vessels plying between the United States and Scandinavian countries were usually sent by the British cruisers was Kirkwall in Scotland. The extent to which this prac¬ tice was carried as well as the needless length of the detentions is shown by a list appended to our note of October 21, 1915, which



shows that from March eleventh to June fifteenth of that year, a period of ninety-six days, two hundred and fifty-seven vessels were detained, the detentions being from two or three days up to fifteen days and, in some cases, even as long as thirty days. While the argument advanced in justification of these detentions was the one I have given, there was an increasing belief that there was more to it than the prevention of goods reaching the Central Powers. There grew up the suspicion in many quarters that the British authorities desired to make trade between American and the Scandinavian neutrals unprofitable as well as difficult. The primary purpose seemed to be to force vessels engaged in that trade to abandon it and trade with British or French ports, thereby augmenting the merchant marine engaged in commerce with the Entente Powers, the tonnage of which was being seriously reduced by the increasing activity of the German submarines that swarmed about the British Isles. To the same end the so-called “bunkering agreements” were employed, for they were used to keep neutral shipping on the eastern side of the Atlantic. Among other restraints instituted by the British authorities were the censorships placed upon cable communications and upon the mails carried upon neutral vessels proceeding to neutral European countries. While the censoring of American cablegrams, both out¬ going and incoming, was alleged to be for the sole purpose of preventing information helpful to the Central Powers from reach¬ ing their governments or their representatives and agents in neutral countries, the arbitrary way in which the British censors handled the messages was most irritating and caused general dissatisfaction among American senders and other neutrals. Not only were cable¬ grams, destined to neutral European countries and sent in plain language, detained until they were studied in London to see if they contained hidden information for Berlin or Vienna, but mes¬ sages of American business men sent to South American countries via the Azores were held up, repeated to London and examined there on the ground that they might, if sent to South America, be repeated to Spain from Brazil and sent from Spain by wireless to Germany. The possibility of forwarding military information or transferring credits by this roundabout way seemed very remote, and naturally there were many speculations in the United States as to whether or not it was the real reason for this questionable extension of the censorship and for the careful scrutiny given to manifestly innocuous messages, since the censoring seemed to go far beyond the requirements of military and naval affairs.



The conclusion reached by many Americans having business interests in foreign countries was that the British military censor¬ ship was employed to collect information concerning the commer¬ cial and trade relations of American concerns in various foreign countries in order that British business might use this information for its own benefit. The disclosure of trade secrets, contracts and other dealings of Americans would naturally be of great value to British companies operating in the same markets. Reports reached the Department of State from several sources that all cablegrams relating to trade with Scandinavian and South American countries were sent by the British censors to the London Board of Trade and were allowed to go forward or were detained at the direction of the Board. It was further said that the infor¬ mation concerning American trade and commercial activities gath¬ ered in this way was distributed by the Board of Trade among private British concerns according to their special interests. While these reports lacked actual proof and although Ambassador Page strenuously denounced them as false and unbelievable, there were certain long delays in the forwarding of messages after reaching the British censor’s office, which worked to the direct benefit of British competitors, and which appeared to be needless if the purpose of the censoring was only to determine their innocent character. The censoring of the mails carried on neutral vessels was an¬ other phase of the same controversy. In many ways this was a more aggravating proceeding than the censorship of cable messages, since the latter were transmitted by British companies which had legal control over such messages, while the mails were wholly in the hands of neutrals and only came into British hands through unlawful interference with neutral ships and their cargoes by the British naval authorities. By treaty and international usage sealed mail on neutral vessels on the high seas had, prior to the Great War, been considered and treated as inviolate, but the possi¬ bility of sending information to the Central Powers through the medium of letters addressed to adjoining neutral countries and also of sending much needed articles, such as cotton, rubber, etc., in large sealed packages by the same route, made the distinction between sealed and unsealed mail unreasonable. While the United States was bound to protest against this violation by Great Britain of the established international rule in regard to the opening and examining of sealed mail, I confess that it was done half-heartedly as a matter of form and with no intention to force the issue, because the British had strong reasons for their course of action.




reduction of postage and the consequent increased use of the mails had changed conditions so that the rules governing the subject had become obsolete. There were ample grounds to protest against the unlawful forcing of neutral vessels to enter a British port, the removal of the mail pouches which they carried, the opening and reading of sealed letters in the censor’s offices, the frequent detention of important communications, money-orders and drafts on foreign banks, which required prompt delivery, and especially the unwarrantable de¬ tention, though unopened, of diplomatic and consular mail pro¬ ceeding to and from Europe in special pouches under seal of the Department of State. As was said in the American protest of January 4, 1916, this practice was “generally regarded in this country as vexatiously inquisitorial and without compensating mili¬ tary advantage to Great Britain.” The British practice was to remove the mail from a neutral vessel, after the vessel had been compelled to leave its course and proceed to a port of Great Britain, instead of examining the mail while the vessel was on the high seas. When the vessel reached port, the pouches of general mail were taken out of her and sent to one of the censor’s offices where they were opened and the con¬ tents examined by a corps of clerks, many of whom were young and inexperienced. All letters, which seemed to these clerks to be of a doubtful character, were laid aside for future consideration. This examination sometimes occupied several days and the mail was not returned to the vessel until the contents of all the pouches which she carried had been examined. The consequences were that much innocent mail never went forward because of some slight sus¬ picion in the mind of a clerk, who was often incompetent and over¬ cautious ; and the rest of the mail, which finally passed the censor, was long delayed by reason of the vast number of letters from the same pouches which were opened and read. When it was pointed out that the pouches should have been opened and the mail examined on the vessel, the sealed letters remaining unopened, the reply of the British Government was that, as the vessel had “touched at a British port,” the British statutes applied and the mail could be legally removed from the vessel, opened and censored. To say the least this reply was absurd in view of the fact that the vessel had been compelled by the British naval forces to leave the high seas and enter the British port against the will of its master. Of course to obtain territorial jurisdiction by an unlawful use of force, and then to appeal to that jurisdiction



as a ground for acts which were illegal on the high seas, was a preposterous excuse. The very fact that it was seriously advanced showed to what straits the British Government was put in order to justify its illegal conduct. The same suspicion as to commercial reasons for the British detention and examination of the mails between the United States and the neutral countries of northern Europe which existed as to the censorship of cablegrams was very generally held by Americans engaged in legitimate commerce with those countries. It was felt that many letters of purely business nature and wholly innocent of a contraband character were copied and the copies sent to the Lon¬ don Board of Trade for its information and for such use as it might deem advisable in advancing British commercial interests. It goes without saying that such a use of the censorship, if it took place, was most reprehensible. Cases were brought to my attention which impressed me at the time as confirming the suspicion that the London Board of Trade was reading a lot of American commercial mail which it had no right to see and was passing it on to British companies and con¬ cerns in order that they might know what their American competi¬ tors were doing and regulate their own business with foreign countries to meet the situation. In spite of the fact that the Ameri¬ can Ambassador emphatically denied that the British were engaged in such improper practices and said that they were fabrications of German sympathizers, the circumstances seemed to justify the suspicions. I shall not attempt to summarize the disputes which arose over the British Trading with the Enemy Act of December, 1915, the obnoxious blacklists, the “bunkering agreements,” which were in¬ tended to keep neutral shipping on the east side of the Atlantic, the Netherlands Overseas Trust, and the other restraints placed upon trade, by which Great Britain and her allies sought to make the economic blockade of Germany complete and to prevent goods and products of all sorts from reaching the German people. Most of the questions which were raised were interesting from a purely legal standpoint, but I fear that a discussion of them would be found very wearisome to the average reader. While they necessarily occupied much of the time of the law offices of the Department of State, the practical results of the correspondence were insignificant, for Great Britain continued her policy of tightening the blockade and closing every possible channel by which articles could find their way into Germany. 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. Germany was trying to starve the British peo¬ ple by destroying British commerce, and Great Britain was trying to starve the German people by closing her avenues of trade. I have already mentioned that in dealing with the British Gov¬ ernment 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 diplo¬ matic correspondence gave place to action. There was another reason for prolonging discussion and avoiding too rigid an attitude, a reason which grew out of the same conviction, and of which I often thought as I studied the correspondence. On more than one occasion I felt concern lest we had gone too far when it looked as if the positions assumed by us were closing the door to further discussion. If my conviction was right as to the United States’ entry into the war, and I never doubted it after the sinking of the Lusitania, it was of the highest importance that we should not become a belligerent with our hands too tightly tied by what we had written. We would presumably wish to adopt some of the policies and prac¬ tices, which the British had adopted, though certainly not all of them, for our object would be the same as theirs, and that was to break the power of Germany and destroy the morale of the German people by an economic isolation, which would cause them to lack the very necessaries of life. If we went too far in insisting that Great Britain must cease certain practices as violative of our neu¬ tral rights, our utterances would certainly be cited against us by other neutrals if we, as belligerents, attempted to do the same thing. While our conduct might be illegal, we would not be flagrantly inconsistent. That reason was never lost sight of during the correspondence which passed between the two governments concerning the British restraints upon American trade. The notes that were sent were long and exhaustive treatises which opened up new subjects of discus¬ sion rather than closing those in controversy. Short and emphatic notes were dangerous. Everything was submerged in verbosity. It was done with deliberate purpose. It insured continuance of the controversies and left the questions unsettled, which was necessary in order to leave this country free to act and even to act illegally when it entered the war. With increasing pressure from the American public and insist-



ence by more and more senators, representatives and other prom¬ inent officials that the State Department do something drastic to relieve our commercial interests from British interference, and with my own conviction that the United States would ultimately be at war with Germany and ought, therefore, not to bring its con¬ troversies with the British Government to a climax by presenting a demand which would amount to an ultimatum, the situation was a difficult one. It required careful thought, patience and deliberation to work out a policy which would respond in a measure to American public opinion and at the same time conform to the conviction that our country could not afford in any circumstances to have an open rupture of our relations with Great Britain over illegal practices. This was the state of affairs in the spring of 1916 when the German Government, by the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare, temporarily relieved the American Government from the growing popular demand for action against Great Britain. The demand had reached a point where Congressional action was about to be sought. Germany’s action diverted the attention of the Ameri¬ can people from the violation of the rights of property to the more serious violation of the right of life. The change in public senti¬ ment, which took place at that time, resulted directly from the torpedoing of the French steamer Sussex engaged in passenger service across the English Channel. It brought the submarine controversy between the United States and Germany to a new crisis.


The renewal of submarine warfare in its most obnoxious form began in March, 1916, in accordance with the declarations of the German and Austro-Hungarian Governments made on February tenth. It will be remembered that those declarations were to the effect that armed merchant ships of the Allied Powers would be treated as auxiliary cruisers and that, having the character of naval vessels, they would be attacked without warning. The diffi¬ culty of conforming to the restrictive features of the declared policy lay in the inability of a submarine commander to determine through a periscope the nationality of a merchant ship and whether it did or did not carry a gun. No one, knowing the way in which German officers interpret their orders and the thoroughness with which they do what they are directed to do, needed to waste time in speculating as to the manner in which the new submarine policy would be carried out. If there was the least doubt whether a merchantman was armed, it was a foregone conclusion that the officer in command of a German sub¬ marine would take no chances but would assume that the vessel carried an armament. The result was that German submarines were, to all intents, directed to begin a campaign of indiscriminate warfare against all commercial vessels presumed to be of enemy nationality, a practice which would make worthless the assurance given to the United States in the summer of 1915 that “liners” would be immune from undersea attacks. As a consequence it would be necessary to suspend the negotiations for a settlement of the Lusitania case, since new controversies would certainly arise. Fur¬ thermore, neutral vessels would be in constant peril, for British merchantmen claimed the right to fly a neutral flag as a ruse de guerre, a practice to which the United States had strongly objected. A critical state of affairs was bound to result. What was anticipated actually occurred. German submarines began their operations in the neighborhood of the British Isles, their commanders assuming, as was expected, that commercial vessels were armed. In general, they gave no warning, but attacked suddenly, torpedoing and sinking unarmed as well as armed ships.




On March sixteenth the British ship Berwindvale was sunk; on the twenty-first, the Canadian Englishman was sunk; on the twentyfourth, the French steamer Sussex was attacked; on the twentyseventh, the ship Manchester Engineer was sunk; and on the twenty-eighth the British Eagle Point. These vessels are specially mentioned because on all of them were American citizens. The German Government admitted attacking all these vessels except the Sussex, claiming that in every case the persons on board were given ample opportunity to reach a place of safety before any of the vessels sank, a fact which was denied, because it was obvious that an open boat in a rough sea and many miles from the nearest land could not be considered a place of safety. The attack on the Sussex was, however, different from the others. In that case the vessel was a passenger steamer well known to be engaged in cross-channel service: a ferryboat, in fact. She was torpedoed without any warning whatsoever. While the German Government so frankly admitted the attacks on the other vessels, which might have been expected since all the submarines in those cases operated in part on the surface and disclosed their nationality, it attempted to avoid responsibility for the torpedoing of the Sussex by asserting that no vessel similar to that steamer was attacked by a German submarine in the locality where the disaster took place. The admission as to the torpedoing of the other vessels and the attempted avoidance of the charge in relation to the Sussex were contained in a note from the German Foreign Office dated April tenth. As soon as the report of the torpedoing of the steamer came to the Department of State every means of investigation was em¬ ployed to learn the truth. The affidavits of numerous survivors, especially Americans, were taken immediately after the disaster and the reports of the French officers of the Sussex were obtained. In addition to this testimony, the naval and military attaches of the American Embassy at Paris were sent to Boulogne to examine the vessel, the purpose being to find out if there was any evidence on the vessel itself to show exactly what and who had caused the explosion. The reports and affidavits were at once forwarded to Washington and by the middle of April we were in possession of evidence which left no doubt as to the facts in the case. Evidence collected disclosed the following: The French steamer Sussex, which was engaged in the channel passenger service between Folkstone and Dieppe, as it had been for several years, left Folkstone about one-thirty on the afternoon of



March 24, 1916, with three hundred and twenty-five passengers and a crew of fifty-three men. The vessel had no armament, carried no explosives, had never been used as a troopship and was not on the guarded route followed by military transports plying between Great Britain and France. About three o’clock the captain and other officers on the bridge of the Sussex saw the wake of an ap¬ proaching torpedo at some distance from the vessel. It was also seen by several passengers. An effort was instantly made to swing the bow of the vessel to the starboard so as to dodge the projectile, which was rushing toward it from the port side, but there was not time to accomplish this maneuver. The torpedo struck the bow, exploded, and tore away the entire forward part of the steamer as far aft as the bridge, killing and injuring about eighty persons. The Sussex was kept from sinking by her watertight bulkheads. In the examination of the damaged vessel at Boulogne by American officers fifteen pieces of a torpedo were found in the debris on board and among them were two screw-bolts stamped with the letter K and certain numbers such as were used only on German torpedoes. In addition to this proof other fragments showed the red paint peculiar to the war heads of German torpedoes. I later saw and examined these fragments, which were forwarded to the Navy Department for inspection. The evidence that the disaster was caused by a torpedo fired by a submarine and that the torpedo was of German manufacture was conclusive. There could be no doubt, therefore, that a German submarine commander had committed the wanton deed, knowing, as he must have known, that the steamer was engaged in innocent passenger traffic. Nothing could have been more malicious, brutal and monstrous than this sudden attack without warning upon the Sussex. It was so heartless, so utterly without excuse even on the ground of mistake, that it aroused intense indignation in official circles in the United States as well as among the people at large, who were already bitterly incensed at the renewal of indiscriminate submarine warfare. While at the first our information as to the facts was incomplete, coming piecemeal by cable, it was sufficient to convince me that the case of the Sussex was one which would result in a very serious crisis, raising anew the lawlessness and inhumanity of the methods employed by the Germans. With that thought in mind I wrote the President on March twenty-seventh, three days after the Sussex was attacked, the following letter:



“March 27, 1916. “My dear Mr. President: “All the information which we are receiving in regard to the sinking of the Sussex in the English Channel, by which several Americans were injured and some undoubtedly killed, indi¬ cates that the vessel was torpedoed by a German submarine. If this information is corroborated as the investigation pro¬ ceeds it will present a very serious situation in our relations with Germany. I think we should determine what course should be taken in the event that the evidence points very strongly to the culpability of the Germans. “Every effort undoubtedly will be made by the Allies to prove that the vessel was torpedoed, and I believe that they will make a strong case, judging from the telegrams we have thus far received. On the other hand, I feel sure that the Ger¬ man Government will deny the charge and assert that a float¬ ing mine of English origin caused the disaster. There will be thus a flat contradiction of statements as to the facts. “I do not believe that the government can remain inactive because of this contradictory evidence. There will be a strong demand that something should be done and, personally, I would be disposed to view such a demand as justifiable. “The argument which will meet with general favor will be that the sinking [sic] of the Sussex is similar to that of the sinking of other vessels in the last few days, and is a direct result of the greater activity of submarines, in accordance with the new German policy which went into effect March first; and that even if the evidence of torpedoing was absent the pre¬ sumption raised by the announced policy of Germany and the submarine attacks of the past ten days makes it almost certain that the vessel was torpedoed. “Assuming that Germany will fail to establish conclusively the innocence of her submarine commanders I do not see how we can avoid taking some decisive step. We can no longer temporize in the matter of submarine warfare when Ameri¬ cans 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. Whatever we determine to do must be in the line of action and it must indicate in no uncertain terms that the present method of submarine warfare can no longer be tolerated.



“Proceeding on the assumption that the Sussex was tor¬ pedoed, the action which seems to me the most practicable would be to demand the immediate recall of Count von Bernstorff and the severance of diplomatic relations with Germany. This action might be made conditional upon the German Gov¬ ernment unequivocably admitting the illegality of submarine warfare in general, paying a just indemnity for the Americans killed and injured, and guaranteeing that the present method of warfare will cease. Such a conditional demand would be in the nature of an ultimatum which could very properly include a time limit at the expiration of which, in case of failure to comply with the conditions, Count von Bernstorff would be given his passports. “I realize that this action is drastic but I believe that to be patient longer would be misconstrued both at home and abroad. We have already shown in the case of the Lusitania an earnest desire to avoid trouble with Germany, and now, after ten months of negotiations and on the eve of an amicable settlement, Germany has renewed the method of warfare against which we so strongly protested. In these circum¬ stances I do not see how we can avoid the issue and remain inactive. The honor of the United States and the duty of the government to its citizens require firm and decisive action. “While I have advanced these views on an assumption as to the sinking of the Sussex I think that the assumption will be justified. Doubtless the German Government would view the breaking off of diplomatic relations as an unfriendly act and might possibly go so far as to declare war against the United States, yet, with the probable consequences fully in mind, I can see no other course open to us. The case arises at a most unfortunate time in view of the state of our Mexican affairs and also in view of the proposed treaty which is receiving the consideration of the Danish Government. If we could, con¬ sistently with the dignity of the United States and our duty as a government, delay action I would favor delay, but, in view of all the facts, if the assumption of German responsibility is established, I do not believe a long delay is possible. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”

Mr. Wilson replied on March thirtieth, stating that his impres¬ sions were “not quite the same” as mine and that he thought we



should have “a personal conference” in order to determine a course of action within the lines of our “settled policy.” The day following that on which the President replied to my letter, (Friday, March thirty-first), there was a Cabinet meeting, at which I had opportunity to exchange only a few words with him in regard to the Sussex case. He was disposed to await further information before deciding upon or even intimating in a tentative way a course of action. This evident unwillingness to plan for the future caused me to feel anxious as to what he would decide to do when the time came to act. The next two days were spent by the President cruising on the lower Potomac in the presidential yacht Mayflower. He returned on Monday, and at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, April fourth, the situation caused by the wrecking of the Sussex was fully discussed; and there was a general con¬ sensus of opinion that our relations with Germany were in a very critical state, though views differed as to what our course of action should be. The following day I received from the French Am¬ bassador the official report of the French authorities on the case, and I at once prepared a draft of a note to the German Govern¬ ment. On the afternoon of the sixth I took the draft to the White House, where it was the subject of an hour’s conference with the President and Colonel House, who was the former’s guest at the time, as he generally was whenever Mr. Wilson was faced with a critical situation. This draft note charged that “the Imperial Government, through its naval authorities, had broken its solemn pledge to the Govern¬ ment of the United States and resorted to a method of warfare which invites the condemnation of the civilized world.” It expressed the abhorrence of the American Government and people for the German “policy of wanton and indiscriminate slaughter” and the resentment which they felt at “the breach of faith of which the Imperial Government is guilty.” It spoke of the restraint and patience shown by this government in the previous negotiations concerning submarine warfare and asserted that its moderation had been apparently misconstrued by the German Government. The following paragraph shows the policy which I wished to be adopted in dealing with the case: “In view of the manifest intention of the Imperial Govern¬ ment to continue this lawless and inhuman method of warfare it becomes, therefore, my solemn duty to inform Your Excel-



lency that the Government of the United States is compelled to sever diplomatic relations with the Imperial German Gov¬ ernment until such time as that Government shall announce its purpose to discontinue and shall actually discontinue the employment of submarines against commercial vessels of belligerent as well as of neutral nationality.” Before quoting the succeeding and last paragraph of the note I should state that the draft was in the form of an instruction to Ambassador Gerard and contained the text of a note which he was to deliver verbatim to the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The last paragraph is as follows: “I am, therefore, instructed to request my passports and directed to depart from Germany without delay; and I am further instructed to announce to Your Excellency that the German Ambassador at Washington will forthwith be handed his passports and requested to take his immediate departure from the United States.” As nothing was settled at our conference, and as the President continued undecided what course to take, I addressed him again on April tenth, four days after I handed my draft to him, sending him further statements which I suggested should be inserted in it. They were prepared because of certain things which the President had said during our conference. I will quote a single paragraph to show that it in no way lessened the force of the note as originally prepared. “Even if the Sussex was torpedoed by mistake or in delib¬ erate disobedience of orders, the fact remains that the act is in accord with the spirit manifested by the German naval authori¬ ties in their general policy and practice of submarine warfare. In view of this fact no apology, no disavowal, no admission of wrongdoing, no punishment of a guilty officer, and no pay¬ ment of indemnity will satisfy the Government of the United States. Furthermore, the question of submarine warfare, which has for so many months been under discussion, is no longer debatable. The evidence of the determined purpose of the Imperial Government in the employment of submarines against peaceable merchant vessels is too certain and too plain



to require explanation, and it is too manifestly lawless to admit of argument.” Mr. Wilson was not satisfied with the note which I had drawn or with the amendments which I prepared, because, as he told me, he considered the language too severe and uncompromising. He took out of the note several of the stronger phrases or modified them so that they were less defiant in tone and couched in more conciliatory terms. Whether this was wise or not is a matter of opinion. Personally I was greatly disappointed, because I con¬ sidered the time had come to speak without subterfuge or evasion. The case called for vigorous and uncompromising language. The President’s redraft ought not to be judged, however, from the course of events which took place months later, but from the standpoint of conditions which existed at that time. It should be remembered that the country was not prepared for war, that the President had refused to support the “preparedness program” of Secretary Garrison, which had caused that energetic and efficient official to resign the portfolio of war in February and that the Mexican situation was critical. The possibility of mediating be¬ tween the belligerents also powerfully influenced Mr. Wilson, as I believe it did Colonel House, in favor of continued friendly rela¬ tions with both sides. In the circumstances I could understand, though I could not endorse, the reasons why my draft note did not win the President’s approval. It was, from his standpoint, too plain-spoken, too blunt and too final. It left no loophole for debate. It said to Germany, “You have broken your solemn promise and must take the consequences.” While I acceded to the President’s wishes, because he was the one on whom, under the Constitution, the responsibility for our foreign policies ultimately rested, the closing sentence of his redraft I could not permit to go without challenge, as it seemed to me to weaken the whole note far too much and give opportunity for, if it did not invite, further correspondence, to which I was radically opposed.

The sentence read as follows:

“Unless the Imperial Government should now immediately declare its intention to abandon its present practices of sub¬ marine warfare and return to a scrupulous observance of the practices clearly prescribed by the law of nations, the Govern¬ ment of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the German Empire altogether.”



In regard to this important sentence I wrote the President on April twelfth after conferring with Mr. Polk and Mr. Woolsey, my confidential advisers, who strongly supported my views: “It seems to me to say that we must sever relations unless Germany ceases her submarine practices weakens the communi¬ cation very much. The impression I get is this, that we say we will wait and see if you sink another vessel with Americans on board. If you do we will recall our Ambassador. Why should we postpone to the happening of another outrage action which I feel will do much to prevent such outrage? It impresses me we are actually endangering the lives of our citizens by such a course . . President Wilson was, however, unwilling to abandon the idea contained in his redraft as he indicated to me in a conversation which I had with him after Cabinet meeting on April fourteenth. However, I did not give up hope of obtaining a change of language in the sentence which was one that was to determine our future policy. For that reason I wrote him on the fifteenth: “I have been going over the ending of the instruction to Gerard in the submarine matter and I am more and more con¬ vinced that the formula which you propose in your redraft, beginning—‘Unless the Imperial Government should now, etc.’ raises some serious objections. “In the first place, the phrase—‘return to a scrupulous observance of the principles clearly prescribed by the law of nations’—offers an opportunity to raise the question as to what are the clearly prescribed principles. As you know, these are not very well defined except as to visit and search. In addition to this, the whole question of the treatment of armed and unarmed merchantmen will be raised. There is a decided difference of opinion as to the conversion of a merchant vessel into a warship. I am afraid if we employ that language that we will be involved unavoidably in a discussion of that ques¬ tion, which I assume we both wish to avoid. Any phrase which raises a reasonable difference of opinion invites dis¬ cussion, and the word ‘immediately’ would be nullified. “If we are to follow substantially the language of the redraft, I would suggest its amendment as follows: “ ‘Unless the Imperial Government immediately declares



that it abandons its present method of submarine warfare against passenger and freight-carrying vessels, the Govern¬ ment of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the German Empire.’ . . The note in its final form with the modifications and amendments came from Mr. Wilson on the seventeenth and the next day was coded and sent to Ambassador Gerard for delivery to Herr von Jagow, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The sentence concern¬ ing which the President and I had exchanged views went forward in substantially the language of my last letter. There were other changes, many others, but this one, to which I have given so much space, was the one of real importance, as it declared what the American Government intended to do if the German Government failed to accede to our demands, and to accede promptly. It was in the nature of an ultimatum for which I had so earnestly pressed, though it lacked the force of the one contained in the note which I had originally drafted. I have gone thus minutely into the correspondence and conversa¬ tions between President Wilson and myself concerning a single important sentence in the so-called “Sussex Note” for two reasons. First, because it shows the manner in which the most important communications to the belligerent governments were drafted, the careful scrutiny given to every phrase and word, and the way in which collaboration entered into the preparation of an important note. The second reason is that our interchange of views in regard to the substance and language of this particular sentence refutes the all too common charge that the President was unreasonably stubborn and declined to consider suggestions or to listen to criticism of anything which he had written. In this particular case it will be noted that Mr. Wilson at first rejected my suggested modification of the note clinging to the expressions which he had first used, but, when I advanced new reasons for changing them and proposed a formula embodying my idea in language which closely followed his, he accepted the amendment. There were other portions of the same note, where he changed my expressions and where I modified his. In fact the drafts which we exchanged were pretty well cut to pieces, and the final one was much like a patch-work quilt there were so many parentheses, interlineations and deletions. Mr. Wilson suffered in the estimation of many people from the unjustified popular impression that he resisted all advice and was



impervious to reasoned counsel and logical argument. As I have previously said in these pages, the impression is wrong. He was not wilfully obstinate or unreasonable. Possibly the changes, which Mr. Wilson found the most difficult to make and which it was the hardest to get him to make, related to particular words and phrases which he had written into a docu¬ ment. I do not say that he had pride of language. I am not positive that he had. But he did have a peculiar fondness for certain words which appealed to his sense of euphony or fitness and for certain phrases which he had coined. Some of these words were used in an unusual way, some appeared to me incongruous, some seemed extravagant, and some quite out of place. Nevertheless, Mr. Wilson liked them, and they had much to do with the “Wilsonian style” for they were repeated again and again in his writings and public utterances. Recognizing that the changing of words or particular phrases used by the President was especially distasteful to him and that sug¬ gested changes of this sort he resisted and sometimes seemed to re¬ sent, I always endeavored, in offering modifications or amendments to anything which he had written, to preserve his language just as far as it was possible and still change the sense to conform to the thought which I had in mind. If the style of expression was varied but little and if his favorite words were retained, it was much easier to persuade the President to modify the thoughts expressed in a note or other document. The strong note of this government, amounting to an ultimatum, which went forward to Berlin on April eighteenth, was hailed by the American people with general expressions of approval and satisfaction, as was the President’s address to Congress on the nine¬ teenth, which was substantially a paraphrase of the note and a bitter and unqualified arraignment of the German Government for its lawless and inhuman submarine warfare. The German-language press and other newspapers with proGerman and pacifist tendencies declared that the German Govern¬ ment could not yield to the American demands, that the President was influenced by the “big interests” and desired to help Great Britain for the sake of our financiers and ammunition manufac¬ turers, and that our declared neutrality was hopelessly one-sided. The New Yorker Staats-Zeitung, in closing an editorial on the crisis said: “Against the impending deluge our only bulwark is Congress, whose wisdom, level-headedness and patriotism command our implicit confidence.” And Hearst’s New York American



uttered the hope that “the sober good sense of Congress can find a way to obviate the war the President seems to desire.” The attitude of Congress was the uncertain quantity in the situa¬ tion. Whether the two Houses would stand firmly behind the Presi¬ dent and declare war against Germany in the event that the Imperial Government assumed a defiant attitude and refused to accede to our demands caused much concern to the Administration. Careful personal canvasses of the senators and representatives showed a very large number openly opposed to war and disposed to complain that the President had gone too far by sending an ultimatum to Germany. The German reply was dated May fourth. It contained long and elaborate statements concerning submarine warfare, the law¬ less practices of Germany’s enemies, and the concessions already made by the German Government in regard to the use of sub¬ marines. The important portion of the reply is found in the last four paragraphs which read as follows: “ . . . The German Government, moreover, is prepared to do its utmost to confine the operations of war for the rest of its duration to the fighting forces of the belligerents, thereby also insuring the freedom of the seas, a principle upon which the German Government believes, now as before, to be in agree¬ ment with the Government of the United States. “The German Government, guided by this idea, 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 destruction of merchant vessels recognized by international law, such vessels, 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. “But neutrals can not expect that Germany, forced to fight for her existence, shall, for the sake of neutral interest, 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 international law. Such a demand would be incom¬ patible with the character of neutrality, and the German Government is convinced that the Government of the United States does not think of making such a demand, knowing that the Government of the United States has repeatedly declared



that it is determined to restore the principles of the freedom of the seas, from whatever quarter it is violated. “Accordingly, the German Government is confident that, in consequence of the new orders issued to its naval forces, the Government of the United States will now also consider all impediments removed which may have been in the way of a mutual cooperation towards the restoration of the freedom of the seas during the war as suggested in the note of July 23, 1915, and it does not doubt that the Government of the United States will now demand and insist that the British Government shall forthwith observe the rules of international law universally recognized before the war as they are laid down in the notes presented by the Government of the United States to the British Government on December 28, 1914, and November 5, 1915. Should the steps taken by the Government of the United States not attain 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 German reply was satisfactory to the President. It seemed to be in compliance with our demands, especially the orders issued to submarine commanders. The final paragraph, however, ap¬ peared to me to make the acceptance conditional and subject to withdrawal in the event that the United States did not pursue a certain policy in dealing with Great Britain. I pointed this out to the President and he agreed that the American Government could not accept such a condition, although I believe that he, acting through Colonel House, was at the time placating Bernstorff with the hope that he might attempt to bring about peace negotiations. The American answer, which was sent to Ambassador Gerard on May eighth for delivery to the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs, repudiated the idea contained in the last paragraph of the German reply. The part of the answer which accepted the Ger¬ man compliance with the American demands but emphatically refused to consider any conditions is as follows: “. . . Accepting the Imperial Government’s declaration of its abandonment of the policy which has so seriously menaced the good relations between the two countries, the Government of the United States will rely upon a scrupulous execution hence¬ forth of the now altered policy of the Imperial Government,



such as will remove the principal danger to an interruption of the good relations existing between the United States and Germany. “The Government of the United States feels it necessary to state that it takes it for granted that the Imperial German Government does not intend to imply that the maintenance of its newly announced policy is in any way contingent upon the course or result of diplomatic negotiations between the Gov¬ ernment of the United States and any other belligerent government, notwithstanding the fact that certain passages in the Imperial Government’s note of the 4th instant might appear to be susceptible of that construction. In order, however, to avoid any possible misunderstanding, the Govern¬ ment of the United States notifies the Imperial Government that it can not for a moment entertain, much less discuss, a suggestion that respect by German naval authorities for the rights of citizens of the United States upon the high seas should in any way or in the slightest degree be made contingent upon the conduct of any other government affecting the rights of neutrals and non-combatants. Responsibility in such mat¬ ters is single, not joint, absolute, not relative.”

This final note in the correspondence was prepared in the follow¬ ing manner: The President drafted a reply which he read to me at an interview which we had at the White House on the evening of May seventh. We discussed it at some length and I told Mr. Wilson that there were some portions that I did not like and desired to study further. He acceded to my wishes and I took a copy of his draft to my house. The following day

(May eighth)

I wrote the President this


“My dear Mr. President: “After returning home last evening I took your draft of an answer to the German note and went over it with consider¬ able care. I found on reading it that the same impression I had when we discussed it last evening remained with me— namely, that it expressed satisfaction and gratification, which do not appeal to me. While I think our note should be polite. I feel we should omit any expression of relief on having avoided a break with Germany. I also thought the note was longer



than was necessary and that it should be limited as far as possible. “With these ideas in mind I made another draft of an answer which I am enclosing, together with your original draft. If final decision can be reached early today I will have Gerard instructed to deliver the note and at the same time have it given to the press for publication tomorrow morning. I hope this can be done, for I feel we should delay as little as possible in the matter. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”

Soon after the letter was sent I received Mr. Wilson’s reply in which he said that he was quite content to have the note go out as I had redrafted it. The close of the correspondence relating to the attack on the Sussex was received by the American press and people with varied feelings. Some hailed it as a great diplomatic victory for President Wilson; others grumbled at the tone of the German reply which they considered to be insolent; others declared that the reply was evidently dishonest and that the Germans never intended to keep the promises made; and others, the more radical anti-Teutonic element, asserted that we ought never to accept the word of the German Government and that we should not have gone through the form of making demands upon them, thus giving them a way to avoid a break in diplomatic relations with the United States. I confess that from the first my feelings were not out of harmony with the radical element, for I felt that any other course was only postponing the day when we would enter the war, and that another occasion might not find the temper of the American people so favor¬ able to a break with Germany. The reaction upon Congress, however, was decidedly favorable. There was an evident sense of relief among the members of both Houses that they were not to be called upon, on the eve of an important election, to decide between peace and war. The many who called at the White House and the Department of State to extend their congratulations at the success of American diplomacy and to express their satisfaction that the crisis had passed indicated very clearly the anxiety which had existed at the capital during the month when the outcome of the negotiations with Germany was uncertain and peace or war hung in the balance. There was no doubt that the Administration leaders in Congress



had been very doubtful as to the political wisdom of Mr. Wilson’s policy in handling the situation in view of the approaching presi¬ dential election. The national conventions were only a few weeks away and within two months the campaign would begin. It was only too apparent that a large body of the American people were still opposed to our entrance into the war, and the politicians were fearful of losing the votes of this group in the event that Germany refused to comply with our demands. If the firm stand taken in dealing with Germany forced a sev¬ erance of relations, many Democratic leaders feared that Mr. Wilson would suffer a defeat at the polls in November. Personally I do not think that this would have been the result. In fact I felt then, and I feel now, that if Germany had refused to listen to our demands and, as a result, Bernstorff had been sent home, the re-election of the President would have been assured beyond ques¬ tion, and there would have been none of the uncertainty which prevailed as the election day drew near and none of the nerve-rack¬ ing hours after the polls closed in November, 1916, when the result was so long in doubt. If this country had been at war with Germany when the ballots were cast, President Wilson would have been overwhelmingly elected. At least so I read the history of this country and so I understand the temper of the American people when called upon to approve a vigorous foreign policy and to support an administration which is engaged in the conduct of a war resulting from such a policy. Approval and support of the government in power under such conditions become in the public mind a standard of patriotism.


to obtain a comprehensive view of the negotiations


ing to a settlement of the controversy arising out of the sinking of the Lusitania, it is necessary to turn back to the autumn of 1915, when the German Government gave its formal assurance that liners would not be sunk without warning. Early in November, 1915, I had an interview with Count von Bernstorff in regard to the Lusitania, in which he seemed doubtful of a satisfactory settlement. This attitude of mind I credited to the fact, of which the Department had been informally advised from Berlin, that his government had disapproved his action in admitting as much as he had admitted in the Arabic case, and had told him that it disapproved the way in which he had handled the situation. I said to him that I thought the matter should be settled because we had already been extremely patient in the matter. He replied that if we insisted upon an admission of liability he did not believe it could be settled. I said that I regretted very much to have him say that as I felt that the question must be settled and very soon. However, the matter dragged on without a word from Bernstorff, so, after waiting two weeks, I requested him to come to the Depart¬ ment. At our interview I informed him that the Lusitania case ought to be promptly brought to a conclusion, as popular feeling had been greatly stirred by the torpedoing of the Ancona. I also said that the blame was falling on Germany, though Austria had in that case admitted liability, because Germany was considered the dominant power in the Central Alliance and, therefore, responsible for its naval program in the Mediterranean as well as in the North Atlantic. During the interview I submitted to the Ambassador a memorandum, containing a proposed formula, which the German Government might use, and which, if it was used, would satisfy the Government of the United States. The essential part of the memo¬ randum is in the following paragraph: “The German Government, having in its instructions to its naval officers, issued subsequent to the event, shown its recogni¬ tion that the sinking of the Lusitania was contrary to the rules of naval warfare and to the principles of humanity, 146



expresses profound regret that citizens of the United States suffered by reason of the act of its naval authorities in sinking the Lusitania, declares it to have been in contravention of international law, and offers to make reparation for the lives of citizens of the United States which were lost, by the payment of a suitable indemnity.” The formula had been previously submitted by me to the Presi¬ dent and he had handed it back to me with the comment that he believed neither of us was satisfied with the formula, but that it was probably the best that could be drawn in the circumstances. He di¬ rected me, therefore, to press it upon the German Government. Bernstorff told me that he would send the formula to his government but that he was doubtful of its admitting liability for the lives of Americans lost on a British vessel. I wrote the President after the in¬ terview, “I am afraid that we are coming to an impasse in the matter of the Lusitania.” I also informed him that I had received reports that the German Ambassador had indicated that it was “his plan or that of his government to prolong the discussion of the question until the American people had forgotten it and this government had let it drop.” I then proceeded to offer the following suggestions to the President: “Assuming that Germany fails to act promptly on the formula which we have suggested or refuses to acknowledge liability for the loss of American lives on the Lusitania, I be¬ lieve that a situation will arise which will call for definite and firm action on our part and that action should be taken with¬ out delay. In order to do this our policy should be determined in advance. It seems to me that we have two courses to pursue. First. To sever diplomatic relations by withdrawing Gerard and by handing Bernstorff his passports. Second. By laying the facts before Congress and stating that, as the action which may be necessary may be of a nature involving the question of war or peace, the matter is laid before the branch of the gov¬ ernment charged with power to declare war. “Probably the first method is the simplest and less liable to commit the government to drastic action. On the other hand the second method would impress the public, I believe, with the fact that the Administration desired the representatives, sup¬ posed to be nearest the people, to determine a question which may precipitate war.”



To these suggestions Mr. Wilson did not directly reply. He did not approve or reject or discuss them. On the contrary he said that he thought that we should proceed with the negotiations and should urge the following points on the German Ambassador: That the matter of the Lusitania was just as important and just as acute as it was on the day when the news of her sinking arrived, and that a failure to secure a satisfactory settlement would disclose the same questions of future action that then lay in the background; that we knew then as a result of the various communications that had passed between the German and American Governments, that the commander of the submarine which sank the Lusitania acted con¬ trary to the spirit of the instructions which had been subsequently given by the Imperial German Admiralty; and that we should re¬ gard a failure to settle this question in the same way in which the sinking of the Arabic was settled to be little less than a repudiation of the assurances given at that time and seem to lead back to the very crisis in our relations that was then avoided. The President’s suggestions in this case were clearly not respon¬ sive to my proposals, a fact which was unusual in my intercourse with him for he customarily was direct in his replies or else remained silent. Furthermore, his ideas did not seem to me helpful, since he practically directed me to proceed along the very lines which I had been following without result and of which I had kept him fully advised. After putting the President’s suggestions into written form and delivering them to the Ambassador, we waited impatiently for the decision of the German Government as to whether or not the formula was acceptable. I wrote Bernstorff several times complain¬ ing of the delay and urging him to obtain at least an indication what the reply would be. Weeks passed without a word from Berlin. On December twenty-ninth I sent Bernstorff a personal note say¬ ing that unless his government immediately replied I would take up the matter formally through our Ambassador at Berlin as “this state of inaction cannot continue much longer.” On December thirty-first, the day following the settlement of the Ancona case and the sinking of the Persia, the Ambassador came to the Department and stated that his government did not consider that the sinking of the Lusitania was a violation of international law, and that, therefore, no liability attached to Germany and she was under no obligation to pay an indemnity. It looked very much as if the negotiation was over and that the hour for action had arrived.

The Second Pan-American Scientific Congress was then



in session, and the President was at Hot Springs, Virginia, and would not return for several days. No step could be taken until he was again in Washington. Before I could again lay the matter before the President and ask for a definite decision of policy, the facts as to the sinking of the Persia were published and people of the United States were stirred by the cruelty of the submarine commander who torpedoed the vessel. Count von Bernstorff realized that the tide of popular feel¬ ing in this country was setting strongly against Germany on account of this outrage, for public opinion held the German Govern¬ ment responsible. On January 7, 1916, he called to see me and we discussed the situation in its various aspects. He handed me during our interview a confidential memorandum dealing with the Lusitania case. In this memorandum it was pointed out that submarine war¬ fare as conducted by Germany was in retaliation for “England’s inhuman war against Germany’s commercial and industrial life,” and that, while neutral rights were affected by German retaliation, the neutrals could have easily avoided this by refraining from using enemy vessels engaged in commerce with Great Britain, a proposal which the German Ambassador had made on several previous occa¬ sions. It was stated that the difference of view between the United States and Germany as to rights would be difficult to reconcile, but that Germany was desirous to preserve amicable relations with the United States, and with that end in view it expressed deep regret for the death of American citizens caused by the sinking of the Lusitania, declaring that, in order to reach an amicable settlement, it was ready to pay an indemnity. Clearly this memorandum in no way complied with this govern¬ ment’s requirements as to the admissions which it deemed essential for the German Government to make. As I wrote the President in transmitting the document to him, “There is lacking any recogni¬ tion of liability since the indemnity which they propose to pay is, in fact, on the basis of comity and not on the basis of right.” In handing back the memorandum on the tenth Mr. Wilson said that he had tried hard to find something in the note out of which a satis¬ factory answer to our demands could be made, but that he had failed. He added that he agreed with me that it was “a concession of grace, and not at all an admission of right.” On the same day, but before Mr. Wilson made these comments, I had another interview with the German Ambassador. He brought me a wireless dispatch from his government, which was in the form



of a memorandum.

The significant portion of the dispatch was the

following: “Since August last and even before, Germany modified sub¬ marine war. If incidents happened they were regrettable mistakes for which due reparation has been [will be] made.” The note which I made of this interview brings out clearly the difference between the two governments which had failed to yield to negotiation: “After I had made a few comments on the dispatch I re¬ ferred directly to the Lusitania case and said that I feared that the proposed note, copy of which he had given me, would not be satisfactory; that the question of indemnity was only impor¬ tant so far as it was an admission of liability; and that, as I read his draft of the note, the indemnity was given as an act of grace and not because Germany was liable for illegal con¬ duct. I told him that I thought it was necessary that Germany should admit liability frankly as that would amount to a disavowal, and disavowal in some form we must have. “He replied that this was a great difficulty on account of Great Britain’s continuance of her illegal blockade and that the German public and many in the government were not willing to abandon the policy of reprisals. “I told him that I did not see that that was at all necessary; that, while there might be justification for retaliation against Great Britain, retaliation was necessarily illegal conduct in a strict sense and that all it was necessary to do was to admit that it was illegal and that insofar as neutrals were concerned it imposed liability on the German Government. I said to him that that was the same course we were taking with regard to Great Britain—that Great Britain’s interruption of trade to Germany was admittedly retaliatory and that it, therefore, was illegal and so far as neutrals were concerned it imposed liability on Great Britain; and that I could not see how we could treat the matter differently with the two governments.” On January 22, 1916, I received a draft of a proposed note by the German Government, which I sent to the President with the comment that it did not seem to me “to be at all satisfactory.” The draft note closed with the following sentence:



“In a spirit of friendship and conciliation, therefore, the Imperial Government, in order to settle definitely the Lusitania incident, declare themselves willing to grant an indemnity for the lives of American citizens which were lost by the sinking of the boat.” Again the German Government failed to admit liability, propos¬ ing to pay an indemnity merely as an act of grace and not because legally obligated to make good the loss caused by unlawful practices. In my letter to the President I wrote: “I shall not see the Ambassador until I have your opinon of this last effort to settle the controversy, but, when I do, I am disposed to tell him very frankly that further conversations will be useless, as they do not appear to bring us any nearer together, and that there seems to be no other course but to make a formal demand upon the German Government for ad¬ mission of illegal conduct by the submarine commander and of liability for the lives of citizens of the United States destroyed by the sinking of the vessel. “It does not seem to me to be in accord with the dignity of this government to continue these informal negotiations which have become purely dilatory and offer no possible middle ground for an agreement. . . .” The same day the President returned the papers which I had sent him, stating that he did not see wherein the memorandum differed from that previously submitted and that he agreed with me entirely that it could not be accepted as a recognition of our rights, as it was only a concession as of grace. However, he asked me to continue the negotiation until a letter from Colonel House arrived on a steamer leaving England on the nineteenth. On the twenty-fifth the German Ambassador came to see me. In my note of our conversation I wrote: “The Ambassador said that they had offered to pay the indemnity and he thought it might be concluded from that that they recognized that a right had been invaded, and that, there¬ fore, there was liability. “I told him I did not read the memorandum in that way; that the language indicated that the payment of indemnity would be an act of grace on the part of Germany, growing out



of her desire to preserve the friendship of the United States; that when Italians were massacred by a mob in New Orleans the United States had paid a considerable indemnity but had denied obligation to do so and, therefore, had denied liability for the wrong. “The Ambassador asked me what I desired him to do. I said that in view of the circumstances I could see no good reason for continuing our informal conversations on the sub¬ ject, unless his government frankly admitted the illegality of the submarine commander’s conduct and also admitted liability for the American lives lost. He replied that he was convinced his government would not be willing to consent to such admis¬ sions in view of the fact that it would be turning black into white, as they had always denied the wrong and the liability. I answered him that he evidently, then, had reached the same conclusion as I—that further informal negotiations would be useless. “The Ambassador seemed greatly perturbed and sat for several moments considering the situation. He finally said: ‘And what would be your course in case my government will not accede to these terms, which seem harsh?’ “I replied: ‘I see no other course, Mr. Ambassador, except to break off diplomatic relations.’ “The Ambassador said: ‘I do not see how the matter could stop with the breaking off of diplomatic relations. It would go further than that.’ “I replied: ‘Doubtless you are correct in this view. I have given the matter most earnest consideration and have discussed it with the President, and I can assure you we do not hesitate to assume responsibility for what may occur in case your gov¬ ernment refuses to accede to our just demands. You know that we have striven to arrange this controversy amicably and for that reason I submitted to you a formula which I thought would, to an extent at least, harmonize the attitude of your government with mine. I feel that we have gone as far as we can in accordance with the dignity and honor of the United States.’ “The Ambassador took the copies of the memorandum which he had been holding in his hand and started to make certain changes in them. I said to him that I thought it would be as well if he would take them to the Embassy and prepare a memo¬ randum meeting our views, with the understanding that it



might be possible to induce his government to adopt it, and that I would see him tomorrow morning at 11:45. He replied that he would do so, but that he doubted very much if his government could be induced to admit the wrong conduct of the submarine commander, or that it was liable for the death of the Americans on board the Lusitania.”

On the following morning the Ambassador came and handed me another draft of a note. My note on this interview is as follows:

“The German Ambassador called at 11:45 this morning and handed me a memorandum which he proposed to communicate to his government for their approval. In the memorandum was the admission of liability of the German Government for the lives of American citizens lost on the Lusitania but no ad¬ mission of the illegality of the act of the submarine commander in sinking the vessel. “After reading the memorandum I told the Ambassador that I did not think it would be satisfactory but that I would sub¬ mit it to the President if he so desired. He asked me in what particulars I would have it changed. I told him in the par¬ ticular as to the admission of illegality so far as neutrals were concerned. He then made several changes in the memorandum and after we went over them together he dictated them to Mr. Sweet (my confidential secretary).”

Bernstorff’s amended draft contained an admission of the ille¬ gality of causing the death of American citizens, because retaliatory measures are illegal if applied to other than enemy subjects, and also of liability for the act, together with an offer of indemnity. As soon as the Ambassador left my office I called up the President on our private telephone and read to him the proposed note as amended. When I had finished, he said that, if Bernstorff could obtain the approval of his government to that draft, he considered that our demands had been fully met. I then telephoned the Ger¬ man Ambassador that the note as amended was satisfactory to the President. On the same day that these conversations took place Baron Zwiedinek, the Austrian Charge, informed me of the intended declaration of the German and Austro-Hungarian Governments to



treat all enemy merchant vessels carrying armaments as auxiliary cruisers, which meant a renewal of submarine warfare in its most vicious form. It was my desire to have the declaration of the Central Powers made promptly because I did not wish to settle the Lusitania case and have it followed immediately by a declaration which seemed to be entirely contrary to the terms of settlement and which would result in our having to denounce the German Govern¬ ment and break off diplomatic relations. So imminent did the crisis appear that, on January twentyninth, I drafted a formal note to the German Ambassador stating that our informal negotiations had failed and demanding that the German Government declare that the sinking of the Lusitania was illegal, and that it admit liability for the Americans killed and agree to pay a just indemnity, and that the submarine commander re¬ sponsible for the sinking be punished for having committed a law¬ less and inhuman act. This note, however, was never sent, as the German Government came part way in meeting our wishes, though it was not far enough. I was still hopeful that the proposed declara¬ tion of the renewal of indiscriminate submarine warfare would not be issued, and did not wish to complicate matters by doing anything which would complicate the situation. Count von Bernstorff saw me on February fourth and gave me the new German formula, which partially met our wishes. He came again on the eighth, when I made certain suggestions as to amending his formula. On the sixteenth the Ambassador came to the Depart¬ ment and handed me an amended draft, which practically embodied all our suggestions. This I at once sent to the President. In my letter of transmittal I wrote: “You will perceive that substantially all our suggestions have been accepted. . . . “In view of the recent manifesto from Berlin in regard to armed vessels I do not see how we can now accept this answer as a settlement of the Lusitania case. The German Government was fully advised as to our attitude in regard to the legal right to arm merchant vessels. It was, at the time it gave its three several assurances, with full knowledge of the British Admir¬ alty orders to their merchant vessels, yet it gave those assurances without qualification and they became an essential basis for a settlement of the difficulty. The recent declaration, in which it is stated that armed merchant vessels will be treated as auxiliary cruisers is, therefore, contradictory of their former



position and would appear to nullify the assurances which they have given. “I believe it would be well for me to see the German Am¬ bassador again, or else write him a note saying that in view of the recent change of policy by his government the part of the settlement relating to the future conduct of submarine warfare has been materially affected and will require further consider¬ ation by this government before it can accept as satisfactory the enclosed reply.” The President agreed with my views as to the effect of the declaration of February tenth on the proposed settlement of the Lusitania controversy, but asked me to discuss the matter further with the German Ambassador. On the next day I had an interview with the German Ambassador. My note of the interview is as follows: “At my request the German Ambassador called upon me today and I told him that his letter of February sixteenth, relative to the Lusitania case, I believed, would be acceptable to this government were it not for the fact that Germany had issued a new declaration of policy in regard to submarine war¬ fare. I pointed out to him that there had been in the Lusitania controversy two questions—one as to the future conduct of submarine warfare and the other as to proper amends for past conduct; that I had assumed the assurances which had been given by Germany in regard to the future conduct of her sub¬ marine commanders settled that branch of the controversy; that in our informal conversations we had only discussed what amends Germany should make for the sinking of the Lusitania; and that now, when the branch of the controversy which related to past conduct was substantially settled this declaration of new policy appeared to open up again the part of the contro¬ versy which related to the future. “The Ambassador replied that he did not see how this directly affected the assurances which had been given as the assurances related to ‘liners.’ I told him that the declaration of principle as to submarine warfare in the Mediterannean was not limited in any way, nor was anything said about vessels being armed or unarmed; that that declaration was very com¬ prehensive and would certainly be modified very materially if the present policy was put into effect.



