The people should by their action spare him unnecessary embarrassment and rely for a satisfactory solution of the grave questions confronting us on his patriotism and honesty.
A dispatch on May 14 to THE NEW YORK TIMES from Max Burgheim, editor of the Freie Presse of Cincinnati, Ohio, reads:
The part of the note referring to the Lusitania catastrophe had better been directed to London. England, not Germany, is responsible for the destruction of the Lusitania. England, through the violation of the rights of nations and the brutal threat to starve 70,000,000 Germans, has forced Germany to a policy against English commerce of which the Lusitania was a victim. Germany declared to our President her willingness to stop submarine warfare if England would allow the importation of food for the German civil population. England contemptuously cast aside the President's mediation.
It has not yet been proved that submarine warfare is not in keeping with international law. Distinguished authorities on international law have declared that Germany was not only justified but bound to adopt this method in the hour of need, because it is the only effective defense against England's warfare. Germany cannot cease this warfare unless she wishes to surrender with tied hands to a ruthless enemy. All we can justly ask of Germany is that neutral ships be not attacked, and that damages be paid in case of loss through mistakes. Germany has already agreed to this.
Falaba, Cushing, Gulflight
CASE OF THE FALABA.
A Washington dispatch to THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 31, 1915, reported that the records of the State Department's Passport Bureau show that a passport was issued on June 1, 1911, to Leon Chester Thrasher, a passenger aboard the British African steamship Falaba, which was torpedoed by a German submarine in the "zone of naval warfare" on March 28. The American citizenship of Thrasher, who was drowned, has been established.
[Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.]
LONDON, Wednesday, March 31.—An American citizen, Leon Chester Thrasher, an engineer, was among the victims of the German submarine that sank the British steamer Falaba in St. George's Channel last Sunday with a loss of 111 lives. Mr. Thrasher's name is included in the official list of the missing. For the last year he had been employed on the Gold Coast, British West Africa, and it is presumed he was returning to his post when he met his death at the hands of the German sea raiders.
The Daily Mail says Mr. Thrasher was bound for Secondee, West Africa. Reference to the form which has to be filled out to satisfy the Board of Trade and customs requirements by every passenger embarking at a British port before tickets will be issued shows that Mr. Thrasher was a citizen of the United States. Here are the particulars:
Name, Leon Chester Thrasher; age, last birthday, 31; single; sex, male; profession, engineer; country of residence for last twelve months, Gold Coast Colony, West Africa; country of intended residence for next twelve months, the same; country of which citizen or subject, United States of America; present address, 29 Cartwright Gardens, St. Pancras, W.C.
When Mr. Thrasher went on board the Falaba he produced an American passport.
The British Official Press Bureau on April 8 issued the following report on the destruction of the Falaba:
It is not true that sufficient time was given the passengers and the crew of this vessel to escape. The German submarine closed in on the Falaba, ascertained her name, signaled her to stop, and gave those on board five minutes to take to the boats. It would have been nothing short of a miracle if all the passengers and crew of a big liner had been able to take to their boats within the time allotted.
While some of the boats were still on their davits the submarine fired a torpedo at short range. This action made it absolutely certain that there must be great loss of life and it must have been committed knowingly with the intention of producing that result.
The conduct of all on board the Falaba appears to have been excellent. There was no avoidable delay in getting out the boats. To accuse the Falaba's crew of negligence under the circumstances could not easily be paralleled.
THE GERMAN DEFENSE.
[By The Associated Press.]
BERLIN, April 13, (via Amsterdam to London, April 14.)—A semi-official account of the sinking of the British steamer Falaba by a German submarine on March 28 was made public here today. It follows:
On receiving the signal "Stop, or I fire," the Falaba steamed off and sent up rocket signals to summon help, and was only brought to a standstill after a chase of a quarter of an hour.
Despite the danger of an attack from the steamer or from other vessels hurrying up, the submarine did not immediately fire, but signaled that the steamer must be abandoned within ten minutes. The men of the Falaba quickly entered the boats, although the launching took place in an unseamanlike manner. They failed to give assistance, which was possible, to passengers struggling in the water.
From the time of the order to leave the ship until the torpedo was discharged not ten but twenty-three minutes elapsed, prior to which occurred the chase of the steamer, during which period time might have been used to get the boats ready.
The torpedo was fired only when the approach of suspicious-looking vessels, from which an attack was to be expected, compelled the commander of the submarine to take quick action. When the torpedo was discharged nobody was seen on board the ship except the Captain, who bravely stuck to his post.
Afterward some persons became visible who were busy about a boat.
Of the crew of the submarine, the only ones on deck were those serving the cannon or those necessary for signaling. It was impossible for them to engage in rescue work, because the submarine could not take on passengers.
Every word is superfluous in defending our men against malignant accusations. At the judicial proceedings in England no witness dared raise accusations. It is untrue that at any time the submarine displayed the English flag. The submarine throughout the affair showed as much consideration for the Falaba as was compatible with safety.
COMMANDER SCHMITZ'S STORY.
[From The New York Times, May 6, 1915.]
J.J. Ryan, the American cotton broker who went to Germany on March 30 and sold 28,000 bales of cotton he had shipped to Bremen and Hamburg, returned yesterday on the Cunard liner Carpathia very well satisfied with the results of his trip. He said:
While I was in Bremen I met Commander Schmitz of the German submarine U-28, which sank the British African liner Falaba off the English coast on March 28. He told me that he regretted having been compelled to torpedo the vessel, as she had passengers on board. In explanation, he said:
"I warned the Captain of the Falaba to dismantle his wireless apparatus and gave him ten minutes in which to do it and get his passengers off. Instead of acting upon my demand he continued to send messages out to torpedo destroyers that were less than twenty miles away, to come as quickly as possible to his assistance.
"At the expiration of the ten minutes I gave him a second warning about dismantling his wireless apparatus and waited twenty minutes, and then I torpedoed the ship, as the destroyers were getting close up and I knew they would go to the rescue of the passengers and crew."
I mentioned the fact to the commander that it had been reported by some of the survivors of the liner that while the men and women were struggling for their lives in the icy water his crew were standing on the deck of the submarine laughing. He looked very gravely at me and replied, "That is not true, and is most cruelly unjust to my men. They were crying, not laughing, when the boats were capsized and threw the people into the water."
CASE OF THE CUSHING.
[Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.]
WASHINGTON, May 1.—Secretary Bryan today received from American Minister Henry van Dyke at The Hague a report on the attack by German aviators on the American steamship Cushing and said tonight that this report would be immediately cabled to Ambassador Gerard at Berlin for his information. Ambassador Gerard will bring the matter to the attention of the German Government. The report from Minister van Dyke was very brief, and read as follows:
The American Consul at Rotterdam reports that the American steamship Cushing, Captain Herland, with petroleum from New York to Rotterdam, flying the American flag, was attacked by German aeroplanes near the North Hinder Lightship, afternoon April 29. Three bombs dropped, one struck ship, causing damage, but no life lost.
The report of Captain Lars Larsen Herland, master of the American tank steamer Cushing, made upon his arrival in Philadelphia, Penn., on May 19, 1915, is as follows:
The airmen swept in narrow circles over the tanker, trying to get directly over the funnel, with the idea, apparently, of dropping a bomb into it and wrecking the engine room.
When attacked the Cushing was about twenty-five miles from Antwerp and eight miles from the North Hinder Lightship. It was near 7 o'clock in the evening, but the sun had barely touched the horizon, and there was ample light for the pilot of the biplane to see the words, "Cushing, New York, United States of America," painted on each side of the vessel in letters eight feet high, and to note the Stars and Stripes at the masthead and the taffrail.
When the airship was first noted it was several thousand feet in the air, but dropped as it approached the ship, and soon was only about 500 feet up. Suddenly it swooped down to about 300 feet above the Cushing. Then there was a tremendous explosion, and a wave flooded the stern deck. A second bomb missed the port quarter by a foot or so, and sent another wave over the lower deck.
The biplane swung up into the wind, hung motionless for a second or so, then came the third bomb, which just grazed the starboard rail and shot into the sea.
The airship hung around for a few minutes, then headed toward the Dutch coast. She was flying a white flag, with a black cross in the centre, the pennant of the German air fleet.