“The Ambassador asked me if I thought it would be advis¬ able for Germany to postpone the time for a month at least before putting the new policy into operation. I told him that might temporarily relieve apprehension and make easier our future negotiations which he must realize would have to continue, in view of this new departure on the part of his government. “He asked me if he could say to his government that other¬ wise than as to the future of submarine warfare his letter of the sixteenth was satisfactory. I said, no, he could not say it was satisfactory, but that he might say in the circumstances that it was acceptable, although I should regret his putting it into formal shape before this other matter was decided. . . .” This conversation with Count von Bernstorff practically ended the negotiations concerning the Lusitania although the German Government on February twenty-eighth, two days before the February tenth declaration of the Central Powers went into effect, attempted to reopen the question by repeating its pledges of Sep¬ tember 1, and October 5, 1915, and by asserting that the negotia¬ tions concerning the Lusitania never referred to “armed” merchantmen. Subsequent events fully justified this government in having declined to continue the discussion of a settlement of the Lusitania case after the declaration of February tenth. Within a month after the German Government’s effort to proceed with the negotiations the Sussex had been torpedoed. The new assurances, given by the Imperial Government in May, 1916, in compliance with our per¬ emptory demands in the Sussex affair, brought that crisis to an end. One might assume that, with the settlement of the Sussex case, the opportunity was presented to reopen the negotiations concerning the Lusitania. But they were not reopened because neither the President nor I believed, in view of Germany’s previous conduct, that the promises of the German Government could be relied upon. While we could not refuse to accept them in the case of the Sussex since they were given in compliance with our demands, we were not bound to assume that, so far as the Lusitania case was concerned, they applied to it or would be scrupulously kept in the future. Time alone would determine the good faith of the German Government. Waiting for Germany to prove herself was no easy matter during the progress of a bitterly fought presidential campaign when the Republican speakers and newspapers were jeering at the Adminis-



tration’s delay and failure to act, and demanding to know why a settlement had not been reached in the Lusitania controversy, when we had the ability to reach an immediate settlement by accepting the German note and by relying upon the German assurances given in the Sussex case. But the President possessed the courage and the determination to resist the temptation to conclude the matter. To have done so would have improved his fortunes as a candidate for re-election by depriving his adversaries of one of their favorite subjects of criticism and ridicule, but it would have been a bad policy for the United States. When the choice lay between personal advantage and a right national policy, anyone, who realized Mr. Wilson’s high sense of public duty, would know that he did not hesitate in his decision as to a course of action. He continued the policy of letting the Lusitania case remain unsettled, because he believed that it was for the best interests of the United States to preserve the status quo until time had shown with substantial cer¬ tainty whether the promises of Germany would again be broken. The state of the Lusitania controversy continued unchanged until Germany, on February 1, 1917, a second time violated her word in so flagrant a manner that Count von Bernstorff was handed his passports and Ambassador Gerard was recalled from Berlin. The German Ambassador had during the eleven months, since Germany admitted her illegal conduct, made several attempts to renew the negotiations but he had met with a cold, or rather, indifferent reception. We were still skeptical of the good faith of the German Government. Time justified our skepticism and the policy of inaction which was founded upon it. The worthlessness of the Imperial Government’s word was proved by its own acts.



A review of the events of a political campaign preceding the elec¬ tion of a president of the United States, when the heat of the struggle is over and there is time to consider the various influences which have been factors in the result, does not impress one with the fairness and honesty of American politics and American politicians. The party orators and party press are not in these present days devoted to disclosing the truth to the people, or to advocating great fundamental principles of government. They are seeking to win votes for their respective candidates. To do that they appeal to prejudice and the baser passions. They attack the opposite party and its standard-bearer, criticize harshly and, frequently, unjustly his public record, impugn his motives, and seek by exaggeration, by misleading statements and by false deductions to discredit him. It seems never to be a fair fight on well-defined principles and issues. From beginning to end a presidential campaign is tainted with an unreasoning partisanship which knows no law other than the law of success. Anything to gain votes, anything to win, whether right or wrong, is considered justifiable by the majority of political leaders. The foregoing opinion of the customary practices during a national campaign is not agreeable to write, since it seems to be and is a criticism of the functioning of democratic institutions and an unfavorable commentary on the American idea of justice and fair play in political conflicts. The party platforms reflect this spirit, in that they are written to catch votes and not, as they were in the earlier days of the Republic, to announce a definite theory of gov¬ ernment or to declare support of great national issues which are opposed by the other party because of its political principles. The campaign of 1916 was not different in the way in which it was con¬ ducted from other recent presidential campaigns which had pre¬ ceded it. The Democratic Party, having been in control of the government for four years, was necessarily on the defensive. It was called upon to render an account of its stewardship and to prove to the American people that its conduct of national affairs entitled it to be continued in power. Its defense was not free from exaggera¬ tion and distortion of facts. The Republican Party attacked the Democratic record, denied the claim of achievement and criticized, 158



often unfairly, the acts and policies of Mr. Wilson and his Admini¬ stration, while there also went on a despicable whispering campaign against Mr. Wilson’s personal character. Though the Republicans attacked all along the line, they devoted much of their attention, particularly in the earlier part of the campaign, to the President’s conduct of our foreign affairs. The nature of the criticisms of the Republican press and speakers in regard to the policies and acts of the Administration in its dealings with other nations makes the presidential campaign of 1916 of more importance to this narrative than it would be under normal conditions. On June 7, 1916, the Republican National Convention met at Chicago with Senator Warren G. Harding, of Ohio, as its temporary chairman; and on the same day in the same city the Progressive Party’s National Convention met. On the following day, the two conventions adopted platforms which were practically the same. On the tenth Charles E. Hughes, of New York, who had a few months before resigned as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was nominated for the presidency by the Republican Con¬ vention on the third ballot, and Charles W. Fairbanks, of Indiana, was nominated for vice president, an office which he had held during the Roosevelt Administration. On the same day the Progressive Party named former President Theodore Roosevelt as its candidate for president. On June fourteenth, four days after Justice Hughes was nomi¬ nated, the Democratic National Convention was called to order by its temporary chairman, Martin H. Glynn, former governor of New York, who delivered a “keynote” speech dealing largely with the diplomatic record of the Wilson Administration during the war, which everyone knew would be an outstanding issue in the campaign. Mr. Glynn had some time before the Convention sent me the manu¬ script of his address and I went through it with much care to determine whether or not it contained errors of fact in regard to foreign affairs. So far as the facts were concerned the statements were absolutely true, and they were presented in an effective way and in attractive language. Mr. Glynn’s oration aroused great enthusiasm, though the outburst of applause was even greater when Senator Ollie James, of Kentucky, the permanent chairman, in more dramatic manner, asserted that the President’s foreign policy had kept the United States at peace and yet had “wrung from the most militant spirit that ever brooded over a battlefield the concession of American demands and American rights.” The platform was quickly drawn. Secretary Baker was present



at St. Louis as the spokesman of Mr. Wilson, with whom he was in constant communication by telegraph and telephone, so that the President in the White House practically dictated the platform. It was modeled, like the Republican platform, to catch votes and to please everybody. When there was doubt as to the popularity of a declaration, both platforms were conveniently ambiguous or made doubtful by verbiage. They both adopted the same methods of generally avoiding direct issues unless it was to defend its record or to abuse the opposite party. President Wilson was unanimously renominated and Thomas R. Marshall, of Indiana, who was increasingly popular, was a second time named as his running mate. The Democratic watchword of the campaign, “He kept us out of war,” was born at St. Louis, and the thought which it conveyed was at once seized upon by Democratic newspapers throughout the country and given to their readers in various phrases. The World of New York, for example, put it in this language: “The American people owe their peace and prosperity to Woodrow Wilson.” From the time of the St. Louis Convention to election day in November the party slogan, “He kept us out of war,” was repeated and re¬ peated until the thought became deeply embedded in the public mind. The value of it was that it was true and everybody knew that it was true. However his opponents might abuse the methods which he employed and might denounce his policies as cowardly and as an abandonment of American rights, the fact remained that Mr. Wilson had up to that time kept the nation out of war. As Count von Bernstorff reported to his government on August fourth, “ ‘He kept us out of war.’ This is and remains Wilson’s trump card.” With the launching of the campaign by the nominations at Chicago and St. Louis the press of both parties began to bombard the opposing candidates in the usual way employed in appealing to voters. It was indicated that the principal attack on President Wilson’s foreign policy would be the failure to settle the Lusitania case and the unsatisfactory handling of the Mexican situation. The Democratic reply was a demand on Mr. Hughes for a statement of what other course he would have taken in the circumstances. At the outset the German element in the United States came out very generally in support of Mr. Hughes. Such writers as George Sylvester Viereck were extravagant in their praise of him and bitter in their denunciation of Mr. Wilson. The press in Germany showed the same attitude toward the candidates. The Kolnische Zietung



declared: ‘‘German-Americans, on whose votes perhaps the de¬ cision of the election rests, are for the most part on the side of Hughes. They now have an opportunity of paying President Wilson back for his false hypocritical neutrality and for his unheard-of attacks on their American nationality.” At once the Democratic editors seized on this German support of the Republican candidate and declared that Mr. Hughes’ election “would inevitably be regarded throughout the world as a tremendous victory for Germany in the United States.” So much was made of the approval with which Mr. Hughes’ candidacy was received by the Germans and German-Americans, that the Republican candidate considered it necessary to take the defensive declaring that “my attitude is one of undiluted Americanism,” an assertion which he repeated in dif¬ ferent words many times. Nevertheless Mr. Hughes showed in his campaign speeches a cau¬ tion and a reserve in criticizing the allegedly supine policy of the Administration in not going to extremes with Germany which im¬ pressed one with the idea that he was endeavoring to retain or win the German-American vote. On the other hand, Colonel Roosevelt, who had declined on June twenty-sixth the Progressive Party’s nomination and had announced that he would support the Republi¬ can candidate, vigorously denounced the President for his weak policy in regard to submarine warfare and his leniency toward Germany as well as toward Mexico. He charged that the record of President Wilson was “ a record of weakness and vacillation that forfeits, or should forfeit, the confidence of the American people.” “President Wilson,” he said, “by his policy of tame submission to insult and injury from all whom he feared, has invited the murder of our men, women and children by Mexican bandits on land and by German submarines at sea.” In a word, Hughes sought to obtain the good will of the pro-German voters, and Roosevelt put forth his efforts to “round-up” the pro-Ally voters. It was an anomalous situation. My personal opinion is that the harsh and unrestrained attacks of Colonel Roosevelt on President Wilson’s handling of the contro¬ versies with the German Government, which he uttered with his usual virility and extravagance of expression, alienated more of the German-Americans than Mr. Hughes was able to win by his vague¬ ness. It was wretchedly poor teamwork, which was realized too late by the Republican managers. President Wilson treated the situation with his usual calmness and deliberation. Throughout the campaign he never mentioned



Theodore Roosevelt or referred to anything that he said. He ignored him entirely. Anyone, knowing the temper of the fiery Colonel and his fondness for stinging an antagonist into an angry retort, may imagine how he fumed with rage at the President’s apparent indifference to his attacks. And anyone, knowing Mr. Wilson, must have realized the satisfaction which it was to him to feel that, by ignoring the very existence of Colonel Roosevelt, he was doing the one thing which the former President could hardly endure. No charge, however harsh or unjust, and no question, however inviting or pertinent, could draw a reply from Mr. Wilson. He remained silent and unperturbed. It was an excellent example of the President’s political sagacity, for he adopted the best possible way to meet a dangerous and resourceful foeman whose popularity was unquestionable. As to the German-American vote, Mr. Wilson met the issue squarely in his great speech of acceptance, delivered at Shadow Lawn on September second, which was one of his masterpieces of eloquence. In that speech he emphatically declared: “I neither seek the favor nor fear the displeasure of that small alien element among us which puts loyalty to any foreign power before loyalty to the United States.” The enthusiastic reception which this defiance of the “hyphen¬ ated” vote met everywhere was, however, cast into the shade by an episode which occurred a month later and which was even more direct and much more dramatic. One Jeremiah O’Leary, a fanatical supporter of an independent Irish Republic and an inveterate hater of the British and, therefore, of the cause of the Allies, sent a tele¬ gram to President Wilson in the name of the so-called “American Truth Society,” in which he declared himself against the President, alluding to the latter’s “pro-British policies” and charging him with “truckling to the British Empire.” From beginning to end the message was insolent and offensive. To the O’Leary telegram Mr. Wilson sent the following reply, which was immediately made public: “I would feel deeply mortified to have you or anybody like you vote for me. Since you have access to many disloyal Americans and I have not, I will ask you to convey this mes¬ sage to them.” This direct and uncompromising challenge to the hyphenated groups in the United States was a piece of political strategy which



can hardly be matched in any presidential campaign. It left noth¬ ing to be desired. It made thousands of votes for its author. Meanwhile the phrase “He kept us out of war” was having great influence as it spread from village to village and from house to house throughout the country. It was the subject of thousands of editorials and the theme of the army of campaign orators who were urging the re-election of the President. A comparison of un¬ happy Europe wasted by death and destruction, a prey to terror and dread of the future, with the United States enjoying peace and industrial prosperity was made on every platform. The happi¬ ness and contentment of the American people was credited to the President’s diplomacy which had kept war from our shores and from our southern frontiers. Furthermore, Colonel Roosevelt and other Republican spokes¬ men with intense pro-Ally sympathies gave the impression that if Mr. Hughes was elected the United States would immediately enter the war against the Central Powers, asserting that President Wil¬ son ought to have “acted” after the sinking of the Lusitania while “he only spoke.” This attitude set the pro-German Americans to thinking that possibly they were unwise to oppose Mr. Wilson’s re-election. To them the phrase “He kept us out of war” gained a new meaning, a meaning which caused them to waver in their support of the Re¬ publican candidate and to look with more favor than they had at first on Mr. Wilson’s re-election. In campaigning through the Middle West Mr. Hughes learned from local Republican leaders of this turn in the tide of German-American sentiment and realized that the Democratic slogan was winning votes wherever there were Americans of German descent. To check this tendency and to discount the fact that the President’s conduct of our rela¬ tions with Germany had prevented war with that Empire, Mr. Hughes at Kansas City, Missouri, one of the centers of pro-German sympathy, asserted: “It is said that this Administration has kept us out of war. There was not the slightest reason why anyone should get us into war. You could not get this country into war without making most inexcusable blunders.” It sounded as if the Republican candidate endorsed Mr. Wilson’s policies. The last month or six weeks of the struggle were devoted more to domestic questions than to the international policies of the Ad¬ ministration. The great railroad strike and its settlement absorbed the public attention, while fiscal questions and internal legislation were generally discussed. Whatever was said concerning our for-



eign relations and the way in which they were being conducted by the Administration was repetition of what had been said earlier in the campaign. Nothing new had occurred which provided oc¬ casion for fresh attacks. So far as men’s minds were affected by the Administration’s attitude toward the European belligerents I think that the answer to Jeremiah O’Leary was the last major factor to influence or change any considerable number of votes. However, Count von Bernstorff had become more favorable to the President, due in a measure, I believe, to Colonel House’s per¬ suasion. This influence may have somewhat affected the attitude of the German-Americans. As the election drew near, it was generally recognized that the result was very uncertain, and there were many Democrats in the Administration who were more or less pessimistic as to the Presi¬ dent’s re-election. There were some, like Postmaster-General Burleson and Joseph P. Tumulty, the Secretary to the President, who were perfectly confident of a Democratic victory, but their optimism seemed unreasonable and based more on their personal desires and the reports of enthusiastic political friends than on substantial facts. In the latter part of September I had suggested to several officials in the various executive departments of the government that we lunch together every Thursday at the Metropolitan Club to discuss political matters and to compare notes concerning the progress of the campaign. This “Democratic Luncheon,” as it was called, found such favor with those who attended it that it was continued for two years after the object for which it was organized disappeared. It was a congenial gathering of officials, whose duties seldom brought them in contact, and at its table were entertained many distinguished guests, both American and foreign. As the month of October advanced the staunch Democrats, who were present at these Thursday luncheons, endeavored to encour¬ age each other as to the outlook, but in spite of their efforts to look on the bright side of the situation, there was evidently an increasing anxiety as to the result. I remember that some of the luncheons were pretty gloomy affairs as information coming from various sources indicated that Mr. Hughes had more than an even chance of election through the gains he was making in certain sections. It seems appropriate at this place to make known an interesting episode that occurred in connection with the closeness of the elec¬ tion and which shows that Mr. Wilson was not carried away by



the optimism of his political managers but believed that Mr. Hughes stood an excellent chance of being elected. When I arrived in New York on election day, after voting in Watertown, New York, Mr. Frank L. Polk handed me a letter which he brought to me from the President. It was enclosed in a wax-sealed envelope addressed in Mr. Wilson’s handwriting and marked “most confidential” and to be opened by no one except myself. I found inside a communication, personally typed by the President, in which he recognized the embarrassing situation that would arise in the event that Mr. Hughes was elected. He went on to say that he had been considering what his patriotic duty required him to do if he was defeated, because, if his policies were repudiated by the people, his conduct of international affairs would be well-nigh impossible. He pointed out that during the four months which would elapse between the election of Mr. Hughes and his inauguration, crises might and probably would arise in our relations with the warring nations which would have to be met, and yet which a President ought not to attempt to meet unless the American people were solidly behind him. Assuming that he were defeated, he felt that the dignity and welfare of the United States demanded that he relinquish the office to a man in whom the people had shown that they had confidence and that that man would be Mr. Hughes. The President pointed out the difficulty under our constitution of transferring the executive power before a presidential term had expired. In this dilemma and in order to overcome this constitutional difficulty he suggested the following plan: In the event of his defeat he would ask me to resign as Secretary of State and then he would name Mr. Hughes as my successor; as soon as the latter had assumed office, Mr. Wilson himself would resign as President and Mr. Marshall, the Vice President, would also resign; thus Mr. Hughes would succeed to the presidency by reason of his holding the office of Secretary of State. The letter shows very clearly that Woodrow Wilson had first in mind the welfare of the United States and the purpose to con¬ form to the will of the American people at once without awaiting for his presidential term to expire. He did not think of himself but of his country. It shows how intense was his patriotism and how loyal he was to the people whom he served. No better evidence can be offered to prove the high type of Mr. Wilson’s statesman¬ ship and the purity of the motives which inspired him in the con¬ duct of his great office. He considered this proposed action a public



duty, not a personal sacrifice. If Mr. Hughes had been elected, all the world would have had this evidence of the President’s great spirit, and I can see no good reason why the American people should not know the loyal intent of the man whom they chose in 1916 to continue in the office of President of the United States. While the state of our foreign affairs affected the progress of the campaign and the result of the election, the strenuous efforts of the political managers to gain popular support for their respective candidates inevitably reacted upon the conduct of our foreign af¬ fairs. Undoubtedly they induced a mental attitude toward existing questions which probably would not have prevailed except for the closeness and uncertainty of the struggle for the presidency. The success of the negotiation in regard to the Sussex had the effect of quieting the bitter complaints against Germany, although Colonel Roosevelt and other Republican campaigners in the Eastern States strove to keep them alive by attacking the Administration’s failure to reach a settlement in the Lusitania case. Without a new controversy in regard to German submarine warfare, the differences with Great Britain assumed a more prominent place in the public mind. In midsummer, 1916, when the campaign was getting well under way, Ambassador Walter Hines Page returned from London. He remained through September and during that time had a number of interviews with the President and also with me. I gained the impression from our conversations, and I think that Mr. Wilson held the same opinion, that Mr. Page had come to the United States to explain the attitude of the British people toward the United States and to plead their cause with the American Gov¬ ernment. He certainly sought to have us surrender many of the legal rights of American citizens on the high seas instead of trying to persuade the British to cease their illegal interferences with those rights, especially the interferences which seemed needlessly annoying. His attitude was a most extraordinary one for an American Ambassador, and it was difficult to harmonize it with a right conception of the foreign service, in which an official’s own country holds first place in his thoughts. Naturally the President was chiefly concerned about the guard¬ ianship of American rights in our relations with Great Britain, and this duty, which he was bound to perform, was emphasized at a time when the country was in the throes of a bitter political con¬ flict. To him the feelings of the British people were secondary rather than primary while this country was neutral. If we could



conduct our diplomatic correspondence without causing needless irritation, the President was glad to do so; but he was not willing to abandon American rights and remain silent and passive while these rights were being flagrantly violated. Yet, as I consider my interviews with Mr. Page, that is exactly what he desired and almost insisted that we should do, and in his subsequently published let¬ ters he shows this very clearly. In his judgment, as one must con¬ clude from his own words, popular opinion in the United States must be subordinated to the feelings of the British public, which had become very sensitive and easily irritated by any criticism of their government, however justified the criticism might be. Though we both had several long interviews with the Ambassa¬ dor, neither the President nor I made the least impression, so far as we could see, upon the pro-British wall with which he had en¬ closed his mind. So impervious was he to any argument which favored even a moderately strong American policy that after six weeks in this country he seemed to be concerned chiefly with what his British friends would think if he was unable to persuade his government to change its policy. This he clearly evidenced in a paper which he handed to me on September twenty-fifth, stating that it was in no circumstances to be considered or treated as an official communication. It was entitled “Notes toward an Explana¬ tion of the British Feeling toward the United States.” As I now read over this document, I can well understand why the writer did not wish it to be placed in the archives of the Depart¬ ment of State. It is full of grumbling complaints at our insistence on American rights, at our lack of vision as to the World War, at the methods employed by the Department in urging relief from the illegal acts of the British naval authorities and even at our toleration of German officials in Washington. His words, as he handed me the paper, were, “This is for your personal consump¬ tion only. I have not written as an ambassador but just as a plain American giving his views to a fellow countryman.” Mr. Page wras remarkably gifted with his pen; he was one of the most delightful letter writers of his time, possessing an attrac¬ tive style and good vocabulary. He was possibly too free in ex¬ pression for accuracy and sometimes permitted his ability to put a thought in a striking and unusual way to distort or exaggerate it. Sentiment and emotion were distinctly present in all that he wrote and in no product of his pen are they more evident than in these “Notes.” The document arraigned by indirection the President for his



policy and by direction the course pursued by the Department of State in listening to complaints and protests of American citizens against Great Britain and sending them to our Embassy at London to be laid before the British Government. It was made manifest by what he wrote that he did not wish to be the agent for the presentation of these complaints and protests to the British Foreign Office. He ignored the fact that these “cases” were, with few exceptions, founded on long recognized legal rights, that the law officers of the Department never allowed a case to be presented unless it was so founded, and that, when the rights of an American citizen were violated by a foreign government, the Department of State would have been derelict in its duty if it had failed to enter a protest and make a complaint, even though it was unpleasant to the London Government and to the American Ambassador. To Mr. Page, British public opinion was apparently far more important than the insistence upon American rights. He seemed to think that the feelings of the British public should be given first consideration in our intercourse, and that we, though avowedly neutral, should show our sympathy and retain British good will by giving up or postponing the assertion of our legal rights, if there was no other way to let the British Government continue its illegal practices, regardless of the pecuniary losses to American citizens, which he considered to be of little importance. He complained also of the trade advisers of the Department accepting ex parte statements. His complaints were manifestly unreasonable and untenable. There has been a uniform practice of the Department in its assertion of neutral rights and claims against foreign governments arising from their violation, a prac¬ tice followed from the days when George Washington insisted upon the neutral rights of Americans and forced Great Britain to ob¬ serve them. This practice, which is common to all governments, is for claimants to submit ex parte statements, and, if these form prima facie cases as to fact and are sound in legal principle, they are presented to the governments which are charged by the petition¬ ers or complainants with having committed wrongful acts. The denial of the statements and production of contradictory evidence are matters of defense, and the British defenses upon the facts were also based on ex parte statements. Mr. Page appeared to accept the British ex parte statements without question, and, if they contradicted the American statements, to assume that the latter were incorrect and should not have formed the basis of a



protest or complaint. As to the legal principles involved he seemed to be indifferent. He hinged his criticism of the Department’s adoption of a claim on the evidence as to the facts and never on the law and its violations. He did not seem to consider the latter as important. Mr. Page was also critical of the fact that Bernstorff was per¬ mitted to remain in Washington and indicated that the British people considered our government the victim of German intrigue and that they wondered whether a government so easily deceived could in the future be trusted. He showed that the British states¬ men were, with one or two exceptions, disposed to view the visits of Colonel House to the various European capitals with disfavor, suspecting them to be attempts by the President to mediate. Mr. Page declared that these British statesmen took occasion to point out that belligerents had never invited a neutral to take part in peace negotiations, and that they resented the idea of Mr. Wilson, through Colonel House, engaging in a “suspicious meddling” in their affairs. Mr. Page closed his “Notes” with two suggestions: first, that all complaints of Americans against the British Government be sub¬ jected to independent investigation by our government, and, sec¬ ond, that we review our numerous disputes and see if there were not some on which we could yield without yielding any principles, and some on which we might ask the British to yield. He suggested also that he be authorized to enter into such a negotiation for com¬ posing differences by compromise. Of course, to adopt Mr. Page’s final suggestion by placing a negotiation of that character in his hands with discretionary power (for his suggestion amounted to that) to yield certain positions taken by this government, though preserving the principle, would have been folly. He would undoubtedly have yielded far too much and obtained very few concessions of importance in return. While I would not go so far as to say that he would have abandoned the historic policy of President Washington and surrendered the legal rights of Americans in order to keep the good will of those who were violating them, I am convinced that the result of Mr. Page’s negotiations would have been of such a nature as to have caused a tempest of popular indignation in this country against the Administration and to have increased the demands for imme¬ diate and drastic measures against Great Britain. Congress doubtless would have taken a hand, if the retaliatory legislation of the summer of 1916 was an indication of the temper of that body.



I need hardly say that neither the President nor I ever for a moment thought of adopting the Ambassador’s suggestion of confiding to him the personal handling of our controversies with Great Britain with the power to make compromises and concessions. The President saw Mr. Page a few days after the latter’s “Notes” were handed to me but I do not know whether he was given a copy of the paper. In writing me of the interview he did not mention it, merely stating that he believed that he had been able to impress the Ambassador with the American point of view. He wrote that he had dealt with the situation in a way which he was sure left nothing to be desired for explicitness or firmness, and that he was sure that Mr. Page would be able to give to the people in London a clear im¬ pression of the dangerous mistakes which they were making. One of the chief results of Mr. Page’s visit to the United States and of the conferences which he had with Mr. Wilson was, unless I am greatly mistaken, to make the President more than ever irri¬ tated against the British. He considered that they had exerted improper influences on our Ambassador and had convinced the latter that Mr. Wilson, if he remained neutral, could not participate in the peace negotiations, a purpose which was very close to the President’s heart and for which he was constantly planning. The chief effect upon me of personal contact with Mr. Page was the conviction that it was useless to present protests and complaints through him, in view of his manifest unwillingness to protect the rights of Americans, if the exercise of those rights interfered with the British war policies. The only safe course to take was to send specific cases of violation through Consul-General Robert P. Skin¬ ner, who could be counted upon to do his duty, however personally unpleasant that duty might be, and to do it with tact and discre¬ tion. Mr. Page’s visit, in truth, did more harm than good in composing our differences with Great Britain. His insistence on our adopting the British way of looking at the situation stirred the ire of the President and made him stubborn in his demands and disposed to adopt radical measures in dealing with Great Britain. Mr. Wilson was already impatient at the way in which the British Government ignored or brushed aside our complaints concerning the infringe¬ ment of American rights. His failure to resent this was being characterized by some of the Republican campaign speakers in the West as evidence of weakness or partiality. It had been increasingly difficult to prevent him from exercising the retaliatory powers



which had been conferred upon him by Congress as a result of the obnoxious British “black lists.” To be practically told by Mr. Page that our practice, as well as our policy, was all wrong, that we ought to show our sympathy for Great Britain by receding from our positions, even if they were founded on legal right, and that there was no chance for Mr. Wilson to take part in peace negotiations as a mediator because he was a real neutral and not openly in favor of the Allies, was by no means palatable to the President. The situation was actually critical, far more than was generally realized in the United States or Great Britain. During the time when our relations with the British Government were thus becoming more and more strained, I wrote a memorandum on the policy which it seemed to me ought to be followed in con¬ ducting our controversies with that government, and also on the President’s attitude toward the belligerents as I interpreted it from our correspondence and conversations. These views were not new and not the result of my interviews with Mr. Page. He was attempting to drive Mr. Wilson into open hostility to the Germans and open sympathy with the British. If he had read aright the character of the President, Mr. Page would have avoided taking such a course because it was the one way of arousing Mr. Wilson’s spirit of obstinacy. He could not be driven. He never could be. It was folly to try it. That is where the Ambassador made a serious mistake, for it almost produced a result diametrically opposite to the one which he sought to attain. It was not his insistent demands in favor of the British but the gross misconduct of the Germans, which at last forced the President to break relations with the Imperial Government and to call on the United States to take up arms on the side of the Allies. The memorandum, to which I have referred and which was writ¬ ten sometime before Mr. Page’s “Notes” were handed to me, reads as follows: “Nothing in our controversies with Great Britain must be brought to a heacf. We must keep on exchanging notes, be¬ cause if we do not we will have to take radical measures. “The pressure to force an issue is very great in many quarters. . . . “The real danger, the one which I fear, is that the Presi¬ dent’s resentment at British invasion of our rights will continue



to increase. It is already very bitter and he even discusses bringing that government eto book.’ I think that the chief reason for his not doing so is the approaching election and another reason I will explain. “. . . On no account must we range ourselves even indirectly on the side of Germany, no matter how great the provocation may be. “The amazing thing to me is that the President does not see this. In fact, he does not seem to grasp the full significance of this war or the principles at issue. I have talked it over with him, but the violations of American rights by both sides seem to interest him more than the vital interests as I see them. That German imperialistic ambitions threaten free in¬ stitutions everywhere apparently has not sunk very deeply into his mind. For six months I have talked about the struggle between Autocracy and Democracy, but do not see that I have made any great impression. However, I shall keep on talking. “I have gathered from various sources that the President hopes and expects to act as a mediator between the belligerents and to stand forth as the great neutral peace maker. I believe that this idea found birth in the prolific brain of Colonel House, who has so often suggested policies which have been very popu¬ lar. I bow to the political astuteness of Colonel House in most things—he is really a remarkable man, very resourceful and ingenious and generally wise in his advice—but in this case, if my belief is correct as to the origin of this idea of peace¬ making, I know that he is wrong. “There ought not to be and there must not be any com¬ promise peace with the Germans, and that is what the peace would be if made now. If we offer mediation it will depress the Allies and encourage Germany who will see the chance to recover from their failure. It will merely postpone and not end the war. It is better to end it now. “Colonel House, I know, is having secret interviews with Bernstorff and Spring-Rice. I think that he is preparing the ground for the President to attempt mediation. He undoubt¬ edly is doing this with the President’s knowledge and approval. “Personally I think this is a mistake internationally but it may be an excellent one politically because, if Bernstorff be¬ lieves that the President contemplates a peace move, he will hesitate to advise the German-Americans to oppose the Presi¬ dent’s re-election. I believe that the Ambassador would like

THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1916 to see active affect fident


him defeated but this move may check him in taking steps in opposition. It may create a change which will the result of the election favorably although I am con¬ the President will win anyway.

“If Colonel House’s conversations have set Bernstorff to guessing so that he refrains from advising his German-Ameri¬ can friends to oppose the President, they are worth while. But if he commits the President to a course of action, which he will feel bound to take after election, he is going too far. “I only hope that the President will adopt the true policy, which is, ‘Join the Allies as soon as possible and crush down the German Autocrats.’ If he takes drastic measures against Great Britain, he will never be forgiven; if he attempts to mediate now, he will commit a grave error, because I am sure nothing will come of it.” The conditions which prevailed in foreign affairs in the latter part of September and early part of October, 1916, had changed but little, if at all, at the time of the presidential election and they continued unchanged for the succeeding three weeks. During that period, however, the President reached the conclusion that the time had arrived when conditions were favorable for his making an attempt to bring the warring nations into a conference for the negotiation of peace. Ignoring Mr. Page’s declaration that the British would oppose a neutral’s taking part in such a conference, Mr. Wilson worked out a plan for approaching the belligerent governments with the great end in view of restoring peace.


Six weeks after Mr. Wilson’s re-election to the presidency in No¬ vember, 1916, he made his long-considered proposal designed to bring the European belligerents together in a conference, at which he hoped and expected that peace would be restored and means con¬ sidered for averting future wars. The possibility of a conference of this sort had been in the Presi¬ dent’s mind since the first months of the war, as I have previously pointed out. From the time that the German advance upon Paris in 1914 had been so effectively checked by General Joffre at the Marne and the stubborn defense of the French and British armies showed that the war was to be long and the end doubtful, Mr. Wilson began to consider how he could be of service to the warring powers by inducing them to return to peaceful relations and to cease further bloodshed. His motive was essentially altruistic and humanitarian. He hoped to bring about a negotiated peace and then to work out some plan of international concord which would make impossible a future war. The purpose was so great that it may have been worth the thought and effort which Mr. Wilson, aided by Colonel House, gave to it. Yet it seemed to me at the time a useless waste of energy, for the conditions made accomplishment practically impossible. The Entente Powers, having withstood the German onslaught and checked the further advance of the invaders, were determined to go on with the struggle, because with Germany occupying Bel¬ gium and northern France they knew that the terms of peace pro¬ posed by the Central Empires would be harsh and impossible of acceptance. The Teutonic Powers, who had been able to maintain the advantageous positions which had been won by their early vic¬ tories and who still hoped for a complete triumph of their arms, were unwilling to consider terms of peace which did not recognize their military successes as an essential factor. Not until the eco¬ nomic life of Germany and Austria-Hungary was, in the spring of 1916, seriously affected by the relentless British blockade, and the people of the two Empires began to want for the very necessar¬ ies of daily life, did their governments show a genuine desire to consider the negotiation of terms of peace of any sort. They still 174



held the superior position from a military standpoint, but they apparently realized that the speedy triumph which they had ex¬ pected was remote, and a few even began to doubt whether there would be a complete triumph in the end. The slow strangulation resulting from the British measures of non-intercourse and the indomitable tenacity and fighting qualities of the French armies caused the Berlin Government to reach the conclusion that a peace arranged under the existing conditions was better than continuing the war. At least a temporary peace would give Germany, freed from the British blockade, an opportunity to gather new resources for a resumption of the struggle with a better chance of success. This was the situation when Mr. Wilson was re-elected president. Meanwhile he, or rather Colonel House acting for him, had been encouraging Count von Bernstorff to believe that he would at the opportune moment offer mediation to the belligerents, and would endeavor to win over the Allies to the same attitude of mind as that which existed in the Central Empires. In fact, as has been stated, he had before that time been laying plans to act as mediator, for Colonel House’s visits to the capitals of Europe in the early months of 1916 had been made for the purpose of sounding out again the European statesmen as to their feelings toward an immediate peace and as to the wTay in which they would receive overtures of media¬ tion if made by the President. The Colonel even went so far in the effort to persuade the British as to attempt to commit the Presi¬ dent to a secret agreement with the Allies, if the German Govern¬ ment refused to accept his suggestions. The renewal of submarine warfare in March, 1916, which had induced Colonel House to take this course, had interrupted the secret and unofficial negotiations with the Germans and checked for a time any further steps in that direction, while the President so modified the House promise to Sir Edward Grey that it was without any force. In fact, as has been shown in a previous chapter, Ambassador Page indicated, on his visit to the United States during the presidential campaign, that the British leaders were suspicious and resentful of any sug¬ gestion of mediation or interference by an outsider, and that they were hostile to the idea, which Colonel House had put forward, that Mr. Wilson should participate in a peace conference as a neutral moderator or umpire to prevent the defeat of the negotia¬ tions through one side or the other insisting on unjust terms. Doubtless the failure of Mr. Wilson to endorse without modification the tentative promise made by Colonel House as his representative had something to do with the British state of mind, so that the



promise, destroyed of its value from the British point of view, hindered rather than helped in obtaining the object sought. While at the outset, as has been said, the motive inspiring the efforts of Mr. Wilson was essentially impersonal, humanitarian and altruistic, I believe that the thought of his actual presence and participation in a conference to arrange terms of peace had ap¬ pealed more and more strongly to him, until it had become, pos¬ sibly unconsciously, an end rather than a means. One reason for this change of objective from mediation or good offices, with the object of bringing the parties together for the purpose of negotia¬ tion, to the injection of himself into the proceedings as a personal mediator in the conference was due, it would seem, to the President’s determination to include, in any negotiated peace, provisions creating an international concord, association or league devoted to preventing future wars. This plan Colonel House or Sir Edward Grey appears to have suggested and Mr. Wilson strongly espoused. In speaking on May 27, 1916, at the first annual meeting of the League to Enforce Peace, Mr. Wilson closed his address in the following words: “If it should ever be our privilege to suggest or initiate a movement for peace among the nations now at war, I am sure that the people of the United States would wish their govern¬ ment to move along these lines: First, such a settlement with regard to their own immediate interests as the belligerents may agree upon. We have nothing material of any kind to ask for ourselves, and are quite aware that we are in no sense or degree parties to the present quarrel. Our interest is only in peace and its future guarantees. Second, an universal association of the nations to maintain the inviolate security of the highway of the seas for the common and unhindered use of all the nations of the world, and to prevent any war begun either contrary to treaty covenants or without warning and full sub¬ mission of the causes to the opinion of the world,—a virtual guarantee of territorial integrity and political independence. “But I did not come here, let me repeat, to discuss a pro¬ gram. I came only to avow a creed and give expression to the confidence I feel that the world is even now upon the eve of a great consummation, when some common force will be brought into existence which shall safeguard right as the first and most fundamental interest of all peoples and all govern¬ ments, when coercion shall be summoned not to the service of



political ambition or selfish hostility, but to the service of a common order, a common justice, and a common peace. God grant that the dawn of that day of frank dealing and of settled peace, concord, and co-operation may be near at hand!” To follow this so-called “creed,” which has, in spite of the President’s denial, all the essential features of a “program,” re¬ quired the participation in the peace conference of a representative or representatives of neutral nations which, though not engaged in the war, were materially affected by it and vitally interested in preventing future wars. Recognizing this, Mr. Wilson unques¬ tionably purposed to be the representative of such nations. It was a great role which he intended to play in the event that the bellig¬ erents could be induced to enter into conference, the role of an impartial mediator between the great powers at war and that of creator of a world federation to preserve international peace. It was a splendid ambition, a great absorbing purpose, and, if the President had been able to attain it, of which there never was the slightest chance, there is little doubt that he would have been not only the leader of international thought but the most pre-eminent personality in the history of modern times. Though this dream of possessing a beneficent domination over the nations, both belligerent and neutral, had become apparently the great underlying impulse to Mr. Wilson’s future course of action, he realized that his idealistic aims could not be achieved until the belligerents, through his personal efforts, consented to negotiate with one another. Unless this preliminary consent could be gained, his whole plan of intervention and personal direction, which seemed to him the only possible way of restoring peace and insuring it for the future, would fail. He therefore worked out a more definite scheme than had characterized his early efforts to bring together the Entente Powers and the Central Alliance through the unofficial agency of Colonel House. I think that he made his plans months before his re-election in November, 1916, and that the * entry of Rumania into the war and the presidential campaign in the United States prevented him from acting until after his reelection. In any event, within a short time after receiving the popular endorsement of his policies at the polls he believed that the time was propitious. Sometime during the last week in November, after Mr. Hughes had conceded the election of Mr. Wilson, the latter prepared a draft of an identic note addressed to all the belligerents asking them to



state their aims in the war. This was not done to obtain knowledge of facts but in order to furnish the President with official statements of such facts upon which he could prepare a formal offer to the powers at war to mediate between them, and which would at the same time furnish bases for the negotiation which he intended to suggest. Even though he knew what the aims of the Entente were, he was justified in asking to have them officially stated before formally suggesting peace negotiations. The draft note was sub¬ mitted to Colonel House and to me, and we agreed that it was in form and expression objectionable and would not accomplish the purpose for which it was intended. The President also, in connec¬ tion with the sending of the note, proposed to send the Colonel once more to Europe to explain orally to our Ambassadors in London, Paris and Rome the President’s purpose in indirectly suggesting peace negotiations. He had been forewarned by Page’s statements that such a suggestion on his part would probably be misunder¬ stood and misconstrued in England and by the other Allied Powers. House told me that he did not wish to go on such a mission and asked me to dissuade the President from sending him, which I agreed to try to do. Mr. Wilson, having considered our objections, prepared another draft, which was the subject of a long conference between him and me on December first, House having returned to New York before that date. After the conference I wrote to the Colonel: “The form it has taken is far less objectionable than the one originally pro¬ posed.” I continued: “I also took up the subject of the proposed visit by you to London and believe that the matter is satisfactorily disposed of. . . .” On the same day that I wrote this letter I saw the German Ambassador and told him that the President would move indirectly for a peace conference as soon as he had an opportunity, probably before Christmas, but that a definite step at the moment seemed inadvisable. In this connection I told him that the deportation of Belgian civilians to Germany, which had caused a storm of protest in the United States, the Zeppelin raids on English cities and the recent submarine outrages were reasons why an immediate proposal for negotiations would seem to be futile and why the President naturally hesitated in view of the state of the public mind to make such a proposal at this time. The Ambassador appeared to be im¬ pressed and stated that he would inform his government of the President’s intention, of which House had, he said, already advised him.



On the next day (December second) Bernstorff again in New York saw Colonel House, who endorsed all that I had said about the obstacles to the President’s acting at that time. In his letter telling me of his interview with the Ambassador the Colonel also wrote that he was delighted that the President had changed his view about his (House’s) going abroad, of which I had written him, and suggested that W. H. Buckler, attached to the London Embassy, would be the best man to give an oral explanation of the President’s purpose to Sharp and to Page, if it was thought necessary to send an emissary to those ambassadors. On the fourth Bernstorff reported to his government: “Everything is ready for peace move but with the vacillating Mr. Wilson it is always a matter of doubt as to when he will come out with it. . . . Mr. Wilson believes [a belief caused by what Mr. Page had told him] that he is the object of such hatred in England that people would simply refuse to listen to him over there. ... In any event this much is true, that House is constantly urging Mr. Wilson on to action and that peace propaganda is continuing to gain a stronger foothold here, in spite of the fact that, for the moment, the Belgian question stands very definitely in the way.” On December tenth I received the President’s redrafted communi¬ cation and returned it with the following letter: “December 10, 1916. “My dear Mr. President: “I have little comment to make on this communication as a whole because it is so admirably presented and is certainly justified by our own situation, which grows constantly more intolerable. We cannot continue much longer to attempt by peaceable means to secure our rights. We are certainly drift¬ ing nearer and nearer, and it seems to me that unless something is done we will soon be forced to act as I indicated to you the other day in my letter on the submarine matter. “I am not at all sure what effect this communication would have on the respective belligerents; and yet it is probably the only step which can be taken offering a possible way to prevent an open rupture in the near future with one side or the other. On the other hand the answers may compel more speedy action on our part. Of course that is the problem which causes



anxiety, but I do not see that it can cause much greater anxiety than to watch the steady drift toward an impossible situation, in which self-respect as well as interest will compel this country to take sides in the conflict. “While this course of action has its uncertainties which I think should be very carefully considered before being finally adopted, there can be no question whither the logic of events is leading us if some step is not taken to bring this war to an end. “I think, among other questions, we should consider these: Unless the answers of both parties are made in the right spirit, will there be any other course than to declare in favor of the most acceptable and abandon a neutrality which is becoming more and more difficult? But suppose that the unacceptable answer comes from the belligerents whom we could least afford to see defeated on account of our national interest and on account of the future domination of the principles of liberty and democracy in the world—then what? Would we not be forced into an even worse state than that in which we are now? I think that we must consider the possibility of such a situation resulting; and if it does result, which seems to me not only pos¬ sible but very probable, can we avoid the logic of our declara¬ tions? And if we act in accordance with that logic, would it not be a calamity for this nation and for all mankind? I have told you how strongly I feel that democracy is the only sure guarantee of peace, so you will understand how these questions are worrying me, and why I think that they should be con¬ sidered with the greatest deliberation and care before we take a step which cannot be withdrawn once it is taken. “I enclose the communication with comments on the text. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.” Evidently my letter impressed the President, for he did not hand me another draft until the fifteenth. He said that “subsequent thought” had developed the redraft and that it prepared the way for what ought to be done in any case, unless pending developments rendered it unnecessary. This last statement referred to the peace overtures of the Central Powers, which three days before had been handed to our Embassies with the request that they be delivered by the Government of the United States to each of the Allied Governments.

The note, which



was addressed to Mr. Grew, the American Charge at Berlin, was dated December twelfth, the day following the one on which Mr. Lloyd George became premier of Great Britain. It read as follows: “Berlin, December 12, 1916. “Mr. Charge d’Affaires: “The most formidable war known to history has been ravag¬ ing for two and a half years a great part of the world. The catastrophe, that the bonds of a common civilization more than a thousand years old could not stop, strikes mankind in its most precious patrimony; it threatens to bury under its ruins the moral and physical progress on which Europe prided itself at the dawn of the twentieth century. In that strife Germany and her allies—Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey— have given proof of their indestructible strength in winning considerable successes at war. Their unshakable lines resist ceaseless attacks of their enemies’ arms. The recent diversion in the Balkans was speedily and victoriously thwarted. The latest events have demonstrated that a continuation of the war cannot break their resisting power. The general situation much rather justifies their hope of fresh successes. It was for the defense of their existence and freedom of their national development that the four Allied Powers were constrained to take up arms. The exploits of their armies have brought no change therein. Not for an instant have they swerved from the conviction that the respect of the rights of the other nations is not in any degree incompatible with their own rights and legitimate interests. They do not seek to crush or annihilate their adversaries. Conscious of their military and economic strength and ready to carry on to the end, if they must, the struggle that is forced upon them, but animated at the same time by the desire to stem the flood of blood and to bring the horrors of war to an end, the four Allied Powers propose to enter even now into peace negotiations. They feel sure that the propositions which they would bring forward and which would aim to assure the existence, honor and free development of their peoples, would be such as to serve as a basis for the restoration of a lasting peace. “If notwithstanding this offer of peace and conciliation the struggle should continue, the four Allied Powers are resolved to carry it on to a victorious end, while solemnly disclaiming any responsibility before mankind and history.



“The Imperial Government has the honor to ask through your obliging medium the Government of the United States to be pleased to transmit the present communication to the Government of the French Republic, to the Royal Government of Great Britain, to the Imperial Government of Japan, to the Royal Government of Rumania, to the Imperial Govern¬ ment of Russia and to the Royal Government of Serbia. “I take this opportunity to renew to you, Mr. Charge d’Affaires, the assurance of my high consideration.


Bethmann Hollweg.”

I am not sure whether or not the German Government sought to “steal a march” on the President and to anticipate his “peace move” (for it was a peace move in spite of Mr. Wilson’s assertions to the contrary). The German authorities subsequently denied that they had any such motive. There seems no doubt that the Germans had been planning this step ever since Rumania’s declaration of war in August, 1916. It may have been a coincidence that it came at this time, or it may have been induced by the belief that the President would delay action, as he had for months and as Bernstorff had reported he might continue to do. My impression is, however, that the information as to Mr. Wilson’s intention, which I gave to Bernstorff on December first, confirming semi-officially Colonel House’s previous statement, and which the Ambassador repeated to Berlin without delay, was the direct cause of the German overture. It was, whatever the motive may have been, a stupid thing for the Imperial Government to do (a fact which the German officials recognized after the war by attempting to excuse it) for it was sure to deprive Mr. Wilson’s efforts of any possibility of success, slight as that was in the existing state of affairs. It put him in the embarrassing position of apparently collaborating with the Germans in their endeavor to bring about a negotiated peace while the Imperial armies were occupying conquered territory. Naturally, after the German note had been delivered, the Allied Governments would view with increased suspicion, if not with indig¬ nation, any attempt that Mr. Wilson might make to bring the belligerents together, especially as the new Lloyd George Govern¬ ment was openly bellicose and optimistic. German cleverness, or a craftiness which they considered cleverness, was in this case the most palpable stupidity. If, on the other hand, the German Chancellor, who had been for months conveying to the President through the medium of Bernstorff and House that his government



thought that the war had gone far enough and that peace by negotiation would be acceptable, had planned to make overtures to the enemy powers, he would have shown himself a shrewd and sagacious statesman if he had abandoned the plan when he learned that President Wilson would presumably act before Christmas, 1916, which was, as I had told Bernstorff, his intention. Whichever is the true explanation or from whatever angle one looks at the incident, the lack of foresight and of the first rudiments of diplomatic strategy must be credited to the German Chancellor and his advisers. If there was a chance to make a blunder, if there was opportunity to do the wrong thing or not to do the right one, they never failed to seize it. Their diplomacy was simply childish in its want of vision. Most of the Germans, but not all, were deceit¬ ful and tricky and vain of their wits, but they were neither adroit nor tactful. Force they understood, efficient organization they understood, applied science they understood, but the art of diplo¬ macy they were never able to master. The psychology of German officials in general was, as I have remarked before, strangely defec¬ tive. They never seemed to be able to comprehend how others would view their conduct. If their words or acts impressed other people in a different way from the way in which they expected them to be impressed, they seemed amazed and grumbled about the world being full of stupid people. As may be presumed, Mr. Wilson was much disturbed when he read the dispatches bearing the overtures of the Central Powers and realized the position in which he was placed by their forestalling his intended action. They had deprived him of the initiative which was a necessary factor to his obtaining even a moderately sympathetic hearing by the Entente Governments, without which he could expect to make no headway at all. He would have been justified in imme¬ diately abandoning his plan of addressing the belligerents. Its success seemed hopeless to the most optimistic in view of the atmosphere of hostility which would be created in all the Allied countries by the arrogant proposals of the Central Alliance, and by the suspicion with which the President’s appeal would certainly be received. However, Mr. Wilson was not to be turned from his pur¬ pose, though in the circumstances he ought to have been. Hav¬ ing made up his mind as to what he should do, nothing could swerve him from his purpose. This characteristic of Mr. Wilson was a defect which he evinced on other occasions. It was an un¬ fortunate stubbornness of purpose which defied facts. He lacked



the ability of rapid readjustment to changed conditions so necessary in the successful conduct of foreign affairs. On December seventeenth the President sent me his final draft of the proposed circular note. Realizing that nothing I could say would prevent the President from acting, I returned the draft to him the next morning with a letter, a part of which reads as follows: “In returning to you this draft of instructions I wish to say that I consider the document a most excellent one and far superior to the one which you previously drafted. It is much more logical and direct and in presentation is much more forceful and convincing. I think too that you have eliminated the expressions which I feared would cause offense among some of the belligerents, particularly among the Entente Powers which are especially sensitive—unreasonably so—but which, on account of this, must be handled gently if the purpose of the communication is to be attained. “If I were to make a general criticism, I would say that possibly the dire effects of the war on the interests of this country as a neutral are not emphasized quite enough to im¬ press the belligerents with the fact that we can no longer submit to having our people deprived of their rights on the plea that belligerent necessity compels such deprivation. I have read and reread the draft, but do not find a suitable place to insert this thought without destroying the harmony of treatment. Probably it cannot be incorporated, but I thought you were entitled to have every possible suggestion. “I do not think that anything can be added to the instruc¬ tion to Page in London. It is explicit and shows very clearly what is expected of him. I do not think that he will say any¬ thing to moderate the effect because I do not see what he can say. He will see, I am sure, that you are in downright earnest.” The last paragraph was in response to an inquiry in the Presi¬ dent’s letter transmitting to me the final draft, asking if I had any special instructions to suggest to Page in London to make him realize what was expected of him. Clearly Mr. Wilson was fearful, as he had reason to be, of the way in which Mr. Page, on account of his intense pro-British feelings, would present the President’s appeal to the London Government. Concerning the matters set forth in my letter, the President on December eighteenth said that, while he had adopted my suggested



changes in his draft, he had found no logical place to incorporate statements relative to the things which the United States had suf¬ fered in consequence of the war, although he appreciated their importance. He then handed me the corrected note directing that it be sent at once to our Ambassadors for delivery to the belligerent governments. Accordingly, on the same day, it was telegraphed to our diplomatic representatives in the capitals of the warring powers. In this note the President suggested that “an early occa¬ sion be sought to call out from all the nations now at war such an avowal of their respective views as to the terms upon which the war might be concluded and the arrangements which would be deemed satisfactory as a guaranty against its renewal or the kindling of any similar conflict in the future as would make it possible frankly to compare them.” Previous to sending this note, the overtures of the Central Alliance had been transmitted to the Entente Powers through our Ambassa¬ dors, who were directed to say that, while the Government of the United States would like to know the character of the response which would be made to “these unexpected overtures” it intended to make certain representations in behalf of neutral nations and of humanity itself, but that it did not make the representations at that time (the sixteenth) because it did not wish to convey the impression that they were connected in any way with the German overtures. The Ambassadors were also instructed to explain that their govern¬ ment had had in mind addressing the powers at war long before it had any knowledge of the attitude of the Central European Powers toward the restoration of peace. In this way the President sought to divorce his questioning “peace note” from the overtures of the Teutons. He told the truth from the official standpoint, though the informal conversations of Bernstorff and House, of which he was fully cognizant, made this assertion seem a bit dishonest to those who knew what had been going on behind the scenes. I very much doubt whether the statements of our Ambassadors carried con¬ viction to the Allied Governments. I do not see how they could. The circumstantial evidence of co-operation between the President and the Central Empires was too strong to be ignored by the sus¬ picious statesmen of the Allied Powers. In London and Paris the feeling toward the German overtures was overwhelmingly against even considering them, the language and tone being characterized as insulting, boastful and threatening. Ambassador Walter Hines Page reported that the expected result of the German note would be its emphatic rejection by the Allies



and a renewal of hostilities in France with increased grimness and determination as soon as the weather permitted. This information came to us on December fifteenth and was, therefore, before the President at the time when he was rewriting his own note to the Allies and the Central Powers on the seventeenth. It, however, did not deter him from his purpose, nor do I think that it caused him to modify his language. He calmly went on preparing the note as if nothing had happened and on the eighteenth completed his final revision and directed it to be sent. When the President’s note was published, it caused a great sensa¬ tion both at home and abroad, there being much speculation as to the reason why it was sent and as to the influences that had induced Mr. Wilson to act at that particular time. At my daily morning interview with the press correspondents on December twenty-first, I endeavored to clear the atmosphere from the prevailing idea that German influence in any way induced the President to act, by plac¬ ing the matter before them in a light which I had already made clear to Mr. Wilson in my letters. My reasons for giving the thought publicity I explain in a memorandum that will be later quoted. My statement to the correspondents, which was made extempo¬ raneously, was this: “The reasons for the sending of the note were as follows: “It isn’t our material interest we had in mind when the note was sent, but more and more our own rights are becoming in¬ volved by the belligerents on both sides, so that the situation is becoming increasingly critical. “I mean by that that we are growing nearer the verge of war ourselves and therefore we are entitled to know exactly what each belligerent seeks in order that we may regulate our conduct in the future. “No nation has been sounded. No consideration of the German overtures or of the speech of Lloyd George [whose Cabinet was formed on December eleventh] was taken into ac¬ count in the formulation of the document. The only thing the overtures did was to delay it for a few days. It was not de¬ cided to send it until Monday. “Of course the difficulties that faced the President were that it might be construed as a movement toward peace and in aid of the German overtures. He specifically denies in the docu¬ ment itself that that was the fact. “The sending of this note will indicate the possibility of our



being forced into the war. That possibility ought to serve as a restraining and sobering force safeguarding American rights. It may also serve to force an earlier conclusion of the war. Neither the President nor I regard this note as a peace note; it is merely an effort to get the belligerents to define the end for which they are fighting.” The statement, which was at once put on the wires and sent throughout the country, caused widespread excitement. It was interpreted to mean that the government was contemplating abandoning its neutrality and was about to enter the war. The stock market, always sensitive to rumors, immediately reflected the general agitation, and prices fell many points. The stock-gamblers, possibly it would be more polite to say “stock-operators,” who were caught by the drop in prices and saw their “margins” being swept away, hastily telegraphed to their friends in Washington to do something to check the downward tendency of the market. Mr. Wilson asked me to come to the White House. At our interview he explained how my words had been interpreted and asked me to issue another statement removing the misapprehension aroused by what I had said. I told him that I would do so provided he did not ask me to make a retraction or denial of my first statement or to con¬ tradict what I had said, declaring that my statement was true. To my conditions he gave his assent though he seemed reluctant to do so, because I do not think that he wished to admit the truth of my statement even to himself, though he had done so in previous conversations with me. Immediately after this interview at the White House I issued a second statement which read: “I have learned from several quarters that a wrong impres¬ sion was made by the statement which I made this morning, and I wish to correct that impression. “My intention was to suggest the very direct and necessary interest which this country, as one of the neutral nations, has in the possible peace terms which the belligerents may have in mind, and I did not intend to intimate that the government was considering any change in its policy of neutrality which it has consistently pursued in the face of constantly increasing difficulties. “I regret that my words were open to any other construc¬ tion, as I now realize that they were. I think that the whole tone and language of the note to the belligerents show the



purpose without further comment on mj part. It is needless to say that I am unreservedly in support of that purpose and hope to see it accepted.” The following memorandum, which I prepared shortly after this event, gives an explanation of my motives and purposes: “I was fully convinced that, based solely on the facts and circumstances surrounding the issuance of the identic note of December eighteenth, the common opinion as to the reason for sending it would be that it was in aid of and, in fact, supple¬ mental to the German overture for a peace conference of the belligerents; and that this opinion would prevail in spite of the explicit declaration in the note that the two communications were independent and their issuance so near together was merely a coincidence. I believed that no other opinion would be held in belligerent countries or indeed in this country unless some other reason for sending the note at this particular time was clearly stated and stated before opinion should become crystallized. “It was my conviction that, if such an opinion became fixed, the note would be held by the Allied Governments to be prac¬ tically conclusive evidence that this government sympathized with Germany in her effort to have a peace conference even if they did not think that the sympathy went further; and that with such views the Allies would be deeply offended and resentful and in all probability send a curt refusal to the request for a statement of terms. On the other hand, through the same process the German Government would have come to the belief that the note was an endorsement of the German overture for a conference and that, therefore, it was only sent to the Central Powers in order to preserve an appearance of impartiality between the two groups of belligerents but was not actually intended to draw out the Central Powers on terms of peace. “Convinced that this situation had arisen, which was con¬ firmed by the questions asked me by press correspondents, I felt that no time should be lost in preventing the general opinion from becoming rigid and, therefore, determined at my morning interview with the correspondents to give another reason for the issuance of the note than the one furnished by conjecture from the circumstances.



“There were clearly two motives, either of which might be concluded to be the chief one for sending the note: one was to bring about peace for the sake of the belligerents; the other was to bring it about for the sake of the neutrals and humanity in general. The first had to be dismissed as the primary reason for the note because it would be considered to be tainted with approval of the German overture. This left the second motive, the one based on neutral interest, as the one to be relied upon to furnish a reason which would be accepted as valid and re¬ move the irritation which would be caused among the Allies by the suspicion of furnishing support to the German proposal for a conference. “Viewing the matter with this motive in mind it seemed clear that the chief interest to the neutrals in the restoration of peace was because of the danger that they would be unavoid¬ ably drawn into the war. If this danger seemed to a neutral government imminent it was its duty as well as its right to take any steps to avoid becoming a belligerent. The repeated violations by the warring nations of American rights, which were becoming more flagrant and unpardonable as the war progressed, constituted a menace to the peace of this country which had to be met without delay. “This government, recognizing fully the danger of the sit¬ uation, as stated in its note when it termed the condition of neutrals as being nearly ‘intolerable,’ issued the note with the purpose of avoiding a crisis in our foreign affairs which threat¬ ened to compel radical action in the near future, since it was manifest that further discussion would be humiliating as well as futile. “Though other purposes supported the sending of the note, they were, in my opinion, secondary to the chief one of keeping the United States out of the war, although one of these other purposes was the humane desire to bring the conflict to an end. The first duty of the government was to consider the interests of this nation. “The essential point in the situation was that the only

explanation which would satisfy public opinion that the note was not sent to support the German overture, was the an¬ nounced belief that the danger of a break of diplomatic rela¬ tions was so imminent that steps to prevent it could not be delayed until the overture teas answered. No other course



seemed possible to avoid the logic of the circumstances as to the real purpose of the note. . . . “The line of thought was this: If the United States is forced unwillingly to act, it is necessary for it to determine which side it will join in the conflict. To reach an intelligent deter¬ mination it is entitled to know specifically the demands of the respective parties so that it can decide which demands are just and to what the United States is obligated by becoming a belligerent. Furthermore, there was the possibility that on comparing the respective demands of the two parties some basis could be found for the negotiation of a peace, which would remove the imminent danger of the United States being dragged into the war. This possibility was the result most earnestly hoped for by this government, though it seemed doubtful of being realized. . . . “However, after discussing the statement with the President, I found that he feared that it might give the impression that this government had actually decided to enter the war in case the terms proposed by one group of belligerents appeared to be more just and lenient than those of the other group. . . .” The British Ambassador subsequently (January 13, 1917) told me that my first statement was “the only thing that saved the situa¬ tion” so far as his government was concerned; that, if it had not been issued, the resentment in Great Britain toward the President “for his untimely attempt to inject himself into the peace move¬ ment of the Central Empires” would have known no bounds. While this comment was naturally gratifying to me personally and showed that my statement possessed a value in that it may have influenced the British Government not to make a harsh and de¬ fiant rejoinder to the President’s appeal, which would have irritated him intensely and possibly have led to serious consequences as he was already out of temper with the British attitude, it did not divert the current of public opinion in Great Britain. It would probably have been more effective if the President had not insisted on the second statement being issued. The note was interpreted, as I was sure that it would be, as an endorsement of the German overtures, or at least as an attempt at personal mediation, which was almost as bad. Surprise, consterna¬ tion and even anger were generally expressed by the British press that the President apparently placed the Entente and the Central Powers on the same moral plane when he declared that the objects



“both sides have in mind in this war are virtually the same.” The London Chronicle went so far as to term the words of the Presi¬ dent’s note “insulting,” and other papers used similar expressions concerning it. The more conservative British critics declared that the form of the appeal was a mistake and its issuance unwise, as well as ill-timed, since it showed that Mr. Wilson, though the war had been in progress for two and a half years, did not understand the aims of the Allies, which were manifestly to save free govern¬ ment throughout the world from a military despotism, and that to accomplish this the war could not end without a decision, the very suggestion of such a result showing denseness of vision and an almost unbelievably erroneous conception of what the great conflict really meant. This attitude of the British people and their government, which was very unfair to Mr. Wilson because it misconstrued his language and misread his purpose, was reflected in the comments which came from other Allied countries. The people of the Entente Powers interpreted the President’s note as indicating that he was a secret partner of the German Government, and that it was an effort at personal mediation induced by a desire to save Germany from the penalty of her crimes and also by personal vanity and by an ambi¬ tion to dominate the world. Regardless of denials, the popular judgment was that the note was a “peace note,” and I confess that this judgment seems sound and reasonable, when one reads it over and considers the language used. The President was seriously disturbed and, I think, hurt by the way in which the Allies received his appeal, but he did not show his displeasure or disappointment, nor did he give up hope of attaining his object. Appreciating that public opinion in the Allied countries was strongly against him and was deeply incensed at the intimation that he needed to be told for what they were fighting, he suggested to the belligerent governments that they, in sending their replies to his note, do so confidentially and not publicly. He based this suggestion on the belief that a government’s confidential reply would be more frank and less unconditional than one which was prepared for home consumption. There is no doubt that the Allied Governments believed at the close of 1916 that the power of Germany was breaking under the great demands upon her resources, while their own power was daily growing stronger as their armed forces and munitions increased. In fact a high official in Paris declared, with unwarranted optimism, that in three months, or at the outside in six months, the war would



be ended with the Germans driven back across the Rhine and suing for peace. A similar optimism also prevailed in London, where Mr. Lloyd George by his energy and cheerfulness inspired everyone with confidence. Naturally with such expectations, which were shared by many in the Allied countries, peace negotiations at that time appeared to the statesmen of the Entente most unwise. The joint reply of the Allies to the German proposal was deliv¬ ered formally to Ambassador Sharp at Paris on December thirtieth for transmission to Germany and her allies and was made public the following day. It was a bitter arraignment of the Central Alliance. It closed and barred the door to any negotiations with the enemy or to any interchange of views as to bases for peace. It left nothing to be said. It practically ended for the time all hope of a negotiated peace. In addition to this stern and uncompromising attitude of the Allies, Spain, the most prominent of the European neutrals, had declined the President’s request to associate herself with the United States in the effort to bring the belligerents together. She declined on the ground that, as the views of the warring nations had been made known by the notes exchanged between them, the action which Spain was invited by the United States to take would be ineffective, politely adding that she would be glad to participate in the future if there were reasons for believing that neutral interven¬ tion would be opportune. It was concluded from the tone of the Spanish reply that the Spanish Government was offended that it had not been invited to join with the President in his original appeal or at least consulted upon the subject before the identic note was sent to the belligerents. On January 10, 1917, the Allied Governments made a joint reply to the President’s note of December eighteenth. For the pres¬ ent purpose, the quotation of a single brief paragraph will suffice: “They [the Allies] consider that the note which they sent to the United States in reply to the German note will be a re¬ sponse to the questions put by the American Government, and according to the exact words of the latter, constitute ‘a public declaration as to the conditions upon which the war could be terminated.’ ” Accompanying a translation of the joint reply to the President’s note, the Department of State received a copy of a letter signed by Mr. Arthur James Balfour, the British Secretary of Foreign



Affairs, and addressed to the British Ambassador at Washington, in which it was said that, though “the people of this country [Great Britain] share to the full the desire of the President for peace, they do not believe peace can be durable if it be not based on the success of the Allied cause.” This was a practical announcement that the Allies intended to continue the war until Germany was defeated and that they would not consider negotiations for peace before they had won a complete military victory. The President’s entire plan to bring the belligerents together in conference appeared to have collapsed. Yet he would not give up. He had set out to accomplish a certain thing and no discourage¬ ment, no rebuff, no opposition could divert him from his purpose. It was not in Mr. Wilson’s nature to admit defeat, however certain defeat seemed to be to others. He determined to find some way to bring pressure upon the governments of the Allied Powers to com¬ pel them to listen to him in spite of their uncompromising reply. He did not intend to let them believe that he accepted their decision as final by remaining silent and by ceasing his efforts to bring about a negotiated peace. The next step in carrying forward his purpose was a plan to address the Senate on the situation. Ostensibly the President’s object was to ask counsel of that body as his constitutional adviser on matters of foreign policy, but his real object was to announce publicly the principles which he considered essential to the peace which ought to be negotiated and made permanent, undoubtedly hoping that these would win the approval of the peoples of the Allied Powers. On January 12, 1917, I spent over an hour with him at the White House reading over and commenting on the pro¬ posed address to the Senate. I pointed out to him in the course of our conversation that the phrase “peace without victory” might be misinterpreted in the Allied countries and cause hostile criticism, basing the fear on Mr. Balfour’s declaration as to the necessity of a victory by the Allies. He said that he did not think that at all likely and that he saw no reason for changing his words in view of the context. Seeing that he was determined to use the phrase and feeling that he might be right about the context, I did not argue the matter, especially as I knew his fondness for phrasemaking, and was sure that it would be useless to attempt to dissuade him. The next day, at Mr. Wilson’s request, the full text of the ad¬ dress was cabled to our Embassies and Legations in the belligerent countries, in order that it might be given out to the foreign press on the same day that it was delivered, for it was really intended, as



I have said, for consumption by the peoples of those countries rather than by the Senate or the American people. That was the President’s new program, his new line of approach. It was an appeal to the peoples of the Allied Powers over the heads of their governments who had shown their opposition to his personal inter¬ vention in the war; an appeal which, as a practice, seemed to me questionable if not criticizable. The address, which the President delivered at one o’clock on Monday afternoon, the twenty-second, was one of his most notable utterances. In it he attempted to find comfort in the fact that the Entente Powers had stated “in general terms” what they deemed “indispensable conditions of a satisfactory settlement.” He then plunged directly into the real theme of his discourse, a theme which is disclosed in the following phrases: “I have sought this opportunity to address you because I thought that I owed it to you, as the council associated with me in the final determination of our international obligations, to disclose to you without reserve the thought and purpose that have been taking form in my mind in regard to the duty of our Government in the days to come when it will be necessary to lay afresh and upon a new plan the foundations of peace among the nations. “It is inconceivable that the people of the United States should play no part in that great enterprise. . . . “That service is nothing less than this, to add their author¬ ity and their power to the authority and force of other nations to guarantee peace and justice throughout the world. Such a settlement cannot now be long postponed. It is right that before it comes this government should frankly formulate the conditions upon which it would feel justified in asking our people to approve its formal and solemn adherence to a League of Peace. . . . “. . . It will be absolutely necessary that a force be created as a guarantor of the permanency of the settlement so much greater than the force of any nation now engaged or any alliance hitherto formed or projected that no nation, no prob¬ able combination of nations could face or withstand it. If the peace presently to be made is to endure, it must be a peace made secure by the organized major force of mankind. . . . “I am proposing that all nations henceforth avoid entang¬ ling alliances which would draw them into competitions of



power, catch them in a net of intrigue and selfish rivalry, and disturb their own affairs with influences intruded from with¬ out. There is no entangling alliance in a concert of power. When all unite to act in the same sense and with the same purpose all act in the common interest and are free to live their own lives under a common protection.” These utterances indicate very clearly what Mr. Wilson had more or less vaguely in mind when he issued his identic note to the belligerent governments. It was not alone to bring about peace in Europe but to found a world organization of some sort, a concert of all nations, to preserve that peace and, if necessary, to employ force for that purpose. The President then in general terms outlined what he conceived to be the bases of the peace that should be negotiated, in the course of which he uttered the memorable phrase “that it must be a peace without victory.” He went on to explain that “victory would mean peace forced upon the loser, a victor’s terms imposed upon the vanquished.” This unfortunate language, which caused much unfavorable comment in the United States and general resentment in Great Britain and other Allied countries, was not an inadvertence on the part of the President, because, not only had I called the phrase to his attention, but Ambassador Page in London, who had had the text of the address several days before it was delivered, telegraphed him that any expression which seemed to the Allies to be an inter¬ ference with the course of events at a time when they hoped to gain a marked military advantage would arouse such a storm of criticism that it would greatly weaken the President’s future influence. It was evident that the words “peace without victory” were the direct cause of this comment, because he followed the comment with the specific suggestion that instead of “peace without victory” the President should use the phrase, “peace without conquest.” Mr. Page’s suggestion to change the word “victory” to “con¬ quest” was possibly a wise one, and if the President had seen fit to adopt it he would have avoided much harsh criticism in the Entente countries. Why he did not adopt it I do not know. I spoke to the President about Mr. Page’s proposed change and again pointed out to him the advisability of modifying the phrase in some way, but his only reply was a brusque “I’ll consider it,” from which I concluded that he had no intention of striking out the words or of amending his language.



It is not my purpose to analyze the other thoughts which Mr. Wilson expressed in this memorable address. They were devoted chiefly to the character of the peace terms which the United States would be willing to support if an international union was formed to preserve the peace negotiated. They included equality of na¬ tions, consent of the governed, freedom of the seas, reduction of armaments, no balance of power “but a community of power,” and “the doctrine of President Monroe as the doctrine of the world,” the latter phrase indicating a rather uncertain idea as to the nature of the Monroe Doctrine, which was essentially a policy of the United States relating to its own national safety. The address was received with varying emotions in the United States as well as in other countries. The general view was that the original purpose of the President—the negotiation of peace and the ending of the European war—had been swallowed up in the conception of a powerful world organization in which all nations would be members and as such committed to preserve international peace, even to the extent of employing force. In the belligerent countries there were certain elements of the people who heartily approved the President’s plan of a world or¬ ganization to preserve peace when it should be restored and who seemed to lose sight of the immediate problem, which was the nego¬ tiation of the peace to be preserved. The governments of the Allies and the bulk of their peoples, however, read the address with the same critical spirit and with the same suspicions with which they had read his identic note of December eighteenth. The plan of the President had reached this state of development when the German Government with its usual shortsightedness did the one thing which was effective to prevent Mr. Wilson from pro¬ ceeding further with his purpose. On the afternoon of January thirty-first the German Ambassador announced to me that on the next day Germany would renew unrestricted submarine warfare upon vessels of commerce, which meant that the assurances given in the autumn of 1915 and the promises made in the Sussex case were to be canceled. This ruthless policy had been adopted by the German Govern¬ ment on January ninth, and on the sixteenth the German Chan¬ cellor notified Bernstorff of the decision stating that, though they knew that they ran “the danger of bringing about a break and possibly war with the United States,” they had “determined to take the risk.” To this telegram the German Ambassador replied on the nineteenth: “War unavoidable if we proceed as con-



templated.” He urgently advised delay so that the President might have time to continue his efforts for peace. Incidentally it may be noted that it was to the Chancellor’s telegram of the sixteenth that the notorious Zimmermann telegram concerning a Mexican alliance was appended. In spite of Bernstorff’s advice his instructions were not changed and he proceeded to carry them out. The Government of the United States had but one course to pursue in the circumstances. Gerard was recalled from Berlin and Bernstorff was given his passports. This severance of diplomatic relations ended President Wilson’s efforts as a neutral to bring about a conference of the belligerents for the negotiation of peace and the creation of a world organiza¬ tion to prevent future wars. On the same day that Count von Bernstorff brought me the information of the intended renewal of illegal submarine warfare, he sent to Colonel House, in compliance with President Wilson’s request for confidential information, the terms of peace which Ger¬ many had intended to demand if the Allied Governments had ac¬ cepted the offer of the Central Alliance of December twelfth to enter into negotiations. I insert these terms for the purpose of showing how futile would have been the negotiation, even if the Allied Governments had replied favorably to the German proposal, or if Mr. Wilson had been successful through mediation in bringing the belligerents into a conference. The German peace terms were as follows: “Restitution of the part of Upper Alsace occupied by the French. “Gaining of a frontier which would protect Germany and Poland economically and strategically against Russia. “Restitution of Colonies in form of an agreement which would give Germany colonies adequate to her population and economic interest. “Restitution of those parts of France occupied by Germany under reservation of strategical and economic changes of the frontier and financial compensations. “Restoration of Belgium under special guarantee for the safety of Germany which would have to be decided on by negotiations with Belgium. “Economic and financial mutual compensation on the basis of the exchange of territories conquered and to be restituted at the conclusion of peace.



“Compensation for the German business concerns and pri¬ vate persons who suffered by the war. Abandonment of all economic agreements and measures which would form an ob¬ stacle to normal commerce and intercourse after the conclusion of peace, and instead of such agreements reasonable treaties of commerce. “Freedom of the seas.” To these terms the Ambassador added the following which bore directly on Mr. Wilson’s address to the Senate and on the new development in regard to submarine warfare: “My government further agrees, after the war has been terminated, to enter into the proposed second international conference on the basis of the President’s message to the Sen¬ ate. “My government would have been glad to postpone the sub¬ marine blockade, if they had been able to do so. This, however, was quite impossible on account of the preparations which could not be canceled. My government believes that the sub¬ marine blockade will terminate the war very quickly. In the meantime my government will do everything possible to safe¬ guard American interests and begs the President to continue his efforts to bring about peace, and my government will terminate the submarine blockade as soon as it is evident that the efforts of the President will lead to a peace acceptable to Germany.” Three things are noticeable in the last paragraph; first, that Germany had been preparing, probably for months, to recommence indiscriminate submarine warfare and to break her solemn promises to the United States; second, the conviction that the war would be brought to an end by the submarine blockade; and, third, the apparent assumption that the amicable relations between the United States and Germany would continue in spite of the breach of faith and the broken promises of the German Government. That the Ambassador did not believe this assumption to be at all justi¬ fied is evident from his telegram of January nineteenth to Berlin. He may have had a faint hope that Mr. Wilson’s earnest desire to become the personal mediator in peace negotiations would induce him to postpone action. If he had that hope, it was soon dissipated. While the breaking off of diplomatic relations necessarily ended



any direct movement toward peace, the President continued to meditate upon and formulate his plan for an international organ¬ ization of the world to prevent future wars. In fact four days after Bernstorff had been given his passports, Mr. Wilson stated to me what he termed “Bases of Peace,” and requested my views upon them. Having written down the “Bases,” I prepared my comments in the form of a memorandum, which I returned to him the next day.

I Mutual guarantee of political independence—absolute in all domestic matters, limited in external affairs only by the rights of other nations. “Note. Would it be better to insert ‘equal’ before the word ‘rights’?” II

Mutual guarantee of territorial integrity. “Note. Does this provide for the adequate expansion of territory as a result of increased population or an accumula¬ tion of capital desiring investment in territory not under na¬ tional control? That is, should not some provision be made for future colonization? So far as the American nations are concerned, and I think the same is true of Russia with its vast undeveloped territories and Great Britain with its great colonial possessions still but partially settled, a provision of this sort could be applied without danger of being disturbed for many decades, but is the same true of such populous coun¬ tries as Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, etc.? Is it possible to make a rigid and permanent delimitation of territory which will not in a short time be a source of trouble from the pressure of population? Will not such conditions cause aggressions from necessity and in no sense from national ambition or improper motives? Is it possible to provide more elasticity as to territory which will furnish an outlet for sur¬ plus populations?” Ill

Mutual guarantee against such economic warfare as would in effect constitute an effort to throttle the industrial life of a



nation or shut it off from equal opportunities of trade with the rest of the world. “Note. Does this provision apply to ‘economic warfare’ by a single state against another state ? If it does, then the power to retaliate for unjust commercial legislation or regulation by one nation which, though general in terms, operates in practice against only one other nation, would be lacking and prevent the injured party from protecting itself from injus¬ tice. I assume the basic thought in this article is to prevent such international combinations as the Entente Allies had in mind during the Paris Economic Conference, which, as I understand, proposed to unite their nations in preferential trade facilities after the war so that they would benefit first the Allies, second friendly neutrals, and third other neutrals, leav¬ ing the Central Powers commercially isolated or at least great¬ ly handicapped in trade opportunities. “I am afraid that in its present form the articles would be difficult of application. Who would be the judges as to the purpose of an economic war between states? Whose duty would it be to enforce the guarantee after the authorized party decided that action was necessary? This article seems to me much more difficult of practical application than either of the two preceding articles. “As a matter of fact I have never felt that the proposed plan of the Paris Conference could be carried out. Such a combina¬ tion even if attempted would by the natural laws of trade fall to pieces in a short time. “Would it not be as efficacious and less difficult of application to enter into a mutual agreement not to form any international combination or conspiracy to interfere with the commercial enterprises or to limit the equal trade opportunities of any nation? This would not deprive a single nation of the power to act in its own interests, but would prevent the united or identical action of two or more nations.”

IV Limitation of armaments, whether on land or sea, to the necessities of internal order and the probable demands of co¬ operation in making good the foregoing guarantees. PRO¬ VIDED the nations which take part in this covenant may be safely regarded as representing the major force of mankind.



“Note. This seems to me the most difficult of all the articles for proper application. So much depends upon geographical location of territorial possessions and their relation to one an¬ other, to the state of civilization attained in colonies, to the proximity of territory to semi-civilized nations, to the restless¬ ness of populations due to lack of intellectual development, to political oppression, to industrial injustice, to other causes or to domestic unrest. In limited and settled populations with liberal institutions the difficulties could easily be overcome, but in the larger states where domestic peace depends on an adequate force to suppress uprisings, that force might in the hands of an ambitious and unscrupulous government be a very grave menace to small neighboring states. “I am sure that you will understand that I am not arguing against this article. I believe in the purpose but am endeavor¬ ing to raise in my own mind the possible difficulties of the prac¬ tical operation of the provisions if they should be adopted. “Who would determine what armament a nation was entitled to maintain? What would be the basis for limitation? How would an increase or decrease be determined if conditions changed? How would a proper limitation be enforced, and who would determine when enforcement should take place? “These questions are to me very perplexing and very real, and I cannot feel that they should remain unanswered until after the proposal of such an article as this. They will have to be answered sometime and better before than after the nations are committed, because they would then be a source of endless controversy and of possible discord.” The President also said to me, when I handed him my written comments, that it would not be necessary to set up at the outset any permanent tribunal or administrative agency to carry out the mutual guarantees and agreements, but only an “Office of Cor¬ respondence” through which all matters of information could be cleared up, correspondence translated by experts (by which he said that he meant “scholars”), and mutual explanations and sug¬ gestions interchanged. He thought that it would be best to await the developments and suggestions of experience before attempting to create an organization which would be a common instrumentality of international action. With this later idea I told him that I was in full accord because it avoided any idea of a supernational executive authority, which



seemed to me impracticable, while the publicity which would result from such an Office of Correspondence as he proposed would give world public opinion opportunity to exert a powerful influence over governments in the conduct of their international affairs. Also an intelligent world opinion would do more to preserve peace than the menace of force, being from its nature less susceptible to intrigues and secret combinations than an organization with dele¬ gated powers. In the President’s suggested “Bases of Peace” are the elemental ideas which entered into the Covenant of the League of Nations as finally incorporated in the Treaty of Versailles of 1919. How¬ ever, the international agency, which the President described to me in February, 1917, which was simple, practical and without any sort of executive power, and to the support of which the most conserva¬ tive could subscribe, was a very different type of agency from the completed machinery of the League with its Council and Assembly and Secretariat, which the President in 1919 wrote into the Cove¬ nant that was laid before the Peace Conference. In reviewing the President’s efforts for peace in December, 1916, and January, 1917, comment beyond that incidental to the narra¬ tive would seem superfluous. The facts speak for themselves. Mr. Wilson, in view of the high hopes of the Allies and the military advantage of the Central Alliance, made his “peace move” at an inopportune time, probably the most inopportune that he could have chosen. His attempt was right in purpose, though possibly too ideal for a practical and selfish world and too coldly impersonal for human nature. The President did not give sufficient weight to the rivalries and ambitions of governments and to the intense hatred and sense of wrong which affected public opinion in the warring nations. The human factor of the problem he ignored. He con¬ sidered the matter dispassionately and so he expected others to consider it. His idealistic conception of the power of altruism over men and events led him into difficult situations.


The severance of diplomatic relations between the United States and Germany took place on February 3, 1917, when Count von Bernstorff, the German Ambassador, was handed his passports and Ambassador Gerard was recalled from Berlin. It was a definite departure by this country from an impartial neutrality, which had been so difficult to maintain, and was the first step toward a state of war with the Imperial German Government. The two months following this event formed an intermediate period between peace and war, in which the United States continued to have the same diplomatic relations with the Entente Powers and in a measure with the Austro-Hungarian Empire as those which had previously existed. All communications with Germany passed through the hands of Dr. Paul Ritter, the Minister of Switzerland at Washing¬ ton, who was given charge of German interests in the United States by the departing Ambassador, or through the hands of the Spanish Ambassador at Berlin, who took charge of American interests in Germany. The situation may be described as one of friendly neu¬ trality with the Allies and of unfriendly neutrality with the Ger¬ man Empire, while the relations with Austria-Hungary were neither friendly nor openly unfriendly. The break with the German Government was the direct result of the announced policy of that government (a policy which had been adopted at Berlin on January 9, 1917) to resort again to indiscriminate submarine warfare regardless of the character of the vessels attacked. There had been submarine sinkings in the autumn of 1916, which had been so flagrantly wanton in the cases of the Mariana and Arabia that I had written the President con¬ cerning them on December 8, 1916, while he was preparing his identic note, which went forward to the belligerents on December eighteenth. Although Mr. Wilson’s efforts for peace, which began with the sending of the identic note to the belligerents, held the center of international interest for the succeeding five weeks, I was skeptical as to the result, and therefore gave much thought to the subject of the possible renewal of submarine warfare in its most vicious and terrible form. It appeared like a race between the President’s efforts and the German intentions. The latter won, as




the former never had a chance of success. Probably it was well that it was so, for it is improbable that there would have been a perma¬ nent abandonment of the policy of ruthlessness by the German naval authorities, who were again dominant in Berlin, having won the support of the General Staff and the Chancellor by assurances that they could relieve the economic situation in Germany caused by the British blockade if they were permitted to retaliate upon the enemy’s commerce with a vigorous use of submarines. To my letter of December eighth, the President made no reply. Undoubtedly he hoped that the belligerent governments would re¬ spond to his appeal in a way that would make an answer unneces¬ sary. He apparently did not wish to discuss a policy of action on an hypothesis so at variance with his hope and expectation. I be¬ lieve that it is not going too far to say that he did not even wish to think about a possible state of affairs arising which would be so contrary to his desire and would almost certainly destroy his plans for personal mediation and world organization. My subsequent intercourse with the President, which gave me a further insight into his processes of thought, leads me to this conclusion. If facts were hostile to his intentions or seemed to stand in the way of his settled purpose, he was disposed either to ignore entirely their existence, or to refuse to recognize them as con¬ trolling. There was a bit of the ostrich with its head in the sand about this mental attitude. He seemed to be striving to convince himself that everything was favorable to his plans by blinding him¬ self to a disagreeable truth, and by showing that he did not desire to have it told to him. I am inclined to believe that one who in¬ formed him of unpleasant facts or possibilities, however certain they might be, was unconsciously credited by Mr. Wilson with being unsympathetic with the policy which he had decided to follow. He resented having his ideas bound down by the logic of events. In December, 1916, however, I did not so read the President’s attitude of mind in regard to facts and the unavoidable deductions which were to be drawn from them. Feeling that the matter was sufficiently urgent and that the policy to be adopted, if submarine outrages were persisted in by the Germans, ought to be carefully considered before being determined, I again wrote to the President on December twenty-first, the very day on which I had explained to the press correspondents the danger of the United States being drawn into the war:



“December 21, 1916. “My dear Mr. President: “I laid before you some days ago [December eighth] the present status of the submarine controversy and gave it as my opinion that we were approaching, if we had not reached, a time when we must either make good by some action or else withdraw from the position which we took in the Sussex case. I do not think that we can continue this uncertain state much longer, and ought, therefore, to determine on a definite course of action. “In some of the cases all the evidence possibly obtainable has been received and we can offer no further excuse, which seems valid, for delaying action. Meanwhile new cases are becoming of almost daily occurrence, from which it may be concluded that the German Government has assumed that we intend to submit to the sinking of American vessels with Ameri¬ cans on board without carrying out our threat. I cannot but feel that to have this impression prevail in Germany, and it is having its effect here as well, puts us in a more or less humiliat¬ ing position and may seriously affect our prestige as a govern¬ ment which means what it says. I know that you will agree with me that we cannot afford that impression to become a conviction, and I, therefore, urge that we determine at once upon a definite course of action and do so without delay. I am firmly convinced that we ought not longer to avoid a decision. “I hope, therefore, you can consider my former letter and the general subject and advise me as to your wishes. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”

To this letter I received no reply. It was apparently treated in the same way that my letter of December eighth had been treated, because of the reasons which I have stated. It suggested facts and possible conditions which the President did not want to admit, and which, if he thought about them, he would have been compelled to admit. So he closed his mind to them as an unpleasant and dis¬ turbing subject which might never have to be considered if matters turned out as he hoped. Probably he thought me unduly pessimis¬ tic and as lacking faith in his plans to restore and preserve the peace of the world. Receiving no reply to my letter I made no further attempt to obtain a commitment from Mr. Wilson in regard



to the policy which should be followed in the event that submarine commanders persisted in their brutal practices. At least, I made none until after the formal announcement of the German Govern¬ ment that on February first all restrictions on the use of submarines against merchant ships would be removed, an announcement which might possibly have been prevented if we had adopted a vigorous policy early in January. During the month following the letter which I have quoted I frequently thought of the subject, looking forward with anxiety to the time when Germany would cast aside the mask behind which she was hiding her intention until the President’s efforts for a negotiated peace proved futile. The two following memoranda written soon after President Wil¬ son’s great address to the Senate on January twenty-second will disclose my thoughts at the time: “Note on the Probable Renewal of Submarine Warfare. “January 24, 1917. “I am convinced that something is going to happen very shortly in the submarine matter which will open up a new and, I am afraid, a very disagreeable chapter in that controversy. Possibly it will be the last chapter so far as this country is concerned. Just what it is I do not know but in all probability Germany will sink passenger ships again, and then we will have to act. There can be no more notes or negotiations. That stage has passed. “For nearly three months there has been leaking through from Germany persistent reports from all sorts of sources that the German shipyards are building submarines with feverish haste, and that the supporters of unrestricted use of them are gaining strength. The people believe that they will be able to compel Great Britain to give up her policy of cutting off supplies going to Germany. They are clamoring for action, being urged on by the von Tirpitz crowd. I do not believe that the German Government can long resist this pressure, and I am not at all sure that they want to if they have a large number of submarines prepared. I have felt all the time that the only restraint was lack of submarines. “A few days ago a prominent member of the German



Embassy was overheard talking to a friend. He had been informed that someone of their acquaintance intended to sail or rather had already sailed for Europe. ‘For God’s sake,’ he exclaimed in great excitement, ‘why did you let her go? You knew she ought not to go now.’ This indicated to me that something was on foot. Possibly it was a return to sink¬ ing passenger steamers. Of course I may have been mistaken, but the suspicion is so strong that I will not be surprised if there is another Lusitania disaster. “Previous to receiving this information, while I had felt that a renewal of ruthlessness was bound to come, I did not believe that it would commence before spring. The cold, in¬ clement weather, rough seas and short days make the winter a bad time for submarine operations in northern waters. I am now at a loss as to the time when Germany will start her campaign. Her preparations must be much further advanced than I thought, if the plan is to begin at once. Yet this con¬ versation which I refer to would indicate that orders had already been issued. “Whenever Germany does begin ruthless warfare again— and I am practically certain that she will do so at no distant day—it will cause the most serious crisis in our relations. Her promise in the Sussex case will be broken and we will have to give Bernstorff his passports, for we must keep our word even if Germany does not. Self-respect will demand prompt and vigorous action. What will be the result no one can say but very probably it will mean war, possibly not at once but soon. If we keep out in those circumstances it will be a miracle. “There is one thing anyway, the public will know that I was not thoughtless but thoughtful when I said last December that this country was ‘drawing near to the verge of war.’ But I would be only too glad to bear the criticism forever if we could honorably keep out of this conflict. This I believe hopeless, and still I hope it may be so. I am, however, so convinced of the perfidious character of the Germans and of the approaching renewal of indiscriminate submarine attacks that it seems to me an absolute certainty that before many days or weeks the American people will not be ‘drawing near’ but actually standing on ‘the verge of war.’ When they do, they may realize that my words were not empty.”


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING “Certainty of War with Germany. “January 28, 1917.

“Since I wrote my memorandum on the twenty-fourth I have been thinking about the hope I expressed of keeping this country out of war with Germany and I think I overstated it. “I have felt that the American people were not wholly con¬ vinced of the real menace of Germany, and that, therefore, we ought to keep at peace if possible until the nation as a unit demanded war. If our people only realized the insatiable greed of those German autocrats at Berlin and their sinister purpose to dominate the world, we would be at war today. I am certain that they do not appreciate the danger and I am not sure that the President does, although he may be hiding his true feelings and purpose. “Of course to plunge this nation into this terrible struggle is a responsibility from which a conscientious leader may well shrink, and I can understand the natural resistence of the President to the forces which are resistlessly urging him on. But to take the step without a united people behind him would be an unwise, if not a dangerous, thing to do. “Sooner or later the die will be cast and we will be at war with Germany. It is certain to come. We must nevertheless wait patiently until the Germans do something which will arouse general indignation and make all Americans alive to the peril of German success in this war. When that time comes, as it will come because of German folly, I am convinced that the President will act and act with vigor. “I hope that those blundering Germans will blunder soon because there is no doubt but that the Allies in the west are having a hard time and Russia is not succeeding in spite of her man power. The Allies must not be beaten. It would mean the triumph of Autocracy over Democracy, the shatter¬ ing of all our moral standards and a real, though it may seem remote, peril to our independence and institutions. “Looking at the situation without bias and without undue weight to our selfish interests, we can no more avoid entering this war against Germany than we can avoid the progress of time. It is as certain as fate. I wish that we might be spared, because it will mean the waste of millions of lives and billions of treasure. While I claim no prophetic vision I believe that I can declare that by this time next year Americans will be



killing those German barbarians or at least getting ready to do their part in this war against the Kaiser and his military gang who rule over Germany. “I hate the horrors of war but I hate worse the horrors of German mastery. War cannot come too soon to suit me since I know that it must come at last.”

This was my state of mind when Count von Bernstorff delivered to me on the afternoon of Wednesday, January thirty-first, a note with two memoranda enclosed. After referring to the rejection by the Allies of the German peace proposal as the “Allies’ brutal method of war,” it was announced:

“Germany will meet the illegal measures of her enemies by forcibly preventing after February 1, 1917, in a zone around Great Britain, France, Italy, and in the Eastern Mediterra¬ nean all navigation, that of neutrals included, from and to England and from and to France, etc., etc. All ships met within that zone will be sunk. “The Imperial Government is confident that this measure will result in a speedy termination of the war and in the restoration of peace which the Government of the United States has so much at heart. Like the Government of the United States, Germany and her allies had hoped to reach this goal by negotiations. Now that the war, through the fault of Germany’s enemies, has to be continued, the Imperial Governments feels sure that the Government of the United States will understand the necessity of adopting such measures as are destined to bring about a speedy end of the horrible and useless bloodshed.” The second memorandum defined blockade zones in which all sea traffic would be attacked, and set out conditions and limita¬ tions under which American ships might sail undisturbed to Falmouth. I can do no better than quote here the memorandum which I made of the events which occurred from the time of my receipt of the foregoing note and memoranda with their definite declarations up to the actual severance of our relations with Germany. I omit only that portion of the memorandum which records what took place at the Cabinet meeting called to consider the crisis, as I do not



believe that a Cabinet officer should divulge the substance of such confidential discussions.

“February 4, 1917. “During the forenoon of Wednesday, January 31, 1917, the German Ambassador telephoned my office and arranged an interview for four o’clock that afternoon. He did not indicate his purpose and my own idea was that he probably desired to talk over confidentially the terms on which Germany would make peace. “That afternoon I was working on a letter to the President in regard to the arming of merchant vessels on the ground that Germany was undoubtedly preparing to renew vigorous submarine warfare. Before I had completed the letter the German Ambassador was announced. “When he entered my room at ten minutes after four I noticed that, though he moved with his usual springy step, he did not smile with his customary assurance. After shaking hands and sitting down in the large easy chair by the side of my desk he drew forth from an envelope, which he carried, sev¬ eral papers. Selecting one, he held it out saying that he had been instructed to deliver it to me. As I took the paper he said that for convenience he had prepared an English transla¬ tion. He then handed me three documents in English consist¬ ing of a note and two accompanying memoranda. “He asked me if he should read them to me or if I would read them to myself before he said anything about them. I replied that I would read the papers, which I did slowly and carefully for as the nature of the communication was disclosed I realized that it was of very serious import and would probably bring on the gravest crisis which this government had had to face during the war. The note announced the renewal on the next day of indiscriminate submarine warfare, and the annulment of the assurances given this government by Germany in the note of May 4, 1916,'following the Sussex affair. “While I had been anticipating for nearly three months this very moment in our relations with Germany and had given expression to my conviction in the public statement which I made concerning our note of December eighteenth, for which I had been so generally criticized, I was nevertheless surprised



that Germany’s return to ruthless methods came at this time. I knew that all her shipyards had been working to their full capacity in constructing submarines for the past seven months and that thousands of men were being trained to handle their complex mechanism, but I assumed that on account of the difficulties of using submarines in northern waters during midwinter the campaign would not begin before March and probably not until April. It was therefore with real amaze¬ ment that I read the note and memoranda handed me. I can only account for the premature announcement of indiscrimi¬ nate warfare on the ground that the food situation in Germany had reached such a pass that the Imperial Government had to do something to satisfy public opinion. “As I finished my deliberate perusal of the papers, I laid them on the desk and turned toward Count von Bernstorff. ‘I am sorry,’ he said, ‘to have to bring about this situation but my government could do nothing else.’ “I replied, ‘That is of course the excuse given for this sud¬ den action, but you must know that it cannot be accepted.’ “ ‘Of course; of course,’ he said, ‘I understand that. I know it is very serious, very, and I deeply regret that it is necessary.’ “ ‘I believe you do regret it,’ I answered, ‘for you know what the result will be. But I am not blaming you personally.’ “ ‘You should not,’ he said with evident feeling, ‘you know how constantly I have worked for peace.’ “ ‘I do know it,’ I said. ‘I have never doubted your desire or failed to appreciate your efforts.’ “ ‘I still hope,’ he said, speaking with much earnestness, ‘that with a full realization of Germany’s situation your gov¬ ernment will in justice decide that the notification of blockade is entirely warranted.’ “I answered him that I could not discuss the merits until I had thoroughly digested the documents, but I would say that the first reading had made a very bad impression, and that to give only eight hours’ notice without any previous warning of intention was in my opinion an unfriendly and indefensible act. “He exclaimed, ‘I do not think it was so intended; I am sure it was not.’ “ ‘I regret that I must differ with you,’ I replied, ‘but this has come so suddenly that I am sure you will understand I do not wish to discuss the matter further.’