CASE OF THE GULFLIGHT.
Official confirmation of the attack on May 1, 1915, by a German submarine on the American oil tank steamer Gulflight off the Scilly Islands came to the State Department at Washington on May 3 in dispatches from Joseph G. Stephens, the United States Consul at Plymouth, England. Two members of the crew were drowned, the Captain died of heart failure, and thirty-four members of the crew were saved. Following is the sworn statement of Ralph E. Smith, late chief officer and now master of the Gulflight, received from Ambassador Page and published by the State Department at Washington on May 11:
I am Ralph E. Smith, now master of the steamship Gulflight. At the commencement of the voyage I was chief officer. The ship left port at Port Arthur on the 10th day of April, 1915, about 4 P.M., laden with a tank cargo of gasoline and wooden barrels of lubricating oil. The voyage was uneventful.
When about half way across the Atlantic the wireless operator told me there was a British cruiser in our vicinity and that he had heard messages from this ship the whole time since leaving Port Arthur, but she made no direct communication with or to our ship. From the sound of the wireless messages given out by the British ship, she seemed to maintain the same distance from us until about three days before we reached the mouth of the English Channel.
On the first day of May, about 11 o'clock in the forenoon, we spoke two British patrol vessels named Iago and Filey. We were then about twenty-two miles west of the Bishop Lighthouse. The patrol vessels asked where we were bound. After informing them we were bound for Rouen, they ordered us to follow them to the Bishop. The Filey took up a position a half mile distant on our port bow, the Iago off our starboard quarter close to us. We steered as directed, and at about 12:22, the second officer, being on watch, sighted a submarine on our port bow—slightly on the port bow—steaming at right angles to our course. The submarine was in sight for about five minutes, when she submerged about right ahead of us. I saw her, but could not distinguish or see any flag flying on her.
The Gulflight was then steering about true east, steaming about eight miles an hour, flying a large American ensign, six feet by ten feet. The wind was about south, about eight miles an hour in force. I personally observed our flag was standing out well to the breeze.
Immediately after seeing the submarine I went aft and notified the crew and came back and went on the bridge and heard the Captain make the remark that that must be a British submarine, as the patrol boats took no notice of it.
About 12:50 an explosion took place in the Gulflight on the bluff of the starboard bow, sending vast quantities of water high in the air, coming down on the bridge and shutting everything off from our view. After the water cleared away our ship had sunk by the head so that the sea was washing over the foredeck, and the ship appeared to be sinking.
Immediately after I went aft to see to the boats. On my way I saw one man overboard on the starboard side. The water at that time was black with oil. The boats were lowered and the crew got into them without delay or damage. After ascertaining there was no one left on board the ship I got in my boat and we were picked up by the patrol vessel Iago and were advised by her crew to leave the scene. We proceeded toward St. Mary's, but the dense fog which then came on prevented us getting into the harbor that night.
About 2:30 in the morning following I saw Captain Gunter, master of the Gulflight, who had been sleeping in the room of the skipper of the Iago, standing in the room with a queer look in his face. I asked him what his trouble was, and he made no reply. Then he reached for the side of the berth with his hands, but did not take hold. I went in the room, but he fell before I reached him.
He was taken on deck, as the cabin was small and hot. After reaching the deck he seemed to revive and said: "I am cold." After that he had apparently two fainting attacks and then expired in a third one—this being about 3:40.
We arrived at St. Mary's, Scilly, about 10 o'clock on the morning of May 2. The Gulflight was towed to Crow Sound, Scilly, on May 2 by British patrol vessels, and Commander Oliver, senior naval officer of the Port of Scilly, sent for some one to come on board the Gulflight, and I went, and the ship was anchored about 6 P.M.
I again left the ship that evening—she being then in charge of the Admiralty. I visited the ship on Monday. I went out again on Tuesday, but it was too rough to get on board. To the best of my knowledge there was no examination of the vessel made by divers until Wednesday about 3 P.M., when members from the American Embassy were present. The divers at this time made an external examination only of the ship's bottom and left the ship with me at 5:40 P.M.
Aim of Submarine Warfare
[From The London Times, April 30, 1915.]
Dr. Flamm, Professor of Ship Construction at the Technical High School at Charlottenburg, publishes in the Vossische Zeitung an extraordinary article on the impending destruction of the British Empire by German submarines. Whatever Professor Flamm's professional opinion may be worth, he is evidently attacking his task with a passionate hatred of England that leaves nothing to be desired.
Professor Flamm begins by explaining how England has been protected for centuries by her insularity. He writes:
This country, whose dishonorable Government produced this terrible world war by the most contemptible means, and solely in selfish greed of gain, has always been able to enjoy the fruits of its unscrupulousness because it was reckoned as unassailable. But everything is subject to change, and that applies today to the security of England's position. Thank God, the time has now come when precisely its complete encirclement by the sea has become the greatest danger for the existence of the British Nation.
The writer explains that England cannot be self-supporting, and, strangely enough, admits that recognition of this fact justifies British naval policy. He proceeds:
The time, however, has passed in which even the strongest squadron of battleships or cruisers can protect England's frontiers and secure imports from oversea. Technical progress, in the shape of submarines, has put into the hands of all England's enemies the means at last to sever the vital nerve of the much-hated enemy, and to pull him down from his position of ruler of the world, which he has occupied for centuries with ever-increasing ruthlessness and selfishness. What science has once begun she continues, and for every shipbuilder in the whole world there is now no sphere which offers a stronger stimulus to progressive activity than the sphere of the submarines. Here an endless amount of work is being, and will be, done, because the reward which beckons on the horizon is an extraordinarily high one, an extraordinarily profitable one, a reward containing the most ideal blessings for humanity—the destruction of English world supremacy, the liberation of the seas. This exalted and noble aim has today come within reach, and it is German intellect and German work that have paved the way.
It will be noted that Professor Flamm, as other contemporary German writers, believes that submarines, like Shakespeare, are a German invention. He is also, notwithstanding the experience of two and a half months, confident that the German "submarine blockade" will both be successful and become popular with neutrals. Building upon the German myth that Captain Weddigen's submarine, U-29, was destroyed while saving life, Professor Flamm "expects" that the neutrals will stop all traffic with England, "in view of the cowardly and cunning method of fighting of the English."
Professor Flamm then discusses Germany's prospects, as follows:
Anybody who wants to fight England must not attempt it by striving to bring against England larger and more numerous battleships and cruisers. That would be not only unwise but also very costly. He must try another method, which makes England's great sea power completely illusory, and gives it practically no opportunity for activity. This method is the cutting-off of imports by submarine fleets. Let it not be said that the attainment of this end requires a very great deal of material. England, as can easily be seen from the map, possesses a fairly limited number of river mouths and ports for rapid development of her great oversea trade. Beginning in the northeast, those on the east coast are mainly the Firth of Forth, the mouths of the Tyne and Humber, and then the Thames; in the south, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Plymouth, with some neighboring harbors; in the west, the Bristol Channel, the Mersey, the Solway, and the Clyde. These are the entries that have to be blocked in order to cut off imports in a way that will produce the full impression. For this purpose 150 of the submarines of today fully suffice, so that the goal is within reach. Moreover, the development of this arm will enormously increase its value, and so, come what may, England must reckon with the fact that her world supremacy cannot much longer exist, and that the strongest navy can make no difference. When once the invisible necktie is round John Bull's neck, his breathing will soon cease, and the task of successfully putting this necktie on him is solely a question of technical progress and of time, which now moves so fast.
Professor Flamm ends with a passage about German submarine bases. It would be more intelligible if he had made up his mind whether Germany is going to take Calais or whether, according to another popular German theory, England is going to annex the north coast of France. He writes:
"The eyes of France also will one day be opened when, having been sufficiently weakened, she is compelled to leave the north coast of France, including Calais, to her friend of today. Precisely this coast which England has seized may be expected now to remain in English possession for the purpose of better and surer control of the Channel, for there can be no doubt that this control renders, and will render, difficult for the German submarines effective activity in the Irish Sea—an activity which will become all the easier as soon as Calais has been freed of the enemy, or is even in German possession.
"Thus before very long a world fate should befall England. The trees do not grow up to heaven. England, through her criminal Government, has stretched the bow too tight, and so it will snap."