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING “ ‘Of course, of course; I quite understand,’ he said, rising

and extending his hand which I took with a feeling almost of compassion for the man, whose eyes were suffused and who was not at all the jaunty carefree man-of-the-world he usually was. With a ghost of a smile he bowed as I said ‘Good afternoon’ and, turning, left the room. “Immediately on his departure I called in Polk and Woolsey, and read the communication which I had received. We all agreed that the only course which seemed open was to break off diplomatic relations. “I telephoned to the White House and found the President was out. I then wrote him a short letter transmitting the papers, and sent it by Sweet to the White House, who between five and five-thirty left it with the usher to be put in the President’s hands as soon as he returned. Through some con¬ fusion with other papers the President did not get the papers until after eight o’clock. He then telephoned me to come to the White House. “From a quarter to nine until half past ten we conferred in his study. Throughout the conference I maintained that we must pursue the course which he had declared we would pursue in our Sussex note of April 18, 1916, namely to break off relations with Germany if she practiced ruthless submarine warfare; that any lesser action would be impossible; and that the only question in my mind was whether we ought not to go further and declare that the actual renewal of indiscriminate submarine attack affecting our citizens or ships would be considered by us to be an act of war. “The President, though deeply incensed at Germany’s in¬ solent notice, said that he was not yet sure what course we must pursue and must think it over; that he had been more and more impressed with the idea that ‘white civilization’ and its domination over the world rested largely on our ability to keep this country intact, as we would have to build up the nations ravaged by the war. He said that as this idea had grown upon him he had come to the feeling that he was willing to go to any lengths rather than to have the nation actually involved in the conflict. “I argued with him that, if the break did not come now, it was bound to do so in a very short time, and that we would be in a much stronger position before the world if we lived up to our declared purpose than if we waited until we were further



humiliated. I said that if we failed to act I did not think we could hold up our heads as a great nation and that our voice in the future would be treated with contempt by both the Allies and Germany. “The President said that he was not sure of that; that, if he believed it was for the good of the world for the United States to keep out of the war in the present circumstances, he would be willing to bear all the criticism and abuse which would surely follow our failure to break with Germany; that con¬ tempt was nothing unless it impaired future usefulness; and that nothing could induce him to break off relations unless he was convinced that, viewed from every angle, it was the wisest thing to do. “I replied to this that I felt that the greatness of the part which a nation plays in the world depends largely upon its character and the high regard of other nations; that I felt that to permit Germany to do this abominable thing without firmly following out to the letter what we had proclaimed to the world we would do, would be to lose our character as a great power and the esteem of all nations; and that to be considered a ‘bluffer’ was an impossible position for a nation which cherished self-respect. “There was of course much more said during our confer¬ ence. The President showed much irritation over the British disregard for neutral rights and over the British plan (asserted by Germany) to furnish British merchant ships with heavy guns. I told him that so far as proof of this we had none, but it seemed to me that Germany’s declaration in any event justified such a practice. He replied that he was not certain that the argument was sound but he did not think it worth while to discuss it now in view of the present crisis. “After some further talk it was agreed that I should prepare a note to Bernstorff setting out the breach of faith by Germany and breaking off diplomatic relations. This was to be a tenta¬ tive draft and a basis for further consideration of the subject. “On returning home I immediately prepared a draft in rough form, and the next morning (Thursday) I redrew it in my own handwriting using for the quoted parts clippings from the printed correspondence. (This note with practically no changes was the one finally sent.) “Although many diplomats called at the Department, I denied myself to them all as I did not care to discuss the situa-



tion. However, I had to see Senator Hitchcock, who in the absence of Senator Stone was the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Foreign Relations. He suggested that we ask the belligerents of both sides for a ten-day armistice. I asked him what good that would do. He said,‘To gain time.’ ‘Well, and then what?’ I asked. He had nothing to offer and I told him that I did not think that it would get us anywhere, but that, even if there were some benefit to be gained, I was sure that Germany would decline and the Allies would probably do the same. He went away in a dispirited frame of mind, saying that he saw no other way of avoiding trouble. “At noon on Thursday (the first of February) I went over to the White House and with Colonel House, who had arrived early that morning, conferred with the President for about an hour in his study. We went over substantially the same ground which the President and I had covered the night be¬ fore. The Colonel, as is customary with him, said very little, but what he did say was in support of my views. “I went further in this conference than I did in the previous one by asserting that in my opinion peace and civilization depended on the establishment of democratic institutions throughout the world, and that this would be impossible if Prussian militarism after the war controlled Germany. The President said that he was not sure of this as it might mean the disintegration of German power and the destruction of the German nation. His argument did not impress me as very genuine, and I concluded that he was in his usual careful way endeavoring to look at all sides of the question. “When I left the conference I felt convinced that the Presi¬ dent had almost reached a decision to send Bernstorff home. It was not any particular thing which he said but rather a general impression gained from the entire conversation. At any rate I felt very much better than I had the night before when the President’s tone of indecision had depressed me. Probably I misjudged him because he did not at once fall in with my views, which were certainly radical. “Thursday evening I wrote out at considerable length an arraignment of Germany on her submarine methods and the faithlessness of the German Government in giving its assur¬ ance of May 4, 1916, in the Sussex case. I wrote it as I felt without softening the harshness of my thoughts, and, as I



intended to send it to the President, I wished him to know exactly how I felt. uThe next morning (Friday, the second) I read to Mr. Polk my arraignment of Germany, which he heartily approved, and I then sent it to the President. Three times that morning the President and I conferred over our private wire. We dis¬ cussed the issuance of passports, the sailing of American ships for the ‘danger zone’ and the possibility of securing identic action by other neutrals in case of a break with Germany. “At two-thirty Friday afternoon the Cabinet met and sat until four forty-five. The entire time was given to a discussion of the crisis with Germany. The discussion was very general although it was chiefly confined to the subjects which the President and I had been over in our conference. . . . “Friday was a day of extreme tension. From morning till night officials and newspaper men were fairly on tiptoe with suppressed excitement. Fully eighty of the correspondents were present at my interview in the morning, and they were swarming in the corridors when I returned to the Department at five o’clock. I slept soundly that night, feeling sure the President would act vigorously. “Saturday morning (the third) soon after I reached the Department, Polk and I discussed the situation. He was doubtful and distressed, and I assured him that I was certain the President would act that day. “A little after ten Senator Stone, who had arrived from the West on Friday noon and had taken part in the conferences which the President held in his room at the Capitol soon after the Cabinet meeting, came in, but as I had just been summoned by telephone to the White House we had only a word together. “At ten-thirty I reached the President’s study and we con¬ ferred for half an hour. He told me that he had decided to hand Bernstorff his passports and to recall Gerard, and that at two o’clock that afternoon he would address Congress, lay¬ ing before them in a little more elaborate form the substance of the note which I had drafted, together with a statement that he would come before them again and ask for powers in case Germany should carry out her threats. I congratulated him on his decision, saying I was sure that he was right and that the American people, almost to a man, would stand behind him. “It was arranged that at the hour when the President began



his address to Congress Count von Bernstorff would receive his passports. I told the President that in view of the preparation of the note and passports and of the necessity of getting off telegrams to Berlin and neutral countries inviting their identic action, it would be impossible for me to go to the Capitol at two o’clock. He replied that he understood perfectly and that in any event the essential part of his address was in the note which I had drafted. “On leaving the White House I met Tumulty in front of the Executive Offices. He had just returned from the Capitol, where he had been to arrange for the President’s appearance there at two o’clock. I then hurried over to the Department, called in Polk and Woolsey and later Phillips and Sweet. The necessary papers were prepared as rapidly as possible and I read and signed them. Everything was carried through according to schedule. At two the President spoke at the Capitol in the House of Representatives. Three minutes before two Woolsey delivered the note and passports to Count von Bernstorff at the Embassy; and the necessary telegrams were put on the wires. “Even so serious an act as the severing of diplomatic rela¬ tions with Germany was a great relief from the intense anxiety of the two preceding days. From the reception of the Ger¬ man notification on Wednesday afternoon I had felt that such action was the only possible one to take to preserve the honor, dignity and prestige of the United States. I did not really doubt that the President would ultimately reach the same con¬ clusion, but I feared that the delay would create the impression that he was wavering and undecided. When, therefore, he announced his decision on Saturday morning, I was thankful that the period of uncertainty was over, that the die was cast, and that Germany’s insolent challenge had been met with firm¬ ness. That it would be received with the universal approval of the American people was not a matter of doubt. Whatever may be the consequences no other course was open to a selfrespecting nation.” This detailed account of the progress of events, written on Sun¬ day, February fourth, the day after the German Ambassador received his passports, gives a more graphic picture of all that occurred during the three critical days following the receipt of the German announcement of the purpose to renew the unlawful



practices of submarine warfare than could be given now after years have dimmed or destroyed the memory of the small details of what actually occurred. Some of these may seem trivial and unworthy of record, but they all belong in the story. They are part of the picture and ought not to be omitted. I regret for several reasons that I do not consider that it is proper to make public the discussion which took place at the Cabinet meeting on February second, at which the draft of the note to Bernstorff was read and considered. Cabinet meetings are of so confiden¬ tial a nature that their proceedings are not proper subjects for publicity, at least not for many years after they have taken place, particularly if the opinion of the Cabinet officer is at variance with the subsequent policy of the government. Possibly secrecy should be preserved in regard to them so long as any member of the Cabinet is living. I am disposed to think that this would be a good general rule for former Cabinet officers. It might not apply to every sub¬ ject, but I think that it ought to be applied to expressions of personal opinion given during Cabinet meetings. Unless some unwritten law of this sort is observed, the freedom of discussion, which is characteristic of Cabinet meetings, will disappear. The President’s address to Congress was delivered while the German Ambassador in his Embassy was reading the note of February 3, 1917, which informed him that his mission to the United States was ended and that he was expected to return imme¬ diately to Germany. He received the note with philosophical com¬ posure and immediately issued the following statement to the press, a statement which he apparently had prepared in advance: “I am not surprised. My government will not be surprised either. The people in Berlin knew what was bound to happen if they took the action they have taken. There was nothing else left for the United States to do.” This is an extraordinary admission for a diplomat to make, but no one can deny its honesty and frankness. Bernstorff had labored assiduously to prevent his government from taking this fateful step. His advice had for a time prevailed, but the Imperial Chan¬ cellor had been converted to the von Tirpitz policy because, as he told the Reichstag, the number of U-boats had been largely in¬ creased and the military situation permitted the Germans “to accept all the consequences which unrestricted U-boat war may bring.” He declared that, as it was the means of most grievously injuring Germany’s enemies, “it must be begun at once.” My personal view is that the German Government was not convinced of the truth of



Bernstorff’s repeated statement that this policy, if pursued, would force the United States to take sides against Germany, although the Ambassador was advised that Germany was ready to take the risk. Even if we did enter the war, the German Government did not believe that we would be able to do more than to furnish supplies to the Allies, and this country was already furnishing them in vast quantities. From the German viewpoint, therefore, it really made little difference whether the United States was a neutral or an enemy, so far as the outcome of the war was concerned. It was never dreamed in Berlin that American troops to any appreciable number would be sent to France, and, in any event, if this was contemplated and attempted, there seemed little possi¬ bility that millions of men could be assembled, equipped, trained and sent overseas under competent officers before a military decision had been reached, which the Germans believed would be accom¬ plished during the next twelve months by the occupation of Paris and by driving the British across the Channel, while the submarine blockade would compel the London Government to sue for peace. It was thus, it would seem, the high officials at Berlin reasoned, and it must be confessed that their deductions were not illogical so far as the United States was concerned, though the future proved that their premises were wrong. They had left out of the problem three vital factors: American spirit, American energy and American resourcefulness. These Bernstorff knew and feared. He had none of the delusions of his superiors as to the consequences of the United States’ entry into the war. He saw the calamity that it would be for the Central Empires and strove assiduously to keep his govern¬ ment from making the mistake which it did make.


The two months which succeeded the severance of our relations

with Germany were months of anxiety as to what would be the next act in the drama and of uncertainty as to the policy which the government ought to adopt while awaiting further developments. I believe that the President still cherished the hope that the German Government would, in spite of all that had occurred, reconsider its plans and withdraw its declaration of renewal of unrestricted sub¬ marine warfare. He did not want war and he would not admit to himself that it was unavoidable. I have already pointed out in the chapter dealing with his efforts for peace that Mr. Wilson, four days after Bernstorff received his passports, was formulating “Bases of Peace,” which he would hardly have been doing if he believed that the situation was hopeless. So convinced was I of the futility of a peaceful solution that on the day before we severed relations with Germany I wrote the following letter to the President: “February 2, 1917. “My dear Mr. President: “I have been considering deeply and, I believe, without emo¬ tion the present crisis and just what course should be taken. The results are as follows: “I am firmly convinced that we must without taking any preliminary step break off diplomatic relations by sending Bernstorff and his suite home and by recalling Gerard and closing our Embassy in Berlin. “The next step is less clear and requires very careful thought before it is adopted. There seem to be two courses open to us. “First: To follow the severance of diplomatic relations by announcing to Congress this action with a statement that this government must consider Germany to be an international outlaw, and that it would be necessary to warn Americans to to keep away from the seas infested by its piratical craft. “Second: To follow up the severance of relations by an¬ nouncing to Congress this action with a statement that Germany has forfeited every consideration by reason of her breach of faith, that the full criminality of her previous acts 219



is revived, and that no other honorable course remains but for this country to employ every resource which it possesses to punish the guilty nation and to make it impotent to commit in the future crimes against humanity. “This first course has certain advantages in that, while we would not be at war, we would be in a position to do certain things which we cannot do now consistently with strict neu¬ trality. Furthermore, it would give time for consideration as to the advisable steps to be taken afterward, for I feel con¬ vinced that Germany will not declare war on the breaking off of intercourse. As to the suggested warning of Americans, we could do it with propriety if we declare Germany outlaw, something which could not be done as long as we treated her as a friend. It has this disadvantage, which requires very careful consideration and may make it inadvisable, namely, that it will accomplish the very purpose which Germany sought a year ago by keeping American ships and citizens from going to Great Britain and her allies. Thus it would result in Ger¬ many obtaining by threat of lawless action what she was unable to obtain through friendly negotiation. “The second course has these advantages: It amounts to a frank declaration that an outlaw government is an enemy of mankind, and will show that the present military oligarchy must be eliminated for the sake of civilization and the future peace of the world. It will influence other neutrals far more than the less vigorous course and will, in my opinion, induce them to follow such action, which I do not think they will do unless they are certain we are willing to go the limit. It will leave us some friends after the war. It will do more to end the war than anything that can be done. It will give this country a prominent place in the peace negotiations which will prevent unjust treatment of the Central Powers and will be decidedly for their interests. It will give tremendous moral weight to the cause of human liberty and the suppression of Absolutism. It will remove all charge of weakness of policy and satisfy, I believe, our own people. (This latter advantage is not of great importance but the benefit of popular support is not to be ignored.) “In brief these are my views as to the two courses open to us if severance of diplomatic relations takes place. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”



I ought to explain certain portions of this letter by pointing out that I knew the President’s mental attitude as to the subjects dealt with and sought to conform my language as far as possible to that attitude. The portions which need explanation are the following phrases or terms: “a prominent place in the peace negotiations,” the idea of preventing “unjust treatment of the Central Powers,” and “moral weight to the cause of human liberty.” All these were thoughts which would, I was sure, appeal strongly to Mr. Wilson. The sentence in parenthesis, which minimizes the value of public opinion, I inserted as an afterthought, because I knew that the idea of being induced to act under the pressure of popular demand was always distasteful to the President and aroused in him a spirit of resistence. It was to offset the tendency on his part to oppose any action urged by the press or by partizans that I used this language, as will be seen by examining the context. While the severance of relations did not deprive this letter of value, since it was written on the hypothesis of such a severance, the implication of the President in his address to Congress that he intended to await until some “actual overt acts” had been committed by the German submarine commanders before taking further steps postponed, for the time being, consideration of a policy of drastic action. On the other hand, there were certain questions of policy which did not have to do with the political relations between the two countries that required decision. Of these the most important was the protection of our merchant marine from the piratical attacks of the U-boats. Even more immediate than this were precautionary measures to protect public buildings and other property in the United States from lawlessness. The War Department, the Navy Department and the police departments in all the principal cities at once took steps to place guards over these properties for the purpose of preventing fanatical adherents of the German cause from committing acts of vandalism and sabotage. The governors of various states also stopped the demobilization of the National Guard units, which had returned from the Mexican border, and sent them out to guard municipal water supplies and lighting plants, railroad bridges, wharves and munition factories. The promptness with which these protective measures were taken (many of the governors acting on the same day that diplomatic relations were severed) prevented any serious damage being done, if any had been contemplated. There was, however, one act of sabotage which preceded the break of relations on February third: namely, the rendering unservice-



able the machinery on board the German steamships lying at their docks in American ports. It is said that there were ninety-one of these vessels in the harbors of the United States and twenty-three in the harbor of Manila. The wrecking was so systematically and thoroughly done that to repair the broken parts and put the engines again in commission would require, it was reported, not less than three months. In a few cases the Germans went so far as to sink the vessels as they lay at anchor. The plan to ruin the machinery on all German ships in American waters, where they had, early in the war, taken refuge from the naval forces of the Allies, was worked out, as we subsequently learned, at the time of the Sussex affair in April, 1916. The crisis was then so acute and the possibility of war between the United States and Germany seemed so imminent, that sealed orders were given to the masters of these vessels to remove or destroy pieces of the engines, but the orders were not to be opened until a subsequent order was received from the German Embassy at Washington. The obvious purpose was to prevent the United States, in the event that war seemed certain, from seizing the ships and converting them to its own use. After the crisis in that case was passed new sealed orders to the same effect and subject to the same provisions as to breaking the seals were issued from Berlin. It would be inter¬ esting to know the date of these later orders. On January thirty-first, as soon as I had read the note and memoranda handed to me by Count von Bernstorff, I hastened to notify the Navy and Treasury officials that there would undoubt¬ edly be a break of diplomatic relations with Germany and that they should act without delay in placing guards on the German vessels in our harbors. Shortly after seven o’clock that same eve¬ ning the American authorities took possession of the vessels, but they were too late. The German Ambassador, anticipating the result of his communication, had, seven or eight hours before coming to the Department of State, directed the captains of the steam¬ ships to break the seals, read the orders and obey them to the letter. With characteristic German promptness and efficiency the orders were carried out and the engines on about one hundred vessels were disabled before the American officers took possession of them. Four days after the President formally announced to Congress on February third that the government had severed diplomatic relations, the Senate adopted by a vote of seventy-eight to five a resolution approving the act. With this pronounced support of a policy which was based upon a declaration of the lawlessness of



indiscriminate submarine warfare the Administration felt that it could act with greater freedom in using means to check the activities of the U-boats against American commercial vessels entering the sea-zones about the British Isles and in the Mediterranean, which had been designated by the German Government, without color of right, as waters where a vessel’s presence would subject it to attack without warning. As has been said, this subject was the one which chiefly engaged the attention of the officials of the State and Navy Departments, resulting in many conferences at which were dis¬ cussed the legal and physical questions involved and the most practical way of protecting American shipping from the peril of being torpedoed by submarines. There were two principal methods that could be employed in warding off submarines. One of these was by naval convoy, and the other by arming the merchant vessels for defense. Both might be employed if it were expedient to do so. The convoying of cargo¬ bearing vessels passing through the danger zones was strongly opposed by the chief officers of the Navy for the following reasons: The number of vessels engaged in trade with the Allies was so large that it would have been impossible to furnish enough cruisers and destroyers to convoy all vessels of American registry clearing from American ports even if the entire naval force were employed for that purpose. The result would be that many of the vessels would lack protection. A convoyed neutral vessel would not be subject to visit and search within or without the German war-zones, because the presence of a neutral naval ship would operate as a guarantee that the vessel was not carrying contraband goods. In view of the extensive lists of contraband issued by the belligerents, no American merchant vessel sailed for a European port which did not have in its cargo articles liable to seizure as contraband of war. A convoy in these circumstances would be ineffective because the naval com¬ mander would be in honor bound and compelled to disclose the nature of the cargo, if interrogated by a submarine commander, and in practically every case part or all of the cargo and in most cases the vessel itself would be liable to seizure on account of the character of the trade in which it was engaged. Another reason which in¬ fluenced the Navy to oppose convoying was the imminence of war with Germany and the possibility that the beginning of hostilities would find the Atlantic fleet scattered over the ocean instead of being mobilized and prepared to defend the coast cities of the United States from attacks by German cruisers or submarines. The other method suggested was the arming of merchant ships



proceeding to waters where they were liable to be attacked by German U-boats without an attempt at visit and search, as mere passing through those waters had been declared to be an evidence of wrongful purpose and a sufficient ground for such attack. This method was the one approved by officials expert in naval operations and conversant with the laws of naval warfare and the rights of neutrals on the high seas. In accordance with their decision and after an independent study of the question by the law officers of the Department of State, I issued on February eighth a public notifi¬ cation to the masters of American merchant vessels that they might arm their vessels to resist submarine attacks but that no naval convoy would be furnished them. This notification was all very well so far as the declaration of a right was concerned, but standing alone it did not materially help the situation, for the shipowners did not have guns, ammunition or experienced gun crews with which to equip their vessels. While they possessed a right, they had no means for exercising it. There was only one practical way to remedy this and that was for the Navy Department to loan to outgoing merchant vessels the neces¬ sary guns and to provide the trained gunners to handle them. With this object in view the President on February twenty-sixth addressed Congress in joint session. In this address Mr. Wilson pointed out the duty of protecting American lives and property “against the unwarranted infringements they are suffering at the hands of Germany,” and that, as diplomatic means had failed, there was “no recourse but to armed neutrality.” Six days before the President delivered this address I had sub¬ mitted to him a memorandum on the arming of merchant vessels, which was called forth by the differences of opinion which had arisen as to the legal right and expediency of placing naval guns and gun crews on board merchant vessels destined to ports of the Allied Powers or intending to pass through the war-zones pro¬ claimed by Germany. I had advocated such a course as the only means of giving practical value to the announced right of merchant vessels to arm against lawless attacks, but there had been opposi¬ tion to the furnishing of governmental aid because it might be construed by Germany as an act of war. President Wilson was hesitant between these two points of view and at the time seemed undecided as to the best course to pursue. Immediately after the President’s address a bill known as the Armed Ship Bill was introduced in both Houses of Congress, and



on March first it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of four hundred and three to thirteen. In the Senate it was less fortunate. Though reported favorably by the Committee on Foreign Relations on February twenty-seventh, the day after the President delivered his address, it became the subject of an acri¬ monious debate which finally developed into a filibuster led by Senator La Follette of Wisconsin, who was bitterly hostile to the proposed legislation, as he was to every policy which was directed against Germany. Since it was a short session and came to an end at noon on Sunday, March fourth, the filibuster was successful, and the Wisconsin Senator and his few supporters succeeded in pre¬ venting the passage of the bill which the President requested. The La Follette filibuster, one of the few in our history which has prevented the passage of desirable legislation, caused general indig¬ nation throughout the country and the press bitterly denounced its leader as an unpatriotic German-sympathizer. Mr. Wilson, who seldom lost his temper, publicly declared that “a little group of wilful men had rendered the great Government of the United States helpless and contemptible.” After adjournment seventy-six of the ninety-six men composing the Senate signed a manifesto stating that they favored the bill and would have voted for it if they had had the opportunity. It really made little difference in the end, for the President in his address had wisely guarded against making his future conduct dependent upon Congressional action. He had asserted that he undoubtedly possessed the authority without legislative action to do the things which he requested Congress to sanction. He over¬ stated it, therefore, when he asserted that the government had been rendered “helpless” by “a little group of wilful men.” Within a week after the dissolution of Congress Mr. Wilson determined to exercise his constitutional powers and to direct the Navy Depart¬ ment to furnish with guns and gunners American steamships clear¬ ing for those ports of Europe which could not be reached except by passing through the German war-zones. While the Armed Ship Bill was under discussion in Congress another event occurred which caused the greatest excitement throughout the country and aroused the people against the Ger¬ man Government even more, I believe, than the announced policy of submarine ruthlessness. That event was the publication of the so-called “Zimmermann telegram.” It appeared in the papers on March first. This notorious message read as follows:


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING “Washington, January 19, 1917.

“German Legation, “Mexico City. “No. 130 (code used) “Foreign Office telegraphs January sixteenth: “Number 1. Strictly Secret. Decode Yourself. We intend to begin unrestricted U-boat warfare on February first. Effort will be made notwithstanding this to keep the United States neutral. In the event that we should not be successful in this, we propose alliance to Mexico upon the following basis: To make war together; make peace together; generous financial support; and agreement on our part that Mexico shall re¬ conquer the formerly lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. Arrangement of details to be left to your Honor. You should disclose the foregoing to the President in strict secrecy as soon as outbreak of war with the United States is certain and add the proposal [that he shall] invite Japan to immediate spontaneous concurrent effort and at the same time use his good offices [or mediate] between us and Japan. Please call the President’s attention to the fact that the ruthless [literally inconsiderate] employment of our U-boats offers the prospect of forcing England in a few months to [make] peace. Acknowledge receipt. Zimmermann. End of telegram. “Bernstorff.”

The story of how the Department of State came into possession of this remarkable instruction to Herr von Eckhardt, the German Minister in Mexico, has never been fully told, but I can see no good reason for longer withholding the facts about a document which so profoundly affected public sentiment and which undoubtedly in¬ fluenced hundreds of thousands of Americans to demand war against a government which was insidiously plotting to cause war between the United States and Mexico, and intriguing against our territorial integrity. Three days after the telegram was published I wrote this account of the episode: “March 4, 1917. “On returning from White Sulphur Springs Tuesday morn¬ ing, February twenty-seventh, Phillips handed me a confiden¬ tial telegram received the day before from London giving the English translation of a telegram from the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs to the German Minister at Mexico City



which had been forwarded in cipher by Count von Bernstorff under date of January nineteenth. The cipher message had been obtained by secret agents of the British Government and forwarded by them to London where it had just been deciph¬ ered by means of a complicated German code. “About ten o’clock Polk came into my office and we talked over the substance of the telegram. He told me that on its arrival he had at once taken it to the President who had shown much indignation and was disposed to make the text public without delay. Polk had advised him to await my return, which he had agreed to do. I also found that Polk with his usual promptness had communicated with the officials of the telegraph company and had asked them to search for and deliver the original to the Department. “At eleven-thirty I went to the White House and for an hour discussed with the President the substance of the telegram and the way to use it. The President said that he had been won¬ dering how Bernstorff got the message from Berlin and that the closing of secret lines of communication with his govern¬ ment made him a little uncertain as to its authenticity. “I told him that I thought it could be easily explained, my opinion being that it was done in the following manner: During the early part of January Count von Bernstorff at the instance of Colonel House had been laboring with his government to obtain concrete terms of peace. The Ambassador had com¬ plained of his inability to communicate secretly and therefore freely with Berlin, which he considered essential in order to ac¬ complish his purpose. In view of this reasonable statement we had consented very reluctantly to send [that is in a cipher, of which the Department did not have the key] messages for him through our Embassy. This we did several times, per¬ mitting the German Foreign Office to reply in the same way. On January seventeenth an exceptionally long message (some one thousand groups) came through from Berlin. On the eighteenth this message was delivered to the Ambassador. On the nineteenth the telegram from Bernstorff to Mexico was filed. From these facts I drew the conclusion that in the long secret message delivered to him on the eighteenth was the message for the German Minister besides other orders as to what to do in case of a severance of diplomatic relations.* *In November, 1919, a German parliamentary committee published the Zimmermann telegram as an appendix to its report. In a footnote it is stated that the in-



“The President two or three times during the recital of the foregoing exclaimed ‘Good Lord!’ and when I had finished said he believed that the deduction as to how Bernstorff re¬ ceived his orders was correct. He showed much resentment at the German Government for having imposed upon our kind¬ ness in this way and for having made us the innocent agents to advance a conspiracy against this country. “I told the President that I thought it would be unwise for the Department to give out the telegram officially at this time as it would be charged that it was done to influence opinion on the bill for arming merchant vessels, but I thought it might indirectly be made public after we had confirmed the sending of the message by Bernstorff. To this the President agreed. “On returning to the Department I found Polk had obtained the original cipher message filed by Bernstorff. The telegraph company was very unwilling to give it up but finally consented to do so. Nothing further was done that day. “Wednesday morning Bernstorff’s cipher message to Mexico was cabled to London with the request that some member of the Embassy be permitted by the Foreign Office to decode it with the German code, which they had. The President tele¬ phoned me over our private wire suggesting that we have a conference with McAdoo and Burleson as to making the text public. Later in the morning the President again telephoned saying McAdoo and Burleson were at the Capitol attending to pending bills and could not be reached. “A little before four that afternoon the President telephoned saying that he thought it was wise to give out the telegram for the morning papers and that he believed that it would be advisable for me to summon Senator Hitchcock, who had charge of the Arming Bill, to the Department and show him the message. I again suggested that the message be made public indirectly, that then when we were asked about it we could say that we knew of it and knew that it was authentic. I said that I could do this through a representative of the Associated Press. It was my opinion that this would avoid any charge of using the document improperly and would attract

structions to Minister von Eckhardt were to have been taken to Washington by tJ-boat on January fifteenth, but that as the U-boat did not start, the instructions were attached on January sixteenth to telegram No. 157 and through the offices of the American Embassy in Berlin telegraphed to Count von Bernstorff by way of the State Department in Washington.

ARMED NEUTRALITY more attention than issuing it officially. President agreed.


With this plan the

“I at once telephoned Senator Hitchcock who arrived at the Department twenty minutes later. I told him that we had obtained possession of a very important message from the German Foreign Office to its Minister in Mexico and I then read him the message without disclosing the source of our in¬ formation. The Senator was greatly shocked and asked if I was sure that it was authentic. I answered that I could vouch for that, as the evidence was conclusive. He said that it would cause a tremendous sensation to make public so dastardly a plot. As the Senator left I said to him that he might tell Senator Stone of the contents of the message. “At about six that evening a correspondent [E. M. Hood] of the Associated Press came to my house by appointment and I gave him a paraphrase of the telegram binding him to secrecy as to where he obtained it. He also agreed not to put it on the wires before ten o’clock, so that I should not be bothered by calls on the telephone, as correspondents here would not get word of it until midnight. “The next morning, [Thursday] March first, the message of the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs was published in the papers and created a profound sensation throughout the country. Its effect on Congress was very marked. After a day given over to patriotic speeches the House by a vote of four hundred and three to thirteen passed the Arming Bill. The Senate debated a resolution introduced by Senator Lodge asking the President as to the authenticity of the Zimmermann message, a fact which I had admitted to the press correspond¬ ents at eleven o’clock that morning and which the President had also confirmed when questioned by Senator Swanson. The resolution was adopted about six that evening and the Presi¬ dent’s reply and my report were prepared by Woolsey and sent to me at the Italian Embassy where we were dining. I signed the report and arranged by telephone to have the clerk who brought the papers pass the guards at the White House. Within two hours after the passage of the resolution the President’s reply transmitting my report unconditionally con¬ firming the genuineness of the Zimmermann message was laid before the Senate. “The next morning [Friday] Polk brought me a brief tele¬ gram from Page saying our copy of the cipher message



obtained from the telegraph company had been received, that instructions had been followed with success, and that text of deciphered message would follow. While I had never doubted the authenticity of the translation sent, this corroboration by our own people was a relief. “That afternoon the German text of the deciphered message began to arrive, but its decoding was a slow process and there was no hope of getting it in accurate form that day. “At the Cabinet meeting at two-thirty p. m. the telegram was naturally the chief subject of discussion, but no inkling was given as to how it had been obtained. The consensus of opinion was that, if the German Government denied the genu¬ ineness of the message, the only thing to do was to assert that this government was in possession of conclusive evidence that it was genuine, but to go no further. This statement could have been made most emphatically in view of the facts. “I had expected Zimmermann to deny the message and to challenge us to produce proofs. That would have been the politic thing to do because it would have put this government in a dilemma in that we would have to make public the evidence or else refuse to do so simply affirming that the proofs were absolute but must be held secret. If we did not produce the evidence there would always be the charge that the whole thing was a fraud concocted to aid the passage of the Arming Bill, not by the government but by some other government or some persons who had imposed upon us. Very many Americans, sympathizers with the Allies as well as sympathizers with the Germans, would have believed this and blamed this government for giving credence to so unbelievable a piece of folly as the message. To avoid this it might have been necessary to publish the proofs. If we did that the German Government would have found out that we had access to its code and a channel for future information would have been closed. But, even under such necessity, we would have found it difficult, I fear, to have obtained the consent of the British Foreign Office to make the matter public, and of course without its consent we could not honorably have told the facts. “If I had been in Zimmermann’s place I would have chal¬ lenged this government to prove its charge. It would have been a shrewd move. It is true, when I had been questioned by the newspaper correspondents Thursday morning, I had given the impression that to disclose the source from which



the message had been obtained might endanger somebody’s life. I did this in order to convey the idea that the text of the message had been obtained by purchase here or in Mexico or else from a spy in Germany. If that idea was accepted it would throw everyone, particularly the German Government, off the track and prevent any speculation from even approach¬ ing the real source. The British Government’s secret would be safe. “The belief prevailed that Zimmermann had sent a letter to the German Minister of Mexico through the Embassy here, and that in some way the letter or a copy came into possession of the Department. The speculation was as to whether it was obtained in the United States, Germany or Mexico. There was never a suggestion that it was a cipher message of which we had the key. In the later discussion the German Government charged it up to ‘treachery.’ “Appreciating the probable denial by the German Foreign Office of the authenticity of the message I was naturally ap¬ prehensive of the effect on public opinion of a refusal to pro¬ duce the proofs, which was the only course open if we kept faith with the British, and that we were bound to do. It was, therefore, with profound amazement and relief that I read that Zimmermann on Saturday morning frankly acknowl¬ edged that the message, as printed, was genuine and attempted to justify his sending it.” When the Associated Press report containing the text of the Zimmermann telegram was printed in the morning papers of March first, it was read with conflicting emotions by the people. Amazement and incredulity were general. It was hard for the public to believe that the German Secretary of Foreign Affairs had been so indiscreet as to send a message of this sort through the United States, even though in cipher, where it was liable to fall into the hands of the American authorities. Yet the publishing of the text of the telegram in hundreds of papers was a challenge to the Imperial Government to declare its falsity. The pro-German press unhesitatingly asserted that the government had been im¬ posed upon by some clever forger, presumably in the pay of the Allies, or else had itself manufactured the dispatch in order to influence favorable action on the Armed Ship Bill. Viereck’s Weekly (formerly The Fatherland) declared that the telegram was “obviously faked,” and that it was “a brazen forgery” and “an



impudent hoax.” Other publications used equally emphatic lan¬ guage in questioning its genuineness and denouncing its publica¬ tion. The editors with German sympathies simply would not believe that the Berlin Foreign Office had been so stupid as to send the telegram. It must be admitted that it was rather a severe strain on their credulity without some actual proof. The formal endorse¬ ment of its genuine character in my report to the Senate, however, shook the disbelief of these men though it did not convince them; but, when Zimmermann on Saturday, March third, frankly ad¬ mitted to a German news agency in Berlin the authenticity of the message and made excuses for sending it, the charge of falsifica¬ tion collapsed. The people of the Eastern States had been clamoring with increasing vehemence for war against Germany because of the submarine outrages, but the Middle West and Pacific States had not responded to that spirit. The people of those sections were as individuals less affected by the German lawlessness on the Atlan¬ tic than those of the East. The Zimmermann telegram, however, opened their eyes to the real character and purposes of the Berlin Government. The proposed alliance with Mexico and possibly with Japan, if it materialized, would affect the entire West. It needed but some disclosure of this sort to transform popular indifference into intense hostility to Germany, to convert pacifism and a desire for continued inaction into demands for war. Thus the Zimmermann telegram resulted in unifying public sentiment throughout the United States against Germany, in putting the people solidly behind the government and in making war inevitable, if not popular, because the German Government’s sinister intent toward the United States could no longer be doubted. The “cold-blooded proposition” of Germany’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs in one day accomplished a change in sentiment and public opinion which would otherwise have required months to accomplish. From the time that the telegram was published, or at least from the time that its authenticity was admitted by its author, the United States’ entry into the war was assured, since it could no longer be doubted that it was desired by the American people from Maine to California and from Michigan to Texas. On March eleventh, the President, having determined, as has been stated, to exercise his constitutional authority in regard to the arming of merchantmen, issued orders to the Navy Department directing it to furnish armaments to American private ships and to supply them with trained gun crews. This plan of armed neutral-



ity was, however, never put into extensive operation because events moved too swiftly and resulted in a situation which demanded more direct action. While the Navy Department was hastening its preparations in conformity with the President’s directions and some of the trans-Atlantic steamships had actually been equipped with guns and supplied with naval gunners, word came that the American steamships Vigilancia, Illinois and City of Memphis had been torpedoed and sunk by the Germans. All these disasters were reported on the same day, Sunday, March eighteenth. It appeared from the information reaching the Department of State that the Vigilancia had been torpedoed without warning, and that the other two vessels were sunk when westward bound without cargoes. It was also reported that fifteen Americans had lost their lives on the Vigilancia. These attacks required the government to review the new situation thus presented and to decide whether or not the time had arrived to abandon armed neutrality and to recognize that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany. From my note on the events of those critical days I quote the following: “On Monday morning (March nineteenth) I was summoned to the White House and for an hour the President and I sat in his study and debated the course of action which should be followed. The President said that he did not see that we could do more than we were doing in the way of protecting our ves¬ sels as already three of the American Line steamships had sailed for Europe with armed guards, each carrying four guns and forty men. I argued that war was inevitable, that I had felt so for months, and that the sooner we openly admitted the ■ fact so much stronger our position would be with our own people and before the world. I left the President without a definite impression as to what his decision would be. I was hopeful that he would see the future as I saw it, but was by no means certain. I felt that he was resisting the irresistible logic of events and that he resented being compelled to aban¬ don the neutral position which had been preserved with so much difficulty.” I returned to the Department depressed and anxious and called Mr. Polk to my office. We discussed the situation from every angle and agreed that it would be a serious blunder if the President continued to maintain his policy of inaction, especially as there



could be no question but that the three sinkings manifestly con¬ stituted “actual overt acts,” which Mr. Wilson had emphasized in his address announcing the severance of diplomatic relations. Knowing the President’s deliberate way of dealing with every question, no matter how critical it might be, and his preference for written statements which he could “mull over,” I wrote him a letter that evening on returning from a dinner at the Japanese Embassy. The letter reads as follows: “March 19, 1917. “My dear Mr. President: “After considering carefully our conversation this morning I wish to say that I am in entire agreement with you that the recent attacks by submarines on American vessels do not ma¬ terially affect the international situation so far as constituting a reason for declaring that a state of war exists between this country and Germany. I think that these incidents, however, show very plainly that the German Government intends to carry out its announced policy without regard to consequences and to make no exception in the case of American vessels. It will, therefore, be only a question of time before we are forced to recognize these outrages as hostile acts which will amount to an announcement that a state of war exists. “I firmly believe that war will come within a short time whatever we may do, because the German Government seems to be relentless in pursuing its methods of warfare against neutral ships. It will not be many days, if past experience indicates the future, before an engagement will take place between one of our guarded steamships and a submarine. Whether that event will cause Germany to declare war or will cause us to recognize a state of war I do not know, but I do not think that we can successfully maintain the fiction that peace exists. “With the conviction that war is bound to come—and I have come to this conviction with the greatest reluctance and with an earnest desire to avoid it—the question seems to me to be whether or not the greatest good will be accomplished by wait¬ ing until some other events have taken place before we enter the conflict or by entering now. “The advantage of delay would seem to be that in some future submarine attack on an American vessel the armed guard would with gunfire sink or drive off the submarine and



by so doing induce the German Government to declare war upon us. If there is any other advantage I have been unable to imagine it. I am also convinced in my own mind that the German Government will not declare war in any circumstances. Why should it? It will prefer to continue to wage war on us, as it is doing today, and at the same time keep our hands tied by our admitted neutrality. It can do everything prac¬ tical to injure us and prevent us from doing many things to injure Germany. It would seem most unreasonable to expect the German Government to increase its difficulties by declaring the United States an enemy. “The advantages of our immediate participation in the war appear to me to be based largely upon the premise that war is inevitable. Of course if that premise is wrong what I say is open to question. I should add two other premises, the truth of which seem to me well established. They are that the Entente Allies represent the principle of Democracy, and the Central Powers, the principle of Autocracy, and that it is for the welfare of mankind and for the establishment of peace in the world that Democracy should succeed. “In the first place, it would encourage and strengthen the new democratic government of Russia, which we ought to encourage and with which we ought to sympathize. If we delay, conditions may change and the opportune moment when our friendship would be useful may be lost. I believe that the Russian Government founded on its hatred of absolutism and therefore of the German Government would be materially benefited by feeling that this Republic was arrayed against the same enemy of liberalism. “In the second place, it would put heart into the democratic element in Germany, who are already beginning to speak bold¬ ly and show their teeth at their rulers. Possibly delay would not affect to a very great degree the movement, but I believe it would hasten the time when the German people assert them¬ selves and repudiate the military oligarchy in control of the Empire. “In the third place, it would give moral support to the Entente Powers, already encouraged by recent military suc¬ cesses, and add to the discouragement of the Teutonic Allies, which would result in the advancement of Democracy and in shortening the war. The present seems to be an especially propitious time to exert this influence on the conflict.


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING “In the fourth place, the American people, feeling, I am

sure, that war is bound to come, are becoming restive and bitterly critical of what they believe to be an attempt to avoid the unavoidable. If there is a possibility of keeping out of the war, this attitude of the public mind would affect me not at all, but convinced, as I am, that we will in spite of all we may do become participants, I can see no object in adopting a course which will deprive us of a certain measure of enthus¬ iastic support when speedy action will bring it. “In the fifth place, I believe that our future influence in world affairs, in which we can no longer refuse to play our part, will be materially increased by prompt, vigorous and definite action in favor of Democracy and against Absolutism. This would be first shown in the peace negotiations and in the general readjustment of international relations. It is my belief that the longer we delay in declaring against the military absolutism which menaces the rule of liberty and justice in the world, so much the less will be our influence in the days when Germany will need a merciful and unselfish foe. “I have written my views with great frankness, as I am sure you would wish me to do, and I trust that you will understand my views are in no way influenced by any bitterness of feeling toward Germany or by any conscious emotion awakened by recent events. I have tried to view the situation coldly, dis¬ passionately and justly. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”

A few hours after the President received this letter there was held one of the regular semiweekly Cabinet meetings. The meeting was in the Cabinet Room at the Executive Offices. It began at twothirty o’clock in the afternoon and sat for two hours and a half, the entire time being spent in discussing our relations with Ger¬ many, the situation which had developed, the advisability of sum¬ moning Congress to meet prior to April sixteenth, and, if Congress convened, what the President should lay before the two Houses. The unanimous opinion of the members of the Cabinet was that war was inevitable and that Congress ought to be called in extraor¬ dinary session as soon as possible. The President, however, did not declare his intentions at the meeting, but, as we left the Cabi¬ net room, he requested Postmaster-General Burleson and me to remain. When we were alone, he asked us how long it would take



to prepare the necessary legislation for submission to Congress in the event that a state of war was declared. After some discus¬ sion we agreed that this work would take over a week and that, in the circumstances, it would be unwise to call Congress to meet before Monday, April second. To revert to my contemporaneous note on this historic meeting: “Thus ended a Cabinet meeting the influence of which may change the course of history and determine the destinies of the United States and possibly of the world. The possible results are almost inconceivably great. I am sure that every member of the Cabinet felt the vital importance of the occasion and spoke with a full realization of the grave responsibility which rested upon him as he advised the President to adopt a course which if followed can only mean open and vigorous war against the Kaiser and his government. The solemnity of the occasion as one after another spoke was increasingly im¬ pressive and showed in every man’s face as he arose from the council table and prepared to leave the room.” The following day President Wilson issued a call for Congress to convene on Monday, April 2, 1917, “to receive a communica¬ tion concerning grave matters of national policy which should be taken immediately under consideration.”


The issuance of the call for Congress to meet on Monday, April 2, 1917, was interpreted by the press and people of the United States to mean that President Wilson would ask the two Houses of Con¬ gress to declare war against Germany. Doubt no longer remained in the public mind that that decision had been reached. If there had been such doubt, it would have been dispelled by the activities of the War and Navy Departments, which were working feverishly to put the army and navy on a war footing preparatory to the United States’ entry into the conflict. The President spent Sunday, April first, preparing the address which he was to deliver the next day. At ten o’clock that night he telephoned me about certain matters pertaining to armed neutrality which he desired to incorporate in his address. He also suggested the preparation of a joint resolution which could be introduced in Congress. I told him that I thought the resolution could be better prepared after the address had been completed, and he agreed that it would be the wiser course. The following morning (Monday) the President sent me an extract from his speech, which was to be the basis of a joint resolution, and I immediately prepared such a document. This I read to the President over our private telephone and he approved it. Copies were then taken by Mr. Woolsey to the Capitol and placed in the hands of Senator Swanson and Mr. Flood, who would have charge of the resolution in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. Later in the day these managers telephoned me suggesting certain minor changes in the phraseology of the resolution, which seemed to me entirely accept¬ able. Shortly after the final form of the resolution was agreed upon with the managers, Attorney-General Gregory came to my office to discuss the proclamation which should be issued. While we were in conference Mr. Wilson unexpectedly arrived, an incident which excited the press correspondents tremendously. He gave us the benefit of his views on the matter under discussion, but no decision was reached at that time as to whether there should be one or two proclamations. I took the opportunity to urge upon the President that in going to the Capitol that evening (it had been decided that




he would address the two Houses in joint session at eighty-thirty o’clock) he should have an ample military escort. Mr. Gregory strongly supported this precautionary measure. We both felt that with public feeling so greatly aroused there might be some fanatical pro-German, anarchist or pacifist who would be mad enough to attack the President either in going to or coming from the Capitol. The President was very unwilling to accept a guard, scoffing at and making light of the danger of bodily violence. How¬ ever, after he departed, it was arranged with the Secretary of War that a cavalry squadron should protect his automobile and keep back the crowds from coming too near to the entrance to the Hall of the House of Representatives, where the joint session was to meet. At eight o’clock, Monday evening, April second, the great audi¬ torium of the House was crammed to overflowing. To the left of the Speaker sat the members of the Cabinet and immediately behind them the ambassadors of foreign powers; in front of the Speaker’s desk were the members of the Supreme Court; the benches imme¬ diately behind the Court were left vacant for the senators; the diplomatic gallery was filled with foreign ministers and others entitled to diplomatic privileges; the seats in the executive gallery were occupied by members of the President’s family and the wives of Cabinet officers; the galleries reserved for the use of members and the public galleries were crowded to suffocation, while people sat on the steps and stood in the doorways which led into the cor¬ ridors. Every possible space was occupied by those who had been fortunate enough to obtain tickets of admission to the building. Shortly before eight-thirty it was announced that the Senate had arrived. Those having seats on the floor of the House and the people in the galleries arose and stood as this distinguished body advanced slowly down the center aisle of the Hall and took the seats which had been reserved for them, Vice-President Marshall, who led them, proceeding to the raised dias and taking a chair beside the Speaker. A moment later the Clerk of the House an¬ nounced “The President of the United States.” Mr. Wilson came through the doorway to the left of the Speaker, followed by his bodyguard of Secret Service men, and with deliberation mounted to the reading desk in front of and a little below the high platform on which sat the Vice-President and the Speaker. The solemnity of the occasion was evinced by the unbroken silence which pre¬ vailed. Not a whisper was to be heard iru all the vast throng. Not a smile showed on the hundreds of faces turned toward the President



as he stood with determination showing in the lines of his face, which seemed unusually pale and stern as he gazed over the white sea of faces awaiting to hear the message that he, as the spokesman of one hundred million people, was about to deliver. In low measured tones and with that fine command of his emo¬ tions which Mr. Wilson always possessed, he began to speak: “Gentlemen of the Congress: “I have called the Congress into extraordinary session be¬ cause there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the respon¬ sibility of making.” He then proceeded to review the record of submarine warfare since the German promises were given in the Sussex case, pointing out that the new policy announced by the Imperial German Gov¬ ernment on January thirty-first had “swept every restriction aside.” He asserted that he was for a while unable to believe that the policy would be carried out, but that he had been compelled to believe that it would be by the conduct of the Germans. He then went on to show the illegality and inhumanity of the German practices, during which he declared: “Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and inno¬ cent people cannot be. The present German submarine war¬ fare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. “It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in a way which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimina¬ tion. The challenge is to all mankind.” Mr. Wilson then reviewed the attempted efforts to protect Amer¬ ican shipping by armed neutrality, which, he asserted, were in¬ effectual at best and, in the circumstances, “worse than ineffectual” and that, as we must now choose our next step, there was one choice we could not make and that was submission. He paused a moment and then continued with an earnestness and firmness which thrilled his listeners:



“With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibili¬ ties which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and peo¬ ple of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it; and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the Ger¬ man Empire to terms and end the war.” This was the pinnacle of his speech. A sigh could be heard breaking the complete silence with which the audience had awaited in breathless anticipation of this fateful utterance. I can see now the light of enthusiastic approval illumine the face of Chief Justice White as he listened to the distinct and measured words of the speaker. Many eyes were suffused with tears, but they were not tears of sorrow, but the tears of emotions which had been stirred to their depths by the occasion and by the momentous declaration which had been uttered. In all my experience there was no incident so thrilling, so intense, so profoundly moving as this point in Mr. Wilson’s great address when he asked for war against the German Government. The President described the attitude of the United States toward the war and toward the peace to follow it in this language: “. . . We are now about to accept gauge of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included; for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no in¬ demnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the



champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.” The closing sentences of this remarkable address are well worth reading, not only because of their excellence of language, but because they contain the very essence of President Wilson’s foreign policy after the United States entered the war, a policy which he consistently pursued not only during the progress of hostilities but afterward as he sat at the peace table in Paris. Whether his ideas were right or wrong, whether they were visionary or practical, makes no difference. Mr. Wilson’s consistency of purpose stands unassailable. “It is a distressing and oppressive duty, Gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seems to be hanging in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts,— for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations, and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is priv¬ ileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God help her, she can do no other.” As the sound of Mr. Wilson’s voice ceased and he seated himself, there was for several seconds, which seemed like long minutes, a dead silence. It was the finest tribute ever paid to eloquence. Then spontaneously and as if with one voice the vast audience broke into a tumult of applause that was deafening. They clapped, they stamped, they cheered, they fairly yelled their approval and sup¬ port.



No one who witnessed that scene in the Hall of Representatives, where the whole Government of the United States was assembled, will ever forget the soul-stirring moment when the patriotism of the nation spoke in no uncertain tones and shouted approval of the President’s demand that the German challenge be accepted and that the Republic wage war to the uttermost against the Prus¬ sian-ruled Empire. The scene is indelibly impressed on the memory, a vivid picture which can never fade or grow dim. It was a great event in American history, an event big with possibilities which touched the very destiny of the United States if not of the whole world. The tremendous forces set in motion on that April evening were to continue without check or abatement until achievement and victory were attained, until Autocracy was crushed by the irresistible might of Democracy. Too much cannot be said of the impressive dignity with which President Wilson conducted himself before that great assembly of the representatives of the American people and that distinguished audience which crowded the galleries. From the moment that he entered the auditorium up to the time that he passed out into the corridors of the Capitol he was master of the situation. His per¬ sonality was dominant. His vibrant voice, modulated to the solemnity of the occasion and expressive of the grave import of his words, was firm and distinct. He had a great message to de¬ liver and he delivered it greatly. The President’s attractiveness of style, the finish of his diction and his persuasive power over his listeners were never better exemplified. His control of language and of his audience was a marvelous exhibition of his genius as an orator. One who heard that impressive address and saw the dignity and sternness of the speaker as he stood on the rostrum, recognized him as a leader of men than whom there was no greater within the boundaries of the United States. To follow him in the great ad¬ venture, to which he was committing the American people, seemed the normal, the only, thing to do. Under such leadership there were no doubts as to the final issue. It could mean but one thing and that was the success of the cause which he so vigorously and earnestly espoused. That night witnessed a great personal triumph for Mr. Wilson, one of the greatest triumphs, if not the greatest triumph, of his public career. When he left the Capitol, he must have felt that supporting him was a united nation eager and will¬ ing to do his bidding and, to aid him to the uttermost in perform¬ ing the mighty task to which he had committed himself and the



people whose servant he was. Never had I admired President Wilson more or been more proud to be associated with so great a leader, so great an American. He left nothing to be desired. The following day the joint resolution declaring that a state of war existed between the United States and the Imperial German Government was introduced in both Houses and the debates that followed offered opportunities for many patriotic speeches. In the Senate the resolution came to a vote at eleven-thirty o’clock in the evening of Wednesday, April fourth. That evening the SolicitorGeneral, John W. Davis, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Lansing and I went to the Senate Chamber at nine o’clock and listened to the closing debate. The resolution was passed by a vote of eighty-two to six, Senators Gronna, La Follette, Lane, Norris, Stone and Vardaman voting against it. In the House the resolution did not reach a vote until threefifteen o’clock in the morning of April sixth, after a continuous debate of sixteen and one-half hours. On the roll call three hun¬ dred and seventy-three members were recorded as voting in the affirmative and fifty in the negative. The joint resolution read as follows: “Whereas the Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America; Therefore be it “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of Avar between the United States and the Imperial Government which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the re¬ sources of the Government to carry on war against the Im¬ perial German Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.” At one o’clock on the afternoon of Friday, April sixth, the Presi¬ dent signed the proclamation declaring a state of war with the Imperial German Government. I at once countersigned the docu¬ ment, affixed the Great Seal of the United States and promulgated the proclamation. Thus this country entered the Great War.


There was in President Wilson’s great war address of April 2, 1917, a paragraph concerning the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the relations of the United States to that government, which was as follows: “I have said nothing of the governments allied with the Im¬ perial Government of Germany because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honor. The Austro-Hungarian Government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified indorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the Imperial German Government, and it has therefore not been possible for this Government to receive Count Tarnowski, the Ambassador recently accredited to this government by the Imperial and Royal Government of Austria-Hungary; but that government has not actually en¬ gaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of post¬ poning a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.” The reason given for failure to include Austria-Hungary in the request for a declaration of a state of war is that the Government of the Dual Monarchy had “not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas.” This was on the face a sound and valid reason, but the truth is that there was another reason, a stronger reason, than appears in the President’s assertion. The underlying purpose of refraining from including Austria-Hungary in the war declaration was to draw a distinction between the two Central Empires and to create an atmosphere of not unfriendly interest toward the Vienna Government in order that a way might, if possible, be found to drive a wedge between it and the German Government. The result, if successful, would be to break the Central Alliance and induce the Austro-Hungarian




Government to make a separate peace with the Allies. It was felt that if an independent peace could be arranged with Vienna the war would quickly come to an end. The possibility of such a peace was not visionary, for information had been received prior to April second indicating that the Austrian Government would be willing to listen to peace overtures, if there were sufficient assurances that the Empire would be left practically intact and would be protected from the revengeful hand of the German Government for its deser¬ tion. In view of this possibility it seemed worth while to adopt the policy of not including Austria-Hungary in the declaration of war. The relations between the United States and the Austrian Em¬ pire were peculiar, a condition half-way between friendliness and unfriendliness, a condition very unstable and to the Austrian Gov¬ ernment very unsatisfactory. We continued to maintain diplomatic relations through our Ambassador at Vienna, but only permitted them at Washington through Baron Zwiedinek, the Austrian Charge d’Affaires, declining to allow Count Tarnowski to present to the President his letters of credence and to be received as an Am¬ bassador. At the time of Mr. Wilson’s address to Congress on April second, the Austrian Ambassador-designate had been in the United States for over two months, waiting hopefully but im¬ patiently for the President to give him audience. He had landed in New York almost at the very moment that Count von Bernstorff had announced the decision of the Central Empires to begin indis¬ criminate submarine warfare and three weeks after that policy had been decided upon at Berlin. He must have been advised of this fact before leaving Europe. He had come to Washington in time to see his German colleague sent home and diplomatic rela¬ tions severed with the German Empire. He had noted with undoubted satisfaction that a similar course of action was not taken toward the empire which he had been sent out to represent, but this satisfaction was tinctured with disappointment when he was informed that he was not to be received officially, at least for the present. Just what he should do was a problem. There was the hope that the American Government, after a time, would change its policy of aloofness. So he determined to remain. Count Adam Tarnowski, who came on the scene at this crisis in our relations with the Central Powers, was an experienced diplo¬ mat. He had served as Counselor of the Austrian Embassy at London and later was Minister to Bulgaria, where he remained five years, during which time Bulgaria had been induced, largely



through his efforts, to join the Central Powers in the war. From that post he was directed to proceed to Washington, where he would have further opportunity to employ his talents. The Count came from a distinguished Polish family, and, though an Austrian diplo¬ mat, his sentiments wrere strongly in favor of a reunited Kingdom of Poland. He hated Russia; I am not sure that he liked Austria; and I know that he, like most Poles, felt hostility toward Germany. Tarnowski, as a man, possessed a very agreeable personality and would have made an excellent representative of Austria-Hungary in this country, for he was a clever and resourceful diplomat. While Count Tarnowski was awaiting developments in the in¬ ternational situation, the American Government was carrying on two negotiations with the Austrian Government through Ambassa¬ dor Penfield at Vienna. One of these related to the removal of restrictions upon submarine warfare by the declaration of February first and its relation to the Austrian undertaking in the Ancona case. The reply of the Vienna Government to the pressing inquiries of our Ambassador was that, in view of the illegal conduct of the enemy, the right of the Central Powers to attack merchant vessels of enemy nationality without visit and search was an indisputable right of retaliation, but that, though it possessed the right, the Austrian Government had not exercised it. The reply sought to convey the idea that Austria did not purpose to resort to the sink¬ ing of private ships without warning, and that she refrained from doing this in order that there could be no claim of “actual overt acts” committed by her which would end friendly relations with the United States. The other negotiation related to peace and was of a very confidential nature. The effort of our Ambassador was to induce the Austrian Government to enter secretly and independ¬ ently into conversations with the Allied Governments looking to the restoration of peace. The course of action planned was to say to the Austrians that there wTas no intention by the Allies to dismember their Empire, except to free Poland, provided conditions did not change and provided the Vienna Government was willing to ne¬ gotiate with her enemies. The United States indicated a willing¬ ness, but did not directly offer, to act as intermediary in obtaining a definite assurance from the Allies that they would preserve the integrity of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, always excepting Poland, as a preliminary step to the negotiation. Of course the purpose of this movement was, as previously stated, to break up, if possible, the Central Alliance and to leave Germany to carry on the war alone. That the Austrian Government kept Berlin ad-



vised of what was going on I suspected then and know now to be the fact. But in spite of this many of the Austrians were, I believe, disposed to such a secret negotiation thinking that it would open the way to the restoration of a general peace which both the Cen¬ tral Empires most earnestly desired. This presumptive purpose of the Austrians was by no means unacceptable to President Wilson, who at the time (February and March, 1917) was still hoping that the belligerents might be brought together before Germany, by recommencing her submarine outrages, forced this country into the war. The negotiation, there¬ fore, was continued and the Allied Governments were approached confidentially on the subject and seemed not unfavorable to the plan. Throughout March, 1917, this exchange of views continued at Vienna, and I informally intimated something of what was taking place to Count Tarnowski, whom I had seen two or three times at my residence on the understanding that the interviews were entirely personal and unofficial. It was even planned during my conferences with the President concerning the possibility of peace negotiations with Austria-Hungary to arrange, if possible, a clandestine meet¬ ing in Switzerland between an Austrian commissioner and a com¬ missioner of the Allies, but before this suggestion could be made to the Vienna Government the President had addressed Congress advising a declaration of a state of war with Germany. The attempt to break up the Central Alliance by arranging a separate peace with Austria-Hungary was a failure. Events and circumstances and Austrian timidity were all against its success. The Government at Vienna was unquestionably afraid of Germany and of German vengeance if it withdrew from the Alliance, and furthermore, the Austrians were evidently convinced, as the Ger¬ mans were, that submarine warfare would soon bring the British to their knees by preventing food and munitions from reaching the British Isles. A fact, however, which seriously disturbed Count Czernin, the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the continued refusal of the President to receive Count Tarnowski officially as the AustroHungarian Ambassador. It seemed to contradict the belief which prevailed at Vienna that Mr. Wilson was wholly pacifist in his ideas and purposes. As a consequence of his government’s desire Count Tarnowski made repeated efforts to obtain an audience with the President in order that he might present his credentials and assume his ambassadorial duties. The last endeavor to attain this object was made only a few days before President Wilson addressed



Congress in favor of war. Count Tarnowski came privately to my residence on March twenty-sixth, bringing with him an instruction from Count Czernin setting forth the embarrassment caused by the delay of the President in receiving the Ambassador, whom the Emperor had appointed, while Ambassador Penfield continued at his post. On March twenty-seventh, I sent the following confiden¬ tial letter to the President: “My dear Mr. President: “Count Tarnowski called at my house last evening by ap¬ pointment and discussed his situation here. He asked for the appointment on account of having received a communication from Count Czernin. After talking the matter over and sym¬ pathizing with him in the embarrassment of his government and also of himself in the present situation, I requested him to give me a transcript of Count Czernin’s dispatch which he had read to me. This he did and I enclose to you a copy. I told him that I would lay the matter before you and would endeavor to give him an answer today or tomorrow. Will you please advise me what I should say to Count Tarnowski? “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”

The enclosure in the foregoing letter reads as follows: “March 26, 1917. “Dear Mr. Secretary of State: “You expressed the wish in the course of the conversation we just had that I should outline for your personal informa¬ tion the substance of my communications to make use of such a written pro memoria wrhen submitting the matter to the President tomorrow. “I had the honor of informing you of the following: “Count Czernin has instructed me to draw in a most friendly spirit Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that the long delay of my reception by the President renders his position extremely difficult, the public opinion in Austria-Hungary resenting it already, and if this feeling has not until now be¬ come evident it is only due to the censure [sic] of the press. “My Chief thinks to have shown his desire for the main¬ tenance of the diplomatic relations between the Monarchy and the United States and he believes this desire to be shared



by Your Excellency but he must ask not to be placed in too difficult a position. “Besides Mr. Penfield’s situation is also growing very diffi¬ cult as the public opinion begins to lose faith in his good will. “Having been instructed to deliver the above communication orally only, and having written this for Your Excellency’s convenience, I need not ask you to consider my letter strictly confidential. “Very sincerely yours, “Tarnowski.”

On the twenty-seventh of March the President said to me that he thought that I ought to say to Count Tarnowski that the avowal by his government of the policy which led to our breach of diplo¬ matic relations with Germany made his reception impossible. He added that Ambassador Penfield should express again to Count Czernin our regret that the Austro-Hungarian Government should have felt itself obliged to join Germany in its submarine policy, thus interrupting relations which we had hoped might remain friendly in form as well as in fact. The following excerpt is from a memorandum which I wrote at the time describing the interview in which I told him of the Presi¬ dent’s decision: “After we had taken our seats in the reception-room and passed a few commonplace remarks I told Tarnowski that I had communicated to the President the instruction which he had received from Count Czernin and that it was now my very regrettable duty to inform him that as Austria had in the most explicit way accepted and avowed the policy, which had caused us to sever diplomatic relations with Germany, it would be manifestly impossible for the President to receive him. I said that I was very sorry to have to say this to him and knew with what reluctance the President had come to this conclusion, and that we both regretted that his government had felt com¬ pelled to adopt a course which left us no alternative. “I went on to say that Austria-Hungary was on a different footing from Germany for there was little or no animosity against his country felt by the American people, while the tide of indignation against Germany was very high. I said that the President was sincerely concerned that his government should not be represented here by an Ambassador at this



critical time and that in order to prevent any feeling of in¬ equality in diplomatic representation which might exist at Vienna and increase the embarrassments of his government I had instructed Ambassador Penfield to return to this country for consultation so that both Embassies would be in charge of Charges. “Tarnowski replied that he greatly regretted the Presi¬ dent’s decision not to receive him and that he had hoped it would be different. He said that he had anticipated being relieved from the very embarrassing situation in which he was and feared that he could not stay; that he especially regretted leaving because he had looked forward with much pleasure to his life here. “I replied to him that I was distressed that it was as it was and that I was keenly aware of the difficulty of the present state of his affairs, but that, if we entered the war as an enemy of Germany, his position would be even more embarrassing unless his government modified or abandoned its support of the German policy. I added that everything at present pointed to our entrance into the war within the next ten days. “He appeared genuinely surprised at this assertion and said, ‘You do not really think your country will enter the war?’ “I answered that I was convinced that we would, although I had no authority to speak for the President or for Congress, and was only voicing my personal opinion. “ ‘But the President,’ exclaimed the Count, ‘is so desirous of peace! You do not think he will recommend a declaration of war? How can he after all he has said? How can he?’ “I replied that there comes a time when peace means dis¬ honor, but I would not argue that with him. I would only ask him to consider the steps taken by the President and to draw from them a conclusion as to the President’s attitude and purposes. ‘Here,’ I said, ‘are the facts: The President summons Congress to meet two weeks earlier than he had planned. Why? As soon as he issued the call, he directs the enlisting of men for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to be pressed. Why? Naval contracts are made with unusual haste and naval construction work pressed forward. Why? The regiments of the National Guard, which have been mustered out, are called again to the colors. Why? The order demobi¬ lizing the National Guard on the Mexican border is rescinded. Why? Both in the War and Navy Departments there is un-



usual activity. Why? And all these things are being done under the President’s orders. Are these facts open to more than one construction ? What do these measures mean, if they do not mean that the President anticipates war? What in the face of these facts do you think the President will recom¬ mend to Congress? Peace?’ “As I talked, the Count’s buoyance of manner disappeared and an expression of anxiety settled upon his face. He seemed surprised and dazed. Finally he said in a low tense voice, ‘I see. I see. I did not think of these things and now I am troubled. And what do you then think to be the chances of peace?’ “ ‘If you wish my personal view,’ I said, ‘I tell you frankly that the chance of peace is about one in a hundred. Germany shows every purpose to continue reckless submarine warfare, and you must know that that can only result in one thing.’ “ ‘But Congress,’ said the Count—‘Congress is not for war, I understand.’ “ ‘I do not know your source of information,’ I replied, ‘but it is not a good one. I firmly believe that ninety-five percent will do whatever the President recommends.’ “ ‘And he will recommend a declaration of war?’ asked Tarnowski. “ ‘I cannot speak as to that,’ I answered, ‘you must draw your conclusions from what he has already ordered to be done. I have no authority to speak for him.’ “ ‘Perhaps he will only ask for a declaration that a state of war exists; that would not be the same as a declaration of war,’ he said. “ ‘Possibly not the same in terms,’ I said, ‘but this country has fought three foreign wars since it became a nation, the War of 1812 against Great Britain, the Mexican War in 1848 and the War of 1898 with Spain. In all these wars Congress declared that a state of war existed. We have never declared war, but we fought just as hard as if we had.’ “ ‘Is it so? Is it so?’ replied the Count. ‘And the result is the same whatever the form? Is it so?’ “ ‘I might add,’ I continued, ‘that the United States is very slow to enter a war. It hates war and loves peace. But when this country decides to fight it means that it intends to go through with it to the very end. It means that to uphold the right it will employ every resource at its command. The cost



may be billions of dollars but they will be poured out as freely as water. Nothing will be left undone which the necessities of war require. When this Republic enters the field of conflict, it will never rest until it wins. Of this, Count, you may be sure, absolutely sure.’ “Tarnowski’s face was a study as I spoke. His brows wrinkled and he seemed greatly disturbed. As I ceased he sat and gazed at me intently as if trying to read my thoughts, as if he doubted whether I really meant what I had said. At last he seemed convinced and gripping the arms of his chair said, ‘It is very, very serious.’ “I then said to him that I had of course spoken to him in the strictest confidence and not at all in an official capacity; that I had done so because I did not wish him to be deluded by false hopes; that the situation was most serious; and that I thought that he should realize it, so that if possible he could do something to help his country.” Events moved rapidly after this interview with Count Tarnowski. The President addressed Congress four days later and on April sixth war with Germany was proclaimed. The Austro-Hungarian Government did not hesitate. In view of the policy it had adopted it could not hesitate. On the ninth Baron Zwiedinek informed Assistant Secretary Phillips that he was instructed to ask for his passports and to return home. This course had been decided upon at Berlin early in February and was approved by the Emperor of Austria. In accordance with the same policy the Turkish Govern¬ ment on April twentieth severed its diplomatic relations with the United States. On April tenth the Austrian Charge called at my office to take formal leave. The interview was a distressing one. It was the parting of friends. The Baron showed much feeling and I was not unmoved by his evident grief at leaving the United States in such circumstances. I think that he felt that it was a disastrous moment for his country because he realized better than others of his countrymen what the result would be on the future of the Empire which he represented. The same evening Count Tarnowski also came to see me for the purpose of saying good-by. It was only a brief formal call. In arranging with the Allies for the departure of the Austrian diplomats from the United States there were unavoidable delays so that they were unable to sail before May. On May first Count Tarnowski came again to see me although we had said farewell



three weeks before.

Of our conversation on that occasion I made

a memorandum, which reads in part as follows: “ ‘I hope that this miserable business will be over soon,’ I said, ‘and we can all return to peaceful occupations and to restoring the waste caused by this war. Unless something hap¬ pens to change American sentiment Austria will not have a merciless enemy in America.” “ ‘But the Allies desire to partition the Austrian Empire according to their own terms,’ he exclaimed passionately. ‘How can we make peace? How can we?’ “ ‘I do not believe that it will come to actual partition,’ I replied. ‘Of course your own native land, Poland, may become independent, but Austria will never be absorbed unless it is by one power, and that is Germany. Your real danger lies there. You must realize that. Germany alone threatens Aus¬ trian independence. Your country will need a staunch and in¬ fluential friend in the peace conference. I hope that the United States can be that friend. But that depends on Austria.’ “I waited for him to reply, but he sat silent with knitted brows looking off into space. “ ‘As for the independence of Poland,’ I said, ‘I desire and believe it is possible, but to possess the power to grow and develop the country must have an outlet to the sea. No nation can prosper greatly without commerce.’ “ ‘Yes, it is so,’ he replied, ‘but how can Poland have a sea¬ port ?’ “ ‘There is one which she ought to have,’ I answered, ‘and that is Dantzig.’ “ ‘But that is German,’ he objected. “ ‘What of that?’ I replied. ‘You may as well make up your mind, my dear Count, that Germany will not make the peace terms. If Germany should, the Duchy of Austria will be a state of the German Empire. Dantzig should either be Polish or else a free port for Poland neutralized by the Powers. In either case Poland could own her own fleet of merchant ships and build up her own commerce.’ “Again I waited for him to speak. He seemed in doubt how to reply. I think that he was disconcerted by my frankness in discussing the terms of peace as if I were perfectly certain as to the outcome of the war. Finally he arose and I also stood up. “ ‘Oh, well,’ I said, ‘whatever the peace may be, I hope that



it will come soon and that Austria will do nothing to prevent this country being her good friend. We are also the friend of Poland.’ ” That was my last interview with Count Adam Tarnowski, but two days later I received from him a personal note, in which he offered to return to the United States at any time that it might seem desirable, thus furnishing opportunity to reopen the un¬ official conversations which we had had and which offered a channel for the continuance of secret negotiations concerning a peace with Austria-Hungary even though we remained at war with the Ger¬ man Empire. Meanwhile Ambassador Penfield and his embassy staff had been recalled from Vienna and had reached Switzerland. All direct official intercourse with the Vienna Government was cut off. It was only a matter of time before non-intercourse would result in war unless the secret and informal attempts at a separate peace were renewed. The possibility of such renewal, though it was not promising, was the reason for delaying a declaration of war against Austria-Hungary for eight months after war with the German Empire had been proclaimed. The severance by Austria-Hungary of diplomatic relations with the United States closed the channels of communication through which we had been making suggestions to the Austrians as to the advisability of a separate peace. While in the circum¬ stances the hope of success appeared faint, the possibility of attain¬ ing the end desired was not extinguished. Much depended on the military successes of the Allies, on the failure of Germany’s sub¬ marine campaign and on the effectiveness of the economic blockade of the Central Powers. If the high hopes which the Allies had in the early days of 1917 could be realized, the Vienna Government might still be disposed to listen to proposals. With the official channels closed, the conversations were con¬ tinued through unofficial emissaries in Switzerland, who were approached by certain Austrians who were in intimate relations with the young Emperor and with members of his government, and who, because of their own beliefs as to the wisdom of a separate peace, could be depended upon to present the suggested step in a favorable light to those whose influence was strong at Vienna. Though at first the statesmen of the Dual Monarchy, at least some of them, indicated a desire to continue the intercourse which had been interrupted by the breaking off of diplomatic relations



and even went so far as to invite by indirection proposals as to terms, the prospects of negotiating a separate peace did not im¬ prove as events seemed, from the Austrian point of view, to deny the wisdom of such a step. A few farsighted leaders of thought at Vienna, such as Dr. Henri Lammasch, wrho visited Switzerland to discuss the matter with our people and who had previously written me pathetic letters imploring the United States to use its influence to bring the war to an end, were sincere in their desire to negotiate a separate peace with the Allies. These men, with clearer vision than their political associates, believed that the entry of the United States into the war on the side of the Allied Powers meant the defeat of Germany, and that Germany’s defeat would result in the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in its reduction to a minor European power, unless its preservation was made a condition in a separate peace treaty. Sound as was the judgment of this group of men and clear as was their prophetic outlook, their influence with the Emperor and his intimate advisers was offset by the prevailing belief that Germany would win the war before the United States could become an actual participant, and this belief was strengthened by the course of events in the summer and autumn of 1917. In the face of the military situation the wisdom of the counsel of those advisers of the Emperor, who favored a separate peace with the Entente, might well be doubted. The vaunted military advantage of France and Great Britain, faith in which had been a strong inducement to the Allied Powers curtly to reject all peace overtures on the part of Germany, had not materialized. The effectiveness of in¬ tensive submarine warfare was manifest in the uninterrupted destruction of commercial ships approaching or leaving British ports, which had reached such proportions that the most optimistic persons in Great Britain were alarmed for the future. The Russian Revolution had checked for a time at least a possible renewal of an offensive in the east, while the addition of Rumania to the enemies of the Central Alliance had proved to be far less of a menace than had been supposed when she declared war in August, 1916. Fur¬ ther, the Austrians and Germans had crossed the Isonzo and Tagliamento and advanced to the Piave where they were finally stopped by General Diaz, who had succeeded General Cadorna as commander-in-chief of the Italian armies. These events, together with the gloomy forebodings of the British as to the ultimate effect of submarine warfare upon their food supply, munitions and gen¬ eral commerce, called for action on the part of the United States,



if any action could be taken which would aid the Allies or give them renewed hope in the face of such discouragements. The success of the Austro-German invasion of northern Italy deeply depressed the Italians and at the same time confirmed the Austrians in their belief that the Germans would ultimately triumph. The situation was rendered still more dangerous to the Allies in that there was the possibility, of which several reports had come to us, that Italy had been or would be approached by the Central Powers with overtures for a separate peace, and that the military reverses which Italy had suffered were so severe and the maintenance of her line of defense on the Piave so uncertain that the Italian Government might feel that it was necessary to make peace in order to prevent the Teutons from pressing forward their invasion even to the point of capturing Rome. The statesmen of the Allied Powers were doing all that they could to restore the morale of the Italians. On November ninth, the day on which General Diaz assumed the high command of the Italian armies, the premiers of the three principal Allied Powers, Lloyd George, Painleve and Orlando, met in conference near Genoa with their military chiefs, including Foch, Robertson, Wilson and Cadorna, and organized the “Supreme War Council,” which con¬ stituted an inter-Allied board of strategy and was intended to unify in a general way the military forces of the Allies and to co-ordinate their efforts against the common enemy. Two days previous to this important conference Colonel House at the head of an Ameri¬ can War Mission had arrived in England, and upon the sanction by Parliament of the action taken by the conference of premiers, he and General Tasker H. Bliss were named by the President as the American members of the Council. While this step of giving to a common agency control of the war operations of the Allies on the various fronts had from the first been advocated by President Wilson, who followed the same reasoning as that used by General Kitchener in 1915, when he urged the advisability of an inter-Allied war board, its adoption in November, 1917, placed the "United States in a rather anomalous position. Membership in the Supreme War Council imposed upon this country the obligation of considering and advising as to the conduct of the war in Italy against the combined armies of Ger¬ many and Austria-Hungary. The embarrassment was that the war on the Italian front was against both the Central Empires, and the United States was not at war with Austria-Hungary. How then could it participate in hostilities against a nation with which



it was nominally at peace? The President and I studied the situa¬ tion independently and came to the same conclusion, that the only possible solution from the standpoint of expediency was to declare a state of war with Austria-Hungary. A declaration to that effect would have the double effect of putting new hope and courage into the defeated Italians and of extricating us from the predicament in which we were placed by being at war with Germany and at peace with Austria-Hungary when the two Empires were conduct¬ ing a joint invasion of Italy which we were bound to resist. The question then arose as to what reasons could be given for the President’s change of policy in regard to the Dual Monarchy from the one which he had announced in his famous war address of April 2, 1917. He had then asserted that he postponed consider¬ ing our relations with that Empire because “that government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the high seas.” He emphasized this assertion by stating: “We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.” This latter sentence, like many another general declaration, was a source of embarrassment, for it seemed to commit the United States to a policy of neutrality unless the rights of its citizens were directly infringed. President Wilson, nevertheless, having decided that it would be wise to declare a state of war between the United States and Austria-Hungary, prepared to make a recommendation to that effect in his annual address to Congress. He carried out his pur¬ pose with consummate skill, and cleverly reconciled the newly adopted policy with the policy announced in his German war message. He said: “One very embarrassing obstacle that stands in our way is that we are at war with Germany but not with her allies. I therefore very earnestly recommend that the Congress imme¬ diately declare the United States in a state of war with Austria-Hungary. . . . Austria-Hungary is for the time being not her own mistress but simply the vassal of the German Government. We must face the facts as they are and act upon them without sentiment in this stern business. The Government of Austria-Hungary is not acting upon its own initiative or in response to the wishes and feelings of its own peoples but as the instrument of another nation. We must meet its force with our own and regard the Central Powers as



but one. The war can be successfully conducted in no other way. The same logic would lead also to a declaration of war against Turkey and Bulgaria. They also are the tools of Germany. But they are mere tools and do not yet stand in the direct path of our necessary action. We shall go wherever the necessities of this war carry us but it seems to me that we should go only where immediate and practical considerations lead us and not heed any others.” Three days later Congress, on December seventh, declared “that a state of war exists between the Imperial and Royal AustroHungarian Government and the Government and people of the United States,” and the declaration was immediately approved and proclaimed by the President. There was one portion of the President’s address which, in spite of the request for the declaration of a state of war, gave satisfac¬ tion at Vienna since it could be interpreted as a settled policy of our government adverse to the dismemberment of the AustroHungarian Empire, which was considered to be one of the objects sought by the Allied Powers. In a speech made by the Austrian Foreign Minister Czernin on December seventh, which was in the nature of a criticism of and a reply to the address of Mr. Wilson, he said: “The speech by President Wilson is in many respects in¬ comprehensible, but it contains a noteworthy step forward. In one passage the President said: ‘We owe it to ourselves to say that we do not wish in any way to impair or to arrange the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is no affair of ours what they do with their own life, either industrially or politically. We do not purpose or desire to dictate to them in any way. We only desire to see that their affairs are left in their own hands in all matters, great or small.’ If we compare this conception with that of the Entente regarding the monarchy—described by the catchword, the right of the nations to govern them¬ selves—I see in it a great and important advance, which it is greatly to our interest to nail down.” The President’s words and the Austrian comments are of special interest in connection with the doctrine of self-determination which Mr. Wilson later announced in very definite terms and which Count Czernin speaks of as a “catchword.” To harmonize the



two ideas is difficult, but the quoted sentences from his address are sufficiently ambiguous to remove by a bit of sophistry the seeming contradiction. Since the President avoids stating the character and size of the political unit in which “their affairs are left in their own hands,” he does not commit himself to a particular policy, though his first sentence seems to make the entire Empire, as then constituted, the unit for self-determination or, as Czernin expressed it, “the right of the nations to govern themselves.” Reference to this extract from the President’s address is of im¬ portance in view of what occurred six months later, when the war situation and the hopelessness of a separate peace with AustriaHungary forced Mr. Wilson to abandon the policy that he laid down on December 4, 1917, and to favor the dismemberment of the Empire. Another paragraph from Count Czernin’s speech may be inci¬ dentally mentioned here since it shows the views held at Vienna and also at Berlin as to the effectiveness of American participation in the conflict on land. The paragraph reads as follows: “The Entente really believe that the assistance of America will be on a great scale, and they expect from it a turningpoint in the war, but it is possible that the Entente are mistaken. It is very easy to speak of transporting an army of millions from America to Europe, but whether such plans can be realized remains to be proved. The military authorities consider it out of the question.” In view of this opinion as to the impossibility of the United States sending any considerable military force to Europe to aid the Allies on the western front, the declaration of war did not seriously dis¬ turb the Austro-Hungarian statesmen. They accepted it philosoph¬ ically and showed little resentment toward Mr. Wilson for having reversed his policy of April, 1917, by requesting Congress to name Austria-Hungary as an enemy of the United States. Meanwhile Colonel House had returned from Europe, leaving General Bliss to represent the United States on the Supreme War Council. The Colonel’s report as the head of the American War Mission was delivered to me on December 16, 1917, and two days later he came to Washington and we discussed the situation from various angles. Among other things, House told me that he was certain that Austria was still very desirous of a separate peace and that we ought to continue our efforts along these lines.




I doubted whether the Colonel’s information was correct as to the attitude of the Austro-Hungarian Government, although it was corroborated by reports received from Geneva. However, I could see no good reason for discontinuing the unofficial conversations which were taking place in Switzerland, at least not at that time, though to go on with them compelled us to continue the policy that the territory of the Dual Monarchy was to be kept intact. The maintenance of Austria-Hungary within the existing boundaries of the Empire, as one of the bases for the final peace, seemed to me to be an attempt to perpetuate an artificial relation¬ ship between unfriendly nationalities which made for political in¬ stability and international discord in the future. In a memorandum on the territorial adjustments advocated by President Wilson in his “Fourteen Points,” which I wrote on January 10, 1918, two days after the speech was delivered, I discussed as one of the subjects to be dealt with in the peace negotiations, “The Nation¬ alities of Austra-Hungary,” of which the President had said in his Point X: “The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.” This language did not advocate the independence of the several nationalities, but gave the impression that they ought to be auton¬ omous states within the Empire. I think that this was the idea which Mr. Wilson intended to convey, as it was in accord with his declaration in regard to Austro-Hungarian integrity, though his words were, by a forced construction, open to another interpreta¬ tion. In any event I so understood him, and on that understanding I discussed the subject in the memorandum which follows:

“The Nationalities of Austria-Hungary. “I hesitate to include the question of independence for the nationalities within Austria-Hungary, such as the Czechs, Ruthenians and Southern Slavs, because the President, ex¬ cepting in the case of Poland which is mostly outside the empire, had indicated a purpose to preserve the Dual Mon¬ archy intact. I do not believe it is wise to do this. I think that the President will have to abandon this idea and favor the erection of new states out of the imperial territory and require the separation of Austria-Hungary. This is the only certain means of ending German power in Europe. “Convinced of this, I think we should consider the erection



of a Polish State, a Czech State and possibly a Ruthenian State. There would come the union of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia under one sovereignty. There should also be considered the annexa¬ tion of the Rumanians of Transylvania to Rumania and of the Italian Provinces to Italy. Finally, to complete the dis¬ memberment, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary could be separated. These independent states would present an insuperable barrier to German ambition.” During the first three months of 1918 the unofficial conversa¬ tions at Geneva continued, but they drifted further and further away from a separate peace though Doctor Lammasch attempted to win, and in a measure did win, the sympathy of the President by conveying to him a message from the Emperor Karl that the latter sought to reorganize the Empire and make of it a confed¬ eration of autonomous states. Then the possibility of a separate peace was entirely extinguished by a very unfortunate incident which never should have occurred. On April second Count Czernin, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, delivered an address, which was intended as a reply to one made by President Wilson on February eleventh. In the course of his remarks Count Czernin made the following statement: “God is my witness that we have tried everything possible to avoid a new offensive. The Entente would not have it. A short time before the beginning of the offensive in the west Monsieur Clemenceau inquired of me whether and upon what basis I was prepared to negotiate. I immediately replied, in agreement with Berlin, that I was ready to negotiate, and that as regards France I saw no other obstacle for peace than France’s desire for Alsace-Lorraine. “The reply from Paris was that France was willing to negotiate only on that basis. There was no chance left.” Immediately Monsieur Clemenceau, the hot-tempered French Premier, publicly declared: “The statement is a lie,” and followed up this blunt declaration with a statement detailing the secret negotiations which had been going on in Switzerland since August, 1917, between Count Revertata, a personal friend of the Emperor Karl, and Major Armand, who had been named by Premier Ribot to interview the Count when he was informally advised that Austria




sought an unofficial exchange of views as to terms of peace. Furi¬ ously angry at the charge that he was in any way responsible for initiating a peace movement, which he interpreted as an evidence of weakness, the fiery old statesman closed his answer to Czernin in the following words: “Finally, Count Czernin, as a last resource, says that what he attributes to Monsieur Clemenceau is unimportant. ‘What is really important,’ he affirms, ‘is not to know who took the initiative for the conversations before the offensive, but who caused them to fail.’ Then why all this fuss to demonstrate that every French Government, like France itself, is immovable on the question of Alsace-Lorraine ? “Who could have thought it would have been necessary for Count Revertata to elucidate for Count Czernin a question upon which the Emperor of Austria himself has said the last word? It was no other than Emperor Charles who, in a letter dated March, 1917, put on record in his own writing his adhe¬ sion to ‘France’s just claim relative to Alsace-Lorraine.’ A second imperial letter stated that the Emperor was ‘in agree¬ ment with his Minister.’ It only remained for Czernin to contradict himself.” This statement was followed later by the publication of the letter to which Monsieur Clemenceau referred. It was an autographed letter addressed by the Emperor Karl to his brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus de Bourbon, in which appeared the following sentence: “I beg you, to convey privately and unofficially to President Poincare that I will support by every means, and by exerting my personal influence with my allies, France’s just claims regarding Alsace-Lorraine.” The Prince, in compliance with the Emperor’s request, showed the original letter to President Poincare on March 31, 1917, and gave a copy of it to Premier Ribot. The Emperor Karl was greatly disturbed by this disclosure, which seemed to show double-dealing on his part. He immediately telegraphed the Kaiser on April 11, 1918: “The French Prime Minister, driven into a corner, is en¬ deavoring to escape from the net of lies in which he has entangled himself by piling up more and more untruths, and he does not hesitate now to make the completely false statement that I recognized that France had a just claim to the reacqui-



sition of Alsace-Lorraine. I disavow this assertion with indig¬ nation. At a moment when Austro-Hungarian cannon were thundering jointly with German cannon on the western front it hardly needs proof that I am fighting for these provinces, and am ready to continue fighting exactly as if it was a ques¬ tion of defending my own lands. “Although in the face of this eloquent proof of full com¬ munity in aims, for which now for almost four years we have been waging war, I consider it to be superfluous to waste even a word on Monsieur Clemenceau’s false assertion, I desire, nevertheless, to take this opportunity of again assuring you of the complete solidarity which exists between you and me and your empire and mine. No intrigues no attempts from whomso¬ ever they may proceed will imperil our loyal comradeship of arms, and we shall jointly enforce an honorable peace.” It was later explained in a public statement by the Vienna Foreign Office that the Emperor’s letter to Prince Sixtus contained the following passage: “I would have used all my personal influence in favor of the French claims for the return of Alsace-Lorraine, if these claims were just. They are not, however.” Utterly im¬ probable as seems the assertion that the Emperor’s letter to his French brother-in-law contained such a passage in view of the request that it be shown the French President, the Kaiser accepted it without demur. That he thought it to be true I do not for one moment believe. To write to a Frenchman such words was simply unbelievable but some way and somehow the young Emperor who was evidently in a state of panic bordering on hysteria, had to explain why the French statesmen dared to make such a charge as they did, for the unavoidable presumption was that he had written something about Alsace-Lorraine to Prince Sixtus. So he concocted this lamentablv weak explanation. The Kaiser accepted it with the pledge of loyalty that accompanied it, satisfied with the knowledge that fur¬ ther secret negotiations on the part of Austria-Hungary would not be renewed with any of the enemy governments, and this was made the more certain by the enforced resignation of the liberal Czernin and the naming of Baron von Burian a pro-German im¬ perialist of the old school to succeed him. The way in which this incident impressed me I set forth in a note written just after the “Sixtus letter” was published:



“April 12, 1918. “The action of Monsieur Clemenceau in making public yesterday the letter in regard to Alsace-Lorraine by the Emperor Karl to Prince Sixtus de Bourbon is, in my opinion, a piece of the most astounding stupidity, for which no sufficient excuse can be made. If Clemenceau sought to prove that Count Czernin was a liar, he possibly succeeded but at what a cost. His disclosure has thrown Austria bodily into the arms of Germany. The Austrian Emperor has no other course now but to eat his words and affirm in the most unequivocal terms his loyalty to his domineering ally and the aims of his ally. Even if Karl wished to act otherwise the stupidity of Clemen¬ ceau and the fear of Germany prevented. “Thus, after the secret conversations with Lammasch and other personal emissaries of the Austrian rulers, which have been going on in Switzerland, gave at least the remote hope that in the event of a military check of Germany’s efforts on the western front, Austria would be disposed to consider separate terms of peace, Clemenceau makes this unpardonable blunder. The fat is in the fire. “I can only account for this apparent lapse by the French Premier on the supposition that he acted in a fit of temper and took the course which he did without that careful considera¬ tion which should always be shown by those who possess secret information. “It is unfortunate that ‘The Tiger’ of France does not possess a better control over his impulses, unfortunate for his country as well as for the cobelligerents of France. There was always the possibility of something resulting from the evident desire of the Austrian Emperor for peace almost at any price. That possibility the folly of Clemenceau has destroyed. By his foolish act Karl has been forced to cast his lot with the Kaiser. All that we have done has been undone. We must scrap all the unofficial conferences which we have had. “In view of this stupidity on the part of the French leader we must readjust ourselves to the new situation which he has created. First, I cannot see how Czernin can remain at the head of the Austrian Government. He will certainly be forced to resign, for he either knew and lied about the Emperor’s letter or else he was not in full confidence of his royal master. In either case his resignation must follow. He cannot do otherwise.



“When Czernin resigns the Emperor Karl will undoubtedly call upon some pro-German to form a cabinet. It may even be Burian. That is the logic of the situation. While Czernin was in a measure pro-German he undoubtedly was desirous of peace. His successor will be more radically pro-German and more amenable than he to German influences. We will lose a decided advantage by this change of government, and we will not have the opportunity to approach secretly this new Premier or be able to gain imperial influences for peace. Only a military victory on the western front can again open the door which Clemenceau has slammed shut. “In the present state of affairs, it would be unfortunate if Burian was returned to power, but he seems to be the logical one to be chosen because he would satisfy the Prussians.” On April 16, 1918, Ambassador Sharp in Paris telegraphed to me the opinions held in France in regard to this incident. He quoted Monsieur Joseph Reinach, a well-known French authority and writer on political matters, as stating that— “Monsieur Clemenceau has made a fatal mistake in publish¬ ing that letter. ... To prove his own case he wastes an arm which, if held in reserve and used as a threat, would have had great weight; he has thrown Austria into the arms of Germany and has made a deadly enemy of Emperor Charles not only for himself but for all the Allies. All hopes for a peace through Austria vanished with this fatal indiscretion.” As to the prevailing judgment in Paris, Mr. Sharp reported: “Among many the opinion is expressed that it effectually precludes /iny possibility of future negotiations during the war with Austria and has in fact had the result of knitting more closely together the interests of Germany and Austria.” The same criticism of Monsieur Clemenceau’s act and the same conclusion as to its consequences prevailed in Great Britain. Hope of a separate peace with Austria-Hungary was abandoned, and the reasons for dealing leniently with that Empire by giving the impression that its territorial integrity was not threatened dis¬ appeared, especially as the Emperor Karl’s desire, as stated by Doctor Lammasch, to reorganize the existing Dual Monarchy by



making of it a monarchial confederation of autonomous states, could never be realized with Burian and the reactionaries in control of public affairs. At the same time rumors had reached us of the practical absorp¬ tion of Austria by Germany for the future through the medium of a new treaty of military alliance. In this connection I wrote the following memorandum on May 30, 1918, which shows my attitude toward the new situation presented: “A few days ago there was published what purported to be the terms of a military alliance between the German Empire and Austria-Hungary, by which the entire military estab¬ lishment of the latter was put under German control for a period of twenty-five years. Whether these terms are authentic remains to be proved, but the recent visit of the Emperor Karl to German Grand Headquarters makes the statement very probable, for the going of a Hapsburg to a Hohenzollern was the last act of submission, the supreme humiliation of an em¬ peror of the proud house of Austria. “I think that we ought to proceed on the assumption that the report is substantially correct and formulate a policy on that hypothesis. “While this may not be the final step in the practical absorp¬ tion of Austria-Hungary by Germany it comes very near it. The Austrian Emperor submitted because he wishes to show his loyalty to Germany, which the Sixtus letter put in doubt. The German Emperor put on the screws and Karl was afraid to resist. Doubtless there were threats, possibly a suggestion of a change of dynasty. Whatever the pressure used, the Austrian’s visit to this powerful ally indicated the trepidation which he felt and the necessity of placating his master in fact, if not in name. “As the publication of the Sixtus letter ended any possibility of continuing unofficial relations with Austria looking toward peace, so this surrender of Karl removes all possibility of separating the two empires. “If Germany is permitted to continue this mastery after peace is declared, which seems to be the plan, the Prussians will have to all intents won the war, for, if Austria is permitted to remain in possession of the territory now within her borders, the German Emperor will control millions of people utterly hostile to the Germans, who will be in a state of servitude.



Submission of these various nationalities to Austria-Hungary by the terms of this alleged agreement would mean submission to Germany. The Poles, the Czechs, the Jugo-Slavs and the Rumanians would become serfs of the Germans. Such a state of affairs must never be. Justice to the aspirations of those nationalities and the evils of German domination, as well as the peace of the world, cry out against such a result of the war. “Fundamental to every policy which this government adopts at this time is the supreme purpose of destroying Prussianism and compelling Germany to submit to a just peace. That end and the means of attaining it must be para¬ mount in the formulation of a policy. “When, therefore, the Emperor Karl showed that a separate peace was vain and when he became a vassal of Germany, a revision of policy became necessary. From that moment Austria-Hungary lost its right to exist as an Empire including these oppressed races. Karl at German Grand Headquarters signing away his birthright lost any sympathy which had been felt for him before that event. An AustriaHungary absolutely controlled by the Prussians would make them an even greater menace to liberty and peace than they were in 1914. If Austria-Hungary continues to exist in its present form that will be the result. “In view of the new state of affairs it seems to me that Austria-Hungary must be practically blotted out as an empire. It should be partitioned among the nationalities of which it is composed. As a great power it should no longer exist. The Poles, Czechs and other peoples who long for independence and hate all foreign sovereignty must not be brought under the Prussian yoke by continuing them as provinces of AustriaHungaiy. It would be criminal to coerce them and it would be folly for the world to permit it. “It is my judgment that, primarily as a war-measure, and also because it is just and wise for the future, we should en¬ courage in every possible way the national desires of these peoples. If need be, I would favor going so far as to promise them their independence when the Central Powers are defeated if that would induce them to revolt against German-owned Austria-Hungary. Stripped of these nationalities and of the territory occupied by them, Hungary would undoubtedly desire to become an independent kingdom and Austria would



be merely an arch-duchy weak and insignificant as she should be. Over this helpless state Karl would be ruler. “Such a result would be a destiny which Austria and the Hapsburg richly deserve. “To announce this policy and to give it publicity in the Austro-Hungarian Empire are the next steps in carrying out this policy.” Having reached the conclusion that we should change our policy toward the Austro-Hungarian Empire, I prepared the following memorandum to the President, after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon, June twenty-fifth.

“Memorandum on the Policy of the United States in Relation to the Nationalities Included within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. “June 24, 1918. “In the first place we should be perfectly frank with our¬ selves and admit that, as long as there was a chance of entering into a separate peace with Austria-Hungary, it was wise and expedient to attempt to do so, even though it was contrary to the just claims of the nationalities within that Empire which sought independence. The primary object of this govern¬ ment was and is to win the war against Prussianized Ger¬ many and nothing could so soon or so effectively accomplish it as breaking the alliance between the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the German Empire. “When the informal negotiations were brought to an end by the unwise publication of the Prince Sixtus letter and the resulting declaration of the Emperor Karl of his loyalty to the German alliance, a declaration based undoubtedly upon fear rather than desire, a new situation was presented. “Manifestly it would be useless to pursue further a policy which would be ineffective and in no way beneficial in winning the war. As that was the only argument in favor of encourag¬ ing the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in the belief that the United States and the Allies would support its continued existence within its present frontiers, and as the principle of ‘Self-Determination’ was hostile to the idea of holding in sub¬ jection to the imperial rule of Austria-Hungary the Poles,

270 Czechs,






composing so large a part of the population of the Empire, it would seem wise to abandon a policy which will contribute nothing to success in the war and which is unjust to the nation¬ alities subject to the dual crown insofar as it affects their nationalistic aspirations. “We have already gone part of the way, first, in declaring in favor of an independent Poland, and second, by expressing ‘sympathy with the nationalistic aspirations’ of the Czecho¬ slovaks and the Jugo-Slavs. It would seem to me not only politic at this time of political and social unrest in AustriaHungary and of the failure of the offensive against Italy, but just to the nationalities concerned to declare without reserva¬ tion for an independent Poland, an independent Bohemia and an independent Southern Slav State, and a return of the Rumanians and Italians to their natural allegiance. “That would mean in effect the dismemberment of the present Austro-Hungarian Empire into its original elements, leaving these independent nationalities to form such separate states or federal states as they might themselves decide to form, especially if the severance of Austria and Hungary resulted. “The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was organized on the principle of conquest and not on the principle of ‘self-determi¬ nation.’ It was held together after its formation chiefly by fear of the power and greed of the Russian Empire. When the Czar was overthrown, the dread of absorption by the Muscovite power disappeared and the desire for national inde¬ pendence became dominant. “The consequence of such a dismemberment or partition of Austria-Hungary would mean that, in addition to the independent states already referred to, the Empire would probably be divided into the Arch-duchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. In the former would be included the German-speaking people of the Empire and in the latter those speaking the Magyar language. “I believe that the announcement of this policy, which is founded on the just principle that nationalities possess the inherent right of self-government, would exert a decided, if not a decisive, influence in eliminating Austria-Hungary as a factor in the war. If the political and military results should be such as we may reasonably expect, they would mean the defeat of Prussianized Germany, the destruction of Mittel-



Europa, the emancipation of Russia from German domination, and the restoration of peace on a just and therefore on a firm basis. “If this is the wise policy to adopt, it should be done now when the political, military and social conditions of AustriaHungary are in the greatest confusion and when the spirit of revolution is rife. It should be done unconditionally and without ambiguity. The entire surrender of the Dual Mon¬ archy to the German Empire should remove all sympathy and compassion for the Hapsburg rulers. They are no longer entitled to merciful or considerate treatment since they have become vassals of the Hohenzollerns. “The time has arrived in my opinion for the determination of a very definite policy and that determination should be clear and unequivocal.” On the morning of the twenty-seventh I received the President’s reply which entirely approved the policy outlined in the memo¬ randum. His one suggestion was that Hungary should also be definitely considered to be an independent nationality, no longer united with Austria. From the moment that the President adopted and made known this policy the future continuance of AustriaHungary as a great European power was doomed.


The entrance of the United States into the war was hailed with universal satisfaction and universal demonstration of enthusiasm in all the Allied countries. There had been in the early spring of 1917 an increasing spirit of depression among the peoples of those countries, particularly in war-wearied France, and this spirit undoubtedly affected their governments, already harassed by the depleted state of their treasuries. The hopes of military successes, which had been so high in January, 1917, had not been realized in the offensive operations of the spring, while the destruction of shipping by the German submarines was growing so great as to alarm the most optimistic, who had scoffed at the possibility of Great Britain suffering for lack of food and supplies by reason of the submarine blockade. The gratitude and joy of the countries at war with Germany when the President’s address of April second was published knew no bounds. Hope was revived, and the flagging zeal, which had taken the form of sullen and in some cases grumbling determina¬ tion, was restored. The gloom of the past two months was dispelled. Before the actual step had been taken and the declaration of a state of war had been proclaimed, the Governments of Great Britain and France were planning to send diplomatic commissions to this country to thank the Government of the United States for associat¬ ing itself with the Allies in the war and to confer with the American authorities as to plans of co-operation in carrying forward the conflict. By April fifth, the day before the declaration of war had been adopted and proclaimed, the American Government had been advised of the proposed visits, and it replied on the eighth that it would gladly receive the commissioners of the Entente Powers. The British Mission landed from a British naval vessel at a Nova Scotian port on April twentieth and two days later it arrived in Washington. The leader of the Mission was The Right Honorable Arthur James Balfour, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Among the other members were Lord Cunliffe, Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Eric Drummond, Ian Malcolm, M. P., General Bridges and Admiral de Chair. 272



The Mission arrived in Washington on Sunday, the twentysecond. I met Mr. Balfour and his confreres at the railway station and under a cavalry escort conducted them to the residence of the Third Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Breckenridge Long, who had given up to them his home during their stay in the capital. The mile and a half of streets, along which the cavalcade passed, were decorated with American and British flags and lined with thousands of people who cheered themselves hoarse in welcoming the distinguished British statesmen. It was one continuous ovation, which deeply moved Mr. Balfour and impressed him wTith the intense and whole-hearted sympathy of the American people in the cause which they had espoused. He spoke of it to me several times as our automobile moved slowly along behind the trotting squadron of cavalry, saying that he had not anticipated so warm a reception. Perhaps there passed through his mind as there did through mine, the thought of the entry into the capital a hundred years before of the British army which burned the White House and destroyed the Library of Congress. The following morning I presented the principal British Com¬ missioner to the President at the White House, where we remained in conference for an hour going over in a general way the war situation and the chief needs of the Allies. At this conference it became evident that one of the chief reasons for Mr. Balfour’s mis¬ sion was to impress upon the President and the American Govern¬ ment that Great Britain must have ships and money. The ravages of the submarines were apparently much greater than we had been led to suppose. British vessels were being sunk more rapidly than they could be replaced by the British shipyards. Mr. Balfour declared that the food situation in Great Britain was critical, and he urged us to build ships and help make good the losses. Otherwise Great Britain would soon be in dire straits and the British people would suffer from actual starvation and their armies from lack of munitions and supplies. The financial situation was equally deplorable. Great Britain had been compelled from the first to make large loans to her allies. In spite of her great wealth, this constant drain upon her treasury and credit had finally reached a point where further advances were practically out of the question as her own war expenses had increased to an extent that seriously threatened national bank¬ ruptcy. Money she must have to continue the war and she must also be relieved in some way from bearing the heavy burden of financing the other Allied Powers. For nearly three years British



funds and credit had furnished a considerable portion of the sinews of war for all the Allies, and exhaustion was very near. To the United States the Empire turned for relief from this increasing financial burden, which had grown to enormous proportions during the war. From that interview I came away with two words, “ships” and “money,” deeply impressed upon my mind. It was almost pathetic to hear that fine old man appealing to us to come to the rescue of his country in its great need. He frankly told us the exact situa¬ tion, which showed that the United States had none too soon made available its resources for the use of the struggling Allies. The “Hindenburg Line” was being held and there seemed no immediate hope of breaking through the well-organized German defense. The hoped-for military victories had failed to materialize. The weakening of the Russian resistance, due to the chaotic state result¬ ing from the revolution in March, was already releasing thousands of German troops on the eastern front, and these were being used to strengthen the armies in the west. The conditions were desperate in view of the need for ships to carry food and supplies to the Allies and for money to finance the Avar. On Tuesday, the day following this interview with the President, I gave a dinner for Mr. Balfour. The guests consisted of twentythree men, most of whom were leaders in official life. Among them were four former Secretaries of State (General Foster, Justice Day, Senator Root and Senator Knox). Following the dinner a large reception attended by the President was given by Mrs. Lansing and myself in honor of the Commission. On Wednesday, the twenty-fourth, the French Mission arrived in American waters. The head of the Mission was Monsieur Viviani, a former Premier, and then Minister of Justice. Of the other members the foremost were Marshal Joffre, Vice-Admiral Cocheprat and the Marquis de Cliambrun, a member of the French Chamber of Deputies and a lineal descendant of General Lafayette. They had landed from a French battleship at Newport NeAvs where they had been taken on board the presidential yacht, Mayflower, and brought up the Potomac to Washington. At noon Mr. Polk and I met the visitors at the Navy Yard and conducted them with a cavalry guard to the residence of Mr. Henry White, who had offered them his house while they remained at Washington. The throngs along the route of the procession were even greater than those which greeted the British Commissioners, and the cheering and applause were louder and more continuous.