THREE SPEECHES BY PRESIDENT WILSON
In New York at the annual luncheon of The Associated Press on April 20, 1915; at Philadelphia in Convention Hall on May 10, in an address to 4,000 newly naturalized citizens, and again at New York in his speech on the navy, May 17, delivered at the luncheon given for the President by the Mayor's Committee formed for the naval review, Mr. Wilson set forth the principles on which he would meet the crises of the European war as they affect the United States. The texts of the three speeches appear below.
[President Wilson's address on April 20, 1915, to the members of The Associated Press at their annual luncheon in New York:]
I am deeply gratified by the generous reception you have accorded me. It makes me look back with a touch of regret to former occasions when I have stood in this place and enjoyed a greater liberty than is granted me today. There have been times when I stood in this spot and said what I really thought, and I pray God that those days of indulgence may be accorded me again. But I have come here today, of course, somewhat restrained by a sense of responsibility that I cannot escape.
For I take The Associated Press very seriously. I know the enormous part that you play in the affairs not only of this country, but the world. You deal in the raw material of opinion and, if my convictions have any validity, opinion ultimately governs the world.
It is, therefore, of very serious things that I think as I face this body of men. I do not think of you, however, as members of The Associated Press. I do not think of you as men of different parties or of different racial derivations or of different religious denominations, I want to talk to you as to my fellow-citizens of the United States. For there are serious things which as fellow-citizens we ought to consider.
The times behind us, gentlemen, have been difficult enough, the times before us are likely to be more difficult because, whatever may be said about the present condition of the world's affairs, it is clear that they are drawing rapidly to a climax, and at the climax the test will come, not only of the nations engaged in the present colossal struggle, it will come for them of course, but the test will come to us particularly.
Do you realize that, roughly speaking, we are the only great nation at present disengaged? I am not speaking, of course, with disparagement of the greater of those nations in Europe which are not parties to the present war, but I am thinking of their close neighborhood to it. I am thinking how their lives much more than ours touch the very heart and stuff of the business; whereas, we have rolling between us and those bitter days across the water three thousand miles of cool and silent ocean.
Our atmosphere is not yet charged with those disturbing elements which must be felt and must permeate every nation of Europe. Therefore, is it not likely that the nations of the world will some day turn to us for the cooler assessment of the elements engaged?
I am not now thinking so preposterous a thought as that we should sit in judgment upon them. No nation is fit to sit in judgment upon any other nation, but that we shall some day have to assist in reconstructing the processes of peace. Our resources are untouched; we are more and more becoming by the force of circumstances the mediating nation of the world in respect to its finances. We must make up our minds what are the best things to do and what are the best ways to do them.
We must put our money, our energy, our enthusiasm, our sympathy into these things; and we must have our judgments prepared and our spirits chastened against the coming of that day. So that I am not speaking in a selfish spirit when I say that our whole duty for the present, at any rate, is summed up in this motto, "America first." Let us think of America before we think of Europe, in order that America may be fit to be Europe's friend when the day of tested friendship comes. The test of friendship is not now sympathy with the one side or the other, but getting ready to help both sides when the struggle is over.
The basis of neutrality, gentlemen, is not indifference; it is not self-interest. The basis of neutrality is sympathy for mankind. It is fairness, it is good-will at bottom. It is impartiality of spirit and of judgment. I wish that all of our fellow-citizens could realize that.
There is in some quarters a disposition to create distempers in this body politic. Men are even uttering slanders against the United States as if to excite her. Men are saying that if we should go to war upon either side there will be a divided America—an abominable libel of ignorance. America is not all of it vocal just now. It is vocal in spots.
But I for one have a complete and abiding faith in that great silent body of Americans who are not standing up and shouting and expressing their opinions just now, but are waiting to find out and support the duty of America. I am just as sure of their solidity and of their loyalty and of their unanimity, if we act justly, as I am that the history of this country has at every crisis and turning point illustrated this great lesson.
We are the mediating nation of the world. I do not mean that we undertake not to mind our own business and to mediate where other people are quarreling. I mean the word in a broader sense. We are compounded of the nations of the world. We mediate their blood, we mediate their traditions, we mediate their sentiments, their tastes, their passions; we are ourselves compounded of those things.
We are, therefore, able to understand all nations; we are able to understand them in the compound, not separately, as partisans, but unitedly, as knowing and comprehending and embodying them all. It is in that sense that I mean that America is a mediating nation. The opinion of America, the action of America, is ready to turn and free to turn in any direction.
Did you ever reflect upon how almost all other nations, almost every other nation has through long centuries been headed in one direction? That is not true of the United States. The United States has no racial momentum. It has no history back of it which makes it run all its energies and all its ambitions in one particular direction; and America is particularly free in this, that she has no hampering ambitions as a world power.
If we have been obliged by circumstances or have considered ourselves to be obliged by circumstances, in the past to take territory which we otherwise would not have thought of taking, I believe I am right in saying that we have considered it our duty to administer that territory, not for ourselves, but for the people living in it, and to put this burden upon our consciences not to think that this thing is ours for our use, but to regard ourselves as trustees of the great business for those to whom it does really belong, trustees ready to hand over the cosmic trust at any time when the business seems to make that possible and feasible. That is what I mean by saying we have no hampering ambitions.
We do not want anything that does not belong to us. Isn't a nation in that position free to serve other nations, and isn't a nation like that ready to form some part of the assessing opinion of the world?
My interest in the neutrality of the United States is not the petty desire to keep out of trouble. To judge by my experience I have never been able to keep out of trouble. I have never looked for it, but I have always found it. I do not want to walk around trouble. If any man wants a scrap—that is, an interesting scrap and worth while—I am his man. I warn him that he is not going to draw me into the scrap for his advertisement, but if he is looking for trouble—that is, the trouble of men in general—and I can help a little, why, then, I am in for it. But I am interested in neutrality because there is something so much greater to do than fight, because there is something, there is a distinction waiting for this nation that no nation has ever yet got. That is the distinction of absolute self-control and self-mastery.
Whom do you admire most among your friends? The irritable man? The man out of whom you can get a "rise" without trying? The man who will fight at the drop of the hat, whether he knows what the hat is dropped for or not?
Don't you admire and don't you fear, if you have to contest with him, the self-mastered man who watches you with calm eye and comes in only when you have carried the thing so far that you must be disposed of? That is the man you respect. That is the man who you know has at bottom a much more fundamental and terrible courage than the irritable, fighting man.
Now, I covet for America this splendid courage of reserve moral force, and I wanted to point out to you gentlemen simply this: There is news and news. There is what is called news from Turtle Bay, that turns out to be falsehood, at any rate in what it is said to signify, and which if you could get the nation to believe it true might disturb our equilibrium and our self-possession. We ought not to deal in stuff of that kind. We ought not to permit things of that sort to use up the electrical energy of the wires, because its energy is malign, its energy is not of the truth, its energy is of mischief.
It is possible to sift truth. I have known some things to go out on the wires as true when there was only one man or one group of men who could have told the originators of the report whether it was true or not, and they were not asked whether it was true or not for fear it might not be true. That sort of report ought not to go out over the wires.
There is generally, if not always, somebody who knows whether that thing is so or not, and in these days above all other days we ought to take particular pains to resort to the one small group of men or to the one man, if there be but one, who knows whether those things are true or not.
The world ought to know the truth, but the world ought not at this period of unstable equilibrium to be disturbed by rumor, ought not to be disturbed by imaginative combinations of circumstances or, rather, by circumstances stated in combination which do not belong in combination. For we are holding—not I, but you and gentlemen engaged like you—the balances in your hand. This unstable equilibrium rests upon scales that are in your hands. For the food of opinion, as I began by saying, is the news of the day. I have known many a man go off at a tangent on information that was not reliable. Indeed, that describes the majority of men. The world is held stable by the man who waits for the next day to find out whether the report was true or not.
We cannot afford, therefore, to let the rumors of irresponsible persons and origins get into the atmosphere of the United States. We are trustees for what I venture to say is the greatest heritage that any nation ever had, the love of justice and righteousness and human liberty. For fundamentally those are the things to which America is addicted and to which she is devoted.