This was especially true as the spectators recognized Marshal Joffre, who rode in the second automobile with Mr. Polk. I could see Viviani stiffen and his face grow grim as he heard Joffre’s name called by the hundreds of voices, while he himself passed unnoticed because unknown to the majority of Americans who were unfamiliar with French politics. He was unquestionably jealous of the popu¬ larity of his military colleague. He did not seem to realize that his own fame as an orator was almost unknown in America, where so few knew the French language, while everyone knew of the “Hero of the Marne” and was eager to do him honor. The welcome of Mr. Balfour and his colleagues was an expression of honor and respect for the venerable statesman who led the British Mission whose visit evidenced the co-operation of the two great English-speaking nations in the prosecution of the war. It was the practical side of the business which the presence of the British Mission emphasized. The greeting accorded the French Mission was aroused, on the other hand, by admiration for the heroic defense of the French armies and by the sentimental friendship existing between the United States and France, a friendship which had persisted from the days of the American War for Independence. The aid which France had furnished to the Colonies during the days of the Revo¬ lution had never been forgotten. France was our historic friend, to whom we owed a debt of gratitude. She held a warm place in the hearts of all Americans. Now had come the time to pay the debt, to go to the rescue of her independence as she had come in the old days to the rescue of our independence. The very thought that France was now grateful to us as we had once been to France stirred the emotions of the nation and gave a tinge of romance to the new struggle for liberty. While France needed money as did all the Allies, Marshal Joffre begged us to send troops at once to France. He intimated but did not say that the morale of the French nation was giving way under the terrific strain of the war and that the recent military disap¬ pointments had greatly depressed the French armies. They needed* something to restore their courage and hope, and no tonic would be so efficacious as the presence of American soldiers on French soil. He asked that a small detachment be sent at once and later two divisions. Let the French people actually see Americans ready to fight the Germans and all would be well. Such was the old Marshal’s assertion, and the psychology of the plea appealed strongly to the American authorities. Furthermore, it confirmed



Secretary Baker in his view that the United States should hasten the equipment and training of a great army for service in France. The day following their arrival in Washington (April twentysixth) I accompanied the French Commissioners to the White House and presented them to President Wilson, and that evening they dined with the President and a distinguished company. On Monday I gave a dinner for the French Commissioners, which was followed by a reception at the Pan American Building attended by sixteen hundred guests, among whom were the President and Mr. Balfour who came together. I will not detail the conferences held with the British Commissioners concerning finances, trade restric¬ tions, export licenses, bunkering agreements, etc. We were given the benefit of the experience which the British Government had ac¬ quired through three long years of warfare, and were thus able to avoid in legislation and administration many of the blunders into which the British at first had fallen, compelling them constantly to amend their statutes and to issue new orders in council. The result was a co-ordination of effort in making the non-intercourse of Germany complete through control of trade with neutral countries and in arranging for more ships in order to lessen the effects of submarine warfare. The wisdom of our policy of having refrained from bringing to a conclusion our controversies with the British Government over neutral rights was manifest. Now that we were belligerents, we reaped the reward of the policy, which had been laid down in my memorandum of July 11, 1915, and which had been followed since that time. We adopted many of the measures of which we had complained (without, however, asserting their legality), because Great Britain had found them effective in isolating the Central Powers. At every point we cut the arteries of their commerce and communications and checked the flow of commodities to the enemy, assured that the economic life of their peoples would be so weakened by this process that their power of resistance would grow less and less until they would in the end be compelled to succumb. As for the controversies with Great Britain, we left them unfinished, the adjustment of the claims of our citizens arising from the illegal acts of the British Government being postponed until the war was ended. On Saturday, May fifth, Mrs. Lansing and I motored down to Gunston Hall, the historic residence of George Mason on the Potomac twenty-eight miles below Washington, where we were the guests of the owners of the estate, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Hertle. We went there in order that I might have a confidential interview with



Mr. Balfour without the danger of interruption or publicity. The following noon Mr. Balfour arrived accompanied by Sir Eric Drummond, and that afternoon we three spent over three hours discussing nearly every phase of the world situation. We consid¬ ered Austria, Bulgaria, Rumania, Russia and Turkey, the military situation in the West, the relations between the Allied Powers, the attitude of Japan and China, the mistakes which had been made and the way to avoid these mistakes for the future. It was an interesting and enlightening conference. I thought it advisable to tell Mr. Balfour very frankly that the sympathy of the American people was far greater for France than for Great Britain, that there still lingered in the minds of our people the old feeling that the British Empire was our hereditary foe, and that the failure of his government to respond to the intense longing of the Irish for the freedom of Ireland from British rule by conceding to them a measure of independence made thousands of Irish-Americans bitter enemies of Great Britain, pointing out to him that this was a situation with which our government found it difficult to cope. I urged him to do something to remove this hostility of persons of Irish blood and of their American sympathizers and he promised to lay the matter before his government when he returned to England. It came to me, as we sat on the brow of the hill and looked down the terraced slopes to the meadows and groves below us and beyond them to the broad waters of the Potomac and the misty shore of Maryland, that here George Mason may have sat a century and a half before formulating the “Bill of Rights,” which has made his name forever illustrious among great Americans, and that now a former Prime Minister of Great Britain sat planning to unite the United States and England in a common effort to defend the same liberty which, in those earlier days, the British Government had sought to crush. It was an interesting thought that this historic spot should have witnessed these two events in the life of the United States, two events that represented the change of political thought in the British Empire and the conversion of hostility to friendship between the two great English-speaking peoples. On May twenty-first we received word that the Italian Mission had reached our northern border, having landed at a Canadian port, and on the twenty-third they arrived in Washington. With officials of the Department I met the Italians at the railway station and with the usual military escort conducted them to the residence of Mr. Joseph Leiter, which he had tendered to the government for their use.



The Italian Mission consisted of the Prince of Udine, Senator Guglielmo Marconi, Marquis Birsarelli, Under Secretary of For¬ eign Affairs, Enrico Arlotta, Minister of Transportation, Fran¬ cesco Nitti, then a deputy but later Premier, General Gugliemetti and others. It is needless to follow in detail the honors shown the Mission. On the twenty-fourth I presented the Prince and his colleagues to the President, and that evening they were entertained at dinner at the White House. The next evening I gave a dinner in their honor, and on Sunday (the twenty-seventh) we proceeded to Mount Vernon on the Mayflower, where the Prince laid a bronze wreath on Washington’s tomb. Late Monday afternoon (the twentyeighth) Mrs. Lansing and I gave a garden party for the Mission at the Pan American Building, which was unfortunately marred by a terriffic thunderstorm that converted the out-of-doors func¬ tion into a reception in the Hall of the Americas. Bad luck fol¬ lowed the Italians, for the tour of American cities which had been arranged for them had to be postponed because of the illness of the Prince of Udine, who on June fourth was attacked with measles. On Sunday, June seventeenth, a Belgian Mission arrived headed by Baron Moncheur. With the usual formalities the Belgians were taken to the residence of Honorable Lars Anderson, and the next day were presented to the President and dined at the White House. The following evening the Mission dined with me. On the twentieth a Russian Mission arrived. It was headed by Mr. Boris Bakhmeteff, who two weeks later presented his creden¬ tials as Ambassador of Russia, a post which he held for over five years under the most trying circumstances. During nearly all this period (that is, from and after November, 1917) the Bolsheviki were dominant in Russia and Mr. Bakhmeteff’s position was anomalous and awkward, since he represented his country but not the group exercising the functions of government at Petrograd and Moscow. Throughout these years he conducted himself and the affairs of his Embassy with tact and discretion, so that when he gave up the post and retired to private life as a resident of this country, he retained the respect and good will of the numerous friends whom he had made during his career as ambassador. The Japanese Mission, whose intended visit had been formally announced early in July, did not arrive until August twentysecond. Accompanied by Assistant Secretary Phillips I met the Mission at the railway station and conducted them to the residence



of Mr. Perry Belmont. The following afternoon I received the entire Mission at the Department of State, and then proceeded to the White House with Viscount Ishii, the chief of the Mission, where I presented him to the President. There was an addition to the formula of entertainment in the case of the Japanese Mission which is worthy of record, and that is a visit which they made to the Atlantic fleet. The fleet had been assembled on the northern shore of Long Island where it was guarded by sea chains, nets and destroyers while awaiting order to put to sea. It was proposed to take the Japanese Commissioners to see this grand fleet, and I am disposed to think that the motive was not solely to give entertainment to our guests, for there was in the minds of some of our officials the thought that it might also give them some idea of the naval power of the United States. This was the last formal entertainment of a visiting diplomatic mission until a Serbian Mission, headed by Doctor Vesnitch, the Minister of Servia at Paris, arrived in the latter part of December and were entertained in much the same way as other missions. The visits of these distinguished foreigners to the United States served a useful purpose, for the American people realized, as they had not before, the profound sense of gratitude and relief which the Allies felt because this country was to be associated with them in the struggle against Germany. To see these famous men from foreign lands and to hear their burning words of hope and con¬ fidence inspired by the fact that the United States was to be their comrade-in-arms aroused throughout the Republic a greater zeal for the cause and a stronger determination to win the war. From the purely practical side the conferences which took place between the American officials and the experts who were attached to the various missions were most useful. In the majoritj^ of cases, in which co-operation is sought, personal acquaintance and per¬ sonal contact smooth out differences and make agreements easier. So it was in this case. This was especially evident in the matter of loans and of arranging a program of united effort in carryingon the economic blockade of Germany and in counteracting the destructive power of submarines by replacing the ships which were being sunk. The situation was discussed in all its phases and our people learned many things that the Allied Governments had never admitted and never would have admitted in their correspondence. The military situation was by no means hopeful, the sinkings by submarines were increasing rapidly, the food situation in Great



Britain was alarming, and the morale of the armies and peoples of the Allies was beginning to give way under the existing condi¬ tions. To the United States all these missions looked for succor, and to them the United States, rich and powerful and untouched by the war, gave its promises, promises which it fulfilled to the uttermost.


The opening of the war in Europe had offered an unexpected op¬

portunity to the Japanese Government to gain a new foothold on Chinese territory which would advance its political influence and economic control over the Republic. Though not compelled by the terms of the existing Anglo-Japanese alliance to take part in the conflict against the Germans, the Japanese Government seized upon that agreement as a pretext and issued an ultimatum to Germany on August 15, 1914, demanding the surrender of Tsingtao in the Province of Shantung, which port was then occu¬ pied as a naval base and commercial port by the Germans under a lease from the Chinese Government which had been obtained by coercion in 1898. The German Government refusing to comply with the demand, Japan declared war upon Germany and sent an expedition against the settlement in the Bay of Kiaochow which took and occupied the fortified harbor together with the railway and other German possessions in the Province of Shantung. There was little change in the situation thus created until the beginning of 1915. Domestic troubles, factional quarrels and an empty treasury occupied all the attention of the Peking Govern¬ ment. Yuan Shih-kai had, at the time of the outbreak of the war, been engaged in a negotiation with the German Government look¬ ing to the recession of its holdings in the Bay of Kiaochow and of the rights of Germany in Shantung. Japan’s action in issuing her ultimatum of August, 1914, and in occupying the port of Tsingtao frustrated the efforts of the Chinese President and brought the negotiation to an end. Doubtless the Japanese knew of the negotia¬ tion and realized that the cancellation of the German lease would undoubtedly be made in view of Germany’s weakness in the Far East, if there were time to complete the arrangement; and they, therefore, hastened to enter the war and seize the naval base, which they coveted, before the German Government could cede it back to China. On January 18, 1915, another and more drastic step in extend¬ ing control over China was taken by her aggressive and ambitious neighbor. On that day Doctor Hioki, the Japanese Minister at Peking, sought an audience of President Yuan Shih-kai and per-




sonally delivered to him a draft treaty between China and Japan which contained a series of provisions, since known as the “Twentyone Demands.” These twenty-one demands were divided into five groups, the principal provisions of which may be stated as follows: Group I. China to assent to any agreement Japan and Germany may make in the future as to rights in Shantung, and also to agree not to cede or lease to any third power territory in that province. Group II. China to agree to the extension of the lease of Port Arthur and the railway north from that port for ninety-nine years, and to a grant to Japanese subjects to open mines in eastern Inner Mongolia; the Japanese Government to be consulted as to loans and employment of political, financial and military advisers in Man¬ churia and Mongolia. Group III. The Chinese Government to agree to a reorganization of the Haneyehping Company on the basis of joint control by the Japanese and Chinese. Group IV. The Chinese Government to agree not to cede or lease to a third power any harbor or bay or island along the coast of China. Group V. The Chinese Government to employ influential Japanese ad¬ visers in political, financial and military affairs; the right to own land in the interior of China to be granted to Japanese hospitals, temples and schools; police departments at important places in China to be jointly administered by Chinese and Japanese, and numerous Japanese to be employed; China to purchase from Japan fifty per cent or more of her munitions of war and to establish a Sino-Japanese arsenal with Japanese technical experts; China to grant certain railway concessions; Japan to be consulted as to loans for public works in the Provinces of Fukien; and China to agree to permit Japanese to have the right of missionary propa¬ ganda. Briefly, Group I was intended to secure to Japan for the future the benefits acquired by the capture of the German settlements in the Bay of Kiaochow; Group II extended the Japanese sphere of influence in Manchuria to eastern Inner Mongolia; Group III purposed to obtain for Japan the valuable mineral deposits in the valley of the Yangtze; Group IV was intended to check foreign competition with Japan; and Group V planned to give Japan such a supervisory control over the civil and military affairs of China that the latter would be to all intents a vassal of the Island Empire. Three or four days after these unconscionable demands were made upon the Chinese President the Department of State was



advised of them, and the importance of defeating Japan’s aggres¬ sive designs became the subject of consideration by the President and by Secretary Bryan and other officials of the Department. The situation was a difficult one, because, while there were ample grounds of protest by the United States, for the Demands were in certain particulars an invasion of the treaty rights of American citizens, the acute state of the controversy growing out of the pending California land law, as well as of proposed anti-Japanese legislation in Oregon and Idaho, and the inability of the United States to use coercive measures to force Japan to recede from her program as disclosed by the demands, made a direct issue inadvis¬ able. After several interviews with the Japanese Ambassador, Secretary Bryan sent him a formal communication on March 13, 1915, which contained a long and exhaustive consideration of the demands, which the Ambassador, Viscount Chinda, asserted were only “requests” and not “demands.” The note was conciliatory in tone and, avoiding any idea of a threat, expressed the hope that Japan would reciprocate by showing full consideration for the rights of other countries in dealing with China. It, however, dwelt with a measure of severity upon the articles in Group V and as¬ serted that the United States was convinced that an attempt to coerce China to accept the articles would cause resentment and create a most undesirable situation in the Far East. This note was confidentially communicated to the British and French Gov¬ ernments for their information, in the hope that it might induce them to join in an effort to preserve China’s integrity, independence and commercial freedom. How far the attitude of the United States affected the negotia¬ tions it is difficult to say, or how much pressure Avas brought to bear on Japan by Great Britain would be equally speculative. In any event, on April twenty-sixth the Japanese Minister at Peking, after a score of conferences with the Chinese negotiators, submitted in the form of a treaty a revised series of demands, which omitted altogether the articles in Group V, although reserving them for future discussion. To these revised demands the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs made answer on May first by submitting a counterdraft of the proposed treaty. Japan was no longer disposed to continue the negotiations, fearing in all probability that there would be further interference by other Powers or some change in the international situation. The state of world affairs due to the war convinced the Japanese statesmen that they could take strong action without serious op-



position from the outside provided they did not directly invade the treaty rights of other foreigners. The political weakness of China, the pre-occupation of the principal European Powers with the conflict against the Central Empires, and the certainty that the Allies would not dare to oppose vigorously, if at all, Japan’s inten¬ tions as to China lest they should lose the support of that Empire in the war, formed a combination of circumstances which assured success to the Tokio Government. On May seventh the Japanese Minister at Peking delivered an ultimatum to the Chinese Govern¬ ment, and the latter, as has been said, had no other course but to accede to the demands and sign the revised treaty which so mani¬ festly impaired the sovereignty of China. On the same day that Japan delivered her ultimatum, I, then Counselor for the Department of State, addressed a letter to Sec¬ retary Bryan urging that a formal notification be sent to Japan and China that any agreement between them which impaired the treaty rights of Americans, the political or territorial integrity of China or the “Open Door Policy,” would not be recognized by the United States. Such a notification, as I remarked in my letter, might not divert Japan from “her purpose of coercing China to submit to her demands,” but would constitute a reservation “so that any agreement forced upon China at the present time could properly become the subject of discussion in the future when the conditions are more propitious.” Secretary Bryan submitted my letter to the President, who approved of the notification and on May eleventh it was sent to Peking and Tokio. The effect of the ultimatum, which concluded the negotiations at Peking, was to increase the political confusion in China and to weaken further the waning power of the Central Government. The southern provinces, which were not directly in danger, as were the northern provinces, of being subjected to coercive measures by Japan, were especially loud in their denunciation of the Peking Government for its compliance with the ultimatum. They were openly rebellious and declined to recognize the central authority of the Republic. For months this disturbed condition continued and increased, the criticism and opposition to Peking spreading more and more through the provinces. We will pass from that period of unrest directly to February, 1917, when the international relations of China entered upon a new phase. On February third the United States broke off diplo¬ matic relations with Germany and issued its circular note inviting other neutral nations to follow its example. The Chinese Govern-



ment had been disposed since 1915 to join the Allies, but the Japanese Government had twice opposed such a step, fearing un¬ doubtedly that the Chinese, in the event of entering the war against Germany, would claim that the state of war annulled the lease of Tsingtao and canceled the German rights in Shantung, thereby restoring China’s full sovereignty over the province. The influence of the Japanese Government with the Allies had been sufficient up to that time to cause them to endorse or at least not to oppose its policy of preventing China’s declaring war against Germany. The American invitation to the neutrals offered a new oppor¬ tunity for the Peking Government to act, and it immediately seized upon it. On February eighth Mr. Reinsch, the American Minister at Peking, advised the department that the representa¬ tives of Great Britain, France and Russia earnestly hoped that China would follow the course taken by the United States, but that they could say nothing since Japan was still opposed to China’s associating herself with the Allies. On the ninth this gov¬ ernment received another dispatch informing it that the Chinese Government had declared to the German Government that, unless the latter abandoned its proposed policy of indiscriminate sub¬ marine warfare, diplomatic relations would be severed. On March tenth Germany replied that she could not recede from her policy and entered into an explanation of the reasons for adopting it. As this was a refusal of the Chinese demand, the German Minister was handed his passports on the fourteenth, and he left Peking with his suite on the twenty-fifth, proceeding to Germany by the way of the United States. While this action by China was displeasing to Japan, the entry of this country into the war disturbed the Tokio Government even more. The Japanese statesmen were apprehensive lest the military and naval forces being organized in the United States were to be used to check Japan’s designs in regard to China. On April eighteenth a personal friend of mine, who was interested in China, had a conversation with two members of the Japanese Embassy in Washington who told him that their Government “could not un¬ derstand” the object of the United States in creating so vast an army and navy unless it was to defeat “Japanese pretensions in the Pacific and Far East.” My friend went on to say, “The Jap¬ anese unquestionably are dismayed by the closer relations between the United States and Great Britain which our entrance into the war has brought about. They fear that one of the results will be a co-operation in China and consequent action against Japanese



ambitions in China and the Pacific.” One of the Japanese also said that if the United States would agree not to fortify the Philippines much of the apprehension of his government would be removed. The foregoing interview indicated the interpretation which the Japanese put upon the military activities of the United States and showed the suspicion and alarm which they felt for the success of their plan to become practical suzerain of China, at least of northern China. When the prey was almost in their hands, it seemed about to slip from their grasp through the intervention of the great power across the Pacific, that was marshaling a vast military force which they presumed was intended for use in the Far East, as they scoffed at the idea that the United States was preparing to send its soldiers overseas to fight for liberty and democracy in Europe. Japanese psychology could not conceive of a purpose so altruistic as that. So costly a venture without material reward was entirely opposed to their ideas of what a nation would do or ought to do. The Chinese, on the other hand, saw the expediency of becoming more closely associated with the United States by following its example in issuing a declaration of war against Germany. Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo, the young and astute Minister of China, who had arrived at Washington in December, 1915, perceived the advantage to his country from entering the war, recognizing the possibility of gaining thereby a strategic position in the future negotiation of a settlement with Japan as to German rights in Shantung. At an interview with me on April seventeenth, eleven days after the United States had declared war, he stated that he had advised his government to enter the war on the side of the Allies, and I assured him that the United States would give him its moral support, as such a course would tend to secure China’s politi¬ cal and territorial integrity and avoid the many embarrassing ques¬ tions which neutrality, even though unfriendly to Germany, would impose. •

Two weeks later (May 1, 1917) the Cabinet at Peking unani¬ mously decided that it was necessary for China to declare war. Knowledge of this ministerial action set in motion numerous intrigues and an intensive propaganda against the government. The Japanese were opposed to having China as an associate in the war for the reasons stated. German residents were anxious to have China remain neutral, as their property and interests would be in danger of confiscation in the event that China became an enemy. These two elements working in harmony with the political op-



ponents of the government were able to defeat the proposed action, and the Cabinet was forced to resign. The developments in China, which were weakening her power of resistence to the aggressive policy of Japan and creating political chaos throughout the Republic, seemed to invite further encroach¬ ments on Chinese sovereignty. I reached the conclusion that the action by this government which would be most helpful to China would be to obtain a joint or identic reassertion by the United States and the principal Allied Powers of China’s political and territorial integrity. With this end in view I asked Sir Cecil SpringRice to come to the Department. On May 15, 1917, we had an interview at which I requested him to sound out Ambassadors Jusserand and Sato as to a declaration by their governments that no preferential rights would be asserted and no impairment of China’s territorial integrity would take place during the war, embodying in the declaration a reaffirmation of the Open Door Policy. On the nineteenth the British Ambassador stated to me that Sato seemed favorable to the proposed declaration. While the United States was engaged in this attempt to induce identic action by the interested Entente Powers, the situation in China had become desperate. The militarists under the so-called “Military Governors” were assembled at Tientsin and threatening to sack Peking and to restore the boy-Emperor to the throne. In these circumstances it was determined to make an effort to bring the hostile factions to their senses. With this end in view the fol¬ lowing communication was, on June fourth, telegraphed to Peking: “The Government of the United States learns with the most profound regret of the dissension in China and desires to ex¬ press the most sincere desire that tranquillity and political co-ordination may be forthwith re-established. “The entry of China into the war with Germany—or the continuance of the status quo of her relations with that gov¬ ernment—are matters of secondary consideration. “The principal necessity for China is to resume and continue her political entity, to proceed along the road of national de¬ velopment on which she has made such marked progress. “With the form of government in China or the personnel which administers that government, the United States has an interest only in so far as its friendship impels it to be of serv¬ ice to China. But in the maintenance by China of one central united and alone responsible government, the United States is



deeply interested, and now expresses the very sincere hope that China, in her own interest and in that of the world, will immediately set aside her factional political disputes, and that all parties and persons will work for the re-establishment of a co-ordinate government and the assumption of that place among the powers of the world to which China is so justly entitled, but the full attainment of which is impossible in the midst of internal discord.” It is doubtful if this communication materially affected the sit¬ uation. Matters had by that time progressed too far to be checked by reason or argument. The militarists were determined to over¬ throw the Parliament, and the Peking Government was impotent to prevent them unless it could by intrigue cause dissensions and rivalries among the rebellious leaders. The American note was viewed by the Japanese with grave dis¬ pleasure. It was asserted by the Tokio press that the United States was interfering in the domestic affairs of China and that this was ample reason for Japan to complain. In view of the constant pressure which had been exerted by the Japanese Government in directing political affairs in China this criticism was naive. On June eleventh the Japanese Ambassador came to see me concerning our communication to China, and I told him frankly that the United States had as much right as Japan had to express its opinion to the Chinese Government, and that his government had no monopoly on giving friendly advice to Peking. At the same interview the Japanese Ambassador said that he was afraid that he misunderstood the proposal as to identic notes by the powers, concerning which he had spoken favorably to the Brit¬ ish Ambassador, and that he referred to it because he did not wish me to have a wrong impression in regard to the matter. I concluded from his remarks that he had submitted the proposal to his govern¬ ment, and that the latter was opposed to taking a step which would materially interfere with the aggressive policy which it had adopted and for the success of which the conditions seemed especially favor¬ able. On June fifteenth the Japanese Ambassador read to me a mem¬ orandum which he declared to be an “oral” statement and not a document. It began with the following sentences: “That Japan has special and close relations, political as well as economic, with China, is well and has long been under-



stood by the American Government. In a note dated March 13, 1915, addressed to Viscount Chinda, my predecessor, by Mr. Bryan, the then Secretary of State, he recognized this state of affairs and declared that the activity of Americans in China had never been political.” After reverting to rumors as to the activities of Minister Reinsch at Peking in connection with Chinese politics and the uneasiness in Japan caused by these rumors, the memorandum closed with a request that the Government of the. United States confirm the statement made by Mr. Bryan in his note of March, 1915, to which his memorandum referred and which was the note dealing with the Twenty-one Demands. On June eighteenth the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs handed to our Charge at Tokio what purported to be a copy of the memorandum which Ambassador Sato had read to me. It was not a copy, for the memorandum delivered to Mr. Wheeler began with the words, “Japan possesses paramount interests, both political and economic, in China.” I would call particular attention to the attempt to make “special and close relations” synonymous with “paramount interests,” an attempt which was renewed in connec¬ tion with the negotiation of the Lansing-Ishii Agreement. Whether this variation in the language of the two documents, which pur¬ ported to be the same, was or was not intentional, I do not know. To this memorandum the United States formally replied, declining to accede to the Japanese request and pointing out that this gov¬ ernment had never assented to Japan exerting political influence of any kind over China. During the progress of this discussion with Japan conditions in China had become critical. General Chang Hsun, with head¬ quarters at Tientsin, who had been looked to as a possible mediator between the factions, went over entirely to the Manchu monarchists. On July first he led his troops into the Imperial City and at four o’clock in the morning recrowned the youthful Manchu Emperor and issued a decree directing that the dragon flag of the Empire should be displayed on all public buildings. Immediately President Li summoned General Tuan Chi-jui to the support of the Republic. On July fifth the Tientsin-Peking railway was cut and on the ninth Peking was invested by the Republican army. On the twelfth the besieging troops entered the city and General Chang Hsun fled to the legation quarters seeking asylum. The monarchist coup d’etat thus came to a speedy



and inglorious end; the little Manchu Emperor retaining the throne for only eleven days. This incident was important in that it ap¬ peared to show that the Chinese people were in favor of republican institutions and determined to preserve them. Meanwhile Feng Kuo-chang, the Vice-President of the Republic, had succeeded General Li Yuan Hung, who had resigned the presidency, and, although the political confusion continued, the movement in favor of declaring war against Germany grew stronger. Finally on August fourteenth war was declared against both Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the Republic of China joined the Allies. The next step in our relations with the Far East is the negotia¬ tion with Viscount Ishii who arrived in Washington as a Special Ambassador in the midsummer of 1917, a week after China’s dec¬ laration of war. Viscount Ishii was a distinguished statesman and diplomat who had been minister of foreign affairs and held im¬ portant diplomatic posts in Europe. For two weeks after the Mis¬ sion arrived the time was occupied with entertainments and functions given in honor of the visitors, and the conferences which took place during that time were brief, general and inconsequential. It was not until the demands of ceremonial hospitality had been complied with and the government had shown its friendship and good will for Japan by doing honor to its commissioners that there was opportunity to engage in serious conversations with Viscount Ishii regarding questions which involved the relations between our two countries. On September sixth I had a long conference at the Department of State with the Special Ambassador, during the first part of which we discussed the extent to which Japan was aiding in the war and how she might co-operate more fully with the Allies and this country in its prosecution. My proposal was that Japan should furnish more ships for commercial purposes and Ishii’s reply was that the Japanese building program was interrupted by the embargo placed by the United States upon iron and steel for ship construction. After reviewing the subject at considerable length, an understanding was reached that an attempt would be made to arrange steel shipments from the United States in ex¬ change for the use of Japanese merchant vessels. Having reached this stage in our conversation, I will proceed by quoting the memorandum of the conference made at the time. “I asked the Ambassador whether he desired to discuss other questions than those immediately pertaining to the war, be-



cause if he so desired I was willing to do so—but I thought the supreme object of both Governments at the present moment should be the winning of the war and an understanding as to how we could co-operate to that end. “He said that, in view of the fact that he had come here and been so handsomely received by the American people, he thought it would be unfortunate not to consider some of the other questions as we had to look forward to a time when the war would be over. He said in the first place he ought to in¬ form me that when he returned to Japan from France, where he was Ambassador in 1915, he stopped in London and saw Sir Edward Grey. Japan at that time had taken Kiaochow and the German Islands in the South Pacific. He said he told Sir Edward Grey it was the intention of his government to return Kiaochow to China, but that no government in Japan could stand if they did not retain some of the South Sea Islands as ‘souvenirs’ of the war; that it had been a sacrifice for his government to enter the war, which they were not compelled to do under their treaty of alliance—that is, according to the letter of the treaty—but he thought they were according to the spirit. He then went on to say that Sir Edward Grey had practically consented that, in the readjustment of territory after the war, the German islands north of the equator should be retained by Japan, while those south of the equator should go to Great Britain. “I replied that I was glad to know this and appreciated his frankness in telling me, but that I could make no comment on such an agreement at the present time. “I asked him what further questions he wished to discuss and he said to me: ‘Have you anything to propose in regard to China?’ “I replied that I had, and while I realized that he would want to consider my proposition before making a reply I would like to present it. I said the proposition was this: “That the cobelligerents against Germany should, jointly or simultaneously, re-declare the Open Door Policy in a state¬ ment which would have a very beneficial effect upon China and I believed upon the world at large, as it was in accord with the principles of commerce to which we all agreed. “The Ambassador seemed a little taken back by this sug¬ gestion and said that of course he should like to consider it and that he appreciated the arguments in its favor although



he said he did not know as it was absolutely necessary in view of the fact that Japan had always lived up to the principle. “I replied that Japan had always lived up to any declara¬ tion which she had made; that the good faith of Japan could not be questioned; and that upon that this government always relied and felt no anxiety once the Japanese Government had passed its word. “The Ambassador replied that he felt that Japan had a special interest on account of its position in regard to China, and while its desire was to have China open and free to all countries he felt there might be criticism if there was a bare declaration of the Open Door Policy without some mention of Japan’s special interest. “I replied to him that we recognized the fact that Japan, from her geographical position, had a peculiar interest in China but that to make a declaration to that effect seemed to me needless, as it was the result of natural causes and not political; that any such declaration might be interpreted as a peculiar political interest and I was very doubtful whether it would be wise to include it in a reaffirmation of the Open Door Policy. “The Ambassador said that his government was, of course, in favor of the Open Door Policy; that they would maintain it as they had in the past, but he was not willing yet to say whether he thought it would be a real advantage to reaffirm it. “I said that the Open Door Policy was peculiarly advan¬ tageous to Japan; that if we should return to spheres of influence in which the various powers had a paramount interest in certain sections of China the advantage which Japan had in geographical position would be destroyed; that Japan, with the industrial advantage which she had by reason of cheap and efficient labor and the short distance which she had to carry her goods to the Chinese markets, benefited more than any other of the countries by the Open Door Policy; that so far as this country was concerned it might be considered ad¬ visable to re-establish spheres of influence, but that it was entirely contrary to our policy and principle and we were most anxious to preserve the doctrine in dealing with China. I said I hoped he would give the matter very careful considera¬ tion and would be prepared to discuss it further at our next conference, which is to take place on Monday, September tenth.



“During the course of the early part of the conversation the Ambassador said that through various channels the German Government had three times sought to persuade Japan to withdraw from the Allies and to remain neutral, but that in every case his Government had firmly rejected the suggestion. “I said to him that I could imagine their [the Germans] seeking some such step, as they had planned to attempt it through Mexico as was indicated in the Zimmermann note. I further said to him that it was a matter of no concern to this government, in view of the fact that Japan’s loyalty to an ally and her reputation for good faith was too well established to be even suspected.” In the foregoing memorandum of this conference with Vis¬ count Ishii, there are some things which should be particularly noted: The assertion that Japan intended to return Kiaochow to China, but that she would retain the German islands in the Pacific north of the equator, a fact of which I had been advised in 1916 by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, when the United States was neutral and without voice in the matter. The de¬ sire of the Viscount to couple with a re-declaration of the Open Door Policy a reference to Japan’s “special interests,” and my doubt of the wisdom of doing so because of the danger that any such declaration might be interpreted “as a peculiar political interest,” though it was in fact not political but the result of geographical position and based on natural causes. On September tenth I held another conference with the Japanese Special Ambassador, in which we went over much the same ground as in our previous interview, but it developed nothing new as it was evident that Ishii had received no instructions from his government in regard to my suggestion. We next met on the twenty-second.

My memorandum of that

conference is as follows: “Viscount Ishii called at three p. m. by appointment, and after some preliminary remarks he introduced the subject of the Open Door and the suggestion that a re-declaration at this time would be advantageous. “He said that he had heard from his government, and that they did not wish to do anything to affect the status quo in China and that it would be hard to explain to the Japanese



people why a declaration was made at this time if the sug¬ gestion was adopted. “I told him that he must realize that in the present state of the world Japan and the United States were the only countries which could furnish money for the development of China’s vast resources; that, if we permitted the gradual restoration of the policy of spheres of influence, which seemed to be going on, the Allied Governments would look upon us as seek¬ ing to monopolize the opportunities; and that it seemed to me that we should unite in every possible way to dispel the impression that we would selfishly seek to take advantage of their wasted condition and build up our own fortunes without thought of those who were fighting the battles of this country and of Japan, as well as their own battles. I said that I thought this was a time when Japan and the United States ought to show a magnanimous spirit and say to them, ‘We will not take advantage of your calamities as we might do. We will seek no special privileges in China. When this war is over and you begin to rebuild your fortunes by commerce and trade, you will find the markets of China and the opportunities in that land as open and free to you as they are to us.’ “If we re-declared the Open Door Policy, I told him that is what it would mean, and I asked him if it was not worth while to gain the gratitude and confidence of the Allies by an an¬ nouncement of our purpose to be generous and unselfish in this time when the future must look so dark to them. “The Viscount said that he appreciated all this and that he also realized what I had said before about Japan being the chief beneficiary from the Open Door which was manifestly true, but that the Japanese people would be likely to blame the government if there was nothing said about Japan’s ‘special interest’ in China, that the opposition in the Diet would seize upon such an opportunity to attack the Ministry for making a needless declaration while getting nothing for Japan. “I said to him that if he meant by ‘special interest’ ‘para¬ mount interest [the phrase used in the Tokio memorandum of June eighteenth],’ I could not see my way clear to discuss the matter further; but, if he meant a special interest based upon geographical position, I was not unwilling to take the matter into consideration. I said further that I appreciated his dif¬ ficulty which pertained to the political situation in Japan and



would try to find some formula to satisfy the wishes of his people in case a re-declaration of the Open Door Policy could be agreed upon in principle. “The Viscount said that he wished I would prepare such a formula first for his consideration and I told him that I would. He seemed to be much impressed with the idea that to re¬ declare the Open Door at this time would be accepted as a gen¬ erous act by the Allies and strengthen the bond of friendship and confidence between the powers and Japan. He also said that he was convinced that Japan on account of its proximity to China would be especially benefited by a continuance of the Open Door Policy, and that the only difficulty of the proposed re-declaration was that it might not appeal to the Japanese public and be used as a pretext to attack the government. “In this conversation I also said to him that there seemed to be a misconception of the underlying principle of the Monroe Doctrine [There had been something said in a previous conversation about a Monroe Doctrine for the Far East being declared by Japan] ; that it was not an assertion of primacy or of paramount interest by the United States in its relation to other American Republics; that its purpose was to prevent foreign powers from interfering with the sov¬ ereign rights of any nation in this hemisphere; and that the whole aim was to preserve to each republic the power of self¬ development. I said further that so far as aiding in this de¬ velopment this country was on an equal footing with all other countries and claimed no special privileges. “As for China, I said that I felt that the same principle should be applied and that no special privileges and certainly no paramount interest in that country should be claimed by any foreign power. I also said that I appreciated the pressure of population in Japan and the need for industrial expansion, and that I believed that Japan had occupied Korea and was developing Manchuria chiefly because of this unavoidable necessity. “The Special Ambassador also spoke of Manchuria and said that his country desired the Open Door Policy to be applied there, that his government sought no monopoly there, and that, even if China were willing to cede the territory to Japan, Japan would not accept it. “I told him that I was glad to hear this frank declaration and I hoped that his view of the application of the Open Door



Policy was the same as mine. My view was that in China for¬ eign commerce and trade should be entirely unhampered. He replied that was his view. I then said that I felt that when a railroad or canal was built in China by the nationals of one country special rates or other privileges should not be given to citizens of that country engaged in trade or industry in China, but that the citizens of all countries should receive identical treatment. The Ambassador assented to this with some hesitation, and seemed desirous to avoid a discussion of the application of the principle of the Open Door.” In reading this conversation attention should be particularly directed to my assertion that, if the Viscount, when he spoke of “special interest” meant “paramount interest,” I could not dis¬ cuss the matter further with him. In the face of this assertion he asked me to prepare and submit to him a formula for consideration. He understood fully that any reference that I made in such a formula to Japan’s special interest was based on geographical position and pertained to commercial interests and that the idea of paramount interest applying to political affairs was entirely eliminated from the negotiation. We never again mentioned, much less discussed, paramount interest, and we both understood that special interest was the result of geographical proximity and had no relation whatever to a superior political influence over Chinese affairs. I might have resisted the use of the words “special interest” even though to do so would have jeopardized the reaffirmation of the Open Door Policy, but I labored under the embarrassment that Secretary Bryan in his note of March 13, 1915, regarding the Twenty-one Demands, had stated that “the United States frankly recognizes that territorial contiguity creates special relations be¬ tween Japan and these districts (Shantung, South Manchuria and Eastern Mongolia).” While this admission was probably made without thought, it was open to an invidious interpretation. The Japanese Government remembered it and in June, 1917, had sought, as stated in the preceding chapter, to have the Government of the United States confirm Mr. Bryan’s words and give to them a broader meaning. Though the Japanese request was not com¬ plied with, the admission of March, 1915, remained to vex the Department of State in the future. It could not be directly re¬ pudiated for that would be considered bad faith on the part of the Administration, but it was possible to give it an interpretation



which would deprive it of the meaning of “paramount interest,” or of “special and close interests, political as well as economic,” either of which the Japanese were anxious to have the United States admit as correct. It was expedient, therefore, to allow the words special relations or special interest to enter into the negotiation but to make clear that the Japanese interpretation of paramount, which they had inserted in their Tokio memorandum, was unwar¬ ranted. This could be done by using the phrase in such a way in drafting a formula that the American interpretation would be clearly brought out. To adopt the phrase and give it the desired meaning seemed to be the only way to get out of the embarrassing situation resulting from language used by Mr. Bryan which con¬ stituted a commitment of the Government of the United States, a commitment which the Japanese Government did not intend us to forget and on which it intended to insist as strongly as it could in any negotiation which might be carried on with this government. I did not like the word “relations” used by Mr. Bryan as it seemed to convey the idea of political influence. I, therefore, saw it interpreted as “interest,” with satisfaction, since the latter word was, in my judgment, broader and less used in matters political. On September twenty-sixth I submitted to Viscount Ishii a draft note and on the same day we discussed it and agreed to certain changes in language. The portion of the note relating to “special interest” reads as follows: “The Governments of the United States and Japan recog¬ nize that territorial propinquity creates special relations between countries; and consequently the United States Gov¬ ernment recognizes that Japan has a special interest in China, particularly in that part to which her possessions are con¬ tiguous. The territorial sovereignty of China, nevertheless, remains unimpaired, and the Government of the United States has every confidence in the repeated assurances of the Im¬ perial Japanese Government that, while geographical position gives them such special interest, they have no desire to dis¬ criminate against the trade of other nations or to disregard the commercial rights heretofore granted by China in treaties with other Powers.” The note as changed at our conference on the twenty-sixth still remained tentative and the basis for future discussion. Ishii ap¬ parently telegraphed the amended text to his government, which



proposed certain changes. These changes were incorporated in a counterdraft which the Viscount handed to me on October eighth, but which he agreed to modify still further at interviews on the tenth and twelfth. The important amendments proposed by the Japanese Government were the change of the phrase “that Japan has a special interest in China” into “that Japan has special inter¬ est and influence in China,” and the omission of the words “The territorial sovereignty of China, nevertheless, remains unimpaired.” To these proposals I declined to accede, definitely rejecting the words “and influence,” and taking under consideration the pro¬ posed omission. There was another paragraph of the draft of the note which the Japanese sought to have changed and which is of importance because in the “give and take” of a negotiation a bargain is fre¬ quently struck by one party agreeing to the wishes of the other regarding certain phraseology in exchange for concessions made as to other parts of the agreement. The paragraph which the United States had proposed and was especially desirous of having in the note reads as follows: “The Governments of the United States and Japan deny that they have any purpose to infringe in any way the inde¬ pendence or territorial integrity of China and they declare furthermore that they always adhere to the principle of the so-called Open Door or equal opportunity for commerce and industry in China, and that they will not take advantage of

present conditions to seek special rights or privileges in China which would abridge the rights of the citizens or subjects of other friendly states. Moreover they mutually declare that they are opposed to the acquisition by any other government of any special rights or privileges that would affect the inde¬ pendence or territorial integrity of China or that would deny to the subjects or citizens of any country the full enjoyment of equal opportunity in the commerce and industry of China.” The italicized phrase (it is not italicized in the original) which was the central thought of our proposed identic note in June, was stricken out in the Japanese counterdraft. It is manifest why the Government of Tokio wished to eliminate this declaration. It had already taken advantage of present conditions in the case of Kiaochow and might find opportunity to obtain other advantage in the future. It did not desire to tie its own hands or place anything



in the way of pursuing its policy of encroachment. At all hazards it must avoid a formal commitment not to act if the circumstances were favorable to carrying out the Japanese policy. My memorandum of the conference with the Special Ambassador on October tenth, at which this change was discussed, reads as follows: “I said that while I admitted the phrase which his govern¬ ment desired to have eliminated would not materially affect the document, it seemed to me that both governments were losing a very great opportunity of placing themselves in a generous light before the Allied Powers. “The Viscount replied he realized that, but that there were political reasons at home which he felt embarrassed his govern¬ ment in accepting the phrase as it stood, especially as the preceding declarations cover the entire ground. “I said to him that while I felt that was so, the direct dec¬ laration that neither of the governments would seek advantage during the war would receive the greatest applause in the Allied countries; that those countries were in difficult financial situations; that they were almost on the verge of bankruptcy; that Japan and the United States were the only countries who could use their resources in the development of China; and that it would be a noble and generous act to say to these coun¬ tries—‘You have been fighting our battles and we will not take advantage of your condition but will hold your rights sacred and give you every opportunity to recover from this war along commercial and industrial lines in the Far East.’ “The Viscount replied to this that he was in full accord with me, but in view of his government’s desires he could not commit them to an acceptance of the phrase; but that he would im¬ mediately telegraph and explain the advantage of retaining it. “I said to him that of course it might be found politically impossible to concede this request, although it affected both nations equally; that I saw only one other way of making the document complete in case that phrase was rejected and that was to strike out the word ‘other’ [which is also italicized in the preceding quotation] ; and that while I hoped his govern¬ ment would not feel compelled to reject the clause proposed, especially as it applied only to the present time, it might be advisable to consider the alternative proposal of striking out the word ‘other.’


WAR MEMOIRS OF ROBERT LANSING “The Viscount said he would bear this in mind and also

communicate with his government.” The explanation of the alternative proposal to strike out the word “other” in the last sentence of the paragraph is this: With the word “other” included, the declaration against the acquisition of special rights and privileges did not apply to the United States and Japan, but if “other” was stricken out, then it applied to all governments including the United States and Japan. In some ways this compromise was desirable, because the phrase to which the Japanese Government objected was temporary, while the other declaration was continuing and bound Japan, as a formally de¬ clared policy, not to impair the independence or territorial integrity of China. While I would have liked to see the eliminated phrase retained, I considered that to exchange it for the elimination of the word “other” was a good bargain. On October thirteenth the Viscount and I continued our discus¬ sion of the Japanese counterdraft. At this interview I informed him that the words “and influence” were “entirely unacceptable and could not be considered.” In discussing further the phrase which the Japanese Government sought to have omitted from the note, I said that of course he understood that the very consideration of its elimination depended upon the word “other” going out also. A week after this interview, Ishii having meanwhile communicated with his government, we met again and considered a redraft of the note which I had prepared and in which I had endeavored to incorporate the concessions made by both governments. In my memorandum of the interview appears the following: “He spoke of the elimination of the word ‘other’ and asked if I did not think it well to retain it. I told him ‘No,’ and he dropped the subject.” At this conference I also stated to the Viscount that the omission from the note of the phrase which Japan did not wish to have in it might be misconstrued into a rejection of the declaration. I also said that I thought the Japanese reply to the proposed note should be accompanied by a confidential memorandum stating that the phrase was stricken out by mutual consent for reasons of expedi¬ ency but that there was no purpose on the part of Japan to assert a contrary principle or policy, and I gave him a draft of such memorandum. On October twenty-seventh we conferred again on this proposed memorandum. My note on the conference reads as follows:



“The Viscount called this morning by appointment and said that he had heard from his government as to the proposed memorandum submitted on the twenty-fourth by me, that he wishes to repeat that the only thing his government sought to avoid was the impression that we suspected Japan of improper motives, and that his government were afraid that the memo¬ randum might some day become public and the people would believe that we did not trust Japan. He was, therefore, in¬ structed to propose a protocol which would be in the nature of a joint memorandum signed by both of us. “The Viscount then handed me the draft of a protocol saying that he thought that it went even further than the memorandum. “I told him that I would like to study the protocol further and would communicate with him as soon as I had done so.” On the twenty-ninth I agreed to the protocol but suggested a few verbal changes, and on the thirty-first Ishii informed me that his government agreed to the protocol as amended. On November second the notes were signed and exchanged and the protocol was signed by Viscount Ishii and me. As the protocol was confidential, its text cannot be published, although its under¬ takings came to an end with the close of the war. Identic notes were exchanged on the second which constitute the so-called Lansing-Ishii Agreement. My note read as follows: “Department of State “Washington “November 2, 1917. “Excellency: “I have the honor to communicate herein my understand¬ ing of the agreement reached by us in our recent conversations touching the questions of mutual interest to our governments relating to the Republic of China. “In order to silence mischievous reports that have from time to time been circulated, it is believed by us that a public an¬ nouncement once more of the desires and intentions shared by our two governments with regard to China is advisable. “The Governments of the United States and Japan recognize that territorial propinquity creates special relations between countries, and consequently, the Government of the United States recognizes that Japan has special interests in China,



particularly in the part to which her possessions are con¬ tiguous. “The territorial sovereignty of China, nevertheless, re¬ mains unimpaired and the Government of the United States has every confidence in the repeated assurances of the Imperial Japanese Government that while geographical position gives Japan such special interests they have no desire to discrimi¬ nate against the trade of other nations or to disregard the commercial rights heretofore granted by China in treaties with other powers. “The Governments of the United States and Japan deny that they have any purpose to infringe in any way the inde¬ pendence or territorial integrity of China and they declare, furthermore, that they always adhere to the principles of the so-called Open Door or equal opportunity for commerce and industry in China. “Moreover, they mutually declare that they are opposed to the acquisition by any government of any special rights or privileges that would affect the independence or territorial integrity of China or that would deny to the subject or citizens of any country the full enjoyment of equal opportunity in the commerce and industry of China. “I shall be glad to have Your Excellency confirm this under¬ standing of the agreement reached by us. “Accept, etc. “Robert Lansing. “His Excellency “Viscount Kikujiro Ishii, “Ambassador Extraordinary Japan, on Special Mission.”