There are groups of selfish men in the United States, there are coteries where sinister things are purposed, but the great heart of the American people is just as sound and true as it ever was. And it is a single heart; it is the heart of America. It is not a heart made up of sections selected out of other countries.
So that what I try to remind myself of every day when I am almost overcome by perplexities, what I try to remember, is what the people at home are thinking about. I try to put myself in the place of the man who does not know all the things that I know and ask myself what he would like the policy of this country to be. Not the talkative man, not the partisan man, not the man that remembers first that he is a Republican or Democrat, or that his parents were Germans or English, but who remembers first that the whole destiny of modern affairs centres largely upon his being an American first of all.
If I permitted myself to be a partisan in this present struggle I would be unworthy to represent you. If I permitted myself to forget the people who are not partisans I would be unworthy to represent you. I am not saying that I am worthy to represent you, but I do claim this degree of worthiness—that before everything else I love America.
[President Wilson's speech in Convention Hall, Philadelphia, Penn., May 10, 1915, before 4,000 newly naturalized citizens:]
It warms my heart that you should give me such a reception, but it is not of myself that I wish to think tonight, but of those who have just become citizens of the United States. This is the only country in the world which experiences this constant and repeated rebirth. Other countries depend upon the multiplication of their own native people. This country is constantly drinking strength out of new sources by the voluntary association with it of great bodies of strong men and forward-looking women. And so by the gift of the free will of independent people it is constantly being renewed from generation to generation by the same process by which it was originally created. It is as if humanity had determined to see to it that this great nation, founded for the benefit of humanity, should not lack for the allegiance of the people of the world.
You have just taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Of allegiance to whom? Of allegiance to no one, unless it be God. Certainly not of allegiance to those who temporarily represent this great Government. You have taken an oath of allegiance to a great ideal, to a great body of principles, to a great hope of the human race. You have said, "We are going to America," not only to earn a living, not only to seek the things which it was more difficult to obtain where you were born, but to help forward the great enterprises of the human spirit—to let men know that everywhere in the world there are men who will cross strange oceans and go where a speech is spoken which is alien to them, knowing that, whatever the speech, there is but one longing and utterance of the human heart, and that is for liberty and justice.
And while you bring all countries with you, you come with a purpose of leaving all other countries behind you—bringing what is best of their spirit, but not looking over your shoulders and seeking to perpetuate what you intended to leave in them. I certainly would not be one even to suggest that a man cease to love the home of his birth and the nation of his origin—these things are very sacred and ought not to be put out of our hearts—but it is one thing to love the place where you were born and it is another thing to dedicate yourself to the place to which you go. You cannot dedicate yourself to America unless you become in every respect and with every purpose of your will thorough Americans. You cannot become thorough Americans if you think of yourselves in groups. American does not consist of groups. A man who thinks himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American, and the man who goes among you to trade upon your nationality is no worthy son to live under the Stars and Stripes.
My urgent advice to you would be not only always to think first of America, but always, also, to think first of humanity. You do not love humanity if you seek to divide humanity into jealous camps. Humanity can be welded together only by love, by sympathy, by justice, not by jealousy and hatred. I am sorry for the man who seeks to make personal capital out of the passions of his fellow-men. He has lost the touch and ideal of America, for America was created to unite mankind by those passions which lift and not by the passions which separate and debase.
We came to America, either ourselves or in persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had seen before, to get rid of things that divide, and to make sure of the things that unite. It was but a historical accident no doubt that this great country was called the "United States," and yet I am very thankful that it has the word "united" in its title; and the man who seeks to divide man from man, group from group, interest from interest, in the United States is striking at its very heart.
It is a very interesting circumstance to me, in thinking of those of you who have just sworn allegiance to this great Government, that you were drawn across the ocean by some beckoning finger of hope, by some belief, by some vision of a new kind of justice, by some expectation of a better kind of life.
No doubt you have been disappointed in some of us; some of us are very disappointing. No doubt you have found that justice in the United States goes only with a pure heart and a right purpose as it does everywhere else in the world. No doubt what you found here didn't seem touched for you, after all, with the complete beauty of the ideal which you had conceived beforehand.
But remember this, if we had grown at all poor in the ideal, you brought some of it with you. A man does not go out to seek the thing that is not in him. A man does not hope for the thing that he does not believe in, and if some of us have forgotten what America believed in, you, at any rate, imported in your own hearts a renewal of the belief. That is the reason that I, for one, make you welcome.
If I have in any degree forgotten what America was intended for, I will thank God if you will remind me.
I was born in America. You dreamed dreams of what America was to be, and I hope you brought the dreams with you. No man that does not see visions will ever realize any high hope or undertake any high enterprise.
Just because you brought dreams with you, America is more likely to realize the dreams such as you brought. You are enriching us if you came expecting us to be better than we are.
See, my friends, what that means. It means that Americans must have a consciousness different from the consciousness of every other nation in the world. I am not saying this with even the slightest thought of criticism of other nations. You know how it is with a family. A family gets centred on itself if it is not careful and is less interested in the neighbors than it is in its own members.
So a nation that is not constantly renewed out of new sources is apt to have the narrowness and prejudice of a family. Whereas, America must have this consciousness, that on all sides it touches elbows and touches hearts with all the nations of mankind.
The example of America must be a special example. The example of America must be the example not merely of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and elevating influence of the world and strife is not.
There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.
So, if you come into this great nation as you have come, voluntarily seeking something that we have to give, all that we have to give is this: We cannot exempt you from work. No man is exempt from work anywhere in the world. I sometimes think he is fortunate if he has to work only with his hands and not with his head. It is very easy to do what other people give you to do, but it is very difficult to give other people things to do. We cannot exempt you from work; we cannot exempt you from the strife and the heart-breaking burden of the struggle of the day—that is common to mankind everywhere. We cannot exempt you from the loads that you must carry; we can only make them light by the spirit in which they are carried. That is the spirit of hope, it is the spirit of liberty, it is the spirit of justice.
When I was asked, therefore, by the Mayor and the committee that accompanied him to come up from Washington to meet this great company of newly admitted citizens I could not decline the invitation. I ought not to be away from Washington, and yet I feel that it has renewed my spirit as an American.
In Washington men tell you so many things every day that are not so, and I like to come and stand in the presence of a great body of my fellow-citizens, whether they have been my fellow-citizens a long time or a short time, and drink, as it were, out of the common fountains with them and go back feeling that you have so generously given me the sense of your support and of the living vitality in your hearts, of its great ideals which made America the hope of the world.
AMERICA FOR HUMANITY.
[President Wilson's address to the Mayor's Committee in New York, May 17, 1915, on the occasion of the naval parade and review in the Hudson:]
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Secretary, Admiral Fletcher, and Gentlemen of the Fleet: This is not an occasion upon which it seems to me that it would be wise for me to make many remarks, but I would deprive myself of a great gratification if I did not express my pleasure in being here, my gratitude for the splendid reception which has been accorded me as the representative of the nation, and my profound interest in the navy of the United States. That is an interest with which I was apparently born, for it began when I was a youngster and has ripened with my knowledge of the affairs and policies of the United States.
I think it is a natural, instinctive judgment of the people of the United States that they express their power appropriately in an efficient navy, and their interest is partly, I believe, because that navy somehow is expected to express their character, not within our own borders where that character is understood, but outside our borders, where it is hoped we may occasionally touch others with some slight vision of what America stands for.
But before I speak of the navy of the United States I want to take advantage of the first public opportunity I have had to speak of the Secretary of the Navy, to express my confidence and my admiration, and to say that he has my unqualified support, for I have counseled with him in intimate fashion. I know how sincerely he has it at heart that everything that the navy does and handles should be done and handled as the people of the United States wish them handled—because efficiency is something more than organization. Efficiency runs into every well-considered detail of personnel and method. Efficiency runs to the extent of lifting the ideals of a service above every personal interest. So that when I speak my support of the Secretary of the Navy I am merely speaking my support of what I know every true lover of the navy to desire and to purpose, for the navy of the United States is a body specially trusted with the ideal of America.
I like to image in my thought this ideal. These quiet ships lying in the river have no suggestion of bluster about them—no intimation of aggression. They are commanded by men thoughtful of the duty of citizens as well as the duty of officers—men acquainted with the traditions of the great service to which they belong—men who know by touch with the people of the United States what sort of purposes they ought to entertain and what sort of discretion they ought to exercise in order to use those engines of force as engines to promote the interests of humanity.
For the interesting and inspiring thing about America, gentlemen, is that she asks nothing for herself except what she has a right to ask for humanity itself. We want no nation's property; we wish to question no nation's honor; we wish to stand selfishly in the way of the development of no nation; we want nothing that we cannot get by our own legitimate enterprise and by the inspiration of our own example, and, standing for these things, it is not pretention on our part to say that we are privileged to stand for what every nation would wish to stand for, and speak for those things which all humanity must desire.
When I think of the flag that those ships carry, the only touch of color about them, the only thing that moves as if it had a settled spirit in it, in their solid structure, it seems to me I see alternate strips of parchment upon which are written the rights of liberty and justice and strips of blood spilt to vindicate those rights, and then, in the corner, a prediction of the blue serene into which every nation may swim which stands for these great things.
The mission of America is the only thing that a sailor or soldier should think about; he has nothing to do with the formulation of her policy; he is to support her policy, whatever it is—but he is to support her policy in the spirit of herself, and the strength of our policy is that we, who for the time being administer the affairs of this nation, do not originate her spirit; we attempt to embody it; we attempt to realize it in action we are dominated by it, we do not dictate it.
And so with every man in arms who serves the nation—he stands and waits to do the thing which the nation desires. America sometimes seems perhaps to forget her programs, or, rather, I would say that sometimes those who represent her seem to forget her programs, but the people never forget them. It is as startling as it is touching to see how whenever you touch a principle you touch the hearts of the people of the United States. They listen to your debates of policy, they determine which party they will prefer to power, they choose and prefer as ordinary men; but their real affection, their real force, their real irresistible momentum, is for the ideas which men embody.
I never go on the streets of a great city without feeling that somehow I do not confer elsewhere than on the streets with the great spirit of the people themselves, going about their business, attending to the things which concern them, and yet carrying a treasure at their hearts all the while, ready to be stirred not only as individuals, but as members of a great union of hearts that constitutes a patriotic people.
And so this sight in the river touches me merely as a symbol of that, and it quickens the pulse of every man who realizes these things to have anything to do with them. When a crisis occurs in this country, gentlemen, it is as if you put your hand on the pulse of a dynamo, it is as if the things which you were in connection with were spiritually bred. You had nothing to do with them except, if you listen truly, to speak the things that you hear. These things now brood over the river, this spirit now moves with the men who represent the nation in the navy, these things will move upon the waters in the manoeuvres; no threat lifted against any man, against any nation, against any interest, but just a great, solemn evidence that the force of America is the force of moral principle, that there is not anything else that she loves and that there is not anything else for which she will contend.
Two Ex-Presidents' Views
MR. ROOSEVELT SPEAKS.
[Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.]
SYRACUSE, N.Y., May 7.—Ex-President Roosevelt, after learning details of the sinking of the Lusitania, made this statement late tonight:
This represents not merely piracy, but piracy on a vaster scale of murder than old-time pirates ever practiced. This is the warfare which destroyed Louvain and Dinant and hundreds of men, women, and children in Belgium. It is a warfare against innocent men, women, and children traveling on the ocean, and our own fellow-countrymen and countrywomen, who are among the sufferers.
It seems inconceivable that we can refrain from taking action in this matter, for we owe it not only to humanity, but to our own national self-respect.
On May 9 a Syracuse dispatch to THE NEW YORK TIMES conveyed this statement from Mr. Roosevelt:
On the night of the day that the disaster occurred I called the attention of our people to the fact that the sinking of the Lusitania was not only an act of simple piracy, but that it represented piracy accompanied by murder on a vaster scale than any old-time pirate had ever practiced before being hanged for his misdeeds.
I called attention to the fact that this was merely the application on the high seas, and at our expense, of the principles which when applied on land had produced the innumerable hideous tragedies that have occurred in Belgium and in Northern France.
I said that not only our duty to humanity at large but our duty to preserve our own national self-respect demanded instant action on our part and forbade all delay.
I can do little more than reiterate what I then said.
When the German decree establishing the war zone was issued, and of course plainly threatened exactly the type of tragedy which has occurred, our Government notified Germany that in the event of any such wrongdoing at the expense of our citizens we would hold the German Government to "a strict accountability."
The use of this phrase, "strict accountability," of course, must mean, and can only mean, that action will be taken by us without an hour's unnecessary delay. It was eminently proper to use the exact phrase that was used, and, having used it, our own self-respect demands that we forthwith abide by it.
On May 11, following the report of President Wilson's speech at Philadelphia, Mr. Roosevelt stated the course which he considered that this country should adopt, reported as follows in a Syracuse dispatch to THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Colonel Roosevelt announced today what action, in his opinion, this country should take toward Germany because of the sinking of the Lusitania. Colonel Roosevelt earnestly said that the time for deliberation was past and that within twenty-four hours this country could, and should, take effective action by declaring that all commerce with Germany forthwith be forbidden and that all commerce of every kind permitted and encouraged with France, England, and "the rest of the civilized world."
Colonel Roosevelt said that for America to take this step would not mean war, as the firm assertion of our rights could not be so construed, but he added that we would do well to remember that there were things worse than war.
The Colonel has been reading President Wilson's speech carefully, and what seemed to impress him more than anything else was this passage from it:
"There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right."
Asked if he cared to make any comment upon the speech of the President, Mr. Roosevelt said:
"I think that China is entitled to draw all the comfort she can from this statement and it would be well for the United States to ponder seriously what the effect upon China has been of managing her foreign affairs during the last fifteen years on the theory thus enunciated.
"If the United States is satisfied with occupying some time in the future the precise international position that China now occupies, then the United States can afford to act on this theory. But it cannot act on this theory if it desires to retain or regain the position won for it by the men who fought under Washington and by the men who, in the days of Abraham Lincoln, wore the blue under Grant and the gray under Lee.
"I very earnestly hope that we will act promptly. The proper time for deliberation was prior to sending the message that our Government would hold Germany to a strict accountability if it did the things it has now actually done. The 150 babies drowned on the Lusitania the hundreds of women drowned with them, scores of these women and children being Americans, and the American ship, the Gulflight, which was torpedoed, offer an eloquent commentary on the actual working of the theory that force is not necessary to assert, and that a policy of blood and iron can with efficacy be met by a policy of milk and water.
"I see it stated in the press dispatches from Washington that Germany now offers to stop the practice on the high seas, committed in violation of the neutral rights that she is pledged to observe, if we will abandon further neutral rights, which by her treaty she has solemnly pledged herself to see that we exercise without molestation. Such a proposal is not even entitled to an answer. The manufacturing and shipment of arms and ammunition to any belligerent is moral or immoral according to the use to which the arms and munitions are to be put. If they are to be used to prevent the redress of the hideous wrongs inflicted on Belgium, then it is immoral to ship them. If they are to be used for the redress of those wrongs and the restoration of Belgium to her deeply wronged and unoffending people, then it is eminently moral to send them.
"Without twenty-four hours' delay this country could, and should, take effective action by declaring that in view of Germany's murderous offenses against the rights of neutrals, all commerce with Germany shall be forthwith forbidden, and all commerce of every kind permitted and encouraged with France, England, and the rest of the civilized world. This would not be a declaration of war. It would merely prevent munitions of war being sent to a power which by its conduct has shown willingness to use munitions to slaughter American men and women and children. I do not believe the assertion of our rights means war, but we will do well to remember there are things worse than war.
"Let us, as a nation, understand that peace is worthy only when it is the handmaiden of international righteousness and of national self-respect."
MR. TAFT SPEAKS.
[By The Associated Press.]
MILWAUKEE, May 8.—"The news of the sinking of the Lusitania as it comes this morning is most distressing," said former President Taft on his arrival from Madison today. "It presents a situation of the most difficult character, properly awakening great national concern.
"I do not wish to embarrass the President of the Administration by a discussion of the subject at this stage of the information, except to express confidence that the President will follow a wise and patriotic course."