It was arranged that the notes should be simultaneously pub¬ lished in the United States and Japan on November sixth. The Tokio Government, in spite of this definite understanding, saw fit to communicate the text of the notes to the Japanese Minister at Peking before the sixth, and he, with or without authority, delivered the notes to the Chinese Government, at the same time, placing upon the words “special interests” the objectionable interpreta¬ tion of “paramount interests” and “special influence.” In view of the discussion which I had had with Viscount Ishii during our negotiations as to the meaning of the words, this action of the Japanese Government or of its representative was indefensible and



a deliberate perversion of the language. It was done with the evident intent to create the impression at Peking that the United States had abandoned China to the schemes of her aggressive neighbor and to sow in Chinese minds distrust of the genuineness of American friendship. A similar interpretation, which was presumably inspired by the Imperial Government, was proclaimed generally by the Japanese press and industriously circulated among the people as an evidence of the skillfulness of Japanese diplomacy. The result was that the Chinese Government issued a statement declaring that it was not bound by the Agreement, and on Novem¬ ber twelfth this statement was officially delivered to this government at an interview which I had on that day with the Chinese Minister, Dr. Wellington Koo. My memorandum of that interview reads as follows: “The Chinese Minister called upon me this afternoon and delivered a memorandum setting forth the views of his govern¬ ment in regard to the notes exchanged with the Special Jap¬ anese Ambassador. “After reading the memorandum I said to the Minister that I fully understood the reason for his government’s delivery of the memorandum, though as a matter of fact it was unneces¬ sary since there was no thought by either Viscount Ishii or me to bind China in any way for we did not possess the power or have the intention to do so. I explained to him that, in order to avoid any question of China giving assent to the understanding reached in the notes, I had abstained mention¬ ing the negotiations to him during their progress or advising his government in any way of the subjects being discussed. I said that I did not want anyone to say that China relin¬ quished any right by not objecting to the understanding before its conclusion although cognizant of its negotiation. That my silence had been deliberate and because I wished to keep China from an embarrassing situation. “I further told him that our traditional friendship for China was unchanged and that China’s interests had been in my mind throughout my intercourse with Viscount Ishii; that, while this was so, he must realize that the present war had entirely changed conditions; that in financing it we had need of all our money at home; and that in view of this drain upon our resources China did not today offer the same attrac¬ tiveness for investment to American capital as it had in the



past. I pointed out to him that Japan and the United States were the only two countries which had surplus capital to invest at the present time, but that we were not anxious to send our money abroad if we had to enter into competition in placing it; that the time had passed when China could play off the United States against Japan in the matter of invest¬ ments for we were no longer keen to encourage sending money into other countries when we needed it so much for carrying on the war. “I said that, if we dropped out, the field would be left entirely in the hands of Japanese, which I presumed China would not wish; that we were anxious to prove our friendship for his country by aiding her financially, but that the only way to do so in the present circumstances was to come to some arrangement for co-operation with Japan, as competition would probably defeat any loan in this country; and I assumed that China would prefer to have us participate even under those conditions. “The Minister listened intently but made no comment. He then said that his government was particularly disturbed over the recognition of Japan’s ‘special interests’ in China, and asked what the phrase meant. “I replied that it was manifestly an axiom that geographical propinquity necessarily gave nations special interests in their neighbors, and that setting it forth was merely stating an axiom and nothing more. “The Minister said that he could not see, if it was an axiom, why it was stated; that it was the statement which disturbed his government. “I replied to him that I thought he would agree with me that to concede a truth, which could not be successfully denied, in exchange for a declaration of policy which restrained the other party was certainly a very desirable thing to do. “He asked me to what I referred, and I said to the last clause of the notes in which the United States and Japan declared themselves opposed to ‘any government’ infringing China’s independence or territorial integrity, a declaration which applied to the parties to the understanding as well as to other governments. I told him that such a bargain seemed to me decidedly in favor of China, and I believed that upon consideration his government would come to the same opinion. “The Minister wished to know if the special interests applied



to other neighbors such as Russia on the north, France on the south and Great Britain on the west. “I told him that the axiom held good the world over, that we had recognized it in our relations on this continent, and that China might apply it with equal force to her neighbors. “I said that probably the Chinese Government had done wisely as a matter of precaution in sending the memorandum, but that no reservation or caveat could change the natural consequence of propinquity. “The Minister thanked me for the explanations but ex¬ pressed no opinions of his own.” The construction which the Japanese Government so improperly placed upon the words “special interests” was not only accepted by the Chinese Government, but was adopted by many American newspapers, periodicals and publicists. This was due to telegrams from Tokio and also to hasty examination of the documents or to blind prejudice caused by pro-Chinese sentiment, by hostility to Japan or by a desire to find fault with the Administration. It was unfortunate that this interpretation gained currency in the United States, because all subsequent criticisms and comments concerning the Lansing-Ishii Agreement proceeded upon the assumption that the government had, by entering into the agree¬ ment, abandoned the traditional attitude of the United States toward Japanese political and economic penetration into Chinese territory, and left the republic in its weakness to the mercy of its ambitious neighbor. While the original purpose of the negotiation was to obtain from the Japanese Government a re-declaration of the Root-Takahira Agreement of 1908, which the government had declined to make in June, 1917, it resulted in commitments by Japan more farreaching and vital to the preservation of China’s sovereignty than the previous agreement had done. Though both agreements deal with the Open Door, primarily declared while John Hay was Secretary of State, its reiteration is the central thought of the Root-Takahira Agreement, while the central thought of the Lansing-Ishii Agreement is the preserva¬ tion of the independence and territorial integrity of China from external aggression. The importance of this fundamental dif¬ ference in the two agreements is significant of the international conditions which prevailed when each was negotiated and indicates the difference in the dangers which threatened China in 1908, when



the empire was still in existence and when peace prevailed, and in 1917, when China, demoralized and politically unstable, was strug¬ gling to maintain a republican form of government while all the great European powers were engrossed in the prosecution of a world war. In exchange for repeating Secretary Bryan’s admission that Japan had “special interests,” a fact which could not be denied without denying the natural law of the consequences of propinquity of territory, what did Japan give? In the first place the Japanese Government in the agreement denied that it has “any purpose to infringe in any way the inde¬ pendence or territorial integrity of China.” In the second place the Japanese Government declared that it will always adhere to the principle of the Open Door or equal opportunity for commerce and industry in China. And in the third place the Japanese Government declared that it was “opposed to the acquisition by any government of any special rights or privileges that would affect the independence or territorial integrity of China or that would deny to the subjects or citizens of any country the full enjoyment of equal opportunity in the commerce and industry of China.” The American Government entered into the Lansing-Ishii Agree¬ ment to meet just such an aggressive policy as the Japanese delegation to the Peace Conference pursued. While it was im¬ portant to reiterate adherence to the Open Door, as had been done in the Root-Takahira Agreement, which had no other object, it was of far greater importance to obtain Japan’s declaration against her own acts in obtaining by treaty or otherwise “special rights or privileges” impairing Chinese sovereignty.


severance of diplomatic relations with Germany offered an opportunity of appeal for support from neutral states, particularly those of Latin-America with whom the President’s Department of State had been actively seeking to promote better relations. Notes were sent to the other American Republics inviting them to follow the example of the United States. This was done following a conversation over the telephone with the President, which I had with him on February 2, 1917, the day before Bernstorff was handed his passports. I told the President, who announced his intention to ask other neutrals to follow our example, that I did not believe that similar action by the neutrals could be obtained and that I did not believe that it was good policy to attempt it unless we were sure of success. But he did not feel that way about it and considered that, in view of the new conditions, it was advis¬ able to make the effort without first sounding them out unofficially. Identic notes were, therefore, prepared in advance and sent out as soon as we broke relations with Germany. Cuba and Panama were the only countries which responded promptly that they were willing to accept the invitation to adopt the same course as that taken by the United States, though we advised them not to do so for the present, because of the silence of the other governments. The reason for this favorable attitude of the two countries mentioned was the peculiar relations existing between them and this country. While some of the other govern¬ ments expressed sympathy with the action of the American Gov¬ ernment, they went no further toward common action. The

An analysis of the conditions and state of mind prevailing in Latin-America in the early spring, 1917, discloses the following: Cuba and Panama, bound by special treaty ties with the United States, followed closely the wishes of this government. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, whose domestic affairs were, under treaty provisions, being administered by Americans, would do whatever they were advised to do, and Nicaragua was equally ready to act. Guatemala was especially friendly, and her President, Estrada Cabrera, declared that he was willing to adopt the policy of the United States. Salvador and Honduras were not unfriendly,




although the former was affected in a measure by German agents who were influential in that country. In South America Brazil and Peru were openly in support of the United States as were Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, and these broke off relations with Germany after we entered the war. Argentina was vacillating, though not unfriendly. Uruguay and Paraguay for a time re¬ mained neutral but showed sympathetic leanings toward this country. Chile was strictly neutral showing no favor to either the United States or Germany. Colombia presented a vexatious problem. On account of the failure of the United States to ratify a treaty which had been pending for over three years and which provided for the indemni¬ fication of that country for the loss of the valuable province of Panama, a loss charged to American intervention when the Colom¬ bian Government attempted to suppress the revolution which resulted in the independence of the province and the establishment of the Republic of Panama, the government and people of Colombia were deeply offended and disposed to be antagonistic to the United States. The situation was further complicated by the knowledge that German agents were actively engaged there in anti-American propaganda and in intrigues to purchase islands not far from the eastern entrance of the Panama Canal. There remain two other countries to be considered, namely Mexico and Costa Rica. In regard to Mexico the state of affairs had not materially improved and the attitude of the government toward the United States continued to be one of suspicion and repressed hostility. Carranza was as obstinate and defiant as ever. He utilized the popular antipathy for Americans as a political asset and refused all overtures by this government to render him friendly assistance. Still it was no time to break with this impossible old man. We had to swallow our pride and to maintain as good rela¬ tions as possible with the de facto Government of Mexico. The state of the Mexican public mind was further excited in its opposi¬ tion to the United States by the numerous secret agents of the German Government who were scattered throughout the country. We knew of the presence of these agents, some of whom were per¬ manent residents, and of the propaganda which they were carrying on, but there was nothing which we could do to check them, and there was very little we could do to counteract their influence. It was a very uncomfortable situation. We could in the circumstances count on Mexico being an unfriendly neutral, if she remained neutral, of which there was at least a reasonable doubt.



Costa Rica presented a different problem. On January 29, 1917, five days before we severed diplomatic relations with Germany, Mr. Stabler, chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs, brought me word that a military coup d’etat had taken place in the Republic on the twenty-seventh and that General Tinoco, the Secretary of War, who had the support of the army, had overthrown President Gonzales and seized the government. By February fifth the De¬ partment of State was fully advised as to the events leading up to the revolution, which did not appear to be an uprising of the people, although President Gonzales was unpopular with the wealthier element on account of his fiscal reforms, but rather the result of a personal quarrel between the President and his Secretary of War. On that day I had a conference with Mr. Wilson at which I laid the facts before him. After listening to the details he said with much emphasis, that he would “never recognize Tinoco,” that the case was similar to that of Huerta in Mexico, and that he intended to put a stop to revolutions of this sort in Latin American countries by refusing to recognize a government founded on force. While I entirely agreed with the President that Tinoco ought not to be immediately recognized because a military coup d’etat, which in this case seemed to be entirely personal in origin, might not result in a stable government capable of preserving domestic peace and performing its international obligations, I could not fol¬ low him in his policy of never recognizing a government which had gained the sovereign power by force of arms, even though it was en¬ dorsed later in a definite expression of the popular will by election or other constitutional method. Such a course was too manifestly an interference with the domestic affairs of a foreign state to be, in my judgment, proper. It was in fact setting up the will of the President of the United States against the will of the people of Costa Rica if they subsequently approved the revolution. It was an assumption by the President of a right to determine who should not rule over another country. In a way it was a species of over¬ lordship. Though Mr. Wilson’s object was undoubtedly good, because he intended by adopting this policy to check future revolu¬ tions based on personal ambition, cupidity or other improper motive, the exercise of such arbitrary power was a direct violation of the right of a people to choose their own governors or to accept one who had by force possessed himself of the sovereign authority. I could not agree with the President in this doctrine. However, for the time being the policy of non-recognition seemed to be the proper one, and I advised Mr. Stabler and stated to



inquiring Latin American diplomats that we would not for a time at least recognize the Tinoco Government. The political disorders and conspiracies against the established governments in Central America were, from the advice which we received, the result in large measure of German intrigues in those countries. From our reports we were convinced that German resi¬ dents were financing the revolutionists and assisting them in an active propaganda to gain popular favor for revolutionary move¬ ments. The purpose seems to have been to create a condition of chaos in all the Latin American countries near the United States in order that, in the event of war between this country and Germany, this country would have serious troubles and possible enemies at its very doors. This general scheme was very much in line with the policy disclosed in the notorious “Zimmermann telegram.” In addition to the expediency of causing political disturbances, there seems to be little doubt that the German Government had been for some time seeking to establish submarine bases in the Caribbean Sea, from which U-boats could operate against enemy vessels approaching the Panama Canal, a policy which we had feared in 1915 when we intervened in Haiti and when we opened negotiations for the purchase of the Danish West Indies. Confirmatory of this were some telegrams which fell into our hands about the time of our entry into the war. These telegrams read as follows: “Message No. 1. “From Imperial German Embassy Washington to Imperial German Legation, Mexico, November 12, 1916. It being the intention of the Imperial Government to employ the most efficacious means to annihilate their principal enemy [referring to Great Britain], for this purpose as it enters into their plans to carry their operations to America, in order to destroy their commerce, it would be very valuable for the government to possess some bases for better support of their submarines, both in South America as well as in Mexico, for example in State of Tamaulipas. Consequently the Imperial Government would view with great satisfaction that Mexican Government should agree to concede the necessary permission to establish a base within their territory; on the understanding that any agreement will be carried out without any diminution of honor or integrity of Mexico, for that country shall be treated as free and independent nation which it is. The Imperial Gov-



ernment being perfectly aware of special conditions now prevailing in Mexico in the period of reconstruction in which she is engaged as a young nation, would be glad to know what advantages it would be agreeable to Mexico to receive, on their part, in the event of their acceding to the wishes of the Imperial Government, particularly in regard to the financial and economic crisis which the country is now under¬ going.” “Message No. 2, as above, dated November 13th. The Imperial Government inform the Mexican Government that all possible eventualities have been perfectly considered on their part, that a proper solution for each one of them exists and being aware of international difficulties which Mexico is in at the present time, the solution of those difficulties will be more favorable to the Mexican Government in case it accedes to desires of the Imperial Government.” “Message No. 3, as above, dated November 16th. The Imperial Government inform the Mexican Government that it is sufficient for them to obtain the consent of the Mexican Government in order to put into practice their plans, as they have already appointed the personnel necessary for the pur¬ pose and plans of region of where it is intended to operate are in their hands, and they solely await receipt of consent of Mexican Government to send the personnel to their destina¬ tion, acting thereafter in accordance with the plans which by mutual agreement shall be arranged.” In addition to these conditions of unrest in Mexico and Central America a revolution broke out in Cuba consequent upon the presi¬ dential election there and the alleged interference of the govern¬ ment with the exercise of political rights by the Liberals who were endeavoring to prevent the re-election of President Menocal. This crisis came within two weeks after Bernstorff had been sent home and there was a good deal of evidence, though it was not conclusive, which indicated that Germans were intriguing to break down the Cuban Government and that German gold was being furnished to the revolutionists for that purpose. It is needless to pursue the course of this uprising which was finally ended by the capture of General Gomez, the leader of the Liberals, after American war¬ ships had been sent to Cuba and American marines had been landed



at Santiago de Cuba to protect the sugar plantations and to prevent interference with the grinding of the cane. Another difficulty in the general state of affairs which this government sought to compose was the Colombian situation to which reference has already been made. There had been negotiated by Mr. Bryan as Secretary of State a treaty providing for the payment of an indemnity to Colombia for the loss of the Province of Panama. It was found that this treaty could not obtain sufficient votes in the Senate to secure consent to its ratification on account of the practical admission in Article I that the conduct of the American authorities in preventing Colombia from attacking the Panama rebels was an act without sanction of right, for which regret was expressed. In fact the implication was that the Govern¬ ment of the United States apologized for its conduct and sought to rectify the wrong done to Colombia by paying an indemnity. Naturally many of the Republican senators resented this attitude as the revolution in Panama occurred during the Roosevelt Ad¬ ministration, and there were enough of these Republican votes to prevent senatorial consent to the ratification of the treaty. The critical relations of the United States with Germany and the desirability of removing all causes of friction with our Latin American neighbors, caused renewed attempts by the Administra¬ tion to obtain a settlement of the controversy with Colombia. With this end in view I had several interviews with the Colombian Minister during the winter of 1916-1917, in which we discussed the treaty and its possible modification, but, on account of the volume of legislation to be disposed of before the adjournment of Congress on March fourth, it was impossible to secure senatorial consideration of the treaty. However, the new Senate met and organized imme¬ diately after Congress adjourned in order to attend to executive business, and it continued in session until March sixteenth. The time seemed propitious to obtain action on the treaty if it could be amended or approved with reservations which would remove the principal objections and satisfy enough of the Republican Senators to obtain its ratification. The fact that we had broken with Germany, that we knew that German agents were active in Colombia, and that it was especially important to remove so serious a cause of difference between the United States and a Latin America country near the Panama Canal made the conditions favorable to obtaining a revision of the clauses, which seemed to stand in the way of ratification of the treaty, especially the declara-



tions which were unquestionably intended to discredit Mr. Roose¬ velt’s conduct in connection with the Panama Revolution. Efforts were made, particularly by Senators Stone and Knox, to find a formula which would by mutual concessions win the approval of both sides and insure ratification. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, however, would not be satisfied, though Mr. Knox labored assidously to persuade him not to oppose favorable action. The Massachusetts Senator was insistent upon a statement which would remove every shadow of criticism of his former chief and in spirit at least give approval of the conduct of the Roosevelt Administration. Such a statement would have been opposed by enough Democrats to prevent ratification and would have been unacceptable to Colombia. Meanwhile the examination of the treaty had disclosed other flaws which it seemed to me desirable to have cured by amendments. These amendments would require Colombia’s sanction and some of those proposed would not, accord¬ ing to the Colombian Minister, be satisfactory to his government. The consequence was that the Senate adjourned on March sixteenth without having taken action on the treaty. The conversations had, however, rendered a service in indicating the way to overcome most of the objections. After consulting with the senators who were especially desirous to bring the controversy to an end, the most helpful suggestions coming from Senators Swanson and Knox, it was generally agreed that the simplest way was to negotiate a new treaty embodying and harmonizing the various amendments which had been proposed. The President’s decision to abandon neutrality also raised, among other things, the question as to the course which ought to be taken by Cuba and Panama when we entered the war. On March twentysixth I addressed a letter to the President on the subject, a portion of which reads as follows : “There is a policy which it seems to me should be deter¬ mined upon without delay as preliminary arrangements will have to be made to carry it out. It is presented by the ques¬ tion, if a declaration of war against Germany or if a declara¬ tion of the existence of a state of war is resolved by Congress, what ought the Governments of Cuba and Panama do ? “It seems to me that we cannot permit Cuba to become a place of refuge for enemy aliens. It would give them great facilities for plots and intrigues not only against this country



but against the peace of Cuba. I have in mind the possibility of submarine bases, the organization of reservists, the use of cables, etc., which would be to my mind very serious and possibly disastrous. In addition to this, if Cuba remained neutral, we could not use her ports for our war vessels and that might result in a renewal of the rebellious activities in the island, which would be abetted by the Germans there. To prevent this situation there seems to me but one policy to adopt and that is to have the Cuban Government follow our action with similar action. . . . “As regards Panama, I feel that it would be perilous to permit Germans to be at liberty to go and come so near to the Canal. It would be almost essential to have the Germans expelled from the Republic. Furthermore, the laws of neu¬ trality would seriously embarrass our people. These condi¬ tions could only be avoided by Panama entering the war, if we become a party.” President Wilson agreed that the entry of both Cuba and Panama into the war was desirable and authorized me to take the prelimi¬ nary steps to obtain prompt action by their governments as soon as the United States declared a state of war existed with the German Government. It seemed to me expedient, in the circumstances, to send a special emissary on a secret mission to Panama to urge the principal officials of that government to declare war on Germany as soon as the American Congress acted. After canvassing the matter care¬ fully with officers of the Department I decided that the most suitable person to send on this mission was John Foster Dulles of New York. Following a conference at the Department on March twenty-ninth, he accepted and on April first set out for Panama. Mr. Dulles was entirely successful in his Panama mission, and the Cuban Government responded to the unofficial assurances which its representatives had hitherto given. On April seventh, the day after the United States entered the war, both of the Republics proclaimed a state of war with the German Empire.


As regards Mexico, Carranza’s announced purpose to remain neutral and to enforce a strict neutrality caused much anxiety to all the governments at war with Germany. This was chiefly due to the possible interference with the oil supply derived from the wells in and about the port of Tampico, which had been developed



and were operated by American and British companies. The use of the internal combustion engine, which had made possible the automobile, the submarine and the aeroplane, required a vast amount of oil and a constant supply. The Mexican oil fields were among the largest and most productive in the world. To have them closed or their output seriously interrupted would have been a severe blow to the Allies. There were other causes of anxiety to the United States, but the oil situation was the most disturbing. I laid the matter before the President who suggested that I confer with the British Ambassador about the whole situation pointing out that “there is absolutely no breach of the Monroe Doctrine in allowing the British to exercise an influence there which anti-American sentiment in Mexico for the time prevents our exercising.” On the same day (the nineteenth) on which we con¬ ferred, I saw the British Ambassador and we discussed at length the Mexican situation. The Ambassador was greatly alarmed over conditions. He recognized that the Carranza Government was not in a position to control the Tampico territory, which was in the hands of General Pelaez. This general was practically an inde¬ pendent military chief and a friend of the oil companies, in whose pay he was supposed to be. The Ambassador said that Tampico could not be defended by naval vessels on account of the shallow¬ ness of the channels, and that a force of Carranzistas coming by rail from the interior might capture the port, shut off the output of oil and possibly destroy the wells, in the event that the Mexican Government placed an embargo on oil or attempted to enforce its claims of ownership of subsoil mineral and petroleum products. It was this prohibition on the export of oil which the British Ambassador feared and which he had reason to fear because of the reports received from Mexico City. I had already discussed the subject with Senor Bonillas, the new Mexican Ambassador, who had presented his credentials and had been received by the President on April seventeenth, but after my talk with Sir Cecil I asked him to come to see me again. At an interview with him on the twentyfourth Bonillas assured me that his government did not contem¬ plate an embargo on oil. Personally I think that the fact that on May first Carranza was to be inaugurated as president of the Mexican Republic had much to do with the oil policy of his government at that time. There is no doubt that Carranza was especially desirous to have his government recognized as de jure instead of de facto and was disposed to act in a conciliatory way



until that desire had been gratified. The Mexican policy in regard to oil exports did not, however, effect this change in the form of recognition granted by the United States. For several reasons it was considered unwise to change the status of our recognition and we continued to regard the Carranza Government as de facto until its stability was assured. The declaration of the Mexican Ambassador in regard to an embargo on oil was so frank and unqualified that it relieved the British of the principal cause of anxiety as to the Mexican situa¬ tion. While they continued to feel apprehensive over the vulnerable state of Tampico and of the oil wells further inland, they did what they could to strengthen General Pelaez, relying upon his troops to protect their plants and the men working in the oil fields. Fortunately he was able to give them the protection which they required, and the shipments of oil from Tampico continued with¬ out interruption. I shall not attempt to follow in detail all the questions which arose with various Latin American countries during the period when the United States was a belligerent. The general tendency of public opinion in these countries was increasingly sympathetic to the United States and the cause of the Allies. In some cases it was open and unconditional; in others, reserved and cautious; but it was sufficiently definite for me to announce on April twenty-eighth that the American Republics, excepting Mexico, Chile and Argentina, supported the stand of the United States. I think that it may be said that Latin America, viewed from the standpoint of its public opinion in contradistinction to its official attitude, was strong in its moral support of the United States, though in a material way it could do little to aid this country and the Allies. This sentiment was, however, progressive in its manifestations and in only a few instances was it immediate. That Argentina and Chile did not openly support the United States by entering the war against Germany was distinctly dis¬ appointing. The aloofness of two of the ABC Powers prevented the Americas from presenting a solid front against the autocratic Government of the Kaiser, a desire and a hope which President Wilson had very much at heart. It is true that the Argentine Government expressed sympathy with the United States, but it went no further in spite of the efforts of Senor Naon, the Argentine Ambassador in Washington, who labored assiduously with his government to secure a declaration of war against the German Empire. He was greatly disappointed at his failure.



There was also some disquietude caused by the action of Mexico, Ecuador and Argentina, each of which attempted to organize con¬ ferences of the Latin American Republics to consider the question of neutrality and its enforcement. These attempts, however, went for naught, because the invitations were refused by several of the governments or were so hedged about by conditions that the con¬ ferences would have amounted to nothing.


The German intrigues and plots in the United States during the

period of our neutrality have already been briefly reviewed, and the activities of the Secret Service organizations, attached to various departments of the government, have shown the skill and resource¬ fulness of the operatives in defeating the efforts of the conspirators and in apprehending the violators of the laws of the United States. The Secret Service of the Department of State was an organiza¬ tion of slow growth during the period when this country was neutral. Prior to that time the Department had had no Secret Service. It was found necessary for the Department to conduct some investigations of a highly confidential character and for this purpose a few operatives of other departments were detailed to it. Agents were also employed in other countries, which necessitated an office in the Department to issue instructions to them and to digest and analyze their reports without their going through the regular channels of departmental correspondence. In order to systematize this work at home and abroad Leland Harrison, one of the diplomatic secretaries, was in April, 1916, designated to take charge of the collection and examination of all information of a secret nature coming into the Department from various sources and also to direct the work of the agents specially employed for that purpose. Under Mr. Harrison’s efficient management and the general supervision of Mr. Polk, the Counselor for the Department, the Bureau of Secret Intelligence of the Department of State grew to be a valuable adjunct to the government in the conduct of its inter¬ national affairs. It was an independent bureau organized without sanction of law and had no legal standing, although it was nominally connected with the Division of Information, one of the regular divisions of the Department of State. As a result this extra-legal bureau was relatively small, and much of our information was obtained from other services and many of the investigations desired by the Department of State were made by the operatives of such services. Our own agents in the capitals of the Allies were also aided materially by the intelligence officers of the Allied Govern¬ ments, who were only too willing to disclose their knowledge of 318



German plots and intrigues, as for example in the case of the Zimmermann telegram. Closely allied to the gathering of secret intelligence by Mr. Harrison’s bureau was the bureau in the regular departmental organization, which had to do with collecting information of a less secret nature and also with utilizing such information to the best advantage by controlling its publicity in the press. This organization was the Division of Information, already mentioned. It was not a new institution, as it had been long established, though its chief function prior to the war had been that of a press-clipping bureau which occupied itself with keeping the Secretary of State and the principal officials of the Department advised as to the trend of editorial comment concerning international affairs. The Department had been through an unpleasant experience in January, 1917, which emphasized the importance of preventing premature knowledge of a policy of the government or of intended action by it in dealing with international affairs. It was publicly charged that certain persons had advance information of President Wilson’s note, which, on December 18, 1916, was addressed to the warring powers, and that the persons obtaining the information had made large sums in speculating on the New York Stock Ex¬ change. Naturally suspicion as to the source of such alleged information fell upon the Department of State, it being presumed that, if the assertion were true, some officer or employee of the Department had “leaked.” So much publicity was given to the charge that there had been a “leak,” which was made with great positiveness, that a special committee of the House of Representa¬ tives was directed to investigate the matter. Several public hear¬ ings were held and the various officials, who had knowledge of the President’s circular note prior to its publication were summoned before the committee and examined. It was asserted that, shortly before the note was sent, I had breakfasted in New York with Bernard M. Baruch, who was said to have made several hundred thousand dollars on the fluctuation in stock prices resulting from the sending of the note. The fact is that I had not been in New York since Election Day, 1916, had never seen Mr. Baruch, and did not meet him until sometime after the hearings. It was such “cock-and-bull” stories the committee was called on to investi¬ gate, Thomas W. Lawson being the principal romancer. While the “leak” hearings absolutely vindicated the officials and employees of the Department of State and failed to show that anyone had advance knowledge that the President intended to send a note



such as he did, the false charge and resulting investigation served a good purpose. It brought forcibly to the attention of the responsible officials of the Department the necessity of having documents and information of a secretive character handled only by persons who were absolutely trustworthy. The result was a reorganization of some of the bureaus and divisions and the transfer of certain employees to other positions where they would not be subject to temptation. By the time we entered the war these changes had taken place, and we felt no anxiety as to premature publicity through “leaks.” Previous experience with the German spy system caused us to be suspicious of the activities of certain persons who had access to the Department of State as press correspondents, some of whom were believed to be in the pay of the Germans. In addition to these possible agents of the enemy, there were some American newspaper men, who, being too indiscreet or too indifferent to considerations other than “news value” or the chance to write a sensational story, used the information obtained by them from various sources, with¬ out regard to the embarrassment and even the damage which might be caused the government. In order to control these avid newsgatherers and also to prevent the presence in the Department of German spies posing as corre¬ spondents or as persons who came to see officials on apparently legitimate errands, a system of passes for entrance into the State, War and Navy Buildings was established. No person, not even an employee in one of the Departments, could, except by special authority, enter without exhibiting a pass on which appeared a photograph of the individual to whom it was issued. If a person without a pass presented himself at one of the entrances to the building, he was detained by the doorkeeper until the latter tele¬ phoned the official whom the individual stated that he desired to see or with whom he said that he had arranged an appointment. When the official authorized the person’s admission, he was conducted by an attendent to the official’s office and there delivered over to the official or to a designated subordinate. In many cases also, when the visitor was a stranger, the same precautions as to constant observation were taken on his departure from an interview. These restraints upon access to the Department were resented by those who had previously been in the habit of coming and going as they pleased, and there was much grumbling and numerous complaints that these piecautions were needless and required a useless lot of “red tape” and annoyance. Senators and representa-



tives were especially angry at being detained even for a few minutes. The press correspondents also were indignant at the idea that they, in order to obtain as free access to the building as employees, must have their photographs put on their passes. They made all sorts of caustic remarks about their treatment, declaring that it was a personal insult to have to be photographed like criminals and asking sarcastically why the Department did not take their fingerprints. However, in spite of congressional dignity and the inconvenience caused to correspondents, the regulations were enforced and the indignation gradually subsided, as the novelty of the practice wore off and as common sense got the better of injured dignity. Another restraint upon the freedom of correspondents which caused even more bitter criticism than the “pass system” was the prohibition placed upon them to gather information directly from an official whom they knew personally and who had special knowl¬ edge of the subject which they were investigating. The correspondents had, previous to our entry into the war, been in the habit of visiting bureaus and divisions whenever they pleased, and discussing matters with the chiefs or their assistants. They also had roamed through the corridors at will waylaying officials going to and fro in the building and had been known even to approach foreign diplomats coming to my office, much to the latter’s annoyance. The possibility of information, which it was desirable should remain secret, becoming public in this way seemed sufficiently great to take the steps necessary to check it. With that end in view officials were ordered not to discuss affairs with any of the correspondents, unless specifically authorized to do so; and correspondents were not allowed to follow their old practice of visiting bureaus and divisions to obtain news. It was also an¬ nounced that, thereafter, all news would be given out by the Division of Information or by the Secretary of State at the con¬ ferences which he held twice a day with the representatives of the press. A storm of protest was evoked by this sensible regulation, par¬ ticularly by those correspondents who had for years been able, through their personal friends in the Department, to get inside information as to the policies and intended actions of the govern¬ ment. Editorials appeared in many newspapers denouncing “gag rule” and “attempted censorship,” and containing indignant comments upon the arbitrary and high-handed methods of the Department in attempting to keep the true facts from the American public, who, it was asserted, was entitled to know them.




writers went so far as to charge that the purpose of the order was to throttle criticism of our foreign policy. To an extent these caustic comments were induced by the possible adoption of a general censorship which was at the time the subject of debate in Congress, but the questions were not the same. In the case of the general censorship it was a question of the advisability of conferring extraordinary powers on the executive. In the case of the Depart¬ ment the power of restriction upon news was one legally possessed by it. It required no additional legislation. The method of disseminating news through the Division of Information, which had become in fact a bureau of publicity, worked satisfactorily and accomplished its purpose of closing to a few among the correspondents their private sources of information which they refused to disclose. Gradually the irritation of those who had been specially favored by their personal friends in government service disappeared and it was recognized that a single fountain of information, which all were equally entitled to enjoy, provided a method of obtaining news which was eminently fair and prevented any form of favoritism. The publicity in regard to foreign affairs was, by many persons, confused with the publicity in charge of the Committee on Public Information, which was created by an executive order issued by the President on April 14, 1917, for the purpose of collecting, co-ordinating and distributing news concerning all government activities and matters of public interest. The committee was composed of the Secretaries of State, War and Navy and of a specially designated civilian. The President in the order creating the committee named Mr. George Creel, a personal friend of his and a newspaper and magazine writer, as the civilian chairman of the committee. Mr. Creel at once took over the organization and direction of an office for the distribution of information to the public, and, although at first the full committee held several meet¬ ings, Mr. Creel soon assumed all the authority and ran the Office of Public Information in accordance with his own ideas. I do not think the change to a “one man” office was distasteful to Mr. Wilson. He had great confidence in Creel’s ability and in his personal loyalty to Mr. Wilson himself, a confidence which Creel encouraged by frequently consulting him and by utilizing the publications issued in the name of the Committee of Public Infor¬ mation to advance the President’s personal popularity and to extol his leadership. Creel’s socialistic tendencies, which were well known and which



were evidenced by some of the persons whom he employed in his office, aroused considerable criticism, particularly in Washington. Though this radicalism caused distrust and apprehension among many officials of the Administration, I do not believe that it dis¬ turbed Mr. Wilson, who viewed with toleration, if not with a degree of approval, certain socialistic ideas which he termed “progressive,” although they were utterly hostile to the funda¬ mental principles of his party. Jeffersonian Democracy and Wilsonian Democracy were and will continue to be very different. It was not long after Mr. Creel entered upon his duties as chairman of the Committee on Public Information that he came into direct conflict with the Department of State. He was desirous to have all information in regard to foreign relations issue from or through his office, and for that purpose asked me to allow one of his assistants to be detailed to the Department to work with the Division of Information. I considered, however, that the sub¬ jects with which the Department of State was dealing were much too important and of too delicate a nature to be dealt with by men who were by no means expert in international affairs and who lacked the ability and knowledge to judge what was and what was not wise to publish. Fearing the injudicious publication of news, I flatly refused to allow Creel or any of his people to have anything to do with the giving out of information coming into the Depart¬ ment, preferring to keep it in control of our own Division of Information. This was a severe blow to Mr. Creel’s pride and ambition, because it denied him control of the news for which the press was most anxious. On more than one occasion he renewed his efforts to handle the Department’s publicity, but I declined to change my attitude, so that he failed to accomplish his purpose. From that time forward, Creel was hostile to me personally, and while pre¬ serving an appearance of friendliness, he sought in various ways to discredit me as Secretary of State and belittle the work of the Department. 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. While I am sure that Mr. Tumulty never intentionally gave out information which he thought ought to be withheld from the public, the political effect of an action or of intended action seemed to be his first consideration and affected his judgment as to the wisdom of publicity. I never doubted his fidelity but I did doubt his discre-



tion, 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, although he telephoned me almost every morning to ask for confidential information concerning the progress of affairs. In the circumstances mine was the only judicious and safe course to pursue, but it made my position a difficult and unpleasant one. It gave the President’s secretary an impression of reticence on my part which he interpreted as distrust. The fondness of both Creel and Tumulty to be the dispenser of news to the press, which amounted almost to a passion with them, and their endeavors to obtain news of foreign affairs which they could have the personal satisfaction of making public caused frequent embarrassment. However, the policy of keeping the entire control of publicity, so far as diplomatic matters were con¬ cerned, in the hands of the Department of State was followed up to the end of the war. While I incurred the personal enmity of George Creel, for which I cared not at all, and the personal dis¬ pleasure of Secretary Tumulty, which I regretted very much, the public interest and the critical state of our foreign relations demanded that the policy be carried out. There was no alternative possible in view of the conditions which prevailed. The transmission of news to the enemy by indirect channels was a subject which gave the Department of State considerable concern. On April 30, 1917, I wrote the President a letter on the subject complaining of the fact that there was no bar to mail going to Mexico and to other neutral countries and pointing out that “the dangers to the country inherent in this form of communication are obvious—the present channel is open to the transmittal of military information, transference of money and credit, and manipulation of intrigues.” I cited a case where an American banking concern had transferred by letter over a million dollars worth of Germanowned securities to a Swedish bank to the credit of the owners, and suggested that the Post Office Department formulate a plan for the censorship of outgoing mail. The censorship of cablegrams, telegrams and wireless messages also became the subject of discussion and of action by the govern¬ ment. While these were matters of interest to the Department of State, the War and Navy Departments were the ones which had to do with the control and regulation of these channels of com¬ munication which might be the means of conveying valuable military and naval information to the enemy. There was one method of transmitting clandestine information



to Germany through neutral channels which the Department of State alone could prevent. That was the departure from this country of Americans in the employ of the German Government carrying documents or possessed of knowledge of important facts, which on reaching neutral territory were sent by radio or telegraph to Berlin. To prevent persons rendering this service to the enemy, stringent rules were adopted as to the issuance of passports and the granting of visas. Whenever there was the slightest suspicion of disloyal character or when the applicant for a passport or visa was unknown, the case was turned over to our secret operatives or to the special agents of the Department of Justice for investiga¬ tion. Until they had reported and the Passport Bureau was satisfied of the loyalty and innocent intentions of the applicant no passport was issued or visa granted. The Mexican border was especially watched to prevent the spies and agents of the Central Powers from crossing into Mexico as that country’s attitude toward the United States was by no means friendly, and persons in German employ found little difficulty in sending out messages which, through various channels, reached Berlin. There were no appli¬ cants for passports who were so thoroughly investigated as those wrho desired to proceed to Mexico. The Bureau of Secret Intelligence, in addition to the information acquired from the intelligence offices of the War and Navy Depart¬ ments, gathered other information from Allied Governments, with whose secret services close relations were established, the usual liaison officers being members of the regular diplomatic service attached to our embassies and legations. Through these agencies and also through independent investigations the Bureau became possessed of several German codes, by which they were able to read many cipher messages passing between the Berlin Foreign Office and the German diplomats in neutral countries. As messages frequently entered and left Germany by wireless, these messages were picked up by the radio stations of the Allies. They were then carefully studied to determine whether they were in a known cipher. If they were, the task of reading them was a simple matter. If they were not, experts in the various countries were set to work to discover the code system employed. Sometimes months passed before a message was finally decoded, and in some cases the message could not be deciphered or only partially deciphered. If, however, there were a number of messages, written in a code previously unknown, it was seldom that the key was not at last discovered by the experts. No code seemed to be too difficult



to be worked out, provided there were obtained a number of messages in which it was used. While wireless was used to a considerable extent, the messages which were of an especially confidential nature were transmitted chiefly through Swedish channels. The notorious messages sent by Count Luxburg, the German Minister to Argentina, were transmitted to Stockholm by the Swedish Minister at Buenos Aires as a cipher message of his own, and from Stockholm they were forwarded to Berlin. As these messages had to pass over British cables, copies of all messages in cipher were turned over to the code experts for study, since it was suspected that the Swedes and possibly other neutrals were permitting their representatives to act in behalf of the Germans just as the Swedish Government had directed its Minister at Washington to serve Bernstorff in 1915. German communication through the Swedish Government and the Swedish Legation at Washington had, we believed, been stopped soon after I became Secretary of State. It was then reported to me that the Swedish Legation was receiving a great many tele¬ grams, far more in number than the business of the legation seemed to warrant. Further investigation disclosed that the telegraph bills of the legation had increased many fold in the preceding months. After consideration of the facts and the known attitude of the Swedish Government toward Germany it was concluded that the Swedes were sending telegrams for the German Government to Bernstorff. Of course there was no direct evidence of this, but it seemed a reasonable presumption. Having reached this conclusion I determined to find out the truth, if possible, and to end this practice which seemed to be violative of American neutrality. With that end in view I asked Mr. W. A. F. Ekengren, the Minister of Sweden at Washington, to come to see me. When he arrived at my office I said to him, without any preliminaries and in as stern a voice as I could com¬ mand, “Mr. Minister, why are you receiving and sending telegrams for the Germans?” Ekengren was taken off his guard. He turned pale and the perspiration started on his forehead and ran down his face. He looked terrified and guilty. Before he thought, he stammered out, “I have to do it because my government has ordered me to.” Our presumption was right and my pretense of knowing the truth had accomplished its purpose. I replied to him that I was not blaming him but I did blame his government, that it was a violation of neutrality and must cease at once. He said that he would immediately advise his government that the practice must



stop. Poor Ekengren, I felt sorry for him since I thought that he was in no way responsible. He simply obeyed orders. From that time forward no German telegrams were transmitted through Swedish channels directly to Washington, at least none was received or sent so far as we could learn and we kept vigilant watch on the Swedish Legation’s telegraphic correspondence and on messengers passing between the Legation and the German Embassy. The decoding of the Luxburg messages took several weeks but in the end the cipher was discovered and the messages were trans¬ lated. They formed an interesting collection for they gave in detail the activities of the German diplomat in South America and his advice to his government as to the policy to be pursued. It will not be possible to give all the Luxburg telegrams but a few specimens will show their character and purpose. “May 19, 1917. No. 32. This government has now released German and Austrian ships in which hitherto a guard had been placed. In consequence of the settlement of the Monte [Protegido] case, there has been a great change in public feeling. Government will in future only clear Argentine ships as far as Las Palmas. I beg that the small steamers Oran and Guazo, thirty-first January [? meaning which sailed thirty-first], three hundred tons, which are [now] nearing Bordeaux with a view to change the flag, may be spared if possible, or else sunk without a trace being left [‘spurlos

versentct’]. Luxburg.” “July 3, 1917. No. 59. I learn from a reliable source that the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is a notorious ass and anglophile, declared in a secret session of the Senate that Argentine would demand from Berlin a promise not to sink more Argentine ships. If not agreed to, relations would be broken off. I recommend refusal and, if necessary, calling in the mediation of Spain. Luxburg.” “July 9, 1917. No. 64. Without showing any tendency to make concessions, postpone reply to Argentine note until receipt of further reports. A change of ministry is probable. As regards Argentine steamers, I recommend either compelling them to turn back, sinking them without leaving any traces, or letting them through.

They are all quite small.




It was decided, after an exchange of views with the British authorities, that the three Luxburg telegrams which are above quoted should be given immediate publicity. Although it would disclose to the German Government that the code used and the employment of the Swedish Foreign Office as a channel of com¬ munication were known to the Allies, it seemed politic to publish them at that time. Argentine public sentiment toward the bellig¬ erents was in a state of uncertainty and Brazil needed but little to induce her to declare war. It seemed desirable also to make known to the world the improper conduct of the Swedish Govern¬ ment in clandestinely allowing its diplomatic cable privileges to be used by the Germans. Furthermore, the exposure would have a decided effect on all South American countries and might cause Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria to condemn the clumsi¬ ness of German diplomacy and lose faith in a government which made such blunders. I had received verified copies of the Luxburg telegrams on August thirty-first. On September seventh the Argentine Am¬ bassador came to see me and I gave him copies of the three messages. With his strong pro-Ally feelings he was elated at their contents and hastened to telegraph the text to his government. On the eighth the telegrams were published in the American news¬ papers and caused a tremendous sensation not only in this country but throughout Latin America. The sinister words, “spurlos versenJct,” formed the text of many editorials, and the wanton inhumanity and cold-blooded cynicism of their author aroused everywhere indigation and abhorrence. The Argentine Govern¬ ment could not ignore the conduct of Count Luxburg, and on the twelfth it sent him his passports. On the same day there were serious anti-German riots in Buenos Aires as a result of the publi¬ cation of the telegrams. Later, on the eighteenth, I sent Senor Naon copies of other Luxburg telegrams, stating that it was not the intention of the Department to publish them at that time unless his government indicated that it wished to make them public. The desire of this government was to have the telegrams printed simultaneously in this country and in Argentina, believing that, after publishing the first three telegrams, such a course would be better diplomatic strategy. With that end in view their publication in the United States was delayed. In spite of the efforts of Ambassador Naon, who was strongly urging his government to give them to the press, the Argentine President could not be persuaded to agree to give



out these additional telegrams. After waiting over three months without obtaining any assurance that Argentina would act, the other Luxburg messages were handed to the American press correspondents and appeared in the morning papers of December 21, 1917. The Luxburg affair requires no comment. It speaks for itself. Its effect, particularly in Latin America, was most unfavorable to Germany, and Luxburg’s enforced departure from Buenos Aires added to this feeling. It also resulted in the Swedish Government ceasing to be an agent for the transmittal of correspondence (at least of cablegrams) between the Berlin Foreign Office and its representatives in neutral American countries. After this exposure the Germans sent their messages to and from South America over a cable to Spain, which was not controlled by Great Britain, and in Spain the messages went by wireless to Germany. The fact that the Allies knew all about this channel of communication was kept carefully secret, because the radiograms were picked up, decoded and read by the experts, and the Allied Governments gained much valuable information by this means.


spring of 1917 had witnessed a great political change in the Russian Empire, which vitally affected the prosecution of the war and added to the anxieties of the Allies, already deeply aroused by their own financial condition, the destruction wrought by sub¬ marine warfare, and the disappointing results of their military operations on the western front. This change took place in March, less than three weeks before the United States entered the war. The

For six months prior to the revolution there had been persistent rumors afloat that members of the Russian Government were secretly intriguing with emissaries from Berlin to lessen the resist¬ ance of the Russian armies, to enter into conversations and finally to negotiate a separate peace between the two Empires. The effect of this intrigue, if it were carried out, would have been to release a large part of the military forces of Germany and AustriaHungary operating on the eastern front so that the Germans could reinforce their hard-pressed armies in France and Belgium, giving them a numerical superiority which would almost certainly insure the success of a new offensive against the Allies in the West, while the reinforced Austrian troops would be able to invade and occupy Northern Italy. Events moved with great rapidity. On March fifteenth, Czar Nicholas signed his abdication as he sat in his private train at Pskoff, where the revolutionists had stopped it in its rush toward Petrograd. On the twenty-second the United States, convinced that the imperial power was ended, formally recognized the new govern¬ ment of Russia, and the day following Great Britain, France and Italy took similar action. It should be remembered that, at the time this government gave its recognition, the United States was still neutral. It did not enter the war until two weeks later. On the same day that Ambassador David R. Francis was in¬ structed to recognize the government, he had an interview with Gutchkoff, the new Minister of War, in which he was told that the principal menace to a vigorous prosecution of the war was the socialistic element among the workingmen and that its leaders had greater control over the soldiers than the Ministry itself. The War Minister declared that that element was encouraging disre-




spect for officers, demanding that certain ones should be executed, and advocating the confiscation and distribution of the large landed estates, thus appealing to the peasants. Fortunately for the new government Kerensky, who was the leading Socialist in the Ministry and a persuasive orator, counseled moderation and his advice was followed by his fellow Socialists. I have given these views of Gutchkoff because they show that some members of the Russian Cabinet were not unmindful of the dangers which lay in the future, dangers which increased as time went on and which at last drove Miliukoff and Gutchkoff from the Ministry and Lvoff from the premiership and finally wrecked the government which was seeking to create a representative democracy in Russia. The inherent evil in the Russian Revolution was that the government was dependent upon a union of class groups, the classes being based originally upon occupation or avocation, each one of which was seeking its own class interests. It was the bloc system with all its attendant evils of class legislation and the ab¬ sence of a definite political creed, evils which are bound to result from that system wherever it is introduced as an element in gov¬ ernment. This pernicious system, which is fundamentally antagonistic to sound democratic theory, was a remnant of the representation in the old Duma and was continued when that body became revolu¬ tionary. The blocs, however, were regrouped and the respective power and influence of the blocs were, as a consequence, changed, the system persisting and becoming the basis of the popular gov¬ ernment which was established. Like the Jacobin and other political Clubs of the French Revolution, the unofficial assemblies of the groups became the possessors of so much power over the constituted government that it was deprived of means to establish an efficient system of democracy. In spite of the information which came out of Russia as to the political grouping by classes I do not think that any of us at Washington appreciated the real menace that the bloc system was to the establishment of a republic based upon the principles of representative democracy. I conferred with several men, who knew Russia and the Russian people, such men as Charles R. Crane, Professor Samuel N. Harper and Stanley Washburn, and I found them optimistic as to the success of the Moderate or Constitutional Democrats and of their ability to control the situation. On the other hand, George Bakhmeteff, the Russian Ambassador, discuss¬ ing the situation with me on April eleventh, stated that he believed



that the Provisional Government would not last but that the Radical Socialists or Communists (or “Anarchists” as he termed them) would get the upper hand and make a separate peace with Ger¬ many. Unfortunately the Ambassador’s belief was justified by subse¬ quent events. At the time of our interview, however, I gave little weight to the prediction because Bakhmeteff was an intense mon¬ archist and completely loyal to his imperial master. He viewed the revolutionists as traitors and their attempt to establish a govern¬ ment as treason, while he showed great contempt for their political ability, considering them a rabble of malcontents. The Ambassador was very much of a Tartar in his point of view as well as in appear¬ ance. There was something barbaric about him. His cold-blooded cynicism and indifference to the terrible slaughter of his country¬ men on the battlefield and to the privations of the common people of the Empire impressed one as heartless and savage. He belonged to a past age. His modernism and manners were merely a veneer. His devotion to the Czar and to those of imperial blood was medieval. To him the Czar was Russia. He recognized no other state to which he owed allegiance. Feeling thus, he did the only thing that he could do in the circumstances. He declined to receive orders from the new government and on April seventeenth he re¬ signed his post as Ambassador to the United States. Hopeful as we all were that the Russian Revolution would result in the establishment of a republic which would carry on the war with vigor because it was against the most autocratic government in Europe, I wrote the President on April fifth as follows: “April 5, 1917. “My dear Mr. President: “We have not, as you know, congratulated the Russian Government or people upon the establishment of democratic institutions in that country; merely recognizing the Govern¬ ment as the one with which we desired intercourse. “I thought, therefore, that it would be worth while, imme¬ diately after the declaration of a state of war, to send a telegram to Francis to be communicated to the Russian Gov¬ ernment, going a little further than we did in the telegram of recognition. I submit for your consideration a draft of such a telegram but in doing so I realize that it can be very ma¬ terially improved in language.



“I hope, if you approve of the plan, you will make the corrections which you desire. “Faithfully yours, “Robert Lansing.”

The proposed message to Mr. Francis read as follows: “You are instructed to announce to the Minister of Foreign Affairs that the Congress of the United States on the sixth [this date was inserted later] formally declared and the Presi¬ dent proclaimed a state of war to exist between the United States and the Imperial German Government. “You may say to Doctor Miliukoff that the United States in thus arraying itself against the greatest enemy of and menace to democracy in the world does so with a feeling of confidence in the ultimate triumph of those principles of lib¬ erty and justice which it has maintained for nearly a century and a half and in devotion to which by all civilized nations lies the hope of universal peace. “You may also say that the government and people of the United States rejoice that the great Russian people have joined the powerful democracies which are struggling against autocracy, and wish to express to the Russian Nation their sincere gratification that thus a new bond of friendship is added to those which have so long united the peoples of the two countries. It is the earnest hope and expectation of this Government that a Russia inspired by these great ideals will realize more than ever the duty which it owes to humanity and the necessity of preserving internal harmony in order that as a united and patriotic nation it may overcome the auto¬ cratic power which by force and intrigue menaces the de¬ mocracy which the Russian people have proclaimed.” The President, on April 6, 1917, handed me back the proposed message, saying that he had suggested a verbal change here and there in the document but heartily approved it. On the same day that Mr. Wilson approved the message and before it was sent a state of war was proclaimed and the message to Mr. Francis was immediately put on the wires. A short time after the United States declared war on Germany, the President discussed with me the benefit to be gained by sending to Russia two commissions, the one diplomatic and the other com-



posed of railroad experts. The Railroad Commission had, prior to the declaration of war, been under consideration by members of the Cabinet. Secretary Lane, who had proposed it, was its chief advocate. The Trans-Siberian Railway lacked locomotives and cars and as a result the supplies purchased by the Russian Gov¬ ernment in the United States and shipped across the Pacific were heaping up in great quantities at Vladivostok. To make these sup¬ plies available to the Russian armies in Europe the wThole system of rail transportation required reorganization and re-equipment. With that end in view the Provisional Government was tendered the services of American experts and this offer wTas gladly accepted. The proposed diplomatic mission had two objects in view. The first was to carry the formal greetings of the United States to the new government and to assure the political leaders of the sympathy of the American people in their endeavor to establish a govern¬ ment on democratic principles. The second object was to investi¬ gate the political situation and to determine, by knowledge gained from actual observation, the stability of the Provisional Govern¬ ment and the outlook as to Russia continuing to be a strong factor in the war. It had been decided that Honorable Elihu Root should head this important mission if he was willing to accept the post. After cor¬ responding with him on the subject, he informed me, at a dinner which I gave for Mr. Balfour at my residence on April twentyfourth and which Mr. Root attended, that he would accept the appointment. The personnel of the rest of the commissioners was the subject of considerable discussion. The endeavor was to have as members of it men who represented various elements of our people, so that, from the social, industrial and political points of view, appeals could be made to the various Russian blocs by those whom they would recognize as having similar interests. With this idea in mind Cyrus H. McCormick was chosen to represent American industry because the Harvester Company, of which he was president, was very popular in Russia; James Dun¬ can, vice-president of the American Federation of Labor, to repre¬ sent the workingmen; S. R. Bertron, financial interests; Charles Edward Russell, the Socialists; John R. Mott, religious and social betterment; Charles R. Crane, an expert on liberal thought in Russia; General Hugh L. Scott, Chief of Staff, on military affairs; and Rear Admiral James H. Glennon, on naval affairs. Stanley Washburn was named as secretary of the mission. After numerous interviews with the members of the mission and



after they had acquired such information as they could from the files of the Department of State and from conferences with our experts on Russian affairs, Mr. Root and his colleagues left Wash¬ ington on May fifteenth to begin their long journey to Petrograd via San Francisco, Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Railroad Commission, headed by John F. Stevens, had started a week earlier for the same destination. In connection with the departure of the Root Mission I sent, with the President’s approval, the following message to our Em¬ bassy in Petrograd: “You may state to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the information of his government that the High Commission now on its way from this country to Russia is sent primarily to manifest to the Russian Government and people the deep sympathetic feeling which exists among all classes in America for the adherence of Russia to the principle of democrac}^ which has been the foundation of the progress and prosperity of this country. The High Commissioners go to convey the greetings of this Republic to the new and powerful member which has joined the great family of democratic nations. “The Commissioners, who will bear this fraternal message to the people of Russia, have been selected by the President with the special purpose of giving representation to the various elements which make up the American people and to show that among them all there is the same love of country and the same devotion to liberty and justice and loyalty to constituted authority. The Commission is not chosen from one political group but from the various groups into which the American electorate is divided. United, they represent the Republic. However they may differ on public questions they are one in support of democracy and in hostility to the enemies of de¬ mocracy throughout the world. “This Commission is prepared, if the Russian Government desires, to confer upon the best ways and means to co-operate in the prosecution of the war against the German autocracy which is today a grave menace to all democratic governments in the world. It has been the solemn duty of those who love democracy and individual liberty to render harmless this auto¬ cratic government whose ambitions, aggressions and intrigues have been disclosed in the present struggle. Whatever the cost in life and treasure this supreme object must be attained



by the united strength of the democracies of the earth, for only thus can come that permanent and universal peace which is the hope of all people. “To the common cause of humanity which Russia has so courageously and unflinchingly supported for nearly three years, the United States is pledged. To co-operate and aid Russia in the accomplishment of the task, which as a great democracy is more truly hers today than ever before, is the desire of the United States. To stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, against autocracy will unite the American and Rus¬ sian peoples in a friendship for the ages. “With this spirit the High Commissioners of the United States will present themselves in the confident hope that the Russian Government and people will realize how sincerely the United States hopes for their welfare and desires to share with them in their future endeavors to bring victory to the cause of democracy and human liberty.” On June third the Root Mission landed at Vladivostok and on the thirteenth reached Petrograd where on the sixteenth the Com¬ missioners were presented to the National Cabinet by Ambassador Francis. Mr. Root on that occasion delivered an effective address which made a deep impression on his hearers and was read with great interest by the Russian public. From the time of this formal presentation up to July tenth, when it was announced that the mission’s work was ended and it was returning to the United States, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Russel, Rear Admiral Glennon and the other commissioners made addresses before councils, congresses and other assemblies of an unofficial character, presenting to them the aims of the United States in entering the war and the desire and purpose of our country to aid the Russian people in their conflict with the imperialists of the Central Powers. Everything was done that it was possible to. do to inspire these various groups with confidence that they could rely on American support and to impress upon them that the real conflict was be¬ tween democracy and autocracy, and was based on the same prin¬ ciples as those which had induced the Russian Revolution. The presence of the Railroad Commission was visual evidence of the purpose of the United States to give practical assistance to the Russian Government in bettering its system of transportation which was, as has been said, in a deplorable condition, while prom¬ ises of financial aid were also given.