That it is possible for the United States to hold Germany "strictly accountable" for the destruction of American lives on the Lusitania without resort to war is Mr. Taft's opinion, reported in the following dispatch from Philadelphia to THE NEW YORK TIMES on May 11:
"We must bear in mind that if we have a war it is the people, the men and women, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, who must pay with lives and money the cost of it, and therefore they should not be hurried into the sacrifices until it is made clear that they wish it and know what they are doing when they wish it."
This was the keynote of a speech by ex-President Taft at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Union League's occupancy of the historic home which it occupies in this city.
"Is war the only method of making a nation accountable? Let us look into our own history. England connived at the fitting out of armed vessels, to prey on our commerce, to attack our navy, and to kill our sailors. We protested, and what did we do then? We held her strictly accountable in the Geneva Conference. Was not our honor as much preserved by this method as it would have been had we declared war?
"I agree that the inhumanity of the circumstances in the case now presses us on, but in the heat of even just indignation is this the best time to act, when action involves such momentous consequences and means untold loss of life and treasure? There are things worse than war, but delay, due to calm deliberation, cannot change the situation or minimize the effect of what we finally conclude to do.
"With the present condition of the war in Europe, our action, if it is to be extreme, will not lose efficiency by giving time to the people, whose war it will be, to know what they are facing.
"A demand for war that cannot survive the passion of the first days of public indignation and will not endure the test of delay and deliberation by all the people is not one that should be yielded to."
President Wilson's Note
By Ex-President William H. Taft.
At the dinner of Methodist laymen in New York on May 14, 1915, following the publication of President Wilson's note to Germany, ex-President Taft said:
"Admirable in tone, moderate in the judicial spirit that runs through the entire communication, dignified in the level that the writer takes with respect to international obligations, accurate in its statement of international law, he puts the case of the United States in a way that may well call for our earnest concurrence and confirmation."
By Beatrice Barry.
"When the torch is near the powder"—when a boat, f'r instance, sinks, And the "hyphens" raise a loud hurrah and blow themselves to drinks; When 'bout a hundred neutral lives are snuffed out like a torch, An' "hyphens" read the news an' smoke, a-settin' on the porch— Well, it's then the native's kind o' apt to see a little red, An' it's hardly fair to criticise the burning things he sed. For since the eagle's not a bird that thrives within a cage, One kind o' hears with sympathy his screams of baffled rage.
There's something sort o' horrible, that catches at the breath, To visualize some two score babes most foully done to death; To see their fright, their struggles—to watch their lips turn blue— There ain't no use denyin', it will raise the deuce with you. O yes, God bless the President—he's an awful row to hoe, An' God grant, too, that peace with honor hand in hand may go, But let's not call men "rotters," 'cause, while we are standing pat, They lose their calm serenity, an' can't see things like that!
In the Submarine War Zone
[By The Associated Press.]
LIVERPOOL, May 16.—The passengers on board the American Line steamer Philadelphia, which arrived here today from New York, the steamer docking at 1 P.M., experienced during the voyage much anxiety. On Friday afternoon, out in the Atlantic off the west coast of Ireland, a cruiser appeared and approached the liner. The chief topic of conversation during the voyage had been about the German submarine activities, and the sight of the warship caused some alarm. The cruiser approached near enough to the steamer to exchange signals with her.
A number of passengers spent last night on deck in their chairs with lifebelts beside them in case of danger. The boats of the Philadelphia were ready for use. The steamer kept a course much further out from the Irish coast than the Lusitania was traversing when she was torpedoed.
The port officials subjected the passengers of the Philadelphia to a careful examination to discover if there were any spies on board, but nobody was detained. By reason of this precaution it was more than an hour after the steamer arrived before her passengers began to debark.
American Shipments of Arms
By Count von Bernstorff, German Ambassador at Washington
Count von Bernstorff, the German Ambassador, made public on April 11, 1915, a memorandum addressed to the United States Government on April 4, complaining of its attitude toward the shipment of war munitions to the Allies and the non-shipment of foodstuffs to Germany. After picturing the foreign policy of the United States Government as one of futility, Count von Bernstorff's memorandum says it must be "assumed that the United States Government has accepted England's violations of international law." Its full text appears below, followed by that of the American State Department's reply.
The different British Orders in Council have altered the universally recognized rules of international law in such a one-sided manner that they arbitrarily suppress the trade of neutral countries with Germany. Already, prior to the last Order in Council, the shipment of conditional contraband, especially foodstuffs, to Germany was practically impossible. In fact, prior to the protest which the American Government made in London on Dec. 28, 1914, not a single shipment of such goods for Germany has been effected from the United States.
Also, after the lodging of the protest, and as far as is known to the German Embassy, only one such shipment has been attempted by an American skipper. Ship and cargo were immediately seized by the British, and are still detained at a British port. As a pretext for this unwarranted action the British Government referred to a decree of the German Federal Council concerning the wheat trade, although this decree only covered wheat and flour and no other foodstuffs, although imported foodstuffs were especially exempt from this decree, and although the German Government had given all necessary guarantees to the United States Government, and had even proposed a special organization in order to secure these foodstuffs for the exclusive consumption of the civilian population.
The seizure of an American ship under these circumstances was in contradiction with the recognized principles of international law. Nevertheless the United States Government has not yet obtained the release of the ship, nor has it after eight months of war succeeded in safeguarding the legitimate American trade with Germany. Such a delay, especially when the supply of foodstuffs is concerned, seems equivalent to complete failure. It is therefore to be assumed that the United States Government has accepted England's violations of international law.
Furthermore has to be considered the attitude of the Government of the United States concerning the question of the exportation of war material. The Imperial Embassy hopes to agree with the Government of the United States in assuming that, with regard to the question of neutrality, there is not only the formal side to be considered, but also the spirit in which neutrality is enforced.
Conditions in the present war are different from those in any former wars. For this reason it is not justified to point at the fact that perhaps in former wars Germany furnished belligerents with war material, because in those former cases the question was not whether any war material was to be furnished to the belligerents but merely which one of the competing countries would furnish it. In the present war, with the exception of the United States, all the countries capable of a noteworthy production of war material are either at war themselves or completing their armaments, and have accordingly prohibited the exportation of war material. Therefore the United States of America is the only country in a position to export war material. This fact ought to give a new meaning to the idea of neutrality, independent of the formal law.
Instead of that, and in contradiction with the real spirit of neutrality, an enormous new industry of war materials of every kind is being built up in the United States, inasmuch as not only the existing plants are kept busy and enlarged, but also new ones are continually founded.
The international agreements for the protection of the right of neutrals originate in the necessity of protecting the existing industries of the neutral countries. They were never intended to encourage the creation of entirely new industries in neutral States, as, for instance, the new war industry in the United States, which supplies only one party of the belligerents.
In reality the American industry is supplying only Germany's enemies. A fact which is in no way modified by the purely theoretical willingness to furnish Germany as well, if it were possible.
If the American people desire to observe true neutrality, they will find means to stop the exclusive exportation of arms to one side, or at least to use this export trade as a means to uphold the legitimate trade with Germany, especially the trade in foodstuffs. This spirit of neutrality should appear the more justified to the United States as it has been maintained toward Mexico.
According to the declaration of a Congressman, made in the House Committee for Foreign Relations Dec. 30, 1914, President Wilson is quoted as having said on Feb. 4, 1914, when the embargo on arms for Mexico was lifted:
"We should stand for genuine neutrality, considering the surrounding facts of the case." He then held in that case, because Carranza had no ports, while Huerta had them and was able to import these materials, that "it was our duty as a nation to treat them (Carranza and Huerta) upon an equality if we wished to observe the true spirit of neutrality as compared with a mere paper neutrality."
This conception of "the true spirit of neutrality," if applied to the present case, would lead to an embargo on arms.
The American Reply
The following note, which contains a vigorous rebuke to the German Ambassador for the freedom of his remarks on the course taken by the United States toward the belligerent powers, was made public at Washington on April 21, 1916. It was then reported that the note was finally drafted by President Wilson himself and written by him on his own typewriter at the White House, although it is signed by Mr. Bryan as Secretary of State:
I have given thoughtful consideration to your Excellency's note of the 4th of April, 1915, inclosing a memorandum of the same date, in which your Excellency discusses the action of this Government with regard to trade between the United States and Germany, and the attitude of this Government with regard to the exportation of arms from the United States to the nations now at war with Germany.
I must admit that I am somewhat at a loss how to interpret your Excellency's treatment of these matters. There are many circumstances connected with these important subjects to which I would have expected your Excellency to advert but of which you make no mention, and there are other circumstances to which you do refer which I would have supposed to be hardly appropriate for discussion between the Government of the United States and the Government of Germany.
I shall take the liberty, therefore, of regarding your Excellency's references to the course, pursued by the Government of the United States, with regard to interferences with trade from this country such as the Government of Great Britain have attempted, as intended merely to illustrate more fully the situation to which you desire to call our attention, and not as an invitation to discuss that course.
Your Excellency's long experience in international affairs will have suggested to you that these relations of the two Governments with one another cannot wisely be made a subject of discussion with a third Government, which cannot be fully informed as to the facts, and which cannot be fully cognizant of the reasons for the course pursued.
I believe, however, that I am justified in assuming that what you desire to call forth is a frank statement of the position of this Government in regard to its obligations as a neutral power.
The general attitude and course of policy of this Government in the maintenance of its neutrality I am particularly anxious that your Excellency should see in their true light. I had hoped that this Government's position in these respects had been made abundantly clear, but I am, of course, perfectly willing to state it again.
This seems to me the more necessary and desirable because, I regret to say, the language, which your Excellency employs in your memorandum, is susceptible of being construed as impugning the good faith of the United States in the performance of its duties as a neutral.
I take it for granted that no such implication was intended, but it is so evident that your Excellency is laboring under certain false impressions that I cannot be too explicit in setting forth the facts as they are, when fully reviewed and comprehended.
In the first place, this Government has at no time and in no manner yielded any one of its rights as a neutral to any one of the present belligerents.
It has acknowledged, as a matter of course, the right of visit and search and the right to apply the rules of contraband of war to articles of commerce. It has, indeed, insisted upon the use of visit and search as an absolutely necessary safeguard against mistaking neutral vessels for vessels owned by any enemy and against mistaking legal cargoes for illegal. It has admitted also the right of blockade if actually exercised and effectively maintained.
These are merely the well-known limitations which war places upon neutral commerce on the high seas. But nothing beyond these has it conceded.
I call your Excellency's attention to this, notwithstanding it is already known to all the world as a consequence of the publication of our correspondence in regard to these matters with several of the belligerent nations, because I cannot assume that you have official cognizance of it.
In the second place, this Government attempted to secure from the German and British Governments mutual concessions with regard to the measures those Governments respectively adopted for the interruption of trade on the high seas. This it did, not of right, but merely as exercising the privileges of a sincere friend of both parties and as indicating its impartial good-will.
The attempt was unsuccessful, but I regret that your Excellency did not deem it worthy of mention in modification of the impressions you expressed. We had hoped that this act on our part had shown our spirit in these times of distressing war, as our diplomatic correspondence had shown our steadfast refusal to acknowledge the right of any belligerent to alter the accepted rules of war at sea in so far as they affect the rights and interests of neutrals.
In the third place, I note with sincere regret that in discussing the sale and exportation of arms by citizens of the United States to the enemies of Germany, your Excellency seems to be under the impression that it was within the choice of the Government of the United States, notwithstanding its professed neutrality and its diligent efforts to maintain it in other particulars, to inhibit this trade, and that its failure to do so manifested an unfair attitude toward Germany.
This Government holds, as I believe your Excellency is aware and as it is constrained to hold in view of the present indisputable doctrines of accepted international law, that any change in its own laws of neutrality during the progress of a war, which would affect unequally the relations of the United States with the nations at war, would be an unjustifiable departure from the principle of strict neutrality, by which it has consistently sought to direct its actions, and I respectfully submit that none of the circumstances, urged in your Excellency's memorandum, alters the principle involved.
The placing of an embargo on the trade in arms at the present time would constitute such a change and be a direct violation of the neutrality of the United States. It will, I feel assured, be clear to your Excellency that holding this view and considering itself in honor bound by it, it is out of the question for this Government to consider such a course.
I hope that your Excellency will realize the spirit in which I am drafting this reply. The friendship between the people of the United States and the people of Germany is so warm and of such long standing, the ties which bind them to one another in amity are so many and so strong, that this Government feels under a special compulsion to speak with perfect frankness, when any occasion arises which seems likely to create any misunderstanding, however slight or temporary, between those who represent the Governments of the two countries.
It will be a matter of gratification to me if I have removed from your Excellency's mind any misapprehension you may have been under regarding either the policy or the spirit and purposes of the Government of the United States.
Its neutrality is founded upon the firm basis of conscience and good-will.
Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
Munitions From Neutrals
[Colloquy in the House of Commons, May 4, 1915.]
Sir E. Grey, in reply to Sir A. Markham, (L., Mansfield,) said: The United States Government have not at any time during the present war supplied any war material of any kind to his Majesty's Government, and I do not suppose that they have supplied any of the belligerents. It has always been a recognized legitimate practice, and wholly consistent with international law, for manufacturers in a neutral country to sell munitions of war to belligerents. They were supplied in this way from Germany to Russia during the Russo-Japanese war, and from Germany to Great Britain during the Boer war, and are no doubt being supplied in the same way from manufacturers in neutral countries to belligerents now.
Mr. MacNeill (N., South Donegal)—Has not the rule always been, before The Hague Conferences at all, that subjects of neutral nations are allowed to supply munitions of war at their own risk?
Sir E. Grey—It is wholly consistent with international law that that practice should go forward, and if there be any question of departure from neutrality I think it will be, not in permitting that practice, but in interfering with it. [Cheers.]
Germany and the Lusitania
By Charles W. Eliot
President Emeritus of Harvard University.
That the sinking of the Lusitania was an act which outraged not only the existing conventions of the civilized world but the moral feelings of present civilized society is the view put forth in his letter to THE NEW YORK TIMES, appearing May 15, 1915, by one of the most distinguished commentators on the war. Dr. Eliot counsels that America's part is to resist such a no-faith policy while keeping its neutral status.
Cambridge, Mass., May 13, 1915.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
The sinking of a great merchant vessel, carrying 2,500 noncombatant men, women, and children, without giving them any chance to save their lives, was in violation of long-standing conventions among civilized nations, concerning the conduct of naval warfare. The pre-existing conventions gave to a German vessel of war the right to destroy the Lusitania and her cargo, if it were impossible to carry her into port as a prize; but not to drown her passengers and crew. The pre-existing conventions or agreements were, however, entered into by the civilized nations when captures at sea were made by war vessels competent to take a prize into some port, or to take off the passengers and crew of the captured vessel.
The German Government now alleges that submarines are today the only vessels it can employ effectively for attack on British commerce in the declared war zone about the British Isles, since the rest of the German Navy cannot keep the seas in face of the superior British Navy. Germany further alleges that the present British blockade of German ports is conducted in a new way—that is, by vessels which patrol the German coast at a greater distance from the actual harbors than was formerly the international practice; and hence, that Germany is justified in conducting her attack on British commerce in a novel way also. In short, Germany argues that her military necessities compel her to sink enemy commercial vessels without regard to the lives of passengers and crews, in spite of the fact that she was party to international agreements that no such act should be committed.
The lesson which the sinking of the Lusitania teaches is, therefore, this: Germany thinks it right to disregard on grounds of military necessity existing international conventions with regard to naval warfare, precisely as she disregarded the agreed-upon neutrality of Belgium on the ground of military necessity. As in the case of Belgium she had decided many years beforehand to violate the international neutrality agreement, and had made all her plans for reaching Paris in a few weeks by passing through Belgium, so on the sea she had decided months ago that the necessity of interfering as much as possible with British commerce and industries warrants her total disregard of the existing rules of naval warfare, and has deliberately contrived the sinking of merchant vessels without regard to the lives of the people on board.
Again, when Germany thought it necessary on her quick march toward Paris not only to crush the Belgian Army but to terrify the noncombatant population of Belgium into complete submission by bombarding and burning cities, towns, and villages, by plundering and shooting noncombatants, by imposing heavy fines and ransoms, and by holding noncombatants as hostages for the peaceable behavior of all Belgian citizens, she disregarded all the conventions made by the civilized nations within seventy years for mitigating the horrors of war, and justified her action on the ground that it was a military necessity, since in no other way could she immediately secure the safety of her communications as she rushed on Paris. The civilized world had supposed that each nation would make war only on the public forces and resources of its antagonist; but last August Germany made ferocious war on noncombatants and private property.