On August 8, 1917, when the mission returned to Washington, I had a long conference with them and a longer one with Mr. Root alone. Later I read their report which showed great confidence in the existing Government of Russia and in its determination and ability to continue the war. The following day I wrote a memoran¬ dum on the Russian situation, which is as follows: “The Root Mission, excepting Charles R. Crane, have ar¬ rived and I had a long interview with them yesterday preceded by one in the morning with Mr. Root alone. I am astounded at their optimism. I cannot see upon what it is founded. When I expressed doubts as to Kerensky’s personal force and ability to carry through his plans in view of the strong opposition developing against him, they assured me that everything would come out all right and that Russia would continue the war against the Central Powers with even greater vigor than under the Czar. “I hope they are right and I presume they know more about it than I do, and yet in spite of what they say I am very skeptical about Kerensky. He compromises too much with the radical element of the Revolution. “From the first I have felt that the attempt being made to harmonize the radicals and moderates in Russia would be a failure, but I confess that the confident tone of Mr. Root and his colleagues has shaken, though it has not removed, my doubts. “The French Revolution is the great example of the com¬ plete overthrow of a social system and the establishment of a new one. That revolution started off moderately with an at¬ tempt to reform the old system by introducing a measure of popular government. Gradually the radical revolutionists who sought to do away with the old ideas gained ground until they finally developed the Jacobin despotism which through fanaticism and violence produced the Terror, and France sank into a hideous state of disorder. It was not until the atrocities of Robespierre’s rule became unendurable that France rose in its might against the butchers and restored order and protected personal rights. “Now I believe that is the normal process and that Russia in revolution will go through a similar evolution. First, Moderation; second, Terrorism; third, Revolt against the New Tyranny and restoration of order by arbitrary military



power. In my judgment the demoralized state of affairs will grow worse and worse until some dominant personality arises to end it all. “I may be all wrong about this. I hope I am. Mr. Root and his confreres may be entirely right. I hope they are. The present government may develop into a constitutional demo¬ cratic government; it may become stronger, suppress radical¬ ism, and make society safe from lawlessness. Yet the logic of events in my opinion does not warrant such hopes. “I naturally hesitate to set my judgment against so ex¬ perienced and wise a statesman as Elihu Root, especially after he has been on the ground and has been in contact with the forces at work in Russia, but even taking his statements as accurate I cannot agree in the conclusions which he reached. “Nevertheless, as long as there is a chance that he is right and I am wrong, I feel that we should do all that we can to strengthen morally and materially the existing government. If Mr. Root is wrong, nothing that we can do will stay the current which is toward a period of disorder and national impotency. All our efforts will amount to nothing; they will simply be chips swept along by the tide to be swallowed up in the calamity which seems to be in store for Russia. “The Revolution has succeeded, but Russia may pay for it with the loss of her national strength, if not with the loss of her national life. I think that our policy should be based on the hypothesis that Russia will go from bad to worse; and we should therefore prepare for the time when Russia will no longer be a military factor in the war. No other course is safe. “I am in a quandary about the views of the Root Mission, but I cannot rely upon them without doing violence to my better judgment.” This memorandum is given in order to show the beliefs and judgments affecting my future attitude as Secretary of State in advising the President in regard to Russian affairs. I give it here to indicate that the Bolshevik Revolution of November, 1917, did not take the Department of State by surprise. However, in view of the favorable report of the Root Mission and the convictions expressed by the American Commissioners that the Kerensky Gov¬ ernment was sufficiently stable to deal successfully with the situa¬ tion and restore the efficiency of the Russian armies by checking



the communistic propaganda among the soldiers and reestablishing military discipline, there was no practical course for this govern¬ ment to take other than with loans, experts and publicity to assist Premier Kerensky in his endeavors to keep control and bring order out of disorder. In November, 1917, the American Ambassador to Russia cabled that there was rioting in Petrograd and that on the seventh Premier Kerensky had left the city. On December second an armistice was arranged between Russia and the Central Powers, and thereupon I made a memorandum of my views on the situation, which em¬ bodied those that I expressed to the President in our later con¬ ferences. In it I said:

“There are a number of people who are telling us about Russia and advising us as to what the outcome will be and what we ought to do. I have seen several and a number have written me their views. The conclusions and opinions are almost as many as the advisers, and their advice as to our policy is about as harmonious. I have yet to find one, who, pinned down to the application of his theory, is able to furnish a plan that is practical except one who frankly asserts that the best thing to do is to let things alone as far as it is pos¬ sible to do so. “With this latter policy I am in entire accord. The Russian situation is to me an unanswered and unanswerable riddle. None of our observers, and some are well trained, has been able to find a way out or to advise a course of action leading to satisfactory results. “When the Root Mission returned, they were all, with the exception of Charles R. Crane, who knew Russia better than the others, most optimistic as to the power of the Kerensky Government to restore order and to keep the Russian armies in the field. But not long after their return Kerensky was overthrown and the Bolsheviks seized the government at Petro¬ grad. Thus their recommendations predicated on the success of the Provisional Government could not be adopted, or, if they had been, would have been useless. Yet the Root Mission was composed of very able men who were doubtless as capable of judging the situation and giving advice as any this govern¬ ment could have sent out. “I confess that I do not feel warranted in hazarding even a



guess as to what the outcome will be. This makes the adopting of an active policy most difficult. “Historically the Russian situation is unprecedented. It is wholly novel. It seems to me that the controlling forces are idealism and ignorance supported by weapons. The especial characteristics of the idealists who are masters in Petrograd are lack of any sentiment of nationality and a determination, frankly avowed, to overthrow all existing governments and establish on the ruins a despotism of the proletariat in every country. The Bolsheviki are anarchists rather than Socialists, though they would undoubtedly repudiate such a charge. “I cannot see how this element which is hostile to the very idea of nationality can claim that they are the government of a nation or expect to be recognized as such. They are avowedly opposed to every government on earth; they openly propose to excite revolutions in all countries against existing govern¬ ments; they are as hostile to democracy as they are to autoc¬ racy. If we should recognize them in Russia, we would encourage them and their followers in other lands. That would be a serious error. Both France and Great Britain seem to be tempted. If they decide to deal with them I believe it will be a mistake. “The correct policy for a government which believes in political institutions as they now exist and based on nationality and private property is to leave these dangerous idealists alone and have no direct dealings with them. To recognize them would give them an exalted idea of their own power, make them more insolent and impossible, and win their contempt, not their friendship. “It is true that the Teutonic Powers are recognizing them. They may profit temporarily by this policy, but it is my belief that they may suffer in the end. Of course these governments are tempted by the possibility of obtaining supplies to ar¬ range peace with these people, or rather by disorganizing the Russian armies and causing confusion in the Russian provinces make peace unavoidable. The result would be that Germany and Austria could remove their military forces for use else¬ where and Russia’s resources would be at their mercy. They will probably succeed in these objects, but they may have to pay a heavy price in the end. The truth lies in the future. “It was my belief that the Bolsheviki, pursuing their doc¬ trine of breaking down political power, would go to pieces.



Thus far my belief has not been justified. Their cry of ‘Peace and Land’ is popular with the ignorant Russians who have suffered grievously in the past. And yet I cannot see how unorganized and undirected physical power such as now dom¬ inates affairs in Petrograd can continue. It has in itself every element of destruction. Up to the present, however, the logic of events has failed. “Of one thing I am convinced, and that is that it would be unwise to give recognition to Lenin, Trotsky and their crew of radicals. We ought to sit tight and wait and see how the Germans come out. If they do not burn their fingers I will admit I am mistaken. Of course Russia as a nation will never come under the Petrograd Bolsheviki. They are far more likely to break up into separate units claiming independence. We are apt to see several distinct states each managing its own affairs. The danger is that Germany may conquer or make peace with these piecemeal. When that time comes we will have new conditions to face. I cannot see how recognition of the Bolsheviks would prevent this, as it would not be the slightest inducement for them to continue the war. If they should con¬ tinue it, it will only be because their power is menaced. “As to Lenin and Trotsky I am in doubt. They may be acting entirely in Germany’s interest, but I cannot make that belief harmonize with some things which they have done. In fact they may be honest in purpose and utterly dishonest in methods. For national and personal honor, for truth and for the individual rights of life, liberty and property they seem to have no regard. How can anyone deal with such people? They are wanting in international virtue. International obli¬ gation and comity mean nothing to them. The one thing they are striving to bring about is the ‘Social Revolution,’ which will sweep away national boundaries, racial distinctions and modern political, religious and social institutions, and make the ignorant and incapable mass of humanity dominant in the earth. They indeed plan to destroy civilization by mob vio¬ lence. “As far as one can judge from the ever-changing and con¬ fused conditions, the Bolshevik program is to make way with the military and political authority in Russia and to incite similar destruction in other countries. This will undoubtedly first result in the division of Russia into separate states, some favorable and some hostile to the Bolshevik idea. A general



disorganization of trade, industry and transportation will follow with discontent and disorder everywhere. People will become hungry and demand food. They will become desperate and rob and kill, aided by the criminal element. With weakened military and political power the Bolsheviki will be unable to suppress these outrages. “It seems to me that Russia is about to be the stage on which will be acted one of the most terrible tragedies of all history. Civil war seems certain. The cities will be the prey of mobs, thieves and murderers. Factions will struggle for mastery. Russia will fairly swim in blood, a prey to lawlessness and violence. And then to add to these horrors will come the ruth¬ less Germans to take from this struggling mass of humanity their lands and property and to force them to obey. “I believe that the Russian ‘Terror’ will far surpass in brutality and destruction of life and property the Terror of the French Revolution. The latter at least possessed the semblance of government and made pretense of legality. Rus¬ sia possesses neither. There is no authority, no law. It is a seething caldron of anarchy and violence. I can conceive of no more frightful calamity for a people than that which seems about to fall upon Russia. “The only possible remedy would be for a strong command¬ ing personality to arise who would be able to gather a dis¬ ciplined military force sufficiently strong to restore order and maintain a government. As yet no leader has shown enough strength to organize the Cossacks into an effective army. They may succeed, but no one knows how much the Cossacks returning from the front are inoculated with Bolshevism. Many are very hopeful, but I cannot say that I am overcon¬ fident. However, they are at present the only hope that has appeared. I am opposed to giving these leaders any open support, as their enterprise seems to me too uncertain and the whole situation too chaotic to put faith in any one group or faction. “ ‘Do nothing’ should be our policy until the black period of terrorism comes to an end and the rising tide of blood has run its course. It cannot last forever, but Russia will sink lower before better days come.” Prior to the receipt of the report as to an armistice, but not before we knew that the Bolshevik Government intended to negotiate



a separate peace, I had urged the President to issue a public declaration of the policy of the United States in regard to Russia which would be sufficiently moderate in statement to be transmitted to Petrograd and, through some agency other than the Embassy, be given publicity there. The object in mind was to avoid offending the Russian people and at the same time to indicate to them that recognition of the Bolshevik Government by the United States was out of the question in view of the character and purposes of that government. With this end in view I submitted to him on De¬ cember fourth a draft declaration which I had prepared, employing the moderate tone which seemed to me advisable in the circum¬ stances. In the draft I said in part:

“December 4, 1917. “This government lias found it impossible to recognize Lenin, Trotsky and their associates as the de facto govern¬ ment of Russia, since there is inadequate evidence that they are the real agents of the sovereignty of the Russian people. When the Bolshevik faction under the leadership of Lenin seized by force the public offices at Petrograd and Moscow arresting or expelling the provisional ministers and military commanders who had obtained authority through legal suc¬ cession from the revolutionary body which had come into power on the abdication of the Czar, they set up in those two cities arbitrary and irresponsible authority based solely on physical control over the residents. “Dedicated as the Government of the United States is to the principle of democracy and to a special order based on individual liberty and the supremacy of the popular will operating through liberal institutions, it cannot but consider that the attempt by any class of society, whether distinguished by birth, wealth, occupation or poverty, to arrogate to itself superior political authority to be inimical to democracy. Such class despotism differs only from autocratic monarchy in that the sovereign authority is in the latter case exercised by an individual without sanction of the popular will while in the former case it is exercised by a group of individuals. Upon despotisms of every nature the people of the United States have looked invariably with disfavor as subversive of the rights of man, and hostile to justice and liberty. “Holding these views, this government has watched with



deep concern the overthrow by force of the provisional author¬ ity representing the revolution at Petrograd, and that on the eve of the popular election of a Constituent Assembly called to establish a constitutional government based on the principle of democracy. “The American people have rejoiced with the people of Russia in the dawn of a democratic era and the prospects of an orderly exercise of popular sovereignty through agencies lawfully and peaceably created. They have been prepared to give every moral and material aid to Russia in her period of transition from absolutism to constitutional democracy; and this sympathetic spirit has been increased by the conviction that the Russian nation, like this nation, recognized in the Imperial German Government the greatest peril to liberty and democracy in the world and especially threatening to new-born freedom in Russia. Convinced of the mutual appre¬ ciation of the German menace this government naturally anticipated that the Russian democracy would with the zeal and determination of a people jealous of their rights resist the intrigues of German agents and prosecute with courage and vigor the war which the free peoples of the world are waging against Prussian militarism. “Relying upon a full realization by the Russian people of the imminent danger to their political and territorial integrity from autocratic Germany and upon their faithful adherence to their cobelligerents, this government has watched with dis¬ appointment and amazement the rise of class despotism in Petrograd and the open efforts of the leaders of the Bolsheviki to withdraw from the conflict even at the expense of national honor and the future safety of democracy in Russia. “It has been justly claimed that democracies sacredly per¬ form their treaty obligations whatever the cost may be, that they are hostile to autocracy and are unswervingly loyal to nations which have befriended them in their time of need. Russia, as the world knows, is overwhelmingly democratic in spirit and purpose, and yet those who today claim to repre¬ sent the nation threaten to violate treaties made with other free peoples, to make friends with the most inveterate enemy of Russian aspirations, and to abandon the faithful friends of Russia in the great struggle against the Prussian autoc¬ racy. . . .”



The President did not think that it was opportune to make a public declaration of this sort at the time that it was suggested. He nevertheless approved in principle the position I had taken and directed that our dealings with Russia and our treatment of the Russian situation be conducted along those lines. From that time forward the policy of non-recognition of the Bolsheviki was pursued without variation, and was at last proclaimed by Secre¬ tary Colby in the summer of 1920. The same policy was later reasserted by Secretary Hughes with substantially no change of thought and with certainly no change of practice in spite of the efforts of some of our commercial interests and also of certain Senators and Representatives to induce the Republican Adminis¬ tration to repudiate the Wilson policy by recognizing and entering into diplomatic relations with the Bolshevik Government.



WOODROW WILSON Count von Bernstorff, in reporting to his government on the President’s attitude toward Germany, stated that Mr. Wilson was influenced by the popular clamor against the German Government because of the sinking of the Lusitania. The Ambassador was en¬ tirely wrong. Mr. Wilson was in no way affected in his official action by the storm of angry protest and the loud demands for retaliation which swept over the states along the Atlantic seaboard, when the destruction of the great passenger steamship became known. His very nature resisted outbursts of popular passion, which he never considered the sober thought of the people. He had the faculty of remaining impervious to such influences, which so often affect the minds of lesser men, warping their judgments and inducing them to act hastily and frequently unwisely. This power of detachment from personal feelings is a valuable asset to a man in any walk of life where he is faced by grave responsibili¬ ties, but it is especially valuable to a statesman who has the duty of determining the policies of government and of directing execu¬ tive action. It puts his statesmanship on a high plane and prevents rash and ill-considered acts which might result in disaster to the people whose servant he is. Though I have not infrequently seen Mr. Wilson very angry at the conduct or words of a foreign government or of its diplo¬ matic representative and have heard him express himself in regard to such action or utterance with unrestrained vigor of language, I never knew him to reach a decision while he was thus aroused. He always waited until his temper had cooled and his reason was unimpaired by indignation and then he would calmly and delib¬ erately determine a course of action as if he had no personal feel¬ ings in the matter. This ability to hold in restraint his natural impulses was not appreciated by some members of Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet, who misinterpreted his attitude and complained about his inaction and lack of feeling. Themselves responsive to an ex¬ cited public opinion, they were unable to understand how the President could resist the same influence. I admired this marked characteristic of President Wilson’s mentality. It made me always respect his decisions in regard to foreign policies because I felt that they were not affected by per349




sonal emotions but were reasoned out with a due regard to the principles involved and to the possible result of adopting this or that course of action. While undoubtedly his judgment in internal affairs was often colored by his feelings toward those who opposed him and especially those who questioned or denounced his motives, apparently considering any opposition of this character as a per¬ sonal affront, he never exhibited, at the time which is being con¬ sidered, any such attitude in dealing with the vexatious questions arising between the United States and the belligerent powers. Sometimes his delay in reaching a decision exasperated those who could see only one side of a question, but I am sure that the delay, which at times seemed to me needless, was due generally to the painstaking way in which the President examined a subject and sought to give the exact value to each argument for or against a proposed course of action or a proposed declaration of the gov¬ ernment’s position. Without this reserve and deliberation on the part of Mr. Wilson, charged as he was by the Constitution with the direction of our foreign relations, we would, I am convinced, have often found ourselves in serious difficulties, and would have done many things which later we would have regretted. As it was we avoided them. In those days and to an extent later, the President was blamed for vacillation, for lack of forcefulness and for failure to adopt drastic measures in dealing with Great Britain as well as with Germany. These accusations were unjust and, to anyone who knew Mr. Wilson, unwarranted and foolish. To charge the Presi¬ dent with not being forceful and with being fearful is to deny him the qualities which he possessed to an unusual degree. His critics were either ignorant of his character or wilfully misrepresented it. Personal spite, political antagonism or hot-headed support of one side or the other in the European conflict generally inspired these attacks upon the President. He was as courageous in resisting the temptation to do the popular thing as he was in exercising his calm judgment in spite of strong personal feelings. Courage of this sort is a virtue rarely found among public men.

ARTHUR JAIMES BALFOUR is in my mind a vivid remembrance of Mr. Balfour as he slowly descended from the railway coach which brought him from Canada to Washington and as he advanced toward me along the platform of the union station. His tall and rather ungainly figure was clothed in a conventional frock coat, which seemed to me un¬ usually long, and as we drew together he removed his high hat There

exposing the thin gray hair which seemed to curl about his ears. A genial smile was on his face and he looked as if he was relieved that his journey was over and that he had reached his destination. I had expected to see a more robust man, for I had heard of his fondness for tennis and physical exercise, so it was a bit disappoint¬ ing to find in him a man who looked fully his age and seemed wearied by the exertion of travel. It is no disparagement of the famous Briton to say that he looked the elder statesman whose experience in public life covered half a century. In manner Mr. Balfour was urbane and cordial which, added to his ability as a conversationalist and to his gift of expression, made association with him very agreeable. He was clever, keen and witty in general conversation, but in conferences he was less energetic and alert than I expected to find him. He was deliberate and sometimes hesitating, as if he was not quite sure of his facts. He appeared to think lazily, almost indifferently, but his accuracy of thought never failed. The more I saw of Mr. Balfour the more I became convinced that he had no desire or intention of mastering details if they were at all complex or confused. He relied upon the memory of some¬ one else for his data, statistics and details. He also avoided ex¬ pressing an opinion concerning subjects which were technical in nature or involved expert knowledge. This reticence is a virtue too often lacking in statesmen. In dealing with generalities he was far less reserved, though he almost always had with him during an interview Sir Eric Drummond, who was a veritable walking encyclopedia of everything pertaining to the war in all its phases. Possibly, too, the experienced diplomat desired to have a witness present so that his words would not be misquoted or misrepresented. Experience teaches us many things. In talking with Mr. Balfour on other themes than those directly




connected with his public mission to the United States, one could not but be impressed with the profound learning and splendid intellectual attainments of the great British statesman. His ability to express himself clearly, the exactness of his reasoning powers and his well-chosen vocabulary gave a charm to his conversation which was exceptional. Mr. Balfour was essentially a philosopher in thought and ex¬ pression. Possibly this fact was to be expected by one acquainted with his philosophic writings, which had gained him a reputation as a talented scholar among students of philosophy in Great Britain and America. I believe that even without this conclusive evidence of his ability as a speculative thinker, his method of ap¬ proaching and dealing with a subject would have shown that his intellectual processes were those of a metaphysician. In some ways this philosophical method of thought, which had become second nature to Mr. Balfour, was, from the practical standpoint, a weakness, for it caused him to see, and I think to magnify, the defects in his own assertions or in the policy which expediency impelled him to advocate. He not infrequently im¬ paired the strength of an argument which he had made by pointing out where it failed in minor particulars, failures which his ad¬ versaries, less keenly analytical, might not have seen or, if they had, would not have urged because of the trivial nature of the objections. Apparently Mr. Balfour could not resist the tempta¬ tion to analyze and dissect to the last degree a proposition, even his own, if it dealt with principles or required the application of logic. In spite of his personal charm and his cordial manner, Mr. Balfour’s philosophic mind gave an impression that he was cold and calculating and never allowed sentiments or emotions to affect his judgment. He seemed to be impervious to those impulses which are credited to the heart rather than to the mind. I can understand why some men characterized him as unsympathetic, disdainful and self-centered, but I am sure that such an opinion of him was erroneous. Rather, to reduce a political problem to a philosophic formula was apparently his way of obtaining results. He sought a solution dispassionately and deliberately, weighing everything in the scales of reason. In such a process, sympathy and intuition found no place. The sentimental factor was wholly eliminated. It was applied reason, a hard, unyielding intellectual process lack¬ ing red blood; it was almost as scientific as the solution of an algebraic problem. With him thinking had become an exact science.



It is difficult, if not impossible, to put into words the impressions made upon me by Mr. Balfour. One trait of his character seemed to contradict another. They did not appear to fit into the same mold. There is something elusive about such a personality, some¬ thing that is subtle and hidden, something that makes a deep and lasting impression, though to reduce that impression to exact terms would challenge the talents of one far more expert than I in the power of expression.

GENERAL JOFFRE Marshal of France, though he did not head the group of distinguished men who came, in the name of France, to thank the United States for its entry into the war, was in the eyes of the American public the principal figure among the members of the French Mission. There could hardly be a greater contrast between two men than between Mr. Balfour, whose personality I have endeavored to de¬ scribe, and this sturdy old warrior, who personified so completely the loyalty, the determination and the virility of the French armies. Though he had been superseded as commander-in-chief of the military forces of France, largely, so his friends asserted, through political intrigue, his popularity and reputation remained unim¬ paired. To the poilus, the peasants and the Parisians he was then and continued to be “Papa Joffre.” When I first met the Marshal on the deck of the Mayflower as it lay at the wharf of the Navy Yard in Washington, I felt that I was greeting the great soldier of the war, the one who was justly entitled to the popular applause with which he was everywhere received. I learned later that he was great in ways other than as a military chieftain and an earnest patriot, and my admiration for him constantly increased. General Joseph Jacques

Cesaire Joffre,

Marshal Joffre had a massive physique. Though of medium height, being about five feet, nine or ten inches, he was very broad and brawny. He gave the impression of bulk, and his thick, powerful legs were especially noticeable on account of the tight red trousers which he wore and which were fully exposed because of the shortness of the dark blouse of his fatigue uniform. His head was large and set upon a short thick neck which seemed to be sunken between wide rounded shoulders. His torso was after the same order. His arms were similar in structure to his great legs. The muscular strength of the man was evident. It seemed to deny his age, which was nearly seventy. It was noticeable to one who was observant that his hands were not those of an old man. The face of the Marshal corresponded with his figure. It was broad, very broad, and the skin, which was unusually white, seemed to be almost translucent. Beneath the skin the blood ebbed and flowed, giving the bright tints of youth. His complexion was that




of a child. His high forehead was unwrinkled and crowned with graying blond hair. His eyes with heavy blond brows and lashes and with drooping lids were blue and pleasant. They were soft and kindly eyes. His mouth with its gentle expression was gen¬ erous in size and seemed larger because of the thickness of his lips which were partly hidden by a blond mustache that curled up at the ends in French military fashion. His chin was heavy and his nose large, well-proportioned and straight. The Marshal’s character was not a difficult one to read. Every¬ thing that he said was open and frank. He did not show any inten¬ tion to hide his thoughts and purposes. Great in body, he was also great in heart. The way in which he accepted his removal from the high command and the cheerfulness with which he did afterward what he could for France, are evidence of his generous spirit. He did not brood or sulk over what another might have considered personal wrongs. His patriotism was of the purest type. Per¬ sonal pride and personal ambition seemed to have no place in his loyal heart. Though his record shows that Marshal Joffre was stern and unyielding in complying with the demands of duty, I have never known a man who more unreservedly responded to sentiment or who so openly gave way to his emotions. He was as sensitive to praise and to eloquence as a temperamental woman and as uncon¬ scious in giving expression to his feelings as a child. I have seen the tears course down his cheeks when one told him of the popular esteem in which he was held; and I have seen him wiping his shining eyes at some vivid word-picture drawn by Viviani, that superb master of oratory, or at the roar of welcome from the enthusiastic crowds that gathered to see him. To behold that old general, who without flinching had faced the greatest task ever laid upon a commander, who had been adamant in will as he calmly directed his armies when he knew that the very life of his beloved country depended on his skill and sagacity, to behold such a man moved to tears by his aroused emotions, was enough to awaken a respon¬ sive chord even in one naturally unmoved by sentiment. It was this side of Marshal Joffre’s nature which appealed to others and made him a man whom people loved as well as honored and ven¬ erated. His mind was that of a sage; his nature, that of a child. He possessed an iron will and a tender heart. He thus combined the finest qualities conferred by nature upon man.

COUNT VON BERNSTORFF (Taken from Memorandum Dated May, 1916) Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German Ambassador, was a man of marked ability, and in all my intercourse with him I found him an affable though dangerous antagonist. He was a master of the art of diplomacy and concealed his thoughts and feelings with

great skill. I felt that it was always necessary to be on my guard in talking with him and to be extremely cautious in whatever I said because I knew that he would take advantage of the least slip of the tongue and utilize it later. With him it was always a duel of wits. Bernstorff was a distinguished-looking man, broad-shouldered and slender, with a marked military bearing. His blond hair was thin about the temples, and his mustache of the same color turned up at the ends like that of the Kaiser. He was always dressed fashionably but not overdressed. When he entered my room he generally carried his gray or strawcolored gloves in his hand. He advanced with a rapid step and with a conventional smile which I felt was called up on all occasions and meant nothing at all. He would seat himself in the low easy chair by the side of my desk, cross his legs and plunge directly into the business which had brought him to the Department. He gave one the impression of a man who had no time to waste on super¬ fluous talk but who wished to get through with his business and get away as soon as he could do so with a due regard for politeness. I do not mean to imply that his manner was in any way offensive on this account. On the contrary it was quite refreshing compared with the long and irrelevant introductions indulged in by several of the diplomats who came to see me. The Count’s manner of speech was rapid, exceptionally rapid, and as he had a slight accent, his quick utterances gave the impres¬ sion of mouthing his words, though in fact he enunciated with care and precision. I did not like his mouth which was not hidden at all by his mustache. When he talked or smiled his lips writhed in a very unpleasant way. When his mouth was at rest his lips receded so that they appeared very thin, giving his face a hard cynical expression. Only when he was in deep thought did one observe the wrinkles which furrowed his forehead and showed his




age. But even then he looked younger than he really was (fiftyfour years). Probably this was due to his blond coloring. In discussing a matter with Bernstorff I always found him ex¬ tremely courteous, with a clever way of appearing to agree with me and at the same time ingeniously injecting arguments into the conversation which were directly in opposition. He never became excited, never blustered, never appeared surprised and never seemed other than at his ease. The serious character of the controversies with Germany made his position as Imperial Ambassador exceedingly difficult, and the informal negotiations which we had in attempting to adjust them were very delicate. That he handled these questions with adroitness and ability cannot be denied. He sought in every way to prevent a rupture between the two governments, and frankly advised Berlin as to the true situation, as I knew from seeing the translations of the radiograms which he sent from Sayville, Long Island. If I was correctly informed, and I believe that I was, his career in the Ger¬ man diplomatic service depended upon his success in Washington. I heard from several independent sources that he had many enemies in Berlin who were seeking his downfall and hoped that he would make some serious blunder which would force him into retirement. With hostile critics at home awaiting opportunity to attack him and with crises in our relations with Germany following one an¬ other in rapid succession, his path was not smooth or strewn with roses. One could not but admire his debonnaire manner under such anxieties. Count von Bernstorff was exceptionally skillful in handling the various propaganda and activities launched by German agents in this country. Although I was firmly convinced that he was aware of and in all probability directed these enterprises, some of which were flagrantly criminal, he was too clever to leave any proofs of his share in them. It was always so arranged that the blame fell upon others, like von Papen or Boy-Ed or Dernberg. It was done very skillfully. Germans were arrested, tried and sent to prison, but the Count smiled complacently. No evidence showed that he was directly or indirectly implicated in their plots. Count Bernstorff acted frequently on his own initiative in carry¬ ing on negotiations. He undoubtedly did so in the case of the Ara¬ bic, in which he stretched his instructions beyond the limit. At all events his note caused serious complaint against him in Berlin, where the von Tirpitz party was at the time very strong, and he came very near being recalled; and I believe he would have been but for



the fact that the Lusitania negotiations were pending. Subsequent events proved the wisdom of his course and fully justified his breach of orders, as his prompt action prevented the severance of diplo¬ matic relations. He probably weighed the effect of acting without orders and of being sent home, and decided that the former was less liable to end his career as a diplomat than the latter. His de¬ termination showed his sagacity. In the informal negotiations concerning the Lusitania case, which were interrupted by the sinking of the Arabic and further delayed by the controversy with Great Britain over her illegal blockade, and which were renewed in November, 1915, I found Count von Bernstorff ready and willing to reach a settlement which would meet the wishes of our government, which desired an admission of wrong-doing, a confession of liability and a promise of indemnity. He finally succeeded in persuading his government to accede, though the negotiations were prolonged into February, 1916, by reason of the Ancona and Persia cases. The Lusitania controversy would have been settled then, but for the German “submarine” declaration of February tenth, which opened up the question of the future conduct of Germany, and was followed in the latter part of March by the sinking of the Sussex. While I found Bernstorff so agreeable and satisfactory as a negotiator, I never really trusted him. I knew that he plotted to cause a break between the President and me. I felt that he was sly and exceptionally clever, that he would go to any lengths to gain his end. Take it all together Count von Bernstorff was a! dangerous man and required constant watching.

BARON ZWIEDINEK Baron Zwiedinek was a man whose personality was not of a par¬ ticularly distinctive type. He was neither good-looking nor badlooking. He had no features which attracted especial attention unless they were his round and red cheeks. His mental processes did not appear to me out of the ordinary. If I should be asked what characteristic was chiefly developed, I think I would answer that it was a nature responsive to a keen sense of honor. He had none of the subtlety of a man like Dumba, none of the audacity of a Bernstorff, and, although always jealous of his country’s inter¬ ests, he sought to advance them by honorable means.

I liked Zwiedinek and had much respect for him. I sometimes felt sorry for him when some event brought the relations between the United States and his country to the verge of a crisis. His anxiety was so manifest—he did not easily dissemble his feelings— and he was so evidently weighed down with the responsibility of his position that his voice would tremble and his eyes suffuse with tears as he pleaded to have action deferred until he could obtain from Vienna an explanation. As a rule I was able to comply with his wishes, and he always seemed very grateful. He had neither Dumba’s complacency nor Bernstorff’s assurance. He excited sym¬ pathy and disposed one to give him the benefit of every doubt. The result was that he was far more successful than a more aggressive and defiant representative would have been. Baron Zwiedinek was master of a large vocabulary of English words, though he spoke brokenly. This defect was emphasized by the fact that he spoke very rapidly. I sometimes lost the sense of what he said and had to ask him to repeat his words. He was always difficult to understand and very difficult if excited or stirred by emotion. He would enter my room and, as he came around the screen which hid the door from my desk, he would stop, bring his heels together with an audible click, and bow solemnly though quickly, bending from his waist with his hands held rigidly at his sides. It was a very military salutation and never marred by even the ghost of a smile. He would then seat himself, but never until I had requested him to do so. After a few commonplaces he would enter upon the subject which had brought him to the Department. In our discussions I found the Baron an able and earnest advo-




cate, and this was largely due to the fact that he gave an impres¬ sion of honesty and a sincerity of purpose to find some way to adjust our differences. There was an atmosphere of genuineness about him that was lacking among diplomats in general. It nat¬ urally gave weight to his statements. When he asserted a fact I was disposed to receive it as true for I did not believe that he would knowingly make a misstatement. Perhaps I was too credu¬ lous, but anyone who knew Zwiedinek as I did would have fallen into the same error, if it was an error. Zwiedinek was not a man of more than ordinary ability. He never exhibited any brilliancy of intellect. He certainly was no match in sagacity or adroitness for his former chief, or indeed for any of the diplomats who represented the belligerent powers at Washington. And yet in looking back over our relations I can see that he accomplished far more than many of his more brilliant colleagues in the diplomatic corps. In the most trying circum¬ stances he succeeded in materially improving the relations between our governments, and in checking the hostile feeling which had become so pronounced during Dumba’s ambassadorship. It was not so much what Baron Zwiedinek said or did, but his personality which won people to him. You instinctively felt that he was a man of honor, a gentleman with chivalrous impulses who would not knowingly commit a dishonorable act, and before you realized it you found yourself liking and admiring Austria because you liked her Charge. He rendered thus a service to his country which a ' greater man might not have done.

OFFICIAL ASSOCIATES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE the hot summer months of 1915, when the President was absent so much of the time at Cornish, New Hampshire, and when the crises in our foreign affairs so increased the responsibilities and anxieties of one who held the office of Secretary of State, my chief dependence for counsel was Mr. Lester H. Woolsey, one of the Assistant Solicitors. He had been assigned to the office of the Counselor before I was appointed to that position in March, 1914, and we had worked together from the beginning of the war on the questions relating to our rights and obligations as a neutral and on our controversies with the warring powers. In order to continue this confidential relationship, which had been exceptionally agree¬ able and useful to me as Counselor, I named Mr. Woolsey, after I became head of the Department, “Confidential Law Adviser to the Secretary,” and as such he remained until the President ap¬ pointed him Solicitor for the Department, upon Mr. Cone John¬ son’s retirement from that office. In addition to Mr. Woolsey, whose assistance was invaluable on account of his thorough knowledge of international law and his sound judgment, I was materially assisted by Assistant Secre¬ tary John E. Osborne, who took general charge of the administra¬ tion of the Department and, to an extent, of Latin American affairs, and also by the Third Assistant Secretary, Mr. William Phillips, who had direction of the incoming and outgoing cor¬ respondence with the nations at war, for which arduous duty he was especially equipped because of his long experience in the diplo¬ matic service and also as an official of the Department of State. Mr. Wilbur J. Carr, the Director of the Consular Service, a veteran who had served in the Department for over twenty years, was fully occupied in attending to the vastly increased work of our consular officers. His experience and resourcefulness relieved me of all responsibility as to that branch of our foreign service. Mr. Cone Johnson, the Solicitor of the Department, was not an expert in international law, but he possessed a fine legal mind and was endowed with great common sense. In the extraordinary conditions which had developed as a result of the war, Mr. John¬ son’s keen though deliberate way of handling questions was esThroughout




pecially useful to the Department. Early and late he labored at his desk in spite of the fact that he was not in good health, a fact that finally compelled him to retire from the public service. He was an agreeable associate and an excellent official. Although the Department was so faithfully and well served, the constant and strenuous labors resulting from the conditions caused by the war had forced responsible officers to leave Wash¬ ington and seek rest, and the Department in consequence was under¬ manned. I needed especially the aid and advice of a counselor who was then in fact, as he has since become by name, the “Under Sec¬ retary of State.” Though several able men were suggested for the position, Mr. Wilson and I were unable to agree on any of them. The President was not willing to weaken any other department of the government by transferring one of its higher officials to the Department of State (I had urged the appointment of Honorable John W. Davis, then Solicitor-General of the United States) and, furthermore, he did not wish to name a man whom he thought con¬ servative in his ideas and out of sympathy with his own type of liberalism. On the other hand, I was strongly opposed to the selec¬ tion of a counselor who was a prominent politician or possessed or even suspected of political ambitions. It was my hope to find a man whose sole aim would be to become the best counselor that the De¬ partment of State had ever had, a man with legal knowledge, sound common sense and an agreeable personality. On account of the peculiarly confidential relationship existing between a Secretary of State and the Counselor and also between the President and the Counselor when the latter was Acting Secre¬ tary, it was essential for the proper conduct of foreign affairs, especially at this critical period, that the President and I should come to full agreement upon the man to be named as counselor. We both appreciated this and waited until our minds were in ac¬ cord. It was not until the middle of August that we mutually decided that Mr. Frank L. Polk, of New York, should be offered the post, provided he was willing to resign his office of Corporation Counsel in the New York City government. Having obtained the President’s consent, I asked Mr. Polk to come to Washington and see me. At an interview with him on Monday, August sixteenth, he expressed his willingness to accept the counselorship if it was offered to him. I was highly gratified at his decision because Mr. Polk was exactly my conception of what a counselor or under secre¬ tary of the Department of State ought to be. I knew that I could trust him implicitly, and his personality was enough assurance that



he would be an agreeable colleague. Our future intercourse con¬ firmed my first impression of him. He was all and more than 1 hoped to find in a counselor, and I am sure that everyone who was associated with him or came in contact with him felt as I did about his ability and personal charm. During the last week in July I had offered the appointment of private secretary to Richard Crane of Chicago. On August second he accepted the appointment. He performed the difficult duties of the office faithfully and well up to the time that he was named as our first Minister to Czechoslovakia in 1919. I also chose Rich¬ ard C. Sweet, of Nebraska, who had served Mr. Bryan in the same capacity, to be my confidential clerk. The position of confidential clerk is one where personal loyalty and absolute trustworthiness are essential, for the man filling that position knows more state secrets than any other person in the Department except the Secre¬ tary. He decodes the messages sent in private ciphers, which even the regular cipher clerks do not know. Mr. Sweet was so trusted that the President had him come to the White House and decode the personal messages which he received from our Ambassadors and from Colonel House, rather than have it done by anyone in the Executive Office. It was a high compliment to Mr. Sweet’s integ¬ rity and it was deserved. No secret was ever divulged by him. The Department of State was materially aided by the so-called “Neutrality Board,” which had been organized in August or Sep¬ tember, 1914. One of the chief reasons for the organization of this board was the refusal of the Department of Justice to give an opinion before a concrete case had arisen and been referred to it. This was an old and established policy of the Department which had been adopted for the purpose of avoiding being overwhelmed by other branches of the government with hypothetical cases. I believe that the Department of Justice would have reversed their policy in the autumn of 1914, but for the prompt creation of the Neutrality Board, which the Department of State found more satisfactory than the Department of Justice. No delays in render¬ ing opinions occurred, as would inevitably have been the case if the questions were sent to the Department of Justice, in view of the manifold duties of the Attorney-General and his aides. The Neutrality Board consisted of Dr. James Brown Scott, a distinguished authority on international law and a former solicitor of the Department of State, who was named by Secretary Bryan at my suggestion to represent the Department of State, and of Captains Knapp and Oliver, who were detailed to serve on the



Board by the Navy Department. The three members, all versed in the rules and practices of nations conducting naval operations as belligerents and in the rights and duties of neutrals on the high seas, sat almost continuously for the consideration of the numerous questions which were daily submitted to them by the Department of State. The reasoned opinions of the Board were of almost in¬ estimable assistance to the Department of State in the determina¬ tion of its policies and in the conduct of its business.

SOCIAL LIFE IN WASHINGTON who are not residents of a national capital, and some who are, fail to realize that social events and the intimate and informal association of officials in society play no inconsiderable part in paving the way for frank discussion of pending questions and of troublesome controversies. It is a fact that men who have met about a dinner table, or who have chatted with one another after dinner as they sat in easy chairs drinking their coffee and smoking, feel that they really know one another and converse with far less restraint when considering official matters than they would if they only saw one another on rare occasions and then in a purely official capacity. Persons

The value of personal intercourse in a familiar and friendly way, as an aid to the conduct of the more serious relations of life, is recognized in business, in the professions and in civic, patriotic and benevolent organizations, as manifested by the luncheons and dinners which are constantly taking place in all the cities of the land, at which associates in common enterprises are brought to¬ gether and learn to know one another better and to understand one another’s characteristics and points of view as they would never understand them under other conditions. What is true of sociability and personal contact of an informal nature in professional, business and other relations of life, as a means of smoothing out the rough spots standing in the way of mutual understanding and the free discussion of disputed ques¬ tions, applies to all government business and to officials in their intercourse with one another, but even in a greater degree to diplomacy and diplomats. The better a secretary of state or a minister of foreign affairs knows the characteristics and mental qualities of a diplomatic representative of another country, the truer his understanding of the temperament and sentimental traits of the foreign diplomat, and the more intimate their terms of per¬ sonal intercourse, so much easier it is to reach an agreement when they discuss matters officially. I have known many an important question to be discussed and settled informally as the representa¬ tives of two countries smoked together, settlements which I am sure would have taken many days to arrange if they had continued to be the subjects of only formal conversations. And a




difference of opinion explained in a friendly and intimate talk is very easily incorporated into an official note composing the dispute and ending the controversy. A diplomat, with whom you have dined and with whom you have conversed after dinner, is a very different man to deal with from one whom you have only seen in your office and who comes to see you clothed in all the dignity of a representative of his country and impressed with the responsibility of his official position. The marriage of President Wilson to Mrs. Norman Galt opened again the doors of the White House, which had been closed to social entertainments since the illness and death of the President’s first wife. Certain official functions had been made almost imperative by long-established custom. Those in public and private life in Washington expected them and looked forward to them as events which only some unusual circumstances could prevent or excuse. They were fixtures in the society of the capital responding to the natural and human inclination to enjoy social pleasures of the sort and to meet and rub elbows with the men and women who stood high in the scale of the official life of the nation. The White House functions begin with a great public reception on New Year’s Day, which anyone may attend, as no invitations and no cards of admission are issued. As a result thousands flock to shake the President’s hand, after he has received the diplomatic corps in private audience, and numerous military and naval aides and a large body of police are necessary to keep the great concourse in orderly lines and in motion. During the years that I was Secre¬ tary of State there was no New Year’s Reception as President Wilson declined to have one during his two terms, a decision which was by no means popular with the inhabitants of Washington. The two months following the New Year are full of social func¬ tions at the White House. Formal dinners are given to the Cabinet, the Diplomatic Corps, the Supreme Court and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (the Vice-President attends the Cabinet dinner which occasionally takes place before Christmas). These dinners are large and handsome affairs. About eighty guests sit down at a great horseshoe table in the state dining-room with its high dark wainscoting, its clustering lights and its profuse floral decorations. The most colorful and spectacular is the diplomatic dinner because the foreign ambassadors and ministers dress in their official uniforms, rich with gold lace, while their breasts are adorned with glittering decorations and the bright sashes and colors of various orders.



In addition to the New Year’s Reception there are four formal evening receptions which are in honor, respectively, of the Diplo¬ matic Corps, the Judiciary, the two Houses of Congress and the Army and Navy. The number of guests invited to these large affairs vary generally from twenty-five hundred to three thousand. The receiving line consists of the President, his wife, and the wives of the members of the Cabinet. Such was the custom until 1921, when President Harding and his wife were assisted only by the Cabinet officer and his wife, or the Cabinet officers and their wives, who have especially to do with the body for whom the reception is given. This is a sensible change which will probably continue. It is also expected, though it can hardly be called a settled cus¬ tom, that there will be two or three afternoon garden parties at the White House during the latter part of May and the first part of June, which ends the “Little Season.” At these affairs the President and his wife receive their guests under the large shade trees to the west of the beautiful lawn which stretches down south¬ ward from the executive mansion with the great fountain in the foreground and in the distance the splendid shaft of the Washing¬ ton Monument. The Cabinet officers are each expected during the winter to give a dinner in honor of the President and his wife, to which they invite such officials and personal friends as they please. Most of them also give dinners for the Vice-President, the Chief Justice and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Secretary of State, in addition to these dinners, is also expected to entertain at dinner the members of the Diplomatic Corps. During the season of 1915-16, Mrs. Lansing and I gave six diplomatic dinners before the list of foreign representatives was exhausted. It is customary to invite Americans in public and private life to meet the diplomats, so that about one hundred and fifty guests dined with us at these six formal dinners. My own experience was that dining out was one of the pleasantest forms of relaxation. After a day of strain and anxiety at the Department of State where a multitude of perplexing questions compelled intensive mental labor, nothing was more diverting to the mind than to sit at a table with an entertaining company of friends. Cares and troubles were forgotten under the stimulus of lively conversation. Beginning with December 1, 1915, and ending with March 10, 1916, a period of about one hundred days, Mrs. Lansing and I attended fifty-eight dinners and gave eight. As we did not accept invitations on Sundays, the possible evenings that



might have been passed in dining with our friends and acquaint¬ ances were about eighty-five. This record may give the impression that a great deal of time was wasted on what many may consider frivolous enjoyment; but, as I have pointed out, it was worth all the time that was given to it for it made for clearer thinking and greater vigor in resuming the heavy burdens of responsibility which had been for two or three hours laid aside, in addition to the oppor¬ tunities offered to become thoroughly acquainted with the foreign diplomats with whom I was having constant official intercourse. The White House never saw more generous hospitality or enter¬ tainments in better taste than during the presidency of Mr. Wilson. His predecessors never excelled him in the way in which he enter¬ tained, and his successors will find it difficult to equal him. He had a keen appreciation of the obligations of a president when he was called upon to be a host. Expense was apparently never considered, and he spent thousands of dollars in making his dinners and re¬ ceptions conform to his idea of what was befitting the President of the United States. The presence in Washington of the diplomatic representatives of the belligerent European powers presented a perplexing social problem. From the beginning of the war residential society in Washington and to an extent official society were divided into two groups, one friendly with the representatives of the Allies and the other friendly with those of the Central Powers. The latter group was small. There was also another group which sought to be on good terms with the diplomats of both sides in the war, though this group dwindled as the war progressed. Washington society was thus separated into hostile parties: one very small composed of personal friends of Bernstorff and his as¬ sociates together with a few who were strongly anti-British, and the other very large, most of whom were extremely bitter not only against the Germans and their allies, but also against all Americans who continued social relations with them. The feeling between these supporters of the two sides was intense, though the enemies of the German Embassy were far more vocal and harsh in judg¬ ment than the others, who seemed disposed to be apologetic and silent, realizing that sympathy with the Germans was increasingly unpopular. Some of the Entente diplomats were unduly vigorous and almost insulting in their denunciations of Americans who had anything to do with the Teutonic representatives in Washington, and this attitude persisted after the United States entered the war. This was the state of affairs in Washington society when the



question arose as to what should be done in regard to the customary diplomatic dinner at the White House. Of course it was evident that there would have to be two dinners because the diplomats of the Allied Powers and those of the Central Powers could not sit together at the same table even though it was the President’s. Then came the question of dividing the diplomats of the neutral nations between the two dinners. Some of the principal representa¬ tives of these nations were interviewed and all desired to go to the Entente dinner. The temper of society and the vindictive tongues of some of the diplomats of the Allies were such that they would become the targets of abuse if they were invited with the Teutons and Bulgarians, on the theory that the invitation would indicate that they were considered by the Department of State as especially friendly to those Powers. After consultations with the President and much discussion among the officers of the Department of State, it was finally decided that there should be one dinner with the Entente and another with the diplomats of Germany, Austria and Bulgaria present and that all the rest of the diplomatic corps com¬ posing the neutral group should be invited to both dinners. This put a heavy burden upon the hospitality of Mr. Wilson, but it solved the problem and relieved the anxiety of some of the neutral diplomats. I was not in the same predicament regarding the dinners to which the diplomats were invited, but we were careful and discriminating in selecting the guests to meet Count von Bernstorff, Baron Zwiedinek and Mr. Panaretoff. So far as I know, the list of guests at these dinners caused no comment among the social group who were always watchful and ready to label everyone “a friend of the Germans” on the slightest pretext and to make the one so labeled realize that it was unpleasant to live in Washington under suspicion of being an associate of Bernstorff. In any event no grumblings or com¬ plaints came to my ears from the neutral diplomats who dined with representatives of the Central Alliance and the winter passed with¬ out other vexatious social questions arising.







INDEX Aden, 95 Adriatic Sea, 86 Albert, Dr. Heinrich, 76, 79 Alsace-Lorraine, 262ff. See Sixtus letter American Federation of Labor, 884 American Truth Society, 162 American War Mission, 257 Ancona sinking of, 8 6ff., 146 negotiations over, 63, 78, 86, 148, 247, 358 Anderson, Lars, 278 A P, 228, 231 Arabic and Bernstorff, 357, 358 sinking of, 43, 203 negotiations over, 86, 146, 148, 357-58 Archibald, 63ff. Argentina and Luxburg messages, 326 did not declare against Germany, 308, 316 See Naon, Senor Arizona, 226 Arlotta, Enrico, 278 Armand, Major, 262 Armed Ship Bill, 224-25, 228, 229, 230 Arming Bill See Armed Ship Bill Associated Press See A P Austria-Hungary questions traffic in arms, 55ff. relations with United States See Chapter XVIII submarine warfare of, 88 See Zwiedinek Azores, 124 Baker, Newton D., 159, 274 Bakhmeteff, Boris, 278 Bakhmeteff, George, 331-32


Balfour, Arthur James answer to Wilson’s peace note, 192-93 characteristics of, 351-53, 354 dinner with Lansing, 334 leader of British Mission, 272 Baltic Sea, 99, 120 Baruch, Bernard M. and Lansing, 319 “Bases of Peace,” 199 Belgian Mission, 278ff. Belmont, Perry, 278 Berlin, 95, 101, 108, 124, 157, 181, 198, 203, 204, 208, 216, 217, 219, 227, 232, 246, 247, 262, 326, 330, 357 Bernstorff, Count von admonitions to German govern¬ ment, 25 and Arabic, 47 and Archibald, 63ff. and armed merchantmen, 109 and campaign of 1916, 160, 164 and House See House and Lusitania negotiations, 14