The sinking of the Lusitania is another demonstration that the present German Government will not abide by any international contracts, treaties, or agreements, if they, at a given moment, would interfere with any military or naval course of action which the Government deems necessary.
These demonstrated policies and purposes of the German Empire raise the fundamental question—how is the civilization of the white race to be carried forward? How are the real welfare of that race and the happiness of the individuals that compose it to be hereafter furthered? Since the revolutions in England, America, and France, it has been supposed that civilization was to be advanced by international agreements or treaties, by the co-operation of the civilized nations in the gradual improvement of these agreements, and by the increasing practical effect given to them by nations acting in co-operation; but now comes the German Empire with its military force, immense in numbers and efficient beyond all former experience through the intelligent use for destructive purposes of the new powers attained by applied science, saying not only in words, but in terrible acts: "We shall not abide by any international contracts or agreements into which we may have previously entered, if at the passing moment they interfere or conflict with the most advantageous immediate use of our military and naval force." If this doctrine shall now prevail in Europe, the foundations of modern civilization and of all friendly and beneficial commerce the world over will be undermined.
The sinking of the Lusitania, therefore, makes perfectly clear the nature of the problem with which the three Allies in Europe are now struggling. They are resisting with all the weapons of war a nation which declares that its promises are good only till it is, in its own judgment, under the military necessity of breaking them.
The neutral nations are looking on at this tremendous conflict between good-faith nations and no-faith nations with intense anxiety and sorrow, but no longer in any doubt as to the nature of the issue. The sinking of the Lusitania has removed every doubt; because that was a deliberate act in full sight of the world, and of a nature not to be obscured or confused by conflicting testimonies or questions about possible exaggeration of outrages or about official responsibility for them. The sinking of the Lusitania was an act which outraged not only the existing conventions of the civilized world in regard to naval warfare, but the moral feelings of present civilized society.
The neutral nations and some of the belligerent nations feel another strong objection to the present German way of conducting war on land and sea, namely that it brutalizes the soldier and the sailor to an unprecedented degree. English French, and Russian soldiers on the one side can contend with German, Austrian and Turkish soldiers on the other with the utmost fierceness from trenches or in the open, use new and old weapons of destruction, and kill and wound each other with equal ardor and resolution, and yet not be brutalized or degraded in their moral nature, if they fight from love of country or with self-sacrificing loyalty to its spiritual ideals; but neither soldiers nor sailors can attack defenseless noncombatants, systematically destroy towns and villages, and put to death captured men, women, and children without falling in their moral nature before the brutes. That he obeyed orders will not save from moral ruin the soldier or sailor who does such deeds. He should have refused to obey such orders and taken the consequences. This is true even of the privates, but more emphatically of the officers. The white race has often been proud of the way in which its soldiers and sailors have fought in many causes—good, bad, and indifferent; because they fought bravely took defeat resolutely, and showed humanity after victory. The German method of conducting war omits chivalry, mercy, and humanity, and thereby degrades the German Nation and any other nation which sympathizes with it or supports its methods. It is no answer to the world's objection to the sinking of the Lusitania that Great Britain uses its navy to cut off from Germany food and needed supplies for its industries, for that is a recognized and effective method of warfare; whereas the sinking of an occasional merchant ship with its passengers and crew is a method of warfare nowhere effective, and almost universally condemned. If war, with its inevitable stratagems, ambuscades, and lies must continue to be the arbiter in international disputes, it is certainly desirable that such magnanimity in war as the conventions of the last century made possible should not be lost because of Germany's behavior in the present European convulsion. It is also desirable to reaffirm with all possible emphasis that fidelity to international agreements is the taproot of human progress.
On the supposition that the people of the United States have learned the lesson of the Lusitania, so far as an understanding of the issues at stake in this gigantic war is concerned, can they also get from it any guidance in regard to their own relation to the fateful struggle? Apparently, not yet. With practical unanimity the American people will henceforth heartily desire the success of the Allies, and the decisive defeat of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. With practical unanimity they will support whatever action the Administration at Washington shall decide to take in the immediate emergency; but at present they do not feel that they know whether they can best promote the defeat of the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey by remaining neutral or by taking active part in the conflict. Unless a dismemberment of Austria-Hungary is brought about by Italy and Rumania or some other Balkan State entering the war on the side of the Allies, it now seems as if neither party would acknowledge defeat until exhausted or brought to a sudden moral collapse. Exhaustion in war can best be prevented by maintaining in activity the domestic industries and general productiveness of the nation involved in war and those of the neutral nations which are in position to feed it, and manufacture for it munitions, clothing, and the other supplies that war demands. While remaining strictly neutral, North and South America can be of great service to the Allies. To be sure, as a neutral the United States will be obliged to give some aid to Germany and her allies, such, for example, as harboring the interned commercial fleet of Germany; but this aid will be comparatively insignificant. The services which the American republics can thus render to the cause of liberty and civilization are probably more considerable than any they could render by direct contributions of military or naval force. Kept free from the drain of war, the republics will be better able to supply food, clothing, munitions, and money to the Allies both during the war and after the conclusion of peace.
On the whole, the wisest thing the neutral nations can do, which are remote from the theatres of war, and have no territorial advantages to seek at the coming of peace, is probably to defend vigorously and with the utmost sincerity and frankness all the existing rights of neutrals. By acting thus in the present case they will promote national righteousness and hinder national depravity, discourage, for the future, domination by any single great power in any part of the world, and help the cause of civilization by strengthening the just liberty and independence of many nations—large and small, and of different capacities and experiences—which may reasonably hope, if the Prussian terror can be abolished, to live together in peaceful co-operation for the common good.
Appeals for American Defense
Need of Further Protecting Neutral Rights Set Forth.
By GEORGE W. WICKERSHAM.
Formerly United States Attorney General.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
The destruction of the Lusitania by the Germans, and the wanton killing of American men, women, and children, without warning, brings sharply before the American people the question of how long the present sexless policy of the conduct of our affairs is to be continued. Germany has apparently decided to run amuck with civilization. It is now for the American people to decide whether this nation has any virility left, or if it is content to sink to the level of China.
A very clear course, it seems to me, is open for us to pursue: We should cancel all diplomatic relations with a country which has declared war upon civilization, recall our Ambassador from Berlin, and hand Count Bernstorff his passports. Congress should be summoned in extra session, and an appropriation of at least $250,000,000 asked to put us in a condition to protect our rights as a neutral civilized power. At the same time we should invite all neutral nations of the world to join us in a council of civilization to agree upon the steps to be taken to protect the interests of all neutral powers and their citizens from such wanton acts of destruction of life and property as those which Germany has been committing and which have culminated in the destruction of the Lusitania and of so many of her passengers.
Until now the National Administration has been proceeding not only on the basis of "safety first," but of safety first, last, and all the time. The time has arrived when we must remember the truth of what Lowell so well expressed, that
'Tis man's perdition to be safe, when for the truth he ought to die.
GEORGE W. WICKERSHAM.
BY THE NATIONAL SECURITY LEAGUE.
[From THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 11, 1915.]
The army, navy, and coast defenses of the United States are declared to be inadequate in an open letter signed by Joseph H. Choate, Alton B. Parker, Henry L. Stimson, and S. Stanwood Menken, which was given out yesterday in support of the plans of the National Security League. This organization, which maintains offices at 31 Pine Street, has embarked on a national campaign for better war defenses, and its appeal for members and supporters is expressed by the catch-phrase, "a first defense army of 1,000,000 workers."
The letter of Messrs. Choate, Parker, Stimson, and Menken contains most of the arguments put forth by the league in asking public support and enrollment. Its text follows:
Careful investigation by our committees who have looked into the question of national defense brings to light the following conditions of affairs:
According to official Government reports, there are barely 30,000 mobile troops in continental United States. These are distributed among fifty-two widely scattered posts, which would make it impossible to mobilize quickly at any given point. Even this small force is short of officers, ammunition, and equipment. Furthermore, it has no organized reserve.
Our National Guard, with negligible exceptions, is far below its paper strength in men, equipment, and efficiency.